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Atlanta protest takes on importance after Trump insults civil rights leader

The protest, in one of the USs largest and most diverse cities, came after Trumps inauguration, his claims Atlanta is crime-infested and insults of John Lewis

In the shadow of the Equitable building at Woodruff park in the heart of Atlanta, a crowd of dozens swelled to hundreds in the late morning as Donald Trump prepared to take the oath of the presidency in Washington DC on Friday. With signs, T-shirts, literature and a giant papier-mache rendering of the incoming president, a coalition led by local immigrant rights organization Not One More Deportation set off for Atlantas city hall.

The protest, in one of Americas largest and most diverse cities took on additional importance after comments Trump directed at one of its most popular lawmakers and public figures last week. After Congressman John Lewis, who represents about 75% of the predominantly black city, questioned Trumps electoral legitimacy in an interview, Trump fired back, blasting Lewis district as crime-infested and calling the civil rights legend, whose skull was fractured by Alabama state troopers in Selma in 1965 all talk … no action.

The coalition was as diverse in its politics as it was in its participants, with over 25 different progressive organizations participating. Chants during the march attacked Trump specifically, as well as police brutality, islamophobia, transphobia and deportations. Many chants were delivered in English and Spanish.

For a time, near the front of the march one group of protesters chanted not my president, while towards the back, members of the Industrial Workers of the World, complete with a red and gold hammer and sickle flag, chanted no more presidents instead.

We know that the immigrants rights movement can no longer be silent, said Adelina Nicholls, executive director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights. The political climate in the US has now changed too much.

On the long winding jaunt from Woodruff park to Atlantas City hall, there were approving honks from the car horns of passers by, and citizens in nearby business and homes streamed out to cheer, many raising a fist.

For Terrance Porter, who was not a member of the march, part of the reason he stopped on the sidewalk and offered marchers a salute was Trumps insult to Lewis. John Lewis has been my representative since the 80s, and hes a great, great man, Porter said. That Trump aint worth the spit on the bottom of my shoe.

The congressman himself has kept a low profile since the dust-up, and a spokesperson declined to comment on Trumps statements.

The venerable Lewis is in many ways the political inverse of Trump. Born to rural southern sharecroppers rather than into a family of immense wealth, Lewis has spent virtually his entire life in the public sphere as an advocate for racial justice and progressive values. Lewis has been in elected office in Atlanta for more than 35 years as a city councilman and congressman for the fifth district.

A fervent believer in the philosophy of nonviolent resistance, Lewis has been arrested more than 40 times in protests and was severely beaten by white officers in Selma Alabama during a civil rights march later named Bloody Sunday. The former protege of Martin Luther King Jr is known affectionately to many as the conscience of the Congress. He is the last living member of the so-called Big Six group of 1960s civil rights leaders and was one of the youngest speakers at the 1963 March on Washington.

Trumps comments likely had nothing to do with the actual state of Lewiss fifth district at all. The newly inaugurated president has demonstrated throughout his campaign a propensity to fiercely attack those who criticise him.

Indeed a decade ago, Trump was singing a very different tune. In 2007, while announcing plans to construct a luxury condominium in downtown Atlanta, the heart of Lewis district, Trump declared that Atlantas done just an amazing job, a great job. Were just happy to be here. Trump also billed the venture as no risk, even as the economy began to plummet into recession that year because the Atlanta real estate market is like New York, Trump said. The project eventually failed under the weight of the recession.

That was ten years ago; I dont know whats changed. Crimes 27% lower than it was ten years ago, said city Mayor Kasim Reed, defending his city in a Martin Luther King day address on Monday. The citys population is also on an upswing as transplants from around the nation filter into the metropolis.

At city hall, Mary Hooks Southerners on New Ground (Song), presented a list of 19 demands to the mayors office geared towards making the city a sanctuary space to support and defend our communities human rights.

Many of the demands revolved around the city not cooperating with the potential dictates of a Trump administration, for example not participating in a potential registry for Muslims, and not using city resources to track down or deport undocumented immigrants. Reed was not in his office to hear the demands personally, but an aide told the demonstrators they would receive an official response soon.

