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The Observer view on the coronavirus outbreak | Observer editorial

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26 janvier, par Observer editorial[ —]

Worldwide health challenges serve as a grave warning to those who would bury their heads in isolationism

The world’s most populous country yesterday celebrated the lunar new year, usually a time of family reunion and joyful celebration. For many Chinese people who have moved away from their place of birth, it is the one time of year they get to visit their familiesThis year the coronavirus outbreak has profoundly muted the celebrations in China, with several cities in lockdown, the imposition of quarantine measures unprecedented in their scale, and many citizens anxious about their own health and that of their families.

The Chinese have borne the brunt of the outbreak so far: coronavirus is known to have killed more than 40 people, and infected another 1,300. But the first cases have already been recorded in the US, Australia, and – on Friday – in Europe.

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The Observer view: US bullying on tax and tech must be resisted | Observer editorial

26 janvier, par Observer editorial[ —]
In response to White House threats over Huawei and digital taxation, Boris Johnson must show Trump he’s no pushover

Donald Trump’s propensity for bullying people is well-known. The US president frequently resorts to threats, insults, heavyhanded pressure tactics and disproportionate retaliation to get his own way. Boris Johnson, a supposed Trump chum, now finds himself on the receiving end in respect of several bilateral disputes, actual or incipient. How Johnson deals with this unpleasant behaviour, and the extent of his willingness to defy Trump, is emerging as a key early test of his premiership.

Britain is evidently not alone among America’s allies in having its friendship and fidelity taken for granted. Trump has acted in coarse and offensive ways to the leaders of France and Germany, threatening both with arbitrary trade and financial sanctions as punishment for not doing his bidding. He was gratuitously rude about Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May.

US officials warn that signing up Huawei could 'diminish the appetite' for a US-UK trade deal

Trump cannot be relied on to play straight or even sensibly. He fights dirty, and Britain can expect no favours from him

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The Guardian view on moving the Lords: northern power house | Editorial

24 janvier, par Editorial[ —]

Relocating the upper chamber to York could be good for Britain – but only if its composition and role are radically rethought

A news organisation that began life as the Manchester Guardian and whose roots lie firmly in Lancashire can hardly be expected to give an unqualified welcome to the government’s reported plan to move the House of Lords to the city of York. The possibility of such a move is nevertheless a tantalising one for the whole of northern England. If it proves to be more than a passing gimmick, and if it is part of a pluralistic and interlocking attempt to modernise and devolve British government more generally, including to the north, it could also be an extremely desirable one.

These are hugely important caveats. At the moment, no one knows what exactly is planned. But Boris Johnson likes big gestures. He finds it easy to commit public money to projects that prove useless. Passengers on London’s New Routemaster buses – one of Mr Johnson’s pet schemes as mayor – will be familiar with that. Billed as a return to the days when one could hop on and off, the rear doors of the buses are now kept shut because, with no bus conductors to sell tickets, too many passengers were dodging fares. It may have seemed a smart idea at the time. But it was a waste of money.

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The Guardian view on the case against Glenn Greenwald: an outrage in Brazil and beyond | Editorial

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24 janvier, par Editorial[ —]

The decision to charge the American journalist with cybercrimes is an attack on democracy as well as press freedom

The campaign in Brazil against the investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald could hardly look more personal. The country’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, suggested last year that the American “may do jail time”, and has used homophobic slurs against him. Mr Greenwald and his husband, the Brazilian congressman David Miranda, have faced not only lies and verbal attacks but death threats: “Neither my husband, nor I, nor our children, have left our house in the last year without armed security, armoured vehicles, teams of security,” he said this week.

Now Mr Greenwald, an outspoken critic of the president, has been charged with cybercrimes over the publication of leaked phone messages apparently showing collusion between prosecutors and Sérgio Moro, then a judge, but now justice minister. They fuelled concerns about the huge Car Wash anti-corruption investigation: while it uncovered shocking abuses, it also raised suspicions of political bias. Mr Moro oversaw the trial that led to the jailing of the popular former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, whose conviction eased Mr Bolsonaro’s election.

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The Guardian view on the licence fee: the BBC will not be the BBC without it | Editorial

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/victoria-derbyshireplay episode download
23 janvier, par Editorial[ —]

It would be morally wrong for a government to hoodwink the over-75s with the idea that when their free television licence ends there will be no damage to the BBC if they don’t pay up

Victoria Derbyshire has every right to feel aggrieved. The star of her eponymous show, a much-admired BBC Two current affairs programme, learned of its demise online. It reaches parts of Britain others can only dream of – and the BBC’s legitimacy depends on doing so. To be axed in such a shabby way is hardly an advertisement for BBC management practice. Despite this, one ought not to lose sight of what led to this sorry state of affairs: the orchestrated campaign by politicians, corporate rivals and rightwing thinktanks in a war against the BBC.

The end of Ms Derbyshire’s show has been hastened by deliberate Tory policy. In 2015, George Osborne compelled the BBC to accept the roughly £500m-a-year cost of providing the over-75s with a free TV licence – loading a welfare policy on to a broadcaster. This funding deal was based not on public consultation, a published analysis of the BBC’s funding needs or the likely impact on services. Indeed, there had been no inkling that such a move might be undertaken by Mr Osborne. Perhaps his meetings beforehand with Rupert Murdoch might have helped make up the then chancellor’s mind. Mr Murdoch sees the BBC as a commercial foe, describing it wrongly as being a “massive taxpayer funded mouthpiece for tiny circulation leftist Guardian [sic]”.

