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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: Wed, 21 Feb 2018 04:21:12 GMT2018-02-21T04:21:12Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2018
 



It's time for America to embrace guaranteed income | Chris Hughes

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 11:00:40 GMT2018-02-20T11:00:40Z

We should provide a guaranteed income of $500 a month for every working adult who makes less than $50,000, argues Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes

Futurists love to debate when our economy will be thrown into turmoil by self-driving cars and robots taking our jobs. But when it comes to economic disruption, the future is already here.

Record low unemployment and record highs for the stock market don’t tell the full story of what is really happening in today’s economy. For many, a job used to mean stability: 40 hours a week, benefits, vacation days, sick leave and retirement savings plans. But according to a 2016 study by Princeton economists, nearly all of the jobs created in the preceding decade were part-time, contract or temporary. Today a job is more often than not just an unreliable gig.

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Finding Mr Alt-Right: my adventures on a dating site for Trump fans

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 16:10:00 GMT2018-02-20T16:10:00Z

Republican singletons were excited to hear about the launch of Trump Dating. The temptation to connect with the morally bankrupt fascist of my dreams was too much to resist

I’m not normally in the habit of joining dating apps while already in a relationship, but over the weekend I made an exception. The internet was abuzz with news of a website for Trump supporters called Trump Dating and, well, the temptation to connect with the morally bankrupt fascist of my dreams was too hard to resist. I sat my girlfriend down and broke the news as best I could: “Sweetie, I love you, but I feel like joining Trump Dating is the alt-right thing for me to do. I hope you understand.”

Succumbing to temptation when you’re already taken certainly seems to be something the people behind Trump Dating can understand. The site has been described as a sort of Ashley MAGAson, as you don’t need to be single to sign up. At first you could stipulate if you were “happily” or “unhappily” married, but they appear to have removed those options due to all the bad press. Meanwhile, one of the activists used as a face of the website was revealed by reporters in North Carolina to have a conviction for “indecent liberties with a child”. Whatever your relationship status, however, it is important to believe in the sort of good old-fashioned family values the president so stalwartly represents. (It should probably be noted that Trump Dating isn’t anything to do with the Trump Organization itself, despite its history of shambolic consumer misadventures.)

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If Trump has nothing to hide, why is he so soft on Russia? | Walter Shapiro

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 11:00:40 GMT2018-02-20T11:00:40Z

This is a question the press must keep asking over and over again – until they receive an answer

The political world has known the power of repetition since Cato the Elder reputedly ended every speech in the Roman Senate with the words: “Delenda est Carthago” or “Carthage must be destroyed.” Stanley Kubrick brought this rhetorical principle to life when he had rebellious Roman gladiators each rise to declare: “I am Spartacus.”

Robert Mueller’s surprise indictment of a baker’s dozen of Russians provides an opportunity for the White House press corps to harness the power of repetition. Every media availability should begin with the same question: “Mr President, if your claim that there was no collusion with Russia is correct, then why do you refuse to condemn Vladimir Putin or enforce sanctions against Russia?”

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How long will white women continue to vote Republican? | Jill Abramson

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 16:58:20 GMT2018-02-20T16:58:20Z

Republicans are panicking over dropping support among white women. The handling of recent domestic violence accusations only makes things worse

Support for Donald Trump among white women is cratering. This helps explain why, after days of tacitly condoning alleged spousal abuse by Rob Porter, which Porter denies, and former White House speechwriter David Sorensen, who also denies the accusations made against him, the president finally said last week that he was “totally opposed to domestic violence”.

It’s always been unfathomable to me that Donald Trump won a majority of white female votes in 2016, but he did. This was after the notorious Access Hollywood tape, the allegations of more than a dozen women who said he sexually harassed them.

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Roma and African Americans share a common struggle | Margareta Matache and Cornel West

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 16:30:07 GMT2018-02-20T16:30:07Z

Despite the abolition of Roma and African American slavery, criminalization and demonization continues

On 20 February, we mark the abolition of Roma slavery on the territories of today’s Romania. Much has changed across continents but the enslavement of people in both Romania and the US has converted into new forms of exploitation and control.

