Trump, Brexit, even Strictly – we focus on anything rather than the bloodletting. That makes us complicit in these atrocities
Almost anything is more interesting than the massacre of civilians in Syria. Just look at today’s front pages. The Guardian leads on the slaughter of unarmed residents in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta, but for the rest it’s a mix of continuing scandals in international aid charities, the tax record of a newly appointed financial regulator, and Brendan off Strictly having an unauthorised waltz with Camilla.
Against all that, the bloodbath in eastern Ghouta is deemed too dull to compete. Sure, the government of Bashar al-Assad may have pounded the rebel-held area so hard that it killed 194 people in 40 hours, many of them children. It may have targeted seven hospitals in two days, repeatedly hitting medical workers as they sought to rescue the injured and dying. And yes, this may signal the escalation of a siege that has denied supplies to a population of 390,000 for months, squeezing them between bombardment and starvation. All that may be meticulously documented by the UN. But who, if we’re honest, gives a damn?
Related: Fresh strikes kill civilians in Syrian rebel enclave Continue reading...
The government is on a course that defies all logic, but the opposition refuses to oppose. No wonder people feel betrayed
Britain makes its most disastrous mistakes when its two main parties agree with each other. So it has proved in the past – and so it is proving now. Next month will mark the 15th anniversary of the fateful night in the House of Commons when Labour and Tory frontbenches united in whipping their MPs to vote for military action in Iraq. Yes, there were rebellions: some 84 Labour members said no to Tony Blair’s war, while 69 abstained. But the official tally – 412 out of 659 – spoke of cross-party consensus. Outside the Palace of Westminster, the country was rancorously divided on this fundamental question. But inside, the prime minister and the leader of the opposition were on the same side.
Related: We can leave the EU, but not Europe. Isolation is no longer splendid | Simon Jenkins
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If the president insists on flexing his muscles on the streets, the opposition should have an alternative parade to mock his strongman tactics
The genius of Donald Trump, it has long been observed, is to turn subtext into text. What was hinted at or hidden is, with him, brought shamelessly to the surface.
So it is with his latest scheme, his instruction to the top brass of the US armed forces to lay on a military parade in the nation’s capital, perhaps on 4 July. He’d been nagging the generals about this for a while but, according to the Washington Post, he gave the order at a meeting at the Pentagon last month.
Related: Donald Trump orders Pentagon to plan grand military parade
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works! Continue reading...
The Polish government is wrong to ban discussion of the nation’s role in the Nazi slaughter of the Jews. It needs to face the demons of the past
History is complicated enough without getting the police involved. But in Poland debates about the darkest event of the 20th century could soon spill over from the seminar room and editorial pages and into the courts, even the prison cells. That’s because a new law, awaiting the president’s signature, would impose a fine or up to three years in jail for anyone found guilty of blaming “the Polish nation” for the Holocaust.
It’s an obvious, nationalistic move by the hard-right Law and Justice party, which rules Poland. But it raises tricky questions, not only about that country but about how to best to safeguard the truth, a question that has become increasingly vexed – even urgent.
Related: Poland provokes Israeli anger with Holocaust speech law
The truth is rescuers were the exception, a ‘tiny, terrorised group who feared, most of all, their own neighbours'
Related: Beware the illiberal alliance of Poland and Hungary, a grave threat to the EU | Will Hutton Continue reading...
Trump likes to pretend he operates within the usual boundaries, which is why a henchman with a record of racism and misogyny should have been challenged on Radio 4
Call it the teleprompter delusion: the tendency of the US political class to seize gratefully on any occasion when Donald Trump manages to stand in front of an Autocue and read the words written for him without frothing at the mouth. The pundits then hail the achievement as a turning point and the birth of a kinder, gentler, more presidential Trump.
It happened 11 months ago, when Trump addressed a joint session of both houses of congress. At one point, he paid tribute to the widow of a US serviceman killed in a botched operation in Yemen, who was present in the chamber and who the cameras showed sobbing. “He became president of the United States in that moment, period,” gushed the previously hostile CNN commentator and former Obama administration official Van Jones.
Stone had an uncanny knack of predicting when WikiLeaks would drop damaging information about Hillary Clinton
Related: It's the BBC's rightwing bias that is the threat to democracy and journalism | Owen Jones Continue reading...
