Conspiracy theories such as JFK distract from the real threats we face | Jonathan Freedland

When imagined plots lead to the bereaved and wounded receiving online hate, they are no longer harmless eccentricity but a dangerous diversion

Ruefully, and rightly as it turned out, one lifelong investigator of the Kennedy assassination predicted that there “won’t be any smoking gun” in the cache of nearly 3,000 JFK-related documents released late on Thursday night. It was a suitably ironic choice of phrase by Jefferson Morley, the editor of the JFKfacts website. Because this, of course, is a rare case where there was very much both smoke and a gun, in the form of the 6.5mm Carcano rifle used by Lee Harvey Oswald to shoot John F Kennedy on 22 November 1963. It’s just not the smoking gun Morley’s readers were looking for, the one that would prove a vast, hidden conspiracy to murder the 35th president of the United States.

There were plenty of juicy titbits in the papers all the same. Conspiracy theorists will seize on the CIA memo that reports that Oswald, while in Mexico in September 1963, spoke to a Russian diplomat identified as a KGB officer and member of Department 13, a unit “responsible for sabotage and assassination”. Others will delight in the ambiguous words of the FBI director, J Edgar Hoover, who two days after the killing wrote of the urgent need to “convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin”. My personal favourite is the mysterious phone call to a British local paper – the Cambridge Evening News – 25 minutes before the shot rang out in Dallas, instructing a reporter to call the US embassy in London to hear “some big news”.

Related: The Guardian view on conspiracy theories: convenient fictions | Editorial

Related: JFK files reveal FBI warning on Oswald and Soviets' missile fears

Related: The best books about the JFK assassination, from Norman Mailer to Don DeLillo

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With Trump and Brexit, politicians must put principles before prospects | Jonathan Freedland

MPs backing Brexit despite their beliefs should take note of Republican senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, who have made career sacrifices to avert disaster

Those craving the end of the Trump presidency will hail Jeff Flake and Bob Corker as heroes. They are conservative Republican senators who have turned on their own party’s president, Flake condemning Donald Trump in a powerful, stirring speech in the chamber yesterday, Corker dishing it out in a form his target will understand: an interview followed by a series of sharp, barbed tweets. The latest reads: “Same untruths from an utterly untruthful president. #AlertTheDaycareStaff,” the hashtag being a reference to Corker’s earlier description of the White House as “an adult day care center”.

All that will be heartening to those who understand that, as things stand, the only force that can thwart, impeach or eventually remove Trump is the Republican-dominated Congress. Only if Republicans turn on the president in sufficient numbers will he be imperilled. The optimistic Trump opponent will be hoping that Flake and Corker are the first bulls to break in what will eventually be a Republican stampede.

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With hardcore Brexiteers urging ‘no deal’, Labour’s duty is clear | Jonathan Freedland

Theresa May’s government is divided and vulnerable. If the opposition steps up, it could end this madness

Some of you will be old enough to remember when the choice was leave or remain. How quaint it seems now. Because once the country voted in June 2016, we faced a new choice. For the true believers, simply leaving the European Union was not good enough: it had to be a hard, rather than a soft, Brexit. Now even a hard departure is not sufficient for the most devout Brexiteers. Demonstrating the purity of their faith, they yearn for a no-deal Brexit.

Related: Emmanuel Macron accuses Brexiters of bluffing over no-deal divorce

English, Australian and New Zealand wines are great, Redwood wrote, so no need to buy French or Spanish

Related: PMQs verdict: Corbyn's easy win on the economy should worry Tories

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‘No-deal’ Brexit and attitudes on immigration – Politics Weekly podcast

Anushka Asthana is joined by Torsten Bell of the Resolution Foundation, the Guardian’s Rowena Mason and Jonathan Freedland to discuss Brexit. Plus Bobby Duffy of Ipsos Mori on changing attitudes to immigration

As Theresa May heads out to Brussels to try to break the Brexit deadlock, back home a growing chorus of Conservatives tell her to prepare to walk away with no deal. But what would that mean in practice?

Joining Anushka Asthana this week are Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland, deputy political editor Rowena Mason and Torsten Bell, the director of the Resolution Foundation whose report this week showed heavy costs for consumers if Britain exits without a deal.

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Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder shows where hatred of the media can lead | Jonathan Freedland

The Maltese journalist whose car was blown sky high was fiercely independent. She was also a member of the reviled mainstream media

In the roll-call of unfashionable causes, defence of the MSM – the hated “mainstream media” – surely ranks close to the top. Bashing the press is now a guaranteed applause line on both the right and left. Donald Trump, who last week said it was “frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever they want”, and called for NBC to be stripped of its (nonexistent) broadcasting licence, is only the most obvious example. Before him came Sarah Palin and her diatribes against “the lamestream media”.

