‘I dont know how they live with themselves’ artist Nan Goldin takes on the billionaire family behind OxyContin

The photographer became an addict after getting hooked on a prescription opioid. Now clean, she is waging war on the art philanthropists who have profited from the crisis


‘I dont know how they live with themselves’ artist Nan Goldin takes on the billionaire family behind OxyContin

‘I dont know how they live with themselves’ artist Nan Goldin takes on the billionaire family behind OxyContin

The photographer became an addict after getting hooked on a prescription opioid. Now clean, she is waging war on the art philanthropists who have profited from the crisis

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/jan/22/nan-goldin-interview-us-opioid-epidemic-heroin-addict-oxycontin-sackler-family

Bankrupted by giving birth: having premature twins cost me everything | Jen Sinconis

After Jen Sinconis had twins 16 weeks early, requiring millions of dollars to save their lives, bills drove her family into debt


Bankrupted by giving birth: having premature twins cost me everything

After Jen Sinconis had twins 16 weeks early, requiring millions of dollars to save their lives, bills drove her family into debt

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/commentisfree/2018/jan/16/bankrupted-by-giving-birth-having-premature-twins-cost-me-everything

Ta-Nehisi Coates v Cornel West: black academics and activists give their verdict

One of the foremost black intellectuals in the US has deleted his Twitter account after a public row. Commentators Melvin Rogers, Patrisse Cullors, Carol Anderson and Shailja Patel discuss the impact on the debate and struggle for racial equality

In a blistering Guardian article last Sunday, Harvard scholar Cornel West labelled award-winning African American author Ta-Nehisi Coates the neoliberal face of the black freedom struggle. A furious debate raged all week among black academics and activists.

The disagreement between Coates and me is clear, said West. Any analysis or vision of our world that omits the centrality of Wall Street power, US military policies, and the complex dynamics of class, gender, and sexuality in black America is too narrow and dangerously misleading. So it is with Ta-Nehisi Coates worldview.

Coates hit back on Twitter, listing the articles he has written criticising US foreign policy, before quitting the social media site and deleting his account of 1.25 million followers.

So did this row between two of the best-known African American thinkers set back, or advance the struggle for black equality? We asked black academics and activists for their verdict.

Melvin Rogers: Criticisms of our allies are valid, but must be properly pitched

Melvin

The disagreement between Cornel West and Ta-Nehisi Coates takes place against the backdrop of a long and rich tradition of struggle and internal conflict among African American intellectuals and activists regarding the quality and form that resistance to white supremacy should take. And there is much value in this. As WEB Du Bois noted in 1903: The hushing of the criticism of honest opponents is a dangerous thing Honest and earnest criticism this is the soul of democracy and the safeguard of modern democracy.

Rather than treating the West-Coates disagreement as a feud, we would do better to ask what might we learn from it and how might it provide direction. First, the criticisms we direct to those who are rightly viewed as our allies must be properly pitched. Those of us who are committed to racial justice achieve nothing by alienating those who otherwise are standing with us. In the face of our criticisms, we mean for them to lean in and learn from, rather than pull back and opt out of, intellectual debate.

Second, once we inhabit the space of the social critic and, in truth, there is a little bit of a social critic in all of us we cannot simply abandon debate when it has become intense. Nor should we allow others, seeking to foment division for their own ends, co-opt the conversation.

Melvin Rogers is associate professor of political science at Brown University

Patrisse Cullors: The spotlight is on two men whose debates are not definitive of our communities

Patrisse

Revolutionary Unity

gained only thru struggle

long sought for

must be fought for

`Revolutionary Unity

So wrote Amiri Baraka in 1979. The exchange between Cornel West and Ta-Nehisi Coates is evidence that black political debate in the US is at a historic low. I was trained within a black radical tradition that encouraged struggle within our own movements because it sharpens collective analysis bringing us closer to the tools we need to achieve liberation.

Freedom for black people (and by extension, everyone) looks like a world without policing and incarceration, a world where black people live to raise their children, where our country doesnt rely on corporations, and where our nation is primarily concerned with the livelihood and dignity of our communities. Freedom means the US government not being the main threat to countries around the world.

Wherever there are communities fighting for freedom and liberation, there are serious tensions. Lets quote Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr and Ella Baker without romanticising them, but rather acknowledging that they had legitimate arguments about tactics and strategy.

Another key element missing from the West-Coates conversation is the role, analysis and wisdom of black women and black queer folks. Again, our narratives and analyses are erased. The countrys spotlight is on two black cis-gendered men whose debates are not definitive of our communities or movements.

The culture we have created today is one where debates fall into call-out tropes; where we silo our conversations to social media. While this is an incredible tool, can we facilitate healthy debate off social media? Do we have the interest, ability, patience and compassion to have face-to-face conversations? Social media is not the only space we should rely on.

And finally, when we are calling for black political debate, I ask, is it fundamentally changing the material conditions for black people? Here, I dont see it; and black life is at stake.

Patrisse Cullors is an African American advocate for criminal justice reform and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement

Carol Anderson: The real radical is the man who hits power in high places

Carol

It was the 1920s. A morally and sexually compromised president had come to power promising a regime fundamentally different to his predecessors. The new administration was packed with conmen, hucksters, and unqualified shills raiding the public treasury and selling public lands to Big Oil. There were also those in the cabinet with an agenda that would place inordinate, unbridled power in the hands of corporations while millions of poor Americans took the brunt of a Great Depression that hit before anyone knew what to call it.

Greed fever ran like an epidemic in the financial sector giving the illusion of prosperity and wealth when, just underneath, the economy had major fissures and faultlines that threatened to topple the American behemoth. Meanwhile, black people were being terrorised in Tulsa, the Ku Klux Klan was gaining political power in key states in the north, voting rights were under attack, and a new racist immigration law effectively shut the door on anyone not Anglo-Saxon.

The international scene was just as vexing. The rise of fascist regimes in Europe and Japan ran headlong into an American retreat from the League of Nations, and by the 1930s there was a growing internal fifth column, marketing itself as America First, that undermined any effective response to regimes that threatened US national security.

In the midst of the maelstrom, an intellectual brawl broke out among African Americans. Unbelievably, the real issue was not the political and economic horror that confronted the nation and black people, who were dealing with massive disparities in access to constitutional rights and wealth. Instead, one African American intellectual openly and mercilessly challenged another over what was essentially ephemera. Du Bois looked on at the row within Fisk University, Tennessee, and shook his head. This peacock display was merely the effervescence of faux bravery. The real radical, he noted, is the man, who hits power in high places, white power, power backed by unlimited wealth; hits it and hits it openly and between the eyes.

