Trumpolicy: Day 11

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump’s second full week comes after a chaotic weekend sparked by the executive order temporarily halting immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations. Protesters and lawyers jammed US airports to protest the order and help those who were detained. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday any US diplomats who don’t agree with the order can “either get with the program or they can go.”

ACTION PRESIDENT TRUMP TOOK TODAY…

ECONOMY — He signed an executive action designed to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses. Trump said: “There will be regulation, there will be control, but it will be normalized control where you can open your business and expand your business very easily.”

WHAT ELSE IS NEW ON DAY 11…

    IMMIGRATION
    OBAMACARE
    INFRASTRUCTURE — A Raleigh News and Observer piece this afternoon is the latest good example of local outlets picking up on the draft document obtained by McClatchy last week for potential infrastructure projects.
    ENVIRONMENT/ENERGYThe Washington Post highlights new Republican efforts to roll back Obama’s environmental regulations. The rules target methane emissions from oil and gas drilling and water pollution resulting from coal mining activities.
    TRADE

    LOOKING AHEAD…

    TUESDAY — OBAMACARE — Open enrollment ends. Protest are planned. There will be a committee vote on Rep. Tom Price for HHS Secretary.
    TUESDAY — SUPREME COURT — Trump makes his Supreme Court nomination announcement at 8:00pm ET.
    WEDNESDAY — IMMIGRATION – There’s a Homeland Security committee meeting on border fencing.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/30/politics/trump-executive-order-roundup/index.html

    Dems hold up voting on some of Trump’s Cabinet nominees

    Washington (CNN)A handful of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees’ confirmation votes were postponed Monday, including Treasury Department nominee Steven Mnuchin, Health and Human Services nominee Tom Price and Small Business Administration nominee Linda McMahon.

    The Senate Finance Committee will now vote on Mnuchin and Price for their Cabinet nominations at 10 a.m. ET Tuesday. Mnuchin’s vote was supposed to take place Monday night, but Democrats delayed the action.
    McMahon’s hearing was postponed until “further notice,” according to a Monday night press release.
      Senate Democrats, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have publicized their opposition to several of Trump’s Cabinet picks.
      The New York Democrat, citing the Trump’s controversial travel ban order, announced earlier Monday that he would oppose Mick Mulvaney for Office of Management and Budget, Scott Pruitt for the Environmental Protection Agency, Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, Jeff Sessions for attorney general, Betsy DeVos for the Department of Education and Andrew Puzder for the Department of Labor.
      Meanwhile, the Senate voted 56-43 on Monday to end a Democratic filibuster of Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, allowing a final confirmation vote for the former ExxonMobil CEO to take place this week.
      Despite widespread Democratic opposition, Trump’s picks are expected to be confirmed. But the hold up has triggered one awkward situation for the Trump administration: Obama appointee Sally Yates, the acting attorney general, has told Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments defending Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/30/politics/committee-voting-held-donald-trump-cabinet-confirmation/index.html

      Saudi Arabia signals end of tax-free living as oil revenues slump

      Cabinet approves an IMF-backed value-added tax to be imposed across the Gulf in bid to cut budget deficit

      Tax-free living will soon be a thing of the past for Saudis after its cabinet on Monday approved an IMF-backed value-added tax to be imposed across the Gulf following an oil slump.

      A 5% levy will apply to certain goods following an agreement with the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council in June last year.

      Residents of the energy-rich region had long enjoyed a tax-free and heavily subsidised existence but the collapse in crude prices since 2014 sparked cutbacks and a search for new revenue.

      Saudi Arabia is the worlds biggest oil exporter and the largest economy in the Arab region. It froze major building projects, cut cabinet ministers salaries and imposed a wage freeze on civil servants to cope with last years record budget deficit of $97bn. It also made unprecedented cuts to fuel and utilities subsidies.

      The kingdom is broadening its investment base and boosting other non-oil income as part of economic diversification efforts and aims to balance its budget by 2020.

      The cabinet decided to approve the unified agreement for value-added tax to be implemented throughout the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the official Saudi Press Agency said. A royal decree has been prepared, it said.

      The move is in line with an International Monetary Fund recommendation for Gulf states to impose revenue-raising measures including excise and value-added taxes to help their adjustment to lower crude prices which have slowed regional growth.

      The GCC countries have already agreed to implement selective taxes on tobacco, and soft and energy drinks this year.

      Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/31/saudi-arabia-tax-approved-oil-revenues-slump

      Trump’s ‘Monday Night Massacre’ Another Sign Of No Business As Usual

      WASHINGTON President Donald Trumps snap firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Monday night has observers recalling President Richard Nixons Saturday Night Massacre of 1973, when White House attacks on an independent investigation caused the resignation of the then-attorney general and his deputy.

      Decades later, the incident is remembered as a pivotal moment because it exposed how petty, vindictive and unethical Nixon was willing to be.

      Experts who closely watch the law say Trumps move against Yates is different but still important. Although not an immediate crisis, it is historic and a reminder that the Trump administration seems set for ever-greater conflicts with U.S. legal tradition, analysts told The Huffington Post.

      Nixons action was different and considerably more serious, said Robert Gordon, a Stanford law professor and past president of the American Society for Legal History.

      Nixon was clearly retaliating against a special prosecutor appointed by Congress, ordering Justice Department officials to fire him without consulting lawmakers. Trump was replacing an acting attorney general who would have soon been replaced with one of his appointees anyway.

      This just seems to me another example of the impetuous thoughtlessness of this administration, Gordon continued.

      The attorney general position requires sensitive treatment because of its importance to the rule of law, experts said.

      While the person in that role does serve at the pleasure of the president, his or her ultimate obligation is elsewhere.

      The attorney general has an independent obligation to the law as well as to her boss in the White House, Gordon said. Its not a clear hierarchy.

      The official is ideally meant to ensure that the executive branch does not violate the law. Yates believed there was a possible violation, according to her Monday statement.

      The attorney general job is difficult if the executive branch does not want to listen. The George W. Bush White House, for instance, sought the opinions of junior attorney John Yoo rather than those of the attorney general or more senior staff at the Justice Departments Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) a decision that is still condemned today.

      Sujit Choudhry, the former dean of the law school at the University of California, Berkeley, said the public dispute could have been avoided if Trumps team had sought opinions from Yates before issuing the executive order on immigration that she said she could not defend.

      These sorts of debates happen within the executive branch all the time, Choudhry said. I think it happened differently in the sense that the standard policy process in terms of issuing an executive order would be to consult and engage the agencies.

      Trumps White House did not seek legal guidance from the OLC before issuing the order, CNN reported. It also neglected to make a similar request to the Department of Homeland Security or seek advice from the Pentagon, according to The New York Times.

      White House officials later claimed they had OLC approval, and Trumps replacement for Yates made the same assertion Monday night.

