John Harris

Journalist & Author

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Look back at our discussion of the week’s biggest stories, with views from our journalists

4.40pm BST

Thanks to everyone who was involved today. We will leave comments open for the next hour or so, and encourage you to continue the discussion. Look forward to talking more next week.

4.26pm BST

My favourites are videos that take me into worlds I otherwise wouldn’t have a hope of entering because of profile, distance or affordability. This week’s turned out to be a surprise hit from the Guardian’s Iman Amrani. A gem of an Insta Story for a delicious 24 hours only, at a street art event in Algiers.

It’s strength, as well as the access, was its immediacy. Information accurately and beautifully conveyed in a short slice of life from a country whose street art is rarely seen in our mainstream media. The power of a smartphone in the hands of someone informed and creative enough to know where to point it.

4.17pm BST

It’s the time of year when another cohort of fresh-faced yoofs will be arriving at their campus halls lumbered with dried fusilli, booze, posters, and all the other studenty cliches. These will be happy days for many, but it won’t be smiles all-round. Academic pressures, coupled with the first-time move away from home, can cause or exacerbate problems with mental health. It’s an emotive issue that affects everyone at some point, so it felt important that our latest student blog addressed this darker – and increasingly prevalent – side of university life from first-hand experience, with an appeal for improved counselling support services.

Many commenters said they could relate to the story, while a debate has ensued: to what extent are university staff responsible for students’ mental wellbeing? At what point is it more appropriate for a GP to step in?

4.17pm BST

The number of students seeking counselling at university has increased by 50% in the last five years, according to figures obtained by the Guardian. It’s a worrying statistic, although it’s noted that the rise is also down to the fact people are more openly talking about mental health, and seeking help as a result. What is clear is that young people are now under great pressure, and it’s something we need to take seriously. How can we improve mental health issues at university? What do you think is driving this? Share your views with us.

Related: University mental health services face strain as demand rises 50%

3.22pm BST

What one song defines who you are? It was a question posed this week by the dating app Tinder, who announced their partnership with streaming service Spotify. Not only will it sync users to others with similar listening habits, but it now allows you to pick a “personal anthem” – a song that reflects you.

It seems like a smart segue, but in actuality it poses all sorts of problems given the loaded nature of music. Some songs which give the illusion of romance are actually about far more sinister prospects (The Police’s Every Breath You Take, You’re Gorgeous by Babybird). I’d presume anyone choosing an earnest, credible song would be totally self-important and prone to asking “What you thinking?” during moments of silence. Anything genuine – ie whatever is in your head – might be too revealing.

3.04pm BST

It’s been a story that’s shocked many, but how newsworthy is it really that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have split? Tell us what interests you – or doesn’t – about this story? How should newspapers report it? What about how Jennifer Aniston has been embroiled in it?

Related: Jennifer Aniston is discovering that a first marriage is for life | Gaby Hinsliff

2.35pm BST

Last week we launched our documentary strand with our new film Gun Nation, which is a troubling look at gun owners in the United States.

When the film-maker Zed Nelson approached me with the idea of revisiting the subjects of his photo book from 16 years ago, I was excited by the prospect of getting access to these people, who would normally be suspicious of speaking on camera to an organisation like the Guardian. Zed and the editor Noah have done a brilliant job of letting us hear them speak, occasionally challenging them, but approaching them from a perspective that they must surely want a solution to their country’s cycle of violence too.

Related: Gun nation: a journey to the heart of America’s gun culture – video

2.32pm BST

A couple of your views on gun ownership here

I’ve yet to hear a sensible reason for a civilian owning an assault weapon. Americans can own as many firearms as they like – just restrict the supply and purchase of ammunition. The Second Amendment of the Constitution says nothing about the right to bear loaded arms.

As a nice liberal Brit, I deplore the ease of access to guns in America, but as someone who has fired several in my time, it gives you a hell of a rush and I can certainly see the attraction

What do you think? Does it shift your perspective to think of gun owners like any other kind of passionate collector or hobbyist?

If it were true that all guns were kept as non-functioning museum pieces (and a lesson as to how dangerous they are for future generations) I would be fine with that. However this is far from the case of course.

2.11pm BST

This week I wrote about a new study estimating that just 3% of Americans own half the country’s guns. These “super-owners” – about 7.7 million Americans – own an average of 17 guns each.

This may sound like a lot. But the super-owners I interviewed convinced me that it’s really not that many.

Related: Meet America’s gun super-owners – with an average of 17 firearms each

1.54pm BST

Each week we ask our team of moderators to highlight a comment thread they particularly enjoyed. This week, you offered many interesting perspectives on a radical idea to save the planet by bioethics researcher Travis N Rieder: to have fewer children.

