Brexit ruling: senior Tories advise May to scrap article 50 appeal1 month, 1 day ago
Letwin, Grieve and Garnier call for appeal against Brexit ruling to be dropped to avoid legal dangers and save hour and money
Senior Tories have exhorted Theresa May to scrap the governments appeal against a high court ruling which states that parliament must vote on leaving the EU.
Oliver Letwin, the former head of the governments Brexit preparations, has called on the prime minister to abandon its supreme court appeal over government decisions on article 50, existing mechanisms that triggers exit negotiations.
The former us attorney general Dominic Grieve and former solicitor-general Sir Edward Garnier also said May should avoid taking the lawsuit to the UKs highest court.
The three Conservatives, who all supported the remain campaign, said they wanted the process to start as soon as possible with a bill in parliament.
Garnier told BBC Radio 4s Today programme on Saturday: That route you avoid an unnecessary legal row, you avoid a lot of unnecessary expenditure, but you also avoid an opportunity for ill-motivated people to assault the judiciary, to misunderstand the motives of both parties to the lawsuit, and you provide certainty.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Don’t worry about AI running bad- the minds behind it are the hazard | John Naughton1 month, 3 days ago
Killer robots remain a thing of futuristic nightmare. The real menace from artificial intelligence is far more immediate
As the science fiction novelist William Gibson famously find:” The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed .” I wish people would pay more attention to that adage whenever the subject of artificial intelligence( AI) comes up. Public discourse about it invariably focuses on the threat( or promise, depending on your point of view) of “superintelligent” machines, ie ones that display human-level general intelligence, even though such devices have been 20 to 50 years away ever since we first started worrying about them. The likelihood( or mirage) of such machines still remains a remote prospect, a phase made by the leading AI researcher Andrew Ng, who said that he worries about superintelligence in the same route that he frets about overpopulation on Mars.
That seems about right to me. If one were a conspiracy theorist, one might ask if our obsession with a highly speculative future has been intentionally orchestrated to divert attention from the fact- pace Mr Gibson- that lower-level but exceedingly powerful AI is already here and playing an ever-expanding role in shaping our economies, societies and politics. This technology is a combination of machine learning and big data and it’s everywhere, controlled and deployed by a handful of powerful corporations, with occasional walk-on components assigned to national security agencies.
These corporations consider this version of “weak” AI as the biggest thing since sliced bread. The CEO of Google burbles about” AI everywhere” in his company’s offerings. Same goes for the other digital giants. In the face of this hype onslaught, it takes a certain amount of heroism to stand up and ask awkward topics. If this stuff is so powerful, then surely we ought to be looking at how it is being used, asking whether it’s legal, ethical and good for society- and thinking about what will happen when it gets into the hands of people who are even worse than the folks who run the big tech firms. Because it will.
Fortunately, there are scholars who have started to ask these awkward topics. There are, for example, the researchers who work at AI Now, a research institute at New York University focused on the social implications of AI. Their 2017 report attains interesting reading. Last week assured the publication of more in the same vein- a new critique of the technology by 26 experts from six major universities, plus a number of independent thinktanks and NGOs.
Its title- The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention and Mitigation- tells it all. The report fills a serious gap in our thinking about this stuff. We’ve heard the hype, corporate and governmental, about the wonderful things AI can supposedly do and we’ve begun to pay attention to the unintentional downsides of legitimate applications of the technology. Now the time has come to pay attention to the really malign things bad actors could do with it.
The report looks at three main “domains” in which we can expect problems. One is digital security. The utilize of AI to automate chores involved in carrying out cyber-attacks will alleviate the existing trade-off between the scale and efficacy of attacks. We can also expect assaults that exploit human vulnerabilities( for example, through the use of speech synthesis for impersonation ), existing software vulnerabilities( through automated hacking) or the vulnerabilities of legitimate AI systems( through corruption of the data rivers on which machine learning depends ).