Twenty minutes north of Lewis district in Johns Creek, Georgia, it was a very different scene at the Rivermont Country Club. Hundreds of Georgia Republicans celebrated the inauguration with drinks, hors doeuvres, laughter and dancing.

Im here to celebrate the inauguration, and to celebrate the people, said Stephanie Endres, a local Republican councilwoman for Johns Creek. This election was about the people standing together again and reminding the politicians that its about them and not the politicians.

A conspicuously less diverse crowd, the nearly all-white attendees were briefly serenaded by a black American Elvis impersonator who joked Elvis is black everybody I mean back to scattered laughter. By the bar, a trio of the presidents supporters donned Trump wigs, and one a red Make America Great Again hat.

One of the men, self-employed manufacturer Frank Dicus said he watched and was pleased with Trumps speech. I like that it was short. I thought he hit all his points, Dicus said. Like many guests present for the event, Dicus was most looking forward to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act in Trumps first 100 days. Its been a big pain in our butt, he added.

At almost the exact same time, Trump was in fact, signing an executive order to ease the burden of the ACA, though it is as yet unclear exactly what the order will do.

Elena Merino, one of a handful of Latinos and Hispanics for Trump in attendance said she did not see his proposed deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants, a major point of contention for many Hispanic and Latino advocacy groups, coming to fruition.

I dont think thats doable and I think [speaker of the House] Paul Ryan has probably knocked sense into him on that, she said something she expected to be a feature of Trumps presidency.

Its not that all of your ideas are perfectly, solidly thought through or phrased. Almost every successful person in the world is successful because of bringing in the right people, she said, something Merino said she thought Trump has done with his Cabinet.

At Morehouse College, one of several renowned Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the city, a group of freshman reached a different conclusion.

His attorney general is supposed to be protecting the rights of all citizens, but had [Coretta Scott King] writing a letter saying dont let this guy become a federal judge. Thats concerning, said business major Austin Jeter of nominee Jeff Sessions.

Most of his cabinet appointments are head-scratchers, added computer science major Darius Lashley.

Jeter, an Atlanta native also said that Trumps comments about the city were not something he took seriously. All cities have their problems, but where I grew up I mostly just saw good stuff, Jeter said. Im excited about the future of this city.

Many Atlantans viewed Trumps attack on Lewis as a thinly veiled racist dog whistle. Trump has routinely conflated the black community with impoverished inner-city communities throughout his run for president.

One of the main ironies of Trumps comments are that Lewis district in particular, and the Atlanta Metropolitan area in general contain some of the most affluent and educated black communities in the country. Lewis district is home to the Atlanta University center home two four historically black colleges and universities serving more than 8,000 students. Forbes magazine named the city the place where African Americans were doing the best economically in a 2015 article, and for decades it has been known by the unofficial title of Black Mecca for the economic, political and social power that black Americans wield.

On Saturday, the city will also play host to a satellite of the Womens March on Washington. Lewis is expected to headline the days speakers.

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The Observer view on president-elect Donald Trump | Observer editorial

America and the world enter the unknown

The inauguration of a US president is normally a moment of great hope. It is a celebration of representative democracy and the peaceful transfer of power. It is an affirmation that the ideals and laws set out in the 1787 US constitution, still a global paradigm for modern-day governance, continue to be honoured and observed. Inauguration confers legitimacy on a head of state in the name of we, the people. The incumbent has a duty to respect and uphold the constitutions central aims, namely to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty.

The inauguration this Friday of Donald Trump as 45th US president is not a normal moment. Nor for the majority of Americans who did not vote for him, and countless onlookers around the globe, is it a moment of hope. Rather, Trumps ascent to what is commonly termed the worlds most powerful job is a moment of dread, anxiety and great foreboding. We said, after he won the Republican nomination last summer, that Trump has shown himself unfit to be president. His often-demonstrated ignorance, racial bigotry, misogyny, untruthfulness, hostility to free speech, crude bullying and dangerous, rabble-rousing nationalism utterly disqualify him.

