It was the Democrats’ embrace of neoliberalism that won it for Trump | Naomi Klein

People have lost their sense of security, status and even identity. Trumps victory is the scream of an America desperate for radical change

They will blame James Comey and the FBI. They will blame voter suppression and racism. They will blame Bernie or bust and misogyny. They will blame third parties and independent nominees. They will blame the corporate media for dedicating him the platform, social media for being a bullhorn, and WikiLeaks for airing the laundry.

But this leaves out the force most responsible for creating the nightmare in which we now find ourselves wide awake: neoliberalism. That worldview fully represented by Hillary Clinton and her machine is no match for Trump-style extremism. The decision to run one against the other is what sealed our fate. If we learn nothing else, can we please learn from that mistake?

Here is what we need to understand: a hell of a lot of people are in pain. Under neoliberal policies of deregulation, privatisation, austerity and corporate trade, their living criteria have declined precipitously. They have lost jobs. They have lost pensions. They have lost much of the safety net that used to make these losses less frightening. They ensure a future for their children even worse than their precarious present.

At the same time, they have witnessed the rise of the Davos class, a hyper-connected network of banking and tech billionaires, elected leaders who are awfully cosy with those interests, and Hollywood celebrities who construct the whole thing seem unbearably glamorous. Success is a party to which they were not invited, and they know in their hearts that this rising wealth and power is somehow directly connected to their grow debts and powerlessness.

For the people who saw security and status as their birthright and that means white humen most of all these losses are unbearable.

Donald Trump speaks directly to that ache. The Brexit campaign spoke to that ache. So do all of the rising far-right parties in Europe. They answer it with nostalgic nationalism and indignation at remote economic bureaucracies whether Washington, the North American free trade agreement the World Trade Organisation or the EU. And of course, they answer it by bashing migrants and people of colour, vilifying Muslims, and degrading females. Elite neoliberalism has nothing to offer that pain, because neoliberalism unleashed the Davos class. People such as Hillary and Bill Clinton are the toast of the Davos party. In truth, they hurled the party.

Trumps message was: All is hell. Clinton answered: All is well. But its not well far from it.

Neo-fascist responses to rampant insecurity and inequality are not going to go away. But what we know from the 1930 s is that what it takes to do battle with fascism is a real left. A good chunk of Trumps support could be peeled away if there were a genuine redistributive agenda on the table. An agenda to take on the billionaire class with more than rhetoric, and use the money for a green new deal. Such a plan could create a tidal wave of well-paying unionised chores, bringing seriously needed resources and opportunities to communities of colour, and insist that polluters should pay for workers to be retrained and fully included in this future.

It could way public policies that fight institutionalised racism, economic inequality and climate change at the same time. It could take on bad trade bargains and police violence, and honour indigenous people as the original defenders of the land, water and air.

How the 2016 US election night unfolded

People have a right to be angry, and a powerful, intersectional left agenda can direct that anger where it belongs, while fighting for holistic answers that will bring a frayed society together.

Such a coalition is possible. In Canada, we have begun to cobble it together under the banner of a people agenda called The Leap Manifesto, endorsed by more than 220 organisations from Greenpeace Canada to Black Lives Matter Toronto, and some of our largest trade unions.

Bernie Sanders astonishing campaign went a long way towards building this sort of alliance, and demonstrated that the craving for democratic socialism is out there. But early on, there was a failing in the campaign to connect with older black and Latino voters who are the demographic most abused by our current economic model. That failure prevented the campaign from reaching its full potential. Those mistakes can be corrected and a bold, transformative coalition is there to be built on.

That is the task ahead. The Democratic party needs to be either decisively wrested from pro-corporate neoliberals, or it needs to be abandoned. From Elizabeth Warren to Nina Turner, to the Occupy graduates who took the Bernie campaign supernova, there is a stronger field of coalition-inspiring progressive leaders out there than at any point in my lifetime. We are leaderful, as many in the Movement for Black Lives say.

So lets get out of shock as fast as we can and construct the kind of revolutionary motion that has a genuine answer to the dislike and dread represented by the Trumps of this world. Lets set aside whatever is keeping us apart and start right now.

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Detained by US immigration: ‘In that moment I loathed America’ | Mem Fox

Exclusive: The celebrated Australian children writer tells how on her 117 th visit to the US she was suddenly at the mercy of Donald Trumps visa regime

I was pulled out of line in the immigration queue at Los Angeles airport as I came in to the USA. Not because I was Mem Fox the writer nobody knew that I was just a normal person like anybody else. They thought I was working in the Countries and that I had come in on the incorrect visa.

I was receiving an honorarium for delivering an opening keynote at a literacy conference, and because my expenses were being paid, they said: You need to answer further questions. So I was taken into this holding room with about 20 other people and maintained there for an hour and 40 minutes, and for 15 minutes I was interrogated.

The room was like a waiting room in a hospital but a bit more grim than that. There was a notice on the wall that was far too small, telling no cellphones let, and anybody who did use a cellphone had person stand in front of them and yell: Dont use that telephone! Everything was hollered, and everything was public, and this was the most awful thing, I heard things happening in that room happening to other people that built me ashamed to be human.

There was an Iranian woman in a wheelchair, she was about 80, wearing a little mauve cardigan, and they were hollering at her Arabic? Arabic ?. They called at her ARABIC? at the top of their voices, and finally she intuited what they wanted and I heard her tell Farsi. And I thought heaven be used to help, shes Iranian, whats going to happen?