A second threat domain is physical security- assaults with dronings and autonomous weapons systems.( Think v2. 0 of the hobbyist dronings that Isis deployed, but this time with face-recognition technology on board .) We can also expect new various kinds of attacks that subvert physical systems- causing autonomous vehicles to accident, say- or ones deploying physical systems that would be impossible to remotely control from a distance: a thousand-strong swarm of micro-drones, for example.
Finally, there’s what the authors call” political security”- using AI to automate tasks involved in surveillance, persuasion( creating targeted propaganda) and misrepresentation( eg, manipulating videos ). We can also expect new kinds of attack based on machine-learning’s capability to infer human behaviours, moods and beliefs from available data. This technology will obviously be welcomed by authoritarian countries, but it will also further undermine the capacities of republics to sustain truthful public debates. The bots and fake Facebook accounts that currently pollute our public sphere will look awfully amateurish in a couple of years.
The report is available as a free download and is worth read in full. If it were about the dangers of future or speculative technologies, then it might be reasonable to reject it as academic scare-mongering. The alarming thing is most of the problematic capabilities that its authors envisage are already available and in many cases are currently embedded in many of the networked services that we use every day. William Gibson was right: the future has already arrived.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Women’s rights are on the retreat yet again. Why? | Barbara Ellen2 months, 7 days ago
Donald Trumps ruling attaining it easier for companies to opt out of providing free family planning highlightings the need for vigilance
When modern females are ultimately fitted with their regulation compulsory chastity belts, dare one dream that they’ll come in a range of fairly colours, delightful the documentation and snazzy designs? Or would it simply be the old-school medieval iron trad models? Hey, little ladies, do you think we’d be allowed to choose?
I muse facetiously because, in the US, President Trump has issued a ruling that makes it far easier for companies and insurers to opt out of free birth control to employees on the grounds of religious and moral beliefs, rolling back a key feature of Obamacare. Now that it will become easier to opt out, many more will do so, with the health risks to affect 55 million females. The American Civil Liberties Union( ACLU) and the National Women’s Law Center have announced that they will sue the government over the decision.
Obamacare provisions also encompassed treatment for gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Now, many girls will be worried about being able to afford such therapies. However, these unfortunate girls probably just count as collateral injury. Apart from the huge amount of money that big business will save, the real target there are sexual autonomy, doubtless all sexual independence, but specifically the female kind that a certain mindset have all along wanted to control.
Contraception, though imperfect, was one of the chief liberators of women, taking much of the dread out of sex. Thus, this removal of free family planning could only be about putting the dread back into sexuality. At the least, putting an end to the corporate bankrolling of the more liberal, humanist, proactive and protective approaches to sex.
It should come as no surprise that among the reasons cited for the change were findings that access to contraception incited” risky sex behaviour “. Eh? One would have thought that reduced access to contraception was far riskier and that, for both sexualities, access to barrier contraception would be the least “risky” of all?
However, even believing like this is to participate in the delusion that this is about people enjoying themselves safely. Take away the figleaf of social responsibility and this becomes about stopping people being able to enjoy sexuality when they want, with whom they want, without anxiety of the results of unwanted pregnancy. And when I say ” people”, I mainly mean women.
Not that things are so peachy for reproductive rights back in Europe. Even as an Irish abortion reform referendum is under discussion for next year, a poll has revealed that only 24% of Irish people are in favour of legalising terminations in nearly all cases. Meanwhile, Prof Lesley Regan, the president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, has argued that parts of the 1967 Abortion Act are outdated and that females need faster, safer access to abortion, without the necessity of achieving the approval of two separate physicians- thus far to no avail. The lesson seems to be that it will never be over- there will always be laws that need to be updated and, where needed, protected. Where the Trump contraceptive ruling is concerned, it’s scary enough that it’s such a backward step- yet scarier that it has been so slyly done.
