Asia Pacific shares suffer sell-off amid prospect of US rate rise3 days ago
Broad index of Asian shares see biggest drop since Brexit shock as European markets set to follow suit
Shares fell across Asia Pacific on Monday with UK and European stock markets poised to follow suit after investors were rattled by the prospect of a rise in US interest rates as early as next week.
Following the lead from a sharp sell-off on Wall Street, Japans Nikkei average was down 1.51% while the MSCI index for other shares across the region fell 2.2%. It was the largest daily drop since the frenzy caused by Britains vote in late June to leave the European Union.
Australian stocks sank 2.22% at 1.30pm local time with the countrys large banking sector badly hit by suggestions that the US Federal Reserve could raise borrowing costs at its meeting next week.
A near 4% fall in oil prices, also put pressure on the Australian marlket where the large resopurces companies such as Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Woodside Petroleum were all down.
The FTSE 100 benchmark in London was set to open down nearly 100 points, or almost 1.5%, according to online trading firm IG. Germanys Dax 30 was set to drop 231 points, or 2.2%.
Some Fed members have been trying to convince markets that the September meeting would be live for a hike, even though futures 0FF: only imply a one-in-four chance of a move.
No less than three Fed officials are expected to speak later on Monday, including board member and noted dove Lael Brainard. Any hint of hawkishness would likely further pressure bonds and equities.
Market participants are wondering if maybe [Brainard] is being wheeled out to give the market one last warning of a rate hike at next weeks meeting, said Marshall Gittler, head of research at broker FXPRIMUS.
The thinking is that if someone as dovish as she is starts talking like a hawk, people will notice. Her speech will be closely examined.
Chris Weston at IG in Melbourne said: Perhaps Lael Brainard can cool tensions of a near-term hike from the Fed. However given her pessimistic view of late expect any clear hints of a hike this year to be magnified, in turn causing the global sell-off in fixed income to ramp up.
Such risks led the Chicago Board options exchange volatility index to close at its highest level since late June on Friday. The Dow shed 2.13% on Friday, while the S&P 500 lost 2.45% and the Nasdaq 2.54%.
Government bond yields have been pushed to historic lows by years of monetary easing and made returns on equities seem relatively more attractive in comparison. Any tightening of that easy money approach, such as a Fed rate hike, will weigh on stock valuations.
The yield on benchmark German debt, for instance, had turned positive for the first time since July 22 and ended at 0.02%, its highest since 23 June. Yields on US 10-year and 30-year paper hit 11-week peaks.
In the forex market, the sudden bout of risk aversion benefited safe havens such as the yen while hitting carry trades in higher yielding currencies including the Australian dollar.
The Aussie has lost 1.5% against the yen in two sessions to stand at 77.21, while the Japanese currency was firm on the US dollar at 102.55.
The euro was sidelined on the dollar at $1.1239 after weak German trade data dragged it down from $1.1271 on Friday. The dollar index, which tracks it against a basket of six currencies, eased fractionally to 95.317.
Adding to the jittery mood on Monday was news that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton fell ill at a memorial ceremony for the victims of the 9/11 attacks in New York and had been diagnosed with pneumonia.
Markets have generally assumed Clinton would win the presidency and have not properly priced the implications, both economic and for national security, should Donald Trump prevail.
Geopolitical concerns had already been inflamed by North Koreas fifth and biggest nuclear test, ratcheting up a threat that its rivals and the United Nations have been powerless to contain.
North Korea has completed preparations for another nuclear test, South Koreas Yonhap News Agency reported on Monday, citing South Korean government sources.
In commodities, oil prices extended Fridays 4% fall in Asia after reports showed increasing oil drilling activity in the US, indicating that producers can operate profitably around current levels.
