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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: Mon, 11 Dec 2017 08:30:20 GMT2017-12-11T08:30:20Z

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



Why Nato must defend women's rights | Jens Stoltenberg and Angelina Jolie

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 10:00:33 GMT2017-12-10T10:00:33Z

Ending gender-based violence is a vital issue of peace and security as well as of social justice. Nato can be a leader in this effort

All violence against women betrays the fundamental promise in the UN Charter of equal rights and dignity for women. It is one of the prime reasons why women remain in a subordinate position in relation to men in most parts of the world.

When this violence is committed as an act of war it tears apart families, creates mass displacement, and makes peace and reconciliation far harder to achieve. In fact, it is often designed expressly to achieve those goals as part of a military strategy.

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Don't let the alt-right hijack #MeToo for their agenda | Rebecca Solnit

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 09:00:32 GMT2017-12-10T09:00:32Z

Feminism is now being weaponized for right-wing agendas. We must not allow that to happen

That was fast. In this #MeToo moment, feminism has been coopted by both people who don’t understand it and by people who oppose it. Worse: it’s now being used against people who are feminists and allies.

The most recent example comes from Mike Cernovich, the alt-right conspiracy theorist who led the way on the Pizzagate hoax that claimed senior Democrats were involved in a child abuse ring in the basement of a Washington DC restaurant. That whole ruckus should’ve given MSNBC pause when he went after one of their regulars.

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Winning the Nobel peace prize confirms my life's mission to help end nuclear weapons | Tilman Ruff

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 22:42:25 GMT2017-12-10T22:42:25Z

For far too long we have been told that we have to spend billions to build weapons that, in order for us to have a future, must never be used

Half a century after the Cuban missile crisis brought the world to the brink of destruction, we again find ourselves at a time of deeply disturbing nuclear threats and dangers of nuclear war.

These threats are considered by most experts – such as the 15 Nobel laureates among the custodians of the Doomsday Clock – to be as high as they have ever been.

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I have witnessed two intifadas. Trump’s stance on Israel may ignite a third | Raja Shehadeh

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 00:05:21 GMT2017-12-10T00:05:21Z

In recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the US president has hindered the prospect of peace in the region

The relish with which Donald Trump signed the declaration recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel left me with a sense of cold resignation at the obduracy of the man. He was almost gleeful; the power he now wields enables him with the stroke of a pen to bring about historical changes to our suffering world. But I was neither surprised nor angry – those emotions having long since been spent.

I have lived under Israel’s occupation for 50 years and listened to many empty declarations while witnessing the Jewish settlements expand, destroying our beautiful landscape and rendering us Palestinians strangers in our own land. Israel has never had to be concerned about the formal positions that the US observed, which considered it an occupier of the territories, including East Jerusalem, it has held since 1967, nor by the oft-repeated position that the Israeli settlements are illegal. This was because these formal positions were never followed by any implementation on the part of the US.

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Jared Kushner is wreaking havoc in the Middle East | Moustafa Bayoumi

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 15:10:23 GMT2017-12-09T15:10:23Z

In his role as the president’s special advisor, Kushner seems to have decided he can remake the entire Middle East. The results could be devastating

The entire Middle East, from Palestine to Yemen, appears set to burst into flames after this week. The region was already teetering on the edge, but recent events have only made things worse. And while the mayhem should be apparent to any casual observer, what’s less obvious is Jared Kushner’s role in the chaos.

Kushner is, of course, the US president’s senior advisor and son-in-law. The 36-year-old is a Harvard graduate who seems to have a hard time filling in forms correctly.

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The Republican tax bill: four takeaways | Corey Robin

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 15:09:55 GMT2017-12-09T15:09:55Z

The Republicans are already pivoting from tax cuts to the debt, claiming that the next task is to rein in spending. The left should say: not so fast

Taxes are the “thunder of world history,” wrote Joseph Schumpeter. “The spirit of a people … is written in its fiscal history.”

Last Saturday, Republicans in the US Senate joined their comrades in the House to write a new chapter in America’s fiscal history.