It’s an example of how a quite subtle shifting of legislative emphasis- simply making something easy( the opt-out) that had previously been difficult- could be enough to undermine, or even destroy, major sociopolitical progress, with far-reaching repercussions for women. The imminence of chastity belts or not, this appears to be an era when there’s a real need for women to stay alert- when hard-fought gains could be eroded in an instant with the quiet swish of a departmental pen.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
When Nigel Farage met Julian Assange2 months, 16 days ago
Why did Ukips ex-leader want to slip in unnoticed to satisfy the WikiLeaks chief at the Ecuadorian embassy?
On 9 March 2017, an ordinary Thursday morning, Ian Stubbings, a 35 -year-old Londoner, was walking down the street near its term of office in South Kensington when he spotted a familiar face. He turned and saw a human entering the redbrick terrace which houses the Ecuadorian embassy, where the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up since 2012. And the familiar face? It was Nigel Farage, the person who is spearheaded Britains exit from the European Union.
I thought hang in a moment, Stubbings says. That appears a little bit dodgy. I knew the building was the embassy because I often ensure camera crews outside. But there was no one else around. I was the only person whod seen him. And I didnt know what the significance was and I still dont actually but I thought: thats got to be worth telling and I was the only person whod witnessed it.
So, at 11.22 am, he tweeted it. His handle is @custardgannet and he wrote: Genuine scoop: merely saw Nigel Farage enter the Ecuadorian embassy. Moments later, a reporter from BuzzFeed, who happened to follow him on Twitter, picked it up and tweeted him back, and Stubbings told her: No press or cameras around.
No press or cameras around, that is, until BuzzFeed turned up just in time to catch Farage leaving, 40 minutes later. Nigel Farage Just Visited the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, the headline said. Asked by BuzzFeed News if hed been visiting Julian Assange, the former Ukip leader said he could not remember what he had been doing in the building.
And that was how the world found out, by collision, that the founder of WikiLeaks, the organisation which published Hillary Clintons leaked emails a decisive advantage for Donald Trumps campaign and Farage, a friend of Donald Trump, were mutually acquainted.
In Britain, we routinely treat Farage as if he were Widow Twankey in “the member states national” pantomime that is Ukip politics. And Widow Twankey dropping by on the man who lives in the Ecuadorian embassy broom cupboard seemed just one more weird moment in the weird times in which we now live; six weeks on, it had faded into yet another episode in the surreality show that now passes for normality.
But in a week that find two major developments on either side of the Atlantic regarding the respective roles that Assange and Farage played in the US election and the EU referendum the same week in which a UK general election was announced it is an attitude that needs urgent re-examination.
For if you were to pick three the persons who have the most decisive impact on that most decisive of years, 2016, it would be hard to see beyond Trump, Assange and Farage. What was not known until Ian Stubbings decided to go for an early lunch is that there is a channel of communication between them.
Last week brought this more clearly into focus. Because in a shock developing last Thursday, the US justice department announced it had prepared charges with a view to arresting Assange. A day subsequently, the Electoral Commission announced it was investigating Leave.EU the Brexit campaign Farage headed.
Significantly, the commission said its investigation was focused on whether one or more gifts including of services accepted by Leave.EU was impermissible.
One of the grounds on which a gift can be deemed impermissible is that it comes from abroad. A fundamental principle of British democracy and our elections law is that foreign citizens and foreign companies cannot buy influence in British elections via campaign donations.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Neoliberalism: the deep narrative that lies beneath Donald Trump’s triumph | George Monbiot3 months, 3 days ago
How a ruthless network of super-rich ideologues killed choice and destroyed people faith in politics
The events that led to Donald Trumps election started in England in 1975. At a meeting a few months after Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Conservative party, one of her colleagues, or so the narrative runs, was explaining what he saw as the core beliefs of conservatism. She snapped open her handbag, pulled out a dog-eared book, and slammed it on the table. This is what we believe, she told. A political revolution that would sweep the world had begun.
