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

Opinion | The Guardian



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



Published: Mon, 27 Feb 2017 02:00:28 GMT2017-02-27T02:00:28Z

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



Border agents stopped Muhammad Ali Jr. Here’s how we can all fight back

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 14:13:15 GMT2017-02-26T14:13:15Z

The White House boxes clever, insisting there is no Muslim ban, but reports of obstruction and harassment go on. Citizens of any creed must know their rights

They stopped Muhammad Ali Jr.

Related: US border agents ask Muhammad Ali's son: 'Are you a Muslim?'

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The story of the week is Trump, Russia and the FBI. The rest is a distraction

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 17:51:25 GMT2017-02-25T17:51:25Z

The White House reportedly tried to influence an active counter-intelligence investigation. All else, press ban included, is designed to deflect attention

Narrative switching. That is what the Trump administration is desperately trying to do around Russia right now. The White House reportedly interfered with the FBI in the middle of an active investigation involving counter-intelligence. This was not only foolhardy but also suspicious, as it directly undermined their apparent objective: distracting us.

Related: White House confirms conversation with FBI about Trump and Russia

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The White House's radical attack on the First Amendment cannot go unanswered | Lawrence Douglas

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 00:09:18 GMT2017-02-25T00:09:18Z

Denying journalists from the Guardian, New York Times and other outlets access to a press briefing is an authoritarian move. A swift response is needed

Those who said the presidency would change Donald Trump were correct. It has made him worse. In barring news outlets like the New York Times, CNN and the Guardian from a White House press briefing on Friday, the president has declared war on the first amendment. In so doing he has attacked a cornerstone of democratic self-governance.

New York Times editor Dean Baquet said: “Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties.” CNN, which the president has often labeled “fake news”, responded by saying: “Apparently this is how they retaliate when you report facts they don’t like.” Buzzfeed’s editor echoed that point, saying this was an “apparent attempt to punish news outlets”.

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Of course CPAC fawned over President Donald Trump. They helped create him | Kate Aronoff

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 20:42:39 GMT2017-02-24T20:42:39Z

While Trump’s far-right populism has won over plenty of converts, his success is a testament to the power of conferences like CPAC

In his address this morning to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Trump did what Trump does: blather about kicking “bad dudes” out of the country, bluster about the budget, ramble on about fake news and promise to open up vast new swaths of the country to fossil fuel extraction. It’s horrifying, but it’s also – at this point – starting to get boring. We know Trump.

“All I’ve done is keep my promise,” he thundered. And he’s right. Trump is the same bigoted billionaire he was on the campaign trail, even as his most audacious pledges – like his ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries – have been struck down by courts and massive protests. The people worth understanding now are the ones in the crowd today who helped elect him.

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Steve Bannon lifted his mask of death at CPAC. It wasn't a pretty sight | Richard Wolffe

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 20:52:26 GMT2017-02-23T20:52:26Z

At a rare public address, he let us peek at the darkness that resides inside the West Wing. The power behind Donald Trump’s throne was a spectral presence

There’s a reason why political operators like Steve Bannon have never sat on the national security council that effectively decides whether the United States should go to war. It’s the same reason why Bannon’s new seat on the NSC is such a threat to the security of the United States and its allies: because he’s permanently at war.

“I can run a little hot on occasions,” he admitted at the conservative freak show known as the CPAC conference. Judging from his rare public outing on Thursday, that would be an unusual example of diplomatic understatement.

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Yes, liberals are planning town hall protests. It's called democracy | Ben Wikler

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:37:52 GMT2017-02-23T13:37:52Z

Donald Trump sneered at ‘angry crowds’ holding politicians to account. That’s exactly what we’re doing – and we’re only just getting started

Americans are flooding into town halls across the country. Fearful that their country is being torn apart, they are turning out to protest their representatives in record numbers. Clearly, the furious crowds have gotten under Donald Trump’s skin. In a sneering tweet, the president dismissed the “so-called angry crowds” at town hall events as “planned by liberal activists.” We’ll take that as a compliment.

More than two dozen progressive activist groups are using ResistanceRecess.com, a site posted just last week by MoveOn.org, to search among more than 500 local congressional events around the country. Anyone can RSVP for an event and get a reminder email. So yes, that’s evidence of planning – apparently more planning than goes into a typical executive order issued by this White House.

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It's my first time attending the Oscars – here's my wishlist for the night | Peter Bradshaw

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 13:00:30 GMT2017-02-26T13:00:30Z

Will La La Land clean up? Will the stars come out against Trump’s travel ban? And will Ryan Seacrest give a certain debonair British film critic the red carpet moment he deserves?

I have to admit that I am rather excited about the 2017 Oscars ceremony. Because this year, for the first time in its history, the ceremony’s dinner-jacketed audience is to include … me. After years of pining, Cinderella-like, at home in London, or watching the ceremony in the office, mashing Pringles and Diet Coke into the gaps between the laptop keys, I have been invited to the ball. Stepping daintily out of the Uber that has transported me from the Econo Lodge in Burbank, I get to go on the red carpet — apparently a brief and heavily policed admission with a herd of other overseas, overexcited bozos — and then I get to sit in the theatre, way up in the “nosebleed” seats.

So my wishlist for this year’s event is topped by a yearning desire that Ryan Seacrest, hosting E!’s Live from the Red Carpet special, will excitedly call me over to the velvet rope for a long and ruminative discussion of Toni Erdmann’s chances of nabbing best foreign film, while Amy Adams and Ryan Gosling wait patiently behind me for their turn.

