#2020Vision: Shutdown politics; Harris vs. Booker in a clash of styles; Biden gets good polling news

Washington (CNN)Our weekly roundup of the news, notes and chatter about the prospects for the next Democratic presidential race, from Eric Bradner, Greg Krieg and Caroline Kenny:

A government shutdown is looming — and the Democratic senators seen as 2020 contenders all seem comfortable with it.
California Sen. Kamala Harris, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and others all said they’ll oppose a funding measure that does not settle the fate of those who could face deportation after President Donald Trump rescinded the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
    “Republicans control the House, Senate and White House,” Sanders said. “They have to pass an annual budget, not more one-month continuing resolutions.”
    “Why are we kicking the can down the road?” Booker said.
    Worth remembering: Harris has the most on the line. She was the first Senate Democrat to publicly declare she’d oppose any government funding bill unless Congress took action on the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — a position now held by the vast majority of Democrats. It’s made her a hero among immigration activists, and it’s smart politics with both California voters and the 2020 primary electorate — but it could also make her a target for blame if a protracted shutdown hurts Democrats politically.

    News and notes:

    BIDEN’S TRAVEL SCHEDULE: Former Vice President Joe Biden is headed January 29 to Miami. He’ll appear at a fundraiser for Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who is up for re-election and waiting to see whether Republican Gov. Rick Scott will get in the race against him.
    — Biden also booked a trip to Montana. He’ll keynote the Montana Democratic Party’s annual Mansfield-Metcalfe Dinner in Helena on March 10. It’s a major event for the state party — and a clear stop on the 2020 trail. Last year’s speaker was Cory Booker. (The “Mansfield” here is Mike Mansfield, who was Senate majority leader when Biden first took office in 1973. For a glimpse at their relationship, these comments from Biden on how Mansfield taught him to get over his animosity for Jesse Helms are really worth a read.)
    — Biden also lent his name to a fundraising email from James Smith, a Democrat running for South Carolina governor. Smith’s primary opponent, Phil Noble, just picked up an endorsement from the Biden-backed new Alabama Sen. Doug Jones.
    HARRIS VS. BOOKER: The contrasting styles of California Sen. Kamala Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker — who were just recently appointed to the Senate Judiciary Committee — were on display as the two questioned Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen in a hearing this week. US News’ Dave Catanese points out that Harris, the former California attorney general, asked 23 probing questions in her 10 minutes, forcing Nielsen into some uncomfortable admissions. Booker, meanwhile, asked just two questions but delivered impassioned remarks, saying he had “tears of rage” when he heard about President Donald Trump’s remarks insulting African countries.
    — Harris is making a trip to Michigan in April. She’ll be the state Democratic Party’s guest speaker at its Legacy Dinner on April 14 — an event focused this year on women in politics. Viewed through the lens of 2020, this line from the state party’s release, from executive director Lavora Barnes, is interesting: “No longer is it the sole priority of women in positions of power to blaze a trail for the next generation. It is also our responsibility to expect, seek, and demand the power of these positions by running, winning, and leading according to no tradition or expectation other than our own.”
    — With all the buzz about Harris as a 2020 prospect, African-American Democrats aren’t sure what to do with the latest speculation about Oprah Winfrey. Per BuzzFeed’s Darren Sands, some African-American Democratic groups had already been pitching Harris to donors as the African-American female candidate to watch — so bringing Oprah into the equation throws them for a loop. As one Democratic strategist told BuzzFeed, “They don’t want to step on Kamala’s toes.”
    SANDERS GROUP PICKS A HORSE IN IOWA: Iowa Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Cathy Glasson has spent the better part of her campaign courting the Sanders loyalists in her state. On Thursday, it paid off. Our Revolution, the political organization spun out of Sanders’ 2016 campaign, endorsed Glasson in the hotly contested Hawkeye State Democratic primary.
    The decision wasn’t much of a surprise. Glasson is an Iowa City-based nurse and Service Employees International Union Local 199 president. The union, which backed Hillary Clinton in 2016, is now on board with Sanders, and has donated $1.8 million to Glasson’s campaign, most of it coming in December 2017. Her campaign also revealed that it was hitting the Des Moines TV market this week with a six-figure buy.
    To watch: Primary candidates need 35% to win outright, no given in a tight, seven-person race like this one. If no one crosses the bar, the nominee would be decided at the state convention — setting the stage for a nasty fight for the right to challenge GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds.
    GARCETTI TO THE PALMETTO STATE: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will head to Columbia, South Carolina, next month, according to The Sacramento Bee’s Christopher Cadelago. His visit to the capital city of the early primary state will be for his nonprofit organization focused with other mayors and business leaders on “innovation investments.” Garcetti’s nonprofit, called Accelerator for America, held its first meeting in South Bend, Indiana — home of Pete Buttigieg — in November. Garcetti has already visited other early primary states including New Hampshire and Nevada in recent months.
    WARREN TO CO-CHAIR WOMEN’S MARCH EVENT: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren will serve as an honorary co-chair of the Women’s March “Power to the Polls” campaign alongside civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis of Georgia. The campaign is launching in Las Vegas this weekend on the one-year anniversary of last year’s Women’s March. The goal of the initiative will be to register 1 million voters. Warren will not be in attendance but will be featured in a video message that will be played during the event.
    Kamala Harris will attend the Women’s March in Los Angeles. She’ll also speak at the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Breakfast.
    HEY, JOE! NEW POLL NUMBERS BUMP BIDEN: Quinnipiac put out a new poll this week with some telling takeaways on Sens. Bernie Sanders and Kirsten Gillibrand, former Vice President Joe Biden — and Oprah! Here are four quick takeaways:
    — All four are well above water on the favorable-unfavorable front: Sanders is at 76-11 with Democrats and 48-38 with all voters; Gillibrand is at 25-5 with Democrats and 14-11 with all voters; Oprah Winfrey is at 69-13 with Democrats, 47-33 with all voters; Biden leads the pack with a 78-6 spread among Democrats and and is 53-29 with all voters.
    — Only Biden scores well with a key part of Trump’s base — whites without college degrees: Sanders is at 35-51; Gillibrand is at 8-12; Biden just barely makes the grade, at 42-39.
    — But would you be “inclined” to vote for them? That was a separate question. And for good reason, apparently, because it yielded one weird stat: Among Democrats, it’s a YES for Biden (75-16) and Sanders (66-27). The numbers there track pretty closely with overall approval. But that does not hold for Gillibrand. She gets a NO (24-37) from her own party’s voters.
    — Black voters undecided: Biden (73-6) actually scores better on the favorability scale with black voters than Winfrey (70-15). And Sanders (70-10), breaking against the narrative about his supporters, receives similarly high marks from black voters. Gillibrand (13-8) is working from solid ground, but again, is still mostly an unknown on the national scene.

