Trump Inc. Had a Rough Year, but His D.C. Hotel Is Killing It

For a host of Trump-branded properties, 2017 brought…hiccups.

Workers removed the TRUMP sign from the hotel formerly known as TRUMP SOHO last week in the dark of night. The move came six months after the hotel formerly known as Trump International Hotel and Tower Toronto reportedly paid the Trump Organization upwards of $6 million to get out of their contract and rebrand as The Adelaide.

Just last month, the AP reported that the owners of the Trump International Hotel in Panama City are trying to de-brand themselves of Trump.

When Trump Tower Vancouver opened in February, so many protesters showed up that city buses had to be re-routed, according to CTV News. Greenpeace protesters were charged with causing thousands of dollars of damage at the Trump Tower in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune.

When Trump stopped in Hawaii on his way to his Asia trip, protesters marched to Trump Waikiki chanting, No Trump, No KKK, No fascist USA.

But no Trump property drew as much ire as the instantly-iconic Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C., situated a block from the Justice Departments headquarters and halfway between the White House and the Capitol Building. Over the year, protesters regularly amassed in front of the building, causing snarled traffic and sometimes drawing jeers from people in the building.

DJT is supposed to be out of the business and passed on to his sons, but he's definitely still involved… I had a brief meeting with him a few weeks ago, and he asked if his presidency hurt the businesses.
The director of revenue management for the Trump Hotel in D.C.

That didnt stop the president and his advisors from making frequent visits to the hotel, and it didnt stop conservative groups from hosting numerous fundraisers and events there. Over the course of the year, the hotels sprawling, palatial lobby became the place to be seen for young Republicans, campaign alums, Trump-loving tourists, and general rubber-neckers. All this is despite prices that might make fiscal conservatives blanche; a small bottle of Evian water from room service runs $9, and chicken caesar salad clocks in at $30.

And while the hotel industry nationally saw stagnant room ratesthats according to analysis from the hospitality research firm STRTrump Washington hiked its rates in the months after the Inauguration, per The Wall Street Journal, which generated significantly more revenue than the hotel had predicted. Bjorn Hanson, a professor focused on tourism and hospitality at New York University, told The Daily Beast that luxury hotels typically operate at a cash flow loss in their first two years doing business. But the opposite was the case for Trump Hotel in Washington.

The hotel initially expected to lose $2.1 million in the first four months of 2017. Instead, according to the Washington Post, it raked in $1.97 million in profits.

Patricia Tang, the hotels director of sales and marketing, said the team there is happy with its success this year.

We are very pleased with the performance of the hotel in its first full year of operation, not just financially but also with regards to the recognition of the high service standards achieved by our associates as indicated in the reviews and rankings on TripAdvisor, Expedia, Booking.com, she told The Daily Beast. We are looking forward to an even more successful 2018.

President Trump himself appears to be interested as well. Since his inauguration, he has maintained that he isnt involved in the management of his businesses. But an email from the director of revenue management for the Trump Hotel in Washington, which The Daily Beast reviewed, indicates that may not be the case.

Jeng Chi Hung, who holds that position, sent that email to an acquaintance on Sept. 12 of this year. The email opens with a few pleasantries. Then, Hung writes that he met with Trump, and that the president asked him specific questions about banquet revenues, demographics, and how his presidency impacted the business.

The email says this:

The company is interesting to work for being under the Trump umbrella. DJT is supposed to be out of the business and passed on to his sons, but he's definitely still involved… so it's interesting and unique in that way. I had a brief meeting with him a few weeks ago, and he was asking about banquet revenues and demographics. And, he asked if his presidency hurt the businesses. So, he seems self aware about things, at least more than he lets on. I am far left leaning politically, so working here has been somewhat of a challenge for me. But, it's all business.

Hungs email did not say when he met with Trump. The president dined at Trump Hotel in Washington on July 29 of this year, along with Gen. John Kelly, Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross, and Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin, according to ABC News. That meal came about six weeks before Hung sent his email about meeting with Trump, though its unclear if it coincided with that meeting.

Reached by phone, Hung told The Daily Beast, I cant comment on that.

Mickael Damelincourt, the managing director of the hotel, told The Daliy Beast that Hung told him the email was a lie.

This is total nonsense, Damelincourt said. Upon review of the email referenced in your inquiry, we have met with the individual and he has confirmed that he made these comments up in an effort to enhance his sense of importance to a former employer. In fact, this individual confirmed to me today that he has never met the President nor did any conversation ever take place. We are continuing to investigate this matter internally.

The president has long maintained that he has separated himself from his many business interests.

What Im going to be doing is my two sons, who are right here, Don and Eric, are going to be running the company, he told reporters at a Trump Tower press conference shortly before his inauguration. They are going to be running it in a very professional manner. Theyre not going to discuss it with me.

Despite that, Trump has spent a significant amount of his time as president visiting his own businesses. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a good-governance watchdog group, calculated that he has visited one of his properties including his golf club in Northern Virginia, his Mar-a-Lago club in West Palm Beach, and his hotel in downtown Washington D.C. about one of every three days hes been in office.

Jordan Libowitz, a CREW spokesperson, said the email raises serious concerns.

This appears to confirm the worst fears about the Trump administration, he said. If this is true, it means the president, his family and his spokespeople lied repeatedly about his relationship with his business.

Presidents for decades have divested their assets so as to avoid even the appearance of them worrying about their business interests, he added. With Trump, its becoming hard to tell which of his jobs is his top priority.

The opulent lobby of the Trump hotel in Washington has become a de facto clubhouse for so-called Deplorables. Internet-famous Trump supporters like Mike Cernovich, Roger Stone, and Lucian Wintrich have all made appearances there.

On Oct. 27, the hotel was the site of a surprise birthday dinner for Ivanka Trump that Jared Kushner, Melania Trump, and the president himself all attended. It was the presidents third time dining at the hotel in October, according to the log CREW keeps. A host of lobbying groups looking to influence the Trump administration have also had events there, and foreign diplomats also frequent the hotel.

Two other Trump properties have also drawn major national prominence over the first year of his presidency: Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., and the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

The president has been unabashed about his affection for what hes dubbed the Winter White House, which reportedly doubled its membership dues after the election. After signing a controversial tax overhaul, he announced to diners there that they just got richer, according to CBS News. And while transparency advocates have been suing the Secret Service for access to the clubs visitor logs, the administration has refused to budge. And when the president ordered a missile strike on an airfield in Syria, his billionaire commerce secretary Wilbur Ross described the display as after-dinner entertainment.

The president has yet to order a major military strike from his golf course in New Jersey, which has its own helipad. But he hasnt let his status as Commander in Chief slow down his gold game. And, as The Daily Beast reported, the Secret Service agents who accompany his frequent trips to the club are trying to be friendlier to its members. And he interviewed billionaire Betsy DeVos there before nominating her to be his education secretary. McClatchy reported that Trump personally pockets the membership fees and annual dues Bedminsters members pay.

These properties all defined the first year of Trumps presidency. And his presidency, in turn, defined them. Hanson, the NYU professor, said the hotels lucrative first year is probably due in large part to media attention but added that in the years to come, its success should be sustainable.

Even the critics of the Washington property acknowledged that it actually turned out better than maybe expected one of the better of the Trump properties, if not among the best, he said.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-inc-had-a-rough-year-but-his-dc-hotel-is-killing-it

Cyclist who gave Trump the middle finger: ‘He wasn’t going to hear me through the glass’

Juli Briskman has been hailed as a hero and fired from her job for a spur-of-the moment demonstration that quickly spread around the world

Juli Briskman found flowers on her doorstep on Monday night. Juli: I dont know you and yet I am so proud of you, an accompanying note said. Youre my hero. Truly. Thank you for standing up to this admin. We need more like you. Continue to resist. Were with you all the way. Sally M.

Briskman does not know who Sally M is, but she knows what motivated the message. In the past week, she has received media calls from as far away as Colombia and Sweden as well as her share of hate mail. One told her: I hope you get used to saying, Do you want fries with that?

It is all because of a split-second decision that made Juli Briskman a hero of the resistance and a case study in the wildly unpredictable effects of social media.

It was 3.12pm on Saturday 28 October when Donald Trump, after a round of golf, departed the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, northern Virginia. His motorcade, which included the Guardian and other journalists, overtook a female cyclist wearing a white top and cycling helmet, who responded by raising the middle finger of her left hand.

The fleet of vehicles swept on imperiously on but then slowed for a red light, and the cyclist caught up. She persisted. She flipped the bird a second time before turning right as the motorcade turned left.

A photo of her act of defiance took off on social media. The Washington Post called it the middle-finger salute seen around the world. The late-night TV host Stephen Colbert said: No one has summed up the mood of the country better Long may she wave.

Briskman
Briskman flips the bird. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The courageous cyclists face was not visible in the photo. However, in the social media age, and with some assistance from the protester herself, her identity did not stay secret for long. Briskman, 50, came clean and told her bosses at Akima, a government contracting firm in Herndon, Virginia. The marketing executive was promptly fired for violating the code of conduct policy even though she was off duty at the time.

The story generated worldwide headlines again and an outpouring of sympathy for Briskman, who clearly struck a chord. I think the point is this resonates because millions of people feel the way that I do, she told the Guardian, looking relaxed in an interview at her home on Tuesday.

I dont know that its all about me. I mean, some people have compared that picture to Tiananmen Square and I think that might be a bit of a reach I wasnt standing in front of three tanks and I wasnt putting a flower in a military guys rifle like that one flower child picture thats fairly famous. But having said that, someone said to me, You dont see it because youre in it. You dont see it but it is that.

Briskman lives with her 15-year-old daughter, 12-year-old son and labrador retriever, Sailor, near the golf club. The pleasant home is adorned with a piano, guitar and panels printed with aphorisms such as All you need is love and Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.

Perhaps most fittingly, in a downstairs bathroom is a print that states: Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably & never regret anything that made you smile.

She describes herself as more of a runner than a cyclist: she celebrated her 50th birthday by pounding 50km. She has run five marathons and has a personal best of five hours 17 minutes. On a wall are numerous medals from the Ragnar long distance relay: this weekend will be her 13th. The door to the garage is plastered with numbered bibs.

Inside the garage there are stickers on the wall that say Proud Democrat and Im an Obama Democrat. There is also the now celebrated bike: a blue Trek hybrid.