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Milo Yiannopoulos isn't the only bigot Republicans are cozy with | Jessica Valenti

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 19:41:05 GMT2017-02-21T19:41:05Z

The sad fact is that, while the former Breitbart editor has been disinvited from CPAC, someone else who has repulsive views will likely take his place

It’s odd to watch conservatives distance themselves from the writer Milo Yiannopoulos because he condoned child sex abuse. After all, they just elected a president who has a history of making inappropriate sexual comments about children – including his own daughter – and was accused of walking into the dressing rooms of changing teenagers.

So excuse me if I don’t buy the outrage.

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I'm undocumented. People like me need your help | Carlos Roa

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 11:58:39 GMT2017-02-22T11:58:39Z

With Trump’s crackdown under way, the fear among us has never been greater. But bullies back down when enough people stand together to say: ‘No’

As an undocumented immigrant benefiting from deferred action from deportation, I despaired the night Trump won. The nation seemed to have been hijacked by the forces of darkness. It felt like a giant step backwards, not only for the United States, but for the entire world.

Related: Trump plans to greatly expand number of immigrants targeted for deportation

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Heaven has 'extreme vetting'? When Republicans legislate from the Bible | Arwa Mahdawi

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 17:37:58 GMT2017-02-22T17:37:58Z

A panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference suggests America can have walls, gates and extreme vetting because heaven does. Come again?


Word has it that heaven is a pretty nice place. Indeed, it’s on many people’s bucket lists. But have you ever stopped to wonder exactly why heaven is so wonderful? Well, it’s the strict approach to immigration, obviously! The border agents at the pearly gates have rigorous entry criteria and don’t just let just any riff-raff sneak in.

Heaven’s model immigration policies haven’t gone unnoticed by the great and the good of conservative America. Indeed, a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) conference, which kicked off today, is titled: “If Heaven Has a Gate, a Wall, and Extreme Vetting, Why Can’t America?”

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Europeans watched Jews being deported. America must not repeat that mistake | Francine Prose

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 11:00:32 GMT2017-02-22T11:00:32Z

Donald Trump is making it easier to deport people and tear apart families. Will Americans become like those bystanders of the past who said nothing?

Among the most iconic and unforgettable images of the Holocaust are photos of Jews being marched at gunpoint through the streets of Amsterdam, Paris and Warsaw, of grim-faced adults holding the hands of terrified children, on their way to the labor and death camps of Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sachsenhausen. Under the Nazi regime, these deportations were entirely legal. The Jews had not only been stripped of their citizenship but criminalized, portrayed as a cancer on society that had to be removed.

Just the other week, 680 people were deported from the United States, but one searches in vain for similar images. What we mostly see are pictures of a young man, alone, his head nearly shaved, photographed from the back, handcuffed and pressed up against the car waiting to take him away. These images support the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) claims that nearly all of the deportees are men who have been convicted of felony charges. Bad dudes.

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'Last night in Sweden' was a figment of Trump's Fox News-inspired imagination | Christian Christensen

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 16:03:42 GMT2017-02-20T16:03:42Z

Donald Trump wants Americans to be very afraid of Muslim immigrants and refugees. He will warp reality to do so if needed

It was only a matter of time before Sweden – the politically correct, socialist hellhole inhabited by 10 million unfortunate souls – came into Trump’s crosshairs. “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible,” Trump said in a speech over the weekend.

That something had happened “last night” in the small European country came as news to many in the crowd. He had mentioned Sweden right after citing Brussels, Nice and Paris – which had all been hit by terror attacks. Had there been an attack in the Nordic country? This baffled journalists. And it puzzled the entire population of Sweden, who were surprised to hear that something terrible had happened in their country – and that it took Donald Trump to give them that information.

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Donald Trump's antisemitism comments: too little, too limp, too late | Lucia Graves

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 21:32:34 GMT2017-02-22T21:32:34Z

The president’s condemnation of hate crimes against Jewish targets would be more convincing if his record on prejudice in general weren’t so lamentable

“The antisemitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible, and are painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil,” Donald Trump told reporters at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington on Tuesday.

By any reasonable standard it was a rote remark – antisemitism is “horrible” – the sort of throwaway line that, uttered by another president, or more likely, some reasonably articulate eigth-grader mid-speech and debate tournament, might seem unremarkable. But coming from Trump it drew praise as a “strong rebuke”.

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Strikes were a part of Women's Day before. With Trump, they will be again | Cinzia Arruzza and Tithi Bhattacharya

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 11:00:02 GMT2017-02-21T11:00:02Z

As progress is being rapidly rolled back, we need a feminism of the 99% to take action. That’s why women in 30 countries are taking to the streets on 8 March

It is time to re-politicize Women’s Day. It has often been celebrated with brunches, flowers and Hallmark cards. But in the age of Trump, we need a feminism of the 99% to take action. That is why we are inviting women across the world to join us in an international day of strikes on 8 March.

The immense women’s marches of 21 January and their resonance across the country demonstrated that millions of women in the United States are finally fed up not only with the blatant misogyny of the Trump’s administration, but also with decades of continuous attacks on women’s lives and bodies.

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Freedom of the press isn't guaranteed. Especially when it's labeled the 'enemy' | Austin Sarat

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 11:00:35 GMT2017-02-20T11:00:35Z

Support for the media is falling among the American public and the courts have not always protected reporters. So what is the press to do about it?

This weekend brought the latest salvo in President Trump’s campaign to discredit the news media. Friday afternoon the president tweeted “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

In an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, Reince Priebus, the president’s chief of staff, tried to clarify the meaning of the tweet and reassure Americans that “The president believes in the First Amendment. He believes in a free press.” Nonetheless, commentators correctly noted that the phrase “enemy of the people” has notorious associations from the purges ordered by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, which killed tens of millions of people.