      The relevant agencies were brought in at the end of the day, and there wasnt consultation with important members of the houses [of Congress], and thats the process by which our government works. Its how we make policy and it helps to ensure better policy, and its one way to think about what a system of checks and balances is, Choudhry said. Thats whats a departure from how we normally run things … thats truly unprecedented.

      He noted that this appears to be the first instance of an attorney generals being made to leave by a president without having shown any inclination to depart.

      Reuters
      Constitutional law professor Lawrence Tribe says Donald Trump is raising his risk of fights with the courts.

      Trump could have avoided the public drama of the firing and worries about presidential overreach by allowing the Justice Department to do its analysis and appointing a special defense counsel in the meanwhile, Harvard Law professor Lawrence Tribe said on MSNBC.

      By choosing this path, Tribe continued, the president was rapidly boosting the risk of fights with the courts.

      Those worried about Trumps actions should note that federal courts are already aggressively examining them and have faith in U.S. institutions, Choudhry said.

      Yates was already winning high-profile applause Monday night while criticism of Trump grew harsher and congressional battles over his attorney general pick and anticipated Supreme Court nomination seemed to become more likely.

      People are right to be worried, Choudhry said. Lets just take it one step at a time and not leap to conclusions about the system coming down.

      Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-attorney-general-firing-another-sign-of-no-business-as-usual_us_58900dc1e4b0c90efeffc488?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

      Monday night massacre is a wake-up call to Senate Democrats

      (CNN)The resistance to President Trump’s controversial ban on refugees is growing. What started at the grassroots level with spontaneous protests at airports and on city streets is now reaching into higher levels of government.

      Frustrated with a President who seems to be running roughshod over American policy, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama appointee, announced she would not defend the order. Yates said she would refuse to put the power of the Department of Justice behind this measure in the courts. Human rights, civil rights, and civil liberties supporters were bolstered by her defiance.
      Then Trump fired her by a hand-delivered letter, revealing the fragility of the opposition to this administration. Even with this blowup, it still does not seem that the Republican Senate, eager to secure this moment of unified government, will do anything to jeopardize Senator Jeff Sessions’ confirmation as Attorney General. And from everything we know, Sessions will be much more than merely willing to enforce this order and anything else that comes from the Trump White House involving immigration and refugees in the coming years.
        For the baby boom generation, the string of events brings back painful memories of the Saturday Night Massacre of 1973 when Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus refused to carry out President Richard Nixon’s orders to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox who was investigating the Watergate scandal that ultimately forced Nixon from office. “Nixon discharges Cox for Defiance; Abolishes Watergate Task Force; Richardson and Ruckelshaus Out,” read the headlines of The New York Times.
        The flareup at the Justice Department reveals the high stakes for Democrats in the confirmation hearings. Until now, the Democrats have been remarkably passive as the Trump administration threw red meat to conservatives in Congress with appointees who promise to move forward with what is shaping up to be a radical agenda on domestic and national security policy.
        Without a filibuster to protect them, Democrats have been resigned to asking a few tough questions but doing remarkably little to generate grassroots opposition that could scare a few Republicans away from voting yes. Some liberals have been stunned to watch Democrats give Sessions, of all the nominees, the kid glove treatment despite his controversial record on civil rights, immigration and national security.
        Senate Democrats need to use their time on the floor to make much tougher statements about what they believe to be wrong with Sessions, the kind of attacks that Senator Ted Kennedy unleashed against Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork in 1987.
        Behind the scenes they also need to make clear to fellow Republicans in the upper chamber that unless there are better lower level appointees and unless the Department of Justice backs away from certain kinds of measures, they will use their power as a minority on the Supreme Court nomination and on key legislation to stifle the administration.
        As Adam Jentleson, former Chief of Staff for Harry Reid wrote in the Washington Post, Senate Democrats have the power to withhold their consent on any order of business which would bring the chamber to a halt.

        Join us on Twitter and Facebook

        The Democrats just need to be willing to engage in hardball tactics. Even if they can’t stop the Sessions confirmation, they should put as much pressure on every Republican before they cast that vote, and they need to make clearer at the end of this process that they will exercise their political muscle as a minority when it comes to other business.
        The quick firing of Yates, as Trump brings his “Apprentice” skills to the White House with the most serious of matters, offers a powerful reminder to Democrats of why these appointments matter so much and the dangers that come from the passive approach we have seen thus far.
        If the White House continues to move forward with its policies in this hyper-aggressive fashion, which by all indications seems likely, Trump’s opponents will be depending on smart or defiant agency officials to push back against this aggressive rightward push — at least until Democrats can regain majorities in the House and Senate. There are not many other checks and balances left.
        Some observers were heartened when the Senate confirmed James Mattis to be Secretary of Defense, not because he was a dove but simply because he was one of the few people in Trump’s inner circle who seemed willing to stand up to him on anything of significance. The departure of several lifetime senior civil servants in the State Department was another clear example that voices who might slow down this White House seem to be vanishing.
        In his nominations, Trump has put forth people who likely will be mostly yes men and who will interact with a sympathetic and protective Republican Congress. Perhaps, Senate Democrats will see Monday night’s events at the Justice Department as a wake-up call to slow down the confirmation of Senator Sessions before there is no one left around to place some restraints on the Trump presidency.

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/30/opinions/monday-night-massacre-wake-up-call-to-senate-democrats-zelizer/index.html

        The man who could make Marine Le Pen president of France

        The Long Read: Florian Philippot is the strategist behind the rebranding of the extreme right Front National as a populist, anti-elite movement. But dont mistake him for a moderate

        On the night of the US election, Florian Philippot, the closest adviser to the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, was watching the results from his apartment on the Left Bank in Paris. Before dawn, when Donald Trumps victory was not yet official but the liberal establishment was beginning to panic, he tweeted: Their world is crumbling. Ours is being built.

        Around 8am, Philippot phoned Le Pen to discuss the good news. She was in a jubilant mood at the headquarters of her party the nationalist, anti-immigration Front National preparing to deliver a speech congratulating Trump. His victory, on promises of trade protectionism and the closing of borders, looked like a major boost to her presidential campaign. Meanwhile, a car arrived to take Philippot, the partys vice-president, to the village of Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, 250km from Paris, to lay a wreath at the tomb of Frances great postwar leader, General Charles de Gaulle.

        Trumps victory happened to coincide with the anniversary of the death of de Gaulle, who led the French resistance against Nazi Germany. Philippot idolises de Gaulle: his office, which adjoins Le Pens, is plastered with de Gaulle memorabilia one of many things that sets him apart as an oddity in a party that has long regarded de Gaulle as a traitor for allowing the former French colony of Algeria its independence.

        Philippots elite credentials should have been another strike against him within a party that proclaims its loathing of the establishment. A graduate of the exclusive Ecole Nationale dAdministration, which produces presidents and prime ministers, Philippot didnt start out in the Front National in the traditional way driving around the countryside sticking election posters to fences. Philippot is also gay, in a party whose co-founder Jean-Marie Le Pen once called homosexuality a biological and social anomaly. And yet, at 35, he has become the voice of the party, its media star, and the first to claim Trumps victory as a sign of a new world order.

