This asylum seeker was shot in the head. Ice jailed him and gave him ibuprofen

Rolando, an indigenous man who survived a shooting and torture in Guatemala, was suffering blinding headaches when he arrived in the US

Americas

Some days, Rolando would bleed out of his eyes, ears and nose. Other days, hed lie on the floor, dizzy or barely conscious.

But every time the jailed Guatemalan asylum seeker sought help from a doctor, staff at his US immigration detention center offered the same treatment: ibuprofen.

The 27-year-old migrant survived a gunshot wound to the head in Guatemala and was suffering from excruciating headaches and possible brain hemorrhaging when he presented himself at the San Ysidro port of entry earlier this year. US authorities responded by isolating him in solitary confinement and jailing him for months at the Otay Mesa detention center in San Diego, giving him sporadic access to medical staff and medicine, his records show.

I feared I was going to die, Rolando, who asked not to use his full name due tothreats against his life, told the Guardian. I thought in this country, there is really good medical care but I wasnt getting any treatment.

Rolando made it out of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) detention alive, but his battle isnt over. Hes still fighting to get asylum, based on the physical torture and persecution he fled as an indigenous Guatemalan. Every step of his journey has collided with the Trump administrations aggressive attacks and expanding restrictions on migrants and refugees.

Now, the White House is moving to block Central Americans like Rolando from presenting their cases at the border, a move that experts agree will have devastating and fatal consequences.

I came to the United States because Id like to at least make it to 30, Rolando said.

An orphan who escaped death: I dont have anyone left

When he met the Guardian on a recent morning, Rolando carried the charger for his ankle monitor, which asylum seekers awaiting hearings are frequently forced to wear. Hes often worried about it running out of battery.

Seated inside the small legal services office of Al Otro Lado, above a pizza shopin San Diego, Rolando looked down and wove a bracelet with his hands as he talked, a practice he developed inside detention to pass the time and distract from his health problems. His native Mayan language is Qeqchi, but he talks to his attorney in Spanish, which he was forced to speak in jail.

Rolando was born into chaos in 1992 in the Petn region of northern Guatemala. His father had been a member of the armed forces but resigned and became a supporter of the pro-indigenous movement. He was killed as a result, just after Rolandos birth, and his mother died soon after from the trauma, he said.

He was an orphan at age one: My brothers and sisters couldnt take care of me and they gave me to neighbors.

Rolando became homeless and later a frequent target of violence by the people who he believes killed his father. Police tortured him when he sought help. According to his asylum application, that included placing nails in his hand and foot and burning his arms with hot knives.

In 2016, while at a soccer game, assailants shot Rolando in the head and left him with a written death threat that referenced his fathers murder. He survived, was forced into hiding and was unable to get medical attention. He said he had to remove the bullet himself. Police later refused to help and assaulted him, according to his file.

I dont have anyone left, he said, adding that fleeing to the US was his only option: Giving me an opportunity to be here is giving me an opportunity to stay alive.

He escaped to Mexico and joined a caravan last year, eventually making it to Tijuana. Then the waiting began.

As part of a vast crackdown on migration, the border patrol under Trump has instituted a policy known as metering, which limits the number of people who can apply for asylum each day. In Tijuana, this has led to a waitlist that has more than 10,000 people, with a few dozen allowed to cross daily, creating a wait time of roughly six to nine months, lawyers estimate.

Trumps Remain in Mexico policy has also resulted in nearly 50,000 migrants from Central America being returned to Mexico while their cases move forward. That has translated to overcrowded shelters, tent encampments and a struggle to access medical and legal services.

It also leaves migrants like Rolando vulnerable to the same violence they were escaping in their home countries. Rolando said he was beaten in Tijuana, suffering injuries to both his arms and forcing him to wear a cast.

In February, he was finally able to enter the US through the San Ysidro port of entry. In his initial processing, authorities took his injured arms and placed him in handcuffs.

In detention, in agony and without treatment

Once he was in custody, Rolandos health problems worsened. More than 150 pages of Ices medical records paint a picture of repeated health crises and his persistent struggle to get help.

Rolando regularly was bleeding from his eyes, ears and nose the cause of which was unclear to doctors but might have been related to his gunshot wound. Rolando said he was bleeding soon after he was taken into custody and that as a result, he was placed in isolation: They said, We dont know whats wrong with you.

Its unclear how many days he spent in solitary, but he said he had difficulty getting any treatment while isolated, and that he would spend all day in a small cell with no window to the outside. Staff would pass him meals through a small slat.

I didnt even know what was night and what was day, he recalled. I was sick already, but I was starting to get worse Nobody was coming to see me.

Once in the general population of Otay Mesa, Rolando continued to suffer periodic bleeding, and at times his head pain was so severe, he would lose consciousness, or he would lie on the ground so that he would not injure himself if he passed out.

Rolando
Rolando made bracelets and sold them to other detainees so he could buy instant soup, he recalled. Photograph: John Francis Peters/The Guardian

Rolando would frequently sign up for sick call to visit medical staff, but he said the appointments did little to help. Records show that on one visit, a nurse told him to drink more water and wash hair/head thoroughly.

Eating the facilitys meats also started to make him sick, but he often struggled to get alternative food options, even though the medical staff said he needed to change his diet. Sometimes he made bracelets and sold them to other detainees so he could buy instant soup, he recalled.

The records show that the main form of treatment Rolando received was prescriptions for ibuprofen in increasingly high doses as his pain worsened. Sometimes, he said, he ran out of ibuprofen and had difficulty getting a refill. He also received an ointment for his eyes.

Anne Rios, his attorney with Al Otro Lado, said she was stunned when she was finally able to get a copy of his medical records: It seems unbelievable, almost too absurd to be true, but its not only documented, its the governments own records.

By August, Ice had twice refused to release him while his asylum case was pending even after dozens of medical visits, including multiple to the emergency room. One ER doctor had written that he was a serious patient that presents with significant complexity of risk, adding that he might have some kind of brain hemorrhage.

He had no criminal history or immigration violations.

Rolando grew increasingly desperate. At one point, he considered giving up and deporting himself back to Guatemala a certain death, Rios said, recalling him telling her on one visit: Im gonna die here or in Guatemala, so I would at least rather go to my home country I just cant take it any more.

After a third request by Rolandos attorneys, an Ice officer ruled that he could be released but only if he paid a $5,000 bond.

For many, $5,000 might as well be $5m, said Rios. They come here with nothing, no resources, no family members, absolutely no way to pay for that.