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Lying got Michael Flynn fired. But that's what the Trump White House does best | Lawrence Douglas

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 16:42:44 GMT2017-02-15T16:42:44Z

Despite Trump’s deformation of the truth, it seems that lying – at least to the FBI and the vice president – still has consequences

True to his word, Donald Trump is draining the swamp. What he neglected to mention was that it would be a swamp of his own making. Less than one month old, and already the Trump presidency has the making of an ethical superfund site.

The problems did not begin with Kellyanne Conway shilling for Ivanka Trump’s latest product line. And they will not be solved with the resignation of Michael Flynn, the intemperate and vaguely paranoid national security adviser forced out after 24 days on the job.

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The left needs to take a leaf out of Jesus' book – and get angry | Steven Thrasher

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 17:39:13 GMT2017-02-20T17:39:13Z

Being polite gets us nowhere. We should channel the righteous anger we feel at the mess America is in, and use it to change society

As a social justice-minded Christian, my favorite depictions of Jesus are from Matthew 21:12, when he is seen with a whip in his hand, flipping over tables in a rage and driving merchants from the temple. This is the Christ who speaks to me when I look at the mess that is contemporary America and ask myself “What would Jesus Do?”. He was a righteously furious Middle Eastern Jew, who’d been born while his mother was migrating and grew up to put the fear of God into capitalists, putting them on the run with a whip.

This Jesus is angry, and he’s a great role model for the American left, which has been cowed into thinking it must be passive and “nice” in the face of oppression.

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PewDiePie thinks 'Death to all Jews' is a joke. Are you laughing yet? | Arwa Mahdawi

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 15:46:11 GMT2017-02-15T15:46:11Z

YouTube’s biggest superstar is loved by the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer for a reason: they could see through his ‘jokes’

“It was just a joke!” How many times have you heard that before? A racist comment wasn’t actually racist – it was just a joke, duh. The just-a-joke justification is a favourite fallback for those looking to dodge responsibility for actions with unforeseen fallouts. The most recent example of “I’m just joking, guys” is brought to you by PewDiePie, the world’s biggest YouTube superstar.

On Tuesday, YouTube and Maker Studios, Disney’s digital entertainment company, confirmed that that they have ended their relationship with 27-year-old Swede Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg over antisemitism in his videos. To be clear: that doesn’t mean that PewDiePie is being taken off YouTube or losing any of his 53 million followers. It means that he will no longer have such easy access to the sort of advertising opportunities that netted him $15m in 2016 alone.

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Not so business-savvy: the CEO in the White House is bad at hiring people | Lucia Graves

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 16:45:07 GMT2017-02-16T16:45:07Z

Trump built his brand on hiring the best people – and firing the rest. Flynn and Puzder prove he can’t even do that well

Donald Trump’s top qualification for president was supposed to be his management prowess. On the campaign trail he repeatedly pledged to “hire the best people, not the biggest donors!” Less than a month into his presidency, the opposite appears to be true.

That was clear on Monday with the departure of Michael Flynn, whose resignation as national security adviser so early in a presidential tenure was unprecedented. With just 24 days in office, Flynn is the shortest-serving national security adviser in history, the average tenure being 2.6 years. And it was reaffirmed two days later, when Andrew Puzder, his pick to lead the department of labor, was forced to withdraw, making him only the 12th cabinet nominee ever to do so.

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Trump's anti-press conference would be funny – if it weren't so scary | Richard Wolffe

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 15:09:53 GMT2017-02-17T15:09:53Z

If Donald Trump is qualified for any job – and that’s a rather big if, based on this press conference – it’s clear that he wants to be a media critic on Fox News

Watching Donald Trump’s freak show of a press conference, it’s painfully clear that we have all made a terrible mistake.

For the last several months we all thought we were watching the presidential version of Celebrity Apprentice. Trump was going to walk into our living rooms, fire somebody at random, and then happily walk out.

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Americans aren't as attached to democracy as you might think | Austin Sarat

Sat, 11 Feb 2017 14:39:49 GMT2017-02-11T14:39:49Z

A new national survey suggests that we can no longer take for granted that our fellow citizens will stand up for the rule of law and democracy

There is much to celebrate in the court decision against President Trump’s immigration ban. It was a stirring victory for the rule of law and reaffirmation of the independence of the judiciary. Yet America faces a serious problem which that decision did not address: the erosion of public faith in the rule of law and democratic governance.

While we have been focused on partisan divides over government policy and personnel, an almost invisible erosion of the foundations of our political system has been taking place. Public support for the rule of law and democracy can no longer be taken for granted.

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Mike Flynn might be done – but Trump's nightmare has just begun | Richard Wolffe

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 05:44:06 GMT2017-02-14T05:44:06Z

This resignation and scandal is not a surprise. After all, we have a president who is too careless to handle a national security incident in a confidential manner

Cast your mind back to four months ago, when Donald Trump was just a long-shot candidate with a hot-headed adviser by the name of Michael Flynn.

It was the homestretch of the presidential election and national security wasn’t some side issue, mentioned in passing. Trump promised he would be a tough national security president with the toughest national security team.

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Donald Trump's handshake: never has such a strong grip looked so weak | Moustafa Bayoumi

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 18:47:23 GMT2017-02-13T18:47:23Z

No American president has ever tried to look as hyper-masculine while in fact looking so petty to such a large number of people and governments

Why can’t Donald Trump just shake hands like a regular person? Instead of the simple clutch of palms that humans have used for ages to demonstrate friendship, Trump jerks and pulls hard on people’s arms, almost knocking them off balance.