    View from the right:

    TRUMP’S TAKE ON 2020: According to a new dispatch from Politico’s Annie Karni, President Donald Trump is both unworried about his re-election prospects — and constantly talking about who’s going to run against him. From Karni’s report: “He’s always asking people, ‘Who do you think is going to run against me?’ ” said the Republican who heard the president’s assessment in December. Despite a bumpy first year and historically low approval ratings, this Trump ally said: ‘I don’t think he sees anyone, right now, being a serious competitor.’ ”
    Additional takes: Trump thinks Bernie Sanders, at 76, is going to decide he’s too old to run. Trump thinks Elizabeth Warren would be “easy to beat.” Trump does not think Cory Booker will get in the race. Trump doesn’t seem to know who Kamala Harris is … yet.
    The word from “Trumpworld” is more colorful. Here’s the money quote from a “former White House staffer”: “What we can’t let voters do is think they can get the same policies with someone they like better, like Joe Biden — someone who would fight for them but who doesn’t have the crass edge. I hope CNN has Kirsten Gillibrand on every minute of every day. Love it. Bring it. She’s easy to destroy. If you’re the president, or the RNC, you’re more worried about someone who looks like Biden — someone who has more mainstream appeal, who blue-collar workers could identify with.”

    Before you go:

    Anxiety is high in California — now a Super Tuesday primary state — over the immigration politics on Capitol Hill. … New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s re-election war chest is stocked with an eye-popping $30 million. … NJ.com sees seven signs Cory Booker is thinking about running for president in 2020.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/19/politics/2020-vision-shutdown-politics/index.html

    Trump: I’m a ‘very stable genius’

    Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump slammed reports questioning his mental stability in a series of tweets Saturday morning, writing he’s a “very stable genius” after the publication of an expos about his first year as President put the White House into damage-control mode.

    “Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence … ” Trump wrote, referring to questions raised about the mental fitness of the former President, who disclosed in 1994 that he had Alzheimer’s disease.
    “Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart,” the President continued. “Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star … to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!”
      After his tweets Saturday morning, Trump told reporters at Camp David that Wolff is a “fraud” who doesn’t know him.
      “I went to the best colleges, or college,” he told reporters. “I had a situation where I was a very excellent student, came out and made billions and billions of dollars, became one of the top business people, went to television and for 10 years was a tremendous success, as you probably have heard, ran for President one time and won. Then I hear this guy that doesn’t know me at all, by the way, didn’t interview me, said he interviewed me for three hours in the White House. Didn’t exist, it’s in his imagination.”
      Trump continued: “I never interviewed with him in the White House at all; he was never in the Oval Office.”
      Wolff told “Today” show host Savannah Guthrie on Friday that he “absolutely spoke to the President” while working on “Fire and Fury.”
      “Whether he realized it was an interview or not, I don’t know, but it certainly was not off the record,” Wolff said. “I’ve spent about three hours with the President over the course of the campaign, and in the White House. So, my window into Donald Trump is pretty significant.”
      The remarkable spectacle of Trump defending his mental stability comes after the President and some of his top officials spent the last few days countering claims in author Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury,” about Trump’s mental fitness to serve as President. The book, which went on sale Friday, also paints the picture of a President who neither knows nor cares about policy and doesn’t seem to perceive the vast responsibilities of his role.
      CNN has not independently confirmed all of Wolff’s assertions.
      Trump’s tweets also come after reports surfaced that a dozen lawmakers from the House and Senate received a briefing from Yale psychiatrist Dr. Bandy X. Lee on Capitol Hill in early December about Trump’s fitness to be president.
      “Lawmakers were saying they have been very concerned about this, the President’s dangerousness, the dangers that his mental instability poses on the nation,” Lee told CNN in a phone interview Thursday, “They know the concern is universal among Democrats, but it really depends on Republicans, they said. Some knew of Republicans that were concerned, maybe equally concerned, but whether they would act on those concerns was their worry.”
      The briefing was previously reported by Politico. Lee, confirming the December 5 and 6 meeting to CNN, said that the group was evenly mixed, with House and Senate lawmakers, and included at least one Republican — a senator, whom she would not name.
      Lee’s public comments are highly unusual given protocols from medical professional organizations — including the 37,000-member American Psychiatric Association — banning psychiatrists from diagnosing patients without a formal examination.
      The White House has taken issue with the claims in Wolff’s book since excerpts of it began to surface online ahead of its publication, with press secretary Sarah Sanders calling it “complete fantasy” and an attorney for Trump sending a “cease and desist” threat to the book’s author and publisher.
      Trump issued a scathing statement on his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, saying he had “lost his mind” after the book quoted Bannon making negative remarks about Trump and son Donald Trump Jr.
      The book quoted Bannon as calling a June 2016 meeting between a Russian lawyer and the President’s eldest son, son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.”
      Bannon also reportedly told Wolff: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”
      Trump lit into Bannon in a tweet Friday night, saying he “cried when he got fired and begged for his job.”
      “Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book,” Trump wrote. “He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!”
      Wolff reiterated his belief that it is becoming a widespread view that Trump is unfit for presidency, telling BBC Radio in an interview overnight that it’s a “very clear emperor-has-no-clothes effect.”
      “The story that I have told seems to present this presidency in such a way that it says he can’t do his job,” Wolff said in the interview. “Suddenly everywhere people are going, ‘Oh my God, it’s true, he has no clothes.’ That’s the background to the perception and the understanding that will finally end … this presidency.”
      Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told CNN in an exclusive interview on Friday he’s never questioned Trump’s mental fitness, despite reports he once called Trump a “moron.”
      “I’ve never questioned his mental fitness,” Tillerson told CNN’s Elise Labott. “I have no reason to question his mental fitness.”

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/06/politics/donald-trump-white-house-fitness-very-stable-genius/index.html

      Sessions Ending Obama-Era Policy That Ushered In Legal Weed

      Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding an Obama-era policy that helped states legalize recreational marijuana, throwing a wet blanket on the fledgling industry during what could have been a celebratory week.

      The Justice Department will reverse the so-called Cole and Ogden memos that set out guardrails for federal prosecution of cannabis and allowed legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the U.S., according to two senior agency officials. U.S. attorneys in states where pot is legal will now be able prosecute cases where they see fit, according to the officials, who requested anonymity discussing internal policy.

      Shares of pot companies plunged as news of the policy change surfaced, though many began to rebound after investors weighed the potential impact.

      The change comes at a high point for the weed industry. California, the biggest U.S. state and sixth-largest economy in the world, launched its legal marketplace on Jan. 1. Sales in California alone are expected to reach $3.7 billion in 2018, according to estimates from BDS Analytics. 

      Seven other states and the District of Columbia have also legalized cannabis for adult use. Twenty-one additional states have voted to allow the plant to be used for medicinal purposes. The market is expected to skyrocket from $6 billion in 2016 to $50 billion by 2026, according to Cowen & Co.

      Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, has long been opposed to marijuana, equating it with heroin. But this is the first action he’s taken that deviates significantly from the Obama administration. Many in the industry said the news is unsurprising but disappointing.

      “While dismantling the industry will prove impossible, the move by Sessions will sow more seeds of uncertainty in an industry that already has its fair share of risks and unknowns,” said Chris Walsh, vice president of Marijuana Business Daily. “Businesses could be in for a bumpy ride amid this uncertainty, and we certainly could see some types of regional crackdowns or delays in upcoming medical or recreational cannabis markets.”

      Shares Plummet

      The Bloomberg Intelligence Global Cannabis Competitive Peers Index dropped as much as 24 percent after the Associated Press first reported the Justice Department plan. Most companies in that group are small. Still, there are a few big names that could be hit by the changing policy. 

      Constellation Brands Inc., which sells Corona beer and Svedka vodka in the U.S., got involved in the cannabis industry in October when it acquired a minority investment in Canopy Growth, a Canadian marijuana company. Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. has also made its way into the Green Rush. It fell as much as 5.7 percent after the news, the biggest intraday drop since May. 

      A tightening of enforcement also would be felt in Canada, where the cannabis industry has blossomed. Ontario’s Canopy Growth fell as much as 19 percent to C$29.06 in Toronto, while Aphria Inc. plunged as much as 23 percent to C$16.59. ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF, the first pure-play pot ETF to be listed in the U.S., dropped as much as 9.7 percent, the biggest intraday decline since May.

      Fear and Doubt

      Sessions’s policy may cause investors to think twice before putting their money into the Green Rush, according to Adrian Sedlin, founder of Canndescent, a marijuana cultivation and branded-flower company.

      “Fear, uncertainty and doubt will rip through our industry like a California wildfire because of this,” he said. “Whatever happens longterm, this will retard and limit capital flows into the industry for the foreseeable future.”

      The move is likely to sow confusion among consumers and state officials, and may spark a backlash if state-approved retailers are prosecuted. Sixty-four percent of the U.S. population now wants to make pot legal, according to a Gallup poll released in October.

      But it’s too late to stop the industry from growing, said Laura Bianchi, a partner and director of cannabis, business and corporate transactions and estate planning at Rose Law Group in Scottsdale, Arizona.

      “To undo this industry would be like closing Pandora’s box once it’s been opened,” she said. “It would be a Herculean effort that would undermine another Republican cornerstone, which is the importance of states’ rights.”

      Senators React

      Senator Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, where marijuana is legal, said in a tweet that Sessions’s move contradicts what he told the senator before his confirmation.

      “I am prepared to take all steps necessary, including holding DOJ nominees, until the Attorney General lives up to the commitment he made to me,” Gardner said.

      Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, said Sessions’s actions are an affront to medical patients who need to use the plant as medicine. 

      “Parents should be able to give their sick kids the medicine they need without having to fear that they will be prosecuted,” she said in a statement. “This is about public health, and it’s about reforming our broken criminal justice system that throws too many minorities in prison for completely nonviolent offenses.”

      Still, the federal policy change may not actually hurt business much at all. Entrepreneurs starting marijuana businesses have already been working under risky circumstances. The plant has remained federally illegal, meaning most large companies — including banks — have shied away. Instead, the business has relied on state regulators, many of whom previously said they would defend the industry through any federal crackdown. 

      “We’re not overly concerned that a change in DOJ policy around cannabis will be meaningfully disruptive to legal adult use cannabis states, given the vocal support offered by these state-level AG’s,” said Vivien Azer, a Cowen & Co. analyst who covers the industry.

        Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-04/sessions-said-to-kill-obama-policy-that-ushered-in-legal-weed

        What Joe Biden’s Anita Hill apology tells us about his 2020 plans

        (CNN)The biggest tell to date of Joe Biden’s 2020 plans came this week, when he apologized to Anita Hill.

        Hill, you will remember, worked for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas when they were both at the Department of Education. During Thomas’ 1991 confirmation hearings, Hill alleged that he had sexually harassed her. She came under withering criticism from the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, which Biden chaired at the time.
        Biden, as the years have passed, has been widely perceived as doing too little to defend Hill in that hearing. The optics of a committee of all white men questioning Hill, who is African-American, also aged poorly.
          Amid the growing #metoo movement — and the series of politicians who have either resigned or lost races while battling allegations of sexual harassment — Biden’s past with Hill was sure to grow as an issue in the coming weeks and months.
          So he nipped it in the bud. For the second time in a month. (Last month, Biden was asked about the Thomas hearings and his role. “What I do feel badly about is the bad taste that got left in the mouth of some of the people around Anita Hill, and maybe even Anita, about whether or not the witnesses should have been called who were called and weren’t called,” he said.)
          That is not an accident. Biden, a 75-year-old white man, understands how the treatment of Hill was perceived by many women and, in light of the cultural movement around women speaking out about harassment, he is working to clear up any sort of misunderstanding or hurt feelings around it. He is clearing the decks, purging his past of anything that could be seized on by, say, a future political opponent.
          A future political opponent like, say, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who has emerged as the leading voice of the #metoo movement on Capitol Hill. Gillibrand was the first senator to call for Sen. Al Franken’s resignation in the wake of a series of allegations from women that he groped and forcibly kissed them. And she is very much looking at running for president in 2020.
          So, too, is Biden. Witness this quote from his appearance on “The View” earlier this week:
          “If I were offered the nomination by the Lord Almighty right now, today, I would say no because we’re not ready, the family’s not ready to do this. If, in a year from now, if we’re ready, and nobody has moved in that I think can do it, then I may very well do it.”
          That’s not a “no.” Heck, it’s not even a “maybe.” It’s basically a “yes … probably.” Biden’s caveat — “nobody has moved in that I think can do it” — is the tell. He’s a politician. Who was a senator at 30. A two-time presidential candidate. And a two-term vice president. Looking at that résumé, do you really think he is going to conclude that anyone who decides to run for the Democratic nomination in 2020 is really more qualified to do the job than he is?
          None of that is to say that Biden is a lock for the race. He, more than almost anyone, knows the role that fate — and unexpected events — can play in a life, having lost his eldest son, Beau, to brain cancer in 2015.
          “I’m a great respecter of fate, but who knows what the situation is going to be in a year and a half?,” Biden told the “Today” show last month. “I don’t have any idea. I’m in good health now, I’m in good shape … but I just don’t know. Honest to God, that’s the truth.”
          What Biden is doing right now — with the Hill apology as the leading edge — is not (yet) running for president, but preparing to decide to run for president.
          To undertake such a gargantuan endeavor — and, remember that Biden’s two past presidential bids make him uniquely able to understand the challenges of a national campaign — is something that requires years’ worth of planning, plotting and thinking.
          Think of it this way: Running for president is like an iceberg. The part that you see above the water is the time from the announcement of the bid to its end — whether in victory or defeat. But that visible part is only a tiny fraction of the entirety of the actual iceberg that is floating below the surface. What Biden is doing right now is well under the water line — checking for cracks, shoring up weak spots and the like.
          If he runs, Biden almost certainly is the race’s Democratic front-runner — given his universal name recognition, his close relationship with Barack Obama (and the Obama political and money networks) and his personal story.
          But a Biden candidacy doesn’t clear the Democratic field. Not even close. With President Donald Trump’s approval ratings already in the mid-to-low 30s, there will be a loooooong line of ambitious Democrats who see the party nomination as a near sure-thing into the White House.
          And almost everyone in that 2020 Democratic race will be a fresher — and younger — face than Biden. What he cannot do is allow himself to be defined as a voice from the past before the race even begins. He knows that — hence the Hill apology.
          Make no mistake: Joe Biden is getting ready. And, given that, the expectation should be that he will run in 2020.

          Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/15/politics/joe-biden-analysis/index.html

          Poland Risks Being the EUs Rogue State

          Behind the noise of Brexit negotiations, the talk in the European Union this year has been that there’s potentially a bigger problem in the east. And the prospect of another rupture looks to be increasing.

          Poland’s de facto leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, hand-picked his second prime minister in two years, opting last week for western-educated Finance Minister Mateusz Morawiecki as he seeks to boost the economy after revamping the judicial system. He is another Kaczynski acolyte who has backed the increasingly authoritarian Law & Justice party’s push to seize more control of the courts, a plan condemned by the European Parliament and European Commission.

          The mood in Brussels is that EU institutions can no longer stand by and watch a country that’s the biggest net recipient of European aid thumb its nose without paying some sort of price. Few people are discussing Poland following Britain out of the bloc, but a protracted conflict is getting more likely.

          Mateusz Morawiecki
          Photographer: Piotr Malecki/Bloomberg

          Concerns about the shift in Poland triggered calls to limit access to EU funds for countries disrespecting the democratic rule of law. At a ministerial meeting on Nov. 15 in Brussels, the issue was raised during a discussion about the 2021-2028 budget by countries including Germany, France and the Nordic states, according to two EU officials with knowledge of the matter.

          Poland’s refusal to take in mainly Muslim refugees was referred last week to the European Court of Justice along with Hungary and the Czech Republic.

          “There is a growing feeling in Brussels that solidarity cannot be a one-way street, and that it becomes difficult to justify the 10 billion-euro per year net transfers for a country that is increasingly at odds with the bloc’s values,” said Bruno Dethomas, a senior policy adviser at GPLUS consultancy in Brussels and a former EU ambassador to Poland. “It is high time the EU reacted, or it risks losing its soul.”

          ‘Sick Europe’

          Poles are accustomed to their government stirring up nationalist fervor with blistering attacks on the EU while welcoming the policies of U.S. President Donald Trump. It’s railed against taking in Muslim refugees, claimed the country has been enslaved and snapped at criticism of its power grab this year.

          But even by Kaczynski’s standards, his speech on Nov. 10 to mark Independence Day pulled no punches. It’s up to Poles to show “the sick Europe of today the path back to health, to fundamental values, to true freedom and to the strengthening of our civilization based on Christianity,” he said.

          Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the man who pulls the strings in Poland.
          Photographer: John Guillemin

          The risk for the EU is that a country that was so key to its post-Cold War political and economic integration shifts closer to becoming a rogue member under Kaczynski, 68, a critic of Poland’s deal to enter the bloc in 2004. A breakdown would undermine the European project in arguably a more symbolic way than traditionally lukewarm Britain’s pending departure.

          The cost of Kaczynski’s stance has — so far — largely been counted in lost influence within the 28-nation bloc, which lacks the unanimity needed to up the ante and strip the Polish government of its voting rights at EU summits. 

          There’s been no hit to the 229 billion euros ($270 billion) in aid granted to Poland through 2022 and used for everything from new airports to sewage pipes.

          The narrative has changed, though. French President Emmanuel Macron said last month that Poland could pay a price if it continues to defy the EU on justice. The Dutch coalition government agreement, signed in October, specifies “subsidies should be reduced for member states that do not fulfill their obligations.”

          Nationalist Forces

          The Polish Parliament, meanwhile, is finalizing legislation to revamp the Supreme Court and Judicial Council, a powerful body that chooses which judges get promoted. Passage of the bills constitutes the removal of the “last fuses” on Poland’s democracy, according to Adam Bodnar, the country’s commissioner for human rights.

          Even some Law & Justice lawmakers have questioned the legality of the court changes. “I will vote in line with my party,” Krystyna Pawlowicz told a parliamentary committee. “But this measure is a glaring contradiction to the constitution.”

          Law & Justice has built on its popularity since winning an unprecedented parliamentary majority two years ago with promises of standing up for ordinary Poles. An ongoing EU investigation into the government’s behavior has played into the party’s them-against-us rhetoric.

          Some Polish politicians have been privately telling their EU partners that if bashing the Law & Justice government doesn’t stop, Poles will turn against the EU and nationalist forces will be emboldened, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions.

          Kaczynski’s DNA

          On Independence Day after Kaczynski spoke the day before, the traditional march in Warsaw became a demonstration for far-right groups claiming that “Europe will be white.” The government condemned the racists, though also blamed the media of focusing on some “fringe incidents.”

          A couple hold flares as as thousands gather for the nationalist march of Poland´s Independency Day.
          Photographer: SOPA Images/LightRocket

          Historically, Kaczynski has been cool toward the EU. He backed accession in the run-up to a referendum in 2003, when 78 percent of Poles supported membership. He warned at the time entry on the conditions that Poland had negotiated was a “threat to fundamental values including independence and democracy.”

          A reduction in funds that Poland receives from the EU would help shift public opinion against the bloc, said Marcin Matczak, a law professor at Warsaw University.

          “Hostility towards the EU is part of Law & Justice’s DNA, and if it was up to the party, Poland would leave the bloc,” said Matczak. “But Kaczynski knows he can’t do that because Poles are benefiting from EU membership. Hence, the party slowly builds a negative attitude towards EU — while declaring that Poland has no intention of leaving.”

            Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-10/forget-brexit-poland-risks-being-the-eu-s-real-rogue-state

            The GOP Tax Plan Is Entering Its Make-or-Break Week

            The $1.4 trillion item on President Donald Trump’s wish list — a package of tax cuts for businesses and individuals that he has said he wants to sign before year’s end — is headed into the legislative equivalent of a Black Friday scrum next week.

            Senate Republican leaders plan a make-or-break floor vote on their bill as soon as Thursday — a dramatic moment that will come only after a marathon debate that could go all night. Democrats are expected to try to delay or derail the measure, and the GOP must hold together at least 50 votes from its thin, 52-vote majority in order to prevail.