It does not take long in the company of Briskman, who had two spells abroad as a member of the US diplomatic corps, to realise that giving the finger was out of character. Its not something I do a lot, she mused. It was just sort of like, here I am on my bike. Ive got nothing, right? This is pretty much the only thing I had to express my opinion. He wasnt going to hear me through bullet-proof glass So that was pretty much how I could say what I wanted to say, right?

She never saw Trump so had no way of gauging his reaction, but she did observe others in the motorcade. I believe I caught the gaze and locked eyes with one of the Secret Service guys who had a gun. And then I remember seeing the white cars behind the black cars that said Secret Service.

And then, when I came past it a second time, there was a guy looking out with a very round face and grey hair. I dont know who that was but he was looking out and I looked at him and he had no reaction I was a little bit nervous because you dont know what the political persuasion is of the folks that are riding with him.

The motorcade went on its way, however, and Briskman went to bed that night assuming it was the end of the matter. She texted her family about what had happened and one member joked that it was real mature.

But a Guardian pool report and wire photos of the incident were spreading far and wide, generating both hero worship and vilification. Briskman got up late the next morning. A friend of mine texted me She said, Im so proud of you. And she sent me a link.

That led to the local branch of the Indivisible movement. A friend had posted that she knew the identity of the cyclist but would let her identify herself. And so I respond, Yes, that was me, ha ha ha.

Briskman put the photo of her protest up on her Twitter profile. She did the same on her Facebook page, which was private and visible only to users she selected. But she did not identify herself as the woman on the bike. She could merely have been a fan expressing her admiration. I was walking the line, so to speak.

juli
Briskman: I believe I caught the gaze and locked eyes with one of the Secret Service guys who had a gun. Photograph: Liz Lynch for the Guardian

However, there was no holding back the tide. People started tagging me and they started putting it on my Facebook. The Guardian article was posted several times. So yes, I started a snowball on Sunday and then on Monday another employer of mine, a yoga studio, said can you please do me a really big favor and take us off of your Facebook page.

The yoga studio had received threatening emails and bogus bad reviews on its own Facebook page. Briskman knew exposure was inevitable and decided to take the initiative by informing her bosses at Akima, where she had worked for six months. She was quickly dismissed.

They werent brutal, but they were very matter-of-fact and their minds werent going to be changed, she said.

Briskman believes the decision was particularly unfair because, earlier this year, she says, she found an offensive public comment by a senior director at the company in an online discussion about Black Lives Matter. He was ordered to delete it but kept his job. Briskman has been in consultation with the American Civil Liberties Union and a lawyer. No decisions made but well see, she said.

Nevertheless, Briskman says she doesnt regret what she did and is now considering her next move. I think that Ill be able to land on my feet.

She does not rule out a new career in politics; on Tuesday morning she was helping Democratic efforts in the governors race in Virginia. Sympathisers have launched two GoFundMe efforts for her; one has already raised $12,000.

Her view of the Trump presidency is scathing. Horrible, she said. Im embarrassed. Some people have said you should respect the office even if you dont respect the person. Im like: Im sorry, he does not respect the office. If he respected the office and he was serving honorably, despite my political differences, I can respect the office. I respected the office when Bush and Bush and Reagan were in there.

Its politics by Twitter, its policy by Twitter, she said of Trumps penchant for the social media platform. Thats not presidential to me.

Briskman, whose Twitter followers have soared from 24 last month to nearly 15,000 now, reflected on how social media had changed her life. The lesson is you cant stage things for a marketing proposition. You cant plan this to happen. I wasnt trying to get noticed, except by Trump himself.

And she bears no ill will to the media who made her famous. Was I shocked and surprised that I got my picture taken? Was it a little bit of a lesson you could get your picture taken any time? Perhaps. But no, I dont have any anger toward the Guardian or toward Steve Herman [Voice of Americas White House bureau chief] for tweeting it. I know that he was criticised to a certain extent that this shouldnt be part of the record. But its his job, and I dont think he should be criticised for it and I dont think you should be, either.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/07/cyclist-who-gave-trump-the-middle-finger-its-not-something-i-do-a-lot

Woman who gave Donald Trump the middle finger fired from her job

Juli Briskman, a 50-year-old mother of two, said marketing company bosses called her in and fired her for obscene gesture

A woman whose picture went viral after she raised her middle finger at Donald Trump as his motorcade passed her on her bicycle has been fired from her job.

Juli Briskman was cycling in Virginia last month when she offered the gesture in a gut reaction to Trumps policies, she said.

He was passing by and my blood just started to boil, she told the Huffington Post. Im thinking, Daca recipients are getting kicked out. He pulled ads for open enrollment in Obamacare. Only one third of Puerto Rico has power. Im thinking, hes at the damn golf course again.

I flipped off the motorcade a number of times.

A photographer traveling with the presidential motorcade snapped Briskmans picture and the image quickly spread across news outlets and social media. Many hailed Briskman as a hero, with some saying she should run in the 2020 election. Late-night comedy hosts also picked up the story.

Briskman had been working as a marketing and communications specialist for a Virginia-based federal contractor, Akima, for six months. She thought it best to alert the HR department to the online fuss. Bosses then called her into a meeting, she said.

They said, Were separating from you, Briskman told the Huffington Post. Basically, you cannot have lewd or obscene things in your social media. So they were calling flipping him off obscene.

She said the company was displeased she had used the image as her profile picture on Twitter and Facebook, and told her it violated social media policy and could hurt the companys reputation as a government contractor.

Briskman said she pointed out that her social media pages do not mention her employer, and that the incident happened on her own time. She also said another employee had written a profane insult about someone on Facebook, but had been allowed to keep his job after deleting the post and being reprimanded.

Virginia, however, has at will employment laws, meaning private-sector employers can fire people for any reason.

Suddenly, the 50-year-old mother of two found herself looking for a new job.

Briskman, who votes Democratic, said she planned to look for a new job with an advocacy group she believes in, such as Planned Parenthood or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

After leaving his Virginia golf club and before passing Briskman, Trumps motorcade passed a pedestrian who gave a vigorous thumbs-down gesture. Another woman had been standing outside the entrance to the golf club, holding a sign saying Impeach.

As news of Briskmans firing spread, many social media users asked why she was being penalized for expressing free speech on her own time, under the first amendment to the US constitution.

Akima did not immediately respond to a request for comment. On Monday, its website went down. Someone began a crowdfunding page online to raise money for Briskman.

Briskman said she had no regrets about the attention her public show of displeasure received. In fact, she said, she was happy to be an image of protest.

In some ways, Im doing better than ever, she said. Im angry about where our country is right now. I am appalled. This was an opportunity for me to say something.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/06/woman-trump-middle-finger-fired-juli-briskman

Woman fired for giving Trump motorcade the finger

Late last month, a woman biking alongside President Donald Trump‘s motorcade extended her middle finger and became a folk hero to the left. Now, she’s out of a job.

Juli Briskman revealed that her employer, Akima LLC, fired her once they realized she was the woman in the picture, she told the Huffington Post.

On its About page, Akima says it has a wide variety of interests in government contracting, playing “leadership roles in information technology, data communications, systems engineering, software development, cybersecurity, space operations, aviation, construction, facility management, fabrication and logistics.”

Briskman said that she recently changed her Facebook profile picture to herself giving Trump’s motorcade the finger, and when Akima found out about it, its HR department notified Briskman that she had violated its policy on social media posts.

“They said, ‘We’re separating from you. Basically, you cannot have ‘lewd’ or ‘obscene’ things in your social media. So they were calling flipping him off ‘obscene.’”

Briskman said she informed the company that her social media profile did not associate her with the company in any way, but Akima reportedly was concerned that her employment with the company could negatively affect their business, as they rely on government contracts. From the Huffington Post:

Briskman, who worked in marketing and communications at Akima for just over six months, said she emphasized to the executives that she wasn’t on the job when the incident happened and that her social media pages don’t mention her employer. They told her that because Akima was a government contractor, the photo could hurt their business, she said.

According to Briskman, her termination stands in contrast to a male employee at the company, who she says posted on Facebook in a thread about Black Lives Matter, calling someone “a fucking Libtard asshole.” Briskman said he deleted the post at the company’s request and was allowed to keep his job.

Read the whole interview at the Huffington Post here.

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/trump-motorade-finger-woman-fired/

John Legend: Trump is an embarrassment to the country

The music star talks about everyday racism in the US, how his wife Chrissy Teigen makes him bolder and why La La Land shouldnt be written off as a white film about jazz

On the morning of our interview, John Legend was hitting out at the president of the United States on Twitter again.

You cant be impeached if you resign first, he wrote in response to Donald Trumps latest social media missive. Just a thought.

I feel like its not super controversial, he explains that afternoon. Ithink Trump is an embarrassment to the country. And his approval rating isterrible.

Legends three-legged, rescued French bulldog, Penny, is scampering through the halls of his Los Angeles home like an asthmatic pinball, and he pauses for her to pass underfoot as he brings us two glasses of ros. He is wearing a white T-shirt and jeans and his mood is the human equivalent of the prayer-hands emoji. That seems to be his default. Its difficult to picture Legend angry or anything other than the absolute essence of calm. He doles out thoughtfully articulated thesis statements in a rhythmic murmur, perhaps best described as a mix of pillow talk and a TED talk.

Legend, 38, released his sixth album, Darkness and Light, last December, which earned praise from the Guardian for its musical weirdness and lyrical bleakness. Now he is preparing for an arena tour of Britain this autumn, where he will be joined by his 16-month-old daughter, Luna, who does not much appreciate this whole interview thing.

Da-ad! she calls from upstairs, her voice echoing into the dining room. Luna! Legend yells back, cutting himself off mid-sentence. She knows Im talking, he says.

Luna pads downstairs and joins Legend at the piano. The shelves behind him are covered in awards, including 10 Grammys and an Oscar; her onesie is covered in tiny pink owls. He runs his hands over the keys as she smashes them intermittently, pausing for me to clap, then staring back at her dad for approval. They have clearly done this before. Lunas giant brown eyes and halo of curls make frequent appearances in the feeds of Legends 7.1 million Instagram followers, as does his wife, Chrissy Teigen, a model, feminist firebrand and celebrity in her own right. (Actually, she has more than 14 million followers, but whos counting?)

Together, the two frequently peel back the curtain on their lives, from whatever movie they are watching during a night in to pointed takedowns of the US president.