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Ventura county is burning. My hometown is climate change's latest victim | Steven Thrasher

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 13:25:32 GMT2017-12-08T13:25:32Z

Affordable housing has been lost to the California wildfires, leaving poor people without homes – and without hope of help from federal government

An unbearable amount of Ventura county in southern California, where I was born and raised, is simply gone. And as I hear about site after site from my childhood simply disappearing into scorched earth, I am realizing that climate change is not only erasing the present, it is also destroying the physical touchstones to my own past.

Related: Wildfire rages in southern California – in pictures

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We need to plan for Russia after Putin | Natalie Nougayrède

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 06:00:16 GMT2017-12-09T06:00:16Z

The president says he’ll stand again. But as the fall of the Soviet Union showed, the unexpected can happen

Vladimir Putin has announced he will be running for re-election next March. He has no serious challengers. Another six-year term lies ahead. None of this is a surprise, but it raises the question of where Russia is heading, and how to deal with it.

Related: Dubious polls and murky media: the truth behind Vladimir Putin’s popularity | Maxim Trudolyubov

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A small Italian town can teach the world how to defuse controversial monuments | Carlo Invernizzi-Accetti

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 07:00:10 GMT2017-12-06T07:00:10Z

In the face of calls to both ‘destroy’ and ‘preserve’ a fascist monument, the town of Bolzano opted for what appears in retrospect a far smarter strategy


Coming to terms with national history isn’t always easy. Whether because of civil war, political oppression, or simply a change of values, monuments and other vestiges of the past often remind us that what we held dear in other ages doesn’t necessarily chime with what we cherish today. The bitter controversy – and deadly protests – sparked earlier this year by the proposed removal of a statue of Gen Robert E Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, are a ringing reminder of this.

The small northern Italian town of Bolzano may provide the model for a better way of dealing with such thorny issues. For several decades, what are now the town’s financial offices have been housed in a fascist-era building displaying a massive bas-relief of Benito Mussolini on horseback, bearing the slogan “Credere, Obbedire, Combattere” (“Believe, Obey, Combat”) on the side. Although Italy’s fascist past is officially condemned, the monument stood untouched until a 2011 directive from the national government formally required the municipal administration to do something about it.

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#MeToo means I can be honest about why I skip office Christmas parties | Jean Hannah Edelstein

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 09:48:42 GMT2017-12-08T09:48:42Z

I was sexually assaulted at a Christmas bash. I’ve not been to one since, the memories of my abject feelings of panic and disgust all too fresh

No, I’m not going to the office Christmas party this year, and yes, I’m feeling pretty happy about it. Thanks to the current cultural moment, in which we’re being more open about sexual assault than ever before, I feel safe being open this year about the fact that it’s because I was sexually assaulted at an office Christmas party. And though it’s a long time since I worked for that company – I left less than a year later – the thought of colleagues and alcohol and Christmas lights still makes my blood run cold.

Related: Beating Donald Trump to Time magazine Person of the Year is just the start | Bex Bailey

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Beating Donald Trump to Time magazine Person of the Year is just the start | Bex Bailey

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 06:00:03 GMT2017-12-07T06:00:03Z

As one of the ‘silence breakers’ who shared my story of assault, I will continue fighting sexual harassment until effective action is taken against it

I’ll be honest: it feels good to be one of the women who have beaten a misogynist such as Donald Trump to the title of Time magazine’s Person of the Year. It’s great to get the better of him, given his desire for the award was so great that he used to display fake versions of it in his hotels.

I hope Time is right in its view that this year has “unleashed one of the highest-velocity shifts in our culture since the 1960s”. But let’s not kid ourselves. We still have a long way to go. I feel proud of everyone who decided to speak out this year. It has helped hold to account predators including Oscar-winning film producers and political heavyweights.

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Climate change is the story you missed in 2017. And the media is to blame | Lisa Hymas

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 14:32:41 GMT2017-12-07T14:32:41Z

Some of Trump’s tweets generate more national coverage than devastating disasters. As the weather gets worse, we need journalism to get better

Which story did you hear more about this year – how climate change makes disasters like hurricanes worse, or how Donald Trump threw paper towels at Puerto Ricans?