Nothing has occurred since Trump narrowly won last Novembers election, despite polling nearly three million fewer votes than the Democrats Hillary Clinton, to alter this unhappy conclusion. The president-elects press conference last week failed to justify hopes that the imminent, awesome responsibilities of office would moderate his reckless behaviour. In a matter of minutes, he slandered Americas intelligence agencies, threatened Mexico, vowed again to build a border wall, pistol-whipped US businesses that invest abroad, took a wrecking ball to Obamacare, pilloried unfavoured news organisations, and boasted about a shady $2bn business deal. This is not the behaviour of a president.

Although only days away from the Oval Office, Trump continues to blurt out half-baked opinions on sensitive issues, like a bar-room boor. He appears not to think before he opens his mouth or his Twitter account. And what pops out is usually offensive, inflammatory or inaccurate, exemplified by last weeks insulting of Meryl Streep. Hopefully, speechwriters more sensible than he will craft his inaugural address. Fridays ceremony is a momentous occasion. It will be watched around the world. It is a showcase for America. Yet Trump is an embarrassment. His elevation is a national humiliation.

Few will enjoy this gross spectacle more than Vladimir Putin, Russias messianic president, and his plausibly deniable teams of cyberhackers, conspirators, fake newsmen and skilled muddiers of pools. Russias election interference on Trumps behalf, publicly certified by the Obama administration and all the US intelligence agencies, has cast a dark shadow. The release last week of an unverified dossier alleging Russian contacts with Trumps campaign staff and the gathering of blackmail material against him has intensified fears that Moscow is still trying, directly or indirectly, to manipulate the president-elect, by exploiting his inexperience, vanity and naive view of Putin.

Trump has flatly denied the dossiers allegations in his customary, choleric way. But his narcissism, when combined with his visceral hatred of Barack Obamas foreign policy and his susceptibility to flattery, makes him a vulnerable target. Putin calmly repudiated the dossier, refusing to be drawn into the dispute, just as he refused to react to Obamas expulsion of Russian diplomats over the election scandal. Russias leader is plainly expecting political payback in the form of an early summit with Trump. Only then may his real objectives become clear, including perhaps the lifting of US sanctions over Ukraine, acquiescence in Russias annexation of Crimea, a free hand in Syria and a Nato pullback in eastern Europe. Meanwhile, Putin can sit back and enjoy the unprecedented confusion and disarray in Washington that his covert activities helped engender.

Yet for much of the confusion attending the transition, Trump alone is to blame. He often stresses his experience as a business leader and decision-maker. But decisive leadership has been alarmingly lacking amid the conflicting policy approaches promoted by his most senior nominees. Rex Tillerson, the ExxonMobil oilman improbably tapped for secretary of state, said last week the US would, in effect, besiege fortified islands Beijing has illegally created in the South China Sea. There is no doubt that the islands are a problem. But threatening to expel the Chinese by military force is not a sensible way to address it. This latest provocation follows Trumps incendiary, off-the-cuff comments about Taiwan. Little wonder Chinese state media are warning of a coming war with the US.

The impression that Trump and his top advisers have little idea what they are doing and scant grasp of key issues has strengthened, rather than receded, as the transition has chaotically unravelled. Trump says the CIA are behaving like Nazis. Mike Pompeo, his nominee for CIA director, lavishes praise on the agency and pledges to investigate the same dossier that Trump dismissed out of hand. While Trumps sons, acolytes and lawyers insist their billionaire daddy-boss will avoid conflicts of interest, Ben Carson, his choice as housing tsar, refuses to rule out the possibility of millions of dollars in federal grants benefitting Trumps real estate empire.

A former general, James Mattis, slated to become defence secretary, revealed even bigger contradictions. Far from endorsing Trumps ideas about enhanced future collaboration with Russia, Mattis identified Putin as a powerful foe intent on destroying Nato. It was vital, he said, that we recognise the reality of what we [are dealing] with with Mr Putin. Russia had chosen the role of strategic adversary and the US must be prepared to confront it. Mattis also declared Russian forces had committed war crimes in Syria, a view shared by the Obama administration, Britain and the UN, but one that has not been endorsed by Trump. Add to that Tillersons separate comments that Russia should be punished for invading Crimea and policy towards Moscow looks more than merely confused. As with China, it looks like Trump is spoiling for a fight.

