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Editorials | The Guardian

Latest news and features from, the world's leading liberal voice

Published: Tue, 27 Jun 2017 15:49:06 GMT2017-06-27T15:49:06Z

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

The Guardian view on the Tory-DUP deal: Theresa May is in denial | Editorial

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 18:59:48 GMT2017-06-26T18:59:48Z

The prime minister is governing as if she has a majority and a mandate. She needs to learn that she has neither

During the general election campaign, Theresa May obviously hoped that, when 9 June dawned, she would be leading a Conservative government with an increased majority and would be able to claim a mandate for the version of Brexit she always intended. When 9 June actually dawned, however, she had achieved neither of these things. Quite the reverse, in fact. Not only had she lost her majority; she had also failed to win her Brexit mandate. Mrs May’s current problem is that she has not yet properly come to terms with either of these outcomes.

On Monday Mrs May demonstrated this in two dangerous ways. In the first, she struck a Westminster deal with the Democratic Unionist party which emboldens her to behave as though she now has an overall majority when, in fact, she leads a minority government. In the second, she issued a tightly drawn paper on the rights of EU citizens living in the United Kingdom after Brexit in which she acts as though her version of Brexit represents the settled public will, when in reality it does no such thing.

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The Guardian view on Murdoch’s Sky plan: a blow to media plurality | Editorial

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 18:59:25 GMT2017-06-26T18:59:25Z

We need to recover faith in the scrutinising pressure of a truly independent, diverse media. Concentrating more power in the hands of a rightwing billionaire won’t help

Elected politicians traditionally shied away from picking fights with wealthy media moguls, wary of those who could spill barrelfuls of ink in defence of their arguments. There was a tendency for governments to raise little more than an eyebrow when media takeovers were proposed. This was a bad thing for democracy, leading to a concentration of power in the hands of a few very rich men. This process has been exacerbated in recent years by a digital revolution which has undermined traditional forms of media. All this should have changed with the revelations of phone hacking and the exposure by the Leveson inquiry of the unhealthily close relationship between politicians and the media. The test of just how different things are will come this week when culture secretary Karen Bradley announces what should happen to the proposed purchase by media conglomerate 21st Century Fox, effectively controlled by the Murdoch family, of the remaining 61% of Sky, the pan-European broadcaster, that it does not already own.

Mrs Bradley should at the very least refer the £11.7bn bid to the Competition and Markets Authority to allow for a six-month investigation to take place into media diversity. The broadcasting regulator Ofcom identified the need to promote “plurality and preventing undue influence by any one media owner”. If this deal went through then the Murdochs would control a third of the paid-for newspaper circulation, one of two 24-hour news channels, a sizeable amount of radio news and a popular news website. Linking Fox content to Sky’s distribution network – which encompasses set-top boxes, a landline broadband and mobile network – it will have a storehouse of personal data and the ability to understand what its users are viewing on television, online at home and when out roaming. The door is being opened to shape the media consumption habits of millions of Britons without them probably ever knowing about it. With such power, one would expect, comes responsibility. Instead the Murdoch empire undermines the BBC and describes vital impartiality rules as “an impingement on freedom of speech”. There’s enough evidence to contradict Rupert Murdoch’s assertion that he has “made it a principle all my life never to ask for anything from any prime minister”. As his own lieutenants have made clear over Brexit, Mr Murdoch’s media is about power.

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The Guardian view on policing and cuts: something has to give | Editorial

Sun, 25 Jun 2017 17:52:27 GMT2017-06-25T17:52:27Z

As home secretary Theresa May was right to challenge Britain’s police about costs and efficiency. As prime minister she must ensure police have the resources to protect the public

Promising to spend more money on policing has repeatedly proved politically popular and effective in modern Britain. Nearly 40 years ago, Margaret Thatcher’s promise to pay the police more helped her to win her first election victory. In the 1990s, John Major and Tony Blair conducted a political auction over which of them could promise voters more police. In the 2017 general election campaign, Jeremy Corbyn made political hay from Labour’s promise to recruit 10,000 new officers, forcing Conservatives on to the back foot about cuts in police budgets at a time of anti-terror security concerns.