Rolando was only able to get out when Al Otro Lado found a way to cover the amount through its bond fund.

Ice declined to comment on Rolandos case, citing his privacy. A spokeswoman said: everyone in our custody receives timely access to medical services and treatment, including a full health assessment with two weeks of custody, daily sick calls and 24-hour emergency care. A dietician ensures detainees unique health (included allergies), dietary, and religious needs are met for each meal, and all food must be visually appealing, palatable, and taste good.

A final plea: I followed the rules and I am telling the truth

Rolando struggles to understand why the US has treated him like a criminal: I followed all the rules and I asked for admission.

Trump, however, is working to make the asylum process much more restrictive than what Rolando has experienced. His administration passed a policy in July banning migrants from seeking asylum at the US-Mexico border if they came from another country, saying they must first seek protections elsewhere.

The supreme court ruled last month that Trumps ban could go into effect while legal challenges continued.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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On my radar: Salman Rushdies cultural highlights

The novelist on his favourite new writing, the thrill of baseball and the director whos adapting Midnights Children for Netflix

books

Born in 1947 in Mumbai, Salman Rushdie is the author of 14 novels including Midnights Children, which won the Booker prize in 1981, and has twice been named the best of all the Booker prizewinners. The 1988 publication of The Satanic Verses led Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran to issue a fatwa calling for Rushdies assassination. The author now lives in New York, where he is a writer in residence at NYU. His latest novel, Quichotte, is published on 3 September.

1. Documentary
Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am

Toni
Toni Morrison in a scene from The Pieces I Am. Photograph: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders / Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

I saw this before Toni Morrison died and it seemed like a wonderful portrait of her, but now it feels even more significant. Its directed by the American photographer and film-maker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, who secured amazing archival footage as well as extensive access to Morrison herself, even in these last years when she wasnt very well. I was lucky enough to know her a little bit. People sometimes think she was a very grand lady, a giant figure in literature, but actually she was very down to earth and great fun to be around she loved dancing, for example and the film does a good job of getting this across. Its a beautiful piece of film-making.

2. Music
The Rolling Stones live in New Jersey

The
The Rolling Stones performing in New Jersey. Photograph: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Last month, I went to see the Rolling Stones live at the MetLife stadium and it was an amazing evening. Ive seen the Stones a lot over the years the Observer sent me to report on the Voodoo Lounge tour at Wembley stadium in 1995 and Ive seen their latest show twice. Its extraordinary that theyre still doing it and are as good as they ever were. Mick appears to have recovered from his heart procedure hes still zinging around the stage as fast as he ever did, while Keith remains firmly planted. When I went to see the show in London with my sons, I have never seen them so excited about going to a rock concert. It demonstrated to me that their music really has transcended all generations. Its music that everybody can share.

This

3. Nonfiction
This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrants Manifesto by Suketu Mehta

This is a brief, extremely passionate polemic on the issue of immigration, which of course is a very heated subject in America, where the book was aimed at originally, as well as everywhere else. Mehtas book is a brilliant, deliberately political rebuff to the increasingly popular view that immigrants are a problem. He talks about the history of empire and quotes someone in his family who answered the question, But why are you here? by replying, We are here because you were there. And he has a comic line about how immigrants are the creditors weve come to collect the debt. Its a very powerful book, but it also has a wit about it, which makes it very attractive. Mehta has been getting the usual hate messages and threats on social media, which seems to be the inevitable consequence of putting your head above the parapet these days.

4. Sport
The New York Yankees

Masahiro
Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees pitches in the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium. Photograph: Wendell Cruz/USA Today Sports

Im a pretty addicted New York Yankees fan these days and going to Yankee stadium is for me one of the great pleasures of living in New York. Apart from anything else, I really like the atmosphere at baseball games, which is rather different from football. Here, its very much a family occasion and very good-natured. And its really a good time to be a Yankees fan: theyre runaway leaders of their division and have the equal best record of the season along with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In general, its more fun than being a fan of Tottenham Hotspur, who I started supporting in 1961, when they won the double, but who have never won the league again. More than half a century Ive been waiting to see it.

The

5. Novel
The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

This is a novel I read in manuscript and is just about to be published in the US. Mengiste is an Ethiopian writer based in New York and The Shadow King, her second novel, is about the Italian invasion of Ethiopia during world war two, showing history very much from a female perspective. Its on the edge of magic realism, but an amazing portrait of that moment in Ethiopian history. It seems to me that there is a new wave of wonderful writing from younger African women writers, from Ghana, Uganda, Zambia, Nigeria, and I think that Mengiste is very much a part of that. Her book is tightly written and has a visionary quality.

6. Film
Vishal Bhardwajs Shakespearean trilogy

Shahid
Shahid Kapoor in a scene from Haider. Photograph: UTV Motion/Vishal Bhardwaj/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock

An adaptation of my novel Midnights Children is currently being developed for Netflix. The showrunner is an Indian director called Vishal Bhardwaj, who made a trilogy of films based on Shakespeare plays. Omkara is basically Othello and the subject of an angry, jealous husband murdering his wife for an imagined infidelity fits so easily to India. In Maqbool, he brilliantly transposes the story of Macbeth into the Bombay criminal underworld. And Haider took Hamlet into Kashmir. Considering whats happening there right now, its an even more important film than when it came out, because it really shows you what life has been like for people in Kashmir under the heel of the Indian security forces and military. His films are visually astonishing and Im very interested to see how he brings all that talent to Midnights Children.

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The Trump-Ukraine scandal is a taste of how dirty the US elections will get | Richard Wolffe

If youre wondering what the next 14 months of the presidential election looks like, you are already looking at it

donald trump

America has a grand tradition of the brazenly dumb criminal: the kind who is so desperately needy that he brags about his guilt.

Back in the earliest days of the new media known as newspapers, a certain Chicago mob boss rose to fame by calling a press conference to proclaim everyone elses guilt, if not exactly his innocence.

Al Capone claimed he played no role in the gunning down of a young states attorney called Bill McSwiggin. In fact he said he could have killed him any time but preferred to keep him alive. I paid McSwiggin, Capone said. I paid him plenty and I got what I was paying for.

Sure enough, Capone was cleared of the murder and became the darling of an insatiable press pack. If you dont act guilty, will anyone really think youre guilty? Especially if everyone else is guilty too.

Almost a century later, Donald Trump has cornered the Scarface strategy. If he didnt think neo-Nazis were very fine people, Trump could win a Maccabiah medal for chutzpah.

