After a Lost Decade, Time for our Leaders to “Raise Their Game”

The Prime Minister has been given a warning. Nick Boles, the former minister and modernising Tory, has told her that she needs to raise her game. In a tweet, he accused the government of timidity and “lack of ambition” Six months on from the disastrastrous Brexit general election, few could disagree. A sense of perspective is needed. Brexit could play out to be disastrous for the country both in the short-term and the long-term. Many of the portents issued by worried Remainers might turn out to be understated. However, it is too early to describe Theresa May’s ministry as “the worst government ever”, as some have done.

The Week on Planet Trump: Unpopular POTUS Celebrates First Year with Government Shutdown

President Trump told reporters late Sunday that "I am not a racist” and denied reports that he referred to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries.” Trump made the denial as he arrived for dinner with House majority leader Kevin McCarthy at his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. Asked if he is a racist, Trump said: "No, I'm not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed." Trump denied making the “shithole countries” comments during discussions about whether to include immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti and African countries in an immigration bill on Thursday.

Obstetric Assault Is a Serious Issue

Imagine being in the hospital, about to have a baby. This special day should go down in your memory as a magical, wonderful time, and ideally the birth of your child is a dream come true. Then imagine that dream turning into a nightmare as the healthcare professionals you turn to for help in delivering your baby assault you. While this may seem unimaginable, obstetric assault is an all-too-common and real issue. Obstetric assault blankets several types of obstetric violence, both verbal and physical. Obstetric assault can occur at any time during a woman's pregnancy, but some of the most egregious examples of this sort of violence take place during childbirth. Verbal obstetric assault may include slurs, put-downs and humiliation.

Unnerving and Eerie Tales, Two Shorts That Become Masterclasses

The autumn editions of the now regular Nightjar Press short stories are DB Water’s Fury and Wyl Menmuir’s Rounds, and like its previous entries, they continue the publisher’s tradition of unnerving and eerie tales. But while the two have many similarities, their effects, and the means by which they draw from you a feeling of unavoidable dread, make them both interesting little beasts in their own right. The Rounds, by Menmuir, whose debut The Many was longlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize, is concerned with Alice Hooper, the new occupant of an empty flat and whose loneliness and barely disguised suffering takes us through a waltz of suspicious intrigue and aching sympathy.

Shocking, and Darkly Enjoyable - The Here and This and Now

Whether a play is tackling scientific progress, outer space or the life of pharmaceutical representatives as they memorise medical jargon during an office away-day, the human condition - the meaning of it all - is always at its centre. The Here and This and Now, a play by writer Glenn Waldron, focuses on what its four characters are holding on to to keep going every day. It so happens that at the beginning of the play, they are all working in the same pharmaceutical company and are training for their next pitch. You’ve got Niall (Simon Darwen), the manager, who flawlessly opens the play with a seamless pitch that mentions his son’s passion for trains and demonstrates his ease at connecting with whomever he is talking to.

The Low Skies, Darkness and the Monochrome Claustrophobia of Catherine Anyango Grünewald

Stockholm-based Catherine Anyango Grünewald is a Swedish/Kenyan artist who uses film, sculpture, drawing and seen creation to explore how everyday settings are “disrupted by emotional, intangible phenomena”. Low skies, darkness and monochrome claustrophobia are constants throughout her work.

Tweet Checking: Yes, Paul Mason, Clement Attlee Did Represent the Workers and the Poor

The French philosopher Jean Baudrillard theorised the theme park — Disneyland in particular — as a place of ‘hyperreality’, where the boundary between reality and the simulation of it can no longer be fully distinguished, becoming impossible to separate in the mind of the subject. On the other hand, George Saunders, whose CivilWarLand in Bad Decline contains four theme parks or resorts, somewhat reverses this: the bizarre theme park becomes the direct representation of the worst of our reality rather than something separate or transcendent of it. The theme park is a camp of corporate exploitation, worker pitted against worker, humanity commodified, false advertising (or fake news?), and the embodying of an artificial reality (which we know is fake, but give into anyway).

Weekend Poetry: The Channel Swimmer, and other poems

Poet, playwright, and essayist Jeffrey Skinner was awarded a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry. Skinner’s Guggenheim project involves a conflation of contemporary physics, poetry, and theology. He served as the June, 2015 Artist in Residence at the CERN particle accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2015 he was awarded one of eight American Academy of Arts & Letters Awards, for exceptional accomplishment in writing. His most recent prose book, The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets, was published to wide attention and acclaim, including a full page positive review in the Sunday New York Times Book Review. His most recent collection of poems, Glaciology, was chosen in 2012 as winner in the Crab Orchard Open Poetry Competition, and published by Southern Illinois University press in Fall, 2013.

Weekend Fiction: Star of the World

It was toilet-seat-sticks-to-your-ass kind of weather and Hal wasn’t having it. He left the bathroom window open and went into the bedroom to put on his favorite corduroys. Left leg, right. What a sticky, God-awful day. Was early November always like this? It was when Hal was a boy. Global warming wasn’t real, just something the government suits cooked up for a laugh and a scare, keep the sheep baaaing like fools. Baaa. They used to say television could make you blind. Hal could still spot a great ass from a mile away. Like that new redheaded meter maid. Her kaboose was alright. Hal turned off the TV and turned up the AC. Maybe the president was right. It was the Orientals that made up global warming. Keep us buying Japanese. Electric cars. Ha ha ha.