        After the wreath-laying at de Gaulles tomb, Philippot hosted a dinner for 100 party workers and supporters in a nearby restaurant. At the end of the meal, with crumpled paper napkins strewn across the table, he told his guests that Trumps win proved that the people were throwing off their chains. France would be next, he said, promising that Marine Le Pen would win the French presidential election in May.

        Everything that yesterday was said to be impossible or improbable, has today become highly possible and highly probable, he said. The polls showed that even if Le Pen reached the final run-off, she could never win, but that didnt matter. Chants of Marine prsident! rang out around the room. Le Pen would make France great again, Philippot promised, and everyone stood up to sing the Marseillaise.

        If Le Pen is now the closest she has ever been to the French presidency, it is in large part down to her working partnership with Philippot, whose judgment she trusts so completely that she rarely takes a decision without consulting him. They have an intellectual bond; they are in complete agreement on basic principles, said Bertrand Dutheil de La Rochre, an adviser to Le Pen who is also close to Philippot.

        It is Philippot who is credited with executing Le Pens plan to sanitise the Front Nationals image, tone down its rhetoric and widen its electoral support banishing open expressions of anti-semitism, racism and xenophobia, even if those old obsessions still bubble away under the surface. Philippots single-minded mission to control the party line and root out dissenters has led his rivals inside the party to liken him to Robespierre, the ruthless French revolutionary leader.

        So zealous was Philippots drive to transform the partys image that he encouraged Le Pen to expel her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, from the party he co-founded in 1972. If the outspoken, racist, Holocaust-denying 83-year-old Papa Le Pen was a blight on the Front Nationals electoral prospects, Philippot styled himself as its salvation. But as the Front National attempts to take the presidency, the adulation, fear and controversy that Philippot provokes have opened new rifts inside the party.

        Florian
        Florian Philippot pays homage at the tomb of his idol, Charles de Gaulle in Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, in 2014. Photograph: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images

        Since the Front Nationals modest beginnings in the 1970s when Jean-Marie Le Pen was chosen as the face of a fledgling nationalist party whose support ranged from neo-fascist street-fighters to ex-members of the wartime collaborationist Vichy regime the organisation has been engaged in repeated efforts to repackage itself and broaden its appeal to voters. Philippot and Marine Le Pens bidto win power by turning economically to the left and courting a disgruntled lower middle class is just the latest of many rebranding exercises. But within the Le Pen family, cracks are showing. Le Pens niece, Marion Marchal-Le Pen, the partys 27-year-old MP in the hard-right southern heartlands of the Vaucluse, is a devout Catholic and a fervent social conservative who believes that the party must not soften its message.

        The challenge for Marine Le Pen is the delicate balance of broadening the Front Nationals appeal without losing its core ideals. The number one reason voters choose the Front National is still its anti-immigration, anti-Islamisation message keeping France for the French. At Le Pens rallies, one chant from supporters drowns out all others: On est chez nous! This is our country!


        Philippot met Marine Le Pen in May 2009 on Pariss far-right dinner-party circuit, where guests discussed national sovereignty and identity politics over home-cooked food and fine wine. At the time, the Front National was mired in one of its sporadic crises. It had haemorrhaged voters to the rightwing Nicolas Sarkozy in the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2007, was so in debt that it was forced to sell its party headquarters, and was forecast to get only 6% of the vote in the European elections the following month. Marine Le Pen hoped to take over the Front National and transform it from her fathers fringe protest vehicle into a group that could one day win power. But in a weakened party still defined by its image of racism and xenophobia, she needed technocrats and policy wonks to develop her ideas.

        Philippot was 28, studious and shy, the son of teachers from a quiet suburb of the northern city of Lille. A junior civil servant in the interior ministry, he belonged to the establishment detested by the far-right. He had never voted Front National, but he says that from childhood, he had nursed a passion for French national sovereignty. His parents had encouraged an early fascination with politics by taking him to watch electoral counts and to the childhood home of General de Gaulle. Philippot also had a visceral loathing of the European Union. Aged 11, he burst into tears when France voted for the Maastricht Treaty that paved the way for the creation of a single European currency. I was really young, but emotionally Id understood that our coins, francs, were going to disappear and I found that really sad. It was a little irrational and emotional, it wasnt very political, but I was interested in it. It was the first campaign I really followed, he told me.

        Leaving the eurozone and the European Union was an obsession. At the Ecole Nationale dAdministration, Philippot refused to do the customary internship at any of the European Union institutions, saying: I consider them to be illegitimate and anti-democratic, and instead spent four months at the French embassy in Copenhagen. Colleagues said he flinched whenever he saw a European flag flying on a public building in France.

        Earlier, as a student at Pariss top business school, HEC, he had backed the 2002 presidential campaign of Jean-Pierre Chevnement, the former Socialist minister who ran on an anti-EU ticket. Philippot has always denied he himself was ever leftwing. Ive never considered myself either of the left or of the right. I always considered that division dead with the end of the cold war, he told me. He caught sight of Marine Le Pen on a TV politics show in 2007, inveighing against the European Union in the pugnacious style she honed as a lawyer, warning the government to stop taking the people for fools. Philippot agreed with everything she said. He had to meet her.

        Philippot sought out Paul-Marie Coteaux, a conservative MEP who had championed the cause of French sovereignty and independence from Europe, and introduced himself at a book-signing. Before long, he was helping Coteaux with his website. Coteaux knew that Marine Le Pen was looking for young talent, and invited them both to dinner.

        Le Pen feared someone with Philippots civil service background would make for a very dull dinner companion. But over veal and olive casserole at Coteauxs antique-stuffed left bank apartment, she found him charming. Coteaux, who eventually fell out with both Le Pen and Philippot, described their meeting as pure alchemy.Philippot had pored over Le Pens autobiography, gripped by her accounts of how, when she was eight, her home was hit with 20kg of explosives intended to kill her father, and how teachers at school called the Le Pen girls daughters of a fascist. He told her: I admire what you do, Id like to be useful to you.

        Things immediately gelled between us, both on a human level and politically, Philippot told me. She is very direct, theres no pretence. Le Pen described their meeting as a kind of intellectual love at first sight. Soon they were finishing each others sentences.

        I think there was instantly a real ideological closeness between them, said Jean-Yves Le Gallou, a veteran far-right thinker and civil servant who had quit the Front National in the 1990s and later worked with Philippot at the interior ministry. Le Gallou was the only colleague Philippot told of his meeting with Le Pen and the only one who knew about his intense and secretive role as her advisor for two years while he was still a civil servant. Apart from the fact that it was against the law for him to keep his ministry job and work for a political party, he had to consider the FNs toxic reputation.