If you answered the latter, you have plenty of company. Academic Jennifer Good analyzed two weeks of hurricane coverage during the height of hurricane season on eight major TV networks, and found that about 60% of the stories included the word Trump, and only about 5% mentioned climate change.

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Amazon is running its own hunger games – and all the players will be losers | Jathan Sadowski and Karen Gregory

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 14:16:47 GMT2017-12-07T14:16:47Z

US cities are selling their souls to be the company’s second HQ site. It’s part of the techno-capitalist takeover of cities, ultimately funded by ordinary citizens

Amazon, the online retail giant, is in the midst of running its own hunger games. The contestants are 238 cities and regions across North America. The prize is being chosen as the site for Amazon’s second headquarters (HQ2), which promises to employ upwards of 50,000 people. These cities are locked in a fierce battle to outbid each other and they’ll do anything, give anything, to be chosen.

In an era of brutal austerity, cities are hollowed out and hoping for a savior. Since the tech sector is flush with cash, by showing up and saying the magic words – growth, jobs, investment, innovation – city leaders bend to their will. Amazon’s HQ2 competition is the latest egregious example of a techno-capitalist regime that’s bewitching cities around the world.

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Trump’s error on Jerusalem is a disaster for the Arab world … and the US too | Rashid Khalidi

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 18:35:54 GMT2017-12-06T18:35:54Z

The president’s foolish move in recognising the city as the capital of Israel will have negative consequences impossible to predict

Every time it seems Donald Trump cannot outdo himself, he does it again. Now he has announced that his administration will recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reversing nearly seven decades of American policy. This step will have multiple negative ramifications, many impossible to predict.

Jerusalem is the most important of the so-called final status issues that have been repeatedly deferred during the Israel-Palestine negotiations because of their extreme sensitivity. Trump has ploughed into this imbroglio like a bull in a china shop, zeroing in on the most complex and emotional issue of all those connected to Palestine.

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Can the US president obstruct justice? Yes he can | Lawrence Douglas

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 13:45:57 GMT2017-12-06T13:45:57Z

Donald Trump’s lawyer, John Dowd, is not alone in arguing that the president is immune to the usual constitutional checks and balances

The president has not obstructed justice because the president cannot obstruct justice. Such was the astonishing argument advanced on Monday by the president’s personal lawyer, John Dowd. On its face, the claim looks patently ridiculous, contradicted by history, law and elemental logic.

If the president cannot obstruct justice, what on earth did Congress think it was doing when it drafted articles of impeachment against presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton on precisely these grounds? If a president destroys evidence germane to a criminal investigation, what is that if not obstruction of justice? The answer seems so obvious that it’s hard to take seriously claims to the contrary. But claims there are, and they come from some notable authorities.

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Three ways to remake the American economy for all | Elizabeth Warren

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 19:47:33 GMT2017-12-06T19:47:33Z

In a speech at the Open Markets Institute, Senator Elizabeth Warren offers a roadmap for how to tackle growing monopolies in the United States

The central question America faces today is this: who does our government work for? Does it work only for giant corporations, for the rich and the powerful? Or does it work for everyone?

This isn’t hard to understand. Americans don’t need to review the complexities of the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index to get what’s going on in this country. Folks at the top are getting more and more and everyone else is left to fight over the scraps. Powerful interests have invested eye-popping amounts of cash into making sure it stays that way – tilting the playing field against small businesses, against entrepreneurs, against innovators, against workers, and against just about everyone else.

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President Trump, don't decimate the Bears Ears National Monument | Sally Jewell

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 11:00:08 GMT2017-12-04T11:00:08Z

On Monday, we are expected to see the largest rollback of protections for public lands and waters in US history. This would be a grave mistake

In the middle of my four-day visit to south-eastern Utah in 2016, I was invited into a tipi located between the Bears Ears buttes. The Native American spiritual leaders who still collect medicinal herbs in the area were there, as were leaders from the five tribes of the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition: the Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, Ute and Ute Mountain Ute.

