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The Guardian view on Trump and global warming: the right fight | Editorial

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/frackingplay episode download
18 January, by Editorial[ —]
The president-elect should understand that America needs to shoulder global responsibilities, and that in doing so America will benefit by owning the technologies of the future

On climate change, like so many other things, the world is going one way and Donald Trump is going the other. On Twitter the president-elect has claimed manmade global warming was a hoax invented by China to increase its trade surplus with the US. However, for most Americans, like most other people on the globe, daily life is increasingly impacted by extreme weather. In 2016, for the third year running, the world exceeded the previous record temperature. A remarkable 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have been this century, which scientists attribute to human activities.

President Obama did much to roll back the pre-enlightenment approach to climate science that had polluted political discourse in America – giving global warming top billing during his second term, and even calling it an immediate threat to national security. His parting shot was to send $500m to prop up the Paris international accord to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Mr Trump vowed to renege on the Paris agreement and said he would cancel further payments.

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The Guardian view on Putin’s Europe: the new fellow travellers | Editorial

https://www.theguardian.com/world/franceplay episode download
18 January, by Editorial[ —]
Moscow may relish a role as a disrupter of liberal democracy as much as it would like to see the EU unravel, but that does little to hide the contradictions among pro-Russian political groups in Europe

With all the speculation surrounding Russia’s influence over European politics, seeking clarity and finding a sense of balance is a challenge. To say that Mr Putin’s regime engineered the rise of populist forces on the continent is an exaggeration if not a fallacy. France’s far-right Front National was created in 1972, years before Mr Putin got anywhere close to power. Austria’s nationalist Freedom party registered its first electoral success in 2000, at a time when Russia’s foreign policy was still geared towards finding a modus vivendi with the EU – not seeking to undermine it. Nor are all of Europe’s populists pro-Putin: Poland’s ruling nationalist PiS party is a staunch critic of the man. But that’s not to say Mr Putin’s regime hasn’t cultivated radical fringe groups in Europe, nor that some haven’t applauded him in return. Russia’s interactions with Europe have in fact become hard to analyse without taking into account the many political threads the Kremlin has built up within the EU, along with the ideological impact this has on the continent’s elections. With key European votes this year, Russia’s sway must be scrutinised, but in a cool-headed way.

The double trap is to either deny or overstate Moscow’s hand. It’s not as if the Kremlin today ran a network of “comrade” parties in Europe as it did during the cold war. These days, it’s not communist revolution that’s on Moscow’s agenda, nor are its levers quite the same. If Mr Putin’s Russia finds a degree of sympathy in parts of European politics, it’s on a more complex basis altogether and in a much transformed global environment. In recent years, his swerve towards hardline nationalism and ultraconservative slogans have put him in tune with far-right European groups who share similar views. But it is also clear he has a constituency among parts of Europe’s far left, for reasons that have little to do with cultural affinities but point to the rise of anti-western sentiment.

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The Guardian view on Theresa May and Brexit: a reality check tinged with fantasy | Editorial

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/immigrationplay episode download
17 January, by Editorial[ —]
The prime minister’s much anticipated speech on Brexit combined tough political realism with a wing and a prayer about reaching agreements on trade and single market access

Theresa May’s Brexit speech today was a doubly depressing event. It was a reality check for those who hope the UK can stay in the single market at the same time as leaving the European Union. But it was riddled with its own streak of global fantasy. It was a reminder that Britain’s exit from the EU puts livelihoods, values and alliances at risk. Yet it was also shot through with unsupported optimism about UK economic performance, trade prospects and the readiness of the remaining EU-27 to strike the kind of deal that would suit the UK government.

Whatever else she may be, Mrs May is not a sentimental politician. Her speech had no time for the EU’s historic achievements – nor indeed its failings. Instead it began from the core domestic political reality of the moment as the prime minister perceives it. “A little over six months ago,” as she put it at the outset, “the British people voted for change.” That vote for change cannot be denied. It was what brought Mrs May to 10 Downing Street in July. The entire speech made crystal clear that she is not going to waste her moment by hanging on to the European past or by pretending that leave means anything except leave.