The book was The Constitution of Liberty by Frederick Hayek. Its publishing, in 1960, marked the transition from an honest, if extreme, philosophy to an outright racket. The philosophy was called neoliberalism. It considered competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. The market would discover a natural hierarchy of wins and losers, creating a more efficient system than could ever be devised through planning or by design. Anything that impeded this process, such as significant taxation, regulation, trade union activities activity or country provision, was counter-productive. Unrestricted entrepreneurs would create the wealth that would percolate down to everyone.
This, at any rate, is how it was originally conceived. But by the time Hayek came to write The Constitution of Liberty, the network of lobbyists and thinkers he had founded was being lavishly shall be financed by multimillionaires who find the doctrine as an instrument of defending themselves against democracy. Not every aspect of the neoliberal program advanced their interests. Hayek, it seems, set out to close the gap.
He begins the book by advancing the narrowest possible notion of liberty: a lack of coercion. He rejects such notions as political freedom, universal rights, human equality and the distribution of wealth, all of which, by restricting the behaviour of the wealthy and powerful, intrude on the absolute freedom from coercion he demands.
Democracy, by contrast, is not an ultimate or absolute value. In fact, liberty depends on preventing the majority from exerting choice over the direction that politics and communities might take.
He justifies its own position by creating a heroic narrative of extreme wealth. He conflates the economic elite, expending their money in new ways, with philosophical and scientific innovators. Only as the political philosopher should be free to think the unthinkable, so the very rich should be free to do the undoable, without constraint by public interest or public opinion.
The ultra rich are scouts, experimenting with new styles of living, who blaze the trails that the rest of society will follow. The advance of society depends on the liberty of these independents to gain as much fund as they want and expend it how there is a desire to. All that is good and useful, hence, arises from inequality. There should be no connection between merit and reward , no distinction constructed between earned and unearned income, and no limit to the rents they can charge.
Inherited wealth is more socially useful than earned wealth: the idle rich, who dont have to work for their money, can devote themselves to influencing fields of thought and opinion, of tastes and notions. Even when they seem to be spending money on nothing but aimless showing, they are in fact acting as societies vanguard.
Hayek softened his opposition to monopolies and hardened his opposition to trade unions. He lambasted progressive taxation and tries by the country to create the general welfare of citizens. He insisted that there is an overwhelming suit against a free health service for all and rejected the conservation of natural resources. It should come as no surprise to those who follow such matters that he was awarded the Nobel prize for economics.
By the time Thatcher slammed his book on the table, a lively network of thinktanks, lobbyists and academics promoting Hayeks doctrines had been established on both sides of the Atlantic, abundantly financed by some of the worlds richest people and industries, including DuPont, General Electric, the Coors brewing company, Charles Koch, Richard Mellon Scaife, Lawrence Fertig, the William Volker Fund and the Earhart Foundation. Using psychology and linguistics to brilliant impact, the thinkers these people sponsored found the words and arguments required to turn Hayeks anthem to the elite into a plausible political programme.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Imagine there’s no Sgt Pepper. It’s all too easy in the era of Trump and May | John Harris4 months, 1 day ago
This great Beatles album is as thrilling a listen as ever on its 50 th anniversary: but its a melancholy day for the one-world counterculture the record soundtracked
At the time Sgt Pepper was released, the American writer Langdon Winner once recalled, I happened to be driving across the country on Interstate 80. In each city where I stopped for gas or food Laramie, Ogallala, Moline, South Bend the tunes wafted in from some far-off transistor radio or portable hi-fi For a brief while, the irreparably fragmented consciousness of the west was unified, at the least in the minds of the young.
How far away it all seems. On 26 May the 50th anniversary of the Beatles Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band( it actually falls on 1 June) is likely to be marked by the release of remixed and repackaged versions of the original album. With his characteristically jolly meeknes, Paul McCartney insists in the latest issue of Mojo magazine that its only a record but its gained in notoriety over the years. The truth is that Sgt Pepper might be the most confident, boundary-pushing record British rock musicians had already been generated, and it is worth revisiting again.