The tribes, not always known to see eye-to-eye, had united to share the importance of this region to their cultures, traditions and spiritual wellbeing. Their emotion was deep and flowing as we sat around the fire, and they expressed the importance of protecting these lands for their children and grandchildren. My job as secretary of the interior was to listen, and their message was powerful.

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Living in cars, working for Amazon: meet America's new nomads | Jessica Bruder

Sat, 02 Dec 2017 15:42:12 GMT2017-12-02T15:42:12Z

Rising rents are leading Americans to live in cars and other vehicles, writes Jessica Bruder, the author of Nomadland

Millions of Americans are wrestling with the impossibility of a traditional middle-class existence. In homes across the country, kitchen tables are strewn with unpaid bills. Lights burn late into the night. The same calculations get performed again and again, through exhaustion and sometimes tears.

Wages minus grocery receipts. Minus medical bills. Minus credit card debt. Minus utility fees. Minus student loan and car payments. Minus the biggest expense of all: rent.

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The west can’t fix the climate crisis. Asia will have to do it | Chandran Nair

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 06:00:08 GMT2017-12-05T06:00:08Z

The future is about resources, not technology. The planet really needs developing nations to get it right

The climate change talks in Bonn have now wrapped up with little firm action. Next year they move to Poland. But whatever is discussed or agreed in European cities over the coming years, the answers to climate change will not come from the west (beyond a few technological tweaks), but Asia.

Related: ‘Planet at a crossroads’: climate summit makes progress but leaves much to do

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Animal agriculture is choking the ​Earth and making us sick. We must act now | James Cameron and Suzy Amis Cameron

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 13:26:04 GMT2017-12-04T13:26:04Z

If we want the US’s majestic national parks, clean air and water for future generations we must press leaders to address food’s environmental impact

Our collective minds are stuck on this idea that talking about food’s environmental impact risks taking something very intimate away from us. In fact it’s just the opposite. Reconsidering how we eat offers us hope, and empowers us with choice over what our future planet will look like. And we can ask our local leaders – from city mayors to school district boards to hospital management – to help, by widening our food options.

We simply need less meat and dairy and more plant-based options in our food system if we’re to reach our climate goals

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Environmental injustice is rising in America. And minorities and the poor pay the price | Mustafa Santiago Ali

Sun, 03 Dec 2017 21:41:29 GMT2017-12-03T21:41:29Z

When you intentionally dismantle and deconstruct these basic environmental protections, you are placing the lives of vulnerable people at risk

At a campaign stop in 2016, candidate Donald Trump asked African Americans, “What do you have to lose?” After almost a year with him in office, the answer is clear for people of color; we have everything to lose, especially with the all-out assault on health and environmental protections.

Protecting the environment is about protecting people. The assault the Trump administration is waging on our environment will have drastic implications for the health of people and communities in every state, no matter the color of skin or income level.

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Twitter, Trump and the distortion of the public sphere | John Naughton

Sun, 03 Dec 2017 07:00:34 GMT2017-12-03T07:00:34Z

The president’s social media meddling remind us of how a good furore can turn an insignificant political party into a global concern overnight

In the 1930s, a maverick young journalist named Claud Cockburn resigned from the Times and, with £40 borrowed from an Oxford friend, bought a mimeograph machine (a low-cost duplicating machine that worked by forcing ink though a stencil on to paper). With it he set up the Week, a weekly newsletter available by subscription in which Cockburn printed news and gossip that came to him from his diverse group of contacts in both the British and German establishments.

From the beginning the Week printed stuff that the mainstream newspapers wouldn’t touch because of fears of running foul of the Official Secrets Act, the libel laws or the political establishment. Cockburn, having few assets and a rackety lifestyle, proceeded as if none of this applied to him. But people in the know – the third secretaries of foreign embassies, for example, or City bankers – quickly recognised the value of the Week (for the same reasons as they now read Private Eye). Nevertheless the circulation of Cockburn’s scandal sheet remained confined to this small elite circle – and its finances were correspondingly dodgy.