Its 2017. A morally and sexually compromised man has assumed the presidency of the United States. His regime is attacking black and brown people with reckless abandon while, under the guise of America first, shielding Nazis and other white supremacists, and providing no defence against a government that threatens US national security. He and his minions have also unleashed wanton corporate greed, reduced public lands, attacked voting rights, and imposed or threatened immigration restrictions to warm the cockles of any eugenicist.

In the midst of this maelstrom

Carol Anderson is Charles Howard Candler professor and chair, African American studies, at Emory University

Shailja Patel: An unrealistic and ahistorical code has been invoked to silence debate

Shailja

Imperial privilege is reducing a vital assessment of Barack Obamas devastating harm to black and brown peoples outside the US to a personal beef between two African American men.

Its painful to us, in the global south, to see that American writers that we read assiduously, and take seriously, are not reading us. They are not listening when we say: Please ask your president to stop killing us. They appear to simply not see black and brown bodies beyond US borders.

Obamas bombs took tens of thousands of civilian lives. His military intervention in Libya destroyed the country with the highest standard of living in Africa. To resist a public discussion of these crimes, for fear that our political differences will be deployed against us by racists, exemplifies what writer Mmatshilo Motsei calls colonial hangover. Arent we full, complex, thinking, sovereign human beings? Didnt we fight liberation battles, mount civil rights struggles, for the right to engage in public life? Dare we not, still, claim equal space in the forum?

An unrealistic and ahistorical code has been invoked, of global solidarity among people of colour, to silence debate on the actual mass slaughter of black and brown bodies by the first black head of Empire. Gabeba Baderoon, South African professor of gender and African studies at Penn State University, calls this the imperialism the US engenders, even in its citizens of colour.

Why should it concern us if Nazis retweet us? White supremacy, imperialism, patriarchy, neoliberalism, are inherently parasitic. We will never be human within these systems. Were not here to perform for their gaze. Were here to be fully human to ourselves, fully accountable to each other.

Shailja Patel is a Kenyan writer currently based in Johannesburg. She is the author of Migritude

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/22/-ta-nehisi-coates-cornel-west-black-academic-activists-debate-equality

‘Our business is men, and men are not toxic’: Colorado strip club sign raises ire

Deborah Dunafon is unapologetic about the sign she posted saying Toxic Masculinity Welcome Here despite unsurprising outrage on social media

Deborah Dunafon knew that a big sign outside her strip club that read Toxic Masculinity Welcome Here could land her in trouble. But she thought it needed to be said on behalf of her clientele and men everywhere, who she says have been given a bad rap in the news lately.

I think its horrible to accuse men of being toxic, because theyre not, said Dunafon, owner of the 35-year-old Shotgun Willies strip club, which is also a marijuana dispensary, in Glendale, Colorado. Our business is men, and men are not toxic.

How many men are we gonna pick on until finally theres no men standing? How would you like a society with men meekly running around with little bonnets on their head?

Shotgun Willies is located in Glendale (whose mayor is Dunafons husband, Mike), a hamlet surrounded on all sides by Denver the city where a coffee shop recently found itself in hot water over a sandwich board sign that read: Happily Gentrifying the Neighborhood since 2014.

That sign was not received well in a historically black area where residents had been displaced. A statement from the ad agency behind it said it was intended to be a cynical perspective on the issue, and claimed a misunderstanding about the definition of gentrification.

At Shotgun Willies there is no cynical marketing gimmick, and certainly no apology.

I didnt put that up because of marketing, Dunafon said in an interview. I put it up because Ive been watching whats going on in our country as far as men are concerned and its infuriating.

I have a son, I have four grandsons, and I feel sorry for my grandsons because theyre all teenagers and Im afraid for them. Im wondering if theyre gonna have to make girls sign a contract before they can even go on a date.

A photo of the sign was taken by Bonnie AD, a Denver activist for conscious sexuality, who posted the image on her Instagram account, @eroticselflove. It duly made the rounds on social media.

I had a visceral reaction of disgust when I saw the sign, because toxic masculinity is not a joke, AD said. I wanted to share the image because I think that community accountability is vital for social change. Largely, the response on social media has been one of disgust.

This message is approving of toxic masculinity, which is socially irresponsible and culturally poisonous. Anyone on the feminine spectrum, especially sex workers, already have to deal with the covert problems of toxic masculinity and rape culture, so when an establishment publicly makes this kind of commentary, they are adding unnecessary weight to an issue that is already a burden, and a danger, to many people.

Dunafon put up her sign on Tuesday, a day before revelations that two popular media hosts, Matt Lauer, of NBCs Today show, and Garrison Keillor, of public radios A Prairie Home Companion, had been fired: Lauer over allegations of sexual misconduct and Keillor over allegations of inappropriate behavior. The accusations were the latest against powerful men in the torrent since the public downfalls of Bill OReilly and Harvey Weinstein.

I think almost all of them are being accused unfairly, Dunafon said. In my business Ive dealt with sexual harassment a lot, because it is a provocative business.

Harassment was a very subjective thing, she said. Like today, the Garrison Keillor thing, Im sorry, but thats obscene.

Shotgun Willies is located in an area used by shoppers at Target, Home Depot and the Cherry Creek Mall. It is no stranger to controversy. Just before they were married, Mike Dunafon cast the deciding vote on the approval of his then fiancees application to add a marijuana dispensary to her strip club the first such endeavor in the nation.

Mike Dunafon is a cigar-smoking former Denver Bronco who ran for governor in 2012 on a pro-marijuana, anti-mass incarceration platform, landing the endorsement of rappers Snoop Dogg and Wyclef Jean, who recorded a campaign song and accompanying video with him.

Earlier this year, four former dancers filed a class action lawsuit against Shotgun Willies alleging a pay-to-play arrangement with performers.

An erotic dancer who works for multiple strip clubs around Denver other than Shotgun Willies and wished to remain nameless said she had seen pictures of the toxic masculinity sign on social media, and found the message problematic.

I believe that Dunafons heart is in the right place, but toxic masculinity isnt about targeting men, it is about fighting the current social concept of what is manhood, the dancer said. As a sex worker, I find that the current strip club environment is a place where many can embody these negative qualities, qualities that might lead to actions that would get them punished in the real world.