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The Guardian view on Davos: beat extremists by tackling extreme economics | Editorial

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/nigel-farageplay episode download
17 January, by Editorial[ —]
Trump and Farage have harnessed public rage at gross inequality. Beating them means closing the wealth gap

A good measure of the topsy-turviness of our political economy could be found at Davostoday. As the billionaires gathered for the World Economic Forum, the toast of the Alps was Xi Jinping. The first Chinese president ever to address the summit, his speech this morning was bound to be a big moment. Just as striking, though, was what Mr Xi said. The general secretary of the Communist party of China launched into an eloquent defence of openness and free markets. It was, as several observers remarked, the kind of speech one might expect to come from an American president. Except the US president-elect, Donald Trump, will not be popping in to Switzerland this week and won his new job partly because of his protectionism. He was at it again this week, threatening BMW with swingeing import tariffs if it followed plans to build a new plant in Mexico, rather than America. It did not sound like an empty threat.

What’s going on here? One answer lies in the inequality statistics published this week by Oxfam, which show that eight men, six of them American, own as much wealth as the 3.5 billion poorest people in the world. To quote Bernie Sanders: “If that’s not insanity I don’t know what is.” Extreme economics breeds extreme politics: the campaigns for Brexit and Mr Trump both harnessed anger at the vast gap between the super-rich and the rest of society. One of the ironies of this anti-elitist politics is that it has been spearheaded by people who would normally count as part of an elite. Mr Trump is a billionaire property developer, Nigel Farage is an alumnus of Dulwich college who worked in the City. These people are effectively squatting a space in forward-looking politics – a space that has gone almost unoccupied by the political mainstream.

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The Guardian view on schools: the cuts are hurting | Editorial

16 January, by Editorial[ —]
Less money, fewer teachers, little transparency and almost no accountability. A child’s education is too important for this

The last few weeks have been all about the NHS crisis, but new figures published today reveal the stark cash situation facing schools in England. Forty nine out of every 50 schools, according to research by the Association of School and College Leaders and the Secondary Heads Association, will see a real-term per pupil funding fall between now and 2020; some schools lose up to 17% of their per pupil funding. That is the sharpest cut to schools’ budgets since the 1970s. The scale of today’s problem was illustrated last month by the National Audit Office, which showed the average secondary academy is in the red by more than £350,000.

Education lacks the immediate warning lights of health: hospitals being forced to divert ambulances, cancel cancer operations and treat patients on trolleys in corridors. But these funding pressures are no less damaging than those facing the health service. They jeopardise the significant progress made in recent decades: nine out of 10 schools are now rated as good or outstanding. Without a sensible settlement inequalities will widen. Most notably, there is huge geographic imbalance in school quality. Children living in London have a far better chance of attending a good school than in Liverpool, where almost half of schools are inadequate or “require improvement”. In the northern powerhouse of Manchester the figure is one in three. This is a fundamental issue for social mobility.

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The Guardian view on shorter working hours: not just for the rich | Editorial

16 January, by Editorial[ —]
Success in a caring profession can’t be measured by productivity

Philip Hammond threatened in his interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag to turn Britain into a low-tax offshore sweatshop, although he expressed a personal preference for a European model of social organisation. Just how distant his preference is from his threats is clear from some recent developments in Europe: the French have passed a law limiting the use of email out of hours; the Dutch and Finns are thinking about a universal basic income, and in Sweden the city of Gothenburg is evaluating an experiment that allowed care workers in an old people’s home to work six-hour shifts instead of eight-hour ones for the same full-time pay and benefits.

The idea has been tried on a small scale elsewhere in Sweden many times over the last 10 years, but almost always at “creative” or desk-based jobs. Dedicated physical work, as is involved in a care home, seems an entirely different category. Successive scandals at Amazon, Sports Direct, and similar places have accustomed us to the idea that a modern economy is distinguished by the most sophisticated possible exploitation of the workers who actually move things (or even humans) around by those who manipulate algorithms and exhort the rest of us to productivity.

