America, Guns and Living in Fear of Machines We Could Control

Few challenges we face as a society are more confusing than the threat of public shootings. Crime rates in America have been declining for years. We recognize that as a win. We understand causality — for example, we have chosen to recycle and drive greener cars so that we can enjoy a clean living environment. But we still haven't seen enough gun violence to take a stand against this problem. In the aftermath of the horrific recent shooting at Florida school Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, citizens are once again asking — how far does this have to go? How many must die before we actually do something?

The Week on Planet Trump: Trapped by Mueller, POTUS Rants at FBI as Florida Survivors Demand Gun Control

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump told the “forgotten men and women of our country” that he would champion them. As evidence that he was a different kind of Republican, he promised not to cut Medicare, Medicaid and other programs that benefit poor and middle-class families. On Monday, President Trump proposed a budget that would slash spending on Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, transportation and other essential government services, all while increasing the federal deficit. Mr. Trump’s 2019 budget, combined with the tax cuts Republicans passed last year, would amount to one of the greatest transfers of wealth from the poor to the rich in generations.

Votes at 16: A Bold and Democratic Move or an Irresponsible Idea Without an Argument?

One measure to improve democratic participation is compulsory voting, as in Australia and Belgium, but this is objected to on civil liberties grounds. Lowering the voting age to 16 would not only expand suffrage, but it would be a bold move to encourage the long-term political engagement of new generations. It would require a more rigorous teaching of politics in schools and colleges. This would be academically influential, ingrain a sense of responsibility and might inspire young people - from all backgrounds - to become representatives themselves.

Weekend Fiction: Narratological Chronosis

We were sat on the beach on the Costa Blanca. It was too hot, too many people crowded towel to towel, the bodily perspiration…the two of us had been lucky to get a space. I didn’t want to come here, but it was the best I could do given my financial situation. She seemed pleased enough, both when I told her where we were going and when we were there on the beach. She lay on her stomach on her towel, reading a novel, the cover caked in streaks of sunscreen, edges browned and dog-eared. I sat in a rented deckchair, with a copy of the New Statesman. Why I brought her on holiday with me I will never know.

Tweet Checking: Was Jeremy Corbyn a Czech Spy, or Just Incompetent and Naive?

Not writing leaves a writer listless. Supressing the need to write leaves a writer unfulfilled. That does not mean that writing comes easily. Great writing - and I make no claims here - is often achieved by complete accident, but basic competence is always a hard acquired skill. Self-editing can take up to four or five times as long as the writing itself, and even then is no guarantee of avoiding textual errors. Every writer knows it’s going to take time to get better, and even then there’s no further guarantee of any tangible success. My point in talking about the writing process is that a lot of these people simply don’t seem to take the time to think about what they’re tweeting.

Weekend Poetry: Three Poems by Jeffrey Skinner

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.

Brexit Britain from Abroad: Boris Johnson Challenges Theresa May on Hard Brexit

How far can the United Kingdom deviate from the rules of the European Union (EU) without losing its free access to this market of 500 million inhabitants? While Theresa May fails to answer this crucial question, her foreign minister , Boris Johnson, has added a layer of fog and challenged the prime minister again by delivering a long speech on Tuesday, February 14 in London. Certainly, the former leader of the pro-Brexit campaign considers the divorce with the Twenty-Seven as "a considerable opportunity" and "a manifestation of the national genius" British. But he also admitted that "in terms of European standards for washing machines or hairdryers (...), it might be wise for us to stay aligned".

Bold and Free, The Shape of Water is Del Toro’s Most Emotionally Mature Film Yet

It’s easy to fetishise directors like Guillermo del Toro. As is often the case with auteurs (Scorsese, Kubrick, Tarantino etc.) it’s tempting to overlook the hundreds of people involved in making a film and heap all the praise at the doorstep of one visionary. But while it no doubt took several villages to bring del Toro’s latest, The Shape of Water, into being, it’s still hard not to see the end result as a director at the height of his powers – bold, free and completely himself. The Shape of Water follows Elisa, a mute cleaner at a laboratory in 1960s Baltimore. When, one night, a tank is wheeled in containing a mysterious amphibian creature, Elisa’s humdrum routine is up-ended.

Reform or Die: Charities Must Embrace Transparency and Democracy to Survive

The Times report that Oxfam aid workers in Haiti had used their positions to pay for sex from locals has stunned and appalled in equal measures. What has been more distressing has been the allegation of a cover up. There will always be rotten apples in any organisation. That is, sadly, not surprising. Is it surprising that senior executives of a major international charity saw fit to pretend, effectively, that none of this happened? Some would say yes. I am not so sure. The latest revelations follow the collapse of Kids Company a few years back after years of mismanagement that trustees did not spot. It also follows recurring stories of impropriety in the charity fundraising world where outsourcing to private companies put charities beyond the Charities Commission.