Not to say all men come into my place of work to intentionally treat women poorly. But I have had many men, and women, harass me, grab me inappropriately, trying to pull on my clothing or me while I am on stage, trying to place body parts or cash into random orifices.

I have been working in strip clubs for almost four years and while I have had many great exchanges with people, I have also had my fill of people who come to strip clubs as if they are places to treat the women that work there as objects. It might not always be intentional, but toxic masculinity does seem to rear its head more aggressively in these businesses.

At Shotgun Willies on Wednesday, an attempt to talk to some of the dancers was rebuffed by an employee.

Deborah Dunafon resented the idea that any of her dancers were exploited in the course of their work, and said her entire team stood behind the statement about male toxicity.

We believe that men in society today are totally being picked on, she said. Shotgun has a lot of different guys come in blue-collar guys, white-collar guys and Id say 98.99% of them are good guys. And they dont want to be accused of being monsters, because really theyre not. They come in for fun.

Every once in a while one of them is unruly and we kick them out, but the entertainers are in total control of them.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/03/colorado-strip-club-sign-toxic-masculinity-glendale

The death of Lil Peep: how the US prescription drug epidemic is changing hip-hop

This week, rapper Lil Peep died of a suspected overdose. Hip-hop has always been open about recreational drug use but how did constant references to depression and prescription painkillers move into the mainstream?

Pop a Perky just to start up / Pop two cups of purple just to warm up Quavos lyrics swim through the slow, narcotised production of Slippery, a track by rap trio Migos that has become one of the genres biggest hits of the year with nearly 150m views on YouTube. For the uninitiated, Perky is Percocet, a painkiller made up of paracetamol and the opioid oxycodone; purple is a drink made from codeine-based cough syrup. Quavos drug use is as improvisatory as it is blithe, and is just one example of a rap scene where substance abuse has become normalised.

This permissiveness has claimed a talented victim in Lil Peep, a New York-born 21-year-old rapper who died this week of a suspected overdose. On his Instagram in the hours leading up to his death, he said he was taking magic mushrooms and honey (a kind of super-concentrated version of marijuana, turned into a wax); another picture sees him with an unidentified substance broken into pieces on his tongue. He is also filmed dropping bars of Xanax, the anxiety medication that has become perhaps the most fashionable drug in 2017s rap scene, into his mouth.

Q&A

Why is there an opioid crisis in America?

Almost 100 people are dying every day across America from opioid overdoses more than car crashes and shootings combined. The majority of these fatalities reveal widespread addiction to powerful prescription painkillers. The crisis unfolded in the mid-90s when the US pharmaceutical industry began marketing legal narcotics, particularly OxyContin, to treat everyday pain. This slow-release opioid was vigorously promoted to doctors and, amid lax regulation and slick sales tactics, people were assured it was safe. But the drug was akin to luxury morphine, doled out like super aspirin, and highly addictive. What resulted was a commercial triumph and a public health tragedy. Belated efforts to rein in distribution fueled a resurgence of heroin and the emergence of a deadly, black market version of the synthetic opioid fentanyl. The crisis is so deep because it affects all races, regions and incomes

Lil Peep also rapped about drug-taking: I hear voices in my head, they tellin me to call it quits / I found some Xanax in my bed, I took that shit, went back to sleep; Sniffin cocaine cause I didnt have no Actavis / Smokin propane with my clique and the bad bitches; Gettin high cause my life dont mean shit to me. His vision of drug-taking was not without pleasure, but certainly a means of escape as well as straightforward hedonism a marked change in rap culture.

Three drugs are most commonly associated with hip-hop: alcohol, weed and crack. The former is often used merely as a straightforward wealth signifier: Hennessy and Courvoisier cognac, Cristal champagne, Patrn tequila and Grey Goose vodka. Blended with a gin and juice, Snoop Dogg hymned the relaxing properties of marijuana (laaaaaid back…) while Cypress Hill synthesised its paranoia with the creepy malevolence of B-Reals voice.

Crack cocaine was a different prospect: the rappers never got high on their own supply. On Clipses Grindin, Pusha T says that four and half [ounces] will get you in the game and that he is known in the neighbourhood as Mr Sniffles, but his laser-precise flow suggests sobriety and business nous. On the 2014 mega-hit Trap Queen, Fetty Wap introduces his girl to his stove hes not showing off his new Aga, but rather where they will cook crack together. The songs pop beauty conjures a couple revelling not in the drugs high, but the emancipation it gives them as a result of cash from its sale. By shamelessly leveraging the glamour of criminality, these rappers appeal to prurient middle-class audiences (including a sizeable white demographic) and by pointing a route out of poverty, they appeal to working-class ones too.

Around the turn of the century, rappers increasingly started dabbling in designer drugs, too, particularly ecstasy. Eminem recorded two songs from The Slim Shady LP while high on it, while mentor Dr Dre suggested on Bad Intentions, take an X pill, how the sex feel? A little-noted detail is that the civic euphoria of Jay-Zs Empire State of Mind is powered by the drug: MDMA got you feeling like a champion / The city never sleeps, better slip you an Ambien. Kanye West sees a whole party melting like Dali after dropping molly, raps now-favoured name for ecstasy (also namechecked by the likes of Tyga, Rick Ross, Rihanna and, infamously, Miley Cyrus). In their songs at least, there are no comedowns, only the dizzy, meaningless highs.

But at the same time, prescription drug addiction took hold of the US last year, 91 people a day died of opioid overdoses. Thanks to a robust marketing campaign, sales of the opioid painkiller OxyContin grew from $48m (36.5m) in 1996 to $1.1bn in 2000; in 2012, 282m prescriptions were made for it a bottle for every American. Its popularity has tailed off slightly, but other prescription drugs often used recreationally have joined it, arguably in part thanks to the inadvertent marketing by rappers, who have swapped uppers for downers.

Lil
Lil Pump with a drug-shaped cake. Photograph: Jerritt Clark/WireImage

The attention-deficit medicine Adderall has been rapped about by Danny Brown and sung about by Justin Bieber; as well as Migoss championing of the aforementioned Percocet, Futures Mask Off, another huge rap hit this year, has a chorus that runs Percocet, molly, Percocet.