His handshake with Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s own nominee for the supreme court, went this way. And it’s a good thing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was already seated when they greeted each other for the cameras.

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Donald Trump's doctrine of unpredictability has the world on edge | Michael H Fuchs

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 11:00:11 GMT2017-02-13T11:00:11Z

When it comes to foreign policy, he desires to make America appear as unpredictable as possible. He is succeeding

Trying to piece Donald Trump’s foreign policy together, one cannot be blamed for missing the grand strategy in it all. Maybe Trump is a realist; or maybe he wants to dismantle the US-led international order. Perhaps he is purely a dealmaker.

Whatever the approach, one theme is consistent in Trump’s actions and words: his desire to make US foreign policy appear as unpredictable as possible. As Trump so succinctly summarized it himself during a foreign policy speech in April 2016: “We have to be unpredictable.”

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A Modest, Modern Proposal – updated for the Trump administration | Susan Straight

Sun, 12 Feb 2017 14:38:35 GMT2017-02-12T14:38:35Z

Jonathan Swift wrote his satirical essay on the treatment of the poor in 1729. Here is an updated version for our times

A Modest, Modern Proposal For preventing the Descendants of Immigrant and Indigenous Americans, as well as Slaves and Pioneers, Recent Refugees and Pilgrim Refugees, from being a Burden on their Politicians, Enforcement Officials or Country, and for making the efficient perusal of their genetic heritage and national/religious affiliations Beneficial to the Publick – (after Jonathan Swift, 1729).

1 – It is a melancholy object to those who travel through this Once-Great Nation to consider the difficulties in enforcing new Regulations on Citizenship, and also to view “the rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape” as Referenced during the Inauguration.

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How Steve Bannon captured America's spirit of revolt | Thomas Frank

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 16:04:22 GMT2017-02-10T16:04:22Z

The president’s aide stole a march on Democrats by shouting about economic injustice. But his solution – a return to pre-1960s social mores – is bizarre

So our billionaire president hangs a portrait of Andrew Jackson on his wall, spits on his hands, and takes a sledgehammer to the Dodd–Frank Act. The portrait is of the banks’ all-time arch-enemy; the reality is that the banks are going to be deregulated yet again. And in that insane juxtaposition we can grasp rightwing populism almost in its entirety: fiery verbal hostility to elites, combined with generous government favours for those same elites.

Donald Trump’s adviser Stephen Bannon presents an even more striking combination. A former executive at Goldman Sachs, Bannon is also the product of what the Hollywood Reporter calls a “blue-collar, union and Democratic family” who feels “an unreconstructed sense of class awareness, or bitterness – or betrayal”. Bannon is a founding member of the objectionable far-right website Breitbart and an architect of Trump’s unlikely victory, the man at the right hand of power. And yet almost no one in Washington seems to understand how he pulled this off.

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

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

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

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

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

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We all have the power to resist Donald Trump – in big and small ways | Francine Prose

Sat, 11 Feb 2017 11:00:13 GMT2017-02-11T11:00:13Z

The important thing is to keep saying no to each new outrage, and not to become complacent or inattentive

The American courts have given us an extraordinary victory this week. It would be heartening to imagine that this brave and sensible ruling by an independent judiciary – Judge James Robart of Washington state and the three judges at the ninth circuit court of appeals – against Donald Trump’s odious travel ban has sent an instructive and influential message to Washington. But it would also be naive. The would-be autocrat and his cronies remain determined to turn our nation into a racist, kleptocratic dictatorship run entirely by (and for the benefit of) white male billionaires.

On Thursday night, the news showed the daughter of Guadalupe García de Rayos break down in tears as she described packing a suitcase for her mother to take with her when she was deported to Mexico. I thought of how the European Jews, deported to Poland by the Nazis, were instructed to take with them only the possessions they could fit into a small valise.

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Despite his lies, Donald Trump is a potent truth-teller | James S Gordon

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 11:00:20 GMT2017-02-09T11:00:20Z

Like a Shakespearean fool, Trump says things others refuse to. We must understand the role he plays if we are to disarm him

Donald Trump evokes a wily and resilient mythic figure: the joker, the trickster, the fool, the one the Lakota people call the Heyoka, the contrary. Had his opponents – such as Hillary Clinton – understood this quality in him, the electoral outcome might have been different. The sooner the rest of us understand this side of him, the better.

In the European tradition, the fool holds up the mirror to the monarch and to all of us, mocking our faults and pretensions. He (the fool is almost always a man) is not constrained by deference or allegiance to truth. The Heyoka, one of the purest forms of fool, pretends to shiver when everyone else is sweating and takes off his clothes in winter.

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An extraordinary act of judicial courage: inside the latest travel ban court opinion | Joshua Matz

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 15:52:48 GMT2017-02-10T15:52:48Z

The court’s decision exemplified the rule of law in a democratic society. It displays the judicial courage our era requires

It isn’t every day that a federal court cites Ex parte Endo, the 1944 US supreme court decision which invalidated the detention of loyal, law-abiding Japanese-Americans during the second world war. But these aren’t ordinary times.

Shortly after taking office, President Donald J Trump unleashed pandemonium by suddenly announcing a temporary ban on travel into the United States from seven Muslim-majority nations, in addition to a temporary ban on all refugees. Experts cried foul, warning that Trump’s order violated the constitution and made America less safe.

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Is it wrong to laugh at Donald Trump? | Steven Johnson

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 10:52:00 GMT2017-02-10T10:52:00Z

Make no mistake, these are dark times. But it makes sense that we should find ourselves reaching for punchlines when we want to throw punches

Whatever else you might want to say about the first weeks of the Trump era, one fact is undeniable: we are living in the golden age of hand-lettered signs. History will judge how effective the Women’s March and the airport protests of last week turn out to be, but as protest movements go, I suspect they were unrivalled in terms of genuinely clever one-liners.