There was a woman from Taiwan, being hollered at about at about how she made her fund, but she didnt understand the issues to. The policeman was yelling at her: Where does your fund come from, does it grow on trees? Does it fall from the sky? It was awful.

There was no toilet , no water, and there was this woman with a baby. If I had been holed up in that room with a pocket on my chest, and a newborn crying, or needing to be fed, oh God the agony I was surrounded by in that room was like a razor blade across my heart.

When I was called to be interviewed I was rereading a novel from 40 years ago thank God I had a novel. It was The Red and the Black by Stendhal a 19 th century novel maintains you quiet on a long flight, and is great in a crisis and I was buried in it and didnt hear my name called. And a woman in front of me told: They are calling for Fox. I didnt know which booth to be done in order to, then suddenly there was a man in front of me, heaving with weaponry, standing with his legs apart yelling: No , not there, here! I apologised politely and told Id been buried in my book and he said: What do you expect me to do, stand here while you finish it? very loudly and with shocking insolence.

The way I was interviewed was monstrous. If only they had been able to look into my suitcase and consider my volumes. The irony! I had a transcript of my new volume Im Australian, Too its about immigration and welcoming people to live in a happy country. I am all about inclusivity, humanity and the oneness of the humans of the world; its the theme of my life. I also had a transcript of my book Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. I told him I had all these all-inclusive volumes of mine in my container, and he yelled at me: I can read!

He was less than half my age I dont seem 70 but I dont appear 60 either, Im an older woman and I was standing the whole time. The belligerence and violence of it was really frightening. I had to hold the heel of my helping hand to my heart to stop it beating so hard.

They were not apologetic at any point. When they discovered that one of Australias official gifts to Prince George was Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, he held out his hand and told: Its been a pleasure to meet you, Ms Fox. I was close to collapse, very close to fainting, and this nearly transgressed me it was the creepiest thing of all.

I had been upright, dignified, cool and polite, and this was so cruelly unexpected, so appalling, that he should say it was a pleasure. It couldnt have been a pleasure for him to treat me like that, unless he was a psychopath.

In that moment I loathed America. I loathed the entire country. And it was my 117 th visit to the country so I know that most people are very generous and warm-hearted. They have been wonderful to me over the years. I get over that hatred within a day or two. But this is not the way to win friends, to do this to someone who is Australian when we have supported them in every damn war. Its absolutely outrageous.

Later in the hotel room I was shaking like a foliage. I rang my friend, my American editor and bellowed and bawled, and she told me to write it all down, and I wrote for two hours. I fell asleep believing I would sleep for eight hours but I woke up an hour and a half subsequently just sobbing. I had been sobbing in my sleep. It was very traumatic.

After I got back to Australia I had an apology from the American embassy. I was very impressed, they were very comforting, and Ive had so many messages of support from Americans and American authors.

I am a human being, so I do understand that these people might not be well-trained, but they now have carte blanche to be as horrible and belligerent as they want. Theyve gone mad theyve got all the power that they want but they dont have the training.

They built me feel like such a crushed, mashed, hopeless old lady and I am a feisty, strong, articulated English speaker. I kept thinking that if this were happening to me, a person who is white, articulated, trained and fluent in English, what on ground is happening to people who dont have my power?

Thats the heartbreak of it. Remember, I wasnt pulled out because Im some kind of revolutionary activist, but my God, I am now. I am on the frontline. If we dont stand up and scream, good sense and good will not predominate, and my voice will be one of the loudest.

Thats what it has taught me. I thought I was an activist before, but this has turned me into a revolutionary. Im not letting it happen here. Instead of weeping and being sad and sitting on a couch, I am going to write to politicians. I am going to call. I am going to write to newspapers. I am going to get on the radio. I will not be quiet. No more passive behaviour. Hear me roar.

As tell to Lucy Clark

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National emergency? Belgians respond to terror raids with cats

An official request for citizens to avoid tweeting anything that could inform terrorists what is going on resulted in a national outbreak of pet pics

When, on Sunday evening, Belgian police asked citizens not to tweet about the armed operations that were being carried out around the country, anyone could have been excused for reacting with fear.

Brussels in lockdown for a third day

Belgian forces searching for suspects in the aftermath of the Paris attacks told citizens to stay indoors and not go near their windows for safety reasons.

They also appealed for social media silence about any police action users might witness presumably to keep the suspects in the dark.

A tense time, no doubt. But Belgium reacted how else? with cats.

Instead of speculation about the sort of threat police might be reacting to, many people used the #BrusselsLockdown hashtag to post pictures of their pets.

Seimen Burum (@SeimenBurum) November 22, 2015

Don’t share info on situation #BrusselsLockdown that may help suspects. Confuse them with #cat pics @lopcute

Lore De Witte (@loredewitte) November 22, 2015

“I got this” #BrusselsLockdown

Delphine Jory (@Ladyblogue) November 22, 2015

#BrusselsLockdown en live.

anna-rose phipps (@lopcute) November 22, 2015

#BrusselsLockdown CodeNameSpinner

Amit Bhat (@amitbhatr) November 22, 2015

Don’t worry super cat is here #BrusselsLockdown

TineEeckhout (@TineEeckhout) November 22, 2015

May the force be with us. #BrusselsLockdown

JaneAustenMaMaschio (@ExTimUpperClass) November 22, 2015

#relax, Mes amis #BrusselsLockdown

melissa jacobs (@deathrep) November 22, 2015

#BrusselsLockdown You ROCK Belgian people! Showing the world how to deal with terrorism! Love from #NativeAmerica !