Brent crude was off 70c, or about 1.5%, at $47.31 a barrel, while US crude lost 79c to $45.09.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Martin McGuinness obituary19 days ago
Sinn Fin politician and peace negotiator who went from being an IRA commander to serving for a decade as deputy first minister of Northern Ireland
Martin McGuinness, who has died aged 66 after suffering from a genetic disorder, was the former IRA commander who became Sinn Fins chief negotiator in the Northern Ireland peace process that led to the Good Friday agreement of 1998. Nine years later he entered power-sharing government with the Democratic Unionist Ian Paisley, and continued to serve as deputy first minister with Peter Robinson and Arlene Foster until resigning in January this year from the consequences of Fosters refusal to stand down during an inquiry into a bungled energy scheme.
McGuinness was still a teenager when fate propelled him into violent politics in his native Derry. Scenes in 1968 of Gerry Fitt, the Catholic MP for West Belfast, splashed with blood after being hit by police batons as he led a civil rights march, shocked him into activism. He took to the streets just as the IRA, having been stood down after abortive Border campaigns in the 1950 s, was re-arming. IRA leaders insured him as capable of providing organisation in Derry to mirror what Gerry Adams was developing in Belfast. Within months McGuinness was second in command of the IRA Derry Brigade, its own position he still held on 30 January 1972, Bloody Sunday, when British parachute regiment soldiers shot dead 13 unarmed Catholic demonstrators.
In March 1972, the Conservative “ministers ” Edward Heath suspended the Northern Ireland government at Stormont and imposed direct regulation. William Whitelaw, the Northern Ireland secretary, tried secret talks with the IRA. Its leaders, Sen Mac Stofin and Samus Twomey, wanting the voice of young activists to be heard, picked McGuinness and Adams to join their six-strong delegation to fly to London. McGuinness and Adams already knew one another from the barricades, but that journey dedicated them an invaluable insight into the powerful British political establishment and cemented a lifelong relationship and political partnership that was strong enough for them to push through the peace settlement against often violent opponent within the republican community.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
What the rest of Europe thinks about Londoners picking a Muslim mayor20 days ago
People living outside the UK give their views on Sadiq Khans win and whether a Muslim would be elected where they live
As Europe grapplings with the rise of anti-immigration parties, Sadiq Khans appointment as the first directly elected Muslim mayor of a western capital city is important. According to those who responded to a Guardian callout, people living in the rest of Europe welcome the choice Londoners have made.
Sadiqs appointment sends a great message to the world. It reflects Britains state of mind which, as a French person, I think is more open-minded than France, said 18 -year-old Mathilde from the south of France. It tells me that Londoners see above the religion or the race of a person.
Last year, a YouGov poll procured that 31% of those living in the capital would be uncomfortable having a Muslim mayor, and 13% are still not sure. But the 1,310, 143 people who voted for Khan have boosted Londons reputation as a multicultural, multi-faith and liberal city.
Mathilde lives in Alleins, a village not far from Marseille, which is home to 250,000 Muslims, the second largest population in France. In the 2015 regional elections Alleins citizens voted for the rightwing party Les Rpublicains( 52% ), and the far-right Front National( FN)( 48% )~ ATAGEND. In the first round of the local election Front National led, losing out in the second round to Les Rpublicains. I live in an area where, ironically, there are many Muslims but where the FN has the most success. There are definitely discriminations against Muslim people, even though its often in discreet forms.
I tend to be pointed out that Muslims are not really integrated in society but left in a corner. I guess the Paris attacks helped the rightwing parties, especially the far-right party, to become more important. In fact the regional elections happened a little while after the attacks she said.
Louis, 18, who also lives in southern France, feels that Muslim people are more integrated into society than Mathilde describes but doesnt ever expect to see a Muslim political nominee in a similar position to Khan.
For me, it doesnt matter what his religion is or where he comes from as long as hes qualified and skilled. I guess[ Khans win] highlights Londons ethnic diversity and that he won thanks to their vote, he said.
Rafiq, 70, from Switzerland, has positive experiences of Muslim people standing for local government elections and gaining referendums, despite the populist rightwing Swiss Peoples party( SVP) winning the biggest share of the vote in Switzerlands elections last year.
It seems that acts of Islamophobia are not as widespread as are sometimes reported. Like most places Switzerland has all kinds of people, but many are open-minded and friendly with neighbours who are polite and kind to my hijab-wearing wife. Several Muslims are standing during the elections and some of them get a good number of referendums, but not quite enough, he said.
