16 Things we know about Trump and Russia

The ongoing and developing links between Russia and the Trump campaign team seems to be evolving on a daily basis. We’ve tried to write a concise summary of what we (the public) can currently be sure has happened.

2017-07-07 Trump and Russia

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Chuka Umunna’s Brexit Amendment

The Tory position on Brexit and Single Market access is terrible, the vagueness of their understanding of the EU terrifying. That shouldn’t disguise the fact that the Labour position is also terrible. Labour aren’t proposing to cut workers’ rights, and Keir Starmer seems like he’d be much better prepared than David ‘100 pages of notes’ Davis. Still, that’s a low bar, Labour shouldn’t be excused on Brexit just because they’re less terrible than the Tories.

John McDonnell has spoken about “tariff-free access to the Single Market”. The best way to be sure of achieving that is by being in the Single Market. An alternative could take months to negotiate, and given the UK’s weak negotiating position, would probably mean having to give up something in return. Even the best possible option would be a step down from where we are at the moment – Norway has access to the Single Market, but have to abide by EU regulations, which they have no say in shaping.

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Grenfell Tower, mobs, and Justice

At least 30 people have died in the Grenfell Tower fire. That is the highest number of deaths in a single incident in the UK since the 7/7 attacks (55), a number it seems likely to surpass over the coming days. That would leave only Hillsborough (96), the Aberfan Disaster (144), and the Lockerbie bombing (270) as higher totals in the last half century.

The Daily Express has asked if EU regulations resulted in the choice of cladding which encouraged the spread of the fire. The answer is no – the cladding is banned in Germany. A little bit of investigation would have told the Express reporters the idea they were suggesting was untrue.
The Daily Mail has printed a story drawing attention to the individual whose fridge apparently started the fire.
The premise of the Daily Mail’s article overlooks the fact that the fire would have remained small in scale had there not been more systemic issues, and risked turning residents’ anger towards an ordinary man who will probably be suffering with extraordinary trauma.The story will have had to pass through a number of editorial and legal staff, there is no way that none of them know how a fusebox works.

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The Despicable DUP

As we write, it seems certain that the Tory Party will enter into some sort of power-sharing deal with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, to take them over the 326-MP mark they need to have a Parliamentary majority. Their leader, Arlene Foster, has said that a deal would “cost them a lot”. So who are the DUP?

They opposed the decriminalisation of homosexuality and abortion in Northern Ireland. Jim Wells, until 2015 the Health Minister, has claimed that children raised by gay parents are “far more likely to be abused or neglected”. In November 2015 they vetoed a Northern Ireland Assembly decision to legalise gay marriage. They’ve been involved in corruption scandals around the misuse of subsidies for housing and renewable energy.
According to Roger Stanyard of the British Centre for Science Education “a core of, maybe, around half a dozen very senior politicians within the DUP” have been using their positions to promote Young Earth religious-based pseudoscience. Continue reading “The Despicable DUP”

Corporate Capitalism, Morality and Public Relations

Capitalism is an amoral system. That doesn’t necessarily mean that capitalism is immoral (actively against morality) but morality doesn’t play a significant role in corporate decision-making. What matters within capitalism is whether a product or person is profitable or unprofitable for the larger company. Public relations (the public perception of whether someone is moral or immoral) is important, but morality itself is not.

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The post-truth nature of Arron Banks’ Hillsborough response

A major story in the run-up to the Stoke by-election has been UKIP leader and committed fantasist Paul Nuttall pretending to have lost a friend at the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. Major donor Arron Banks seems to have decided that this hole wasn’t deep enough so dug deeper by attacking victims. He’s argued that the preventable disaster and cover-up of police failures which took 27 years to overturn have been treated as “some sort of cultural happening“.

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Things You Should Realise about Trump #3: Crowd Claims Reveal a Loose Relationship with Reality

Donald Trump has spent a large portion of his first week in office obsessed by the size of his crowd.

250 thousand isn’t anything to be ashamed of – it’s a large number. Given that Trump’s shtick is that he is supposedly one of the few people willing to tackle difficult issues, he’s not going to be as popular as a unity candidate like Obama. Add in that Obama’s 2009 inauguration was on a Monday and Trump’s on a Friday, meaning that supporters could take the time off work more easily, and it’s not hugely embarrassing that Trump failed to hit the historic highs for inauguration attendances.

A wide variety of news sources shared a side-by-side comparison of photos from the 2009 Obama and 2017 Trump inaugurations. This includes those who lean right ideologically – the images are a dramatic way to put the news into context. For Trump opponents like ourselves, it’s a fun way to get at Trump’s thin skin. But it’s actually quite scary how thin his skin is.

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