In some corner of his orange-tipped cranium there are surely a handful of brain cells that are fully aware that his entire family has engaged with foreign dictators and their oligarchs for personal profit.

But the rest of Trumps brain is an irony-free zone entirely empty of self-awareness. So he and much of his Cabinet fanned out across the gullible media to proclaim everyone elses guilt in a Ukraine scandal that would normally lead to certain impeachment.

To be clear, the only scandal involving Ukraine is that Trump openly admits that he repeatedly pressed a foreign leader for dirt on his political opponents ahead of a presidential election. For the second election in a row. Only this time, he could use the promise of military and foreign aid to grease his request.

Its worth quoting Trumps bizarre explanation of this gambit in full, describing his call to the newly-elected president of Ukraine as follows: The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, he told reporters on Sunday. It was largely corruption. All of the corruption taking place. It was largely the fact that we dont want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine.

Now Donald Trump is something of an expert in corruption, if not creating to the corruption. It takes a great deal of creativity to get your own vice-president to stay at your Irish hotel when its 180 miles away from his meetings in Dublin. You cant even conceive of the creativity needed to explain away the US Air Force staying at a luxury golf resort in Scotland that just happens to be another Trump property.

Trumps excuse was that he knew nothing about the military staying at his hotel, and had nothing to do with Mike Pences long commute from Doonbeg to Dublin. So what if Pences chief of staff said Trump had made a suggestion about the stay? He just had great taste like the military that loves Turnberry so much.

Trump apparently knows nothing about his own officials lining his own pockets. But he does know a thing or two about Ukraine.

It was at his own convention in 2016 when his own campaign chairman changed his own party platform to weaken US support for Ukraine against Russias annexation of Crimea and its interference in Ukraines politics.

Ukraine has got a lot of problems, Trump explained to reporters. The new president is saying that hes going to be able to rid the country of corruption. And I said that would be a great thing. We had a great conversation. We backed I backed Ukraine from the beginning.

Amnesia is a terrible problem for todays world leaders. Especially the morally dubious ones who are either too brazen or too lazy to think of a decent excuse.

Somehow Trump has forgotten about how bad a liar his lawyer is, or why Ukraine is even enmeshed in the multiple scandals that would lead to the impeachment of any other president.

Would Trump let Rudy Giuliani testify to Congress about his own efforts?

Oh I would have no problem with it, he told reporters on Sunday. Rudy is a very straight shooter. And Rudy wants to see the same thing as a lot of other people with respect to your Ukraine. Ukraine has had a tremendous corruption problem. Somehow they were involved in a lot of different things that took place in our country, and hopefully it can be straightened out.

Hopefully we can straighten this out for you, Mr President. Rudy shoots so straight that he can break land speed records for lying on national television. Did he ask Ukraines government to investigate Joe Biden? No, actually I didnt, he told CNN, before admitting 30 seconds later, of course I did.

Somehow Ukraine was involved in a lot of things in American politics, Mr President. Most of them involving Paul Manafort, your old campaign chairman, now serving time in jail for tax evasion on all the cash he made from Ukraines former president. The one supported by Vladimir Putin, whom you asked for help to hack into the emails of your opponents in the last election during a press conference.

It was a perfect call. A perfect call, Trump said on Sunday. What wasnt perfect is the horrible thing that Joe Biden said. And now he made it a lie when he said he never spoke to his son. I mean, give me a break. Hes already said he spoke to his son. And now he said, yesterday, very firmly. Who wouldnt speak to your son? Of course you spoke to your son. So he made the mistake of saying he never spoke to his son. He spoke to his son.

The son thing is troubling, Mr President. Troubling because you sound unhinged.

But more importantly, Trump continued, what he said about the billions of dollars that he wouldnt give them unless they fired the prosecutor. And then he bragged about how they fired the prosecutor and they got the money.

Oh yes. The money thing. Its a beauty. Biden is smeared by the most braggadociously corrupt president for pushing Ukraine to have a prosecutor who will fight corruption.

It may be no surprise that Trump is circling the drain while clinging on to his own dizzy conspiracies. His election prospects are miserable and he desperately needs another looney-tuned cartoon like the Clinton email saga.

But its still surprising to see his secretary of state and Treasury secretary peddling the same smear as if it was just another Sunday talk show subject.

Is there anyone left with any self-respect in the Republican party? Step forward Mitt Romney, the former Republican nominee and now Utah senator. No really, step forward.

If the President asked or pressured Ukraines president to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney, it would be troubling in the extreme. Critical for the facts to come out, Romney tweeted.

Damn the torpedoes. The senator is extremely troubled, if not rather exercised, by the possibility of something that Trump and Giuliani have already admitted on camera.

If youre wondering what the next 14 months of the presidential election looks like, you are already looking at it. The poor citizens of Ukraine have been looking at it for the last five years, ever since Russian troops marched in and unleashed their disinformation on an unsuspecting world.

Like Vladimir Putin, Al Capone knew that dont have to be smart to get away with murder. You just have to confuse everyone about what guilt looks like.

  • Richard Wolffe is a Guardian US columnist

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Downton Abbey, like plantation houses, delivers fantasy over brute reality | Michael Henry Adams

The American south may seem a long way from the estates of England, but in both places a veil of caprice covers harsh truths

culture

The son of a Scottish immigrant who worked as a servant, Donald Trump could hardly wait for his banquet at Buckingham Palace. A seat next to Elizabeth II conferred a sense of accomplishment little else could.

To many, such behavior from an American president appeared downright unseemly. But how could we scoff? How else have so many of us been eagerly awaiting the return of Downton Abbey?

TV and film can be transporting, giving us glimpses of lives we can only imagine imperfectly. Decades before Julian Fellowes creation came forth to conquer America, PBS offered a steady diet of British clotted cream. Royals, aristocrats, castles, servants, sex. Such is the stuff of which Downton daydreams are made.

We make our own fantasies too. As a boy, watching Gone With the Wind, I saw plantation houses for which I thought I could sell my soul. It seemed such an alluring way of life.

No wonder people complain of being lectured about slavery when they visit Savannah or Charleston. They, like me, have imagined themselves in the masters place. No work to be done, fanned on white-pillared porches, sipping cooling drinks, pondering pleasures to come. Is it surprising so many, confronted by the nightmare behind the reverie, recoil in unacknowledged shame?

I came to this crossroads early, no longer able to overlook the anguish of my ancestors. I saw exquisite architecture and ideas of gracious hospitality but knew both to be built on the worst criminality.