Related: Why we should have fewer children: to save the planet | Travis N Rieder

Absolutely; two kids per couple to ensure a steady population and, let’s be honest, two of the little swines are enough for anybody.

The trouble is that whilst we have superstitions that encourage people to have loads of kids or which prohibit contraceptio, and societies that favour male offspring over female, then this ideal will be difficult to achieve.

Or perhaps longer gaps between the generations? People having kids in their 40s now rather than in 20s. During the next century that’ll make a significant difference.

A question any prospective parent has to consider is what kind of life they can provide for the child.

Global warming is taking away any parent’s control in this matter.

1.38pm BST

One reader seems to have – quite delightfully – got their stories mixed up …

This is a controversial topic, and views have often become heated in recent days.

However, if you ask me, the moderate Paul Hollywood has opted for power, and the chance to improve ordinary baker’s lives, rather than ideological purity. By contrast, Mary Berry has merely sacrificed power for principles. So much for the kinder baking.

1.30pm BST

I really enjoyed this piece about rats by Jordan Kisner this week. In it there are lots of facts about rats, but also the incredible story of a scientist working to make them infertileto rid them from our streets and sewers. To get you going, though, some myths to dispel …

There are no “super rats”. Apart from a specific subtropical breed, they do not get much bigger than 20 inches long, including the tail. They are not blind, nor are they afraid of cats. They do not carry rabies. They do not, as was reported in 1969 regarding an island in Indonesia, fall from the sky. Their communities are not led by elusive, giant “king rats”. Rat skeletons cannot liquefy and reconstitute at will.

Related: Man v rat: could the long war soon be over? | Jordan Kisner

1.14pm BST

You’ve been sharing your views on Jeremy Corbyn after reading John Harris’s thoughts earlier.

I’m of the opinion – I think – that all this discord is a sign of a party fighting its way through an unavoidable crisis, and very little will become clear within the next five years.

I think I agree – however I think it will take less than 5 years, because I think that the acolytes will most definitely go for full control with de-selections and that will force the issue to a more rapid conclusion than might be imagined.
The PLP know Corbyn has to be allowed to fail , there is no point challenging him at all , and that really is the case . A reading of the serenity prayer may help them out.

Corbyn has strengths and he has weaknesses, like all of us. His strengths are considerable. More than doubling Labour party membership in a year so the party is now the biggest in Europe, enthusing and giving badly needed hope to hundreds of thousands, having consistently made the right call on key issues as Ronan Bennett pointed out in a recent piece, and refusing to respond to endless personal abuse received not only from the Tories but, shamefully, his own side. If his PLP would notice and respect these considerable and actually remarkable qualities, and give him assistance where he is weaker, rather than the persistent undermining that has gone on so far, the Labour party would start looking like a party of government again

What does a Corbyn win mean for Labour.

It means they have to knock on the doorsteps of Middle England and explain to the voters why they are stuck with a leader that enjoys a 172 vote of no-confidence from his own MPs.

John- there is so much bad blood I am not sure detente could work. As soon as this calms down it’ll flare up again. I honestly think there needs to be a split in the party. The Corbyn camp will go as a ‘mass movement’ (although I honestly think they’ll get a shock in a GE as they find the mass support is sizeable as far as a movement goes, but a tiny percentage of the mainstream).

The ‘professional’ wing of the parliamentary party are also goosed. They cannot realistically work with the grass roots any longer.

1.02pm BST

The Guardian’s Polly Toynbee also gives her thoughts on the Labour leadership battle.

It looks as if Labour will be no better off when the leadership result is announced tomorrow. Following a Tony Benn dictum, Jeremy Corbyn used to demand a leadership ballot every year – and now he may get it. The party is so deeply and permanently divided, I see no way the two sides can come together until some other leader emerges more or less acceptable to both. If Owen Smith manages to get over 40% it will count as a success for non-Corbynites, but it will show how far the name “Labour” houses two quite different parties now. Many members warn they will quit, but democracy always rights itself in the end. Some day, goodness knows when, the Conservatives will over-reach and fall. But maybe not for years – so that’s cold comfort.

12.40pm BST

Labour’s bitter leadership contest is set to come to a head this Saturday, with the result of the ballot due to be announced. Here, the Guardian’s John Harris talked about what we can expect.

12.18pm BST

Popular this week was a documentary on Donald Trump supporters, with the Guardian’s Paul Lewis interviewing a variety of people in Ohio (including Kathy Miller, who was chair of Republican presidential candidate campaign in Mahoning County). Great lines include Miller saying that there was no racism in the US until Obama.

11.56am BST

It’s Friday (pause for cheering) and as usual we will be discussing all the week’s best comment and news this afternoon.

This is a space for our readers to come together with our journalists, and talk about the biggest stories, best photographs and videos, and anything else that’s on your mind.

Continue reading…

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