        Marine
        Marine Le Pen described their meeting as an intellectual love at first sight. Soon they were finishing each others sentences. Photograph: Chesnot/Getty Images


        In 2009, the twice-divorced Marine Le Pen was living outside Paris, with her three children and several bengal cats, in a converted stable block on her fathers estate. The Front National had always been run as a family affair Jean Marie Le Pens three daughters grew up steeped in the party, married men who were linked to the party, and worked for the party. Marine, the youngest, most resembled her father in looks and character. Her current romantic partner, Louis Aliot, is a senior party figure.

        Into this tight-knit clan, Florian Philippot arrived as a slightly awkward outsider ambitious and opinionated. He was a regular fixture at Marine Le Pens home, invited for evening or weekend brainstorming sessions over tea and cake, or drinks. He had a particular ability to write fast, in-depth briefing notes and analysis, preparing what Le Pen would say in TV appearances and debates. In person, Philippot has the manner of an intellectual attack-dog on guard, instinctively wary. Even when hes going through the motions of politeness, he rarely lets his guard down. The only time he looks relaxed is when hes sitting next to Le Pen.

        Marine Le Pen and Philippot set about drawing up a new party line for when she would eventually take over from her father. Jean-Marie Le Pen had caused a political earthquake in 2002, when he made it through to the second round of the French presidential election. She remembered watching in dread as hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in protest, and later voted for Jacques Chirac, in order to keep her father out of office. She could see his mistakes. She understood the need to distance herself from the antisemitism that had long been a feature of the Front National and knew how important it was to bring the party in from the margins. Her father hadnt wanted real power. She did.

        For Marine Le Pen, the model lay in northern France. Aged 30, she had been elected as a regional councillor in Henin Beaumont, a depressed, former coal-mining town. She recognised that Frances northern industrial belt, which had traditionally voted left, could turn to the Front National if the party stood not just against immigration, which remained its chief selling point, but for the victims of deindustrialisation and the financial crisis. Growing up in the north, albeit in a nice house near a golf course, Philippot also knew of the vast number of potential votes to be won among the working and lower middle-class people with a job, maybe a house, people who were afraid of losing what they had worked hard to achieve and of slipping down the social scale.

        Le Pen and Philippot drew up a programme focused on protectionism, a strong state, price control, retirement at 60 and increases to salaries and pensions. It was a manifesto that the Socialist president Franois Hollande would later liken to a Communist tract of the 1970s.

        They made no concessions on immigration, but Le Pen changed the emphasis, focusing instead on what the party termed the Islamisation of French society. They kept the Front Nationals central doctrine of giving preference to French citizens in jobs, housing and welfare. But Le Pen and Philippot rejected the label extreme right and sought to repackage the party as neither right nor left.

        In a party that under Jean-Marie Le Pen had been all about gut intuition, Philippot introduced a new reliance on data and statistics. He was well versed in voting trends: his older brother Damien worked for Ifop, one of Frances biggest pollsters. (When Damien finally left his polling job last year, it emerged that he had been present behind the scenes of the Front National for years.)

        Philippots ministry colleague Jean-Yves Le Gallou recalls, that in 2010, at the start of Philippots working relationship with Le Pen, she compared Muslims praying in the streets to the Nazi occupation. For this, Le Pen was tried for and cleared of inciting religious hatred. I was very struck when he said to me at the time: My brother and I have told Marine: Dont start that again, or well quit, Le Gallou recalled. He did seem to exercise a certain control over Marines language from that period.

        In January 2011, when Le Pen finally took over the leadership from her father, Philippots role was not yet public. That spring, at a press breakfast on a barge on the Seine, Le Pen finally pushed him into the limelight although under a false name introducing him to journalists as the bright young spark who had helped write the partys economic programme.

        Jean-Marie
        Jean-Marie Le Pens home in western Paris. His daughter, Marine, lived for a while in a converted stable block in the grounds. Photograph: Matthieu Alexandre/AFP/Getty Images

        For someone who now has such a high public profile, it was a lacklustre first showing. He arrived sweating, he was really stressed, recalled Abel Mestre, then the Front National correspondent for Le Monde. He had a computer and slides and gave out CD-Rs. It was very academic, nebulous, no one understood. The economic journalists asked questions. He didnt reply, she replied for him. It was a fiasco At that stage everyone was wondering who her campaign director for her 2012 presidential bid would be. Journalists were saying, Imagine if its that bloke from the breakfast, wouldnt it be hilarious? And later she announced it was. We were stunned by the choice.

        When Philippot became director of Le Pens 2012 presidential campaign, he had only been a card-carrying member of the party for a couple of months. But after her strong showing in the first round, in which she won more than 6m votes and came third, Marine Le Pen was in no doubt about who had made the difference. She made Philippot the most powerful among her several party vice-presidents, in charge of strategy and communications. He was 31.


        Philippots transformation was staggering. He went from a behind-the scenes intellectual to a highly public figure, dressed in a sharp navy suit and thin black tie. Since 2012, he has regularly appeared on politics shows and rolling news programmes, delivering his tightly controlled party message. From the start, he rarely passed up a chance to be on TV or radio, where he is fluent, defiant, never tripping up, withering and ferocious in his put-downs. Soon he was receiving 15 to 20 requests a day. I had complained that our party wasnt getting invited on television enough, so I could hardly then turn them down, he told me. He is always in motion, constantly checking his phone.

        He was also a constant presence at Le Pens side, exchanging knowing looks and jokes with her, leaning in to whisper in her ear. He was likened to an old-fashioned courtier, but those who feared his ambition nicknamed him Philippot the First. If a journalist didnt write what he wanted, he would blacklist them and stop taking their calls, said Abel Mestre from Le Monde.

        In the 2014 European elections, the Front National topped the poll with 24% of the vote. Since then, it has claimed to be the biggest party in France. It had expanded its voter base with working-class voters, public-sector workers and young people all gains attributed to Philippot.

        His successes within the party and the media, however, did not translate to the campaign trail.In 2012 Philippot failed to be elected as an MP in the north-eastern former mining town of Forbach, on the German border. He later lost a mayoral election in the same town, but did eventually take a seat in the European parliament in 2014, and a seat on the regional council for Grand Est the following year.

        In politics, to succeed you have to make yourself feared, and you have to make yourself loved, Jean-Yves Le Gallou said. I think he makes himself feared in the party, but Im not sure he knows how to make himself loved.

        He works with his door shut in a setting where everyone works with their door open, said one senior party official. Hes not someone who shows emotion, or affection. Hes quite austere, cold, and distant, he only wants to speak to Marine. But when you get beyond that, when he is prepared to go beyond that, he can be good company.