Ursula, 62, from Munich believes that despite some visible rightwing sentiment Germans would vote regardless of religion.
I think that convincing characters would have equal chances , no matter their religious beliefs. I was surprised by Sadiq Khans appointment. I had expected that the non-Muslim majority would not like to be represented by a Muslim major. Maybe such a big city attracts people with an open mind?
The Muslim part of society is not very active politically. I suppose the majority still keep their distance, feeling that they should not get involved, she said.
Wolfram, a 67 -year-old from Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler in the west of Germany, has considered anti-immigration sentiment imbue where he lives and cant insure a Muslim politician being elected any time soon.
It seems that Londoners accept their history and the consequences of the empire, and the outcome dedicates hope that people with different religions can live together peacefully.
Wolfram said he could not imagine a Muslim politician being elected where he lived, certainly not in the near future. Theres a instead deep split between those who are afraid of the rise in the number of Muslim people and the other citizens who are open-minded, even about open borders for refugees.
Hanna, 24, from Helsinki, believes Khans win is important given the loathe speech and discrimination facing Muslims in Europe, the rise of rightwing parties, and what she describes as openly racist legislators in Finland.
The anti-immigration party Perussuomalaiset[ known as Finns party, or PS] got into government and people attitudes have become harder towards refugees, especially to Muslims. The foreign minister, Timo Soini, who is party leader and co-founder of PS and a Catholic, even suggested we should prefer Christian refugees.
As we took more refugees in than ever, the PS are losing advocates. But this entails some people are going for even more rightwing politics like Rajat Kiinni!( Border Shut !). On their Facebook page they openly call all Muslims rapists and terrorists.
For this reason Im happy about Khans appointment, but mostly because of his politics , not just his religion. I dont really like any organised religions, but everyones free to believe what they want. It seems to me that Londoners suppose politics are more important than what religion someone believes in. They are wise, she said.
Many respondents to the callout hope Khans win will raise the status of Muslim people living in their own towns and cities across Europe, and help to involve them more in political life.
Nesi, 44, a secondary school teacher who lives in a small city outside Madrid, hopes Khans win will go some style in contribute to improving Muslim peoples opportunities.
For the child of an ethnic minority to go into higher education, take part in politics and become a mayor, a lot of things in Spain have to change and improve. I think there must be some occurrences, but society doesnt provide equal opportunities for all children.
Political posts of any relevance are largely merely for those who go to university or belong to a rich traditional household. And certainly not for a Muslim, I am afraid to say. Spain is too conservative in general to allow a Muslim to take part in politics.
Sadiqs appointment shows that politics and important issues in the world should be about people , not religion. It also shows that a multicultural society living in peace is possible. And of course it shows what a fantastic place to live London can be, sometimes.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
One Facebook ‘like’ is all it takes to target adverts, academics find24 days ago
Online ad campaigns based on smallest expressions of preference reveal effect of mass psychological persuasion
Online ad campaigns created by academics in Britain and the US have targeted millions of people based on psychological traits perceived from a single “like” on Facebook – demonstrating, they say, the effect of “mass psychological persuasion”.
More than 3.5 million people, mostly women in the UK aged 18-40, were shown online adverts tailored to their personality type after researchers found that specific Facebook likes reflected different psychological characteristics.
The bespoke campaigns boosted clicks on ads for beauty products and gaming apps by up to 40% and sales by as much as 50% compared with untargeted adverts, according to the researchers, who did not benefit financially from the campaigns.
The work, carried out for unnamed companies, was designed to reveal how even the smallest expressions of preference online can be used to influence people’s behaviour.
“We wanted to provide some scientific evidence that psychological targeting works, to show policymakers that it works, to show people on the street that it works, and say this is what we can do simply by looking at your Facebook likes. This is the way we can influence behaviour,” said Sandra Matz, a computational social scientist at Columbia Business School in New York City.
“We used one single Facebook like per person to decide whether they were introverted or extroverted, and that was the minimum amount of information we can possibly use to make inferences about people’s personalities. And yet we still see these effects on how often people click on ads and how often people buy something,” she added.