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The Republican tax bill is an act of violence | The Rev Dr William Barber and the Rev Dr Liz Theoharis

Fri, 01 Dec 2017 09:00:38 GMT2017-12-01T09:00:38Z

Extremist leaders are proposing to give billions in tax breaks to the wealthy – by raising taxes for poor people, write the co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign

Donald Trump and leaders in Congress are on the verge of enacting one of the most immoral pieces of legislation in our nation’s history. The Republican party has billed its plan as a tax cut for America’s middle class, but it is in fact an act of gross violence against America’s poor to serve the country’s richest and most powerful.

The claim of the cuts is scarcity. But we do not have scarcity of money; we have a scarcity of moral will. We have an abundance of resources that could end poverty for everyone.

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The 11 biggest victories against Trump by the resistance | Rebecca Solnit

Sat, 02 Dec 2017 15:16:15 GMT2017-12-02T15:16:15Z

We are in the midst of a host of battles over the fate of the nation and the earth, and the outcome is in no small part up to us. We can win if we try

It has been a grueling year for people who care about human rights, climate change, and whatever remains of value in federal institutions from the judiciary to the diplomatic corps. This is a terrible, terrible era, one in which tremendous harm is being done to many people, to the planet and to the federal government.

Related: In the age of Trump, it’s time to ditch the special relationship | Jonathan Freedland

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Why Donald Trump's most insidious legacy will be his judicial appointments | Shira A Scheindlin

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 10:00:10 GMT2017-11-30T10:00:10Z

He is choosing a raft of white male conservatives who will rule on all aspects of US life. The appointments are not reversible - their impact will be felt for decades

If you want to know why Donald Trump’s appointments to the judiciary are so significant, have a look at these numbers.

In 2015, the US supreme court decided approximately 82 cases. In 2016, it was approximately 69. In contrast, the United States courts of appeals decided 52,000 cases in 2015 and 58,000 in 2016. The United States district courts decided 353,000 cases in 2015 and 355,000 in 2016.

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Bad men are tumbling from power. But it's far too soon to celebrate | Francine Prose

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 11:00:11 GMT2017-11-30T11:00:11Z

It’s worth repeating that the US is being led by a man who boasted about doing things that have now caused so many men to lose everything

The reports of sexual aggression and violence against women that have come to light since the Harvey Weinstein story first broke are an appalling and depressing confirmation of what most women already knew. As we have watched men tumble from previously unassailable heights of power, the current moment has been celebrated as the dawn of a new day for women.

No longer will men get away with committing rape and molesting children; no longer will bosses be allowed to mistake their female employees for concubines; no longer will men be able to pressure women into having sex with threats of personal and professional retaliation; no longer will the women who speak out be disbelieved, mocked, isolated and silenced. And each new disclosure, each new scandal seems to refine and prolong the lesson that men, like it or not, are learning.

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The Guardian view on plastic bottles: make water available on tap | Editorial

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 19:00:59 GMT2017-12-08T19:00:59Z

Thankfully the campaign to cut our plastic habit by making free fresh water widely available is gathering momentum

Like a wave building far out at sea, the momentum behind universally available cool fresh water is growing steadily. It is driven by the realisation that the world’s plastic habit must be broken, quickly. It’s reckoned that a million plastic bottles are bought worldwide every minute; the meaning of this number is best expressed in the images of mountains of litter made of this virtually indestructable material piled by the tides on to otherwise deserted beaches in remote corners of the globe. It is an unnecessary disaster. There is no reason why water has to come wrapped in its own environmentally lethal packaging. This week, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan pledged to develop a city-wide network of water fountains and refill stations. A Bristol-based campaign to set up refill stations in city centres and seaside resorts is flooding across Europe. Australian cities such as Melbourne have digital maps showing where drinking fountains are available. There could be so much more – airside refill stations in every international airport to slash the thousands of bottles jettisoned at security would be a good start. A refill station on every platform in every railway station would be even better. The choice between income from retail outlets or a low-cost move to help end plastic pollution is really no choice at all.