The behemoth’s collapse should shatter taboos about borrowing and could herald a new era of public investment
Sometimes a single event can destroy not one dogma but two. So it may prove with the collapse of Carillion, the one-time construction company that mushroomed into a behemoth that did everything from paving motorways to managing operating theatres and ladling out school dinners. Most attention has focused on the article of faith that fuelled its rise and rise, and which has been shredded by its fall – the axiom that dominated government thinking for three decades, and which can be distilled into four words: private good, public bad.
Related: Four lessons the Carillion crisis can teach business, government and us | Larry Elliott
In their desperation to avoid the appearance of borrowing, governments have ended up costing us dearly
Related: I was an outsourced Carillion hospital worker. Here’s what I learned | Polly Toynbee Continue reading...
The director dropped everything – including new blockbuster Ready Player One – to tell the story of the Washington Post’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers. He talks about parallels between Nixon and Trump and why Oprah Winfrey would be a ‘brilliant’ president
Shortly after The Sixth Sense became a global sensation, its director, M Night Shyamalan – hailed on the cover of Newsweek in 2002 as “the next Spielberg” – told an interviewer that, years earlier, he had realised the one ingenious trick that made Steven Spielberg movies so spectacularly successful. Like a soft-drink manufacturer who had stumbled on the secret recipe for Coca-Cola, Shyamalan could not believe his luck. What was Spielberg’s killer formula, Shyamalan was asked. He would not say. Merely by understanding it, he had struck commercial gold and he did not plan to share it.
It didn’t quite work out that way for Shyamalan, who has never matched the heights of that first hit. But I thought of his imagined revelation as I watched Spielberg’s latest film. The Post stars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks as Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post, the duo who took on the Nixon White House in 1971 to publish the Pentagon Papers, the US Department of Defense’s own secret history of the Vietnam war that laid bare decades of government dishonesty. Continue reading...
Online conspiracy theorists may question Trump’s doctor’s pronouncement that the president is fit for office. But Congress is the only route to end this nightmare
Behold, the girther movement. Like those “birthers” who followed Donald Trump’s lead in denying that Barack Obama was born in the United States, the girthers refuse to believe the official account – in this case, the readout supplied by the White House doctor on Tuesday who declared, following his first such examination of Trump, that the president weighs in at 239 pounds.
No sooner had Dr Ronny Jackson delivered his verdict than the online conspiracy theories were proliferating. How could Trump possibly weigh the same as assorted top athletes who, like him, are also 6ft 3in (1.90 metres) tall? Indeed, how reliable is that 6ft 3in figure, given that Trump’s 2012 driver’s licence gives his height as 6ft 2in? Had the doctor added an inch to Trump’s height in order to ensure that his body mass index showed him as merely “overweight”, like 34% of all Americans, a handy one pound below the threshold that would have classified him as “obese”, like 35% of Americans? (Unlikely, said former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer, who praised Dr Jackson, who also served in the Obama administration, as a “phenomenal doctor”.)
Related: 'It's all explosive': Michael Wolff on Donald Trump Continue reading...
She’s better than him in so many ways but, whoever the victor, such a contest would confirm his view of the presidency as a celebrity post
Donald Trump is a stone-cold racist. There was surely no doubt about that, not after he launched his presidential campaign by branding Mexican migrants as rapists and criminals. Or after he praised the white supremacists who marched under swastika banners in Charlottesville as “very fine people”.
Related: Celebrity politicians are a sign of our political decline | Cas Mudde
It would be satisfying indeed to see Winfrey challenge a man who is not just a racist but a coward and a liar
Related: Oprah Winfrey's Golden Globes speech: the full text
Related: ‘Shithole countries’? Words worthy of a racist-in-chief | Richard Wolffe Continue reading...
Calling her the ‘ambassador of empathy’, The Post director endorses Winfrey and says America needs ‘a mindful, empathetic human being in the White House’
The undeclared but burgeoning campaign to elect Oprah Winfrey the next President of the United States has received another boost, with the full-throated backing of one of Hollywood’s biggest figures: Steven Spielberg.
“I think Oprah Winfrey would make an absolutely brilliant president,” the Oscar-winning director told the Guardian on Thursday. Spielberg, in London to promote his new movie The Post, said: “If she declares, I will back her.”
Related: The Post review – Streep and Hanks scoop the honours in Spielberg's big-hearted story Continue reading...