Well, [Trumps] an entertainer, too, in a New York way, says Legend. When he is criticising something, he is usually projecting. So, he calls people liars because he is a liar. He talks about the entertainment business because he rose through the entertainment business. He talks about people being corrupt, because he is corrupt. He talks about people being violent because he encourages violence. So, hes usually projecting when he criticises someone. Legend and his wife are active in the resistance against Trump, ignoring fans on social media who tell them to stay in your lane.

Artists, I think, by constitution and disposition, are just more liberal than the average population. They tend to want progress and change, he says, and they also tend to have worlds that are more diverse maybe than the average person.

Time for a zoo visit! #LunasFirstTour

A post shared by John Legend (@johnlegend) on

The couple share a lot on social media, which is part 360 marketing strategy, part just their real life.

I think it would be harder if we were trying to put up some facade that wasnt real, but since who we are on social media is really natural and really a reflection of who we are in our private life in a lot of ways, I think it feels very unforced for us, he says. It feels like a natural conversation. When I talk about politics on Twitter, when I Instagram my daughter, these are just the things Im thinking about and the things I care about.

Legend and Teigen give a lot to their fans through social media, but it is also a way of controlling images of themselves. Ithink it devalues paparazzi photos when you control your own narrative, he says. I think we have enough wisdom to know when its the right time to share and when it isnt. Occasionally, well make a mistake but, generally speaking, Im happy with what weve chosen to share, and I think its generally better than the alternative of going through publicists and tabloids.

As a result, the line between Legend and Teigens private and public lives has become blurred as even the tiniest reveals on Snapchat and Instagram Legend taking off Teigens jewellery after the Grammys, Teigen posting pictures of her stretchmarks generate headlines. At this point, it is what their fans have come to expect.

It doesnt feel like its foreign to me to write a love song, Legend says. Itdoesnt feel like its foreign to me to express how I feel politically.

With
With his wife Chrissy Teigen. Photograph: David Livingston/Getty Images

Certainly he is open about the psychological toll of social media: Women get it much worse, he says. Because, anything you say, your looks are going to get evaluated no matter what, your right to speak is being questioned no matter what. I think the world in general is harder on women that choose to speak their mind about anything. I see it with Chrissy all the time. Its awful, but shes good at handling it. Plainly, he adores her. The couple, who married in Italy in 2013, have been together for nearly a decade, with the brief exception of one almost-breakup. I was really stressed and busy, he says. I was just like: Id just be happier single right now, and she was like: No. They were dating again less than half an hour later. She pushes me to be funnier, he says, not because shes trying to, I think its just being around her. And to be bolder.

If anything about his public perception really bothers him, its probably the love-song thing; Legend is deeply inspired by Marvin Gaye and, like his idol, has come to be attached to calling-card hits, which perhaps makehisworkseem one-dimensional.

People kind of expect a show or an album to be full of All of Mes and Ordinary Peoples, he says, referencing his biggest hits to date, But, if you come and see the show, you know its much more dynamic than that.

Legend has been making major-label records for almost 15 years now, starting with Get Lifted in 2003. Born John Stephens to a seamstress and factory worker in Ohio, Legend grew up close to the Pentecostal church. He started playing piano at age four, and began performing in services not long after. There was a brief crossover into theatre and he sang in an a cappella group at the University of Pennsylvania, where he went to college. Picture it, he says with a laugh.

Entering public high school at age 12 as a shy, previously homeschooled child meant it took Legend a while to blossom into a place where he was comfortable socially. He graduated high school two years early at age 16, and was prom king and student body president. After university, he kept singing, but his stellar grades led to a consulting job. That is, until his roommate introduced him to his producer cousin: Kanye West.

West wasnt a superstar yet this was right before he released his debut album, The College Dropout but he quickly ascended to notoriety and Legend became the first artist to sign tohis label, Good Music.

His fame was getting to the point where everybody was looking for who the next guy out of his camp was going to be, says Legend. And it was me!

Kanye
Kanye Wests 2003 performance at the Canal Room, pictured with John Legend, Mos Def, Consequence and Damon Dash among others. Photograph: Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Teigen entered the picture in 2007, when a music video director paired them on a shoot for Legends Stereo. He showed Legend a photo of this Billabong model and said he thought they might hit it off. The resulting product is a staged look at the couples first day meeting and falling in love.

It was this one-on-one video of just me and a girl, and shes my love interest in the video, Legend says, with a far-off smile. We spent the whole day dancing together, grinding together, he continues, drifting off for a moment. And,uh, we made a music video.

Fast-forward to 2017, where they have become megastars as individuals and as a couple. Legend and Teigen have a massive amount of agency in their careers, although that doesnt mean there arent compromises. As a mainstream star, Legend is well aware that a careful balance between art and commerce is crucial to his continued success. A lot of artists are rather precious when discussing this aspect of songwriting. Legend is refreshinglyfrank.

Your main work is hopefully honest and true, and something that you also believe in artistically, but you also have to sell it, he says. Everybodys level of success at managing that balance is kind of what defines you as an artist.

Darkness and Light is a more meditative spin on his comfort-food soul. It is easy listening that contemplates the paradoxes of a public identity, laced with political edge. This is my most honest and soulful work, says Legend. It feels like the most me that Ive ever been.

Performs
Performing at the 2017 Essence Festival, New Orleans. Photograph: Invision/AP/Amy Harris

One song from the album, Penthouse Floor, presents itself as a jam about finding the nights party, but then reveals itself as an examination of power and the lack of diversity in influential spaces. It makes you want to dance, while unflinchingly asking who gets a seat at the table. That said, Legend finds the representation debate to be overrated: There have been plenty of examples of black success before, he says and he makes a nuanced argument for why La La Land (in which he starred) should not be written off as a white film about jazz.

A lot of people said: Youre making a jazz film, how can you have a mostly white cast? he says. That wasnt what the film was supposed to be about. It was a movie about two artists who were in love, two artists who were trying to figure out their art and their romance at the same time. Somebody else can make another jazz film that highlights other characters, people of colour, and the black people who invented jazz. (And, by the way, he was thrilled that Moonlight won the Oscar.)

Legend doesnt see a stark separation between art and artist, but he does make specific choices about where and how to express his beliefs. Some of it Im more comfortable putting on Twitter than I am putting it in a song, he says. You know, tweeting about mass incarceration policy, that medium is different than a songwriting medium, and there are things Ill say in a tweet or in a speech that I wont say in a song.

Mass incarceration and education are Legends two major initiatives and he has two organisations that focus on reform in both areas, contributing research, raising awareness and getting involved in political races where necessary. It is fundamental to the way he sees the world. For peoples lives to really change, I think systems have to change, he says.

The rise of Trump has ushered in gruesome displays of racism in US culture, most recently at the violent rally in Charlottesville by neo-Nazis and the KKK. We know that thats evil, Legend says of the events, But its also evil that having a white-sounding name versus a black-sounding name will get you 50% more callbacks for your interviews. Its not as violent, its not as physically devastating, but it affects black people every single day.

The overarching message of love in Legends music seems inextricably linked to his ethical compassion. Cornel West said that love in the public sense is justice, he says. So, Ithink about what it means to love your neighbour, to love the people across town. To him, love in practice means caring about justice and equality. This takes on a far heavier meaning given Legends presence as a prominent black man. He feels urgency in using his platform not only to speak out but to change systems. For any black person, our story has been so much about slavery and so much about dealing with Jim Crow, and we try not to think of ourselves and our people as a problem all of the time, or as someone in struggle all of the time. But we are struggling our people in general are struggling.

His voice is a little tighter now. We are sitting in his sprawling mansion, discussing his impossibly charmed life and the injustices he not only fights, but still feels in a very real way.

I know that Im doing well and Im very fortunate, but I have family members that have been locked up. I have people who are very close to me who have been in prison for years, so I never forget who I am and where I come from, he says, pausing before this next thought. Maybe it is more of a burden being black. Even if you succeed, you still have that memory and connection to struggle, but because Im in a position of privilege now, Ive chosen to make sure that Im not the only one who succeeds.

John Legends UK tour starts on 8September

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/sep/03/john-legend-trump-racism-chrissy-teigen-la-la-land

Trump’s day of doom for national monuments approaches

Created by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the Cascade-Siskiyou monument protects Oregons extraordinary biodiversity, from butterflies to trout. But a Trump review threatens to open the landscape to the timber industry

Dave Willis, a grizzled woodsman and backcountry outfitter, has spent decades laboring to protect the mountains of south-western Oregon, one of the most beautiful, biodiverse regions in the country.

Through grassrootsactivism, Willis and his conservationist allies have won the support of two US presidents. In 2000, Bill Clinton created the roughly 52,000-acre Cascade-Siskiyou national monument, proclaiming it an ecological wonderland. Located just outside of Ashland, it was the first such monument established solely for its extraordinary species diversity. Its a place that harbors rare lilies and endemic trout, Pacific fishers andgoshawks, black bears and a stunning array of butterflies.

During his final week in office, meanwhile, Barack Obama added about 48,000 acres to the Cascade-Siskiyou monument, nearly doubling it in size.

Now, the Trump administration is threatening to undo it all. In April, the White House announced its intent to review 27 different national monument designations, as the Interior Department looks for commercial opportunities for the oil, mining and timber industries on American public lands. And the Cascade-Siskiyou preserve is on the list.

All the signs indicate that were in the crosshairs, says Willis, as his horses drift through 10-storey trees during a recent ride through the monument. We could lose it all.

With the monument review due to the president on Thursday, conservationists like Willis are on edge. Ryan Zinke, the swaggeringMontana native who is the secretary of the interior and is leading the effort, has already unveiled some of his recommendations. They include shrinking the Bears Ears national monument in Utah, a 1.3 million-acre monument created by Obama to protect Native American antiquities. Zinke said six monuments should be left alone, which leaves 20 including the Cascade-Siskiyou at risk of being reduced in size, eliminated or opened to industrial uses.

Ryan
Ryan Zinke, whos overseeing Trumps review of 27 national monuments, has said only six should be left alone. Photograph: Steve Marcus/AP

In late July, Zinke, visited Cascade-Siskiyou; he met with monument opponents and supporters. He hasnt yet publicly signaled the direction he is leaning in. But since his arrival in Washington, Zinke has been remaking the interior department by filling senior positions with representatives from extractive industries and rightwing advocacy groups.

At its core, the monument review is an attempt to weaken the Antiquities Act, one of Americas oldest public-interest conservation laws. Backing the review are some of the most powerful conservative factions in Washington, including organizations such as the Heritage Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Americans for Prosperity, all heavily financed by dark-money funds tied to wealthy Republican donors.