And after the all-clear was announced by officials with the news of arrests there was a sigh of relief and a message of gratitude.

CrisisCenter Belgium (@CrisiscenterBE) November 22, 2015

Thanks to the media and citizens for their silence online as asked during the juridicial intervention tonight #BrusselsLockdown

Belgian police later thanked the cats for their help.

Police Fdrale (@PolFed_presse) November 23, 2015

Pour les chats qui nous ont aid hier soir… Servez-vous! #BrusselsLockdown

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Arctic stronghold of worlds seeds flooded after permafrost melts

No seeds were lost but the ability of the rock vault to provide failsafe protection against all disasters is now threatened by climate change

It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the worlds most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanitys food supply forever. But the Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel.

The vault is on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen and contains almost a million packets of seeds, each a variety of an important food crop. When it was opened in 2008, the deep permafrost through which the vault was sunk was expected to provide failsafe protection against the challenge of natural or man-made disasters.

But soaring temperatures in the Arctic at the end of the worlds hottest ever recorded year led to melting and heavy rain, when light snow should have been falling. It was not in our plans to think that the permafrost would not be there and that it would experience extreme weather like that, said Hege Njaa Aschim, from the Norwegian government, which owns the vault.

The Svalbard seed vault: safeguarding the worlds crop varieties

A lot of water went into the start of the tunnel and then it froze to ice, so it was like a glacier when you went in, she told the Guardian. Fortunately, the meltwater did not reach the vault itself, the ice has been hacked out, and the precious seeds remain safe for now at the required storage temperature of -18C.

But the breach has questioned the ability of the vault to survive as a lifeline for humanity if catastrophe strikes. It was supposed to [operate] without the help of humans, but now we are watching the seed vault 24 hours a day, Aschim said. We must see what we can do to minimise all the risks and make sure the seed bank can take care of itself.

Plastic boxes containing plant seeds inside the international Svalbard Global Seed Vault on Spitsbergen, Norway. Photograph: Jens Buttner/dpa/Alamy

The vaults managers are now waiting to see if the extreme heat of this winter was a one-off or will be repeated or even exceeded as climate change heats the planet. The end of 2016 saw average temperatures over 7C above normal on Spitsbergen, pushing the permafrost above melting point.

The question is whether this is just happening now, or will it escalate? said Aschim. The Svalbard archipelago, of which Spitsbergen is part, has warmed rapidly in recent decades, according to Ketil Isaksen, from Norways Meteorological Institute.

The Arctic and especially Svalbard warms up faster than the rest of the world. The climate is changing dramatically and we are all amazed at how quickly it is going, Isaksen told Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet.

The vault managers are now taking precautions, including major work to waterproof the 100m-long tunnel into the mountain and digging trenches into the mountainside to channel meltwater and rain away. They have also removed electrical equipment from the tunnel that produced some heat and installed pumps in the vault itself in case of a future flood.

Aschim said there was no option but to find solutions to ensure the enduring safety of the vault: We have to find solutions. It is a big responsibility and we take it very seriously. We are doing this for the world.

This is supposed to last for eternity, said smund Asdal at the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre, which operates the seed vault.

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This is the most dangerous time for our planet | Stephen Hawking

We cant go on ignoring inequality, because we have the means to destroy our world but not to escape it

As a theoretical physicist are stationed in Cambridge, I have lived my life in an extraordinarily privileged bubble. Cambridge is an unusual town, centred around one of the worlds great universities. Within that town, the scientific community that I became part of in my 20 s is even more rarefied.

And within that scientific community, the smaller group of international theoretical physicists with whom I have spent my working life might sometimes be seduced to regard themselves as the spire. In addition to this, with the celebrity that has come with my volumes, and the isolation imposed by my illness, I feel as though my ivory tower is get taller.

So the recent apparent rejection of the elites in both America and Britain is surely is targeted at me, as much as anyone. Whatever we might think about the decision by the British electorate to reject membership of the European union and by the American public to embracing Donald Trump as their next chairman, there is no doubt in the minds of commentators that this was a sob of indignation by people who felt they had been abandoned by their leaders.

It was, everyone seems to agree, the moment when the forgotten speak, procuring their voices to reject the advice and guidance of experts and the elite everywhere.

I am no exception to this rule. I warned before the Brexit vote that it would damage scientific research in Britain, that a election to leave would be a step backward, and the electorate or at least a sufficiently significant proportion of it took no more notice of me than any of the other political leaders, trade unionists, artists, scientists, businessmen and celebrities who all gave the same unheeded advice to the rest of the country.

What matters now, far more than the choices made by these two electorates, is how the elites react. Should we, in turn, reject these referendums as outpourings of crude populism that fail to be given to the fact, and attempt to circumvent or circumscribe the choices that they represent? I would argue that this would be a terrible mistake.

The concerns underlying these referendums about the economic consequences of globalisation and accelerating technological change are utterly understandable. The automation of mills has already decimated employment opportunities in traditional manufacturing, and the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend this job demolition deep into the middle classes, with only the most caring, creative or supervisory roles remaining.

