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The best way to counter the far right? Know the enemy | Hari Kunzru 4 Feb 2017, 7:05pm The best way to counter the far right? Know the enemy | Hari Kunzru
Since Trump’s election win, his online footsoldiers are ever more emboldened. Here’s how to fight back…Last weekend, I flew to Berlin to speak at a seminar. I found myself relieved to be off American soil but worried about leaving my family behind. I wasn’t concerned about their safety, at least not as things stand. My wife and children are citizens and my immigration status is solid, though it’s significant that these are times when I have to think about my wife’s citizenship and my solid immigration status. Since the inauguration, which feels like a long time ago, the pace of change has been rapid and the need to be close to my loved ones is strong. Like many of my friends, my social media use has become compulsive and unhealthy. You could think of it as informational hyper-vigilance, a draining state in which your need to keep yourself informed wakes you up in the middle of the night to check if something has happened, something that requires an immediate response or decision. You need to know how everyone else is reading each new development. Who is being melodramatic? Who is complacent? Who is reading the roiling political currents in a helpful way?
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This ‘feminist’ drama’s message? Woe betide the woman who strays | Rachel Cooke 4 Feb 2017, 7:05pm This ‘feminist’ drama’s message? Woe betide the woman who strays | Rachel Cooke
For a so-called celebration of female sexuality, the BBC’s Apple Tree Yard leaves much to be desired When the BBC series
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Mrs May discovers you can’t be a bridge builder and a bridge burner | Andrew Rawnsley 4 Feb 2017, 7:05pm Mrs May discovers you can’t be a bridge builder and a bridge burner | Andrew Rawnsley
By tearing up relations in Europe and with Trump in the White House, Britain looks very lonely in the world The cruellest remark made about Britain by an American came out of the mouth of Dean Acheson, secretary of state to President Truman. Speaking in the early 1960s, he bagged himself an immortal place in the books of quotations with the withering observation: “Great Britain has lost an empire and has not yet found a role.” The first half of that sentence was obviously correct. At its zenith, the British empire held sway over a quarter of the land surface of the planet. Quite a feat for a modestly sized, wet and blowy island in the north-east Atlantic. This was an empire over which “the sun never set”. Until it did. By the time Acheson delivered his jibe, there were only a few pink specks under the continuing rule of Britannia. It lingered also in some lines in the national anthem, the archaic handles on honours and a residual belief, sustained by Britain’s heroism in the Second World War, that there remained something exceptional about these islands.
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Trump is no fascist. He is a champion for the forgotten millions | John Daniel Davidson 4 Feb 2017, 7:05pm Trump is no fascist. He is a champion for the forgotten millions | John Daniel Davidson
Obama promised solutions but let the people down. Is it any surprise that they voted for real change?Amid the ongoing protests against President Trump, calls for “resistance” among Democratic politicians and activists, and the overheated rhetoric casting Trump and his supporters as fascists and xenophobes, an outsider might be forgiven for thinking that America has been taken over by a small faction of rightwing nationalists. America is deeply divided, but it’s not divided between fascists and Democrats. It’s more accurate to say that America is divided between the elites and everybody else, and Trump’s election was a rejection of the elites.
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Why should older people rely on their families for care? | Catherine Bennett 4 Feb 2017, 7:05pm Why should older people rely on their families for care? | Catherine Bennett
The new government wheeze to avoid its obligations is to suggest that children bear the burden, not the stateNo doubt, unless it was a coded message to his own four children, David Mowat, the junior health minister, meant well last week
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In Tory Britain, disabled people are seen as idle | Barbara Ellen 4 Feb 2017, 7:05pm In Tory Britain, disabled people are seen as idle | Barbara Ellen
Disabled people have enough challenges, so why cut their benefits? There are plans to reduce significantly disability benefits for new claimants of the employment and support allowance (ESA). In changes due in April, the
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Modest proposals to make Labour great again | Kevin McKenna 4 Feb 2017, 7:05pm Modest proposals to make Labour great again | Kevin McKenna
In the spirit of Swift, these policies could speed the languishing party back to powerNothing is more emblematic of the inadequacy of Glasgow city council’s ruling Labour group than its failure to address the running sore of begging in the streets. No visit to the centre of Scotland’s most important city, it seems, is complete without being accosted by a Burberry-clad jaikie with a nasal whine or a prone immigrant in a doorway attempting to part you from your hard-earned poppy. It’s time for Glasgow to rid itself of these scourges by deploying the anti-begging spikes now to be found in the shop doorways of several of England’s most affluent cities.