            Their chances improved this week when Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she’ll support repealing the “individual mandate” imposed by Obamacare — a provision that Senate tax writers are counting on to help finance the tax cuts. Murkowski had earlier signaled some reservations about the provision; and her support was widely viewed as a positive sign for the tax bill’s chances.

            Trump is scheduled to address Senate Republicans at their weekly luncheon Tuesday afternoon on taxes and the legislative agenda for the rest of the year, according to a statement from Senator John Barrasso, chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. 

            The White House previously announced that the president would talk with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders at the White House the same day about an agreement on spending to keep the government open after funding expires on Dec. 8. David Popp, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, both said that meeting is still on the schedule.

            If the tax bill clears the Senate — a step that’s by no means guaranteed — lawmakers in both chambers would have to hammer out a compromise between their differing bills, a process that presents potential pitfalls of its own. For now, though, much of the Senate’s attention will focus on its legislation’s price tag.

            Three GOP senators — Bob Corker of Tennessee, Jeff Flake of Arizona and James Lankford of Oklahoma — have cited concerns about how the measure would affect federal deficits. Independent studies of the legislation have found that — contrary to its backers’ arguments — its tax cuts won’t stimulate enough growth to pay for themselves. Both the Senate bill, and one that cleared the House earlier this month, would reduce federal revenue over a decade by roughly $1.4 trillion, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

            On Wednesday, a report from the Penn Wharton Budget Model at the University of Pennsylvania said the bill would reduce federal revenue in each year from 2028 to 2033. That finding would mean it doesn’t comply with a key budget rule that Senate Republican leaders want to use to pass their bill with a simple majority over Democrats’ objections.

            Budget Rule

            In essence, that rule holds that any bill approved via that fast-track process can’t add to the deficit outside a 10-year budget window. The JCT has already found that the Senate bill would generate a surplus in its 10th year because it has set several tax breaks for businesses and individuals to expire.

            But JCT hasn’t yet weighed in publicly on the revenue effects in subsequent years. Senate GOP leaders have expressed confidence that their proposal will satisfy the rule ultimately.

            Another potential stumbling block stems from the fact that Congress is trying to act on complex tax legislation under a tight, self-imposed timeline in order to deliver on promises from Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and McConnell.

            For example, Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has said he can’t support the current Senate bill because it would give corporations a tax advantage — a large rate cut to 20 percent from 35 percent — that other, closely held businesses wouldn’t get.

            ‘Change the Most’

            His concern centers on the Senate’s plan for large partnerships, limited liability companies, sole proprietorships and other so-called “pass-through” businesses. Under current law, these businesses simply pass their earnings to their owners, who pay income taxes at their individual rates — currently, as high as 39.6 percent, depending on how much they earn.

            Read more: A QuickTake guide to the tax-cut debate

            The Senate bill would provide pass-through owners with a 17.4 percent deduction for income — but in combination with other provisions, that would result in an effective top tax rate for business income that’s more than 10 percentage points higher than the proposed corporate tax rate.

            The House bill would use an entirely different approach, setting a top tax rate of 25 percent for pass-through business income, but then limiting how much of a business’s earnings could qualify for that rate.

            Reconciling those differences — and addressing Johnson’s concern — may be a complicated process. “That’s part of the equation that could change the most over the next few weeks,” Isaac Boltansky, senior vice president and policy analyst at Compass Point Research and Trading LLC, told Bloomberg Tax. “No one is planning around it yet. There is uncertainty across the board.”

            Meanwhile, the Obamacare issue looms in the background — threatening at least one GOP senator’s vote. Susan Collins of Maine said earlier this week that tax bill “needs work,” and “I think there will be changes.”

            The 2010 Affordable Care Act — popularly known as Obamacare — contained a provision requiring individuals to buy health insurance or pay a federal penalty. Removing that penalty in 2019, as the Senate tax bill proposes to do, would generate an estimated $318 billion in savings by 2027, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The savings would stem from about 13 million Americans dropping their coverage, eliminating the need for federal subsidies to help them afford it.

            Because many of the newly uninsured would be younger, healthier people, insurance premiums would rise 10 percent in most years, the nonpartisan fiscal scorekeeper found.

              Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-24/trump-s-1-4-trillion-tax-cut-is-entering-its-make-or-break-week

              Senate Passes Tax-Cut Bill in Milestone Move Toward Overhaul

              Senate Republicans narrowly approved the most sweeping rewrite of the U.S. tax code in three decades, slashing the corporate tax rate and providing temporary tax-rate cuts for most Americans.

              The 51-49 vote — achieved just before 2 a.m. Saturday in Washington and only after closed-door deal-making with dissident senators — brings the GOP close to delivering a much-needed policy win for their party and President Donald Trump. 

              After the vote, Trump said on Twitter that he looks forward to signing a final bill before Christmas. Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that a pre-Christmas tax cut would be a “Middle-Class Miracle!”

              Before it goes to Trump, lawmakers will have to resolve differences between the Senate bill and one the House passed last month, a process that could begin Monday. Although both versions share common top-line elements, negotiations on individual provisions inserted to win votes, particularly in the Senate, may be protracted and difficult. The final product will end up being a central issue in the 2018 elections that will determine control of Congress.

              “We’re going to take this message to the American people a year from now,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said after the vote.

              Speaking in New York on Saturday, Trump also predicted the tax package would be a winner for Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections. “We got no Democrat help and I think that’s going to hurt them in the election,” Trump said at a fundraising event.

              Read about the sticking points between Senate, House bills.

              Both the House and Senate measures would cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent — though the Senate version would set that lower rate in 2019, a year later than the House bill would. Also, the Senate bill, unlike the House version, would provide only temporary tax relief to individuals, ending tax cuts for them in 2026. Both bills are expected to add more than $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit over 10 years, before accounting for any economic growth.

              Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who had cited concerns over the bill’s effects on federal deficits, was the only Republican dissenter. McConnell rejected revenue scores that suggested the bill’s tax cuts would add to the deficit. He predicted it would be a “revenue producer” by stimulating economic growth. Congress’s official tax scorekeeper this week said otherwise.

              The House and Senate bills also align on the contentious issue of individual deductions for state and local taxes: They’d eliminate all but a deduction for property taxes, which would be capped at $10,000.

              Mortgage Interest

              But they differ on the home mortgage-interest deduction; the House bill would restrict that break to loans of $500,000 or less with regard to new purchases of homes. The Senate legislation would leave the current $1 million cap in place.

              They also differ — narrowly — on the tax rates they’d apply to multinational companies’ accumulated offshore earnings. The House bill would tax those profits at 14 percent for earnings held as cash and 7 percent for less-liquid assets. The revised Senate bill contains a lengthy section that has no direct mention of the rates, but a person familiar with the Senate plan said they’d be 14.5 percent for cash and 7.5 percent for less-liquid assets.