The signs were everywhere – on Instagram and Twitter and email – cardboard memes designed both for the crowd they were immersed in, and the great teeming after-party of social media. Some were gleefully profane: “This pussy grabs back!”; “now you’ve pissed off grandma”. Some were meta, like the many variations of the “Not normally a sign guy, but geez” placard that first appeared in the weeks after the election. Some found comedic defiance in rewriting the canon of resistance, like the sign that appeared at JFK the night after Trump signed the immigration executive order: “First they came for the Muslims, and I said NOT THIS TIME FASCISTS!”

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The resistance: 1, Ivanka Trump: 0 | Jamie Peck

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 16:17:09 GMT2017-02-09T16:17:09Z

Nordstrom’s decision to drop Ivanka’s brand hit the Trumps where it hurt – and shows how boycotts have a rightful place in the resistance

Ivanka Trump spent the election trying to pull off a delicate balancing act: campaigning for an authoritarian demagogue while simultaneously hawking sensible office clothes to women. Now, those contradictions have caught up with her: Nordstrom and others have dropped her toxic brand. Her father’s reaction, predictably, was: so unfair!

But it’s not.

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Jeff Sessions wasn't just Donald Trump's doing. Blame radical Republicans, too | Douglas Williams

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 11:00:21 GMT2017-02-09T11:00:21Z

Sessions’ confirmation and the Elizabeth Warren fiasco show: Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are as much a part of the Republican party’s fabric as old stalwarts

Donald Trump has often been painted as being at odds with the Republican party. Hillary Clinton once declared that Trump was “taking hate groups mainstream, and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican party”. But the Republican party has always been radical – and now we are seeing that radicalism writ large.

The confirmation of Jeff Sessions to the position of attorney general – as well as the silencing of Elizabeth Warren in the Senate – showed that Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are as much a part of the Republican party’s fabric as Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan.

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Democrats must do to the Dakota pipeline what they did to Betsy DeVos: resist | Kate Aronoff

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 18:23:39 GMT2017-02-08T18:23:39Z

Now that the army has approved the Dakota Access pipeline project, the Democrats must choose between fossil fuel executives and fighting on our side

Under Donald Trump’s direction, the army approved on Tuesday a bid from Energy Transfer Partners to move ahead with construction of the 1,170-mile Dakota Access pipeline. Last year, that pipeline’s route became the site of one of the country’s largest-ever anti-extraction demonstrations, a thousands-strong, indigenous-led encampment on Standing Rock Sioux land that galvanized national support.

Polling from October suggests that a majority of Americans believe the pipeline project was not properly reviewed. Among Democrats, a full 70% believe more study is needed – a study unlikely to come now that the army has called off its earlier demand for a thorough environmental impact study.

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Elizabeth Warren won't be silenced – and neither will American women | Jessica Valenti

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 16:34:57 GMT2017-02-08T16:34:57Z

Mitch McConnell’s actions in the Senate stand in a long tradition of Republicans trying to stifle women’s voices. But we’re determined to be heard

Senate Republicans seem to be under the mistaken impression that having elected a notorious misogynist as president means that they can stifle women’s voices without anyone noticing or caring.

That’s the only explanation I can muster for why they thought that it was acceptable – or strategically sound – to silence Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday night during a debate over Jeff Sessions’ nomination as attorney general. Republicans really must have thought it was in their best interest. They really must not be paying attention.

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The travel ban hearing: an important legal battle in a larger constitutional war | Joshua Matz

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 18:54:24 GMT2017-02-08T18:54:24Z

Whichever side loses will almost certainly seek immediate review in the US supreme court – the implications for the US and the world are extraordinary

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the US court of appeals for the ninth circuit heard argument on whether President Donald J Trump’s immigration and refugee order should go back into effect while legal challenges wind their way through the courts. Oral argument can be a fickle guide, but a majority of the panel will probably uphold a ruling that temporarily stayed Trump’s order.

That would unquestionably be the correct result.

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Donald Trump and Steve Bannon have turned the White House against America | Bill McKibben

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 16:50:08 GMT2017-02-07T16:50:08Z

The White House in the Time of Trump has seen unprecedented attacks on pillars of society and civilization

We’re not in a normal historical moment. Congress is acting as expected under a Republican government. The assault on the environment and working people is wrong, but predictable. What’s coming from the Oval Office, though, is unprecedented. It’s less the White House than the Black Tower, sending out its Breitbartian orcs and alt-right winged harpies to poison the politics of a nation.

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Eulogy for Québec mosque attack dead: 'Alexandre Bissonnette was a victim, too' | Hassan Guillet

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 15:53:34 GMT2017-02-08T15:53:34Z

‘Before he planted bullets in the heads of his victims, somebody planted ideas more dangerous than the bullets in his head.’ Read the eulogy by Imam Guillet

We are gathered here to celebrate Khaled, Aboubaker, Abdelkrim, Azzedine, Mamadou, Ibrahima. We are going to have a prayer for those who could not finish their prayers. We pray for them.

Khaled, Aboubaker, Abdelkrim, Azzedine, Mamadou, Ibrahima didn’t choose their place of birth. But they selected the place they wanted to live in. They selected the society they wanted to be their society. They selected with whom they wanted their children to grow. And it was Canada. It was Québec.