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Trump’s lies are not the problem. It’s the millions who swallow them who really matter | Nick Cohen 4 Feb 2017, 7:05pm Trump’s lies are not the problem. It’s the millions who swallow them who really matter | Nick Cohen
As the alt-right continues to set the agenda in global politics at a frightening pace, has the world reverted to a 20th-century era of totalitarianism?Compulsive liars shouldn’t frighten you. They can harm no one, if no one listens to them. Compulsive believers, on the other hand: they should terrify you. Believers are the liars’ enablers. Their votes give the demagogue his power. Their trust turns the charlatan into the president. Their credulity ensures that the propaganda of half-calculating and half-mad fanatics has the power to change the world. How you see the believers determines how you fight them and seek to protect liberal society from its enemies. And I don’t just mean how you fight that object of liberal despair and conservative fantasies, the alternately despised and patronised white working class. Compulsive believers are not just rednecks. They include figures as elevated as the British prime minister and her cabinet. Before the EU referendum, a May administration would have responded to the hitherto unthinkable arrival of a US president who threatened Nato and indulged Putin by hugging Britain’s European allies close. But Brexit has thrown Britain’s European alliance into crisis. So English Conservative politicians must crush their doubts and believe with a desperate compulsion that the alleged “pragmatism” of Donald Trump will triumph over his undoubted extremism, a belief that to date has as much basis in fact as creationism.
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My poker heroes were cowboys, but the internet saw them off 4 Feb 2017, 7:05pm My poker heroes were cowboys, but the internet saw them off
We thought computers needed to become more human to win at pokerI was one of those who said it could never be done: that a computer wouldn’t ever manage to beat the best at the game of poker. I was romantic and wide-eyed at 18, when my heroes were the cowboys from Texas who ruled the felt. They were uneducated and coarse, yet chock full of the human qualities needed to excel at poker. With nicknames like Amarillo Slim and Texas Dolly, these larger-than-life characters had fearlessness, aptitude, and a deep understanding of what makes people tick. The higher the stakes, the better they played. One moment an opponent would be confidently betting their hand, then squirming with fear and unable to call.
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Half of the British public think Trump is ‘dangerous’ | Andrew Drummond 4 Feb 2017, 7:05pm Half of the British public think Trump is ‘dangerous’ | Andrew Drummond
While the US is still seen as Britain’s greatest ally, the president is a threat to global stability, according to a new Opinium poll If Donald Trump is not a popular man in his own country, his public image in Britain is even worse. When our poll asked voters which words they most associated with Donald Trump, the most popular were “dangerous” (50%), “unstable” (39%) and “bigot” (35%). More than half of British adults polled (54%) expect Trump to be a below average (10%) or awful (44%) president. Sixty-four per cent believe that Trump is a threat to international stability and 56% say he isn’t trustworthy. Even Ukip voters, who are generally the most positive towards the new president, are more lukewarm than enthusiastic. Although 53% of Ukip voters expect Trump to be an above average or great president, the most commonly selected word associated with him is still “dangerous” (26%), followed by “intelligent” (24%).