        Just before Christmas 2014, Philippot was outed by the celebrity magazine Closer, photographed on a city break to Vienna appearing to hold hands with a television journalist in his 30s. Philippot sued the magazine and won one of the biggest invasion-of-privacy payouts in recent years. The timing was awkward. In 2013, hundreds of thousands of people had staged street protests against the Socialist governments legalisation of same-sex marriage. Marine Le Pen, on Philippots advice, had not gone out to demonstrate. Instead she let her more religious and conservative niece Marion Marchal-Le Pen make it her own personal cause.

        Marine Le Pen has placed several gay men in senior roles. The gay vote for the Front National has leapt in recent years, since the party began to argue that immigration from Muslim countries was causing a rise in homophobia. But hardliners complain of a damaging gay lobby at the heart of the party.Philippot denied it was difficult to be gay in the Front National. He said the party was not homophobic. Not at all, and I mean that, he said. Were a party that doesnt care about peoples preferences, their sexual practices or whatever Youre a French citizen foremost. And the Front National is a very young party: the members, the voters, the candidates are young. This is a modern party.

        But the day after we met, Philippot went to a medieval pageant in his north eastern constituency and dressed up as a knight. True to his old form, Jean-Marie Le Pen tweeted a picture of Philippot in the costume with a homophobic slur on his so-called gay outfit.

        Philippot did not respond at the time. But two weeks later, standing alone on the edge of a provincial party event, he told me with cold poise: An insult dishonours the person who made it, particularly if its a homophobic joke worthy of a 12-year-old. He should be asking himself some questions. Jean-Marie Le Pen didnt stop. In December, he told Le Figaro: Gays are like salt in soup, if theres none at all, its a bit bland. If theres too much, its undrinkable.

        Philippot and Marine Le Pen called their drive to make the party more palatable to voters de-demonisation implying that it was the political and media elite who demonised the party, not the party itself that was at fault. This rebranding exercise was seriously compromised last year when Jean-Marie Le Pen, who still held an honorary role in the party, repeated his view that gas chambers used to kill Jews in the Holocaust were merely a detail in the history of the second world war. A bitter family feud ensued, and encouraged by Philippot, Marine Le Pen expelled her father from the Front National.

        It was a painful decision, and now father and daughter no longer speak. But Philippot stands by it. Things could have happened differently, he said, if Jean-Marie Le Pen had truly accepted the handover of power to his daughter.

        I didnt come into this party saying Im going to go to war against Jean-Marie Le Pen I never had any animosity towards him, Philippot told me. But he was increasingly out to provoke, and his behaviour became untenable. Le Pen for his part said in a radio interview that he wished his daughter no longer bore his name, adding bitterly that she should marry her live-in lover or maybe she should marry Philippot.

        Marine
        Marine Le Pen, Jean-Marie Le Pen and Florian Philippot at the Front National summer youth congress, in 2014. Photograph: APERCU/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock


        On a sunny Saturday last May, on the veranda of a roadside restaurant near the Swiss border, Philippot was holding his latest electoral weapon, Gordon the Whippet, on a red leather lead. Philippot was guest of honour at a weekend patriotic luncheon in Doubs, a semi-rural constituency in eastern France that was once a thriving centre of the French car industry. Amid fears of further job losses, the Front Nationals share of the vote has steadily grown here in every recent election. Gordon the Whippet was playing an important part in Philippots latest drive to broaden party support, by appealing to Frances vast number of pet-owners and animal welfare campaigners, including his next target demographic women and the elderly. Marine Le Pen had also been posting pictures of herself at home with her cats, cuddling kittens or hugging horses. (Philippot had become a regular visitor to Brigitte Bardot, the 1960s film star turned animal rights campaigner, and Front National supporter. After their first meeting at her Cote dAzur villa, Bardot had posed for pictures embracing him.)

        Inside the restaurant, the atmosphere was festive. Party workers poured wine and served guinea fowl to local supporters, including ex-soldiers, retired teachers, landlords, young mothers and small business owners. Michel, 60, an engineer from a village outside Besanon, on the Swiss border, complained that he had recently seen a woman in a Lidl car-park wearing a niqab, despite a law banning women from wearing full-face coverings in public. My wife and I are getting older and we wont be able to defend ourselves. Not only will they invade us, they will want to impose sharia law, he said.

        Philippots personal police guard stood watch near the door. Since the terrorist attacks on Paris in November 2015, in which 130 people died, he has been given round-the-clock protection. With the exception of Marine Le Pen, he is the only person in the Front National to be accorded this privilege.

        After chocolate parfait, Philippot, in an open-necked white shirt, stood and spoke into a cordless microphone. While Marine Le Pen gives thunderous speeches at vast rallies, he is more of a motivational after-dinner speaker, galvanising the leafletters and canvassers. Our country is in very grave danger, Philippot said. He described an apocalyptic vision of France (our elderly people going through bins outside supermarkets), with patriots riding to the rescue. Whenever his country had gone through a period of doubt or nearly disappeared, he said, France was always able to drive out the imposters in power and replace them with people who really loved our country. The audience cheered.

        Gordon the Whippet stood to attention at the most impassioned points, quivering with emotion. The dog was on loan from Philippots close friend and party ally, Sophie Montel, a veteran Front National MEP who lived in a nearby village. Florian has imposed structure on a party that was always chaotic, disorganised, doing things at the last minute, Montel told me.

        Hovering around Philippot at the lunch were some of the sharp-suited, well-educated, on-message young staffers that he has recruited and placed across the party structure. An article about them in LObs magazine in May 2016 titled Help! Philippot has cloned himself – had particularly pleased him, although the notion that he is creating his own devoted identikit army inside the party has irked his critics. Rather than throwing dinner parties, Philippot sometimes relaxes at theme-parks like Parc Astrix, or rallies his young troops with outings to laser tag. He gives us a lot of work hes really demanding, but if you prove yourself, he trusts you very quickly, said Thomas Laval, 23. One of Philippots proteges, Laval is a student and regional councillor in the north-east and co-president of a Front National party section that recently opened, amid much controversy, at the elite Sciences Po institute in Paris. In November, a student union sit-in blocked Philippot from appearing at a debate there. Despite the language of technocrats like Florian Philippot, the Front National is still the Front National, a party thats racist, anti-semitic and extreme-right, Sacha Ghozlan, of the Union of Jewish students of France, told Le Monde at the protest.

        In a party run along clan lines, Philippot quickly saw the importance of building his own trusted inner circle, bringing in his pollster brother, then his father a former primary school headteacher, who is now a regional councillor in the north.

        Although the Philippot line dominates the party and his strategy is the foundation of Marine Le Pens presidential bid, ideological differences between Philippot and Le Pens ambitious niece Marion Marchal-Le Pen still fester. She is anti-abortion and against same-sex marriage. Philippot believes those issues could scare off new voters and should be left alone.

        He dismisses the friction between them as little differences in leaning, but there is still low-level sniping. Last year, Philippot dismissed Marchal-Le Pens concerns about same-sex marriage as less important to party members than cultivating bonsai trees. Later, in a video filmed at his flat, he talked to the camera with a bonsai tree placed in full view on a table beside him.