This in turn will accelerate the already widening economic inequality around the world. The internet and the platforms that it makes possible allow very small groups of individuals to make enormous earnings while hiring very few people. This is inevitable, it is progress, but it is also socially destructive.

We need to put this alongside the financial crash, which brought home to people that a very few someones working in the financial sector can accrue huge rewards and that the rest of us underwrite that success and pick up the bill when their avarice leads us astray. So taken together “were living in” a world of widening , not diminishing, financial inequality, in which many people can see not just their the living standards, but their ability to earn a living at all, disappearing. It is no wonder then that they are searching for a new deal, which Trump and Brexit might have appeared to represent.

In sub-Saharan Africa there are more people with a telephone than access to clean water. Photo: Andy Hall for the Observer

It is also the example that another unintended outcome of the global spread of the internet and social media is that the stark nature of these inequalities is far more apparent than it has been in the past. For me, the ability to use technology to communicate has been a liberating and positive experience. Without it, I would not have been able to continue working these many years past.

But it also means that the lives of the richest people in the most prosperous parts of the world are agonisingly visible to anyone, however poor, who has access to a phone. And since there are now more people with a telephone than access to clean water in sub-Saharan Africa, this will shortly entails nearly everyone on our increasingly mobbed planet will be unable to escape the inequality.

The consequences of this are plain to see: the rural poor flock to cities, to shanty towns, driven by hope. And then often, detecting that the Instagram nirvana was not possible there, they seek it overseas, joining the ever greater numbers of economic migrants in search of a better life. These migrants in turn place new demands on the infrastructures and economies of the countries in which they arrive, undermining tolerance and further fuelling political populism.

For me, the really concerning facet of this is that now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together. We face awesome environmental challenges: climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic illnes, acidification of the oceans.

Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy countries around the world on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it. Perhaps in a few hundred years, we will have established human colonies amid the stars, but right now we only have one planet, and we need to work together to protect it.

To do that, we need to break down , not build up, roadblocks within and between nations. If we are to stand a chance of doing that, the worlds leaders need to acknowledge that they have failed and are failing the many. With resources increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, we are going to have to learn to share far more than at present.

With not only chores but entire industries disappearing, we must help people to retrain for a new world and support them financially while they do so. If communities and economies cannot cope with current levels of migration, we must do more to promote global growth, as that is the only way that the migratory millions will be persuaded to seek their own future at home.

We can do this, I am an enormous optimist for my species; but it will require the elites, from London to Harvard, from Cambridge to Hollywood, to learn the lessons of the past year. To learn above all a measure of humility.

The novelist launched earlier this year

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Now the truth emerges: how the US fuelled the rise of Isis in Syria and Iraq | Seumas Milne

The sectarian terror group wont be defeated by the western states that incubated it in the first place

The war on terror, that campaign without end launched 14 years ago by George Bush, is tying itself up in ever more grotesque contortions. On Monday the trial in London of a Swedish human, Bherlin Gildo, accused of terrorism in Syria, collapsed after it became clear British intelligence had been arming the same rebel groups the defendant was charged with supporting.

The prosecution abandoned the case, apparently to avoid embarrassing the intelligence services. The defense argued that going ahead with the trial would have been an affront to justice when there was plenty of evidence the British state was itself extensive support to the armed Syrian opposition.

That didnt only include the non-lethal assistance boasted of by the government( including body armour and military vehicles ), but training, logistical support and the secret supplying of arms on a massive scale. Reports were quoted that MI6 had cooperated with the CIA on a rat line of limbs transfers from Libyan stockpiles to the Syrian rebels in 2012 after the fall of the Gaddafi regime.

Clearly, the absurdity of sending somebody to prison for doing what ministers and their security officials were up to themselves became too much. But its only the latest of a string of such cases. Less fortunate was a London cab driver Anis Sardar, who was given a life sentence a fortnight earlier for taking part in 2007 in resistance to the occupation of Iraq by US and British forces. Armed opposition to illegal intrusion and occupation clearly doesnt constitute terrorism or murder on most definitions, including the Geneva convention.

But terrorism is now squarely in the eye of the beholder. And nowhere is that more so than in the Countries of the middle east, where todays terrorists are tomorrows fighters against tyranny and allies are enemies often at the bewildering whim of a western policymakers conference call.

For the past year, US, British and other western forces have been back in Iraq, supposedly in the cause of destroying the hyper-sectarian terror group Islamic State( formerly known as al-Qaida in Iraq ). This was after Isis overran huge chunks of Iraqi and Syrian territory and proclaimed a self-styled Islamic caliphate.

The campaign isnt going well. Last month, Isis rolled into the Iraqi city of Ramadi, while on the other side of the now nonexistent border its forces conquered the Syrian town of Palmyra. Al-Qaidas official franchise, the Nusra Front, has also been stimulating gains in Syria.

Some Iraqis complain that the US sat on its hands while all this was going on. The Americans insist they are trying to avoid civilian casualties, and assert significant successes. Privately, officials say they dont want to be seen hammering Sunni strongholds in a sectarian war and hazard upsetting their Sunni allies in the Gulf.