The debate over Cascade-Siskiyou presents a snapshot of the cultural and economic conflict that so often characterizes public land management in the American west. Its a conflict that regularly pits scientists, conservationists and the burgeoning outdoor-recreation economy against the industrial interests that have dominated the region for well over a century. The struggle is about power and wealth and culture who gets to decide how the publicly owned mountains and mineral deposits and timberlands are managed.

The underlying issue, across the west, says Steve Pedery, the conservation director at Oregon Wild, is that oil, gas, mining, grazing and logging interests are angry because 20 years ago they ruled public lands, and today they dont.

Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, the president is authorized to unilaterally declare any federally owned object of historic or scientific interest a national monument and preserve it in perpetuity for all Americans. Every president since Theodore Roosevelt, save Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush, has used it, and this country now has a grand total of 129 such monuments. The 27 monuments now under review were set aside over the past three decades by Clinton, George W Bush and Obama. Donald Trump is the first president to consider undoing the designation of monuments by his predecessors.

Bill
Bill Clinton, flanked by Al Gore, designates the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Photograph: Doug Mills/AP

In 2000, when Clinton initially established the Cascade-Siskiyou monument, he described it as a biological crossroads the interface of the Cascade, Klamath and Siskiyou eco-regions, in an area of unique geology, biology, climate and topography. The monuments extraordinary species diversity includes a vast selection of birds and furbearers, of wildflowers and ferns and fungi, much of it undisturbed by industrial activity or real estate development.

In 2011, however, local scientists came together and concluded that the monument did not sufficiently protect the full range of species diversity in the landscape. They published a report that urged the Obama administration to expand it and began a campaign to make the Cascade-Siskiyou monument bigger.

A
A cascade within Sucker Creek inside the Siskiyou National Forest in southern Oregon. Photograph: Kevin Schafer/Getty Images

The Soda Mountain Wilderness Council, chaired by Dave Willis, along with a slew of other environmental groups, led the charge. They did the slow grassroots work that conservation work often requires, from lobbying federal representatives to taking people into the backcountry to see the landscape for themselves. Oregons governor, both its senators and numerous state legislators backed the expansion. The nearby Klamath Tribes were behind it, too.

In mid-January, they largely prevailed when Obama agreed to expand the monument.

But the opposition was significant. The expansion would permanently withdraw as much as 45,000 acres of land from most commercial timber production though many of these had already been set aside for conservation purposes. Greg Walden, the states powerful Republican congressman opposed the expansion. The governments of all three counties containing the monument, as well as seven Oregon state legislators and two California members of Congress, also were against it. The most vigorous foes, though, were members of the timber industry.

The economic impacts [of the monument expansion] would be devastating, says Travis Joseph, president of the Portland-based American Forest Resource Council, or AFRC, a timber industry trade group. Joseph says neighboring counties would forever lose revenue for public safety, health and roads, asserting that those acres could support or create a few hundred jobs.

In March, the AFRC filed a lawsuit in federal court arguing that Obamas national monument expansion wasnt just economically harmful but also fundamentally illegal. The suit relies on a little known law called the the Oregon and California Revested Lands Sustained Yield Management Act (known as the O&C Act) of 1937. The law declares that these lands are to be managed for permanent forest production to provide timber, protect watersheds and contribute to local economic stability.

In its lawsuit, AFRC claims that Obamas monument expansion violated the 1937 law by banning most commercial logging. A few other parties, including a regional wood products manufacturer called Murphy Company and an alliance of county governments, filed similar lawsuits last winter.

While this fight is about timber production on public lands, it also reflects the sense among some people that the federal government is an overweening bully trying to snuff out the economic and cultural heritage of rural westerners. Colleen Roberts, for instance, a Jackson County commissioner, sees the monument expansion as a top-down designation that will stifle local authority.

Another concern I personally have is just a continuation of federal land-grabbing, she says, sitting in front of an American flag in her Jackson County office. Constitutionally I dont know if that is what the federal government was supposed to do, to own all of our land and control it.

A similar mentality was on display last February, in what might be the Cascade-Siskiyous most Bundy-esque moment. For one day, a caravan of big pickups descended on the area for an anti-monument rally meant to protect culture, heritage and livelihoods. Scores of protesters drove to the Green Springs Inn, a small restaurant and hotel located on private property inside the Cascade-Siskiyou area and whose owners are ardent monument advocates. The rally featured a hodgepodge of members of interest groups from militia supporters to motorized vehicle proponents, who stood outside the inn and held signs reading New Endangered Species: Rural American and Quit Closing Roads.

We really need to stick up for our culture, said Ryan Mallory, a local marketing consultant who helped organize the rally, during a radio interview in February. And in a way I feel like this is an attack on a culture, a culture of people that has been here for more than 150 years.

Diarmuid McGuire, one of the Green Springs Inns proprietors, says the monument has helped business and put us on the map. But it has also inflamed raw divisions.

You have two cultures with two totally different value systems and two different political agendas and in our community everyone is sort of amalgamated, McGuire says. It is a culture war, really, and when you organize a political rally around it, you get the anti-monument people, you get the gun people … and then you get the anti-government militia mixed in, and we had them all here across the street. He points to his neighbors property across the street, displaying a sign in block letters: NO MONUMENT OUR LAND OUR VOICE.

Steve Pedery of Oregon Wild says the forest products industry and its allies are trying to return Oregon to some long vanished golden era of timber riches. The industry, after all, has declined immensely in the state, from a peak of having nearly 90,000 direct payroll jobs in the 1950s to roughly 31,000 today.

All the while, the outdoor recreation industry has blossomed, currently employing more than 140,000 people in Oregon, according to a report from the Outdoor Industry Association.

In February and March, conservation groups like Oregon Wild, Williss Soda Mountain Wilderness Council and some of their collaborators, fearing that the Trump administration might settle with the timber industry, lawyered up and intervened in the court cases in an attempt to defend the monument.

Willis is troubled bythe lawsuits and Trumps monument review, but he and his allies have battled what he calls the timber-county industrial complex for years. Its been a hard slog to prevent timber sales, buy out grazing permits, limit off-road vehicle access and otherwise preserve and restore this place. Willis, who lost both feet and his fingers to frostbite during a Denali ascent decades ago, is a determined man. And no matter what transpires now, no matter what the secretary of the interior says or a distant judge declares, hell keep fighting to protect the landscape he loves.

Love where you live, he says, riffing on a conservationist slogan. Defend what you love.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/20/national-monuments-review-may-limit-environment-protection-

Donald Trump makes snarling threats on Twitter if new healthcare bill isnt passed

After a devastating defeaton the Senate bill to repeal Obamacare early Friday morning, President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday afternoon to send a threatening message to lawmakers and insurance companies.

Early Saturday morning, Trump demanded the Senate kill off the filibuster rule (even though the healthcare bill onlyneeded a simple majority) and said the GOP senators looked like fools.Trumps anger apparently continued on later in the day.

Though it seems unlikely at this point that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could get an Obamacare repeal passed at this pointhe tried three times last week and failed each timethe Trump administration still could hurt Obamacare.

As the Los Angeles Timesexplained:

Officials could stop marketing and outreach efforts that encourage people to sign up during open enrollment periods. They could refuse to enforce the requirement that people buy insurance or pay a tax a step that officials already have said they will take. And they could stop trying to keep insurance companies in the markets.

None of those actions would cause the markets to collapse overnight, but they would destabilize them over time by driving out healthy people, which causes costs to rise, which in turn drives out more healthy people. Thats whats known as a death spiral, and it could happen at least in some parts of the country eventually.

The biggest issue involves money that has the bureaucratic-sounding name of cost-sharing reductions. Basically, the government tells insurers that they need to hold down the insurance deductibles and co-payments that they charge low-income people. That costs the insurers money. To make the insurers whole, the government is supposed to reimburse them.

Trump has threatened to stop those payments, which costs about $600 million per month. If he cuts off those reimbursements, insurance companies likely would raise premiums and/or pull out of the individual market. That, observers fear, would send the insurance market into pure chaos.

Trump already has taken to threatening members of his own party. He jokingly wondered if Nevada Sen. Dean Heller wanted to be reelected in 2018, and Heller, who originally showed misgivings about the healthcare bill, eventually voted with the GOP. He also tweeted out a threatto Alaskas Lisa Murkowski, but she still voted to kill the bill.

Whether the Republicans are scared of Trumps threats or whether theyre scared he might decimate the insurance markets, their response to his latest threats remains to be seen. But a number of key Republicans in Congress have already said the reimbursements need to continue as normal.

I think theyre going to have to be paid, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told Politico earlier this month. You cant let people be without basic health care.

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/donald-trump-threatens-congress-insurance-companies/

How climate scepticism turned into something more dangerous

The long read: Doubts about the science are being replaced by doubts about the motives of scientists and their political supporters. Once this kind of cynicism takes hold, is there any hope for the truth?

Last month Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord. For his supporters, it provided evidence, at last, that the president is a man of his word. He may not have kept many campaign promises, but he kept this one. For his numerous critics it is just another sign of how little Trump cares about evidence of any kind. His decision to junk the Paris accord confirms Trump as the poster politician for the post-truth age.

But this is not just about Trump. The motley array of candidates who ran for the Republican presidential nomination was divided on many things, but not on climate change. None of them was willing to take the issue seriously. In a bitterly contentious election, it was a rare instance of unanimity. The consensus that climate is a non-subject was shared by all the candidates who appeared in the first major Republican debate in August 2015 Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Mike Huckabee and Trump. Republican voters were offered 10 shades of denialism.

As Huckabee quipped in January 2015, any talk of global warming was a distraction from the real dangers the country faced: A beheading is a far greater threat to an American than a sunburn. Trumps remarks on climate may have more been erratic (I want to use hairspray! he said at one point, confusing global warming with the hole in the ozone layer) but their consistent theme was that manmade climate change is a hoax, perpetrated by the enemies of the US, who may or may not include China.

Climate science has become a red rag to the political right. The scientific consensus is clear: more than 95% of climate researchers agree that human activity is causing global warming, and that without action to combat it we are on a path to dangerous temperature rises from pre-industrial levels. But the mere existence of this consensus gets taken by its political opponents as a priori evidence of a stitch-up. Why else would scientists and left-leaning politicians be agreeing with each other all the time if they werent scratching each others backs? Knowledge is easily turned into elite knowledge, which is tantamount to privileged snobs telling ordinary people what to think. Trumps stance reflects the mutual intolerance that now exists between those promoting the scientific consensus and those for whom the consensus is just another political racket. Trump didnt create this division. He is simply exploiting it.