But its Xanax the drug Lil Peep boasted about taking six of in a video hours before his death that has become the most prevalent. Each pill is an oblong divided into five chunks, with X A N A X imprinted on each; as a design it has real visual impact that enhances its appeal. A$AP Mob-affiliated DJ crew Cozy Boys were formerly known as Blackout Boys, and used Xanax bars as their logo; current hot property Lil Pump celebrated getting a million Instagram followers with a Xanax-shaped cake. Etsy is weirdly full of Xanax jewellery. Guesting on iLoveMakonnens track Tuesday, even the clean-cut Drake admits to having Xans in an Advil bottle before swiftly reassuring us theyre just for that nights boo: I dont take them shits but you do.

Xanax now underpins an entire subgenre of rap: sometimes dubbed SoundCloud rap, as many of its progenitors upload it to that music streaming service, it is characterised by a fug-headed mumbling flow; raw, lo-fi production full of clouds of noise; and constant references to depression and prescription painkillers. Along with rappers such as Yung Lean, $uicideboy$ and Lil Xan, Lil Peep was at the heart of this scene; it has moved into the mainstream, too, with Lil Uzi Vert, whose track XO Tour Life features a couple discussing suicide. Spotify caught on, dedicating a playlist to the style called Tear Drop its top 10 is now full of Lil Peep, with a tribute reading: Gone too soon We will always remember you.

This style is also called emo, but where that word has previously been used to describe punks who analysed their own emotions with a forensic level of detail, here the emotion is underanalysed: these rappers feel bad, but theyre not sure why.

The fact that some of them are unable to verbalise what theyre feeling, leads them to fall back on rap cliches around bitches and clips, and simply compounds the overall feeling of desperation. This is an inevitable cultural byproduct of the US, where the marketplace has been allowed to triumph, and silence moral concerns about the availability of these drugs. Because theyre profitable, people are allowed to just get on with self-medicating, without trying to understand the reasons for their sadness.

But perhaps these rappers ennui goes wider than mere Xanax, and into a numbing effect of our wider culture. One of the most chilling aspects to Lil Peeps death is that his cries for help were so public, and yet went so unanswered perhaps as a result of the paradoxically distancing effect of social media. He wrote on Instagram hours before he died: I need help but not when I have my pills but thats temporary one day maybe I wont die young and Ill be happy? But were inured to see Instagram as performative, not real, and its inherently aspirational vibe along with the sheer visual noise of its scrolling feed drowns out individual torment. That Spotify named its playlist Tear Drop, selling back these artists real pain, doesnt help.

Rap has always told its drug stories in more than just its lyrics. Snoop conjured the sensuality of his own buzz through his very vocal cadence and languorous G-funk backing, as well as his words. In Houstons chopped and screwed scene, rap tracks are radically slowed down, designed to match and enhance the corporeal sluggishness that comes from drinking codeine cough syrup. And its the same with this new breed of rapper: their deadened flow and sad, anxious production replicates the anti-high of Xanax in sound. It can be hard to tell which of them are genuinely troubled and which are like the fake gangstas of the crack era trading off the glamour of drugs and pain. But the tens of millions of streams theyre getting mean it doesnt matter: their popularity shows that people are hearing their own pain, fellow participants in a culture that has been left to manage its own wellbeing.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/nov/16/death-lil-peep-us-prescription-drugs-epidemic-hip-hop-rapper

Harvey Weinstein had secret hitlist of names to quash sex scandal

Producer hired team to investigate 91 film industry figures in attempt to stop harassment claims going public

The Observer has gained access to a secret hitlist of almost 100 prominent individuals targeted by Harvey Weinstein in an extraordinary attempt to discover what they knew about sexual misconduct claims against him and whether they were intending to go public.

The previously undisclosed list contains a total of 91 actors, publicists, producers, financiers and others working in the film industry, all of whom Weinstein allegedly identified as part of a strategy to prevent accusers from going public with sexual misconduct claims against him.

The names, apparently drawn up by Weinstein himself, were distributed to a team hired by the film producer to suppress claims that he had sexually harassed or assaulted numerous women.

An
An extract from Harvey Weinsteins hitlist.

The document was compiled in early 2017, around nine months before the storm that blew up on 5 October when the New York Times published a series of sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein.

Individuals named on the list were to be targeted by investigators who would covertly extract and accumulate information from those who might know of claims or who might come forward with allegations against the film producer. Feedback was then to be relayed to Weinstein and his lawyers.

The size of the list 85 names appear on one document, with an addendum identifying another six individuals appears to corroborate claims that sexual misconduct allegations against the 65-year-old were an open secret throughout Hollywood.

Prominent stars were among the first tranche of individuals on the list to testify publicly against Weinstein. Among those named were the actress Rose McGowan, who days after speaking out accused the producer of raping her. Another was Laura Madden, who told how Weinstein pestered her for massages at hotels in Dublin and London, beginning in 1991. McGowan and Madden were among the first to speak out against Weinstein last month.

Rose
Rose McGowan
Photograph: Richard Shotwell/AP

A typed note on the document appears to suggest that by February 2016, Madden had already been targeted by one of Weinsteins hired investigators. Her view of the producer is, says the note, very bitter.

Another name is Zelda Perkins, a London-based production assistant for Weinsteins Miramax film company, who left the firms London offices on Brewer Street in Soho in 1998 after, she says, enduring years of sexual harassment by her boss. Last month Perkins revealed that she had broken a confidentiality agreement to describe alleged sexual harassment by the Hollywood producer.

Also on the list is the English actress Sophie Dix, who has described how her career trajectory was massively cut down after an alleged sexual assault by Weinstein in a London hotel and who was among the first to come forward.

Although at least 10 individuals are based in London, the majority live in New York, with others from Los Angeles. They include individuals working in acquisitions, marketing and distribution, along with producers, publicists and human resources staff, as well as actors. Forty-three men are named and 48 women.

Weinstein, the list confirms, was aware that the New York Times was gathering testimony from his victims long before it first ran the story. A public relations professional is named alongside a note stating that HW [Harvey Weinstein] in contact w/him. Friends w/Jodi Kantor. Kantor is the New York Times journalist who broke the story that immediately engulfed the producer and the film production company he co-founded with his brother.

Sophie
Sophie Dix Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

More than 50 of the names have been coloured red to highlight those who should be prioritised by investigators individuals Weinstein most keenly wanted to target. The names of the actresses McGowan, Dix and Madden are all coloured red.

Following an initial list of 85 names, another six individuals were identified during August 2017, including the actress Annabella Sciorra, who two months later publicly alleged she was raped by Weinstein after he barged into her apartment in the 1990s.