We might also think about the era the album crystallised, and its long legacy. Sgt Pepper is not quite the quintessentially psychedelic, love-and-peace artefact of historical cliche: streaked through its multicoloured astonish is a very Beatle-ish various kinds of melancholy, partly rooted in the bands decidedly unpsychedelic postwar childhoods. But the wider culture moment, and the Beatles place at its heart, were indeed replete with beads, buzzers and a wide-eyed optimism.
Three weeks after the album came out, the band were the biggest attraction in the worlds first global satellite TV demonstrate, singing All You Need Is Love to an audience of as many as 350 million. Meanwhile, on both the US west coast and in swinging London, young people on the cutting edge genuinely were trying to push into a future very different from the one their parents had envisaged.
The so-called counterculture may not initially have reached much beyond its urban nerve centres and campuses. But the basic ideas Sgt Pepper soundtracked soon acquired enough influence to begin no end of social revolutions. A new emphasis on self-expression was manifested in the decisive arrival of feminism and gay liberation. Countries and borders came a distant second to the idea of one world.
Such shibboleths as matrimony until death and a job for life were quickly weakened. Once the leftist unrest of 1968 was out of the way, the shift continued away from the old-fashioned politics of systems and social structures towards the idea of freeing ones mind everything coloured with an essentially optimistic position of the future.
Two years after Sgt Peppers release, a young alumnu at Wellesley College, a women-only institution in Massachusetts, dedicated a speech. Our persisting acquisitive and competitive corporate life, including tragically the universities, is not the way of life for us, she said. Were searching for more immediate, ecstatic, and penetrating modes of living. And so our topics, our questions about our institutions, about our colleges, about our churches, about our government continue.
Her name was Hillary Rodham, and her journey says a lot about where 1960 s values eventually resulted us. To quote the music novelist Charles Shaar Murray, the line from hippy to yuppie was not nearly as convoluted as some people subsequently liked to believe and once the love decades more ambitious alumni reached positions of power, the origin of many of their notions was as clear as day.
Their professed distaste for corporate values fell away, but the hippy individualism summed up in the future Hillary Clintons insistence on immediate and ecstatic ways of life lived on, as did a questioning attitude to tradition, and to the stifling the limit of the old-fashioned nation state.
After the anti-6 0s backlash symbolised by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, by the mid-9 0s such notions were shaping a new political establishment, exemplified by Bill Clinton, and Blair and Browns New Labour. I am a modern man, from the rocknroll generation. The Beatles, colour TV, thats my generation, said Blair. Clinton honked away at his saxophone and ended his rallies with a song by Fleetwood Mac.
It is not hard to read across from these legislators ideals to what they soaked up in their formative years. In 2005 Blair, who fronted a long-haired band while at Oxford University, told the Labour party conference that people should be swift to adapt, slow to complain open, willing and able to change. Collectivity was yesterdays thing; against a background of globalisation and all-enveloping liberalism, governments task was to encourage people to be as flexible and self-questioning as possible.
Inner-city living builds for healthier, happier people, study determines4 months, 8 days ago
Residents of higher-density areas are more active, more socially engaged and less obese than people who live in the sprawl of suburbia
Contrary to popular belief, busy city centres beat suburban living when it is necessary to human wellbeing, as socialising and walking make for happier, healthier people, according to a new report.
Downtown residents- packed together in tight row houses or apartment blocks- become active and socially engaged than people who live in the sprawl of suburbia, according to a report that aims to challenge popular beliefs about city life.
Its authors said their findings should encourage legislators to promote the benefits of built-up city living.
” If we can persuade policy makers that this is a public health possibility, we can construct well-designed communities, and in the long term you have made a big difference in the area of health outcomes ,” its co-author Chinmoy Sarkar told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
” With evidence, we can scheme multi-functional, attractive neighborhoods that promote physical activity, promote social interaction, and shield from negatives such as pollution and impression unsafe .”