The work has raised concerns among some in academia. Gillian Bolsover, who studies online manipulation of political opinion at the Oxford Internet Institute, said she was concerned about whose hands publicity of the research might play into.
“Does coverage of the work primarily serve as an advert to the companies that might do these things? Or does it serve to inform the public about something going on in our society that we might not be happy with and want do something about?” she said.
“If people are worried about the way technology is going, there are lots of little actions they can take to reduce the amount of data that is collected about them and to avoid supporting the practices and companies that they might feel are detrimental to society.”
Matz teamed up with researchers at the University of Cambridge who had previously created a database of millions of personality profiles of anonymous Facebook users and items they had liked. The data reveals how, on average, specific likes reflect certain personality types. For example, a like on Lady Gaga’s Facebook page is broadly the mark of an extrovert, while a like on Stargate’s page flags users who are more likely to be introverts.
The researchers then used graphics designers to create adverts aimed at either extroverts or introverts. They showed these via Facebook’s advertising platform to people who had liked a single item identifying them as one personality type or the other.
The first field experiment targeted more than 3 million UK women aged 18-40 with adverts for an online beauty retailer. More than 10,000 women clicked on the ads, leading to 390 purchases. Matching the ads to people’s personalities led to 54% more sales than mismatching them. Two further campaigns for a crossword app and a shooting game had similar results, the researchers report in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“I was surprised that we got the effect with so little information,” said Matz. “We don’t know that much about people, and yet it still has a pretty big effect. You can imagine if you were using the full Facebook profile to make individual level predictions about people’s personalities, the effects would be even bigger.”
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.
Matz believes that such mass persuasion could be put to great use – for example, by helping people to save, get a pension, or lead more healthy lives. But it could also be misused, she said. “It has the potential for abuse where you exploit weaknesses in a person’s character to make them do things they don’t want to do. We want policymakers to focus on the positive uses. If you just shut down this technology, you would lose so much potential for helping people.”
But the approach is controversial. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office is investigating whether voters were unfairly influenced online by political campaigners in the run-up to the EU referendum in 2016. The ICO’s report is expected before the end of the year.
“In a sense, it’s a natural extension of capitalism as it moves online. Of course corporations will do this,” said Bolsover. “But the increased use of corporate advertising techniques in the political system is something I think we should be worried about on a broader level.”
“Political campaigns [are] probably somewhere you don’t want it to be used,” said Matz. “We want to open it up for public discussion so people can have an informed discussion about what we want to do with our technology.”
Read more: www.theguardian.com
China attacks Boris Johnson over ‘incorrect’ opinions on Hong Kong28 days ago
Foreign secretarys hopes for a fully democratic government are met with statement that outsiders should not make incorrect remarks
China criticised the incorrect views of the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, as a war of words broke out between London and Beijing on the eve of the 20 th anniversary of Hong Kongs return to China.
Johnson released on Thursday what had seemed a relatively restrained statement marking the anniversary of the former British colony transfer back to China on 1 July 1997.
In his statement, the foreign secretary built no direct criticism of Beijing but said: As we look to the future, Britain hopes that Hong Kong will build more progress toward a fully democratic and accountable system of government.
He said it was vital to Hong Kongs continued success that its high degree of autonomy and rule of law are preserved.
Beijing, whose ambassador to London had previously alerted Britain against criticising its actions in Hong Kong, appears to have taken exception to the intervention from Hong Kongs former colonial masters.
Speaking to reporters in Beijing, the foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang assaulted Johnsons comment as incorrect and misplaced. Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, and therefore Hong Kong affairs are Chinas internal affairs, Lu said, according to Xinhua, Chinas official news agency.
According to Xinhua, Lu said Hong Kongs success had already been proven during the 20 years since its return to China, and foreigners should not construct incorrect statements considering that.
Xinhua made it clear that Lus commentaries were made in direct response to Johnsons statement and a more strongly worded US statement about infringements of civil liberties[ and] intrusions on press freedoms in Hong Kong.