Also named on the later list is the US actress Katherine Kendall. Weeks later she revealed how a naked Weinstein literally chased her around his New York apartment in 1993.

Another is a former Weinstein employee, Lauren OConnor, who documented several allegations against the producer in a 2015 memo in which she described a toxic environment for women at Miramax.

Interestingly, the document includes the filmmaker Brett Ratner, who has been accused of sexual harassment or misconduct by six women in the wake of the Weinstein allegations.

Annabella
Annabella Sciorra Photograph: Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

It is unclear whether Weinstein intended subsequently to approach any of the individuals on the list with a non-disclosure agreement. Evidence has emerged which shows that over the past three decades Weinstein reached at least eight settlements with women, according to two company officials speaking on condition of anonymity, after he was confronted with allegations including sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact.

Not surprisingly, considering the psychological abuse and bullying allegations emerging from his former film studio Miramax, more of the film studio employees are also named. Among them is Kathy DeClesis, former assistant to Weinsteins brother Bob, who has revealed that she told him about Harvey sexually harassing women over a period of 25 years.

So far, more than 50 women have come forward with allegations of rape, harassment and inappropriate behaviour, prompting police investigations in the US and UK.

Weinstein unequivocally denies all claims of non-consensual sex, a spokesman for the producer has said. The spokesman dismissed reports that the producer hired spies to stop claims, saying: It is a fiction to suggest that any individuals were targeted or suppressed at any time.

The producers alleged targets were often young, aspiring actresses. Among the high-profile names who have spoken out against Weinstein are Angelina Jolie, Cara Delevingne and Kate Beckinsale.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/nov/18/harvey-weinstein-secret-hitlist-sex-scandal

Cyclist who gave Trump the middle finger: ‘He wasn’t going to hear me through the glass’

Juli Briskman has been hailed as a hero and fired from her job for a spur-of-the moment demonstration that quickly spread around the world

Juli Briskman found flowers on her doorstep on Monday night. Juli: I dont know you and yet I am so proud of you, an accompanying note said. Youre my hero. Truly. Thank you for standing up to this admin. We need more like you. Continue to resist. Were with you all the way. Sally M.

Briskman does not know who Sally M is, but she knows what motivated the message. In the past week, she has received media calls from as far away as Colombia and Sweden as well as her share of hate mail. One told her: I hope you get used to saying, Do you want fries with that?

It is all because of a split-second decision that made Juli Briskman a hero of the resistance and a case study in the wildly unpredictable effects of social media.

It was 3.12pm on Saturday 28 October when Donald Trump, after a round of golf, departed the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, northern Virginia. His motorcade, which included the Guardian and other journalists, overtook a female cyclist wearing a white top and cycling helmet, who responded by raising the middle finger of her left hand.

The fleet of vehicles swept on imperiously on but then slowed for a red light, and the cyclist caught up. She persisted. She flipped the bird a second time before turning right as the motorcade turned left.

A photo of her act of defiance took off on social media. The Washington Post called it the middle-finger salute seen around the world. The late-night TV host Stephen Colbert said: No one has summed up the mood of the country better Long may she wave.

Briskman
Briskman flips the bird. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The courageous cyclists face was not visible in the photo. However, in the social media age, and with some assistance from the protester herself, her identity did not stay secret for long. Briskman, 50, came clean and told her bosses at Akima, a government contracting firm in Herndon, Virginia. The marketing executive was promptly fired for violating the code of conduct policy even though she was off duty at the time.

The story generated worldwide headlines again and an outpouring of sympathy for Briskman, who clearly struck a chord. I think the point is this resonates because millions of people feel the way that I do, she told the Guardian, looking relaxed in an interview at her home on Tuesday.

I dont know that its all about me. I mean, some people have compared that picture to Tiananmen Square and I think that might be a bit of a reach I wasnt standing in front of three tanks and I wasnt putting a flower in a military guys rifle like that one flower child picture thats fairly famous. But having said that, someone said to me, You dont see it because youre in it. You dont see it but it is that.

Briskman lives with her 15-year-old daughter, 12-year-old son and labrador retriever, Sailor, near the golf club. The pleasant home is adorned with a piano, guitar and panels printed with aphorisms such as All you need is love and Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.

Perhaps most fittingly, in a downstairs bathroom is a print that states: Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably & never regret anything that made you smile.

She describes herself as more of a runner than a cyclist: she celebrated her 50th birthday by pounding 50km. She has run five marathons and has a personal best of five hours 17 minutes. On a wall are numerous medals from the Ragnar long distance relay: this weekend will be her 13th. The door to the garage is plastered with numbered bibs.

Inside the garage there are stickers on the wall that say Proud Democrat and Im an Obama Democrat. There is also the now celebrated bike: a blue Trek hybrid.

It does not take long in the company of Briskman, who had two spells abroad as a member of the US diplomatic corps, to realise that giving the finger was out of character. Its not something I do a lot, she mused. It was just sort of like, here I am on my bike. Ive got nothing, right? This is pretty much the only thing I had to express my opinion. He wasnt going to hear me through bullet-proof glass So that was pretty much how I could say what I wanted to say, right?

She never saw Trump so had no way of gauging his reaction, but she did observe others in the motorcade. I believe I caught the gaze and locked eyes with one of the Secret Service guys who had a gun. And then I remember seeing the white cars behind the black cars that said Secret Service.

And then, when I came past it a second time, there was a guy looking out with a very round face and grey hair. I dont know who that was but he was looking out and I looked at him and he had no reaction I was a little bit nervous because you dont know what the political persuasion is of the folks that are riding with him.

The motorcade went on its way, however, and Briskman went to bed that night assuming it was the end of the matter. She texted her family about what had happened and one member joked that it was real mature.

But a Guardian pool report and wire photos of the incident were spreading far and wide, generating both hero worship and vilification. Briskman got up late the next morning. A friend of mine texted me She said, Im so proud of you. And she sent me a link.

That led to the local branch of the Indivisible movement. A friend had posted that she knew the identity of the cyclist but would let her identify herself. And so I respond, Yes, that was me, ha ha ha.

Briskman put the photo of her protest up on her Twitter profile. She did the same on her Facebook page, which was private and visible only to users she selected. But she did not identify herself as the woman on the bike. She could merely have been a fan expressing her admiration. I was walking the line, so to speak.