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The Guardian view on Trump and Jerusalem: undiplomatic diplomacy | Editorial

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 18:58:22 GMT2017-12-07T18:58:22Z

Donald Trump brags that he is a dealmaker – but he looks like a conman, offering the impossible because he has no intention of making good on his promise

Thirty years ago this weekend the first intifada began in a Gaza refugee camp, when an Israeli army lorry collided with a civilian car, killing four Palestinians. The uprising spread like wildfire and burned for six years. It was a popular expression of frustration over 20 years of occupation that took both the Israelis and the Palestinian leadership, at the time in exile in Tunisia, by complete surprise. This week Donald Trump drove a truck into the most sensitive of Palestinian grievances: the status of Jerusalem. Days of rage have been called. Years of fury may follow.

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The Guardian view on Finland’s centenary: a social democratic triumph | Editorial

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 19:15:08 GMT2017-12-05T19:15:08Z

From universal suffrage to the universal basic income, Finland is a European country that pioneered egalitarian policies and technological innovation alike

Finland celebrates its 100th anniversary as an independent country on Wednesday. From the chaos of the unfolding Russian revolution this small nation state emerged, already the first in Europe to give equal voting rights to men and women, to allow female candidates to stand and, in 1917, to elect a social democratic prime minister. Famously resilient in the face of historical and geographical odds, memories of the winter war after Soviet forces attacked in 1939 still shape a steadily moderate but clear-eyed outlook towards their large neighbour to the east. Survival under extreme conditions may lie behind a national readiness to innovate. Nokia was a timber pulping company that turned to computing and then mobile phones and put “made in Finland” on the global map. The country’s version of the “Nordic model” makes it one of the fairest societies in the world, with high ratings for gender equality and eco-friendliness; it is currently running an experiment with a universal basic income. And this year, the most distant member of the EU demonstrated that although xenophobic nationalists can lurk, they can just as easily be thrown out of government. From Sibelius to the novelist Arto Paasilinna, Finns weave a unique course through the tapestry of Europe. Happy anniversary, Finland.

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The Guardian view on the Catalonia election: the challenge of compromise | Editorial

Sun, 03 Dec 2017 20:12:41 GMT2017-12-03T20:12:41Z

Campaigning begins this week in an election that will shape Spain and affect the whole of Europe. First, the region’s imprisoned political leaders should be freed to campaign

Campaigning in Catalonia’s 21 December regional election begins officially on Tuesday. Opinion polls show pro- and anti-independence political parties running neck and neck. But the outcome will shape the future not just of Catalonia and Spain but of other European nations and EU institutions.

This election was triggered by the Madrid government after it enacted article 155 of the Spanish constitution in October – an unprecedented move that led to the formal suspension of the region’s autonomy. Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, hoped this would help him to gain time, while working to dampen secessionist feeling, including by floating ideas about an enhanced version of Catalan autonomy for the future. Now things are set to accelerate again. More, not less, political turmoil could lie ahead.

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The Guardian view on Delhi’s pollution: when smog stops play | Editorial

Sun, 03 Dec 2017 20:10:15 GMT2017-12-03T20:10:15Z

Cricket is famous for the many things that can interrupt a game. But the halting of a Test match in Delhi because of smog is a wake-up call for India

Cricket isn’t cricket without the occasional “rain stopped play” that has marked – not often enough for English taste – the Ashes test in Adelaide. But rain is not the only reason why cricket matches sometimes have to be halted. Snow, dazzling sunshine and a solar eclipse have all brought games to an early end. So have hedgehogs, pigs, snakes and cars on the pitch. But cricket’s love of the eccentric gave way to a truly disturbing interruption on Sunday when Delhi’s bad air pollution – which was 15 times the WHO’s recommended toxicity maximum – caused stops and starts to a test between India and Sri Lanka. With players forced to leave the game to vomit and Sri Lankans wearing anti-pollution masks on the field, this was a Delhi clean-up call. If India’s favourite sport can’t be played in the nation’s smog-laden capital, cricket in Delhi should be no-balled.