The impetus to kill and chain Roma and African American bodies remains one of the appalling facets of how the criminalization and demonization of these peoples have historically translated into action. For example, in Romania, Levente, a 21-year-old Roma man, was recently shot dead by a police officer in front of two Romakids, aged 10 and 14.

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So you're being sexually harassed at work. Now what? | Van Badham

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 00:27:51 GMT2018-02-20T00:27:51Z

Harassment is often endured because people fear the consequences if they take action – but here are some steps anyone can take

So, you’re not an A-list Hollywood actor, nor a mover and shaker in political circles. You’re just someone – probably a woman – with a job. And while they may not be powerful or important anywhere else, someone – a customer, a colleague, probably a man – is sexually harassing you at work.

Maybe you’re a temping teaching assistant in a school, and the French teacher announces to a class full of teenage boys anyone can get a good look up your skirt – a comment none of them will ever let you forget. Said man then drunkenly tells you at the school Christmas party that he’d like to “rub one out against your leg” (this happened to me).

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The media exaggerates negative news. This distortion has consequences | Steven Pinker

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 09:00:11 GMT2018-02-17T09:00:11Z

Whether or not the world really is getting worse, the nature of news will make us think that it is

Every day the news is filled with stories about war, terrorism, crime, pollution, inequality, drug abuse and oppression. And it’s not just the headlines we’re talking about; it’s the op-eds and long-form stories as well. Magazine covers warn us of coming anarchies, plagues, epidemics, collapses, and so many “crises” (farm, health, retirement, welfare, energy, deficit) that copywriters have had to escalate to the redundant “serious crisis.”

Whether or not the world really is getting worse, the nature of news will interact with the nature of cognition to make us think that it is.

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The Sackler family's drug money disgraces museums around the world | Allen Frances

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 15:21:03 GMT2018-02-16T15:21:03Z

The Sacklers have made a fortune from OxyContin, the painkiller blamed for sparking the deadly opioid crisis. They cloak their shame with philanthropy

There is no Pablo Escobar Wing at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and no El Chapo Guzman gallery at the Guggenheim. Columbia University doesn’t host a Sinaloa Drug Cartel Center of Developmental Psychobiology. Oxford would no longer be Oxford if its library were named in honor of the Cali drug cartel.

Our most revered institutions hold themselves to an ethical standard that does not allow accepting money from wealthy drug dealers – however tempting the prospect or worthwhile the project. They refuse to become philanthropic money launderers, cleansing dirty reputations by selling prestigious naming rights.

Related: Meet the Sacklers: the family feuding over blame for the opioid crisis

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Does every cloud have a silver lining? Not if it is run by an internet giant | John Naughton

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 07:00:37 GMT2018-02-18T07:00:37Z

Like the history of electricity generation, data processing has become centralised, so shouldn’t it be regulated in the same way?

Ten years ago, the tech commentator Nicholas Carr published The Big Switch: Rewiring the World From Edison to Google. It was the first attempt to explain to a general audience the significance of the computing industry’s move to what became known as “cloud computing”.

In the book, Carr sketched an analogy between the building of the electric grid a century earlier and the move to cloud computing that was already well under way in 2008. Electricity was once generated locally – every factory had its own generator – but eventually it was provided by huge generating stations run by large utility companies and distributed through a national network: the grid. The same process, Carr argued, would happen (indeed, was happening) to data processing. Instead of being done locally – in the server-rooms of individual organisations – it would be done in huge server farms and the results distributed through a national (now international) network: the internet.

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To fix American democracy, the left should commit to these four steps | Arlie Hochschild

Sat, 17 Feb 2018 11:00:13 GMT2018-02-17T11:00:13Z

The simple act of crossing the partisan divide will not resolve our crisis. But it could help us begin to slowly rebuild our nation

Ever since Donald Trump captured the imagination of enough American voters to win, liberals I’ve spoken with have felt in a quandary. Trump seems to be kicking at the foundation of democracy itself, and the Democratic party has yet to reinvent itself into a powerful, coherent alternative.