        Ideological
        Ideological differences between Philippot and Le Pens ambitious niece Marion Marchal-Le Pen (pictured) still fester and could complicate the presidential campaign. Photograph: Jean-Francois Monier/AFP/Getty Images


        In the eastern city of Metz, near the German border, at the end of May, rain poured into the cloistered courtyard of a 17th-century abbey. Local politicians were gathered in a council chamber in the basement, thrashing out the 2.5bn budget for the Grand Est region. Stretching from the vineyards of Champagne down through Alsace-Lorraine, the area, comprising 5.5 million people, is bigger than some European countries.

        The French regional elections in 2015 were a turning point for the Front National. The party topped the first round with 28% of the vote. Mainstream parties warned the antisemitic and racist party would bring France to its knees. The left withdrew in key areas, joining with the right to stop the Front National winning control of any region.

        Since his election as a regional councillor, Philippot now leads the biggest opposition party on the Grand Est council. But as the regional assembly run by the centre-right Rpublicains party discussed the crucial budget for high schools, transport and local investment, his seat in the chamber was empty. He was 300km away in a Paris TV studio, on one of Frances most popular morning politics shows.

        The session began without him. It was a gift for his regional opponents, who call him a carpetbagging Paris opportunist with no real local ties.

        While were waiting for our extreme-right colleague, let me just say Im so happy that this region isnt run by the extreme right, smiled the Socialist party deputy Pernelle Richardot. The Front National councillors, furious to be called extreme-right, erupted in rage and began angrily banging on their desks and shouting in protest.

        Four hours later, fresh off the high-speed train from Paris, Philippot took his seat, as if nothing had been amiss. Within minutes, a councillor for the Rpublicains called the Front National extreme right once again. Philippot narrowed his eyes and leaned into his microphone: I demand that the session be suspended so the elected member can take time to reflect on the seriousness of what he has just said. Philippot stood up and stormed out, with his 45 councillors following in single file. Ooh, hes angry, shouted a grinning councillor from the Socialist benches, rubbing his hands gleefully.

        After nightfall, when the assembly session seemed like it would never end, a Front National councillor made a provocative suggestion that the names of all people listed on the intelligence services confidential S-files of individuals believed to have been radicalised should be flagged to high schools who could check if any were on their staff.

        In a certain period of our history, we put yellow stars on people. Youre not far from that with your S files! shouted a member of the Rpublicains. Metz, on the frontline of first and second world wars, is extremely sensitive to any reference to the Nazi occupation. Hearing his party likened to the Nazis, Philippot got up, and stormed out of the chamber, once again followed dutifully by his councillors.

        I do it systematically, he explained in the corridor. Each time they call us extreme right, I walk out. Its insulting to us, and even more so to our voters.

        Yet these repeated protests did seem time-consuming. And failing to turn up in the morning had made him an easy target for his critics. Its the first time I havent been here, he said and shrugged. They need me, theyre lost without me.

        The night Britain voted on whether to leave the European Union, before the polls had even closed, Philippot hosted a Front National Brexit celebration dinner at a Parisian bistro. Marine Le Pen was there, smiling and laughing, eating fish and chips and waving French and British flags.

        Philippot later said that there were two key moments in his life when he cried when his mother died in 2009 and his tears of joy when Britain voted to leave the EU.

        To see something happening in a major European country, which is exactly what were proposing for France, were thrilled, he told me the morning after the vote. Brexit was a vindication of his own strategy. To radical right parties across Europe, globalisation was failing and the nation state was back.

        This month, Philippot addressed a meeting of party workers in lOise, in the northern Picardy heartlands where the Front Nationals popularity is rising. A majority of French people think like us, he said. But more than half of French people still view the party as a danger to democracy and only one-third believe that it is capable of governing. Le Pens campaign, which begins in earnest in February, will depend heavily on Philippots claim that he can neutralise hostility and win over reticent parts of the electorate.

        But for some, softening the Front Nationals message will not help the party to win. He has set out to pasteurise the discourse, but it wasnt a pasteurised discourse that led to a the Brexit and Trump victories, said the far-right thinker Jean-Yves Le Gallou. It was the complete opposite.

        Follow the Long Read on Twitter at @gdnlongread, or sign up to the long read weekly email here.

        Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/31/florian-philippot-could-make-marine-le-pen-president-france

        Hoops, wheels and moose heads: playtime in the world’s most inhospitable places

        How do children play in refugee camps, aboriginal reserves and places ravaged by war? Photographer Mark Neville found out

        You seldom see a smile in Mark Nevilles photographs of children. Even in glorious circumstances, among the mud and smoke of a well-run adventure playground, children appear stern and serious: deeply focused on whatever business is afoot. In what Neville calls oppressed space at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya or in bomb-damaged east Ukraine they gaze into his camera quizzically, as if briefly awoken from a more absorbing inner world.

        Childs Play, an exhibition opening this week at Londons Foundling Museum, brings together images from 15 years of Nevilles photography. From Afghanistan to Pittsburgh, London, Corby, Port Glasgow and the Isle of Bute, he noticed that his big, socially engaged series all featured strong images of children. These are now part of a wider campaign to raise awareness about the importance of play in childrens development.

        A
        A boy in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya, 2016. Photograph: Mark Neville

        Neville has previously tackled post-traumatic stress disorder, toxic waste and war, so this new topic play might seem a lighthearted departure. But he believes it is an essential survival strategy. Unstructured activity determined by the child, as opposed to educational games or sport, is about social interaction, testing boundaries and confidence. The only way we gain confidence is to test our fears. Some are social, some physical, some psychological. All get tested in the playground: its a microcosm of the real world.

        New material for the show has been taken in Kenya and Ukraine, as well as in the London borough of Islington, which granted Neville access to the Toffee Park and Lumpy Hill adventure playgrounds. Neville is concerned by the lack of a national play strategy in the UK, which could lobby on behalf of such sites. If were looking at making cuts we look at Toffee Park and think, Well, surely kids can play at school, so we dont need that. It just gets crossed off. If we dont provide play, theres going to be a generation of unwell adults.

        Christmas
        Christmas Day in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, 2010. Photograph: Mark Neville

        Across the thousands of miles of territory covered in the show, common threads emerge: kids trundling hoops and wheels in Kenya and Afghanistan; girls playing mother and child; the universal appeal of water, mud, rope and string. We see children performing for the camera: there is the occasional manic grin, a hardman snarl from a pre-schooler in Pittsburgh and unexpected vamping from a girl in southern Afghanistan. We drove for a couple of hours in a tank to get to Lashkar Gah, Neville recalls. There was an outdoor class going on. I was at the back and suddenly this girl stands up and starts posing to camera like a silent movie star.

        Neville has seen first-hand how, in hostile environments, play becomes an outlet, a release, a kind of therapy. It allows children to make sense of the horrors going on in the adult world and deal with them. Whether theyre the horrors of life in Islington which there are or on an aboriginal reserve in Shamattawa, Manitoba.

