The west has lost the power to shape the world in its own image – as recent events, from Ukraine to Iraq, make all too clear.

Why does it still preach that every society must evolve along western lines?

Photo: Scott Peterson/Getty Images

“The assumption that black people must be guilty of something lies behind the Ferguson shooting, and the police reaction”
— The ghost of Mike Brown: why must a dead black child defend his right to life? asks Steven W Thrasher

The anthem is “a nasty piece of work”, according to the Canadian writer Malcolm Gladwell, who picked a bizarrely sexy Marvin Gaye rendition of it for Desert Island Discs, the long-running BBC Radio 4 series in which celebrities introduce the pieces of music that mean the most to them. “They’re blowing stuff up [in it]. This is their national anthem. It’s about rockets and bombs. Do you need better insight into the heart of the American soul?” he said.

• Why The Star-Spangled Banner is the perfect insight into America’s soul

I believe that we will win at some point in the future, maybe



Team USA made a spirited effort and Tim Howard, with 16 saves, now joins the ranks of great American heroes like George Washington and Bruce Springsteen. But in the end, the US were no match for Belgium. The surprisingly impressive US World Cup run ended tonight as they lost 2-1, breaking the stubbornly optimistic hearts of Believers everywhere.

But you know what. This is America, dammit, and we shall overcome. Say it with us now:

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!


The British are stressed, writes stressed-out British person



- Martin Pengelly

According to this piece on Quartz, British people are seriously stressed out. And so, as a seriously stressed out British person, I’ve been asked to write an explanation.

Really? (That’s a British “really?”, drawled as the equivalent of an American “for fuck’s sake”. And no, we won’t be disguising that expletive as the New York Times would, as it did recently in extraordinary treatment of the not notably unstressed British poet Philip Larkin. No sir.)

Seems so. So, then: the piece in question suggests we Brits may be more stressed than ever because Scotland is threatening to go its own way. Balls - if this man gets his way, it’ll be a blessed release.

No, the Brits are reporting stress problems in record numbers because:

i) It’s really wet over there.  

ii) It’s really expensive too.

iii) Both of the above are blameable, by me, on a government of mandate-less rightwing losers which is busy completing the absolute fucking up of the country.

iv) Sherlock’s finished. And series three was a bit irritating.

v) They live in a tiny flat in a brutal city with a kid and a metric fuckton of snow falling every day and then freezing and they’re losing their hair and what is it with New York central heating anyway? Glowing hot pipes that burn your arse when you bend over in the shower? Really?

vi) They’re really stressed. The British, you see, repress all feelings - including love, fraternity, charity, stress and seething, murderous rage. Sit on the tube and look at a commuter. So if they’re now actively seeking help… if they actually want to “talk about” stress and somehow “deal with it”…

vii) Jesus.

Advantage: US.

As Harold Macmillan should’ve said: You’ve never had it so good (compared to us).

viii) I mean, really. FFS.


State of the Union: Obama plays politics to tackle ‘stalled’ progress

• Obama aims to bolster Democrats for 2014 midterm elections
• Gloomy domestic prognosis focuses on stalled bills
• Speech also touches on Iran sanctions and NSA surveillance

Click here for more coverage 

Photograph: Rex

Obama to deliver State of the Union address – live coverage

It’s a big speech. If the president wants to get it done before leaving office, it’ll be in there. If the president wants to hand it out in 2014, it’ll be in there. Anything the White House wishes to trumpet or to spin or tweak – it will all be in there, and more, with a cherry on top. Follow it live

Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP (file photo)

"Deport Bieber" - petition grows

Almost 50,000 Americans have signed an online petition asking for Justin Bieber to be deported. Read more

US psychology body declines to rebuke member in Guantánamo torture case

America’s professional association of psychologists has quietly declined to rebuke one of its members, a retired US army reserve officer, for his role in one of the most brutal interrogations known to have to taken place at Guantánamo Bay, the Guardian has learned. Read more

Photograph: motesjj