Whether extra spending on police is actually an effective use of public money is a different question, however, especially when resources are tight. As prime minister in the 1980s, Mrs Thatcher lavished money on policing, yet crime rose consistently throughout her period in office and policing controversies over issues such as complaints, violence, race and accountability soared. Under Mr Blair in the 2000s, crime declined at its steadiest rate since the second world war, but without any attempt to consider reducing police numbers as a result. In 2010, the new home secretary, Theresa May, grasped that nettle, overseeing an 18% cut in police funding and a reduction of around 20,000 officers between 2009 and 2016. Yet police warnings of a “Christmas for criminals” mostly failed to materialise and crime has continued to fall to the present day.

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The Guardian view on abuse in the Church of England: a reputation deservedly damaged | Editorial

Sun, 25 Jun 2017 17:51:46 GMT2017-06-25T17:51:46Z

Dame Moira Gibb’s remarkable report exposes a long and shameful pattern of sympathy for the wrong people

The report of Dame Moira Gibb into the Church of England’s handling of the abusive bishop Peter Ball makes shocking reading. It reveals a concern for appearance over reality, for the institution over the individual and, most of all, for the strong and powerful over the weak and vulnerable. From the moment the first victims came forward, the response of the church up to the highest level was one of institutional self-protection.

The complaint was not reported to the police, but only to the archbishop of Canterbury, then George Carey, who persisted long past the point of reason in hoping that his colleague was innocent. The police were not told until after the first victim to come forward, Neil Todd, had attempted suicide twice – and even then it was his parents and not the church who made the complaint. The diocese of Gloucester hired a former policeman to investigate, and if possible discredit, the witnesses.

Related: Justin Welby asks George Carey to quit over church abuse report

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The Observer view on the housing crisis | Observer editorial

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 23:05:13 GMT2017-06-24T23:05:13Z

Government must be prepared to build when private initiatives fail

As we report today, research by Shelter shows that by 2020 more than a million households are likely to find that their housing benefit doesn’t cover the rent they pay to private landlords. The consequence will be hardship, eviction and, for many, homelessness. They will be victims both of high private rents and of government restrictions on benefit, both of which stem from the failures of housing policies for more than 30 years.

Rents are high because housing is scarce and property values high, and because millions excluded from both owning homes and living in social housing have nowhere to go but the private rental sector. Benefit is being restricted not only because of generalised austerity but also because the total housing benefit bill has been pushed up by the reduction of publicly-owned housing, thanks to the right-to-buy policy introduced under Margaret Thatcher and by restrictions on local authorities’ ability to replenish their stock.

The most effective way to address housing need would be to allow local authorities to borrow to build

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The Observer view on forging a Brexit consensus

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 23:05:13 GMT2017-06-24T23:05:13Z

Theresa May and the Tories have no mandate to make this momentous decision alone

Britain has had many governments, of many complexions. There have been one-party governments, coalition governments, minority governments and governments of national unity. In 1806, following the death of William Pitt the Younger, there was even a “ministry of all the talents”, intended to hold the country together. It did not last long and failed to end the war with France. Yet rarely if ever has Britain seen anything like the government we have now.

It is most unfortunate that we have so many makeweights and mediocrities collected together in the same place, at the same time, and under the same leader – especially when Britain is wrestling with Brexit, the most important decision in generations.

Among moderate MPs, fear of questioning Brexit is being overtaken by an even greater fear of another Great Depression.

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The Guardian view on Brexit: Wrong then, wrong now, wrong in the future | Editorial

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 17:55:20 GMT2017-06-23T17:55:20Z

Twelve months after the EU referendum, Theresa May’s latest Brussels trip reveals that the EU is leaving Britain behind, not the other way round

In one of the several low points of her stunningly inept general election campaign, Theresa May warned that Jeremy Corbyn would be “alone and naked” in the Brexit negotiating chamber. This week, though, it is Mrs May herself who has been revealed as Brexit’s empress with no clothes. Everything about her performance in Brussels over the last two days has underlined both the larger national tragedy of Britain’s decision to leave the EU and the deepening personal failure of Mrs May’s attempts to deliver it.

Mrs May went to this week’s Brussels summit promising a “fair and serious” offer on the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and of UK citizens in the EU, after Brexit. She met a humiliating response. The EU-27 told her these were not matters for a summit but for the negotiations. Angela Merkel said the proposals were no breakthrough. Emmanuel Macron said there was a long way to go. Even Donald Tusk, often a friend of Britain, called them “below expectations.” Meanwhile in Britain, EU citizens’ groups dubbed the plan pathetic, and George Osborne revealed that Mrs May had unilaterally prevented a fairer and more serious offer immediately after the referendum last June because that would strengthen her leadership election chances.