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Briskman: I believe I caught the gaze and locked eyes with one of the Secret Service guys who had a gun. Photograph: Liz Lynch for the Guardian

However, there was no holding back the tide. People started tagging me and they started putting it on my Facebook. The Guardian article was posted several times. So yes, I started a snowball on Sunday and then on Monday another employer of mine, a yoga studio, said can you please do me a really big favor and take us off of your Facebook page.

The yoga studio had received threatening emails and bogus bad reviews on its own Facebook page. Briskman knew exposure was inevitable and decided to take the initiative by informing her bosses at Akima, where she had worked for six months. She was quickly dismissed.

They werent brutal, but they were very matter-of-fact and their minds werent going to be changed, she said.

Briskman believes the decision was particularly unfair because, earlier this year, she says, she found an offensive public comment by a senior director at the company in an online discussion about Black Lives Matter. He was ordered to delete it but kept his job. Briskman has been in consultation with the American Civil Liberties Union and a lawyer. No decisions made but well see, she said.

Nevertheless, Briskman says she doesnt regret what she did and is now considering her next move. I think that Ill be able to land on my feet.

She does not rule out a new career in politics; on Tuesday morning she was helping Democratic efforts in the governors race in Virginia. Sympathisers have launched two GoFundMe efforts for her; one has already raised $12,000.

Her view of the Trump presidency is scathing. Horrible, she said. Im embarrassed. Some people have said you should respect the office even if you dont respect the person. Im like: Im sorry, he does not respect the office. If he respected the office and he was serving honorably, despite my political differences, I can respect the office. I respected the office when Bush and Bush and Reagan were in there.

Its politics by Twitter, its policy by Twitter, she said of Trumps penchant for the social media platform. Thats not presidential to me.

Briskman, whose Twitter followers have soared from 24 last month to nearly 15,000 now, reflected on how social media had changed her life. The lesson is you cant stage things for a marketing proposition. You cant plan this to happen. I wasnt trying to get noticed, except by Trump himself.

And she bears no ill will to the media who made her famous. Was I shocked and surprised that I got my picture taken? Was it a little bit of a lesson you could get your picture taken any time? Perhaps. But no, I dont have any anger toward the Guardian or toward Steve Herman [Voice of Americas White House bureau chief] for tweeting it. I know that he was criticised to a certain extent that this shouldnt be part of the record. But its his job, and I dont think he should be criticised for it and I dont think you should be, either.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/07/cyclist-who-gave-trump-the-middle-finger-its-not-something-i-do-a-lot

Woman who gave Donald Trump the middle finger fired from her job

Juli Briskman, a 50-year-old mother of two, said marketing company bosses called her in and fired her for obscene gesture

A woman whose picture went viral after she raised her middle finger at Donald Trump as his motorcade passed her on her bicycle has been fired from her job.

Juli Briskman was cycling in Virginia last month when she offered the gesture in a gut reaction to Trumps policies, she said.

He was passing by and my blood just started to boil, she told the Huffington Post. Im thinking, Daca recipients are getting kicked out. He pulled ads for open enrollment in Obamacare. Only one third of Puerto Rico has power. Im thinking, hes at the damn golf course again.

I flipped off the motorcade a number of times.

A photographer traveling with the presidential motorcade snapped Briskmans picture and the image quickly spread across news outlets and social media. Many hailed Briskman as a hero, with some saying she should run in the 2020 election. Late-night comedy hosts also picked up the story.

Briskman had been working as a marketing and communications specialist for a Virginia-based federal contractor, Akima, for six months. She thought it best to alert the HR department to the online fuss. Bosses then called her into a meeting, she said.

They said, Were separating from you, Briskman told the Huffington Post. Basically, you cannot have lewd or obscene things in your social media. So they were calling flipping him off obscene.

She said the company was displeased she had used the image as her profile picture on Twitter and Facebook, and told her it violated social media policy and could hurt the companys reputation as a government contractor.

Briskman said she pointed out that her social media pages do not mention her employer, and that the incident happened on her own time. She also said another employee had written a profane insult about someone on Facebook, but had been allowed to keep his job after deleting the post and being reprimanded.

Virginia, however, has at will employment laws, meaning private-sector employers can fire people for any reason.

Suddenly, the 50-year-old mother of two found herself looking for a new job.

Briskman, who votes Democratic, said she planned to look for a new job with an advocacy group she believes in, such as Planned Parenthood or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

After leaving his Virginia golf club and before passing Briskman, Trumps motorcade passed a pedestrian who gave a vigorous thumbs-down gesture. Another woman had been standing outside the entrance to the golf club, holding a sign saying Impeach.

As news of Briskmans firing spread, many social media users asked why she was being penalized for expressing free speech on her own time, under the first amendment to the US constitution.

Akima did not immediately respond to a request for comment. On Monday, its website went down. Someone began a crowdfunding page online to raise money for Briskman.

Briskman said she had no regrets about the attention her public show of displeasure received. In fact, she said, she was happy to be an image of protest.

In some ways, Im doing better than ever, she said. Im angry about where our country is right now. I am appalled. This was an opportunity for me to say something.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/06/woman-trump-middle-finger-fired-juli-briskman

Trump’s day of doom for national monuments approaches

Created by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the Cascade-Siskiyou monument protects Oregons extraordinary biodiversity, from butterflies to trout. But a Trump review threatens to open the landscape to the timber industry

Dave Willis, a grizzled woodsman and backcountry outfitter, has spent decades laboring to protect the mountains of south-western Oregon, one of the most beautiful, biodiverse regions in the country.

Through grassrootsactivism, Willis and his conservationist allies have won the support of two US presidents. In 2000, Bill Clinton created the roughly 52,000-acre Cascade-Siskiyou national monument, proclaiming it an ecological wonderland. Located just outside of Ashland, it was the first such monument established solely for its extraordinary species diversity. Its a place that harbors rare lilies and endemic trout, Pacific fishers andgoshawks, black bears and a stunning array of butterflies.

During his final week in office, meanwhile, Barack Obama added about 48,000 acres to the Cascade-Siskiyou monument, nearly doubling it in size.

Now, the Trump administration is threatening to undo it all. In April, the White House announced its intent to review 27 different national monument designations, as the Interior Department looks for commercial opportunities for the oil, mining and timber industries on American public lands. And the Cascade-Siskiyou preserve is on the list.

All the signs indicate that were in the crosshairs, says Willis, as his horses drift through 10-storey trees during a recent ride through the monument. We could lose it all.