Some progressives have become highly anxious or depressed, and quit reading the newspapers in an effort to escape such feelings. Others have plunged into work with coalition-oriented groups – such as Indivisible or MoveOn.Org – or have joined single-issue groups such as Black Lives Matter.

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Please park the tired ‘unlucky-in-love’ Jennifer Aniston storyline | Barbara Ellen

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 12:57:11 GMT2018-02-18T12:57:11Z

The film star has announced her separation from Justin Theroux. The response to her perfectly normal relationship trajectory is entirely predictable

The marriage of Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux has ended “lovingly”. How does that even work? “Get out of my life! (I love you).” “I never want to see your miserable face again (You lit up my world).” “Don’t pack my coffee maker – you thief! (We will always have Paris).” However, Aniston and Theroux are managing it and good luck to them. I wish them well in what may be their last shared quest not to end up becoming as annoying and smug as Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, the celebrity couple who inadvertently proved that there can be such a thing as an over-civilised divorce.

In particular, good luck to Aniston, who, though she’s done a bit of acting, must now return to her proper day job of being described as “unlucky in love” in eight out of 10 articles written about her, the ninth usually written about her getting back with Brad Pitt (after approximately 13 years apart) and the tenth rudely insinuating that she is too old for bikinis.

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The Guardian view on Holocaust responsibility: Poland cannot wholly escape blame | Editorial

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 18:26:05 GMT2018-02-19T18:26:05Z

Germans planned the genocide and carried out most killings. But they had helpers and informants who should not be forgotten

“When you find yourself in a hole, don’t call for a bulldozer” is a useful maxim in diplomacy. The prime minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, is not a man to follow it. He seems to believe that any problem can be solved with a sufficiently powerful bulldozer. His Law and Justice party has already passed a law making it a criminal offence to suggest that “the Polish nation” was in any way responsible for the murder of six million Jews. This has infuriated opinion in Israel, and disturbed impartial historians everywhere. Worse was to come.

When an Israeli journalist asked him on Saturday whether this meant he could be jailed in Poland for writing the true story of how his mother’s family had had to flee the Gestapo because their Polish neighbours were planning to denounce them, Mr Morawiecki replied: “It is not going to be punishable to say there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators.” This was disgraceful. It blurs the morally vital distinction between those few Jews who collaborated with the Germans because they were confronted with agonising choices between evils, and those many Poles, Ukrainians, Lithuanians and other eastern Europeans who collaborated freely, from whatever mixture of greed, bloodlust and antisemitic enthusiasm.

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The Guardian view on Russian trolls: democracy is much too easy to hack | Editorial

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 17:13:43 GMT2018-02-18T17:13:43Z

Of course the Russians tried to influence the US presidential election. The shocking thing is that they found it so simple

Most of the coverage of the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has concentrated on who did it, and for whose benefit. But there is a sense in which this was not news. Anyone who has paid attention to the story, which has been hard to avoid, already believes that the Russians did what they could to get Donald Trump elected.

The detail of what was done has been less examined. The 37 pages of Robert Mueller’s indictment contain a meticulous account of the workings of a really professional propaganda or lobbying organisation. The “Internet Research Agency” in St Petersburg is more generally known as the Russian “troll factory”, but it spent its multimillion-dollar budget on much more than simple trolling. Women operatives were sent around the US to gather intelligence and to make contact with social and political activists. It was from American political activists that they received the advice to target “purple” swing states, something that was essential to the ultimate success of the campaign.