Related: Theresa May makes 'fair and serious' offer on EU citizens rights in UK

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The Guardian view on al-Jazeera: muzzling journalism | Editorial

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 17:55:08 GMT2017-06-23T17:55:08Z

In the Arab world, freedom of speech is being curbed to stop old and new media from raising questions about the way in which countries are run. This is wrong

In the conservative autocracies of the middle east, Qatar, a wealthy gas-rich emirate, has built up a reputation as a maverick, epitomised by its ownership of the al-Jazeera satellite television channel, which has often infuriated many Arab leaders. Since the TV station gave voice to the Arab spring, many autocrats no doubt wished it would be taken off air, permanently. Al-Jazeera, which arrived long before the internet in the region, broke the mould by reaching directly into Arab living rooms. Along with social media, al-Jazeera has in recent years stirred public opinion in ways Arab governments could not ignore. But now Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates think they can silence it with a blockade of Qatar that will only be lifted if al-Jazeera is shut down.

This is ridiculous. Qatar’s neighbours want to gag media that raises questions about the way these nations are run. Al-Jazeera is not perfect. Its Arabic outlet has been accused in the past of being antisemitic and partisan. It rarely criticises Qatar’s absolute monarchy. However, Qatar abolished formal censorship two decades ago. By comparison, in 2012 the UAE demanded David Cameron rein in adverse BBC coverage or it would halt lucrative arms deals. Abu Dhabi is a regional media player. The UAE’s deputy prime minister owns Sky News Arabia, along with Rupert Murdoch’s broadcaster. According to observers this station put out fake news about Qatar’s ruler.

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The Guardian view on plutocratic Mars missions: escape velocity | Editorial

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 17:51:07 GMT2017-06-23T17:51:07Z

The race between wealthy tech billionaires to get to Mars is a distraction from mortality

For science fiction writers ranged across the astronomical distance that separates Edgar Rice Burroughs and Kim Stanley Robinson, Mars has been a theatre of dreams, variously realistic. Now the tech billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are competing to see who will make it first there in reality. Bezos is spending a billion dollars a year out of his Amazon stock to keep his project going; Musk has announced he wants the first manned private flights to set off by 2026. He hopes that the price can be brought down from around $10bn to $200,000 and that reusable spaceships will ferry a million people to Mars over a period of decades until they can start a self-sustaining civilisation there. This, of course, is only the beginning: once the technology of reusable spacecraft fuelled by methane made from raw materials found at their destination has been mastered, Musk foresees no limit to their explorations.

Related: Life on Mars: Elon Musk reveals details of his colonisation vision

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The Guardian view on the UK’s workers: divided and conquered | Editorial

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 19:01:50 GMT2017-06-22T19:01:50Z

The Bank of England’s chief economist is right to say a casualised, de-unionised and atomised labour market has weakened workers’ ability to bid up wages. He’s wrong to say it may be time to raise interest rates

Life is getting interesting at the Bank of England. Next month will mark the 10th anniversary of the last time the technocrats of Threadneedle Street raised the official cost of borrowing, but the chances of an interest rate rise are higher than they have been for some while. Mark Carney, the Bank’s governor, thinks the time is not yet ripe for a tightening of policy. He used his delayed Mansion House speech in the City of London this week to voice concerns about the negative impact of higher inflation on consumer spending and the uncertain effects of Brexit negotiations on the economy. But three of the eight members of the Bank’s monetary policy committee took a different view, and they were almost joined by a fourth, the Old Lady’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, who said the time was fast approaching when he would vote for an increase. Mr Haldane’s intervention was significant, not just because he has hitherto been seen as one of the MPC’s most prominent “doves”, nor because his intervention came little more than 24 hours after that of his boss. Rather, it was because the bombshell was dropped at the end of a speech that seemed to argue the opposite.

For years, the Bank of England has been trying to find the answer to a puzzle: why is wage growth so weak even though unemployment keeps coming down? Britain currently has its lowest jobless rate since the mid-1970s, but there has been no sign of an acceleration in earnings growth. Quite the contrary, in fact. At least part of the answer, according to Haldane’s analysis, stems from structural changes in the labour market: a decline in union membership; more self-employment; more zero-hours contracts and more part-time and temporary work. The clock has been turned back not one century but three, so that the world of work in 2017 bears more than a passing resemblance to Britain as it was before the Industrial Revolution. There were no trade unions. Most people were self-employed or worked in a small business. The Uber drivers of that era were the agricultural workers hired only when there were cows to be milked or crops to be harvested. In those pre-industrial days, the relationship between wages and unemployment was strikingly similar to the one seen since the recession of 2008.