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How dare Trump use my daughter’s death to further his brutal agenda | Rosie Ayliffe

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 13:09:15 GMT2017-02-08T13:09:15Z

Mia’s killing in a hostel in Australia had nothing to do with terrorism. Instead, it shows that when human rights are disregarded, tragedies occur

I was not shocked by Donald Trump’s inclusion of my daughter Mia Ayliffe-Chung and her friend Tom Jackson’s deaths in his list of under-reported terror attacks. After all, attempts have already been made by the rightwing Australian politician Pauline Hanson and others to use their deaths as a means of preventing Muslim immigrants from entering Australia. However, I was affronted by the inclusion of their killings in Trump’s list, since it was at best a crass and callous error.

Our children’s deaths were ugly, brutal, and must have been utterly terrifying, and I find my mind attempting to recreate those events on a regular basis. This is a hurtful process, but I think it’s something I need to go through out of my love for Mia. And one day I am going to find the strength to visit the place where she died and meet Daniel Richards, the man who sat with her, risking his own life through those long hours of her death, and held her hand to soothe her while she died in his arms.

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Troubled times make it hard to be an optimist. But I don't plan to stop | Mary Elizabeth Williams

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.

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My preferred friends? Other working-class people with debt | Melissa Petro

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

Related: Tell us about your life in the red: how do you survive with debt?

Debt: $80,000+

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I feared my life lacked meaning. Cancer pushed me to find some | Bradford Frost

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.”

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As a US traveller, under Bush I sported a Canadian flag patch. Time to dust it off | Lilit Marcus

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.

Related: Canada's response to the US election is a most Canadian nod to our predicament | Jean Hannah Edelstein

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Women will march on – What would a feminist do? podcast

Wed, 25 Jan 2017 17:11:25 GMT2017-01-25T17:11:25Z

Saturday’s record-breaking demonstration brought together a diverse group of people to air a spectrum of grievances. We take a look at what comes next

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It is estimated that millions of people worldwide marched in conjunction with Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington. Across the globe, people came together on President Donald Trump’s first full day in office in an act of mass catharsis and solidarity, bringing individual messages of human rights and social justice.

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Staring down 2017 – What would a feminist do? podcast

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

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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.

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A feminist's debrief after the US election: share your perspective

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?

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Why immigration is a feminist issue – What would a feminist do? podcast

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

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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.

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When women's rights meet botox – What would a feminist do?

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

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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.

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The buying and selling of feminism – What would a feminist do?

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’

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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?

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

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

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

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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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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The Guardian view on South Korea: scandals and successes | Editorial

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 19:29:58 GMT2017-02-26T19:29:58Z

The controversy that has left Park Geun-hye’s presidency hanging in the balance tells us as much about this overlooked country as it does about her

North Korea’s bombastic rhetoric, nuclear programme and now the killing of the leader’s half-brother ensure – as intended – that this impoverished and insular country grabs extraordinary international attention. More surprising is that South Korea inspires so little interest in the west. It is, perhaps, too prosperous and stable to intrigue. But its rise has been spectacular. When Korea was divided in 1953, the south’s prospects looked gloomy. Life expectancy stood at around 50 years. Now it is a major global economy. By 2030 its women are expected to live past 90, leading the world. And a “Korean wave” of popular culture – K-pop, cosmetic brands and dramas – has swept through Asia and onwards.

Seoul’s latest soap opera is its most riveting and its most absurd. But this one is factual and threatens to make President Park Geun-hye the country’s first democratically elected leader to be forced from office early. It involves a “female Rasputin”, multimillion-dollar bribery allegations that have led to the arrest of Samsung’s acting head, and an actual, not merely metaphorical, gift horse. On Monday, the court deciding whether to uphold Ms Park’s impeachment will hear closing arguments. Her powers are already suspended and she has vowed to resign if it rules against her; critics say she has been stalling to see out the last year of the single term that presidents are allowed.

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The Observer view on Steve Hewlett

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 00:05:15 GMT2017-02-26T00:05:15Z

The master storyteller who touched us all with his life’s final chapter

Steve Hewlett, who died last Monday from oesophageal cancer, was a remarkable journalist, a former Panorama editor and a courageous broadcaster, who used his last months of fatal illness to extraordinarily moving effect. Not only did Hewlett write a must-read cancer diary here in the Observer, he conducted an unforgettable series of intimate conversations with presenter Eddie Mair on BBC Radio 4.

“Two men talking about cancer” became essential listening, while Hewlett tackled his diagnosis and subsequent treatment with a journalist’s thoroughness. He demonstrated how to fight illness, never flinched from researching his condition on Google, widening the circle of his inquiry to talk to friends who had been through cancer, investigate the best treatment and challenge his doctors. Millions responded to these dialogues.

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The Observer view on Labour and Jeremy Corbyn | Observer editorial

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 22:00:12 GMT2017-02-25T22:00:12Z

Labour is not a functioning opposition, leaving Mrs May free to act as she pleases

Related: Corbyn told: take blame for Copeland byelection flop or we face disaster

There can be no disguising the calamity that last week’s byelection results suggested for the Labour party, no extenuating circumstance that can excuse the performance of an institution that was once a great power. They were a dismal verdict on the state of her majesty’s opposition. Labour’s continuing decline should concern not just Labour supporters but anyone who cares about effective government and the checks and balances provided by decent scrutiny from a functioning opposition. It is difficult to remember a time when the official opposition was so weak in organisation, bereft of ideas, inept at basic politics and at the same time so supremely arrogant in the presumption of its own righteousness. And no amount of puerile blame-shifting by Jeremy Corbyn and his acolytes – it was the fault of Peter Mandelson, fake news, the “establishment” etc – can hide the dire reality of their predicament.