Well, is he? The fact is, nobody knows and that includes a lazy, muddled and largely clueless Trump himself. Spouting prejudices, selling slogans and making it up as you go along may work on the campaign trail. But it will not do in the White House.

Even if all Trumps numerous inadequacies and sordid personal baggage were set to one side, his egregious lack of coherent, fact-based, rational and cooperative policy platforms, especially internationally, is potentially disastrous. Look again at what the US constitution demands: justice, tranquillity, liberty, common defence and the common good. All these principles are in peril. As the Trump era begins, a more imperfect disunion is the dismal prospect.

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Donald Trump mistakes Ivanka from Brighton for his daughter

President-elect mistakenly retweets praise for a Brighton council worker with the same first name as his daughter, leading to Twitter storm

A woman from Brighton is waking up to chaos on Twitter after having been singled out by Donald Trump as his daughter.

The president-elect quoted a praiseworthy tweet directed to him by Lawrence Goodstein, a Twitter user in Seekonk in Massachusetts, that described his daughter Ivanka as a woman with real character and class late on Monday.

But Goodstein had mistakenly put @Ivanka, not @IvankaTrump not a significant mistake in light of Goodsteins 160-odd followers; of far greater consequence circulated by Trump to his 20.1m.

So Trumps shout-out was instead directed to Ivanka Majic, a council worker from Brighton, England, with just over 2,800 followers.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

@drgoodspine: @realDonaldTrump @Ivanka Trump is great, a woman with real character and class.”

January 17, 2017

Ivanka Majic from Brighton, England, is a wonderful woman. Youre right, replied Mark Pygas, a writer for Distractify, to Trump and Goodstein. RIP her mentions though.

I mean, shes probably trying to sleep and her phone is going off the hook but its a hell of a story. (According to a subsequent screenshot tweeted by Pygas, Goodstein blocked him for pointing out the error and made his account private.)

Mark Pygas (@MarkPygas)

@realDonaldTrump @drgoodspine @ivanka Ivanka Majic from Brighton, England, is a wonderful woman. You’re right. RIP her mentions though.

January 17, 2017

Trump had not deleted his tweet nor acknowledged his mistake at time of writing, though Goodstein made his account private.

It had been retweeted 2,800 times and favourited 15,000 times, with more than 4,600 replies the vast majority of them including Majic.

The Guardian has attempted to contact Majic, believed to be employed as a researcher at the Brighton and Hove City Council.

Her profile suggests she is not as active a user of Twitter as the president-elect, with just six tweets most of them retweets in the past week.

Her last activity on Twitter was a retweet encouraging votes in Brightons upcoming restaurant competition and another publicising another residents appeal for return of her lost house keys.

On Saturday Majic had tweeted a link to a news story in The Argus about Brightons thriving food scene: Made the local paper. Fame at last!

Ivanka Majic (@ivanka)

Made the local paper. Fame at last! @bravofoodawards @XDBPhotography @edofcopy @prykey24 @EatBrighton

January 13, 2017

Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump seemed oblivious to the compliment paid to her by the Twitter user Goodstein and co-signed by her father, sharing a photo of #datenight with her 2.74m followers.

Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump)

bright lights, big city #datenight

January 17, 2017

Ivanka Trump had been the subject of a special report that broadcast on CNN on Monday night that her father had expressed concerns about.

At 9:00 P.M. @CNN, of all places, is doing a Special Report on my daughter, Ivanka. Considering it is CNN, cant imagine it will be great!

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

At 9:00 P.M. @CNN, of all places, is doing a Special Report on my daughter, Ivanka. Considering it is CNN, can’t imagine it will be great!

January 17, 2017

As president, Donald Trump will have the option of taking over the official @POTUS handle or maintaining his own, @realDonaldTrump. With 20.1m followers hanging on his every missive compared to @POTUSs 13.5m, Trump himself has given no indication he will make the switch.

Sean Spicer, the incoming White House press secretary, told CNN earlier in January that Trump would probably be tweeting from both, or whatever he chooses.

Last week BuzzFeed News publicised concerns that Trumps shockingly insecure personal Twitter account had no known special security protections and was open to being exploited with potentially devastating impacts for the stock market and geopolitical stability.