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The Guardian view on Saudi Arabia’s crown prince: the age of ambition | Editorial

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 18:59:39 GMT2017-06-22T18:59:39Z

At 31, the country’s new heir could have a long reign ahead of him. The reverberations are likely to be felt far beyond its borders

Everyone knew Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman was a young man in a hurry. Every step necessary for his advancement had been made in the two years since his father assumed the kingdom’s throne. Some judged him to be already the country’s de facto ruler. But at 31 his public triumph has come perhaps a little more quickly than anticipated. This week King Salman made him crown prince, supplanting his vastly more experienced cousin Mohammed bin Nayef. The new heir’s elevation has erased the kingdom’s image as a cautious, rather dull gerontocracy (the horizontal system of succession has passed rule from brother to brother; even his former rival looked young at 57).

Change is long overdue, and some have applauded the new crown prince as an energetic reformer. But it is clear he has no plans to meddle with the country’s nature as an absolute monarchy intolerant of dissent, let alone challenge the foundational partnership between the House of Saud and conservative Wahhabi clerics. Saudi’s religious leadership – according to reports – has been vocal in recent days about protecting autocracy from democracy. And the dramatic economic and foreign initiatives he has spearheaded have had dismal results.

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The Guardian view on the Queen’s speech: In office but not in power | Editorial

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 17:48:15 GMT2017-06-21T17:48:15Z

The minority government’s programme junks many of the things it wanted to do, in favour of measures it thinks it can get away with

Westminster in the record-breaking high heat of midsummer. The elderly Queen opening parliament for the 64th time in this longest of royal reigns. A crowded and noisy Commons chamber, with the party leaders straining to make their points across the despatch box. The unwary, catching the event on the television news afterwards, may have got the impression today that this was all very familiar, that the 2017 Queen’s speech marks the resumption of British political business as usual. Yet the unwary would be very wrong.

British politics were radically recast on 8 June. The new political landscape is different in almost every way bar the names of the two main party leaders. The Conservatives are in office but not in power. Labour is in one-more-heave mode for the first time since the 1990s. The SNP challenge has retreated though not ended. In this hung parliament, shaped by what is now a minority government, this was a Queen’s speech from a humbled Tory party under a leader whose authority has suddenly drained away.

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The Guardian view on Uber after Kalanick: only window dressing? | Editorial

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 17:47:55 GMT2017-06-21T17:47:55Z

The board finally acted to force the chief executive’s resignation. But the change may only be superficial

The resignation of Uber’s chief executive Travis Kalanick is a victory for everyone who cares about the way businesses are run, about the duty of corporations to obey the law and of employers to respect and treat fairly their employees. It is a win against the Silicon Valley cult of the genius-founder. It is a triumph for years of brave and determined investigation by a group of journalists who never stopped exposing the ride-hiring platform’s corporate culture even in the face of a $1m counteroffensive from Uber. And it is vindication for the Uber software engineer, Susan Fowler, who precipitated the final crisis when she described her experience of sexual harassment, a claim that provoked more than 200 other similar complaints. It is a belated exercise of power by the Uber board and investors. It will end a particularly nasty iteration of runaway executive authority. It is even a small step in the fight against the gig economy. But it is not the end either of a feeble form of corporate governance, nor of the employment model on which Uber and many other tech businesses depend.

Mr Kalanick embodied the extreme autocracy – sometimes referred to as the asshole strategy – that sometimes appears to be the hallmark of tech businesses, a culture of sharp elbows, “toe-stepping” and, in Uber’s case, what it called “principled confrontation” with regulators. It broke Apple’s privacy rules by writing its own code. Its so-called self-employed drivers are offered car-leasing arrangements that tie them into onerous obligations; their complaints are poorly handled and many end up earning less than the minimum wage. Although the chief executive’s personal behaviour finally energised an investors’ revolt and forced his decision to turn a leave of absence into resignation, it is not axiomatic that the company’s unbridled appetite for the fight has been dulled in any way. Renaming the war room the peace room, as Uber has, doesn’t cut it. The best that can be said is that the influence of Mr Kalanick’s behaviour as a model endorsed by success has been weakened.