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Government plan to open up green belt has to be just the start | Rowan Moore 4 Feb 2017, 7:05pm Government plan to open up green belt has to be just the start | Rowan Moore
This week’s white paper on housing is a real opportunity to help the ‘just about managing’One difference between Theresa May’s government and the last one is its more active attitude to housing. At the Conservative party conference, for example, a
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The Observer view on artificial intelligence | Observer editorial 4 Feb 2017, 7:05pm The Observer view on artificial intelligence | Observer editorial
Superintelligent computers may grab the headlines, but the humble algorithm is a significant threat to humanityFirst it was checkers (draughts to you and me), then chess, then
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The Observer view on parliament’s sovereignty over Brexit | Observer editorial 4 Feb 2017, 7:05pm The Observer view on parliament’s sovereignty over Brexit | Observer editorial
MPs must stand up for democracy and ensure a second referendum‘Parliament has remained sovereign throughout our membership of the EU.” And with that, the government’s
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Donald Trump and Theresa May through the looking glass 4 Feb 2017, 7:05pm Donald Trump and Theresa May through the looking glass
Chris Riddell on the Lewis Carroll world we all inhabit today
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Flood of American food will damage health and ruin farms | the big issue 4 Feb 2017, 7:05pm Flood of American food will damage health and ruin farms | the big issue
A trade deal to allow chlorinated chicken and unlabelled GM foods would be costlyMany thanks for Joanna Blythman’s timely reminder (“
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Rising incomes mean nothing if prices rise even faster | Letters 4 Feb 2017, 7:05pm Rising incomes mean nothing if prices rise even faster | Letters
Good economic news distorts the truth about household wealthAs with so many pieces about levels of inequality (
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4 Feb 2017, 2:30pm Updated Mr. Trump’s Random Insult Diplomacy
If the president insists on alienating American allies, shouldn’t he at least have a very good reason?
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4 Feb 2017, 2:30pm Threatened With Ruin at the Virtual Casino
The growth of legalized gambling is triggering a comparable boom in devastated lives.
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4 Feb 2017, 2:30pm Unfairly Squeezing Student Borrowers
The practices of the largest student loan servicer are driving up repayment costs and pushing people toward default.
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I’m no pussy when it comes to swearing | Alex Clark 4 Feb 2017, 1:15pm I’m no pussy when it comes to swearing | Alex Clark
A five-letter word created a fuss last week, in a courtroom and also in publishing. WTF?How do you legislate against unmannerliness? The problems are both multiple and obvious: one person’s oath is another’s endearment; context and tone can change meaning from serious to light, comic to malevolent; and now, rather than a spirit of the age, we have a spirit of the day. More bluntly: once, telling someone to “fuck off” suggested they had probably bashed you round the head, swindled you out of a fortune, robbed your sweetheart from beneath your nose. Now, they probably just pushed in front of you in the queue for a wankerccino (if that doesn’t exist, it should). Consider the recent tale of two pussies. The first is the
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Is technology smart enough to fix the fake news frenzy? | John Naughton 4 Feb 2017, 1:00pm Is technology smart enough to fix the fake news frenzy? | John Naughton
As we drown in misinformation, we’re looking to the tech giants to hit the truth button. If only it were that easyThe debate about “fake news” and the “post-truth” society we now supposedly inhabit has become the epistemological version of a feeding frenzy: so much heat, so little light. Two things about it are particularly infuriating. The first is the implicit assumption that “truth” is somehow a straightforward thing and our problem is that we just can’t be bothered any more to find it. The second is the failure to appreciate that the profitability, if not the entire business model, of both Google and Facebook depends critically on them not taking responsibility for what passes through their servers. So hoping that these companies will somehow fix the problem is like persuading turkeys to look forward to Christmas. What we learned in 2016 was the depth of the hole that digital technology has enabled us to dig for ourselves. We’re now in so deep that we can barely see out of it. Liberal democracy could be facing an existential threat, for it’s not clear that it can endure if its public sphere becomes completely polluted by falsehoods, misapprehensions, ignorance, prejudice, conspiracy theories and hatred.
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Voting for Brexit hasn’t saved us from secretive trade deals 4 Feb 2017, 11:00am Voting for Brexit hasn’t saved us from secretive trade deals
Once the UK leaves the EU, Liam Fox will be presented with arrangements more secretive and toxic than anything the EU has ever demandedA turbocharged version of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could be heading Britain’s way after Theresa May’s Brexit white paper. That’s the upsetting irony for those (and there were a few) who voted to leave the European Union to escape nasty trade deals that involve secret courts to resolve corporate disputes. These are the courts that some of the world’s biggest companies have used when they want to overturn local laws that jeopardise their profits. Tobacco company Philip Morris was a keen exponent.