It is tempting for anyone on the scientific side of the divide to want to apportion all the blame to the alt-facts crowd, who see elite conspiracies everywhere. But there is more going on here than dumb politics versus smart science. The facts are not just the innocent victims of politics. The facts have long been put in the service of politics, which is what fuels the suspicions of those who wish to deny them. The politicisation can cut both ways.

The politics of climate change poses a stark dilemma for anyone wanting to push back against the purveyors of post-truth. Should they bide their time and trust that the facts will win out in the end? Or do they use the evidence as weapons in the political fight, in which case they risk confirming the suspicion that they have gone beyond the facts? It is not just climate scientists who find themselves in this bind. Economists making the case against Brexit found that the more they insisted on agreement inside the profession about the dangers, the more it was viewed with suspicion from the outside by people who regarded it as a political con.

Post-truth politics also poses a problem for scepticism. A healthy democracy needs to leave plenty of room for doubt. There are lots of good reasons to be doubtful about what the reality of climate change will entail: though there is scientific agreement about the fact of global warming and its source in human activity, the ultimate risks are very uncertain and so are the long-term consequences. There is plenty of scope for disagreement about the most effective next steps. The existence of a very strong scientific consensus does not mean there should be a consensus about the correct political response. But the fact of the scientific consensus has produced an equal and opposite reaction that squeezes the room for reasonable doubt. The certainty among the scientists has engendered the most intolerant kind of scepticism among the doubters.

Not all climate sceptics are part of the alt-right. But everyone in the alt-right is now a climate sceptic. Thats what makes the politics so toxic. It means that climate scepticism is being driven out by climate cynicism. A sceptic questions the evidence for a given claim and asks whether it is believable. A cynic questions the motives of the people who deploy the evidence, regardless of whether it is believable or not. Any attempt to defend the facts gets presented as evidence that the facts simply suit the interests of the people peddling them.

Climate change is the defining political issue of our times and not simply because of the risks we run if we get it wrong. An inadequate response if we do too little, too late could inflict untold damage on the habitable environment. But even before that day comes, the contest over the truth about climate change is doing serious damage to our democracy.

The fight over climate reveals how easily politics can get in the way of the facts, and how hard it can be to escape once cynicism exerts its grip. In many ways, climate science is particularly vulnerable to political distortion. But the issue of climate change also shows that it is a false comfort for liberal elites to think that the facts will win in the end. If they do, it wont be because we woke up to the science. It will be because we woke up to the politics.


Climate science has not always been so political. The idea that manmade carbon emissions are contributing to significant changes in the climate first came to public notice in the 1960s and 1970s. But attention to the issue was not primarily driven by politics, despite an attempt by Richard Nixon when president to push for more research into the issue. Most of the early consciousness-raising came from journalists.

In 1975, Newsweek made a splash with the claim that the science of climate change was pointing to the imminent threat of global cooling. This warning gained notoriety but little political traction, at a time when the dangers of nuclear war and the economic consequences of the oil crisis crowded out other forms of apocalypse. The political consequences had to wait decades to be felt. Many of the recent Republican presidential candidates cited over-the-top scare stories about global cooling from their childhood as a reason to discount scare stories about global warming today.

What politicised the idea of climate change was its adoption as a cause by Democratic politicians in the 1980s, above all by Al Gore. By the start of that decade, evidence of global cooling had faded and a scientific consensus was starting to form around the idea that the climate was warming up. Gore belonged to a group known as the Atari Democrats, for their wonkish attachment to science and technology. These politicians saw climate as a useful issue, as well as an urgent one. It was a way of appealing to moderate Republican voters, because the concerns it raised cut across party lines. In the words of another member of the group, Chuck Schumer, then a Brooklyn congressman, now Senate minority leader: If youre a Democrat, especially in a middle-class district or on the west coast, [climate] is a great issue It is an issue with no downside.

Former
Former British Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who in 1989 called global warming one of the most serious threats facing humanity. Photograph: Dave Caulkin/AP

The ecumenical quality of climate change as a political cause was emphasised when Margaret Thatcher took it up at around the same time. In her speech to the UN general assembly in 1989, she spoke of global warming as one of the most serious threats facing humanity. She was comfortable speaking the language of science, having been a scientist herself. But her motives were political: it suited her prior point of view. She drew extensively from the warnings of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, in part because she had grown to trust their advice on climactic conditions during the Falklands war. She believed in nuclear power as an emblem of free enterprise. And she had historic reasons to be suspicious of coal. For Thatcher, climate change was a convenient truth.

But no issue, once politicised, remains ecumenical for long. In 1989 Thatchers time was nearly up. Gores was just beginning. Through the 1990s and 2000s, as climate change became associated with left or liberal policy positions, it started to receive serious pushback from the right, for whom the political motivations of those championing the science were obvious. Climate change was seen as a vehicle for promoting big government and higher taxes. It became a totem of the partisan divide.

This was the beginning of a vicious circle of mutual distrust. Once science gets dragged into the territory of politics, its opponents can accuse it of being a distortion of science. Scientists are meant to be politically neutral, at least as far as their science is concerned. Yet it is almost impossible to remain neutral when you are under political assault.

In these politically charged circumstances, there is no safe space for the facts to retreat to. That was made clear by the so-called climategate scandal of 2009, when a series of hacked emails from the University of East Anglia was held up as evidence that the scientific evidence was being distorted to fit a political agenda. The emails showed no such thing. What they did reveal is that in an environment of highly politicised scepticism, climate scientists were forced to think about guarding the evidence against opponents looking for any excuse to discredit it.

In private correspondence, the UEA scientists talked about presentational tricks for describing the data and the need to favour certain outlets for publication over others. They looked out for their friends and they were wary of their enemies: thats politics. There was nothing wrong with the science, as was confirmed by an extensive series of inquiries into the affair. But the emails betrayed the scientists awareness that the idea of a consensus on manmade climate change was under concerted attack. So they went out of their way to shore up the consensus. Which, when revealed, confirmed to their opponents that the consensus was a sham.

This is how climate scepticism becomes climate cynicism: doubts about the evidence are replaced by doubts about the motives of the people using it. In 2012, Senator Jim Inhofe, a Republican who once brought a snowball on to the floor of the senate to show that climate change wasnt real, published The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future. The book contains two lengthy appendices. The first is the full transcript of the UEA emails, presented as prima facie evidence that the science is a fix. The second is a history of the United Nations global development programme. The argument goes like this: there is no need for world government unless there are issues that cant be solved by national governments. Climate change is such an issue. So it follows that it has been invented by people who cant justify world government any other way. It is a globalist plot.

Once cynicism becomes the default mode of attack, then both sides are trapped. Moreover, it is not a level playing field. It favours the cynics. Scientists have to decide whether to let the facts speak for themselves, or whether to try to take on the cynics at their own game. If they pull back from politics, they risk letting the cynics set the agenda. If they dont, they risk proving the cynics right.


Cynicism is fuelled by the ease with which uncertainty about the science can be spread. All it takes is time and money. Questioning climate science suits the interests of the fossil fuel industry, where the politics of climate change has long been seen to pose a direct threat. Ever since climate became a political issue in the 1980s, the big oil companies have been funding an extensive PR operation to raise questions about the strength of the evidence. ExxonMobil alone has spent more than $240m on public relations in this area in the past two decades. Many of the leading Republican candidates for president in 2016 (though not Trump) took campaign funding from the Koch brothers, who have been at the forefront of the fight against the scientific consensus on climate change.

The currency in which these campaigns trade is doubt. Their goal is to sow uncertainty in the public mind about what the science shows. In the words of an American Petroleum Institute action plan from 1998: Victory will be achieved when average citizens understand uncertainties in climate science. To that end, money has been funnelled towards scientific researchers who dissent from mainstream opinion, even if those researchers are in a very small minority. Sowing doubt turns out to be relatively cost-efficient, because dissent only needs a few exceptions to the orthodoxy, whereas consensus requires everyone else to hold fast to it.

However, it is no coincidence that this is how the oil industry chooses to see the struggle. Framing it as a contest between heterodoxy and orthodoxy fits the language of scepticism. In that way, it can be made to appear consistent with both science and democracy. Democracy needs dissent in order to function. Scientific progress depends on people being willing to challenge the conventional wisdom. Many climate sceptics argue that they are the ones on the side of science, because the currency of science is doubt. But when heterodox opinion gets purchased with hard cash, it cements the triumph of cynicism. Money ensures that motives are what matter.

The ultimate goal of the merchants of doubt has been to politicise the orthodoxy, not simply to dispute it. What has given climate scepticism political teeth over the past two decades is the drive to associate the scientific consensus with the political establishment. Mainstream scientists and mainstream politicians are both viewed as belonging to a club that is comfortable spending other peoples money but deeply uncomfortable with anyone elses point of view. In an age when all kinds of elites are viewed with suspicion, portraying scientists as a well-connected interest group leaves them vulnerable to political attack. Scientists take public funding. Scientists pass judgment on each others work. The scientific establishment is just another a closed shop.

Political cynicism has weaponised climate scepticism. But it might also prove to be its achilles heel. Just as pure science struggles with the fact that it cant avoid politics, so pure politics struggles with the fact that it cant avoid science. Even the most cynical political operators need to know whats really likely to happen. As reporting in the Los Angeles Times has shown, at the same time that it has been funding a PR campaign to question the scientific consensus, ExxonMobil has also been funding some of the research that underpins that consensus, including studies of rapidly shrinking ice levels in the Arctic. In the words of David Kaiser and Lee Wasserman, writing in the New York Review of Books, a company as sophisticated and successful as Exxon would have needed to know the difference between its own propaganda and scientific reality. Kaiser and Wasserman argue that, as a result, the company has committed fraud: it failed to disclose to its shareholders the basis on which it was making its investment decisions. Its business plans take it for granted that climate change is a real and imminent threat.