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The Guardian view on the fall of Raqqa: the deadliest phase | Editorial

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 19:15:04 GMT2017-06-20T19:15:04Z

The noose is tightening around Islamic State at a time when the Middle East is in tumult. Miscalculations or accidental incidents could easily spark a wider conflagration, whose spiralling effect no one could then control

The rush to Raqqa, Islamic State’s capital on the banks of the Euphrates in Syria, marks the beginning of a new and perilous phase in one of the world’s most dangerous battle zones. The capture of the capital of Isis’s self-declared caliphate would be partly symbolic – the end of a fountainhead of terror – and partly material: Raqqa would provide a treasure trove of information about the workings of Isis. What is clear is that when Isis is routed, there’s a race to control vacated territory. The jostling between forces means care is required to ensure trigger-happy troops on the ground or in the air do not allow impatience to cloud good judgment.

Syria is a battlefield between a regime and an armed opposition, regional powers, Russia and the west. And it is entering an ominous phase in the almost six-year-old, multifaceted and evolving war that has devastated an entire country. Of the many battles between proxies, perhaps the most worrying are the clashes between forces supported by the US along with its coalition partners, and Iranian-backed groups acting in support of the Assad regime – with Russia as a powerful ally. And there are signs that five months into Donald Trump’s presidency, the risk of an overt confrontation between the US and other actors grows day by day.

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The Guardian view on Philip Hammond’s Brexit speech: practical policy, impractical politics | Editorial

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 19:14:09 GMT2017-06-20T19:14:09Z

There was much in the chancellor’s rescheduled Mansion House speech that fits with what Britain needs. But his party remains its own worst enemy over Brexit

In the general election campaign it was never clear in detail what the Conservative party’s Brexit policy really was. But it was clear who was in charge of it: Theresa May. Today, two weeks after the voters shattered the prime minister’s authority, the policy is even more unclear than it was before – but now no one can say who holds the reins either.

As the new parliament begins business tomorrow with a Queen’s speech very different from the one Mrs May planned in April – reports today suggested a U-turn on plans to limit free school meals, for example – her government battles to maintain surface calm. Beneath the surface, however, the battle of Brexit is under way. It is being fought out with increasing ruthlessness, amid signs that the weakened Mrs May is being pushed into a more liberal deal than the one she wanted.

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The Guardian view on the Finsbury Park attack: terrorism will not divide us | Editorial

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 18:40:33 GMT2017-06-19T18:40:33Z

This latest dreadful act is also a timely reminder of the experience of Islamophobia that Muslims in Britain endure

Groups of people of identifiable religious identity in this month of Ramadan, congregating on a north London street near Finsbury Park mosque. A white van driven with apparently murderous intent mounting the pavement. The attack that took place soon after midnight looks as if it was intended as a vicious and terrifying echo of the London Bridge attack less than two weeks earlier. One man, who had been taken ill just before the attack, is dead, two more were critically injured and a further six were hospitalised. The driver, attempting to flee, was tackled by his intended victims. A local imam, Mohammed Mahmoud, in a striking example of the way so-called British values also reflect the values of Islam, used his authority to protect the attacker from the understandable anger of his captors. A man is now in police custody facing charges of attempted murder.

Once more, a highly diverse community, along with police and politicians – including the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who is the local MP and was alerted quickly to the attack – have responded with the kind of urgent compassion and generosity that is the exact opposite of the division that terror is intended to achieve. Theresa May, in a statement in Downing Street and then on a visit to Finsbury Park, managed to do the right thing with reasonable timing. It will not be enough to redeem her standing, but at least it suggests she has learned something from the past few dreadful days.

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The Guardian view on public sector pay: time for a rise | Editorial

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 18:29:23 GMT2017-06-19T18:29:23Z

Nurses, teachers and firefighters will be thousands of pounds worse off a year in real terms by 2020

Harder work, for less pay. That’s the situation millions of public sector workers find themselves in. Their average real wages have steadily fallen since 2010 thanks to pay caps and rising inflation. At the same time, nurses, firefighters and police officers have found themselves stretched ever further by public spending cuts that require them to do their jobs with dwindling resources.

Two years of pay freezes, followed by four years of capped pay, have left median public sector wages £1,000 lower in real terms than they were in 2010. This will get worse: the government has announced the 1% annual pay cap will remain in place until at least the end of this parliament, despite the fact that inflation stands at a four-year high. The Trades Union Congress has estimated that this will make nurses, firefighters and teachers more than £2,500 a year worse off by 2019. This will reduce public sector wages to their lowest level relative to the private sector in more than 20 years – and back then there were significant staff shortages in professions such as nursing.

