The Age of Authoritarianism in America: Are We Losing Our Rights Without Noticing?

As news publications go, The Economist is not exactly what you'd call a supermarket tabloid. The London-based news magazine dates back to 1843. It's up there with the New Yorkers and Mother Joneses of the world as a credible journalistic operation. So when The Economist downgrades the U.S. government from “full democracy” to “flawed democracy,” as they did in January 2018, it is reason to stand up and take notice. It’s an indicator authoritarianism is gaining a foothold. Two recent U.S. court decisions precisely underline that trend. Imagine you’re stationed at a U.S. government facility in third-world territory far from the protection of American authorities, and conditions are reprehensible.

The Week on Planet Trump: White House Chaos as Tillerson Goes, Dems Win and Potus Targets Mueller

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have concluded their year-long investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Their key finding: Neither President Donald Trump nor anyone involved in his campaign colluded with Russia. That directly contradicts the US intelligence community’s assessment from January 2017, which clearly states that Russia wanted Trump to win. It also contradicts special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians for working to help Trump win by sowing divisions via the internet.

Tweet Checking: Why has the Russian Embassy Become an Expert Troll?

People you have no idea how close this column came to being a “Scary Skripal Special” given the amount of low-grade conspiratorial crap on Twitter over the past week, but even then some other stupidities couldn’t help but break through. We often deal with “fake news” here, but really, the big issue this time is not false information but the callous attitude that many have towards information that is in some way ‘inconvenient’ for them. The people demanding “evidence” are demanding it not because they genuinely need more but because they are, it seems, being awkward on purpose—they seem to not be able to accept that there has been a Russian attack on British soil, or give a modest baseline of support to the position of a government they otherwise despise.

Weekend Poetry: Two Poems

Starting out as a singer-songwriter, Henry's first collection Time Pieces was published by Seren Press in 1991, winning a Gregory Award. His poems have been widely anthologised and can be found in journals such as Poetry Review and The Times Literary Supplement. They have also featured on BBC Radio 4's Poetry Please. The Brittle Sea, New & Selected Poems was recently reprinted by Seren in the UK and by Dronequill in India, under the title The Black Guitar. Mari d’Ingrid, Gerard Augustin's translation of his fifth collection, Ingrid’s Husband, is published by L’Harmattan. He was described by the late U. A. Fanthorpe as "a poet's poet who combines a sense of the music of words with an endlessly inventive imagination". Henry teaches creative writing at writers' centres and has lectured at the University of South Wales.

The Red Beach Hut Shapes the Reader into the Perfect Devil’s Advocate

I have often been described as a ‘challenging’ person, something I will admit to freely and without shame. I believe that the nature of existence is to challenge our perceptions, thoughts and experience of the world around us. Because of this, I am an active seeker of challenging, thought-provoking books, the more uncomfortable and controversial the better. In my humble opinion, those authors who seek to challenge the status quo and produce work which shakes up the reader’s point of view hold a special kind of magic. The conversations which result can and do change our world and the world of those around us. A tale which seeks to start those conversations comes from Lynn Michell in the Red Beach Hut, published by Linen Press, the UK’s only independent women’s press.

Immoral and Reckless Russia Deserves A Swift and Severe Response

To paraphrase the great football manager Brian Clough; we are not yet sure where the Putin regime sits on the list of suspects for the nerve agent attack on Russian defector Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia – but it is probably in the top one. It is hard to imagine who else might have carried out this sickening crime. Ordinary gangsters cannot realistically acquire or handle nerve agents. Few states have them either. Of those that do, only Russia appears to have a motive for attempting to murder Mr Skripal. It also has a record of being immoral and reckless enough to risk harming British police officers, medical personnel and other innocent bystanders.

Hail Britannia, Farewell Globe. Will the Next Political Generation Succeed Where the Present are Failing?

If you can bear it, listen to a phone-in on the LBC radio station on the topic of Brexit. If you are (un)lucky you may catch a call from a Brexiter celebrating that Britain is leaving the EU because it means the country is to regain its mantle of a wealthy, sovereign, global trading nation. Never mind that Britain was known as the “sick man of Europe” in the 1960s and 1970s. The real irony of this clarion call is that it ignores the obvious truth that it was anger about the perceived negative impacts of globalisation that was a driving force behind people’s Leave vote.

This Week on Planet Trump: President Goes High Risk With Trade Aggression and Olive Branch to Kim Jong-un

President Donald Trump on Monday dangled the possibility of lifting the new steel and aluminum tariffs he's imposed if NAFTA is renegotiated to terms more favorable to the US. "We have large trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. NAFTA, which is under renegotiation right now, has been a bad deal for U.S.A. Massive relocation of companies & jobs. Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed," Trump tweeted Monday morning. Trump has said he is imposing a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum imports. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told CNN Sunday that no country will be excluded from the tariffs.

Tweet Checking: Nigel Farage, Russophobia and Schooling Katie Hopkins on Assad

I apologise for my absence, but when you can no longer breathe properly either lying down or sitting up straight, nor walk down the street without having an overwhelming urge to faint, a little medical respite becomes paramount. Being laid up with your second pneumothorax (a collapsed lung in lay terms) in four months, along with a case of pneumonia in the same lung, that infernal draining tube threaded through your torso like a rogue stitch in a cheap face cloth, you end up lying there in the hospital bed (re-)considering the most important things in life, which a lot of the people below simply don’t seem to have done at any point, ever. Imagine wasting your life acting and thinking like this all the time