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Change Would Be Healthy at U.S. Climate Agencies 4 Feb 2017, 8:33am Updated Change Would Be Healthy at U.S. Climate Agencies
In the Obama era, it was routine for press releases to avoid mentioning any margin of error.
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Range Rover Evoque car review: ‘It’s a compromise car’ 4 Feb 2017, 6:00am Range Rover Evoque car review: ‘It’s a compromise car’
The accent is on fuel and carbon economy – relative to the rest of the Land Rover family, of course, not to cars at large There’s something about the rounded exterior of the Range Rover Evoque that makes me want to give it a hug, but only in the pictures. I would never hug a live car. People in the big-car market call this a diddy version of a real Range Rover; there’s even one with three doors, for those who want all the road hogging with none of the convenience. However, to any regular eye, it’s still a large high rider, a car in which you meet other cars that are also impractically large on urban streets: one of you has to reverse, and it falls to the person who is the humblest, which is never the person who is best at reversing. But anyway: I maintain, nonetheless, that it has a linear softness I like, and a pleasing, clink-clunk quality to the interior.
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I’m American and British. Can I save the special relationship? 4 Feb 2017, 4:00am I’m American and British. Can I save the special relationship?
Imagine if both your parents had a midlife crisis, one that involved banning people from the house rather than buying Ferraris I’ll be honest, it’s not the proudest time to be a US-UK citizen. Back in the late 90s, when I added a mauve British passport to my desk drawer alongside my American blue one, it felt almost embarrassingly over-cautious, a self-indulgent hedging of bets, like triple glazing your windows. Of course, I liked that I could now vote in the UK, and would no longer have to pay foreign fees to go to a British university. But surely the primary point of having multiple nationalities was that you always had somewhere safe to call home: having the US and UK felt like holding two trump (ahem) cards. Also, as much as people like me – people including me, let’s be honest here – like to ham up the cultural differences between Britain and America (ha ha, Marmite! Self-deprecation! What even
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First on the White House agenda – the collapse of the global order. Next, war? | Jonathan Freedland 4 Feb 2017, 2:00am First on the White House agenda – the collapse of the global order. Next, war? | Jonathan Freedland
Trump’s allies yearn to wreck alliances that have kept the peace for decades. Progressives must preserve themDonald Trump
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The primal thrill of sharks: the emotional case for rewilding the sea 4 Feb 2017, 1:30am The primal thrill of sharks: the emotional case for rewilding the sea
I was delighted to see giant basking sharks on a recent trip to Scotland, but such moments of wonder are rare. Creating fishing reserves would allow our oceans to recover – and preserve this incredible feeling I believe we possess a ghost psyche: a set of capacities that helped secure our survival in more dangerous times, but that now are vestigial. I picture this as a seam of intense emotion, buried so deeply in our minds that we can seldom find it. I believe this because, on rare occasions – in all cases when immersed in the living world – I have been confronted with a set of feelings that are so rich, raw and thrilling, so different from anything else I know, but at the same time so strangely familiar, that I have had no way of reconciling them with the rest of my emotional life. I believe that on these occasions I have inadvertently triggered a kind of genetic memory, an ancient adaptation to the circumstances that once shaped our lives.
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We need new ways to ensure our history is not forgotten | Ian Jack 4 Feb 2017, 1:00am We need new ways to ensure our history is not forgotten | Ian Jack
In the proposals for a Holocaust memorial I see a struggle to give adequate meaning to such barbarityThe fate of the Jews in Nazi Germany and the countries it occupied seems far more vivid to me now than it did in the 1950s and 1960s, when the term concentration camps rather than the word Holocaust was used to describe their deliberate elimination – as though it were barbed wire and overcrowding rather than gas and shooting that had killed them. For this I have to credit a wide range of books and films – from
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