Fortunately, thanks to green England, I was able to transfer my affections. The Forsyte Saga, Upstairs Downstairs, Brideshead Revisited, The Admirable Crichton. The Shooting Party, The Remains of the Day, Gosford Park. They became my refuge and taught me much. Entranced by an elegant aesthetic, reading countless books, even attending the Attingham Summer School to study famous country houses, I sought an elusive loveliness, untroubled by oppression.

I know I never escaped. I had only embraced a new quagmire of contradictory caprice.

At the very lightest level, all this means I know that Downton the whole phenomenon, the TV series, the film, the traveling exhibition, the merchandising is a ludicrous and ahistorical fancy.

I know, for example, that contrary to what we see on Fellowes screen, non-royal butlers did not wear white waistcoats and that waiters did not wear dinner jackets at all. I know ladies were never gloved while drinking or eating, candles were never used on a luncheon table and candle shades, now found only in royal residences, were in fact universal. For enthusiasts like me, its such esoterica which makes Downton so enjoyable.

But as in my love affair with the plantations of the American south, there was a wriggling worm in the bud.

How alike our ruling classes are. How nefarious the sources of their vast wealth, on which such beautiful homes were built.

In the UK, to take just one example, a house as sublime as Harewood, near Leeds, altered by Robert Adam, was funded by the infamous triangular trade. Even English currency came to be defined by slavery. With abolition by Britain in 1833 came compensation to 46,000 slave owners for 800,000 liberated Africans, until the banks were rescued in 2009 the largest government bailout in history.

There were other sources of income. Indian opium, imposed on China. Farms in Ireland. The wealth behind many of the estates of England was no less tainted than that which built plantations in Virginia, Alabama and Georgia.

Fellowes was careful to give his great house a more benign foundation. The Earl of Grantham, we are told, derives his affluence straight from his Yorkshire estates.

Hit hard by agricultural depressions, he takes an option not available to his tenants: he marries the daughter of an American millionaire. That said millionaire is an untitled Jew, a dry goods merchant from Cincinnati, is among storylines meant to show us what a good egg the earl really is, an unlikely egalitarian in tweeds. But hes an imprudent one too: by investing his wifes millions in a Canadian railway that goes bankrupt, Grantham places all his loved ones in peril.

Worse occurred in real life, of course. Much worse. Take the brutal, polluting mills and mines, like so many plantation fields, that often lay just outside the gates.

Of course, Downton isnt real. So, to stay in the realm of art, consider Shipley, the neo-Palladian masterpiece DH Lawrence invented for Lady Chatterleys Lover. There, Squire Leslie Winter talks of the miners who work his pits with all the condescension a planter might have for his slaves.

Chatting with the Prince of Wales, Winter quips: The miners are perhaps not so ornamental as deer, but they are far more profitable.

HRH replies: If there were coal under Sandringham, I would open a mine on the lawns and think it first-rate landscape gardening. Oh, I am quite willing to exchange roe-deer for colliers, at the price.

In the real world, many fine homes have been lost. Their deaths, like their lives, are all about the money.

In Lawrences book, the squire dies and his heirs tear down his hall to build semi-detached villas for workers. Lady Chatterley is shocked to learn such people are as capable of love as she is. One suspects Fellowes, the author of a novel called Snobs, no less, might feel a similar shock if told us ordinary people who love Downton, his facile but beautiful and seductive creation, are capable of sincere feeling too.

We are. And while we are equipped to daydream of such luxury for ourselves, or to pick nits with Fellowes staging while we swoon at his stars in their gorgeous firmament, we are also the heirs to those who did all the work, those who built the Downtons and the plantations.

We know a profound truth behind all their costly beauty and misery. Every stately home, in every land, belongs to us too.

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Lewandowskis House Testimony Was Basically His Senate Campaign Launch

In calling in Corey Lewandowski to testify, House Judiciary Committee Democrats hoped theyd get a spectacle that might boost their impeachment efforts.

Its unclear whether that will happen. What they clearly did get, however, was a spectacle that cemented Lewandowskis brand as an unapologetic fighter for Donald Trumpfor better or for worse.

Tuesdays high-profile hearing was essentially a coming-out party for Lewandowskis long-teased, but still unannounced campaign for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire: he talked up his blue collar roots and service to President Trump while effusively praising his former boss and gleefully trolling his Democratic questioners. During a bathroom break, he tweeted out a link to a website supporting his possible Senate run; at another point, while answering a question from a friendly lawmaker, he fantasized about what hed do if he were in the upper chamber.

That performance didnt come as a shock to Democrats on Capitol Hill or back in New Hampshire, who said they expected that Lewandowski would seize on the hearing to boost his own profile.

Democratic lawmakers and aides did not admit to any second thoughts about Lewandowskis appearance in light of his explicit politicking and eagerness to gum up the hearing. And they predicted his testimony would damage whatever political hopes he does harbor.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) noted that in his testimony, Lewandowski admitted that Special Counsel Robert Muellers report found that Trump summoned him to the Oval Office in 2017 and directed him to send a message to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the president wanted Mueller reined in. Lewandowski had previously said he couldnt recall talking about Sessions with Trump.

Thats obstruction of justice, plain and simple, said Cicilline. Admitting that in this hearing, under oath, I think is not a way to begin a U.S. Senate campaign.

New Hampshire Democrats, meanwhile, have been salivating for weeks at the prospect of Lewandowski creating a televised spectacle, believing it to be a golden opportunity to define him to voters ahead of a possible bid. Party officials and activists in the state have been widely speculating that the former Trump campaign official would use his face time in front of the Judiciary Committee to leave little doubt in Granite Staters minds that he is preparing to launch a Republican challenge to Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

New Hampshire Democratic Party spokesman Josh Marcus-Blank pointed to Lewandowskis promotion on Tuesday of the website paid for by a new outside group backing him, called Stand With Corey. By ducking questions and promoting that dark money group during a Congressional hearing to which he was subpoenaed to testify, Lewandowski is demonstrating once again that he works for those shady clients and Trump, not the people of New Hampshire, said Marcus-Blank.

Thats perfectly in keeping with his character, one member of the New Hampshire Democratic state committee said on Tuesday afternoon. Everyone whos been following him in New Hampshire knows hes all about empty, shameless performances.

Lewandowskis stunts in New Hampshire have historically been well telegraphed. In 2010, he debated a cardboard cutout of former Gov. John Lynch on national tax day at the height of the Tea Party movement.

Its all performance, the New Hampshire Democratic state committee member added.