        That reserve in Canada has become totemic for Neville a place of extreme neglect. A community of about 1,600 people living in shacks, serviced by one grocery store (which burned down last September) and accessible only by plane, Shamattawa is home to a generation of aboriginal tribes Cree, Sioux who have been completely disinherited from everything to do with their identity and their religion. The adults live without hope, so they become hopeless parents too..

        The
        The mooses head in Shamattawa, Manitoba, 2016. Photograph: Mark Neville

        One image of Shamattawa shows half-dressed children in a dilapidated kitchen with a severed moose head on the floor in a puddle of congealed blood. What might be an axe handle, or the butt of a gun, lies beside it. Shamattawa has shocking numbers of child suicide. Kids see that if you kill yourself, theres a funeral and a public outpouring of attention and grief, says Neville. I was walking around and came to a little clearing in a wood. There was this graveyard of little crosses with teddy bears stuck on them, hundreds of them. I wept and wept.

        In March, alongside Childs Play, the Foundling Museum will host a symposium on issues of public space and childrens rights. Neville and campaigner Adrian Voce have also put together a book outlining the mental and physical health issues associated with a lack of free play, and covering the threats currently facing spaces and facilities in the UK. It will not be commercially available, but will instead be sent out to bodies and individuals with a stake in the issue, or influence in the field.

        This reflects Nevilles belief that simply taking photographs and exhibiting them is no longer enough: the images have to be disseminated in a way that might actually make a difference. Because its a fucking disaster, isnt it, the world at the moment? he says. None of us can afford to sit back and let it happen.

        Childs Play is at the Foundling Museum, London, from 3 February until 30 April.

        Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/jan/31/childs-play-photography-mark-neville-interview

        Wife Keeps Her Plain Hairstyle For 20 Years, Then Husband Buys Her A Makeover

        When you think about it, stylists are much more talented than some of us give them credit for. Without them, many of us wouldn’t see or realize our full potential.

        Their knowledge ofhair, makeup, and wardrobe isn’teasily attainable. Because then we’d all be walking around looking perfect all the time, wouldn’t we? Stylists have the power and knowledge to make men and women feel beautiful on the outside. They don’t call it “beauty school” for nothing!

        And Christopher Hopkins, “theMakeup Guy,”is one of the best in the business.

        Nikki’s husband got her a makeover with Christopher as a gift. Not becausehe wanted her to change, but because he wanted her to have fun and feel good!

        When she comes into the salon in the video below, she explains that she doesn’t like her hair short, and she doesn’t want to lose much length. Many people might think this won’t be a big great change, right?

        But Christopher findsa way to completely transform her even without chopping the length!

        With layering, styling, and amazing new color, Nikki looks absolutely stunning! And I’d say these simple changes took some years off her too! Wouldn’tyou?

        Due to restrictions, this video cannot
        be viewed in your region.

        Read more: https://www.littlethings.com/wife-gets-hair-makeover/

        The three friends making it easier for students to rent a room – BBC News

        Image copyright Uniplaces
        Image caption From left to right: Miguel Amaro, Ben Grech and Mariano Kostelec – the founders of Uniplaces

        While many people look back on their university days with fondness, the one thing they probably don’t miss is the student accommodation.

        If it wasn’t grotty, it was too expensive, or often both.

        Recalling their college days, friends Miguel Amaro, Ben Grech and Mariano Kostelec all say that their biggest problem was finding somewhere to live in the first place.

        “Our experience was horrible,” says 28-year-old Englishman Ben.

        “As an international student from Argentina, Mariano had to pay 12 months’ rent up-front to get his place in London.

        “Meanwhile, Miguel [who is from Portugal] booked some random super-expensive residence in Nottingham because he didn’t know any better, and I was looking around the streets of Nottingham knocking on doors trying to find a place.”

        Image caption Student accommodation can be a bit bleak

        While it was irksome at the time, a year after graduating from their respective universities – Miguel and Ben from Nottingham University, and Mariano from King’s College in London – the three men realised that there was a business opportunity.

        They came up with a plan to create an online marketplace matching students with accommodation.

        Ben says: “It was clear that people were doing more online and that marketplaces such as Airbnb were a great solution for travel, but finding accommodation was such a problem for students around the world.”

        So in 2011 the three started work on their business and website Uniplaces.

        The trio invested around 50,000 – a sum whipped up from their savings, student loans and help from parents.

        Image copyright BBC Sport
        Image caption Kitchen facilities at a flat in London listed on Uniplaces

        To save on costs, the men stayed at Miguel’s parents’ holiday home in Ponte de Lima in northern Portugal, before participating in start-up competitions to win free office space, first in Porto, the country’s second city, and then in the capital Lisbon.

        Later that year they won first round funding of 200,000 euros ($215,000; 172,534) led by the founder of UK property website Zoopla.

        From there it was down to business, getting a permanent office in Lisbon, and wooing landlords to join the site and checking properties.

        The Uniplaces website was then officially launched in 2013, with an initial 50 properties in the Portuguese capital listed on the site.

        Mariano, 28, says: “We picked Lisbon as our first city as it totally made sense to stay [and open headquarters here].

        “It is a low cost, good location with access to great talent such as good engineers, and people with excellent language skills, which is great when dealing with so many international students.

        “For the first hundred plus properties we actually went round them ourselves with our cameras taking pictures, cleaning the places up and asking people to get out of the room.”

        Commission based

        Students using Uniform pay one month’s rent upfront via the website, and the sum goes through to the landlord 24 hours after they move in. Thereafter they pay directly to the landlord.

        Uniplaces takes a service fee of 20-25% of the student’s first month’s rent, and then a commission of 5-12% of the total value of the contract from the landlord.

        Image copyright Uniplaces
        Image caption The website-based business had to pull back from a quick global expansion

        More than half of all properties featured on the site are still verified by Uniplaces staff who visit the property to take pictures and videos, draw up a floor plan and inventory list.

        Since its launch, three million nights have been booked through the platform, which currently lists over 40,000 properties.

        Revenues grew four-fold in 2016 compared to the previous year, but with the money being reinvested into the business Uniplaces is yet to turn a profit.

        The company, which now has 132 employees, has also continued to attract the attention of investors. Last year it received $24m (19) in its fifth round of funding.

        The capital has been used to fund expansion, build brand awareness, fine-tune the product, and appoint extra staff.

        Image copyright Getty Images
        Image caption Finding student accommodation was historically not an enjoyable activity

        But it hasn’t been all plain-sailing for the three entrepreneurs. Initially they were too ambitious and tried to expand too quickly.

        Miguel, 27, says: “We wanted to be a global start-up so we quickly launched in 70 cities. But then you start compromising.”

        With properties spread across so many cities, they were no longer able to verify enough of the properties.