With the monument review due to the president on Thursday, conservationists like Willis are on edge. Ryan Zinke, the swaggeringMontana native who is the secretary of the interior and is leading the effort, has already unveiled some of his recommendations. They include shrinking the Bears Ears national monument in Utah, a 1.3 million-acre monument created by Obama to protect Native American antiquities. Zinke said six monuments should be left alone, which leaves 20 including the Cascade-Siskiyou at risk of being reduced in size, eliminated or opened to industrial uses.

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Ryan Zinke, whos overseeing Trumps review of 27 national monuments, has said only six should be left alone. Photograph: Steve Marcus/AP

In late July, Zinke, visited Cascade-Siskiyou; he met with monument opponents and supporters. He hasnt yet publicly signaled the direction he is leaning in. But since his arrival in Washington, Zinke has been remaking the interior department by filling senior positions with representatives from extractive industries and rightwing advocacy groups.

At its core, the monument review is an attempt to weaken the Antiquities Act, one of Americas oldest public-interest conservation laws. Backing the review are some of the most powerful conservative factions in Washington, including organizations such as the Heritage Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Americans for Prosperity, all heavily financed by dark-money funds tied to wealthy Republican donors.

The debate over Cascade-Siskiyou presents a snapshot of the cultural and economic conflict that so often characterizes public land management in the American west. Its a conflict that regularly pits scientists, conservationists and the burgeoning outdoor-recreation economy against the industrial interests that have dominated the region for well over a century. The struggle is about power and wealth and culture who gets to decide how the publicly owned mountains and mineral deposits and timberlands are managed.

The underlying issue, across the west, says Steve Pedery, the conservation director at Oregon Wild, is that oil, gas, mining, grazing and logging interests are angry because 20 years ago they ruled public lands, and today they dont.

Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, the president is authorized to unilaterally declare any federally owned object of historic or scientific interest a national monument and preserve it in perpetuity for all Americans. Every president since Theodore Roosevelt, save Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush, has used it, and this country now has a grand total of 129 such monuments. The 27 monuments now under review were set aside over the past three decades by Clinton, George W Bush and Obama. Donald Trump is the first president to consider undoing the designation of monuments by his predecessors.

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Bill Clinton, flanked by Al Gore, designates the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Photograph: Doug Mills/AP

In 2000, when Clinton initially established the Cascade-Siskiyou monument, he described it as a biological crossroads the interface of the Cascade, Klamath and Siskiyou eco-regions, in an area of unique geology, biology, climate and topography. The monuments extraordinary species diversity includes a vast selection of birds and furbearers, of wildflowers and ferns and fungi, much of it undisturbed by industrial activity or real estate development.

In 2011, however, local scientists came together and concluded that the monument did not sufficiently protect the full range of species diversity in the landscape. They published a report that urged the Obama administration to expand it and began a campaign to make the Cascade-Siskiyou monument bigger.

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A cascade within Sucker Creek inside the Siskiyou National Forest in southern Oregon. Photograph: Kevin Schafer/Getty Images

The Soda Mountain Wilderness Council, chaired by Dave Willis, along with a slew of other environmental groups, led the charge. They did the slow grassroots work that conservation work often requires, from lobbying federal representatives to taking people into the backcountry to see the landscape for themselves. Oregons governor, both its senators and numerous state legislators backed the expansion. The nearby Klamath Tribes were behind it, too.

In mid-January, they largely prevailed when Obama agreed to expand the monument.

But the opposition was significant. The expansion would permanently withdraw as much as 45,000 acres of land from most commercial timber production though many of these had already been set aside for conservation purposes. Greg Walden, the states powerful Republican congressman opposed the expansion. The governments of all three counties containing the monument, as well as seven Oregon state legislators and two California members of Congress, also were against it. The most vigorous foes, though, were members of the timber industry.

The economic impacts [of the monument expansion] would be devastating, says Travis Joseph, president of the Portland-based American Forest Resource Council, or AFRC, a timber industry trade group. Joseph says neighboring counties would forever lose revenue for public safety, health and roads, asserting that those acres could support or create a few hundred jobs.

In March, the AFRC filed a lawsuit in federal court arguing that Obamas national monument expansion wasnt just economically harmful but also fundamentally illegal. The suit relies on a little known law called the the Oregon and California Revested Lands Sustained Yield Management Act (known as the O&C Act) of 1937. The law declares that these lands are to be managed for permanent forest production to provide timber, protect watersheds and contribute to local economic stability.

In its lawsuit, AFRC claims that Obamas monument expansion violated the 1937 law by banning most commercial logging. A few other parties, including a regional wood products manufacturer called Murphy Company and an alliance of county governments, filed similar lawsuits last winter.

While this fight is about timber production on public lands, it also reflects the sense among some people that the federal government is an overweening bully trying to snuff out the economic and cultural heritage of rural westerners. Colleen Roberts, for instance, a Jackson County commissioner, sees the monument expansion as a top-down designation that will stifle local authority.

Another concern I personally have is just a continuation of federal land-grabbing, she says, sitting in front of an American flag in her Jackson County office. Constitutionally I dont know if that is what the federal government was supposed to do, to own all of our land and control it.

A similar mentality was on display last February, in what might be the Cascade-Siskiyous most Bundy-esque moment. For one day, a caravan of big pickups descended on the area for an anti-monument rally meant to protect culture, heritage and livelihoods. Scores of protesters drove to the Green Springs Inn, a small restaurant and hotel located on private property inside the Cascade-Siskiyou area and whose owners are ardent monument advocates. The rally featured a hodgepodge of members of interest groups from militia supporters to motorized vehicle proponents, who stood outside the inn and held signs reading New Endangered Species: Rural American and Quit Closing Roads.

We really need to stick up for our culture, said Ryan Mallory, a local marketing consultant who helped organize the rally, during a radio interview in February. And in a way I feel like this is an attack on a culture, a culture of people that has been here for more than 150 years.

Diarmuid McGuire, one of the Green Springs Inns proprietors, says the monument has helped business and put us on the map. But it has also inflamed raw divisions.

You have two cultures with two totally different value systems and two different political agendas and in our community everyone is sort of amalgamated, McGuire says. It is a culture war, really, and when you organize a political rally around it, you get the anti-monument people, you get the gun people … and then you get the anti-government militia mixed in, and we had them all here across the street. He points to his neighbors property across the street, displaying a sign in block letters: NO MONUMENT OUR LAND OUR VOICE.

