After Carillion we have the chance to build a better country | Jonathan Freedland

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

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Steven Spielberg: ‘The urgency to make The Post was because of this administration’

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.

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Neither the girthers nor a white knight will eject Trump. It’s down to democracy | Jonathan Freedland

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

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If Oprah took on Trump, he would be the ultimate winner | Jonathan Freedland

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

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Steven Spielberg: Oprah would make a brilliant president and I will back her

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

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Don’t pity white, middle-aged men. It’s ludicrous to cast them as victims | Jonathan Freedland

French female campaigners are defending men’s rights to ‘hit on’ women, while May’s ‘massacre’ of the pale, male and stale leaves them remarkably well intact

Progressives need to update their settings: there’s a new beleaguered minority in town, one that needs our support. This group has been “punished summarily, forced out of their jobs”, according to campaigners in France, while in Britain it’s even more serious. Here, according to a leading national newspaper, this same oppressed group has just been subjected to a “massacre”.

Who is the target of this new onslaught of persecution, exclusion and violence? Is it Muslims, people of colour or women? Might it be refugees, gay people or the disabled whose plight demands our solidarity?

Related: Catherine Deneuve, let me explain why #metoo is nothing like a witch-hunt | Van Badham

Related: Theresa May’s new cabinet more privileged than before

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Fire and Fury confirms our worst fears – about the Republicans | Jonathan Freedland

Donald Trump’s utter unfitness for the presidency has been laid bare in Michael Wolff’s new book. What will it take for his party to remove him from office?

What did you think would be the Republican reaction to the latest revelations about Donald Trump? Did you expect the party’s luminaries to drop their collective head into their hands, or to crumple into a heap in despair at the state of the man they anointed as president of the United States?

They’d certainly have had good reason. In the book Fire and Fury, which on Thursday received the greatest possible endorsement – namely a “cease and desist” order from Trump’s personal lawyers – the journalist Michael Wolff paints a picture of a man whose own closest aides, friends and even family believe is congenitally unfit to be president.

The Republicans have predicted many times that Trump would change. They've been wrong every time. He won’t change

Related: Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House review – tell-all burns all

Related: Late-night hosts: 'Trump's own people think he's dumb as a watermelon'

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The year of Trump has laid bare the US constitution’s serious flaws | Jonathan Freedland

I once wrote a hymn of praise to the achievements of the founding fathers. There’s still much to celebrate – but their inspirational vision needs an urgent update

There’s a million things to love about Hamilton, the musical that has opened in London to reviews as glowing as those that greeted its debut on Broadway. The lyrics are so ingenious, so intricate and dexterous, that the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, has a claim to be among the most exciting writers, in any medium, in the world today. Rarely have I seen an audience delight in the tricks and rhyming pyrotechnics of language the way I saw a preview audience react to Hamilton a fortnight ago.

As I say, there are countless other pleasures. The staging is inventive, the melodies memorable and, by having black and minority ethnic actors play Alexander Hamilton and his fellow founding fathers, the musical instantly offers a powerful new take on America’s tragic, enduring flaw: race. But it was the idealism of the show – which venerates Hamilton and George Washington and unabashedly romanticises the revolution that birthed the United States of America – that struck a particular chord for me.

Related: Hamilton is creative and radical – in the proud tradition of musical theatre | Mark Lawson

America, as that great revolutionary Thomas Paine said, is too often 'like dead and living bodies chained together'

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From Trump to Brexit, 2017 was the mourning after the year before

The two seismic events of 2016, Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, continued to cause mayhem throughout 2017

If 2016 was the year the democratic world went on a wild bender, 2017 was the year of the hangover. It was when we woke, slumped on the floor, still in yesterday’s clothes, heads pounding, to see how badly we’d trashed the room the night before. It was the year in which we contemplated the damage done, feared what more was yet to come – and searched out glimmers of hope that, somehow, we might avoid the worst.

But it was also the year in which troubles that had been stored up years or decades earlier – some ignored, others denied – burst through the surface, demanding our attention and crying out for something else too: a reckoning long overdue.

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The NHS staff who rallied to my son’s aid show there is hope, even in bleak times | Jonathan Freedland

Brexit and Trump dominate the news. But amid the gloom we should not forget that a vital part of our nation continues its inspiring work

There has been so much bad news this year that I thought I’d offer a little sparkle of something more heartening. Perhaps it might serve as a reminder that even those clouds that have darkened our skies most – the menacing dominance of technology, the strained state of our public services – are, every now and again, lined with a trace of gleaming silver.

The story begins with an accident. Cycling home from school, my 16-year-old son, Jacob, was knocked off his bike by a van that had veered into the cycle lane. I rushed to pick him up and took him to our nearest hospital, the Homerton, in east London. By the time we got there, the pain in his left leg was so bad he couldn’t get himself out of the car. It took a nurse and an orderly to prise him from the front seat and into a wheelchair.

'It's cheering to hear of a small effort to create something that helps people rather than hurts them'

Related: The blue passport is taking back control? No, it was first imposed on us from abroad | James E Baldwin

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