        Miguel adds: “Investors want results, but then you realise you need to focus and deliver a good experience for the customer and make sure landlords’ properties are getting filled up.

        “That helps grow a more successful company. It’s a balance of ambition. We want to get out to the world but we have to stage it. So in 2016 we went down to six cities and focused on them.”

        Today the business has expanded back up to 15 cities – London, Manchester, Nottingham, Lisbon, Coimbra, Porto, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Rome, Bologna, Milan, Paris, Berlin and Munich.

        ‘Fairly innovative’

        Jack Wallington, community director at student community website, The Student Room, notes that in recent years student accommodation has changed dramatically.

        “Dedicated companies have popped up offering purpose-built student flats across the UK and other accommodation services.

        “Alongside the standard mix of landlords it can be hard for students to know who to turn to and trust. Uniplaces is fairly innovative because its interest lies more with the student, supporting first-time renters to find good deals.”

        Image copyright Uniplaces
        Image caption The company has its headquarters in Lisbon, but also has an office in London

        While Uniplaces retains global ambitions, Mariano says that for the time being it will focus on Europe.

        The ambitious trio also have visions of creating a more wide-ranging university brand.

        From next year students will receive a welcome pack including useful materials such as a sim card, and a travel card when they arrive at their new digs.

        There’ll also be the launch of an app where Uniplaces brand ambassadors will be on hand to answer any questions students might have about their new city.

        Further in the pipeline are plans to enable students who might have booked to rent a room in the same property to build a relationship through social media before they move in.

        Ben says that the aim of such initiatives is to make renting student accommodation through Uniplaces as “welcoming” as possible.

        Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38735566

        The Inevitability Of Impeachment

        Trump has been trying to govern by impulse, on whim, for personal retribution, for profit, by decree as if he had been elected dictator. It doesnt work, and the wheels are coming off the bus. After a week!

        Impeachment is gaining ground because it is the only way to get him out, and because Republicans are already deserting this president in droves, and because the man is psychiatrically incapable of checking whether something is legal before he does it.

        Impeachment is gaining ground because its so horribly clear that Trump is unfit for office. The grownups around Trump, even the most slavishly loyal ones, spend half their time trying to rein him in, but it cant be done.

        They spend the other half fielding frantic calls from Republican chieftains, business elites and foreign leaders. Trump did what? Poor Reince Priebus has finally attained the pinnacle of power, and it cant be fun.

        It is one thing to live in your own reality when you are a candidate and its just words. You can fool enough of the people enough of the time maybe even to get elected. But when you try to govern that way, there is a reality to realityand reality pushes back.

        One by one, Trump has decreed impulsive orders, un-vetted by legal, policy, or political staff, much less by serious planning. Almost immediately he is forced to walk them back by a combination of political and legal pressureand by reality.

        Unlike in the various dictatorships Trump admires, the complex skein of constitutional legal and political checks on tyranny in the United States are holdingjust barely at times, but they are holding. And the more reckless Trumps behavior, the stronger become the checks.

        Only with his lunatic effort to selectively ban refugees (but not from terrorist-sending countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt where Trump has business interests) has Trump discovered that the American system has courts. It has courts. Imagine that.

        The more unhinged he becomes, the less will conservative judges be the toadies to ordinary Republican policies that they too often have been. Anybody want to wager that the Supreme Court will be Trumps whore?

        In the past week, Republicans from Mitch McConnell on down have tripped over each other rejecting his view of Putin. They have ridiculed his screwball claim of massive voter fraud.

        They are running for cover on how to kill ObamaCare without killing patients or Republican re-election hopes. This is actually complicated, and nuance is not Trumps strong suit. Rep Tom McClintock of California spoke for many when he warned:

        Wed better be sure that were prepared to live with the market weve created with repeal, said Rep. Tom McClintock. (R-Calif.)

        Thats going to be called Trumpcare. Republicans will own that lock, stock and barrel, and well be judged in the election less than two years away.

        Sen. Lindsey Graham, mocking Trumps own nutty tweeting habits, sent out a tweet calling a trade war with Mexico mucho sad.

        Trumps own senior staff has had to pull him back from his ludicrous crusade against Mexico and Mexicans, where Trump forces the Mexican president to cancel an official visit one day, and spends an hour on the phone kissing up the next day.

        Trump proposed to reinstate torture, but key Republican leaders killed that idea. Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the Senates third ranking Republican said Wednesday that the ban on torture was settled law and the Republicans in Congress would oppose any reinstatement. Trumps own defense secretary holds the same view. After blustering out his new torture policy, Trump meekly agreed to defer to his defense advisers.

        All this in just a week! Now capped by federal judges starting to rein him in.

        Two weeks ago, in this space, just based on what we witnessed during the transition, I wrote a piece calling for a citizens impeachment panel, as a shadow House Judiciary Committee, to assemble a dossier for a Trump impeachment, and a citizens campaign to create a public impeachment movement.

        In the two weeks since then, Free Speech for People has launched a citizens campaign to impeach Trump. About 400,000 people have already signed the impeachment petition.

        The bipartisan group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, (CREW) has been conducting a detailed investigation.Senior legal scholars associated with CREW have filed a detailed legal brief in their lawsuit, documenting the several ways Trump is in violation of the Emoluments Clause, which prohibits a president from profiting from the actions of foreign governments.

        There are already plenty of other grounds for impeachment, including Trumps putting his own business interests ahead of the countrys and his weird and opportunistic alliance with Vladimir Putin bordering on treason. A lesser-known law that goes beyond the Emoluments Clause is the STOCK Act of 2012, which explicitly prohibits the president and other officials from profiting from non-public knowledge.

        Impeachment, of course, is a political as well as a legal process. The Founders designed it that way deliberately. But after just a week in office, not only has Trump been deserting the Constitution; his partisan allies are deserting him.

        Despite his creepy weirdness, Republicans at first thought they could use Trump for Republican ends. But from his embrace of Putin to his sponsorship of a general trade war, this is no Republican. One can only imagine the alarm and horror being expressed by Republicans privately.

        In 1984, the psychiatrist Otto Kernberg described a sickness known as Malignant Narcissism. Unlike ordinary narcissism, malignant narcissism was a severe pathology.

        It was characterized by an absence of conscience, a pathological grandiosity and quest for power, and a sadistic joy in cruelty.

        Given the sheer danger to the Republic as well as to the Republicans, Trumps impeachment will happen. The only question is how grave a catastrophe America faces first.

        Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect and professor at Brandeis Universitys Heller School. His latest book is Debtors Prison: The Politics of Austerity Versus Possibility. http://www.amazon.com/Debtors-Prison-Politics-Austerity-Possibility/dp/0307959805

        Like Robert Kuttner on Facebook: http://facebook.com/RobertKuttner

        Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-inevitability-of-impeachment_us_588e8d52e4b0b065cbbcd09f?a62jpt0tpcmasv2t9&ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009