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The Guardian view on digital giants: they farm us for the data | Editorial

Sun, 18 Jun 2017 18:04:44 GMT2017-06-18T18:04:44Z

We are neither the customers nor even the product of companies like Google, but we turn our lives into the knowledge that they sell

An astonishing project is under way to build a “digital time machine” that will show us in fine detail the lives of ordinary Venetians across a thousand years of history. It is made possible by the persistence of the republic’s bureaucracy, which, when Napoleon extinguished the Republic of Venice in 1797, left behind 80km of shelving full of records of births, deaths, trades, building, land ownership, private letters, ambassadors’ reports and even medical information. All this is now to be digitised, cross-referenced, and analysed, and all its secrets laid bare to provide a picture in unprecedented richness and detail of the lives of individuals and the development of society over many centuries. Obviously, this is wonderful for historians and indeed anybody with an imagination alive today. One wonders, though, what the Venetians would have made of it, had they known their lives and letters would be so carefully anatomised after their deaths.

Far more is known about us now, though, and in real time. The data in the Venetian archives was unmatched in medieval and even early modern Europe, but it is only legend and scraps of hearsay compared to the knowledge of us accumulated by the giants of the digital economy – Google, Facebook, and Amazon – who all in various ways use the data harvested from their users to make billions of dollars, from advertising or from direct selling, or from some combination of both. Their knowledge of our intimate lives doesn’t wait two centuries or more until we’re dead. They get it live, in real time. Sometimes they know our minds before we know them ourselves. It’s a situation quite unprecedented in history.

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The Guardian view on Bangladesh: the people deserve better | Editorial

Sun, 18 Jun 2017 18:04:30 GMT2017-06-18T18:04:30Z

Bangladesh’s sterile, poisonous politics do a disservice to its people

Bangladesh’s impressive run in the Champions Trophy, though terminated by a thrashing from India in the semi-final last week, highlighted the cricket team’s striking progress and won deserved applause. This relatively young nation – which only won independence from Pakistan in 1971 – usually gets little credit for its triumphs against the odds. Those obstacles have been numerous, including the legacy of colonialism and the war of independence, and the challenges of safeguarding the world’s eighth-largest population when it is crammed into a delta: at least 150 people are thought to have died in floods and landslides last week. Yet the country has slashed cyclone deaths through better shelters and warning systems, and made impressive strides on health, literacy and poverty alleviation.

Its greatest enemy has arguably been the folly of its own politicians who remain locked in a vicious and sterile feud which has claimed too many lives and squandered opportunities to strengthen the country. Since 1991, leadership has swung between the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist party, each led by dynastic leaders, Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia. The last elections, in 2014, were scarred by widespread violence and have been followed by further attacks on the opposition. Few believe that politics have not played a part in the legal cases against Ms Zia and her son and heir apparent, Tarique Rahman. Earlier this month the former prime minister Moudud Ahmed and his wife, the poet Hasna Jasimuddin Moudud, were evicted from their home. Mr Ahmed, 77, is not only a BNP party elder – but also a lawyer who defended Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Sheikh Hasina’s father and the country’s founding leader, when what was then West Pakistan charged him with sedition pre-independence. It says much about how Bangladesh’s leaders have wasted its original hopes as they obsess over divisions and ignore common interests.

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The Observer view on the Grenfell Tower fire | Observer editorial

Sat, 17 Jun 2017 23:05:52 GMT2017-06-17T23:05:52Z

Behind this disaster lies a brutal indifference to the lives of the poor

Grenfell Tower fire - latest updates

The horrific images of people signalling for help at the windows of a blazing Grenfell Tower will remain imprinted in our collective memory long after the demolition of its charred remains. They lived in one of the richest boroughs in one of the richest cities in the word. Yet the state utterly failed in its responsibility to provide them with the most basic of protections. It continues to fail to provide the survivors and relatives with the assistance they so desperately need. This grim insight into the society that we share with Grenfell Tower’s inhabitants should shake us all.

Official answers as to who and what was responsible will have to wait for the weeks, months and years of criminal investigation, inquest and inquiry to come. But it does not take a public inquiry to expose the shameful truth about Grenfell Tower. These were preventable deaths. We are a rich society that has created remedies for diseases once thought incurable and invented the world wide web. We know how to make housing decent safe and fireproof and we have the money to do so. The negligence that led to dozens of men, women and children, many of them poor, many of them migrants, burning to death must forever be a stain on our conscience.

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