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The Guardian view on refugees and migrants: solidarity, not fear | Editorial

Fri, 01 Dec 2017 19:03:31 GMT2017-12-01T19:03:31Z

The world’s steps towards a humane and constructive response are slow and faltering. But people in flight need help and sympathy, not rejection

The scale of the global humanitarian crisis that has been unfolding since the Arab spring precipitated revolt and instability across the Middle East in 2011 can feel overwhelming. In the past few weeks alone, terrible stories have emerged of the brutal treatment of Rohingya Muslims, forced to flee Myanmar to grim camps in neighbouring Bangladesh. A fortnight ago, CNN ran a devastating film shot undercover in Libya, showing young migrants from Nigeria being auctioned into slavery. The sight and sound of a market in human beings carries a weight that dwarfs other reporters’ graphic accounts of the scale of the trade. The impact of the CNN report drew unflattering attention to the EU-backed programme run by Libya to detain and repatriate migrants in order to prevent them attempting the Mediterranean crossing into Italy or Spain. This is an arrangement of convenience for Europe. It has led to migrants being held in wretched and degrading conditions that in an unusual rebuke of the countries that pay a significant part of the costs, were condemned by the UN as “inhuman”. This week the EU met with members of the African Union in Addis Ababa. The EU has now signed up to a programme to repatriate migrants rather than leaving the huge task to a country that is still in turmoil after the fall of Gaddafi, which was backed by the UK, France and the US.

The great majority of the world’s displaced people flee to the nearest safe place, often another poor or middle-income country: in the past year a million refugees have arrived in Uganda from South Sudan. By far the largest part of the responsibility for those displaced around the Middle East has been borne by neighbouring countries, in particular Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Europe has been reluctant and defensive in responding to a crisis for which it is at least partly to blame. There has been a complete failure to agree a fair process for resettlement of refugees across the 28 member states. Greece and Italy have been left, for years now, to manage an unprecedented influx of desperate men, women and children. In an unparalleled international political vacuum, there has been little global leadership.

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The Guardian view on Donald Trump: bullies never respect sycophants | Editorial

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 20:16:42 GMT2017-11-30T20:16:42Z

Stop the state visit. Britain should not allow the US president’s racism to be dressed up in pageantry

All relationships have boundaries. Those between nations can be particularly fraught, freighted with ties forged in history and culture. In diplomacy the manners, customs and morals of others need to be acknowledged and respected. But humanity begins with acts, not just with thoughts. The question is how to deal with a man like Donald Trump, a taunting braggart with a weakness for flattery? The stakes are high: when nations fall out, people get hurt. By using social media as a flame-thrower, Mr Trump uses words as weapons. He does not care who gets burned.

Related: Britain First may be fringe, but its anti-Islam views aren’t | David Shariatmadari

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The Guardian view on threats to the media: man bites watchdog | Editorial

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 20:09:25 GMT2017-11-30T20:09:25Z

From physical violence to commercial ruses, the media is under pressure around the world. Winning the support of readers and audiences is essential

“News is what someone wants suppressed; all the rest is advertising.” That maxim is overly reductive – would a medical breakthrough make the cut? – but captures an essential truth. The instinct to share information has always been matched by the instinct to prevent its spread. Andrew Pettegree’s history The Invention of News demonstrates how the sphere evolved over centuries and yet how many current issues are recognisable in its early days: from the blunt use of force by the powerful to the state’s deployment of propaganda dressed up as news and the crude pursuit of business interests.

So the pressures on news are hardly new – but they shrink or swell, and at times these swirling forces can amass to become a perfect storm. A new study says that media freedom around the world has fallen to the lowest level for at least a decade. The report by the freedom of expression campaign group Article 19, working with V-Dem, a political and social database, shows that diversity and independence is under growing threat in democracies such as Brazil and Hungary as well as authoritarian regimes such as China. “Turkish media is under immense pressure from the government, more than at any point in history,” one veteran correspondent told the Guardian. Frequently – as in Turkey, or indeed Cambodia or Poland – this tightening is part of a broader turn towards repression.