The examine- by Oxford University and the University of Hong Kong( UHK)- showed that in 22 British cities people living in built-up residential area had lower levels of obesity and exercised more than residents in scattered, suburban homes.
” As cities get more and more compact, they become more walkable. In denser residential areas they are better designed and most attractive destinations. We are less dependent on our automobiles and use public transport more ,” he said.
Sarkar, assistant prof at UHK, said policies and planning needed to catch up with the data, rather than relying on urban myths about what attains cities work.
The study showed that areas of suburban sprawl with about 18 homes per hectare- such as poorly designed neighborhoods near motorways, where driving is the only option- had the greatest rates of obesity and lowest rates of exercise.
Suburban areas with few homes- often privileged communities with big gardens and open spaces- were healthier than this but lagged behind the most densely populated areas in inner cities.
Walking constructed the biggest change, said Sarkar, and social interaction and physical activity flourished best in compact communities.
The analyse compared more than 400,000 residents of cities- including London, Glasgow, and Cardiff- and procured the best health came in areas with more than 32 homes per hectare, the average density for new building in Britain.
This level, typical of developments of standalone semi-detached suburban homes, is less than a one-quarter of the density of Georgian terraces of London’s desirable Islington and Notting Hill neighbourhoods.
Sarkar called into question British policies- such as statutes to curtail suburban homes from dividing their plots and filling in more homes in gardens- which have sought to preserve suburbia’s open and emptier spaces.
In January the government announced it would construct 17 new towns and villages across the countryside in a bid to ease a chronic housing shortage. But Sarkar said policy makers should think again before building on green fields.
Despite spiralling home costs and government targets to build a million homes by 2020, Britain’s restrictive scheming system has prevented high-density, urban planning due to fears that it would lead to high-rise, low-quality blocks of flats, according to a government paper released in February.
London remains one of Europe’s most sparsely populated major cities, with less than half the density of Madrid, Barcelona and Paris, and below the level of Milan, Berlin and Rome.
The paper recommended local authorities to reverse their long-standing opposition to built-up residential areas by highlighting London’s mansion blocks and terraced streets, all of which promote a strong sense of neighbourhood.
On Wednesday the prime minister, Theresa May, said the government would give PS2bn( US $2.6 bn) to local government authorities to build 25,000 homes for rental in the social housing sector, which urgently requires new properties.
The the administration has invest a further PS10bn in a strategy that aims to boost home ownership by helping people buy a new-build home with only a small deposit.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Prince George arrives for first day at PS18, 000 -a-year prep school4 months, 17 days ago
Choice of Thomass Battersea stimulates four-year-old prince the first direct royal heir to be educated south of the river in London
Prince George has started school; a royal enrolment that has upped the desirability of properties in the well-heeled environs of the south-west London prep school chosen to tutor the four-year-old.
Plans for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to accompany their firstborn on his first day were changed due to her recently announced pregnancy and the severe morning sickness “shes been” experiencing. Instead the duke did the school operate solo.
A crowd of well-wishers had met outside the school gate to watch. The young prince arrived shortly before 8.50 am and was driven through a side entrance and a security gate shut behind them.
The third in line to the throne arrived for his first day at PS18, 000 -a-year Thomas’s Battersea, where he will learn to” be kind”, acquire” confidence, leadership and humility” and not have a best friend to prevent other children having hurt feelings.
Holding his dad’s hand and seeming a little apprehensive, George strolled from the car and then had a formal handshake with Helen Haslem, head of lower school. the duke was holding his son’s school bag.
It was a low-level arrival as far as media were concerned. Unlike William’s first day, which was witnessed by a bank of photographers, the ferociously protective Cambridges stipulated only one TV camera and one photographer would be there to capture the moment of George’s first day.
The newest and most famous pupil, who will be known as George Cambridge, was escorted into the reception class.