              Senate Republican leaders muscled the sweeping legislation through the chamber less than two weeks after releasing the bill draft. Many GOP lawmakers, including Corker and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have expressed concerns that the party has little to show so far before next year’s congressional elections, after the collapse of an Obamacare repeal earlier this year and no action on issues ranging from immigration to infrastructure.

              ‘Working Families’

              Trump expressed gratitude to McConnell and Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch for steering the measure through the Senate.

              “We are one step closer to delivering MASSIVE tax cuts for working families across America,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

              Republicans were able to bring the legislation to a vote using Senate rules that allowed them to approve it with a simple majority, therefore without any Democratic support. The GOP controls just 52 votes in the chamber, eight shy of what’s typically needed to move controversial measures that draw delaying tactics by opponents.

              Narrow Majority

              That narrow majority made it important for Senate leaders to try to hold every member’s vote; moderate Senator Susan Collins of Maine used that leverage to secure various concessions, including an agreement to enhance an individual deduction for large unreimbursed medical expenses through the end of next year. The House bill would eliminate that tax break.

              Democrats decried the bill’s deficit impact and complained they were shut out of the process to help draft the measure. They cited research showing that the legislation primarily benefits the nation’s highest earners and business owners, and will bleed federal revenues in a way that hurts domestic programs.

              “At a time of immense inequality, the Republican tax bill makes life easier on the well-off and eventually makes life more difficult on working Americans, exacerbating one of the most pressing problems we face as a nation — the yawning gap between the rich and everyone else,” said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York during debate on the bill.

              ‘Back of a Napkin’

              Schumer noted that a set of last-minute revisions to the bill changed it in ways that had yet to be analyzed by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s official scorekeeper for the effects of tax legislation. “Is this really how Republicans are going to rewrite the tax code? Scrawled like something on the back of a napkin?”

              McConnell said the bill, the first text of which was introduced on Nov. 20, went “through the regular order.” He dismissed complaints like Schumer’s. “You complain about process when you’re losing,” McConnell said.

              Attention now shifts to a House-Senate conference committee — a specially appointed, temporary panel that will be charged with hashing out the differences in the bills and preparing a final version for both chambers to consider. Party leaders will select a small group of lawmakers, likely from the House and Senate tax-writing panels in each chamber, who would then be approved by each chamber.

              That work could start as early as Monday, with many high-stakes issues to be worked through. The deadline of Dec. 31 is an artificial one, though — aimed partly at securing a victory well in advance of the 2018 congressional elections. Republicans would have until the end of 2018 before they lose their ability to clear final passage in the Senate without a filibuster.

              Expensing Provision

              Both bills share some key central elements: They both almost double the standard deduction for individual taxpayers while eliminating personal exemptions. They both allow companies to fully and immediately deduct the cost of their spending on equipment for five years. But the Senate version would slowly step down the expensing provision after the five-year period — a feature that the House bill doesn’t provide for.

              Yet there are many differences — ranging from the taxation of business income to the amount set for the child tax credit — and Senate negotiators may have the upper hand during talks. That’s because the wafer-thin two-vote majority in the Senate will make it harder to usher a final bill back through that chamber.

              The House bill would consolidate the current seven individual tax brackets to four, leaving the top tax rate at 39.6 percent. The Senate bill would have seven brackets — with lower rates, and a top rate of 38.5 percent. Studies have shown that many of the tax bill’s benefits would go to the highest earners — and some middle-class taxpayers might actually pay more — a finding that could impact the House-Senate talks.

              The Senate bill includes a repeal of Obamacare’s mandate that most Americans have health insurance or pay a penalty. The House bill does not.

              Pass-Through Businesses

              Senators approved a 23 percent tax deduction — subject to certain limitations — on business income earned from partnerships, limited liabilities and other so-called pass-through businesses. The House version would create a 25 percent tax rate for such business income — with restrictions on which businesses could qualify. Small businesses would get extra relief under the House legislation as well.

              The House bill would also eliminate the estate tax, while the Senate version would limit the tax to fewer multimillion-dollar estates, but leave it in place. And after 2025, the limits would lift.

              Under current law, the estate tax applies a 40 percent levy to estates worth more than $5.49 million for individuals and $10.98 million for married couples. The Senate bill would temporarily double the exemption thresholds. The House bill would double the exemption thresholds, and then repeal the tax entirely in 2025.

                Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-02/senate-passes-tax-cut-bill-in-milestone-move-toward-overhaul

                We should all be working a four-day week. Heres why | Owen Jones

                Ending life-sapping excessive hours was a pioneering demand for the labour movement. For the sake of our health and the economy we need to revisit it

                Imagine there was a single policy that would slash unemployment and underemployment, tackle health conditions ranging from mental distress to high blood pressure, increase productivity, help the environment, improve family lives, encourage men to do more household tasks, and make people happier. It sounds fantastical, but it exists, and its overdue: the introductionof a four-day week.

                The liberation of workers from excessive work was one of the pioneering demands of the labour movement. From the ashes of the civil war, American trade unionism rallied behind an eight-hour day, a movement which ran with express speed from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from New England to California, as Karl Marx put it. In 1890 hundreds of thousands thronged into Hyde Park in a historic protest for the same demand. It is a cause that urgently needs reclaiming.

                Many Britons work too much. Its notjust the 37.5 hours a week clocked up on average by full-time workers; itsthe unpaid overtime too. According to the TUC, workers put in 2.1bn unpaid hours last year thats an astonishing 33.6bn of free labour.

                That overwork causes significant damage. Last year, 12.5m work days were lost because of work-related stress, depression or anxiety. The biggest single cause by a long way in some 44% of cases was workload. Stress can heighten the risk of all manner of health problems, from high blood pressure to strokes. Research even suggests that working long hours increases the risk of excessive drinking. And then theres the economic cost: over 5bn a year, according to the Health and Safety Executive. Nowonder the public health expert John Ashton is among those suggesting a four-day week could improve the nations health.

                So the renewed call for a four-day week from Autonomy Institute is very welcome. We want to shift peoples perspectives, to better work and less work, says the thinktanks Will Stronge. Indeed, a deeply unhealthy distribution of work scars our society. While some are working too much, with damaging consequences for their health and family lives, there are 3.3 million or so underemployed workers who want more hours. A four-day week would force a redistribution of these hours, to the benefit of everyone. This will be even more important if automation in sectors such as manufacturing, administration and retail creates more poorly paid work and more underemployment.

                A four-day working week could alsohelp tackle climate change: as the New Economics Foundation thinktank notes, countries with shorter working weeks are more likely to have a smaller carbon footprint. This is no economy-wrecking suggestion either. German and Dutch employees work less than we do but their economies are stronger than ours. It could boost productivity: the evidence suggests if you work fewerhours, you are more productive, hour for hour and less stress means less time off work. Indeed, a recent experiment with a six-hour working dayat a Swedish nursing home produced promising results: higher productivity and fewer sick days. If those productivity gains are passed on to staff, working fewer hours doesntnecessarily entail a pay cut.