This behaviour has clear echoes of an earlier attempt to challenge the scientific consensus: the campaign by the big tobacco companies to dispute the link between smoking and cancer. Although many of these businesses recognised as far back as the 1950s that the science was sound, they funded a body of widely disseminated research designed to throw doubt on that view. Their goal was to keep the public open-minded about the dangers of cigarettes, and therefore to keep as many of them puffing away for as long as possible. It was a purely cynical business strategy, and in some cases it was criminal as well. It worked to the extent that it bought the tobacco industry time to reorient its investment and marketing to take account of the new reality. But in the long run it failed. No reasonable person and certainly no serious politician now doubts the link between smoking and cancer. The fate of tobacco can give hope to people who worry that the truth is always outgunned: the science won out over the cynics in the end.

Are there grounds for thinking that the same will be true for climate science? The tactics of the industries in question may be similar, but the cases are different in crucial respects. Tobacco impacts on its victims directly smokers do eventually die and it was when personal experience caught up with industry denial that the argument was lost. It is possible that climate change could kill even more people than smoking. But any damage on that scale is still a long way off. It is also far less direct. The victims will not necessarily be the people who are currently engaged in the most harmful behaviour.

Once it had been established that smoking causes cancer, it was clear what had to be done to prevent it: individuals would have to stop smoking and tobacco companies would have to stop encouraging them. There is no equivalent certainty around climate change, even once we accept the scientific consensus that it is real. Those responsible for causing it are not those who will suffer most from it. The current migration crisis is partly being driven by changes in the climate affecting food and water supplies in Africa and the Middle East. But the politics of migration will never find answers in the science of climate change, for the simple reason that the science does not tell us what to do about it.

Climate change has distinctive features as a political issue that make it much more intractable than other controversies in which the science was once in cynical dispute. The hyper-politicisation of climate science has coincided more or less directly with the rise of social media; the fight over tobacco took place before the age of the internet, which at least gave scientists some measure of protection from personal exposure. Meanwhile, the consequences of climate change are long-term, global and uncertain. That means any solution places a huge premium on trust. We have to trust that it really will cause harm. We have to trust that we are responsible for any harm it causes. We have to trust that any action we take wont be undone by the inaction of others. In an age of enormous mistrust in politicians, this poses a huge challenge.

We need far more trust in politics than we have at present in order to take concerted action on climate change: apart from anything, we would need to believe that politicians would be willing to share in the sacrifices they ask of us. In the meantime, those who are determined to sow suspicion about the merits of concerted action are fuelling our mistrust in politics. There is no equivalent of watching a relative die of lung cancer to split the difference.


The people who made the case that smoking causes cancer were not generally thought of as hypocrites. Its true that some of them still smoked, even after they knew the dangers. But there were far more smokers inside the tobacco industry, where being seen with a cigarette in hand was positively encouraged as a signal that there was nothing to worry about.

Climate science is different. Ever since it became a political issue, it has been bedevilled by accusations of hypocrisy. The internet is awash with tales of Al Gore and his monstrous double standards: he racks up enormous air-conditioning bills in his multiple homes; he leaves his private jet idling on the runway as he spreads the message that flying is wrong; he sells his television network for megabucks to al-Jazeera, where the money to buy it comes from Qatari oil. In the words of the National Review in 2016: The [climate] hysterics are hypocrites. Its austerity for thee but not for me as they jet around the world to speak to adoring audiences about the need for sacrifice. Until wealthy liberal New Yorkers start selling up their Manhattan real estate and moving to higher ground, the cynics say, theres really nothing to worry about.

Recent research by a group of psychologists shows why this is such a problem: we dislike hypocrites because we hate they way they seem to be signalling their superior virtue. Take two kinds of claims about environmental activism. Under one set of conditions, a speaker claims to recycle his rubbish, after which it is revealed that he does no such thing. Under the other, a speaker tell his listeners they should recycle their rubbish, after which it is revealed that he does not do it himself. The first is a liar. The second is a hypocrite, but not a liar, since what he says is still true (people should recycle their rubbish). Most people respond with relative equanimity to the lie. But they loathe the hypocrisy, because the hypocrite seems to be patronising them.

Environmentalist
Environmentalist and former US vice president Al Gore at Trump Tower in New York in December last year. Photograph: Kevin Hagen/Getty Images

This is terrible news for environmentalism. Doctors who smoke are not really patronising their patients: if anything, they are revealing sympathetic human weakness. But environmental activists who leave the engine running are easily portrayed as dreadful elitists: they think the rules dont apply to them. The populist rabble-rousers of the right have exploited this fact mercilessly. Hypocrisy is hard to avoid when it comes to the politics of climate change, since it is a collective-action problem. Its far from clear what difference any individual action will make. What matters is what we do together. This makes it practically impossible for any one individual to match words to deeds. Yet the failure to do so provides the perfect stick for the climate cynics to beat their opponents with.

If we dislike hypocrisy more than we dislike lying, then it is not just a problem for climate politics. It is a problem for democracy. It gives the liars their chance. During the presidential campaign, it was widely hoped that Trumps relentless record of untruths would be his undoing. In the New York Times, David Leonhardt painstakingly listed the 26 lies Trump told in the first presidential debate, which ought to have been enough for anyone. But Trump has always been careful not to come across as the wrong sort of hypocrite: the kind who seems to be talking down to people. Hillary Clinton was not so careful. And when the voters get to choose between the two, the hypocrite loses to the liar.

In the febrile, divisive state of our politics, its not what you say, its what you say about yourself by saying it that really counts. The social media revolution amplifies and exaggerates these kinds of accusations. It has become easier than ever to find evidence of how individuals public attitudes are given the lie by their private actions. There are now so many public attitudes to choose from, and private actions are now so much harder to hide. Twitter is a vast hypocrisy-generating machine that is corroding democratic politics. Scepticism, which is a democratic virtue, is giving way to cynicism, which is a democratic vice, across the board.


Since his arrival in the White House, Donald Trump has been in the middle of a tug of war between the liars and the hypocrites inside the West Wing. On one side stands Steve Bannon, representative of the alt-right, still looking to flush out the hypocrisy of the globalists and ready to peddle any old conspiracy theory to achieve his goals. On the other stand the younger members of Trumps family, including his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, who are more concerned with keeping up appearances.

Climate change quickly emerged as one of the fault lines in this showdown. In the end it was Bannon who persuaded Trump to make good on his promise to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord. Kushner argued that this would send the wrong signal and that much more could be achieved by sticking with the agreement but reorienting it to suit the interests of the big American fossil fuel producers. Trumps secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who was previously the CEO of ExxonMobil, sided with Kushner. They lost.

In this case, both approaches are equally cynical. For Bannon, everything, including climate science, is just an extension of politics: all that matters is which side you are on. For his opponents inside the administration, climate change can be sidelined as an issue by paying lip service to the consensus while acting in ways that make it irrelevant. The liar denies that climate change is really happening. The hypocrite accepts that it is real but behaves as if the words dont mean anything.

Trumps administration is dragging climate science further into the swamp of partisan politics. Populist attacks on the scientific consensus co-opt reasonable doubt and turn it into unreasonable suspicion of another self-interested elite. The natural tendency of any elite under this sort of pressure it to build the castle walls higher in order to keep the interlopers out.

Donald
Donald Trump with his advisers Jared Kushner (centre) and Steve Bannon. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Faced with a concerted assault on their integrity, what should climate scientists do? They face a choice. One option is to try to reclaim climate scepticism from the people who have corrupted it. The other is to insist more strongly than ever on the consensus. When the space for doubt has been taken away, you can respond by becoming more certain of your own position. Or you can try to take doubt back.

There are lessons for the politics of climate change from economics. The economics profession, like any other, is full of people who will express their doubts and uncertainties among friends. But when confronted with a hostile or bemused public, they will close ranks. Economists do not want to appear to be unsure of themselves, given how little the public understands of what they do anyway. So rather than admit that there are many different ways of thinking about, for example, free trade, they insist that all economists agree it is a good thing. As the economist Dani Rodrik puts it, when faced with hostile fire, the natural tendency is to start circling the wagons. For the many voters who do not see the benefits of free trade, this looks like a stitch-up.

Economists have found themselves vulnerable to the same dilemma as climate scientists. If they express doubt, the cynics rip them to shreds. But if they conceal doubt, the cynics rip them to shreds anyway. Political pressure often tempts experts into making predictions about the immediate future to prove their point, even though this is a hostage to fortune. Economics is not really meant to be a predictive science. But making predictions is a good way to get attention in a very noisy news environment. The temptation always exists to reduce long-term forecasts to short-term predictions in order to get a hearing. Some economists fell into this trap before Brexit. By talking up the immediate downside, they made it easy to dismiss their warnings when the worst failed to happen straight away. The costs of a failed prediction far outweigh the benefits of an accurate one, especially when that prediction has made in the service of politics.

Political journalism is now suffering its own version of this failure. Reasonable doubts about Trump and Jeremy Corbyn were too often accompanied by journalistic predictions that they couldnt possibly win. These predictions were made to show that scepticism about their politics was something more than just one commentators opinion: it was based on a testable hypothesis that would be borne out by events. When the predictions turned out to be wrong, the reasonable doubts got discredited, too.

Climate scientists have not faced an embarrassment on an equivalent scale to the financial crash of 2008 or the elections of 2016-17: the big shock they didnt see coming. Were global warming to turn back into global cooling, climate science might find itself in the same boat as the economics profession: derided for its failure to provide any kind of warning mechanism for the real dangers we run. For now, the main accusations it faces are of crying wolf. In their eagerness to push the idea that climate change is real, environmentalists have too often been drawn into making premature claims about when we will feel its effects. Gore did it in An Inconvenient Truth, released in 2006, when he talked about a 10-year tipping point after which disaster would be at hand. He also overstated the threat of larger and more frequent hurricanes, in the recent aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Until the wolf is at the door, shouting louder and louder about how close he is does no good. It plays into the cynics hands.

Science often makes for bad politics, because it pretends that it is not politics. The most effective political arguments for taking climate change seriously cannot therefore be ones that simply rest on the science. We need to stop thinking that one side has possession of the truth and the other is just running on money and prejudice. Both sides get tempted into being economical with the truth in the cause of politics. The cynics know what they are doing, which is what makes them cynics. The other side often doesnt, which is what leads them into the cynics trap.

We live in an age when mistrust of politics has spilled over into mistrust of expertise, and vice versa. To respond with ever-greater certainty in the name of science is a big mistake. Expertise doesnt just need humility. It also needs to reclaim the idea of scepticism from the people who have abused it. Experts need to find a way of expressing uncertainty without feeling it undermines their expertise. Voicing doubt has been allowed to become a synonym for admitting you were wrong. The way out is to stop insisting that you were right in the first place.