More controversially, Lu added that the joint declaration the 1984 Sino-British bargain that procured Britains departure from Hong Kong by guaranteeing that Hong Kongs way of life would remain unchanged for 50 years now had no binding force, a statement likely to alarm not just members of Hong Kongs pro-democracy camp but also governments who do business with China.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Why work is much easier than love | Alain de Botton1 month, 2 days ago
If youre breathing a sigh of relief that its Monday and you can get a break from your relationship, youre not alone
As a culture we are highly attuned to what is beautiful and moving about love; we know its high points and celebrate its ecstasies in films and songs. By comparison, work is the dull, tedious bit the thing we have to do to pay the bills. And yet whats striking is how often work, despite its lack of glamour, in fact turns out to be the easier, more enjoyable and ultimately more humane part of life. There are a number of reasons for this.
1 You have to be professional
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Trump’s rise and Brexit vote are more an outcome of culture than economics1 month, 3 days ago
Populists are tapping into the outrage of those who have been losing the cultural battles over race, gender and social identity in a globalised world
If Donald Trump loses the US election, will the tide of populism that threatened to overwhelm the world after the Brexit vote in June begin to wane? Or will the revolt against globalisation and immigration simply take another form?
The rise of protectionism and anti-immigrant sentiment in Britain, America, and Europe is widely believed to reflect stagnant incomes, widening inequality, structural unemployment, and even excessive monetary easing. But there are several reasons to question the link between populist politics and economic distress.
Most populist voters are neither poor nor unemployed; they are not victims of globalisation, immigration, and free trade. The main demographic groups behind the anti-establishment upsurge have been people outside the workforce: pensioners, middle-aged homemakers, and men with low educational qualifications receiving disability payments.
In Britain, where detailed analyses of the votes actually cast in the Brexit referendum are now available, the group most directly affected by low-wage competition from immigrants and Chinese imports people under 35 voted against Brexit by a wide margin, 65% to 35%. Meanwhile, 60% of pensioners who voted backed the leave campaign, as did 59% of voters with disabilities. By contrast, 53% of full-time workers who participated wanted Britain to remain in Europe, as did 51% of part-time workers.
The British data suggest that cultural and ethnic attitudes, not direct economic motivations, are the real distinguishing features of anti-globalisation voting. Asked whether social liberalism is a force for good or a force for ill, 87% of remain voters said it was a force for good, while 53% of Leave voters called liberalism a force for ill. On multiculturalism, the difference was even starker 65% of leave voters were against it, while 86% of remainers approved. Another analysis published by the BBC after the referendum found one of the strongest predictors of a leave vote to be support for capital punishment.
In America, polls suggest that gender is an even more important indicator of support for Trump than age or education. Early this month, when Trump was only a few points behind Clinton in overall support, a Washington Post/ABC poll compared voting intentions with the 2012 election. It found not only that white men backed Trump by a margin of 40 percentage points, but also that their support for Trump was 13 points higher that it was for Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee.
White women, by contrast, marginally supported Clinton and had swung by 15 percentage points against the Republicans. Among voters without a college education, the gender difference was even starker: less-educated white men favored Trump by a 60% margin and had swung in favor of the Republicans by 28 percentage points, while women had swung by 10 percentage points in the opposite direction and only marginally supported Trump.
It seems, therefore, that the conflicts generally ascribed to economic grievances and globalisation are actually the latest battles in the culture wars that have split western societies since the late 1960s. The main relevance of economics is that the 2008 financial crisis created conditions for a political backlash by older, more conservative voters, who have been losing the cultural battles over race, gender, and social identity.
The dominance of free-market ideology before the crisis allowed many controversial social changes, ranging from income inequality and intensified wage competition to greater gender equality and affirmative action, to go almost unchallenged. Progressive social liberalism and conservative free-market economics seemed to be two sides of the same coin. But when free-market economic liberalism failed in the 2008 crisis, political challenges to social liberalism could no longer be deflected by invoking impersonal economic laws.