                Then theres the argument for gender equality. Despite the strides made by the womens movement, women still do 60% more unpaid household work on average than men. An extra day off workis not going to inevitably lead to men pulling their weight more at home. But, as Autonomy suggests, a four-day week could be unveiled as part of a driveto promote equal relationships between men and women. A national campaign could encourage men to use their new free time to equally balance household labour, which remains defined by sexist attitudes.

                It is heartening to see the resurrectionof one of the great early causes of the labour movement. Germanys biggest union, IG Metall, is calling for a 28-hour week for shift workers and those with caring responsibilities.

                That said, on its own the demand is not enough. Now that socialism is re-emerging as a political force that can no longer be ignored or ridiculed, the struggle for more time for leisure, family and relaxation should be linked to broader fights. Increased public ownership of the economy should be structured to create more worker self-management and control. If technology means a further reduction in secure work, a universal basic income a basic stipend paid to all citizens as a right may become ever more salient.

                Sure, work can be a fulfilling activity for some. It strikes me, though, that few would disagree with the notion that we should spend more time with our families, watching our children grow, exercising, reading books, or just relaxing. So much of our lives is surrendered to subordinating ourselves to the needs and whims of others, turning human beings into cash cows rather than independent, well-roundedindividuals.

                Our social model means economic growth all too often involves concentrating wealth produced by the many into the bank accounts of the few, without improving the lives of the majority. Growth should deliver not justshared prosperity and improved public services but a better balance between work, family and leisure.

                Labour politicians now position themselves as the harbingers of a new society, not mere tinkerers with the existing order. That must surely mean building a new economy that lightens the freedom-sapping burden of work. Labour may win the opportunity to build a socialist Britain. If it does, it must be ambitious enough to liberate citizens from the excesses of work.

                Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/16/working-four-day-week-hours-labour

                Coming Soon to Washington: An Anti-Trump Hotel for Liberals

                The first thing you’ll see when you walk into Eaton Workshop, a hotel opening in late spring 2018 in Washington, is a custom-commissioned video art installation by AJ Schnack, shown on a series of vintage-style television screens. All day long, it’ll broadcast a montage of footage from the presidential elections of 2012 and 2016 that’s built around one pointed question: How did our country get where it is today?

                It’s not a subtle statement, and it’s not meant to be.

                In Trump’s Washington, Eaton is planting a clear flag as a haven for Democrats. It’s the world’s first politically motivated hotel, the flagship for a global brand that’s built around social activism and community engagement. And it comes with a pedigree: As the daughter of Ka Shui Lo, the creator and executive chairman of Hong Kong-based Langham Hospitality Group Ltd., founder Katherine Lo knows a thing or two about luxury hotels and world-class service.

                The Big Idea

                An artist’s rendering of the reception desk of the Eaton.
                Source: Gachot Studios

                Lo firmly believes that hotels ought to be catalysts for good. In a world where we can be conscious consumers—of everything from clothing to food to baby products—she argues there’s a place for conscious hotels, too. This isn’t a revolutionary idea: Already, 1 Hotels has built a small collection of luxury properties entirely around the idea of sustainability, and Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts has made a significant, brand-wide commitment to bolster community programming for disadvantaged children in all of its destinations. It’s one of many five-star brands that have a conscious ethos but choose not to flaunt it.

                Eaton Workshop is different. With a premise that’s built around liberal activism and civic engagement, the brand will weave a liberal philosophy into every aspect of the guest experience, some more obvious than others.

                Among the subtler points is the significance of the company’s name: a nod to the high-end shopping mall of that name in Montreal that captured the fascination of Ka Shui Lo when he fled the Cultural Revolution in China. The mall, says Katherine, was a beacon of freedom to her father—and when she found an archival photo bearing its old motto, “Progress and better living,” the two Eatons became forever intertwined.

                The Washington hotel—which has 209 rooms just north of the National Mall—will be the brand’s flagship, with a second location opening in Hong Kong in 2018 and new constructions set to rise in San Francisco and Seattle no sooner than 2019.

                A Hotel With an Agenda

                The lobby of the Eaton.
                Source: Gachot Studios

                Among the Washington location’s programming signatures will be a sort of TED talk series driven by the liberal agenda, consisting of fireside chats and rooftop lectures that Lo hopes will be free, open to the public, and streamable as Eaton-branded podcasts. Then comes the art program, which—aside from the political statement piece at check-in—will include commissions from at least a half-dozen up-and-coming local artists and a street-facing exhibition window curated in partnership with local museums and institutions. A co-working space will prioritize memberships for progressive startups, activists, and artists, while a wellness program will offer “inner-health-focused treatments” such as Reiki and sound baths, rather than facials and massages. (Some of these features will roll out a few months after the hotel opens.)

                Just as important, partners and staff will be brought on board, both for their skills in the food and beverage worlds and their activist track records. For instance, Lo saw the cocktail director of the famed Columbia Room, Derek Brown, as a perfect fit to be the hotel’s beverage director—not just because he’s won such awards as magazine’s Bartender of the Year but because he “cares deeply about social justice.” To wit, Brown actively champions policies that fight sexual harassment in the bartending industry and acts as chief spirit advisor for the National Archives.  

                Similarly, Lo says that the “amazing life story” of house chef Tim Ma “perfectly expresses our brand ethos.” The Chinese-American culinary up-and-comer was an engineer at the National Security Agency for years before discovering his true passion in food. At Eaton’s to-be-named restaurant, Ma is planning a menu with a heavy focus on vegetables from an on-site garden.

                A guest who does nothing other than check in, sleep atop Eaton’s organic mattresses, and check out will still have a sense of the hotel’s mission, says Lo. “We plan to have new ideas in the minibar—an activist toolkit, for example, that includes sheets with information to help you call your congresspeople. And if we’d been open during this year’s Women’s March, I could have seen us putting poster boards and markers in the rooms!”

                Political statements such as these will be tailored to each property. In Hong Kong, for instance, Lo says she’d like to replace Bibles in the nightstand drawers with copies of the United Nations Declaration for Human Rights.

                A Place for Thought Leaders (but Not All of Them)

                The library at the Eaton
                Source: Gachot Studios

                Lo understands that Eaton Workshop isn’t for everyone. “Self-selection is definitely one of our strategies,” she says about branding and marketing materials that directly appeal to the “woke” crowd. “We wanted to emphasize that it’s a place for people who are thinking outside the box and want to effect a change in the world,” she says.

                Though she repeatedly talks about fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion, Lo also tells Bloomberg that “the goal isn’t to bring together left and right.” Instead, she wants to create “a diversity of fields and backgrounds as well as gender and ethnicity.” In other words, her hotel should represent the antithesis of the Trump hotel that’s just a few blocks away, offering an intellectual playground to those who may feel marginalized by the current administration’s agenda.