But the MSM is a favourite target of the left too: witness the Corbynite attacks on the BBC and its political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, who famously required the protection of a bodyguard to attend the Labour party conference.

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Yes, Donald Trump can be removed from the US presidency. Here’s how | Jonathan Freedland

There are a lot of people hoping he’ll be turfed out of office soon – but first the Democrats have to start winning elections

The bar is set so low for Donald Trump that every day he doesn’t trigger a nuclear confrontation with a distant adversary is seen as a bonus. Today was one such day, as Trump signalled that he would not, after all, tear up the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, as many – including his closest lieutenants – once feared he would.

Sure, he disavowed the accord, slamming Tehran as a “rogue regime”, imposing fresh sanctions on the Revolutionary Guard and refusing to certify that Iran has complied with its terms, but he did not feed it into the shredder. Instead, he kicked the decision on its future over to Congress. That certainly puts the deal’s survival in jeopardy, but it does at least live to see another day..

Related: Trump threatens to rip up Iran nuclear deal unless US and allies fix 'serious flaws'

Apparently Tillerson was incensed by Trump’s desire to increase America’s already massive nuclear arsenal tenfold

Related: Donald Trump tweet attacks NBC News, suggesting a challenge to 'their license'

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Weinstein’s claim of an age of innocence about sexual abuse is pure fiction | Jonathan Freedland

When America went through its collective lesson in sexual harassment, Weinstein was in class: he just wasn’t listening. There are no excuses

There is so much to condemn about Harvey Weinstein, but let’s focus on the opening paragraph of the statement he released in response to the New York Times’ revelation of his serial sexual harassment. “I came of age in the 60s and 70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different,” he wrote. “That was the culture, then.”

Most reaction to those words has focused, rightly, on the absurd implication that there was ever a time when it was acceptable for a man to abuse women the way an ever-expanding group of individuals – and a covert audio recording – say Weinstein abused them.

Related: Silence is the sexual abuser’s friend. Those who know, must speak up | Suzanne Moore

Related: The Guardian view on Harvey Weinstein: a watershed | Editorial

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The Tories are destroying themselves in pursuit of hard Brexit | Jonathan Freedland

They once had a laser-guided focus on power, but now all their energy is devoted to leaving Europe, the more dramatically the better

We are now well into that most traditional of Tory pastimes, a weekend of plotting aimed at removing a leader. Except this time, the whispering, scheming, texting and whatsapping comes as a once iron law of politics crumbles before our eyes.

Related: Yes, May is weak. But do her rivals have the nerve to wield the knife? | Martin Kettle

Related: 'Burning inside me'? The five worst moments of Theresa May's speech

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Simon Schama: finding the light in the darkness of the Jewish story

The historian on the terrible challenge of writing Jewish history for his new book Belonging

Simon Schama is erudite to the point of self-parody. A conversation with him will range across continents and epochs at breakneck speed, the references to kings, painters, writers and scholars coming so fast that just as you’ve placed one, another has taken its place. When we meet, in the Academicians’ Room at the Royal Academy – the closest the New York-based Schama has to a London club – we have barely sat down before he has recommended The Five, a novel by Vladimir Jabotinsky, the intellectual godfather of Likud-style “revisionist” Zionism who died in 1940 (“It’s frighteningly good. It’s strangely sub-Dostoevskian”) and offered a description of the architecture visible in the demilitarised zone that separates North and South Korea (“pseudo-Mussolini, neoclassical, colossalist columns”).

Such range befits the university professor of art history and history at Columbia University, who also writes for the Financial Times and is a frequent contributor to Question Time, the man who has made more than 40 TV documentaries and is the face of three landmark BBC series, each aiming to tell the definitive television history of, respectively, Britain, art and the Jews.

Related: The Face of Britain by Simon Schama review – a fine look at ego, satire and power from art history’s Mr Bombastic

Trump signed bill allowing mentally ill to buy guns thus becoming an enabler of massacre

Related: Simon Schama heads shortlist for Baillie Gifford prize

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Boorish Boris: Johnson’s Libya joke is proof he cannot do his job | Jonathan Freedland

He is meant to be Britain’s chief diplomat, yet his attention-seeking behaviour is offending people abroad and at home – while a rival is stealing his shtick

It’s hard to know for sure if Boris Johnson actively wants to get sacked – but he’s doing a pretty good impersonation of a man who does.

The foreign secretary’s latest offence was to tell a fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference that the Libyan city of Sirte could prosper, eventually becoming the next Dubai: “The only thing they have got to do is clear the dead bodies away,” he said, in that tone he reserves for a comic aside. Naturally, the remark elicited laughter. And so, once again, the morning news shows were talking about Johnson rather than the prime minister – even on the day of her big speech.

One colleague compares him to a jealous toddler trying to win back the gaze of the adults looking at his newborn brother

Related: Conservative conference 2017: Theresa May delivers keynote address - Politics live

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