The 46-year-old Windham resident had been on a media tour in his home state in recent weeks, saying hes taking a very long look at a possible candidacy. After steering the early part of Trumps first presidential campaignbefore being ousted by the president in a dramatic fashionthe bombastic operative has since worked as a Washington consultant and television commentator, engaging in politics from the outside.

The Daily Beast previously reported that Lewandowski recently huddled with Trump after several administration officials encouraged him to enter the race. While some Republicans in the state explicitly said his entrance would help Shaheens chancesa sentiment that was bolstered by an editorial in the conservative newspaper the Union Leader advocating for a write-in over Lewandowskihis allies are convinced hes entering as the frontrunner.

Over the course of over five hours on Tuesday on Capitol Hill, Lewandowski took every opportunity he could get to talk up his biography and his work in helping to elect Trump in 2016. In fact, he seemed to revel in injecting explicit politics into his testimony. I appreciate your comments about my ability to win in New Hampshire, he said, in response to Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who mentioned Lewandowskis political ambitions.

It was just one more thing to enrage Democrats during an already infuriating afternoon during which Lewandowski refused to answer questions and generally stymied Democrats limited time questioning him. This is not a Republican primary campaign, admonished Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) to Lewandowski. This is the House Judiciary Committee.

Meanwhile, Republicans on the panel seemed eager to serve softballs to Lewandowski that allowed him to expound on his patriotism, values, and character. "Do you think the Democrats will go to any length to undermine the president of the United States and influence the 2020 election?" asked Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ).

"I believe in this democracy of the United States and I love this country," responded Lewandowski, adding that his primary concern is that his children and grandchildren look back at the Mueller inquiry and say, "that never should have been allowed, never to a Republican and never to a Democrat."

Despite the muddled questioning and political maneuvering, Democrats said it was worth bringing in Lewandowski.

Besides, said one Democratic aide, Its not like he has a shot at winning.

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Bill Nye Wants a Rematch With Tucker Carlson

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This week, Bill Nye joined The Last Laugh podcast to offer some advice to the 10 Democratic presidential primary candidates who will be participating in CNNs upcoming Climate Crisis Town Hall. After all, the Science Guy has a lot of experience making the case for climate action on TV.

Oh god, Nye says when I bring up the appearance he made on Tucker Carlsons show a couple of years ago. As one headline put it at the time, Bill Nye appears on Fox News and it doesnt go well.

The experience was just a lot of adrenaline, Nye tells me. He was in Washington, D.C., where Carlson tapes his show. It was a beautiful night, gorgeous, and Tucker Carlson was on the roof of the building doing his schtick from there. Fox invited him on to talk about climate change and he agreed, making his first appearance on that network in nearly a decade despite being a semi-frequent presence on CNN and MSNBC.

So we were going to go on the roof, beautiful night, this will be fun, Nye thought to himself. But then the producers told him he wasnt going to be on the roof with the host but rather in a small room on a lower floor of the same studio. They moved me, changed my chair three times to throw me off, he says.

During his introduction, Carlson mocked his guest as Bill Nye the Psychoanalyst Guy for claiming that climate change deniers suffer from cognitive dissonance. The host was clearly itching for a fight.

As the segment began, Nye quickly realized that every time he started to talk, Carlson would interrupt him. Working as fast as I could, I took my phone out and tried to show him with a stopwatch that he interrupted me every six seconds, Nye says. So its hard to make a point with him.

By the end of their nine minutes on screen together, Carlson was shouting at Nye, Im open-minded, you are not!

Carry on, Mr. Carlson, Im sure we will cross paths again, Nye told him, a bit ominously. They havent crossed paths since.

Hes really drifted off, with respect, Nye says of Carlson, who has become the most prominent white nationalist voice on Fox News under President Trump. I mean hes gotten odder and odder. Besides the racism, Nye was enraged by a recent show in which he attacked the metric system.

The other thing I wonder about Tucker Carlson is, hes got four kids, Nye says, turning more serious. I just wonder how his children feel about climate change. They keep a pretty low profile. I wonder about it, because it much more difficult to meet a climate change denier who is young.

Nye had a much better time making a cameo on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver earlier this year. God, that was a blast, he says of the sketch in which he lit a globe on fire to demonstrate the impact of climate change. As the longtime host of a childrens program, he has spent most of his career communicating his message in a kid-friendly way. But on HBO, he got to scream, The planets on fucking fire! at the top of his lungs. It was heartfelt! he says.

And yet Nye does not regret his attempt to get through to Fox News viewers on the climate crisis. Ill go back on there almost anytime, he says, explaining that he was asked back shortly after his original appearance but said no at the time and hasnt been invited since.

Ive offered to be on The Five and they wouldnt have me on, Nye adds of Foxs afternoon roundtable show. It wouldnt be fun, he admits, but youve got to meet people where they are.

Lets all go fishing at the other guys fishin hole, Nye says, explaining that he means that literally as well as figuratively. Because were more alike than we are different.

When I ask if that applies to him and Tucker Carlson, Nye sighs and replies, Yeah, I guess. Like Nye, Carlson used to be famous for wearing bow ties on television. He used to, Nye says of Carlson, but he lost his nerve.

Next week on The Last Laugh podcast: Stand-up comedian and host of Comedy Centrals Good Talk, Anthony Jeselnik.

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Graffiti-covered Banksy truck to be auctioned

Bonhams to sell massive artwork at Goodwood Revival sale next month

Art and design

Among the gleaming Bugattis, Aston Martins and Porsches at one of the UKs premier car auctions next month will be a 17-tonne truck with a price tag to match them all.

Bonhams has announced it is selling what can arguably be called Banksys largest art work at its Goodwood Revival sale on 14 September.

The truck was covered with graffiti by Banksy in 2000, when he was still very much under the art worlds radar. While a used Volvo FL6 box truck might cost a buyer somewhere in the low thousands of pounds, this one is estimated at between 1m-1.5m.

Ralph Taylor, Bonhams head of postwar and contemporary art, said he was thrilled to have the work in the sale.

Banksy is arguably the most important artist to have emerged since the millennium and this, his largest commercial work, represents a new high watermark of quality for works of his to appear at auction, Taylor said.

The composition bears all the hallmarks of this peerless agent provocateur.

The artist was at an open-air party in Spain to celebrate the millennium when he was presented with the truck by Mojo, the co-founder of Turbozone International Circus.

He started on the truck during the party and continued to work on it for a fortnight. It was then used, for years, as the companys transport around Europe and South America.