The scientific consensus on climate change is real. But by insisting on its merits for the purposes of politics, its champions have exposed it to ridicule. Political arguments for climate science indeed, for any science in the age of Trump should not keep saying that the populists are lying about the consensus. They should say that they are hypocrites about the doubt: they do not practise what they preach because they think they know the answers already. Climate change deniers argue they are only trying to discover the truth. We should all be sceptical about that.

Main illustration by Jasper Rietman

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Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/07/climate-change-denial-scepticism-cynicism-politics

Donald Trump releases financial disclosure about his business assets

Documents offer first glimpse into his business empire since inauguration, including detail that new Washington hotel has brought in almost $20m

Donald Trump on Friday released documents that offer the first glimpse into his business empire since he was inaugurated.

Trumps Washington hotel has brought in almost $20m in revenue since it opened last fall. His Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, which hes visited seven times as president, pulled in millions of dollars more than was reported in previous filings.

The new details are included in a financial disclosure that Trump voluntarily submitted Friday to the Office of Government Ethics.

When he took office in January, Trump turned over the reins of his global real estate, property management and marketing empire to his two adult sons and a senior executive. But Trump did not divest, instead placing his enormous portfolio of financial assets in a trust controlled by the executive and Donald Trump Jr. The president can take back control of the trust at any time, and hes free to withdraw cash from it as he pleases.

His latest financial disclosure covers January 2016 through this spring.

The documents have added importance because Trump isnt following the long tradition of presidential candidates and office-holding of making public his tax returns. Those returns provide more complete financial information than the financial disclosures, which include mostly broad ranges for income and debts.

The report shows Trump resigned from more than 500 positions, stepping down from many on the day before his inauguration. Trump listed at least $315m in liabilities, about the same as in a report he filed last year.

The president still owes more than $100m to Deutsche Bank and a similar amount to Ladder Capital Finance, a New York-based real estate investment trust.

What is unclear from the disclosure is whether Trump added to his debt in any significant way to help pay for his presidential campaign. Because the ranges required for disclosure under federal ethics laws are so wide Trumps disclosure lists five separate liabilities each at over $50,000,000 it is impossible to tell whether his debt load has changed appreciably.

Some of Trumps businesses appear to be earning more money than they had a year earlier. However, because this filing cover 16 months, it is difficult to make direct comparisons between Trumps financial disclosures from previous years.

Mar-a-Lago, where Trump played host to several foreign dignitaries during his seven weekends there this winter, has improved its finances. Trump listed the resorts income as about $37m, up from the about $30m it had taken in prior to his May 2016 financial report.

Donald
Donald Trump Chinese president Xi Jinping during a meeting at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump International Hotel, housed in the Old Post Office building down the street from the White House, has seen a burst of activity since opening its doors last fall. In addition to serving as a hub during the inauguration festivities, it has hosted numerous events for foreign diplomatic and business interests.

The hotel is cited in three separate lawsuits arguing that Trump is violating the Constitutions emoluments clause, a ban on foreign gifts and payments. Trump and the justice department have called those claims baseless.

Some of Trumps businesses saw a decline in income, including the Trump National Doral Golf Club in Florida and Trump Turnberry, a golf club in Scotland where Trump was met with protests when he visited in June 2016. Income from the Scottish resort fell by $3.7m.

The president continues to earn money from his days as an entertainer, including nearly $11m from the Miss Universe pageant and $84,292 from a Screen Actors Guild pension.

Trumps literary efforts also continue to pay dividends. Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again, Trumps 2015 campaign diatribe, earned at least $1m in royalties, while his 1987 memoir The Art of the Deal brought in at least $100,000.

Another book the commander-in-chief might want to revisit, 1990s Trump: Surviving at the Top, however, was less successful. According to the filing, it brought in less than $201.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/16/donald-trump-financial-disclosure-business-assets

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: ‘Can people please stop telling me feminism is hot?’

The novelist has been accused of making equality mainstream: isnt that the point? Plus an extract from her new Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was in Lagos last summer, teaching a writing workshop as part of an annual schedule that sees her time divided between Nigeria and the US. For much of the year, Adichie lives in a town 30 minutes west of Baltimore, where her Nigerian-American husband works as a medic and the 39-year-old writes in the quiet of a suburban home. When Adichie is in Nigeria, where her parents and extended family still live, she has a house in the vast city she regards with the complicated love and condescension of the part-time expat.

Its an ambivalence with which many Nigerians regard her, too; last year, the workshop ended in a question-and-answer session, during which a young man rose to ask the famous novelist a question. I used to love you, she recalls him saying. Ive read all your books. But since you started this whole feminism thing, and since you started to talk about this gay thing, Im just not sure about you any more. How do you intend to keep the love of people like me?

Adichie and I are in a coffee shop near her home in the Baltimore suburbs. We have met before, a few years ago, when her third novel Americanah was published, a book that examines what it is to be a Nigerian woman living in the US, and that went on to win a National Book Critics Circle award. A lot has happened since then. Half Of A Yellow Sun, Adichies second and most famous novel, about the Biafran war, has been made into a film starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton. Her essay, We Should All Be Feminists, adapted from her 2013 TEDx talk, has remained on the bestseller lists, particularly in Sweden, where in 2015 it was distributed to every 16-year-old high-school student in the land. The talk was sampled by Beyonc in her song Flawless. Adichie has become the face of Boots No7 makeup. And she has had a baby, a daughter, now 15 months old.

Adichie is still somewhat in the blast zone, not entirely caught up on sleep, but has published a short book, Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions, an extended version of a letter to a friend who, after having her own baby girl, asked Adichies advice on how to raise her to be feminist. I have had twin girls myself since our last meeting, so I am curious about her approach, not least because one of my two-year-olds currently identifies as Bob the Builder and the other as Penelope Pitstop. I would like to equip them to be themselves, while resisting whatever projections might be foisted upon them. We show each other baby photos and smile. Welcome to the world of anxiety, Adichie says.

The success of We Should All Be Feminists has made Adichie as prominent for her feminism as for her novels, to the extent that now I get invited to every damned feminist thing in the whole world. She has always been an agony aunt of sorts, the unpaid therapist for my family and friends, but having the feminist label attached has changed things, and not just among her intimates. I was opened to a certain level of hostility that I hadnt experienced before as a writer and public figure.

This is partly why she has written the new book, to reclaim the word feminism from its abusers and misusers, a category within which she would include certain other progressives, and to lay down in plain, elegant English her beliefs about child-raising.

Dear Ijeawele is, in some ways, a very basic set of appeals; to be careful with language (never say because you are a girl), avoid gendered toys, encourage reading, dont treat marriage as an achievement, reject likability. Her job is not to make herself likable, her job is to be her full self, she writes in reference to her friends daughter, a choice Adichie has come to elevate almost above any other.

That day in Lagos last summer, her friends were furious at the cheek of the young mans question, but she rather liked his bravery and honesty in asking it. She replied in the same spirit. Keep your love, Adichie said. Because, sadly, while I love to be loved, I will not accept your love if it comes with these conditions.

Having a baby has made Adichie think differently about her own parents, particularly her mother. Grace Adichie, who had six children and worked her way up from being a university administrator to the registrar, taught her daughter to love fashion as well as books, and was a very cool mum whom she idolised as a child. Nonetheless, and in the manner of most snotty young adults, young Chimamanda went through a phase of being very superior to her mother. Now, the novelist looks at her daughter and gulps.

Adichie recently came across her own kindergarten reports. My father keeps them all. You know what the teacher wrote? She is brilliant, but she refuses to do any work when shes annoyed. I was five years old. She laughs. I couldnt believe it. My husband couldnt believe it. I must have been an annoying child.

Its not as if she comes from a family of radicals. My parents are not like that. Theyre conventional, reasonable, responsible, good, kind people. Im the crazy. But their love and support made that crazy thrive.

Unlike Adichie, who was raised exclusively in Nigeria, her daughter will be raised in two cultures and subject to slightly diverging social expectations. Already, Adichie says with a laugh, friends and relatives from home are concerned that her mothering is insufficiently stern.

A friend was just visiting and she said to me, Your parenting is not very Nigerian. In Nigeria and, I think, in many cultures you control children. And I feel like, my daughter is 15 months, she doesnt have a sense of consequences. And I enjoy watching her. So she tears a page of a book? Whatever. She throws my shoes down. So? Its fun. I love that shes quite strong-willed. The joke between Adichie and her husband whom, to her intense annoyance, their daughter looks much more like is that her character cleaves to the maternal side. He says to me, Well, at least we know where she got her personality from. Shes quite fierce.

In the new book, Adichies advice is not only to provide children with alternatives to empower boys and girls to understand there is no single way to be but also to understand that the only universal in this world is difference. In terms of the evolution of feminism, these are not new lessons, but that is rather Adichies point. She is not writing for other feminist writers, and shows some frustration at what she sees as the solipsism of much feminist debate.

That morning, on the way to see her, I had read a review of a new book by Jessa Crispin, entitled Why I Am Not A Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto, a critique of everything that is wrong with feminism today. If one can get over the eye-rolling aspect of books by feminists decrying the feminism of other feminists for degrading the word feminist by being insufficiently feminist, the book does raise questions about where one should be focusing ones efforts.

Chiara
Fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni wears Adichies Dior T-shirt during Paris fashion week, January 2017. Photograph: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

The proposition is that feminism has become so mainstream as to be an empty marketing tool, a mere slogan on a bag or a T-shirt. Without being named, Adichie is implicated in this critique, given that last year she collaborated with Christian Dior on a T-shirt bearing the line We Should All Be Feminists; depending on ones view, this is either a perfect example of pointless sloganeering or a brilliant piece of preaching to the unconverted.

Im already irritated, Adichie says. This idea of feminism as a party to which only a select few people get to come: this is why so many women, particularly women of colour, feel alienated from mainstream western academic feminism. Because, dont we want it to be mainstream? For me, feminism is a movement for which the end goal is to make itself no longer needed. I think academic feminism is interesting in that it can give a language to things, but Im not terribly interested in debating terms. I want peoples marriages to change for the better. I want women to walk into job interviews and be treated the same way as somebody who has a penis.

Still, one can see a theoretical obscenity about the Dior collaboration: the words of a movement that should be concerned with helping low-income women, used to promote and make money for a wealthy company. On the other hand: what is the damage?