But if social change can no longer be legitimised as the necessary condition for economic progress, it seems unlikely that democracies will now vote to reinstate the social conditions before the ascendancy of economic liberalism and globalisation. Racial and gender equality are now backed by clear majorities in the US, Britain, and most European countries, and even apparently popular policies such as trade protectionism and strict immigration controls rarely muster more than 30-40% support in opinion surveys. Why, then, did Brexit win, and why is it still possible that Donald Trump will be the next US President?
Both Brexit and Trump were powered by an unstable alliance between two very different, even contradictory, movements. The bulk of their supporters were indeed social conservatives and protectionists who wanted to undo the social changes that began in the late 1960s.
Two of the most effective slogans of the Brexit and Trump campaigns have been Take back control and I want my country back. But the social conservatives inspired by such atavistic and authoritarian sentiments do not make up majorities in any western country. On its own, social conservatism could never mobilise more than 30-40% of voters. To achieve majorities, the socially conservative protectionists had to unite with the remnants of the Thatcher-Reagan laissez faire movement, who resent the interventionist economic management of the post-2008 period and want to intensify the competition, deregulation, and globalisation that social conservatives resent.
This unstable political compound is now dissolving in the US, and also in Britain, where prime minister Theresa Mays government is divided between ideological nationalists and economic liberals. If the US election on 8 November confirms Trumps failure to bind social conservatives and economic liberals into a winning coalition, similar disintegration is likely among European populists, too.
In that case, the Brexit vote will begin to look like an aberration not the start of a powerful new trend toward nationalism, protectionism, and de-globalisation, but the end of a backlash against modernity by an unstable alliance of social authoritarians and laissez faire market liberals. It will be the last gasp of an ageing generation that tried to impose its nostalgic parochialism on an increasingly cosmopolitan younger generation, but succeeded in only one unfortunate country.
- Anatole Kaletsky is chief economist and co-chair of Gavekal Dragonomics. A former columnist at the Times, the International New York Times and the Financial Times, he is the author of Capitalism 4.0, The Birth of a New Economy.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
‘He was very scared’: the death of a teenage stowaway1 month, 6 days ago
Last month 14 -year-old Raheemullah Oryakhel died reach out to the UK. As the Calais camp where he lived is scattered, where will children like him run?
The death of Raheemullah Oryakhel, a 14 -year-boy from Afghanistan, was marked last month with only a couple of paragraphs in the French press, for the purposes of the headline One migrant dead on the port ring road. There was nothing much to excite further interest; the son was the 12 th refugee to succumb in Calais this year. The news item added that Raheemullahs body had been found on the N216, on a stretch of motorway where a number of migrants had previously been run over. Police said he had probably been hit by a auto. Whoever was behind the wheel had not bothered to stop.
Nor are the details of Raheemullahs death especially shocking to the handful of relatives and acquaintances he left behind in the Calais camp, a fetid, cramped cluster of sagging donated tents and roughly constructed wooden shacks , now home to an estimated 9,000 asylum seekers. The notion that vulnerable children, some as young as eight, who have mostly fled conflict zones, should spend night after night trying to leap on to moving vehicles, in a desperate( and mostly futile) attempt to reach the UK, surprises no one. Its a risky business. Sometimes people get suffocated in the trucks, or frozen in refrigerated receptacles; sometimes they choose a different road and drown trying to swim to England or get electrocuted on the railway. And sometimes they just get run over.
But there is sadness and some bitterness at the drivers failure to stop, and at the apparently cursory nature of the police investigation. Abdul Wali, an older camp resident who helped raise more than 4,000( 3,516) to send Raheemullahs body back to his mothers, says, Even in Afghanistan, if someone is hit by a automobile, at least the driver will take him to a police station or hospital and say sorry. Here, people are succumbing and no one cares.