Kitted out in his John Lewis uniform( also available at Peter Jones in Sloane Square)- winter and summertime uniforms, red art smock, and PE kit including black ballet shoes total more than PS365- the young prince can look forward to a broad education.
No holds barred and funny as hell: the fierce humor of Margaret Cho4 months, 25 days ago
One of Americas most politically outspoken standups is eventually bringing her barbarian brand of comedy to Britain
If you have never heard of Margaret Cho, believe the caustic, crude slapstick of Joan Rivers, the politically-charged gibe of Bill Hicks and the quick-witted improvisation of Robin Williams- all rolled into one but with a feisty Korean spin. Now the US comedian is about to embark on a UK tour, starting in Edinburgh on 25 November and ending at the O2 Shepherd’ s Bush Empire on 10 December.
Cho is a five-time Grammy and Emmy nominee and a household name in America, and earlier this year Rolling Stone magazine named her as one of the 50 best standup comics of all time. She has worked with all the above comics, and others such as Jerry Seinfeld, but says her greatest mentor and influence was Rivers.” I try to carry on her legacy ,” she says.” I feel like I learned everything I know from her .”
For a comedian like the openly bisexual Cho, famous for her brazen take on sex and politics, there has never been a better time to hit the road.
With the daily tweet-fest that is the presidency of Donald Trump and the sexual harassment revelations rocking Hollywood, Cho says the material is flowing like never before.
” There’s a lot about Trump, a lot about race and sexuality, and politics. I get to talk about all that various kinds of stuff, which I think is really important ,” she says.
Cho, 48, is also open about having been sexually assaulted and raped by a family friend as a adolescent. The accusations about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein have inevitably brought that back- but for her, slapstick is healing.
” I never believed I would see anything like this in my lifetime. I’m a survivor of this kind of stuff so it’s really amazing to see it happening ,” she says.
” It’s disgusting, but that’s what’s great about comedy. You can take something really terrible and make it funny. And that’s magical, that’s what we all strive for, to take things so dark and so difficult and construct them very light ,” she says. Dealing with difficult subjects, sometimes in difficult circumstances, is trademark Cho.
At a recent fundraising bash in Washington DC she was waiting in the wings with fellow headliners Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno when one of the theatre reps rushed up and whispered in her ear:” Whatever you do, don’t talk about Trump !”
Cho remembers:” Everyone suddenly seemed really scared. It was so weird .” At first she thought it might be the president himself. But as she seemed out into the audience, Cho clocked his daughter, Ivanka, with spouse Jared Kushner, one of Trump’s closest aides.
She thought about it for a split second, but carried on regardless- lambasting, with her signature barbarian humor, Trump, Weinstein and” all the bad in national societies “.” I won’t be asked back ,” she says, giggling.” But that’s OK with me .”
Cho is now looking forward to getting better acquainted with Britain.” Britons know their comedians very well. You watch comedians change their demonstrates and come back with a new demonstrate every year. So there’s a connection that they have with their audience.
” Comedy in saloon is actually there to be the social instigator, and get people talking to each other and get the social feedback running. Comedians have a different role in society there than they do in America. It’s definitely much more involved .”
Cho depicts heavily on her childhood growing up in and around a lesbian bookstore in San Francisco, which her parents bought when she was seven.
” We sold a lot of gay porn, and that’s pretty crazy for a very Conservative Korean household !” she jokes. It was here, though, that she learned the ache of losing friends, most of them to Aids.
” Aids changed my whole world. That’s the thing I haven’t is dealing with as a performer yet. I hadn’t figured out a way to talk about it- up to now .”
Like many comedians, it’s her own troubled past that has perhaps been most influential in Cho’s work- including with regard to her struggle with medication and alcohol abuse.
” Comedy is really about coping. It’s about coping with your own suffering, and your own pain. How do we find a way through that? That’s what slapstick is in general. It’s a way to cope. It’s finding a way to survive with all of this happening ,” she says.