The truck is called Turbo Zone Truck (Laugh Now But One Day Well Be in Charge). It is funny and anarchic and has flying monkeys, soldiers running away from a cannon and a man about to smash a TV screen with a hammer.

Bonhams said the over-riding message of the piece was anarchy its us against them and were going to win..

Taylor said there was no getting away from what the work was. It is an enormous great lorry, he said. Contemporary art can be anything, from a small painting to an installation that takes up an entire room. This is a 17-tonne lorry and it is completely painted. Its an immersive experience it is incredibly impressive when you see it.

Taylor said the work was from a pivotal moment in Banksys career, a time when he was beginning to work in the studio, as well as on the street, producing work that he would show in self-staged exhibitions.

The lorry has motifs seen over and again in Banksys work, particularly monkeys. One image is a riff on Soviet-era posters of industrial work, with Banksy showing a factory worker with a Mohican smashing a television.

There are references to art history and to social history, said Taylor. Banksy is always at his best when there is that kind of vicious black humour. When its funny, thats when its good and thats why he is so successful, that is why he keeps on being voted the nations favourite artist. It feels like hes been coming top of those polls for a decade.

The lorry was done at a time street artists were often considered a menace, the reason why Banksy always pictures himself as a rat and calls his company Pest Control.

For someone to give him free rein to paint an entire lorry that would then travel around would have been such a huge gift and opportunity, to have such a big canvas with no risk of getting arrested.

The market for Banksy is a strong and global one, said Taylor. The auction record is for one of his works is $1.9m a Damien Hirst spot painting on to which Banksy has stencilled a maid doing the cleaning.

Last year the art world was left stunned as a Banksy work, Girl With Balloon, began to shred itself after the hammer went down at Sothebys in London for 1.04m. It was given a new title by Banksy, Love is in the Bin and is the only artwork ever created live during an auction.

Bonhams said it expected strong interest from institutions as well as collectors passionate about collecting unusual vehicles.

The truck will be sold by the auction house on the Goodwood estate in West Sussex, the ancestral home of the Duke of Richmond, founder of the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Goodwood Revival.

One of the more traditional highlights of the 14 September sale is an ultra-rare 935 Bugatti Type 57 Atalante Faux Cabriolet, which has an estimate price of 1m-1.5m.

Three years ago Bonhams sold a Banksy Swat van which he created for his break out Barely Legal show in Los Angeles. It fetched 218,500.

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The Five Distinct Levels of Donald Trump Ass-Kissing, Explained

The last three years have taught us that Donald Trump enjoys sycophancy as few presidents have. As Carlos Lozada wrote in The Washington Post, Some are born Trump sycophants. Some achieve Trump sycophancy. And some have Trump sycophancy thrust upon themsince hes a star, they let him do that.

Married to his love of having his boots licked, Trump has an obsession with propaganda that feels more than a little fascistic, and the Republican Party has largely obliged by sucking up to Trump in the way he longs for. Everyone from the supposedly wonkish Paul Ryan to the formerly brave iconoclast Lindsey Graham has eventually kneeled down to kiss the ringamong other things. Monday was an especially big day in Trump sycophancy because Tom Cotton, a young Republican senator considered the future of the GOP, went to die on the Greenland is just a smart purchase hill, arguing that the former reality television host was crazy like a fox.

It was proof positive that Trump can say anything and members of the GOP will back him up. But there are shades and nuances. Through hours of interneting, I have divined the different circles of Trumpian sycophancy. The guide for Trumps propagandists is Dantes Inferno. Each successive level plummets deeper into the abyss of suck-up-ery. There are nine levels in Dantes Inferno, but only five in Trumps, because in the age of Twitter we have much shorter attention spans than people did in the 14th century.

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Boris Johnson will have us laughing all the way to the food bank | Will Self

The relationship between politics and comedy is deeply unfunny

Beppe Grillo

Hello, Ill be standing in for David Mitchell this week, and Stewart Lee next. Id like to apologise for this in advance: regular readers of this column have become used to scintillating satire from these two, delivered via crisp, witty prose. What do I have to offer in return? Nothing but grim jeremiads about the dreadful state were in and pretentious, jargon-laden analyses about how we got here. True, I too was once a well-known light entertainer on national television, but in recent years Ive fallen victim to the worst character trait of the ageing farceur: a desire to be taken seriously an inclination that has, quite rightly, coincided with my gently smelly slide down into Stygian obscurity.

Bobbing about down here, Ive begun to suspect that my status in our septic, MRSA-ridden isle exists in an inverse correlation to that of Her Highnesss current first minister. Its a truth universally acknowledged that, in search of his destiny as world king, Boris Johnson turned to television to build his base, and in particular to the satirical news show Have I Got News for You. Throughout a number of barnstorming appearances, Johnson cemented his reputation as a charming and self-deprecating Old Etonian, whose tousled blond mop nonetheless surmounted a mind like a steel trap. Even at the time, commentators remarked on how bizarre it was that serving politicians were prepared to go on the show and risk being eviscerated by their fellow panellists however, by perfecting his routine (in Marxist terms, his praxis), Johnson enacted the dialectical relation between politics and comedy that has since typified our era.

Yes, think of Johnson not as man but a sort of personified synthesis: one between the high-minded politics of old and the cachinnating prejudices of the new bigots. And, of course, hes not alone in this true, comedy was only a sideline for Johnson, but for Italys Beppe Grillo, and now Ukraines Volodymyr Zelenskiy, one-liners have become party ones. Then theres Marjan arec, in Slovenia, and Jimmy Morales, in Guatemala, both former comedians who abandoned their shtick in favour of the slapstick of governance. Just how good any of these characters were as comics is debatable I suppose you had to be there and then, rather than here and now, since none of them has been doing terribly well at the notoriously unfunny business of making life-and-death decisions concerning your fellow human beings.

In the long dark night of my soul, when Ive failed to surf that wave of illegal melatonin into even the lightest of slumbers, disturbing visions throng my mind: I imagine a summit convened by that prime-time joker-in-chief Donald the Donald Trump. Around the polished oval stage in the Oval Office, sit Messrs Johnson, Zelenskiy et al, all rocking and rolling with laughter as they carve the worlds audience up between them. But if superannuated comedians are our new rulers, perhaps weve only ourselves to blame? Did we not laugh too readily at their feeble quips, thereby propelling them into office? At this years Edinburgh fringe, the funniest joke award went to this one, by the hilariously named comedian Olaf Falafel: I keep randomly shouting out broccoli and cauliflower I think I may have florets.