Steve Pedery of Oregon Wild says the forest products industry and its allies are trying to return Oregon to some long vanished golden era of timber riches. The industry, after all, has declined immensely in the state, from a peak of having nearly 90,000 direct payroll jobs in the 1950s to roughly 31,000 today.

All the while, the outdoor recreation industry has blossomed, currently employing more than 140,000 people in Oregon, according to a report from the Outdoor Industry Association.

In February and March, conservation groups like Oregon Wild, Williss Soda Mountain Wilderness Council and some of their collaborators, fearing that the Trump administration might settle with the timber industry, lawyered up and intervened in the court cases in an attempt to defend the monument.

Willis is troubled bythe lawsuits and Trumps monument review, but he and his allies have battled what he calls the timber-county industrial complex for years. Its been a hard slog to prevent timber sales, buy out grazing permits, limit off-road vehicle access and otherwise preserve and restore this place. Willis, who lost both feet and his fingers to frostbite during a Denali ascent decades ago, is a determined man. And no matter what transpires now, no matter what the secretary of the interior says or a distant judge declares, hell keep fighting to protect the landscape he loves.

Love where you live, he says, riffing on a conservationist slogan. Defend what you love.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/20/national-monuments-review-may-limit-environment-protection-

I was held hostage by Isis. They fear our unity more than our airstrikes | Nicolas Hnin

In Syria I learned that Islamic State longs to provoke retaliation. We should not fall into the trap

As a proud Frenchman I am as distressed as anyone about the events in Paris. But I am not shocked or incredulous. I know Islamic State. I spent 10 months as an Isis hostage, and I know for sure that our pain, our grief, our hopes, our lives do not touch them. Theirs is a world apart.

Most people only know them from their propaganda material, but I have seen behind that. In my time as their captive, I met perhaps a dozen of them, including Mohammed Emwazi: Jihadi John was one of my jailers. He nicknamed me Baldy.

Even now I sometimes chat with them on social media, and can tell you that much of what you think of them results from their brand of marketing and public relations. They present themselves to the public as superheroes, but away from the camera are a bit pathetic in many ways: street kids drunk on ideology and power. In France we have a saying stupid and evil. I found them more stupid than evil. That is not to understate the murderous potential of stupidity.

All of those beheaded last year were my cellmates, and my jailers would play childish games with us mental torture saying one day that we would be released and then two weeks later observing blithely, Tomorrow we will kill one of you. The first couple of times we believed them but after that we came to realise that for the most part they were bullshitters having fun with us.

They would play mock executions. Once they used chloroform with me. Another time it was a beheading scene. A bunch of French-speaking jihadis were shouting, Were going to cut your head off and put it on to your arse and upload it to YouTube. They had a sword from an antique shop.

They were laughing and I played the game by screaming, but they just wanted fun. As soon as they left I turned to another of the French hostages and just laughed. It was so ridiculous.

It struck me forcefully how technologically connected they are; they follow the news obsessively, but everything they see goes through their own filter. They are totally indoctrinated, clinging to all manner of conspiracy theories, never acknowledging the contradictions.

Everything convinces them that they are on the right path and, specifically, that there is a kind of apocalyptic process under way that will lead to a confrontation between an army of Muslims from all over the world and others, the crusaders, the Romans. They see everything as moving us down that road. Consequently, everything is a blessing from Allah.

With their news and social media interest, they will be noting everything that follows their murderous assault on Paris, and my guess is that right now the chant among them will be We are winning. They will be heartened by every sign of overreaction, of division, of fear, of racism, of xenophobia; they will be drawn to any examples of ugliness on social media.

Central to their world view is the belief that communities cannot live together with Muslims, and every day their antennae will be tuned towards finding supporting evidence. The pictures from Germany of people welcoming migrants will have been particularly troubling to them. Cohesion, tolerance it is not what they want to see.

Why France? For many reasons perhaps, but I think they identified my country as a weak link in Europe as a place where divisions could be sown easily. Thats why, when I am asked how we should respond, I say that we must act responsibly.

And yet more bombs will be our response. I am no apologist for Isis. How could I be? But everything I know tells me this is a mistake. The bombardment will be huge, a symbol of righteous anger. Within 48 hours of the atrocity, fighter planes conducted their most spectacular munitions raid yet in Syria, dropping more than 20 bombs on Raqqa, an Isis stronghold. Revenge was perhaps inevitable, but whats needed is deliberation. My fear is that this reaction will make a bad situation worse.

While we are trying to destroy Isis, what of the 500,000 civilians still living and trapped in Raqqa? What of their safety? What of the very real prospect that by failing to think this through, we turn many of them into extremists? The priority must be to protect these people, not to take more bombs to Syria. We need no-fly zones zones closed to Russians, the regime, the coalition. The Syrian people need security or they themselves will turn to groups such as Isis.

Canada withdrew from the air war after the election of Justin Trudeau. I desperately want France to do the same, and rationality tells me it could happen. But pragmatism tells me it wont. The fact is we are trapped: Isis has trapped us. They came to Paris with Kalashnikovs, claiming that they wanted to stop the bombing, but knowing all too well that the attack would force us to keep bombing or even to intensify these counterproductive attacks. That is what is happening.

Emwazi is gone now, killed in a coalition air strike, his death celebrated in parliament. I do not mourn him. But during his murder spree, he too followed this double bluff strategy. After murdering the American journalist James Foley, he pointed his knife at the camera and, turning to the next intended victim, said: Obama, you must stop intervening in the Middle East or I will kill him. He knew very well what the hostages fate would be. He knew very well what the American reaction would be more bombing. Its what Isis wants, but should we be giving it to them?

The group is wicked, of that there is no doubt. But after all that happened to me, I still dont feel Isis is the priority. To my mind, Bashar al-Assad is the priority. The Syrian president is responsible for the rise of Isis in Syria, and so long as his regime is in place, Isis cannot be eradicated. Nor can we stop the attacks on our streets. When people say Isis first, and then Assad, I say dont believe them. They just want to keep Assad in place.

At the moment there is no political road map and no plan to engage the Arab Sunni community. Isis will collapse, but politics will make that happen. In the meantime there is much we can achieve in the aftermath of this atrocity, and the key is strong hearts and resilience, for that is what they fear. I know them: bombing they expect. What they fear is unity.

Nicolas Hnin is author of Jihad Academy, the Rise of Islamic State

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/16/isis-bombs-hostage-syria-islamic-state-paris-attacks