Controversy over students mocking Native American strikes national chord

Debate around the incident reverberated culturally and politically amplified by an aggressive entry into the argument by Trump

The spectacle of a crowd of white teens in pro-Trump caps mocking a Native American activist on the National Mall just days before Martin Luther King Jr day was perhaps not needed to demonstrate that America’s social fabric is stretched thin.

The explosion of a media controversy around the incident was probably not necessary to drive participants in the ensuing debate into their usual partisan crouches.

Continue reading...

Corbyn: May trying to ‘run down clock’ with no-deal Brexit threat

PM lambasts Corbyn for being ‘willing to sit down with Hamas’, yet not with her

Jeremy Corbyn has accused Theresa May of closing down solutions to the Brexit impasse by refusing to countenance customs union membership or to rule out no-deal, saying these could command majority support in the Commons.

Again using all his time at prime minister’s questions to focus on the stalled Brexit strategy, Corbyn argued that May’s promise to liaise with other parties was meaningless if she declined to abandon any of her red lines.

Continue reading...

Omar al-Bashir launches media crackdown as Sudan protests continue

Five journalists held at undisclosed locations and dozens more arrested and released, with media blackout expected to worsen

The government of Omar al-Bashir in Sudan has launched an “alarming” crackdown on journalists covering weeks of protests against the regime.

At least five reporters have been detained by the national intelligence security services and are being held at undisclosed locations. Dozens of others have been arrested and held before being released.

Continue reading...

Wealthy Brexiteers like James Dyson are jumping ship. Why might that be? | Jonathan Freedland

The leave elite – Dyson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nigel Lawson – appear to want Brexit for everyone else but themselves

Let’s give James Dyson the benefit of the doubt. Let’s take at face value the assurances issued by his multibillion pound company – whose products involve the generation of hot air – as to why it is relocating its headquarters from Wiltshire to Singapore.

Apparently, it has “nothing to do with Brexit”. What’s more, it’s barely a move at all, since it will see only two people, both top executives, actually moving to Singapore. Dyson will continue to employ 4,000 people in the UK, many of them in research and development, and the relocation is really just about wanting to keep a closer eye on the firm’s investments in Asia. That it chose to do that in Singapore, where companies pay a mere 17% in tax – rather than, say, India or South Korea – is surely pure coincidence.

Continue reading...

Thailand marks stilted return to democracy with March election

The election, to be held on 24 March, will be the first since the 2014 military coup

Thailand will hold its long-awaited general election, the first since the 2014 military coup, on 24 March.

The official announcement of the date, which came hours after King Maha Vajiralongkorn signed a royal decree formalising the election, marks a significant moment in Thailand’s stilted return to democracy.

Continue reading...

Jane Austen? Family say note establishes disputed portrait’s identity

Personal ‘history’ believed to have been written by the novelist’s grand-niece is ‘absolutely emphatic about the fact it’s a portrait’ of the novelist

An overlooked note that may have been written by Jane Austen’s great-niece Fanny Caroline Lefroy could put an end to the long-running question mark over an oil painting its owners believe is a depiction of the novelist as a teenager – a claim that has long been disputed by art experts.

Showing a young girl in a flowing white muslin dress with a cap of brown hair and a charming half-smile, the painting is owned by the Rice family, direct descendants of one of Austen’s brothers. The Rices claim it shows Austen herself, and that it was commissioned from the portrait painter Ozias Humphry in 1788, when 12-year-old Jane and her sister Cassandra were taken to visit their great-uncle Francis in Kent. According to the Rices, Humphry’s 1788 accounts, now held at the British Library, list a bill to Francis Austen for 13 guineas.

Continue reading...

For the EU to prosper, Britain must leave

The UK’s failure to understand the give and take required means this relationship was always doomed

Until recently I was a committed remainer and wedded to the belief that the best way out of this Brexit mess for the EU was simply to try to ensure it didn’t happen. But the events of the past month illustrate why there is, rightly, a growing mood in Brussels for a completely different outcome: for the EU to prosper, Britain must leave.

The rationale is simple, Brexit is – either now or in the not-so-distant future – inevitable. That is because Britain continues to demand impossible conditions for its membership of the community-based, compromise-led, multinational organisation the modern EU represents. Even in trying to exit, Britain is still arguing about “red lines” of its own making. This approach would only amplify if it somehow ended up remaining a member.
Britain already enjoys a privileged position in the EU, much to the chagrin of many other member states. Opt-outs from the euro, the Schengen agreement on passport-free travel, the charter of fundamental rights and on any European legislation related to freedom, justice and security have all been negotiated by successive British prime ministers.

Continue reading...

Bono: western world turning its back on HIV fight

Musician and campaigner says pressure to cut aid funding is hampering efforts to stamp out Aids

The world is at risk of losing the battle against HIV due to a backlash against aid triggered by a sense that western governments need to solve problems in their own countries, the musician and development campaigner Bono has said.

Speaking on a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the U2 singer said populism in the rich north was the result of people being chewed up by capitalism.

Continue reading...

Levante’s Barca cup complaint dismissed by Spanish court

Levante have had their complaint that Barcelona fielded an ineligible player in their Copa del Rey fourth round tie rejected by Spain’s Administrative Sports Court (TAD). The cup holders played defender Chumi, who was serving a ban earned playing for Barcelona's B team in the third division, in the first leg of the tie. They lost 2-1 but went on to win 4-2 on aggregate.

Mario Vargas Llosa quits writers’ body over Catalan remarks

Nobel laureate resigns after Pen International calls for release of jailed Catalan leaders

The Nobel laureate, Mario Vargas Llosa, has resigned as emeritus president of Pen International after the writers’ freedom of expression group called for the release of two jailed Catalan civil society leaders, claiming Catalans have recently been persecuted “in a way not seen since the Franco dictatorship”.

Jordi Cuixart, the president of Òmnium Cultural, and Jordi Sànchez, former president of the powerful grassroots group the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), have been in pre-trial detention since October 2017.

Continue reading...