Frankly, if Id been on hand to heckle when Falafel threw up this little ball of wit, Id have shouted Fuck you, you fucking shitting wanking fuck, youre about as funny as fucking fuck-all what makes people with Tourettes ripe for your alleged humour? Are there other disabled folk youd like to have a go at while youre up there? Thereby exhibiting the rank hypocrisy of those of us who arent so much woke as utterly insomniac. But even setting the prejudice to one side, Falafels joke is a pretty tired bit of punning. Nietzsche quipped that Wit is the epitaph of an emotion but, even as epitaphs go, puns are a grave old business.

I do hope Messrs Mitchell and Lee will be using their downtime to re-up on their material so you can look forward to plenty of hearty chuckles in the autumn, when broccoli and cauliflower become too expensive even for Observer readers. But my suspicion is that they may, in fact, be moonlighting as premiers themselves, while you have to put up with my second-division repartee.

The
The comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, right, who was elected president of Ukraine in May. Photograph: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP

This rather raises the question: what might life be like in a country helmed by a genuinely funny comedian, rather than a farceur who dreams of being taken seriously? In Leedonia, I imagine our Fhrer arriving in his trademark circus car, accompanied by a posse of heavily armed clowns. Speeches would take the form of tightly scripted hour-long rants fusing the surreal, the paranoid and the scatological with such elan (and dog-whistle virtue-signalling) that the poor citizenry would be left undone, having been chafed unmercifully by the rubbing of their urine-soaked clothing against their heaving bellies. What matter that they be empty of food, if theyre filled with guffaws?

As for David Mitchell, with his bearded and bookish mien, its not hard to picture him as some sort of nerd-in-chief, earnestly urging his encyclopaedic knowledge on his people. Perhaps, like the one-time dictator of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, Mitchell will write an interminably long book aimed at the spiritual guidance of the people. Theres a huge mechanical statue of the Ruhnama as its called in Ashgabat, the capital, and, at 8pm every day, this opens mechanically and a passage is read through loudspeakers. But whereas Niyazov mixed together the Quran, Sufi poetry and his own wild cosmic speculations, Mitchells tome will consist of page after page of unbelievable truths, and the mechanical voice reading them out will be nasal and laconic.

I do hope something like this is actually going on right now and that, in a fortnights time, revitalised, Mitchells and Lees satiric armies will invade Britain and put paid to its new farceur-among-equals with volleys of perfectly aimed pasquinades. Because, lets face it, the alternative isnt funny at all.

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Joseph Fiennes: Ive done my bit for society Ive illustrated the patheticness of misogyny

The star of the hit dystopian drama says he doesnt like to equate Donald Trumps politics with the show. But, he adds, sometimes you just have to point out the blazingly obvious

Its alluded to in the novel someday, something will happen to Fred. Quite soon. In a neutral-looking cafe in central London, Joseph Fiennes is talking about the future of his role in The Handmaids Tale. Why, though? I plead with him. Why does he have to die? Its in the novel, Fiennes explains very patiently. Hes got to. Come on, there are some very angry women in red out there.

When The Handmaids Tale first appeared on our screens in 2017, it was a bit like having an anxiety dream about the new politics, your subconscious supplying the sharp contrasts and glorious Technicolor, the brutally formal sexual violence and the intricate dystopian detail. There was a watchful intelligence in all the performances particularly Elisabeth Moss as June/Offred, Fiennes as Fred and Yvonne Strahovski as Serena, his wife which was arresting, and left you vaguely unsettled for a long time after each episode.

The programmes makers understood immediately that they had done something prescient, but played down the political parallels in favour of the idea that this was just great drama that happened to arrive at the same time as Donald pussy grabbing Trump took office in the White House. (Nick Lee, who acquired the show for Channel 4 in the UK, said at the time: Whether the original commissioners at Hulu had read those tealeaves or not, the drama is so compelling and the story so powerful that even without the parallels, it would still be a standout drama.)

Seasons two and three have been even more chilling, and, in a sense, much more literal; partly because the writing has diverged from Margaret Atwoods original and partly because the political context is so much darker. You can feel as if you are watching not a drama, but a public information warning. It repeatedly raises the question: at what point in the totalitarian journey do you run, and when is it too late?

Fienness performance has become commensurately darker; his reading of the state of the real world is also pretty dark. We knew at the start that the previous handmaid took her own life, he says. So I always used that as a basis for how dark that household was. He was pretty dark to begin with. But Fiennes is playing something subtler than just any villain. Really, Fred is pathetic. His voicelessness: that, for me, describes the man. There are brutal acts he didnt command to happen, but he didnt stand up. The last thing I want to do is talk Handmaids and then Trumps administration, but somehow you cant not equate some things. So you look at those Republican leaders who are not standing up, and they are all Fred. It is a fascinating role to be in, acting the human weakness that enables the great disasters of history, as history unfolds before our eyes.

With
With Yvonne Strahovski in The Handmaids Tale. Photograph: Hulu

Theres a scene we shot on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. You think about the Gettysburg speech and all that engenders, and the flag of Martin Luther. And you look from 1863 to 1963, and then to our dystopian future Margaret Atwoods future and then at whats going on in the administration today. Everything that went before, to build a government for the people, is now being torn down. And Gilead takes it down in flames. So, yes, he finishes with grim irony. We got lucky with the zeitgeist.

And Fiennes, 49, takes it extremely seriously. In season two, there was a scene filmed in which Fred raped his wife during their visit to Washington, and he argued so strenuously against the plotline that it was dropped. I felt that Yvonne had made such a beautiful, delicate trajectory of her character, it didnt need a brutal rape to recoil back and find her hatred. But more than that, it just felt like an idea to push the misogyny. And I felt it was all already there. It didnt need to be so brutally illustrated.

The whole age, he says, has that 30s or 40s air of: whose side are you on? OK, there probably wouldnt be many actors (Charlton Heston, perhaps?) on the other side, but he clearly feels very keenly the responsibility, not just to take a side, but to fight it intellectually with everything he has. In America, Im careful not to talk too much about their politics, he says.

Whether Americans can read what he says about them here and elsewhere isnt a concern for his future prospects. But surely he must know when his stint on The Handmaids Tale will end just to plan his next job? I dont plan. Im lucky to be working I dont have a choice, Im not picking between the cherries six months or a year in advance.Many actors, apart from the ones who have won Oscars, make this point that three-quarters of them are out of work at any one time and some of them never work at all. Yet they are propelled by their vocation to never stop trying. How you deal with this, he says, depends on if you feel youre doing it to pay the bills or because you have to do it. There are the wannabes and the has-to-bes, and there are those that just have to. This sounds to me like the most preposterous distinction ever. Before you have to act, you have to eat, unless, for personal wealth reasons, you think of bill-paying as something quite secondary.