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The Guardian view on child marriage: wedlock is a padlock for girls | Editorial

Wed, 29 Nov 2017 19:13:02 GMT2017-11-29T19:13:02Z

From the US to Bangladesh, underage brides are likely to leave education and face increased risks of poverty, domestic violence, and high rates of maternal mortality

What kind of place would set the age of consent at 17 – but allow pregnant girls as young as 11 to marry? Florida: its law is less progressive than Afghanistan’s. It is one of 25 US states that allow girls of any age to marry in certain circumstances, such as with judicial approval. Others have minimums set as low as 13.

Though boys too are affected, those affected are overwhelmingly female: almost nine in 10 children who marry are girls, and only rarely do they wed a peer. Almost a third wed men of 21 or older. Marriage is often seen as protecting girls, especially if they are pregnant, but it locks children into abusive relationships. In some states, child brides cannot initiate legal action such as a divorce – or even access refuges – because they are minors. Women who married as children are helping to lead the growing nationwide campaign to ban it, which has already brought change in Connecticut, Texas, Virginia and New York in the past two years. A bill banning marriage under 18 is now going through committees in Florida.

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The Guardian view on Syria: Putin tests the west | Editorial

Tue, 28 Nov 2017 19:05:18 GMT2017-11-28T19:05:18Z

As a new round of talks gets under way in Geneva, Russia seeks to cement its military gains in favour of the Assad dictatorship by securing UN validation

One lesson of history is that peace plans are forged by the victors. Almost exactly a year after the fall of Aleppo, the last urban stronghold of the Syrian opposition, peace-making diplomacy is now making a tentative comeback. Talks, sponsored by the United Nations, are expected in Geneva this week. That is to be welcomed, even though hopes of a breakthrough are slim. Since 2012, numerous rounds of negotiations have come and gone, all essentially fruitless. All too often it was Russian vetoes that hampered effective UN action, including on accountability for chemical weapon use.

Syria’s opposition groups have reorganised their negotiating team, pressured by the fact that they are in the weaker position. The Syrian regime, which first said it would boycott talks if the opposition insisted on Bashar al-Assad’s removal, has said it will send a delegation on Wednesday. The UN envoy, Staffan de Mistura, says his job is to be an incorrigible optimist. But it will take more than optimism to address Syria’s multifaceted war, to end the suffering, to repair a broken country and to begin to seek justice for its millions of victims.

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All the signs in the Russia probe point to Jared Kushner. Who next? | Jill Abramson

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 06:00:02 GMT2017-12-04T06:00:02Z

The investigation is taking a new twist, as Donald Trump appears to be distancing himself from his son-in-law

Game of Trumps is about to get really bloody. With special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation moving ever closer to President Trump himself, it looks like someone inside the family is about to be sacrificed.

With Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, pleading guilty last week to the charge of lying to the FBI, much more about the Russia scandal is now coming into focus. The Flynn flip was by far the most dramatic event so far in the investigation into alleged Russian interference in 2016’s US presidential race. Flynn’s evidence can only lead up the chain of power towards Trump.

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We're still aghast at Donald Trump – but what good has that done? | Thomas Frank

Sun, 12 Nov 2017 16:38:07 GMT2017-11-12T16:38:07Z

Declaring it all so ghastly isn’t going to halt these trends or remove the reprobate from the White House, writes Thomas Frank

It has been one year since the US slipped through a hole in the space-time continuum and chose as its leader the most unpopular presidential candidate of all time. Every now and then you get a bracing reminder of the crazy that has been transpiring ever since.

One of these came to me while I was flipping through Donald Trump’s 2015 campaign book, Crippled America, the cover of which displays his proud pompadour and the first few pages of which assert that “As for the presidency and the executive branch” – meaning the executive branch of Barack Obama – “the incompetence is beyond belief.”

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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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