A exposing light on how we got here has now been glistened by a recently declassified secret US intelligence report, writes to August 2012, which uncannily predicts and effectively welcomes the prospect of a Salafist principality in eastern Syria and an al-Qaida-controlled Islamic state in Syria and Iraq. In stark contrast to western claims at the time, the Defense Intelligence Agency document identifies al-Qaida in Iraq( which became Isis) and fellow Salafists as the major forces driving the rebellion in Syria and states that western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey were supporting the oppositions efforts to take control of eastern Syria.

Raising the possibility of establishing a proclaimed or undeclared Salafist principality, the Pentagon report goes on, this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition wishing, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion( Iraq and Iran ).

Which is pretty well exactly what happened two years later. The report isnt a policy document. Its heavily redacted and there are ambiguities in the language. But the implications are clear enough. A year into the Syrian uprising, the US and its allies werent only supportive and arming an opponent they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of Islamic state despite the tomb danger to Iraqs unity as a Sunni buffer to weaken Syria.

That doesnt mean the US created Isis, of course, though some of its Gulf allies surely played a role in it as the US vice-president, Joe Biden, recognise last year. But there was no al-Qaida in Iraq until the US and Britain invaded. And the US has certainly exploited the existence of Isis against other forces-out in the region as part of a wider drive to maintain western control.

The calculus changed when Isis started beheading westerners and posting cruelties online, and the Gulf nations are now backing other groups in the Syrian war, such as the Nusra Front. But this US and western habit of played with jihadi groups, which then come back to bite them, goes back at least to the 1980 s war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, which fostered the original al-Qaida under CIA tutelage.

It was recalibrated during the occupation of Iraq, when US forces-out led by General Petraeus sponsored an El Salvador-style dirty war of sectarian death squadsto weaken the Iraqi resistance. And it was reprised in 2011 in the Nato-orchestrated war in Libya, where Isis last week took control of Gaddafis home town of Sirte.

In reality, US and western policy in the conflagration that is now the Countries of the middle east is in the classic mould of imperial divide-and-rule. American forces bomb one set of rebels while backing another in Syria, and mount what are effectively joint military operations with Iran against Isis in Iraq while supporting Saudi Arabias military campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen. However confused US policy may often be, a weak, partitioned Iraq and Syria accommodate this approach perfectly.

Whats clear is that Isis and its monstrosities wont be defeated by the same powers that brought it to Iraq and Syria in the first place, or whose open and covert war-making has promoted it in the years since. Endless western military interventions in the Middle East have brought only destruction and division. Its the people of the region who can remedy this illnes not the individuals who incubated the virus.

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Teenage boys wear skirts to school to protest against ‘no shorts’ policy

Dozens of pupils at Isca academy in Exeter stage uniform protest after school insists they wear trousers despite heatwave

Some had borrowed from girlfriends, others from sisters. A few had gone the extra mile and shaved their legs. When the Isca academy in Devon opened on Thursday morning, an estimated 30 boys arrived for lessons, heads held high, in fetching tartan-patterned skirts. The hottest June days since 1976 had led to a bare-legged revolution at the secondary school in Exeter.

As the temperature soared past 30C earlier this week, the teenage boys had asked their teachers if they could swap their long trousers for shorts. They were told no shorts werent permitted under the schools uniform policy.

When they protested that the girls were allowed bare legs, the school no doubt joking said the boys were free to wear skirts too if they chose. So on Wednesday, a handful braved the giggles and did so. The scale of the rebellion increased on Thurday, when at least 30 boys opted for the attire.

Quite refreshing was how one of the boys described the experience, pointing out that if even Royal Ascot had allowed racegoers in the royal enclosure to remove their jackets, then the school ought to relax its dress code. Another said he rather enjoyed the nice breeze his skirt had afforded him.

A third, tall boy said he was told his short skirt exposed too much hairy leg. Some of the boys visited a shop on their way to Isca the name the Romans gave to Exeter to pick up razors to make sure they did not fall foul of any beauty police.

Ironically, the temperature had dropped in Exeter to a more manageable 20C, but some boys said they had enjoyed the freedom afforded by the skirts and that they might continue.

The school said it was prepared to think again in the long term. The headteacher, Aimee Mitchell, said: We recognise that the last few days have been exceptionally hot and we are doing our utmost to enable both students and staff to remain as comfortable as possible.

Shorts are not currently part of our uniform for boys, and I would not want to make any changes without consulting both students and their families. However, with hotter weather becoming more normal, I would be happy to consider a change for the future.

It was too late. The revolution was picked up by media organisations across the globe, and Devon county council was forced to help the school out with inquiries. A spokesperson said: About 30 boys arrived at school this morning wearing school skirts. None of the boys have been penalised no one was put in isolation or detention for wearing a skirt.

The mother of one of the boys who began the protest said she was proud of him. Claire Lambeth, 43, said her son Ryan, 15, had come home earlier in the week complaining about the heat. He said it was unbearable. I spoke to a teacher to ask about shorts and she said it was school policy [that they could not be worn]. I did say this was exceptional weather, but they were having none of it. If girls can wear skirts, why cant boys wear shorts?

Ryan came up with the idea of wearing a skirt, so that evening we borrowed one. He wore it the next day as did five other boys. Then this morning I didnt expect it to take off like that. The school is being silly really this is exceptional weather. I was very proud of Ryan. I think it was a great idea.

Another mother said: My 14-year-old son wanted to wear shorts. The headteacher told them: Well, you can wear a skirt if you like but I think she was being sarcastic. However, children tend to take you literally, and because she told them it was OK, there was nothing she could do as long as they were school skirts.