But Im making a mistake about Fiennes that people have been making about all seven of the siblings since the first (Ralph) became famous: that they grew up with these perfect, gilded prospects and went on to live perfect, gilded lives. (His father was a freelance photographer, and his mother a writer and painter.) It is an error made in good faith, since they are all incredibly successful (two actors, two directors, a composer, a conservationist and an archaeologist) and then there is that family tree, packed with industrialists, brigadiers, explorers not putting too fine a point on it, the kind of jobs extremely posh people have. Its a name, isnt it? I remember my mum being furious with publishers who wanted to use her married name because that would help the sale, and her just being so furious, all the time. The name can throw people off a bit, belie the truth. He looks dismayed at having to explain this again, which is fair. I understand it, if you dont really look at the person and just look at the name. Its easier to navigate the world and the people in it. Its all easier with stereotypes, and everything is so immediate.

With
With Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love. Photograph: Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar

When I was growing up, there were seven children and no real income. We grew up with debt. I grew up seeing that stress, and it has definitely informed me. They moved constantly from one place they could almost afford to a cheaper place, 14 times during his childhood (or 12 times and 14 schools, he cant quite recall which), but that, he says, almost as a throwaway remark, wasnt the worst of it. We are discussing childhood idylls, places to which he feels rooted by landscape (the West Country, Norfolk), when he says: Ive got a problem with authority, but thats to do with nuns in West Cork in the 70s. But dont go into that. Wait, why not? He takes a swerve which sounds like the end of it. I got into television, really, through Ryan Murphy, the creator of Glee and American Horror Story a brilliant television creative. Anyway, we did a film called Running With Scissors, it was sort of about Augusten Burroughs. And we improvised a scene in that it was very cathartic in which I got to write a poem about being beaten by nuns with bamboo. But anyway, I digress.

Before Fiennes got into television, he had carved a striking early career as a romantic lead, beginning with the 1998 film Shakespeare in Love, which he played with such ease, mischief, energy, familiarity and assertive anti-respect that from then on, he seemed to be the go-to actor for English cultural history. Im just very lucky. Just lucky, lucky, lucky. Id been working in the theatre for a bit, but Id only been out of drama school maybe five years and, yes, Id been doing bits for the RSC, but spear-carrying bits. He didnt capitalise on the film as a Hollywood calling card, perhaps inevitably, since he, as he puts it, went to drama school because I wanted to do theatre, not film. I had no compulsion to do film and television. It was radio and stage dont laugh at radio. Im not laughing. I love radio. Its the most difficult medium out there. And while most actors heads are turned by adulation, he remains apparently immune to fame, and is rather sceptical about film. (Although he spent his 20s jumping from one independent film to another, and I loved the freedom.)

Asked whether he has defected, since The Handmaids Tales success, from the stage to the screen, he is unexpectedly old-school. I think theatre will survive and cinema will die. Theatre has a social necessity; we need to get out, to integrate, socially, emotionally, on a human level. Id love to think cinema wont die, but I think it already has. With streaming platforms, phones and iPads. Whens the last time you went to the cinema? I actually saw Toy Story 4 the night before. My kids [who are seven and nine] havent seen any Toy Story films. Well, they tried one, it just didnt lock in. It was cowboys and astronauts they didnt feel the connection. This stuns me. What kind of freaks has he raised? Original freaks.

His wife, Maria Dolores Dieguez, is also an actor, and the family lives in Canada seven months of the year, with Fiennes creating fresh horrors in Gilead (The Handmaids Tale is filmed there), and the kids learning the Canadian national anthem and how to play hockey. Peter Ustinov said Toronto was like New York run by the Swiss. And thats true. Canadians are a lovely bunch. The crew is the best Ive worked with.

Weirdly
Weirdly enough, the best experience I had at the RSC was doing a Dennis Potter play. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

He loves all his co-stars, directors and costume designers, but is distrustful of the way things are going,especially in relation to box sets. It couldnt be a better time for creative staff, whether youre a writer, producer, director or actor. It feels as if with streaming platforms, theres a lot more need for content. Is the development process rigorous enough to meet this need? This appetite for content, content, content. How can anyone binge The Handmaids Tale? I dont know how you do it without watching comedies in between, but this sense of bingeing all the time its great. His face is saying it isnt great. Really loudly. Its the insatiableness. I love to go and see a Robert Lepage trilogy and then spend a week talking about it, breaking it down. Were always on to the next meal. Were missing that discussion between the meals. I call this an ascetic stance, and hes not sure about that, says he has never thought about himself in that way. But what I mean, rather, is that its redolent of that disgust at comfort, and hatred of indulgence and of gorging he uses the word gorge quite a lot that belongs to a different time. He seems, himself, to belong to a different time.

He disputes, too, the idea that in quality terms, this is TVs golden age. Weirdly enough, the best experience I had at the RSC was doing a Dennis Potter play. Everyone talks about The Sopranos being the moment that television defined itself, but sorry, you know, The Singing Detective, Pennies from Heaven, the whole thing about breaking the fourth wall. Look at the real House of Cards. The first one [broadcast in 1990]. All these things we talk about had been done already. I think TV back in the 80s was really exciting.

For all of that, you cant miss the pleasure and pride he takes in The Handmaids Tale, even while he takes his future demise with equanimity, even while he can see it may have an impact on what he does next. Ill only get misogynist roles for ages. Im waiting for someone to slap or punch me in the street. Im waiting for someone to be really disturbed by Fred because Im really disturbed by him.

Wherever it has gone, the conversation returns, irresistibly, to The Handmaids Tale, mainly because I cant stop ruminating about its impact. There are fans of the book, and there are people who discovered the book through the show, but what I think about is those young folks dressing up as handmaids in Alabama, silently protesting [against their new, very restrictive abortion legislation]; you feel as if youre in something very important and very pertinent to people. So its great. At least Ive done my bit for society, Ive illustrated the patheticness of misogyny. Fred is very thinly illustrated in the book, so I didnt know how it would open up. Its luck, I think. I just got lucky, lucky, lucky.

The Handmaids Tale, Sundays, 9pm on Channel 4, in the UK. The season finale is available on Hulu from midnight on Wednesday in the US

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