Google crosses borders. The tax collectors should too | Jonathan Freedland

The tech giant’s tiny tax payment shows how feeble governments have become in the face of corporate might. Only global action can tame the beast

You can picture the meeting. George Osborne in his suite at Davos, surrounded by aides and room service debris, debating how to spin the Google tax deal. There’d have been the usual talk of “framing” the issue, the need to be on “the front foot”. But I suspect the clinching argument would have been the one lifted from the standard political practitioners’ playbook: “Declare victory and move on.”

Of course the chancellor could have grudgingly described Google coughing up £130m for 10 years’ worth of taxes – at an estimated rate of 3% – as no more than a necessary first step. But where’s the kudos in that? Surely better to hail it as a great triumph and hope that no one looks too closely at the figures.

Related: George Osborne insists Google's UK tax deal is 'major success'

It’s not just politicians … The taxmen themselves can be rather chummy with those they’re meant to police

Related: EU could force Google to pay more UK tax

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For Cameron to speak of a ‘bunch of migrants’ is beneath him | Jonathan Freedland

This blithe dismissal of the Calais camp residents would have been a terrible phrase for the PM to use at any time. To say it on Holocaust Memorial Day was especially jarring

The phrase would have jarred whenever it had been uttered. To speak of those enduring the cold, the mud and the squalor of the camp at Calais as “a bunch of migrants” – as David Cameron did at Prime Minister’s Questions this afternoon – would always have sounded harsh and heartless. But today it struck an especially discordant note.

Related: PMQs: Cameron dismisses Calais camp residents as 'bunch of migrants' – Politics live

Related: Calais crisis: Cameron condemned for 'dehumanising' description of migrants

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Trump and Palin may be funny. But they are no joke | Jonathan Freedland

The Republican stars can certainly put on a show. Fury against the system is all the rage, and they know how to use it

Think of it as one of those superhero movies that combine two franchises in one, the reality TV equivalent of this year’s scheduled blockbuster, Batman v Superman. Two giants of the genre on stage at the same time: the star of the US version of The Apprentice, Donald J Trump and, at his side, the frontwoman of the Learning Channel’s breakout hit, Sarah Palin’s Alaska. From this celebrity tag team what a glorious half hour of television was born.

Related: Sarah Palin endorses Donald Trump: translating her reference-packed speech

This brand of populism has a long and ignoble history in US politics and it's poisonous

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Just the latest big US bigot

To the long list of communities and groups Donald Trump has insulted - Mexicans, Muslims, women, the disabled - we can now add Jews. Addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition last month, Trump quipped that "I'm a negotiator, like you folks." Later, in case anyone hadn't quite got his drift, he went on: "Some of us renegotiate deals… is there anybody that doesn't renegotiate deals in this room? Perhaps more than any room I've ever spoken to."

Several present felt their jaws drop. It seemed a presidential candidate had trotted out one of the most aged antisemitic stereotypes - of the Jew as the chiselling money-grabber, bound to go back on his word if it'll make him richer - and to a Jewish audience. In the same speech, he predicted Republican Jews wouldn't endorse him because "I don't want your money" - implying they'd only back a candidate who'd owe them. Well, at least he said it to their face.

It's tempting to write that episode off with the shrugging declaration that "That's Trump," breaking every rule in the political book and getting away with it. But there's more to it than that - and at least two reasons for taking it seriously.

First, it's easy to assume that a US politician attacking Jews represents a wild departure from the American norm. In the Jewish imagination, the US has all but acquired the status of an alternative Zion. It is the Goldene Medina, the place that embraced Jews when the rest of the world was spurning them. Today, as the European air seems to chill for Jews, America looks like a perennially safe harbour.

But that requires a very selective view of America's past. Consider two of Trump's forebears as larger-than-life US figures seriously talked of as contenders for the White House. Ahead of the 1924 election, the presidential buzz hovered around automobile tycoon Henry Ford. Central to his political identity was the series of articles that ran in the newspaper he owned, the Dearborn Independent, and later collected in four volumes: The International Jew. Week after week, Ford would expose what he called the "Jewish menace": "Jewish degradation of American Baseball" was a typical headline. None of that stopped him becoming nationally admired. Sixteen years later, it was aviation hero Charles Lindbergh who was tipped for the Oval Office. His platform was opposition to US involvement in the war against Hitler. Three groups, he warned, were trying to drag America into a second world war just as they'd pulled America into the first: the Roosevelt administration, the British and "the Jewish."

Nor is this just in the pre-war past. Among Richard Nixon's many flaws was a tendency to, often foul-mouthed, antisemitism. The notorious Nixon tapes reveal him saying, "The Jews are just a very aggressive and abrasive and obnoxious personality." When discussing appointments, he told an aide: "No Jews."

So, in his readiness to insult a Jewish audience, Trump is hardly a novelty even if he seems like one. But Jews are not the main religious minority on his mind. That place belongs to Muslims, whom Trump wishes to ban from entering the country. Which brings us to the second reason why it's worth paying attention. Imagine a US presidential candidate, ahead in the polls for his party's nomination, seeking to exclude all Jews. We would be quaking with anxiety. When we contemplate Trump's ongoing campaign against Muslims, we should remember the history, remember our place in it - and feel not only empathy, but outrage.

Charlie Hebdo’s refugee cartoon isn’t satirical. It’s inflammatory | Jonathan Freedland

The French magazine may have wanted to give prejudice a kicking – but ended up giving it a platform

I hesitate to criticise Charlie Hebdo. A year and a week ago it felt all wrong. Then, after 11 of the French magazine’s staff had been murdered, the only fitting response was sympathy for the families of those slain, and clear, unambiguous denunciation of the men who had sought to silence them with bullets.

But if the goal was to stay Charlie’s drawing hand, the killings failed. The magazine continues to publish its provocative covers and cartoons. This week it ran a drawing that included, first, a depiction of the photograph that went around the world last summer: the drowned body of the toddler and refugee Alan Kurdi, face down on the shore. “What would little Alan have grown up to be?” ran the caption. The answer came below, illustrated by an image of two men, their faces part-monkey, part-pig, arms outstretched, pantingly chasing two women: Alan would have become “an ass groper in Germany”.

Related: Charlie Hebdo cartoon depicting drowned child Alan Kurdi sparks racism debate

In 2008, the New Yorker depicted Barack Obama in Muslim garb and Michelle with an Afro, an AK-47 over her shoulder

Related: A year after the Charlie Hebdo attack, France is still in denial | Natalie Nougayrède

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War and Peace is a hit. But Britain can’t keep living in the past | Jonathan Freedland

British TV’s period dramas are hugely popular, but they tell the world that our best days are behind us

Who can resist War and Peace? When it was a 1,300-page Russian novel, the answer was: plenty of us. But now it’s on television, its second episode airing on BBC1 on Sunday, millions of Britons find it just too tempting.

Last week a quarter of the entire UK audience watched the new £2m per episode adaptation. The women are beautiful, the men are handsome, the costumes gorgeous, the locations lush: throw in Tolstoy’s enduring story and characters, stripped, says adapter Andrew Davies, of all the “boring bits”, and no wonder it’s irresistible.

Related: War and Peace review – this silly Russian saga is a bit too English

Glimpses inside the servants’ quarters [in Downton Abbey] too often came through a lens misted with condescension

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