A third mother said: Children also dont like injustice. The boys see the female teachers in sandals and nice cool skirts and tops while they are wearing long trousers and shoes and the older boys have to wear blazers. They just think its unfair that they cant wear shorts in this heat.

There were signs that the revolution might be spreading. The Guardian has heard of at least one more school in Wiltshire where one boy turned up in a skirt, although it did not go down quite so well with his friends.

And schoolboys were not the only ones making controversial dress choices because of the heat. Michael Wood, who works as a porter at Watford general hospital, claimed he was facing disciplinary action from his employers Medirest for rolling his trousers up to try to cool down. A spokesperson for the company declined to comment on the case, but said: The health and safety of our colleagues is always our number one priority.

What happened to summer school uniforms? Matthew Easter, managing director of the schoolwear supplier Trutex, said they had become less popular for reasons of economy. Its really up to the individual school to decide, but the headteacher is in a difficult position. A decade or so ago, summer wear was more popular, but theres been a change recently to try to make uniforms as economical as possible. Summer uniforms are only worn for a matter of weeks.

If parents havent bought uniform shorts, then some children may feel disadvantaged, so perhaps the decision in this case is simply down to fairness.

It may be that the weather will solve the problem for the school. The Exeter-based Met Office situated up the road from the school predicts pleasant, but not searing, temperatures over the coming week.

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Trump’s state visit to Britain put on hold

US president told Theresa May he did not want trip to go ahead if there were large-scale public protests

Donald Trump has told Theresa May in a phone call he does not want to go ahead with a state visit to Britain until the British public supports him coming.

The US president said he did not want to come if there were large-scale protests and his remarks in effect put the visit on hold for some time.

The call was induced in recent weeks, according to a Downing Street adviser who was in the room. The statement astonished May, according to those present.

The conversation in part explains why there has been little public discussion about a visit.

May invited Trump to Britain seven days after his inauguration when she became the first foreign leader to visit him in the White House. She told a joint press conference she had extended an invitation from the Queen to Trump and his wife Melania to make a nation visit afterward in the year and was delighted that the president has accepted that invitation.

Many senior envoys, including Lord Ricketts, the former national security consultant, said the invitation was premature, but impossible to rescind once made.

Trump has named Woody Johnson, a Republican donor and proprietor of the New York Jets, as the new diplomat to the UK but has yet to nominate him formally. A large groups of US ambassadorial postures remain unfilled worldwide largely due to the Trump team failing to make any formal nominations.

The acting US ambassador to the UK, Lewis Lukens, a career envoy, clashed with Trump last week by praising Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, for his strong leadership over the London Bridge and Borough Market terror attack.

His statements came just days after Trump criticised Khan for his response to the attack, misquoting the mayors message to Londoners not to be alarmed by the increased presence of armed police.

Khans office pointed out Trumps error afterward but the president responded by accusing Londons mayor of making a pathetic excuse. Khan then called on the UK government to cancel Trumps invitation. No date had been fixed for the visit.

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said on Twitter that Trumps decision was welcome, especially after his attack on Londons mayor& withdrawal from #ParisClimateDeal.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said it would not comment. We arent going to comment on supposition about the contents of private phone conversations. The Queen extended an invitation to President Trump to visit the UK and there is no change to those schemes.

The White House said in statement: The President has tremendous respect for Prime Minister May. That subject never came up on the call.

Jenna Johnson, a Washington Post reporter tweeted to say that the White House press secretary had told her the Protector report was false but added that the White House wont said today Trump plans to go to the UK.

Later, The New York Times, quoting two unnamed administration officials, reported that Trump was considering scrapping or postponing the trip. The officers stressed that he might yet warm to the idea but that maintaining it off the schedule was the best approach.

The UKs traditional effort to act as a bridge between the US and Europe has become more complex since the vote last year to leave the European Union and Trumps support for policies that have angered European allies.

The Foreign Office was disappointed when against its pleading Trump went ahead earlier this month with his plan to pull the US out of the Paris climate accord. The UK had lobbied hard for Trump not to take government decisions, which has led to a wider breach between the EU and the US.

Trump had been an advocate of Brexit, and at one point seemed to want the EU to break up, but confidence has since returned to the bloc with pro-European Emmanuel Macrons victory over far-right Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election.

Additional reporting by Ben Jacobs .

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Japan fears the once distant threat of North Korean missiles is becoming real | Justin McCurry

As the Kim v Trump war of words intensifies, towns across Japan are preparing for what, until recently, felt like a faraway nuisance

As sirens pierce the air in Sakata, a town on Japans north-west coast, primary school children rush from the playground to the safety of the gymnasium. Other residents crouch behind walls or lie down in rice fields, while the public address system urges them to take cover.

More accustomed to the dangers of earthquakes and tsunami, Japans people are now having to address a new, manmade threat: Northern korean missiles.

In a civil defence drive that has echoes of preparations for US bombing raids during the second world war, Sakata and dozens of other towns across Japan are preparing themselves for what, until recently, represented a remote nuisance that most Japanese considered with insouciance.

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What are North Korea’s nuclear abilities?

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North Korea has carried out five nuclear tests since 2006, so it unquestionably has the capacity to create some form of nuclear bomb.