Sometimes that suffering has spilled over on to the stage. At one sell-out gigin New Jersey last year half the crowd strolled out midway through when she appeared to slur and forget her punchlines. Grainy video footage of the event indicates battles breaking out and Cho ranting at” over-privileged white people “. At the time she put the fiasco down to sorrow over the death of fellow comedian Garry Shandling, but not long afterwards she dropped off the circuit altogether.
” I spent about a year and a half in a very closed-off rehab”, she says.” I just didn’t want to go back into the world .”
Now she feels like she’s” come out of the craziness and into the sun”, and is ready to attain her most troubling experiences part of her standup routine.” The worse the subject the funnier it is, that’s what I believe ,” she says.
The title of her new indicate- Fresh Off the Bloat – is itself a reference to being fresh off medications, alcohol and” the verge of suicide “. For the UK demonstrates, Cho has been busy rewriting a big chunk of her act to catch up with the constant flow of sexual harassment accusations dogging the entertainment industry.
She’s no stranger to Hollywood herself. She was in the film Face/ Off with John Travolta and had her own TV sitcom in the 90 s, All-American Girl , where she played the rebellious daughter in a traditional Korean-American household. Former boyfriend Quentin Tarantino famously directed one of the episodes.
The pair, she says, lately “was talkin about a” the Weinstein allegations and their wider impact.” It’s very difficult because it involves all this amazing cinematographic history too. But I think it’s going to be a continual reminder that there’s a lot of bad in our society, and particularly in industries like amusement where there’s so much feeling of absolute power that people have. So I think there’s a lot more to come out. I feel like this is just the beginning, and I’m really grateful for that .”
Read more: www.theguardian.com
‘A tale of decay’: the Houses of Parliament are falling down5 months, 5 days ago
The long read: As politicians dither over repairs, the risk of fire, inundation or a spate of sewage merely increases. But fixing the Palace of Westminster might change British politics for good which is the last thing many of its residents want
Britain’s Parliament is broken. It is a flame danger. It is insanitary. Asbestos worms its route through the building. Many of the tubes and cables that carry heat, water, energy and gas were installed just after the war and should have been replaced in the 1970 s; some of them date from the 19 th century. The older the steam pipe become, the more likely they are to cracking or leak. When high-temperature, high-pressure steam enters the ambiance, it expands at velocity, generating huge, explosive energy. Such force could be fatal for anyone close; it could also disturb asbestos and send it flying through the ventilation system, to be inhaled by palace employees. The house caught fire 40 times between 2008 and 2012. Last year, a malfunctioning light on an obscure part of the roof caused an electrical fire that could have spread rapidly, had it not been detected at once. Whatever else happens in the Palace of Westminster, that great neo-Gothic pile on the Thames, one thing is constant. Every hour of every day, four or five members of the fire-safety squad are patrolling the palace, hunting for flames.
Away from the grand chambers of the House of Commons and House of Lords, away from the lofty passageways, away from the imposing committee rooms with their carved doorways, the palace is tatty, dirty and infested with vermin. Its lavatories stink, its drains leak. Some of the external stonework has not been cleaned since it was built in the 1840 s, and is encrusted with a thick coat of tarry black that is eating away at the masonry. Inside the building, intricate fan vaulting is flaking off, was affected by oozing rainwater and leaking pipes. Its Gothic-revival artworks are decaying: in the Lords chamber, the once-golden statues of the barons who signed the Magna Carta are now dull gray, pitted and corroded.
Beyond its country of disrepair, the building is all too obviously a remnant of a predemocratic age. It was constructed not to welcome its populace in, but to impress them with its fortress-like grandeur. It was designed when women were, at best, crinoline-wearing spectators of parliamentary life, consigned to the public gallery. With its chilly colonnades of sculptures of male politicians, its heavy, ecclesiastical furnishings and gentlemen’s-club atmosphere, it provides the perfect stage-set for Britain’s” very aggressive, very masculine, very power-hoarding republic”, as political scientist Matthew Flinders put it.