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The Guardian view on Barry Bennell: a chapter, not the whole story | Editorial

Sun, 18 Feb 2018 17:13:30 GMT2018-02-18T17:13:30Z

For 20 years a football coach was allowed to abuse terrified children in his care. There is no confidence yet that it can never happen again

Barry Bennell, the former football coach convicted last week on 50 counts of abuse of young boys in a ruthless and brutal exploitation of the power he had to fulfil their dreams, will be sentenced on Monday. He will probably spend the rest of his life in prison. That will be small satisfaction for his victims, many of whose lives have been irredeemably scarred by the experience of his abuse. There may be two or even three times as many victims as have already come forward: this has been a slow and painful reckoning, and scores of men who had spent their lives in denial have finally felt able to speak out since November 2016, when Andy Woodward first told the Guardian’s Daniel Taylor about the appalling trauma of being one of Bennell’s boys.

Bennell had already served two terms in prison in the UK and one in the US before the scale of his cruelty finally became clear. It may never have come to light if Mr Woodward had not found the courage to forego his right to anonymity and speak out. The familiar outlines of serial abuse have now emerged. Bennell was a cunning and manipulative man with what an American court called an “insatiable appetite” for young boys. For more than 20 years, in what became a well-established grooming routine, he had boys to stay, scared them with horror movies, lured them into the false security of his bed and made victims of these terrified children, often only 11 or 12, sometimes hundreds of miles from home. He knew they would stay silent from the shame of admitting what had happened, from their belief that he could help them to realise their talent on the football field, and from fear that they would not be believed. Some adults had their suspicions and shared them, but to no effect: at Manchester City, the Guardian has been told, the youth team manager Steve Fleet warned the board about Bennell. Bennell went on to Crewe Alexandra, where a board member reported his suspicions to management in the late 1980s, before Bennell was sacked in 1992.

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This Valentine's day, time to let go of manufactured desire | Steven W Thrasher

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 13:00:47 GMT2018-02-14T13:00:47Z

Stories about love are political, and like the myth of the American dream, the political stories Valentine’s Day peddles can limit expression

Perhaps the major lesson of my peripatetic life has been learning to let go of desire –desire for sex, for romance, for a normative family, for economic security, for consistent housing, for what was once called a “job” in the United States, or for any particular outcome in life. Like most of us, I have been taught to long for many things I likely will never have and may not even really want (which can alienate me from the many blessings of my life).

Valentine’s Day is a good occasion to reflect not just on how days like this set us up for disappointment by manufacturing desires for particular outcomes, but also to consider two of the worst effects of desire itself: entitlement and sadness.

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Paul Krugman got the working class wrong. That blunder had consequences | Thomas Frank

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 08:00:42 GMT2018-01-10T08:00:42Z

One of the most influential commentators in the US now recognises that white working-class voters have shifted en masse to the Republicans

On New Year’s Day, the economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman issued a series of tweets in which he proclaimed as follows:

The central fact of US political economy, the source of our exceptionalism, is that lower-income whites vote for politicians who redistribute income upward and weaken the safety net because they think the welfare state is for nonwhites.

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The week in patriarchy: women are strong when we stick up together | Jessica Valenti

Sat, 13 Jan 2018 15:00:01 GMT2018-01-13T15:00:01Z

This week reminded me that #MeToo isn’t going anywhere, and that anyone who tries to punish the leaders will be stopped

What a week it’s been. Between the Golden Globes and Times Up, Oprah and the slew of new allegations against powerful men … it’s a lot. But I have to say that this week gave me hope.

In particular, the quick and furious response of feminists online when Harper’s magazine was said to be outing the creator of the Shitty Media Men list. Notorious anti-feminist and backlash opportunist Katie Roiphe was said to be writing the piece, and so within hours women online coordinated to protect the anonymous woman’s identity.

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Don’t look to Trump for leadership after the Florida school shooting | Richard Wolffe

Thu, 15 Feb 2018 05:29:52 GMT2018-02-15T05:29:52Z

They say there’s no one more optimistic than an American teenager. But now we’re teaching them how to save their lives from a gunman

This is no time to talk politics, we’re told by gun-loving conservatives.

This is a time for prayers, we’re told by Donald Trump.

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