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The Guardian view on looked-after children: time to join the dots | Editorial

23 janvier, par Editorial[ —]

The care review promised in the Conservatives’ manifesto should start as soon as possible, and peer into all the troubling gaps

The number of children in care in England is at a 10-year high: there were 78,150 at the last count. How they are looked after and educated should be a matter of general public concern. There are few more serious responsibilities for a government than that of corporate parent – particularly when such an arrangement is reached because a child or young person is particularly vulnerable, or has previously been let down.

Yet the mounting pile of evidence that the system is flawed has just increased again, with the addition of the criticisms of aspects of the children’s social care sector contained in Ofsted’s annual report. Problems with England’s 14 secure children’s homes, unlicensed “semi-independent” provision for over-16s, and three secure training centres for young offenders, must urgently be addressed.

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The Guardian view on Jeff Bezos and Saudi Arabia: with friends like these… | Editorial

https://www.theguardian.com/world/jamal-khashoggiplay episode download
22 janvier, par Editorial[ —]
Businesses and governments have turned a blind eye to the kingdom’s behaviour because it suited them. Now the costs are clearer

What is the cost of convenience? Business people may look again at their balance sheets in light of the Guardian’s revelation that an investigation found the Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos had his mobile phone hacked after receiving a WhatsApp message apparently sent from the crown prince of Saudi Arabia’s account.

For a long time, the kingdom’s piles of cash and strategic importance ensured that commercial and diplomatic partners played down its catastrophic role in the war in Yemen – spearheaded by Mohammed bin Salman himself – and human rights abuses including the arrest and alleged torture of women’s rights activists.

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The Guardian view on medieval mystics: a woman’s work | Editorial

22 janvier, par Editorial[ —]

An early-15th-century guide to life as a female hermit, or anchoress, is part of our cultural heritage. Save it for the nation

Feminist historiographers have long argued that the recovery of past female experience, often neglected or overlooked, can help deepen and enrich our understanding of the present. The respected American academic Judith M Bennett has made a particularly forceful case for infusing contemporary gender theory with “temporal depth”. In her own work, Prof Bennett has written extensively on the lives of medieval women in Britain. She will surely be delighted, then, that the arts minister, Helen Whateley, has placed a temporary export bar on a remarkable and precious Middle English text, which appears to have been principally directed at some of the most extraordinary women of the late middle ages.

A translation from the original Latin, The Mirror of Recluses is believed to date to 1414, and the work may even have been known to the celebrated mystic Julian of Norwich – herself the author of the earliest surviving work by a woman to be written in English. Auctioned off to an overseas buyer in the summer, The Mirror of Recluses is the only complete version of a kind of spiritual guidebook addressed specifically to female readers pursuing the exacting life of a hermit, or anchoress. In imposing the export bar, ministers cited its significance for the study of the history of collecting, the medieval book trade and the anchoritic life itself.

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The Guardian view on the new coronavirus: be alert, not afraid | Editorial

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21 janvier, par Editorial[ —]

An outbreak of a pneumonia-causing virus in China is creating alarm. It is sensible to be concerned, but an overreaction would be a mistake

Every so often, our vague awareness of our vulnerability as a species crystallises around a specific threat. At first, we note with unconcern a handful of cases of a new illness, somewhere far away. Soon it begins to spread. The deaths mount. We start to wonder whether we are being complacent rather than sensible, and whether we are living through the early montage in a disaster movie, in which families bicker over breakfast as news reports on the killer virus play unnoticed in the background. Could this be a new pandemic which will sweep the globe killing tens of millions, as Spanish flu once did?

The story of the new coronavirus, first reported in Wuhan, China, last month, now seems to be reaching the point where public indifference tips into worry and even fear. It causes pneumonia; Beijing says six people have died and 300 have been infected as it has spread. On Monday, officials confirmed that there was human-to-human transmission. Sales of face masks have soared. Cases have been reported in Thailand, Japan, the Philippines and elsewhere, though all confirmed incidents involve patients who had been in China. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting.

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The Guardian view on the Labour leadership: a deep and wide debate | Editorial

21 janvier, par Editorial[ —]

Lisa Nandy is almost certain to be on the ballot for members to choose the next Labour leader. She offers a change not just of speed, but of direction for the party

Fifteen years ago, after a third crushing loss, it was widely assumed that the Conservatives would be out of power for a decade. With William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard, the party did not have a record of picking winners. Then along came David Cameron. By 2010 he had gained 97 seats – 20 short of an overall majority, but enough to enter Downing Street with Liberal Democrat support and herald a decade of Tory dominance. If the next Labour leader could match Mr Cameron and win an extra 97 seats, then they too could walk into No 10 with coalition partners. But that would mean choosing the right leader.

In a system of government that concentrates power in the ruling party, the Tory political ascendancy is unhealthy. Labour’s next leader should be the person best able to make their party an attractive alternative. But first its leadership contenders must be able to convince members that their mission is to put Labour into government and create a sense that Boris Johnson could be vulnerable. This requires as wide and as deep a debate in Labour as possible. Labour suffered a shattering defeat at the general election last month and the party needs time to reassess its ideas and its policies, and to introspect about the reasons why it lost.

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