Yes: whats the damage? Adichie says. I would even argue about the theoretically obscene. Theres a kind of self-righteousness to the ultra-left that is hard for me to stomach. Its approach to poverty can sometimes border on condescension. I often think that people who write a lot about poverty need to go and spend more time with poor people. I think about Nigerian women who can hardly afford anything but who love fashion. They have no money, but they work it.

Adichie mentions a TV soap opera that used to run in Nigeria called The Rich Also Cry, a terrible drama series, she says, that was very popular. But sometimes I think about that title. So, the creative director of Christian Dior is obviously a woman of some privilege. But does it then mean that she doesnt have gender-based problems in her life? Because she does. Does it mean she doesnt have this magnificent rage about gender injustice? Because she does. Wanting to use that slogan was it going to make the world a better place? No. But I think theres a level of consciousness-raising and a level of subversion that I like.

She doesnt believe it was a cynical marketing ploy? No. Sorry. Feminism is not that hot. I can tell you I would sell more books in Nigeria if I stopped and said Im no longer a feminist. I would have a stronger following, I would make more money. So when people say, Oh, feminisms a marketing ploy, it makes me laugh.

The bigger issue here is one of range. Adichies irritation with aspects of what she thinks of as professional feminism is that it runs counter to her ideas as a writer: that people contain multitudes. She is a brilliant novelist and a serious thinker, and she is also someone who makes no apology for her own trivial interests. Life doesnt always follow ideology, she says. You might believe in certain things and life gets in and things just become messy. You know? I think thats the space that fiction, and having a bit more of an imaginative approach, makes. And that the feminist speaking circuit doesnt really make room for.

There is much in the new book about double standards, including those governing the images of motherhood and fatherhood. I think we need to stop giving men cookies for doing what they should do, she says, and goes on to explain that her husband, who needs less sleep than her, tends to get up in the night to tend to the baby. On the one hand, I realise that my husband is unusual; on the other, I feel resentful when hes overpraised by my family and friends. Hes like Jesus.

He probably senses shes about to go off the deep end, I suggest, and Adichie smiles to acknowledge how impossible she is. I did all the physical work to produce her! Theres something fundamentally wrong with the way weve constructed what it means to be female in the world.

Chimamanda
Photograph: Stephen Voss for the Guardian

This is something she writes about in a lovely passage of the new book about hair. As a child, Adichie and her sisters and every other girl she knew were routinely tortured with a metal comb to subdue their hair, something her brothers were spared. Im glad I wrote that, Adichie says. We had just come back from Lagos and my sister, God bless her, had already had a talk with me about my daughters hair. She said, You need to do something about it. With my family, theres an eye-roll and a here-we-go-again with her, and she said to me, Do you want me to send you a set of combs? And I was like, No, thank you. And I know its going to keep happening. But, no, Im not going to conform in that way. Im not going to have my child go through pain because society expects a certain neatness. It happened to me, its not going to happen to her. And Im ready to have all the battles I need to have.

The original letter on which Dear Ijeawele is based has been shared on Facebook, and while Adichie was in Lagos, a woman whod read it approached her in a shop and said, Heres my daughter, look at her hair. She had very loose cornrows that were not neat according to Nigerians. And she said, You inspired that. My daughter is happier, Im happier. And do you know, it was the highlight of my month.

This is not just a question of image. It is also about time. Women have less time than men, in almost every arena, because their responsibilities to look or act a certain way are more onerous.

It is one of Adichies bugbears that as someone who loves fashion, she is by default not taken seriously. When Boots approached her to be the face of its No7 makeup range, she said yes, because she thought it might be fun; in the end, she says, it became vaguely alarming. I have no regrets, but you wake up one day and think, what the hell have I done? There were too many of these pictures everywhere. Her point, however, is that its not that Im a feminist and made a strategic choice to speak about makeup and fashion. Its that I was raised by Grace Adichie in a culture in which you care about how you look. Its a part of me I once hid, because I felt that I had to to be serious. Now, Im just being who I am.

Recently, Adichies identity has been tested in new ways. I wonder if she is less affected by President Trump than an American, on the basis that she is less invested in the American story. Quite the opposite, she says. Because theres a part of me that needs a country I can think of as being one that largely works. Which is not a luxury that Nigeria can have. She laughs.

Someone said to me, Now that this is happening in the US, do you think of moving back to Nigeria? And I thought, no, because its not any better there. I admire America. I dont think of myself as American Im not. So its not mine. But I admire it, and so theres a sense that this thing I built in my head, its been destroyed.

There is also, she says, something familiar about it all. American democracy has never been tested. You might have disagreed ideologically with George W Bush, but he still kind of followed the rules. Here, it feels like Nigeria. It really does. Its that feeling of political uncertainty that Im very familiar with, but not a feeling I like. Its ugly. But even worse, because America is so powerful, and so much at the centre of the world, these things have consequences for everyone. Nigeria doesnt have that kind of reach, so our problems remain our problems.

In January, Adichie and her husband joined the Womens March in DC. It was fleeting, and symbolic, she says, but it gave me the smallest slice of hope. There are all of these people who seem to realise that America has changed by electing an unhinged person. On the other hand, theres a part of me thats very sceptical of too much sentimentality. I hope it translates into people organising and going out to vote.

Long before talk about piercing the filter bubble, Adichie instinctively subscribed to rightwing blogs and newsletters. She was an early watcher of Fox News, until it became too unhinged and ridiculous. But she has carried on, because Im interested in ideological concerns and how people differ, and how we should build a society. Whats a welfare state? People who have less, are we responsible for them? I think we are. And I think I can make a selfish case, which is apparently what appeals to people on the right. People on the left say we should do it because we should be kind. And people on the right think, Excuse me? But if you say to them, If these people dont get healthcare, they will go to the ER and your tax dollars will pay for it, suddenly they sit up.

Chimamanda
Adichie with her husband, Ivara Esege. Photograph: DDAA/ZOB/Daniel Deme/WENN

As a result of her reading, rightwing ideology is not something I think is evil, she says. Some. A bit. But, in general, I dont. I have friends who are good, kind people who are on the right. But Donald Trump is an exception. Its not an objection to a conservative, because I dont even think hes a conservative. My objection is an objection to chaos. Each time I turn on the news, Im holding my breath.

Trumps erosion of language is one of the most frightening things about him, but even progressives, Adichie says, can be sloppy on this front. In response to her new book, a reporter emailed her the question: Why not humanism? (instead of feminism). To which, she says, I thought, what part of the fucking book did this person not read?

Its like the people who go around saying All Lives Matter, I say, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Right, which I find deeply offensive and very dishonest. Because we have to name something in order to fix it, which is why I insist on the word feminist or feminism.

This, she says, in spite of the fact that many of her friends, particularly black women, resist that word, because the history of feminism has been very white and has assumed women meant white women. Political discussion in this country still does that. Theyll say, Women voted for… and then, Black people voted for… And I think: Im black and a woman, so where do I fit in here?

As a result, Many of my friends who are not white will say, Im an intersectional feminist, or Im a womanist. And I have trouble with that word, because it has undertones of femininity as this mystical goddess-mother thing, which makes me uncomfortable. So we need a word. And my hope is we use feminism often enough that it starts to lose all the stigma and becomes this inclusive, diverse thing.

This is her goal and her defence, although she still doesnt see why she needs one. Her understanding of feminism is intertwined with her understanding that we all want to be more than one thing. And anyway, she repeats, Can people please stop telling me that feminism is hot? Because its not. Adichie looks magnificently annoyed. Honestly.

Beware feminism lite: an extract from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichies letter-turned-book, Dear Ijeawele

Be a full person. Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by it. You dont even have to love your job; you can merely love the confidence and self-fulfilment that come with doing and earning. Please reject the idea that motherhood and work are mutually exclusive. Our mothers worked full-time while we were growing up, and we turned out well at least you did; the jury is still out on me.

In these coming weeks of early motherhood, be kind to yourself. Ask for help. Expect to be helped. There is no such thing as a Superwoman. Parenting is about practice and love.

Give yourself room to fail. A new mother does not necessarily know how to calm a crying baby. Read books, look things up on the internet, ask older parents, or just use trial and error. But, above all, take time for yourself. Nurture your own needs.

I have no interest in the debate about women doing it all, because it is a debate that assumes that caregiving and domestic work are singularly female domains, an idea that I strongly reject. Domestic work and caregiving should be gender-neutral, and we should be asking not whether a woman can do it all, but how best to support parents in their dual duties at work and at home.

Chimamanda
Photograph: Stephen Voss for the Guardian

Beware the danger of what I call Feminism Lite; the idea of conditional female equality. Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. You either believe in the full equality of men and women, or you do not.

Teach your daughter to question language. A friend of mine says she will never call her daughter princess. The word is loaded with assumptions, of a girls delicacy, of the prince who will come to save her. This friend prefers angel and star. So decide the things you will not say to your child. You know that Igbo joke, used to tease girls who are being childish What are you doing? Dont you know you are old enough to find a husband? I used to say that often. But now I choose not to. I say, You are old enough to find a job. Because I do not believe that marriage is something we should teach young girls to aspire to.

Try not to use words like misogyny and patriarchy. We feminists can sometimes be too jargony. Teach her that if you criticise X in women but do not criticise X in men, you do not have a problem with X, you have a problem with women. For X please insert words like anger, ambition, loudness, stubbornness, coldness, ruthlessness.

Do you remember how we laughed and laughed at an atrociously written piece about me some years ago? The writer had accused me of being angry, as though being angry were something to be ashamed of. Of course I am angry. I am angry about racism. I am angry about sexism. But I recently came to the realisation that I am angrier about sexism than I am about racism. Because in my anger about sexism, I often feel lonely. Because I love, and live among, many people who easily acknowledge race injustice but not gender injustice.

Teach your daughter to question men who can have empathy for women only if they see them as relational rather than as individual equal humans. Men who, when discussing rape, will say something like, If it were my daughter or wife or sister. Yet such men do not need to imagine a male victim of crime as a brother or son in order to feel empathy.

Teach her, too, to question the idea of women as a special species. I once heard an American politician, in his bid to show his support for women, speak of how women should be revered and championed a sentiment that is all too common. Tell her that women dont need to be championed and revered; they just need to be treated as equal human beings.

This is a condensed and edited extract from Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, published on Tuesday by Fourth Estate at 10. To order a copy for 8.50, go to bookshop.theguardian.com

This article was amended on 4 March 2017. It originally referred to Lagos as Nigerias capital. This has now been corrected.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/04/chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-stop-telling-me-feminism-hot