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The Guardian view on alien life: dark star, bright prospects | Editorial

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 19:00:20 GMT2017-02-24T19:00:20Z

The discovery of planets where other lifeforms might flourish makes the universe look more interesting – even if we never reach them

Looked at in the right perspective, 39 light years is a trivial distance. In the imagination of science fiction writers it is only a hop and a skip away; even without faster-than-light travel, it is a distance that could conceivably be covered by a robot probe or even a colony ship. So the discovery that there are seven Earth-sized planets hurtling around a red dwarf star named Trappist-1 only 39 light years away, and that three of them may well have water oceans capable of nourishing life similar to that of primitive Earth, is deeply satisfying, as well as exciting.

What took them so long? There are already nearly 4,000 planetary candidates known from earlier surveys of the neighbouring stars. The number of stars in our galaxy alone is ungraspably huge: just the margin of error in one estimate is a figure with 11 zeros after it. If even one in a million had planets around it, that would still leave anything between 20m and 40m planetary systems in our galaxy alone. If none at all holds life, that would be completely astonishing. But if some have developed life, we are left with the question named after the Nobel-winning physicist, Enrico Fermi: where are they? Where are the aliens?

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The Guardian view on famine: sitting by as disaster unfolds | Editorial

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 19:45:42 GMT2017-02-23T19:45:42Z

Millions face starvation, but the world is turning away. We are too late to prevent this severe food crisis – but we can and must act now to save lives

How can a disaster be unprecedented and yet also entirely predictable and preventable? And how can it be that, when such a catastrophe can be halted, we still fail to do so? That is the situation now unfolding across four countries, where 20 million people may starve to death within six months. The first famine recorded worldwide in six years has already been declared in part of South Sudan. Yemen, northern Nigeria and Somalia are also on the brink, according to the Famine Early Warning System, which says global hunger levels are at their highest for decades.

In the past, famine was often misunderstood as an inadequate food supply. Now we have grasped that – notwithstanding the alarming implications of a soaring global population, climate change and the effects of current farming practices – the key question is who can access food. People die because of disintegrating governments as well as poor rains. In each of the current cases, the problem has complex roots, but the striking common thread is conflict: the impact of jihadist group Boko Haram in northern Nigeria, the civil war in South Sudan and a war – fuelled in part by British and US bombs – that has destroyed and paralysed Yemen’s ports, to devastating effect in a country which imported 90% of its food. In Somalia, the primary immediate cause is drought, but decades of conflict have left it vulnerable.

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The Guardian view on terror suspects: protecting their rights is in our interests | Editorial

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 20:19:19 GMT2017-02-22T20:19:19Z

Jamal al-Harith, previously held at Guantánamo Bay, has blown himself up for Islamic State. But his case cannot justify the expansion of such detention and use of torture

Amid the storm over Jamal al-Harith, who was paid £1m compensation by the government following his incarceration in Guantánamo Bay and has now been identified as an Islamic State suicide bomber, we should remind ourselves why he received the settlement. Like hundreds of men he was held in extrajudicial detention for years and subjected to torture on a regular basis, with the complicity of the UK. He was taken to Camp X-Ray because the US thought he might have useful information on the treatment of prisoners by the Taliban – who had held him as a suspected British spy – not because he was considered dangerous. Authorities concluded he had no links to the Taliban or al-Qaida, though they thought some questions remained. Very few of the detainees have ever faced any charges even in the unsatisfactory forum of Guantánamo’s military tribunals, substandard courts lacking basic due-process protections. Most have been released and returned to society.

We have no way of knowing whether the trauma of his treatment accounted for Harith’s recruitment by Isis, or whether he was set on this path anyway. That is, in any case, secondary. What critics of the payment are actually saying is that anyone suspected of possible involvement in or interest in committing an offence has no right to the presumption of innocence. Regardless of how unsatisfactory the evidence against them is, the suspicion is enough to deny them the basic protections of international law and human dignity, and even the most serious and shocking infringements of those rights should receive no redress.

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The Guardian view on equal pay: it’s time it happened | Editorial

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 20:09:03 GMT2017-02-21T20:09:03Z

More than four decades after a law was passed to ensure men and women were paid the same, large differences persist. To end this gender wage gap will need more government actionThe danger of using milestones as a metaphor is that we may imagine we are on a steady journey. Progress is rarely so predictable. It can take much longer than one might imagine to get from one marker to the next. More than four decades after the Equal Pay Act came into force, women are still earning 18.1% less than men across full- and part-time work. The gap between full-time employees is 9.4%. On current trends it will take another 24 years to close the gap, according to PwC; others believe it will take much longer. Analysis has suggested that if every other relevant factor is controlled for – from race to hours worked to seniority – women earn 5.07% less than men for like-for-like work. Part of the decrease in recent years is, depressingly, down to more young men moving into low-paid work. Economics make up one part of the picture for women. Political power constitutes another. In 1975, when the act came into force, Margaret Thatcher became the first female leader of a major British party. Now the UK has its second female prime minister and many more women in senior positions across major institutions; one could soon be running the Metropolitan police. Several run or lead local authorities. Yet this week’s “northern powerhouse” conference includes only 13 women among the 98 speakers, and organisers did not bother to include any of them in the press release listing 15 influential speakers – despite the region’s many influential women.There is a temptation to present the question of female representation as a distraction from the real business of supporting the lowest-paid. But this is a false choice. The point is simply that no woman, be she a childcare assistant or a chief executive, should receive less pay or respect because of her gender. Representation does not guarantee better treatment, but women are unlikely to get it without women at the table. What ties these issues is the question of what and whom we value. We downplay the complex or demanding nature of work primarily done by women. We judge a man more authoritative or qualified than a female candidate with the same CV. We choose to put some leaders on a stage, but not others. Urging women to speak up, lean in and push for higher salaries is of limited usefulness [...]