Raheemullah is likely a very young asylum seeker to die yet, but his death epitomises the risks that hundreds are taking every night on the roads outside Calais. As the French government prepares to dismantle the camp next week, aiming to scatter its residents around the country instead, the sense of urgency surrounding the mission to are going to the UK has intensified. It is an unbearable situation for everyone involved: the lorry drivers, Calais residents, local police( who are depleted by nightly patrols) and, most of all, for the camps population.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Trump’s UK visit dishonors Theresa May. The protests must be huge | Matthew d’Ancona1 month, 13 days ago
The chairmen brutality in dividing immigrant children from their families should not be forgotten when he arrives, says Guardian columnist Matthew dAncona
This is the week of Angelica Gonzalez-Garcia and her daughter. You will probably not have heard of them, and your mind may be on other things right now- the World Cup, avoiding heatstroke, Wimbledon, Brexit. But do search for them online, and watch Gonzalez-Garcia, a 31 -year-old Guatemalan refugee from domestic violence, being reunited at Boston’s Logan airport with the eight-year-old, 55 days after they were separated without explain at an Arizona detention centre.
She was told at the time by immigration officers that she would” never see” her daughter again. Indeed, that vicious prediction might have come true, had her suit not been taken up by the American Civil Liberties Union and two law firms. The footage of the reunion is hard to watch: it builds you feel a strange combining of relief, fury and species dishonor.” Forgive me, my darling, for leaving you alone ,” she says to her daughter as they clutch one another.” Forgive me. I didn’t want to .”
When Donald Trump arrives in Britain on Thursday, recollect those words and his responsibility for the abject pain that underpins them. There are still about 3,000 immigrant children separated from their families because of this man’s lazy wickedness. Remember those words when he is being flattered by ministers in black tie at Blenheim Palace, or when he is at Chequers, or Windsor Castle to meet the Queen.
Shame on the prime minister for permitting this trip to go ahead. The shaky pragmatic case for welcoming the US president to these coasts evaporated last August, when he insisted that there were” very fine people” among the neo-Nazis at Charlottesville. At that moment he departed overtly from one of the founding principles of the modern liberal democratic order: namely that nazism was, and still is, a uniquely awful ideology. This is a supranational orthodoxy. Trump’s unembarrassed deviation from it required a meaningful sanction. Yes, I know that many repellent dictators and dictators have paid official visits to this country: we hold our collective nose, proceed with protocol, and hope that the national interest will be served by pragmatism, rather than principle.
All the more reason, then, to think about the manner in which they are conducted. There has long been a propensity on the far left to romanticise what EP Thompson called ” the moral economy of the English crowd” and to see this as a blank cheque for disorder. More recently, a new and pernicious creed has taken hold- that unacceptable or “problematic” speech constitutes a form of violence and a justification for the pre-emptive use of force. I can imagine this axiom being used by British Antifa protesters as an excuse for pointless exhibitions of force this week.
Strength, dignity and wit: these should be the hallmarks of the protests. The Trump baby blimp is both magnificently British in its surreal scale and perfect for a president who, unlike Barack Obama and George W Bush, absence any sense of self-irony. London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, who has traversed swords with the president more than once, deserves our thanks for allowing Hairpiece One to drift over the capital.
Remember, too, that Trump is primarily concerned with showbusiness and ratings. That is how he won the White House, and why he was so particularly furious that more people attended Obama’s first inauguration than his own. He is a product of, and preoccupied by, sight. So nothing would delight him more than for this week’s protests to degenerate into violence. Such images would support his claim that Britain is a crime-infested nation on the brink of social breakdown. In contrast, a huge rally, proud, peaceful and strong, through the world’s greatest city would send a powerful signal that, whatever the British prime minister may do, Britons do not kowtow to this terrible man, or accept his brutal populism.
I am reminded of the late Paul Monette’s instruction:” Go without hate, but not without rage. Heal the world .” That is a good maxim for life. And especially so in the next few days. Remember: this is the week of Angelica Gonzalez-Garcia and her daughter.
* Matthew d’Ancona is a Guardian columnist
* Join our Guardian Live event at the Greenwood Theatre in London on 9 July, as Guardian columnists Owen Jones and Jonathan Freedland, Stella Creasy MP, American comedian Desiree Burch, Republican commentator Jan Halper-Hayes, and Anywhere But Washington’s Paul Lewis will debate Donald Trump’s impending UK visit
Read more: www.theguardian.com