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The Guardian view on child soldiers: stop recruiting, start reintegrating | Editorial

15 January, by Editorial[ —]
A former abductee’s trial for war crimes highlights the problem of children enlisted or seized by armed forces or groups. But change is possible

Dominic Ongwen’s trial, which begins in earnest on Monday, is one of the grimmest and most morally complex that the international criminal court has tackled. The body exists to try the worst offences: genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It is not the horrifying list of charges, including rape and murder, that makes Mr Ongwen’s case unusual, but that he is believed to be the first former child abductee to be tried. Seized as a 10-year-old, and forced into violence, the former commander of the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army has denied all offences and insists that he is the victim.

His lawyers have indicated that duress may form part of his defence; others say he must not avoid justice for acts committed as an adult, but acknowledge that his experience may be relevant in mitigation of a sentence. The judges must not only ascertain the evidence against the 40-year-old, but also consider what he first endured and the mind control techniques and sheer brutality that the LRA has used on the 30,000 to 60,000 children it has abducted over its history. The more pressing issue highlighted by the trial is what to do about the tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of children still associated with armed forces and armed groups worldwide, used as combatants and in other roles, including as porters and spies.

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The Guardian view on American Christianity: change and decay | Editorial

15 January, by Editorial[ —]
Market-driven Christianity has boomed in the US but now it is beginning to bust

Is Christianity ceasing to matter in the US? The question might seem absurd in the light of statistics that show a country which still publicly respects religion to an extent difficult for a European to imagine. Fewer than a third of all Americans admit that they seldom or never go to church. There is only one member of Congress who claims to have no religion, and every single congressional Republican identifies as a Christian except for two Orthodox Jews. But there are good reasons to suppose that these figures are misleading, and the role of Christianity as part of the social and political convulsions of the country today is changing and diminishing in important ways.

Traditional American Christianity was shaped by British experience in the 17th and 18th centuries: it was Protestant, patriotic, and providential, but not much concerned with doctrine. The rejection of any religious establishment opened the way for competition between individual churches and then produced the extraordinary organisational and theological creativity that distinguished the US from all previous Christian societies. America seemed to some observers to provide the unquestioned future of religion in a globalised world. There was, and is, a church for every possible niche, from Unitarian Universalists to the Westboro Baptists.

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The Observer view on an infusion of fresh blood for Britain’s arts sector | Observer editorial

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/tristram-huntplay episode download
15 January, by Observer editorial[ —]
New appointments at the V&A and the Tate can be of benefit to the field as a whole

Tristram Hunt’s decision to resign from parliament to become director of the Victoria and Albert Museum is bad news for Labour, but good news for Britain’s arts sector. Following the recent resignation of his parliamentary colleague Jamie Reed, it is a worrying symptom of the health of the opposition and could send discouraging signals to some voters about how talented Labour MPs see the party’s future.

Hunt’s appointment presents an exciting opportunity for the arts world. Together with the appointment of Maria Balshaw, who is set to become the Tate’s first female director, it marks a new generation of leadership at Britain’s leading cultural institutions.

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The Observer view on president-elect Donald Trump | Observer editorial

15 January, by Observer editorial[ —]
America and the world enter the unknown

The inauguration of a US president is normally a moment of great hope. It is a celebration of representative democracy and the peaceful transfer of power. It is an affirmation that the ideals and laws set out in the 1787 US constitution, still a global paradigm for modern-day governance, continue to be honoured and observed. Inauguration confers legitimacy on a head of state in the name of “we, the people”. The incumbent has a duty to respect and uphold the constitution’s central aims, namely “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty”.

The inauguration this Friday of Donald Trump as 45th US president is not a normal moment. Nor for the majority of Americans who did not vote for him, and countless onlookers around the globe, is it a moment of hope. Rather, Trump’s ascent to what is commonly termed the world’s most powerful job is a moment of dread, anxiety and great foreboding. We said, after he won the Republican nomination last summer, that Trump has shown himself unfit to be president. His often-demonstrated ignorance, racial bigotry, misogyny, untruthfulness, hostility to free speech, crude bullying and dangerous, rabble-rousing nationalism utterly disqualify him.

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