To function effectively, however, the bomb needs to be small enough to fit on to a missile. Some experts believe the North has already “miniaturised” its nuclear capability, while others believe the regime is still several years away from being able to do so. Japan’s defence ministry alerted on 8 August that it was possible that Pyongyang had mastered miniaturisation.

North Korea would also need a dependable delivery system for any bomb. Its proved short- and medium-range weapons could reach South Korea and Japan. In July it test-launched two intercontinental ballistic missile, placing US cities in range of potential assault, according to US experts.

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But at the end of a week that featured warns from Donald Trump to counter Northern korean provocations with fire and frenzy and Pyongyangs detailed plans to create an enveloping fire around the US Pacific territory of Guam Japan has reason to be concerned.

All 14 of the missiles North Korea has launched this year were aimed towards Japans coast, including two intercontinental ballistic missile tested last month. Few here have forgotten that in 1998, a North Korean long-range weapon overflew Japanese province before splashing into the Pacific.

A missile fired immediately at Japan would give people less than 10 minutes to attempt shelter, according to experts.

Pyongyang told four Hwasong-1 2 intermediate-range ballistic missiles would pass over three Japanese prefectures, including Hiroshima, on their way to targets 30 -4 0km off Guam.

In response, Japans defense pastor, Itsunori Onodera, has warned that Japan is within its constitutional rights to shoot down the missiles since, by his reckoning, they represented a threat to Japans existence as a nation.

In an unusual move that will not have escaped Pyongyangs attention, Japans defense ministry on Saturday ordered the deployment of missile defense systems in four regions along the missiles probable flight path.

To emphasise the sense of readiness, local media carried photographs of PAC-3 interceptor batteries being positioned in the grounds of the defence ministry in central Tokyo.

Onodera quotes controversial legislation enacted last year that devotes Japan, under certain conditions, the right to exert collective self-defence or come to the military aid of an ally under assault most likely the US.

Some experts, and Japanese opposition MPs, claim the unveiling of missile-defence hardware is purely symbolic, given the myriad technological challenges posed by intercepting a missile flying at high altitudes in the direction of a territory more than 1,500 miles away.

If the four planned weapon launches pass across Shimane[ a prefecture in western Japan] and Okinawa, its hard to see Japan having the capability with its existing facilities to intercept the missiles, told John Nilsson-Wright, senior research fellow for north-east Asia at Chatham House. I would be surprised if Japan is ready or equipped independently to do this.

The brinkmanship between North Korea and the US escalated after Japans defence ministry said in a white paper published last week that North Koreas nuclear weapon had reached a new stage, adding that it was possible the regime had acquired the ability to miniaturise nuclear weapons. Hours afterwards, US media reported that officials in Washington had reached the same conclusion.

Japans conservative “ministers “, Shinzo Abe, the first foreign leader to meet Trump after his November election victory, has refrained from joining countries such as Germany, China and Russia in criticising the USs intemperate statements.

In one sense, heightened tensions between Pyongyang and Washington are strengthening Abes case for a more robust military, although his plans to rewrite the countrys pacifist constitution have been all but sunk by a spate of scandals.

Jeff Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University in Tokyo, told: In the spirit of not wasting a crisis, Team Abe is making a example for beefing up Japans abilities at a time when the public has been exposed to an unending escalation of rhetorical jousting between Trump and Kim.

Kingston believes the war of words resounds ominously in Japan, which has just celebrated the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 72 years ago.

While Americans mull, with growing malaise, the working day when experts confirm North Koreas ability to send a nuclear warhead across the Pacific and back into the atmosphere in the direction of a US city, Japanese citizens, and locally based US forces-out, know that they are already theoretically within the regimes nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

The announced flight path of the missiles targeting Guam, even naming specific prefectures( counties) in Japan over which they will pass has raised the national blood pressure, Kingston said.

During visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki last week, Abe repeated Japans support for a global prohibit on nuclear weapons, even as it boycotted a UN conference discussing precisely that.

But sabre-rattling by North Korea, be included with concern over Chinese military activity in the East and South China oceans, has sparked a fledgling debate on a longstanding political taboo an independent Japanese nuclear deterrent.

Half a year ago, I would have said not a chance, told Nilsson-Wright. The nuclear allergy has simply been too strong to allow Japan to seriously consider opening the door to nuclear armament.

But, he added, weakened confidence in the USs ability, or desire, to defend Japan, coupled with growing support for a nuclear discouraging among South Korean voters, might, just possibly, persuaded Japan to start thinking the unthinkable. But were still a long way off from such a scenario.

While no senior legislator in Tokyo has seriously suggested acquiring a nuclear deterrent, the coming weeks will bolster those, including Onodera, who argue for a looser interpreting of the postwar constitutional constraints on Japans military, which limit it to a strictly defensive role.

Top of Onoderas wish list is acquiring the ability to launching a preemptive strike at Northern korean missiles on the ground if it believed an attack was imminent. That would mark an abandonment of a decades-old consensus that it can only destroy weapons targeting Japan itself.

As Tokyo and other big cities emptied out this weekend for the O-bon holidays, held to honour ancestors, many Japanese were casting a wary eye not only at Pyongyang, but also at the US and closer to home.

North Korea is seen as dangerous, told Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Sophia University in Tokyo. But in trying to exploit anxieties over North Korea, Abe, like Trump, is also seen as adding to the danger.