                This is partisan politics playing out on the city’s hotel scene; whether that will hurt or help Lo’s bottom line remains to be seen. But if the Trump Hotel is any indication, Lo may be poised for big success. According to the , the president’s hotel brought in $1.97 million in profits during the first four months of the year, despite business projections that had forecast a loss of $2.1 million.

                “It’s Like a Non-Profit but Better”

                Though her goal is to create a successful, scalable business, Eaton Workshop is not built to pad Lo’s pockets. On the contrary, she sees the entire enterprise as a means to a philanthropic end, and hopes to use the hotel profits to fund community arts initiatives in the brand’s respective destinations. 

                Each location will have a radio station, cinema, and music venue so local talent can produce or showcase work in a state-of-the-art space at low—or no—cost. In Washington, the building’s history as a printing venue has inspired Lo to create a writer’s residency, where investigative reporters can be hosted on site for several months while pursuing important stories.

                Artists will be invited to create short films, podcasts, or other types of content under the emblem of Eaton’s in-house multimedia studio; the results will be available for guests to stream on personal devices, and each piece will feature a clear activist message and a call to action.

                “We’re hoping that our hotel revenues will propel our creative projects,” says Lo, who likens the hotel to “a non-profit, but better.” Still, room rates won’t be extravagant; prices in Washington are likely to hover in the upper $200s. Thankfully, for members of both political parties—who are, no doubt, tired of dropping Benjamins for vodka drinks at the Trump International—the price of a martini should be less radical.

                  Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-13/coming-soon-to-washington-an-anti-trump-hotel-for-liberals

                  Universities deplore McCarthyism as MP demands list of tutors lecturing on Brexit

                  Tory whip writes to every vice-chancellor to ask for syllabus and any online material

                  Academics are accusing a Tory MP and government whip of McCarthyite behaviour, after he wrote to all universities asking them to declare what they are teaching their students about Brexit and to provide a list of teachers names.

                  Chris Heaton-Harris, Conservative MP for Daventry and a staunch Eurosceptic, wrote to vice-chancellors at the start of this month asking for the names of any professors involved in teaching European affairs with particular reference to Brexit. Neatly ignoring the long tradition of academic freedom that universities consider crucial to their success, his letter asks for a copy of each universitys syllabus and any online lectures on Brexit.

                  Prof David Green, vice-chancellor of Worcester University, felt a chill down his spine when he read the sinister request: This letter just asking for information appears so innocent but is really so, so dangerous, he says. Here is the first step to the thought police, the political censor and newspeak, naturally justified as the will of the British people, a phrase to be found on Mr Heaton-Harriss website. Green will be replying to the MP but not be providing the information requested.

                  MP's
                  Heaton-Harriss letter

                  Prof Kevin Featherstone, head of the European Institute at the LSE, is also outraged: The letter reflects a past of a McCarthyite nature. It smacks of asking: are you or have you ever been in favour of remain? There is clearly an implied threat that universities will somehow be challenged for their bias. Featherstone says LSE academics had already feared Brexit censorship after the Electoral Commission made inquiries during last years referendum campaign about academics debates and research, following a complaint by Bernard Jenkin, another Tory MP. Jenkin filed a complaint when the LSE hosted an event at which the secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said there was no upside for the UK in Brexit. Jenkin, a board member of the Vote Leave campaign, also accused the LSEs Centre for Economic Performance of producing partisan research designed to convince the public to stay in the EU. The commission, whose job is to ensure fair campaigning, investigated and took no action against the university.

                  A spokesman for the LSE strenuously denies all allegations of political bias. The freedom for academics to study the major issues facing society, reach their own conclusions, and engage in public debate is essential for the health of our universities and the UKs world-leading research base, he says.

                  Featherstone says: I understand the LSE received calls from the Electoral Commission asking about speakers and the costs of events on an almost daily basis throughout the campaign period. He argues that both Heaton-Harriss letter and the Electoral Commissions investigation pose a threat to the role of universities as free intellectual spaces where academics can explore and question ideas without political interference. He says both developments risk plunging universities into dangerous new political waters.

                  The Electoral Commission says universities have nothing to fear from its inquiries. We produce guidance to help all non-party campaigners understand the rules on campaigning and we can advise universities in cases where they may be affected. These do not prevent campaigning or engagement in public debate, but provide the public with transparency about who is spending what in order to influence their vote.

                  Prof
                  Prof David Green, vice-chancellor of Worcester University: Here is the first step to the thought police, the political censor. Photograph: James Watkins

                  More than 80% of academics voted to remain, according to a YouGov survey [pdf] commissioned by the University and College Union in January. And within university departments focusing on European affairs, Brexiters are a rarity.

                  However, university experts on Brexit insist their personal views do not jaundice their teaching, and students are encouraged to question received assumptions and look at issues from all sides.

                  Julie Smith, director of the European Centre in the politics and international studies department at Cambridge University, says she told a lecture full of graduates about Heaton-Harriss letter last week. I told the students what my personal views were and emphasised that they were personal views. I voted to remain, but as an academic, my job is to impart knowledge, encourage debate and develop skills of analytical argument, not to impose doctrine.

                  Smith, who is also a Liberal Democrat peer, adds: If it is the case that a politician thinks he should interfere in the content of what universities are teaching and look at syllabi in order to see whether the correct line is being delivered, that is profoundly worrying.

                  Prof Piet Eeckhout, academic director of University College Londons European Institute, says it is unsurprising if most academics working on Europe are in favour of the EU. I have been teaching EU law for the last 25 years. The fact that I am sufficiently interested to spend all my days working on it obviously means I think EU law is a good thing.

                  Prof
                  Prof Kevin Featherstone, director of the European Institute at the LSE: The letter reflects a past of a McCarthyite nature

                  Pro-Brexit academics working in this area are also unhappy with the MPs behaviour. Lee Jones, reader in international politics at Queen Mary University of London, is one of the few openly pro-Brexit academics in his field. During the referendum campaign I said what I wanted and no one tried to shut me up, but I know colleagues elsewhere who have been blanked in the corridors because they voted to leave.

                  Yet Jones, too, is outraged by Heaton-Harriss investigation. It is really troubling that an MP thinks it is within his remit to start poking his nose into university teaching, he says. Universities are autonomous and politicians have no right to intimidate academics by scrutinising their courses. I have colleagues who are die-hard remainers. But I know what they teach and it is not propaganda.

                  Chris Bickerton, reader in modern European politics at Cambridge University, and a fellow leave voter agrees. He adds: In my institution there is strong support for academic freedom. I applied for promotion after the referendum and never did I worry that my views on Brexit would affect the results or my promotional prospects. Nor did I feel any institutional pressure to think one way or the other in the runup to the vote itself.

                  Heaton-Harris did not respond to requests for a comment.

                  Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/oct/24/universities-mccarthyism-mp-demands-list-brexit-chris-heaton-harris