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The Guardian view on Trump’s Sweden: another country | Editorial

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 19:20:39 GMT2017-02-20T19:20:39Z

Like the rest of western Europe, Sweden is dealing with economic and demographic issues. But whatever misguided US conservatives think, the Nordic nation is not a battlefront in a clash of civilisationsFor most of the last 30 years, Sweden has been one of the most welcoming countries in the world for refugees. Other countries have taken in more as a proportion of their population, but they have been immediately adjacent to war zones, where the demands of charity and humanity can’t be ducked. Nowhere in Europe approaches Sweden’s record. Until the entire system was overwhelmed last winter, and the brakes slammed on hard, the country took its humanitarian obligations very seriously. In 2015 more than one in six of the inhabitants of Sweden had been born abroad. In that year 162,877 people claimed asylum in Sweden, which led to a complete reversal of the old policy, and a fierce clampdown at the border. Last year only 29,000 applied for asylum; so far this year, fewer than 2,000 have. A demographic transformation has gone hand in hand with the breakdown of the old political and industrial model that had made Sweden appear one of the safest and most secure countries in the long boom after the second world war.Jobs are now far less secure, and the economy has much less use for unskilled young men of any religion or ethnicity. A rapid growth in inequality has left the city centres sleek, prosperous, and largely white, while the satellite towns around them are places of high unemployment where often immigrants and their descendants are largely concentrated. This recent change overlays longer-term trends. Sweden’s overall crime rate has fallen since 2005, but in the past decade there has been an uptick in violent crime, especially involving weapons. The murder rate in Sweden is now a fifth of that in the United States; guns are used in nearly a third of all murders. Experts rightly fret over the use of explosives and hand grenades in attacks. This a scandal. For a European social democratic country to remind us of American levels of violence and insecurity is deeply shocking. But that is not why some Americans are shocked. For a large proportion of the ill-informed and bigoted, including President Trump and some of his advisers, the problem in Sweden is not that it has developed American-style social problems, but that it is too Muslim. This may be too subtle an analysis. Perhaps the Fox N[...]


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The Guardian view on dying in public: a daily heroism | Editorial

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 19:08:49 GMT2017-02-20T19:08:49Z

The illness and death of Steve Hewlett is an example of humour and decency

Towards the end of the last century it was fashionable and even for a while plausible to describe death as the last taboo – the one subject we could no longer mention. Since then there has been an astonishing outpouring of books and journalism about the experience of terminal illness. Steve Hewlett, who died on Monday morning, left to humanity a legacy of his own humanity in the diaries he wrote for the Observer and the radio interviews with his friend Eddie Mair. The poet, wit and critic Clive James, fortunately still with us, and the writer Jenny Diski, who died in December, both kept public diaries of their decline which excite compassion and admiration among tens of thousands of people.

These records are inspiringly antiheroic. In contrast to the 18th-century tradition of writers using their own deaths as a moral – Addison making his last words “See how peacefully a Christian may die” contrasting with David Hume exhibiting how stoically a philosopher might manage death without any hope of an afterlife – the diarists of today are detailed and quotidian. Instead of a poised epigram – the Instagram of the 18th century – they are more like blogs, which show an ordinary life going on until one day it doesn’t. In this context, the way in which the presenter Eddie Mair teases his dying friend in their interviews is a wonderful demonstration of the way in which courage and love can saturate the fabric of everyday life.

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The Observer view on Mark Zuckerberg | Observer editorial

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 00:05:16 GMT2017-02-19T00:05:16Z

His Facebook vision is anything but benign

‘Are we building the world we want?” Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire CEO of Facebook, asked last week in a 5,700-word post that was quickly dubbed a “manifesto”. He used it to launch a strident defence of globalisation, striking a discordant note with the populism of contemporary political debate, and to set out his vision for the role he believes Facebook should play in creating a better world.

While Zuckerberg appears to acknowledge some of the criticism that has been levelled at an increasingly powerful Facebook in recent years, it would be wrong to be lulled into a false sense of security by his reassuringly benign tones. In his post, he signals a shift in Facebook’s mission, historically focused on giving people the power to share and connect. On Friday, Zuckerberg wrote “the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us”.

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The Flynn scandal hits the foundation of our democracy. We must investigate | Jill Abramson

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 12:45:23 GMT2017-02-15T12:45:23Z

Did Trump tell Flynn to reassure the Russians that the new administration, once in office, would go easy on them? Only an investigation can tell

As the threads of the Michael Flynn scandal are pulled, each one reveals a deeper pit of Russian intrigue and raises more questions about the integrity of the 2016 election. Now, it is time to ask the central questions at the rotten core of the Flynn imbroglio: did Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin engage in a plot to interfere with the 2016 election and, if so, was Flynn their middleman?

This is not the stuff of conspiracy nuts. Respectable, experienced Democratic national security experts, including the former ambassador and state department official Daniel Benjamin, are among those giving credence to such questions.

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The best new releases to watch during Black History Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This week in patriarchy: resignations, Russians and pressers, oh my! | Jessica Valenti

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 16:39:49 GMT2017-02-17T16:39:49Z

As we obsess over the latest tweet or never-ending breaking news, let’s not forget that the new administration is causing tangible harm every day

Resignations, Russians and pressers, oh my.

We’re barely a month in, yet somehow every day feels like four years. If the president of the United States isn’t having a complete meltdown during a press conference, then his nomination for labor secretary is withdrawing his name because of an old domestic violence accusation. And there’s the whole campaign-staff-in-touch-with-Russians thing. That’s all!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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