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Angela Merkel races ahead in polls with six weeks to go

Challenge from lefts new savior Martin Schulz fades among voters content with economic success

Not long ago, he was seen as a bearer of hope , not just for his own party, Germanys Social Democrat, but for the whole of the embattled European left. He was nicknamed Sankt Martin, the man who had the health risks to topple Angela Merkel from her throne after nearly 12 years and bring a wave of fresh ideas that would reinvigorate a political scenery turned staid by her long-term presence.

Martin Schulz, 61, was even being appeared to closely by Jeremy Corbyns consultants at a time when the Labour leader was struggling to mobilise support. They marvelled at how he had explosion on to Berlins political stage and was inspiring a new generation of young voters, while encouraging those who had abandoned the party to return in their thousands.

Now, with six weeks to go until Germans go to the polls, Schulz is trailing Merkel miserably and already appears to be determining for a seat on the Bundestag opposition benches. The SPD candidate is toiling hard, but no one is taking any notice, wrote resulting commentator Heribert Prantl in an editorial for the Sddeutsche Zeitung .

The polls demonstrate Schulzs SPD trailing Merkels CDU/ CSU alliance by about 14%, having been almost neck-and-neck only a few months ago. Polling analysts are not so much blaming Schulzs campaign, which has insured him off on an energetic tour across Germany at the same time as Merkel has been blithely relaxing in the South Tyrol, but on the strength of his opponents brand, the feeling of reliability she exudes, and the continuity she will offer a Germany that is on an economic high.

The trust she inspires was reinforced last week by pictures of Merkel and her husband, Joachim Sauer, wearing the same outfits they have worn for many years in a row, while they always visit the same hotel and stay in the same room.

Prantl tells the decision to vote for Merkel is the equivalent of a gambling who is happy to break even. People are still is in compliance with being in the black with Merkel, tells Prantl, because in a world that is topsy-turvy and being was governed by so many crazy people, theyd quite like to keep her, simply because shes not mad, but capable and experienced.

When Schulz arrived in Berlin, having spent the previous two decades on the European political scene, latterly as president of the European parliament, he attracted thousands of new and former recruits to the SPD, after two decades in which it had haemorrhaged subsistence. The partys standing in the polls rose by 10 percentage points. He went on to receive a record 100% of the votes to become the party leader. The SPDs euphoria was expressed in T-shirts emblazoned with his bespectacled, bearded face, along with the slogan Time for Martin and red balloons published with the words A breath of fresh air. He was greeted with shriekings and cheers when he entered rooms full of SPD members.

Martin Schulz has promised to address growing inequality. Photograph: Thomas Lohnes/ Getty Images

But the Schulz effekt, as it was called, demonstrated short-lived. The party suffered setbacks in regional elections, and despite Schulz expressing the importance of social justice Gerechtigkeit his campaign buzzword, at a time of a widening rich-poor divide, the euphoria ebbed amid objections there was little substance in his plans for Germany.

The traditional base of the SPD is still smarting over the labour reforms introduced by the last SPD chancellor, Gerhard Schrder, which were key to Germanys economic recovery and its ability to cast off the label sick human of Europe.

Schulz has promised to address the growing inequality for which Schrder is blamed. The SPD, as junior partner in Merkels grand coalition for the past four years, is credited with having pushed through legislation on a minimum wages. But the poorest 20% of Germans have yet to see better living criteria. On newspaper matters of employment statistics appear good, with Germany on track to have zero unemployment in the next three years. But increasing numbers of employees are in poorly paid, unstable run. Many voters are therefore said to be deciding on the steady pair of hands, rather than taking a risk, or choosing not to vote at all.

Alexander Wallasch is one of many commentators conveying unease about the dominance of Merkel, pointing out the particular irony that she is now as popular as she was before the refugee crisis two summers ago, when her controversial decision to open Germanys doors led many to predict she would be forced out of office.

What is wrong with German voters? Wallasch asked in the liberal conservative online magazine Tichys Einblick. How can it be that the CDU with Angela Merkel at the helm is currently enjoying 40% support? Is it just a lack of alternatives? Or, he goes so far as to suggest, a type of Stockholm syndrome referring to the condition whereby a victim in a hostage-taking develops impressions of trust or affection towards their captor.

Even more extraordinary is Merkels popularity among young people, in particular first-time voters , none of whom are likely to remember a Germany when Merkel was not in the “drivers seat”. An opinion poll by Forsa in June showed that 57% of those aged 18 to 21 would support Merkel as chancellor, compared with 53% of all voters. By contrast, Schulzs backing from the same age group was merely 21%.

But headlines have been dominated by the astound revelation last week that Merkel, back from her Tyrolean hiking tour, had suffered a 10 -point slide in her personal popularity, down to 59%. A political analyst, Heiko Funke, blamed her relaxed position towards the election campaign, fallout from the anti-G2 0 protests in Hamburg last month, a knife attack by an Islamist, and the scandal over diesel autoes. The voters would have liked to have seen more involvement by Merkel, according to political scientist Carsten Koschmieder of Berlins Otto-Suhr-Institut for political science.

Karl-Rudolf Korte, a political analyst from Duisburg, told despite Merkel and the CDUs strong poll showing it would be a mistake to position the election on 24 September as a foregone conclusion. As weve already seen, within just a few days or weeks problematic situations can start, he told. Moments of crisis can quickly cause broad sections of voters to change their minds at the last minute.

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