It would not be the first time Trumps account has been hacked before: in 2013, when he was best-known as a real estate tycoon and host of The Apprentice, someone reportedly gained access to his account to tweet Lil Wayne lyrics (These hoes think they classy, well thats the class Im skippen, from the remix of and Britney Spears Scream & Shout).

My Twitter has been seriously hacked— and we are looking for the perpetrators, said Trump at the time.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

My Twitter has been seriously hacked— and we are looking for the perpetrators.

February 21, 2013

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Attempts to hold Trump to account only seem to make him stronger and stranger

In a week in which the world of the president-elect grew ever more bizarre, he remained his own unpredictable, infuriating, charismatic, deeply flawed self

Dont be rude! Dont be rude! barked the president-elect with the authority of a school principal reprimanding a two-year-old. Not for the first time in the course of 18 months of Donald Trumps wild ride to the White House and surely not for the last the worlds media found itself gathered at his feet, dutifully soaking up his scorn like naughty children.

Dont be rude! No, Im not going to give you a question! repeated the man destined in seven days time to become the 45th president of the United States as he shut down CNNs senior White House correspondent. The reporters misdeed? Having the temerity to try to ask a question.

It was one of those moments, of which there have been many along the way, when observers of the Trump phenomenon had to pinch themselves to maintain equilibrium. Was this man really about to occupy the most powerful office on the planet? And were we actually receiving a lesson in good behavior from the individual who mocked a disabled person and bragged about grabbing pussy?

This weeks event was the first press conference Trump had held since his shocking victory in November, the first indeed for six months since he took the unusual decision to cut out the media middleman and communicate directly to the American people through Twitter. Even before he appeared in the lobby of Trump Tower, his Fifth Avenue HQ and home, he had put us firmly in our places squashing about 250 reporters into a space barely able to hold half that number, prompting an unseemly scramble for journalistic real estate.

To add to the enervating claustrophobia, Trump further packed the lobby with staffers who proceeded to cheer raucously at all the right moments in the manner of canned laughter in a recorded TV show. The subliminal message to the gathered media throng was clear: cheer along with us, or risk being subjected to the CNN treatment.

So much has changed, so much stayed the same in the half year since his last media encounter. Physically, Trump emphasised his altered status by drawing a blue curtain across the lobby and placing 10 American flags with eagle finials in front of it, as a suitably televisual presidential backdrop.

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Trump’s Scotland golf resort proceeds with expansion despite business pledge

President-elects team does not consider multimillion-dollar plans in conflict with written vow to end new foreign investments, which critics call ambiguous

The Trump Organization will press ahead with multimillion-dollar plans to expand one of the president-elects golf resorts in Scotland, despite its apparent pledge to halt new investments overseas.

Trump officials said the plans for the Trump International Golf Course Scotland in Aberdeenshire likely to immediately involve extending its boutique hotel and building a second 18-hole golf course did not conflict with his promise not to pursue new or pending deals outside the US.

Implementing future phasing of existing properties does not constitute a new transaction so we intend to proceed, a Trump Organization spokeswoman told the Guardian.

The expansion plans could see the resort grow substantially, with a new 450-room five-star hotel, timeshare complex and private housing estate. This would greatly increase the value to the Trump Organization of an investment onwhich Trump originally boasted he would spend up to 1bn.

Richard Painter, a former White House chief ethics adviser to George W Bush, said this extra investment was a perfect example of the clear conflicts of interest between Trumps newfound power as president and his familys business interests.

Hes using language which is ambiguous. It clearly illustrates that around the world, he will just simply expand around the various holdings and as they continue to expand, the conflicts of interest expand, Painter said.

Its like [the board game] Monopoly: if you have one house on Boardwalk, its not a new deal to go for three hotels on Boardwalk.

At a contentious press conference on Wednesday, the president-elect announced that his organisation would no longer pursue foreign investments as part of his controversial plans to avoid conflicts between his substantial business interests and his presidency.

In a document issued by the Trump team later that day, the president-elects lawyers Morgan, Lewis & Bockius wrote that his new pledge prohibits without exception new foreign deals during the duration of President-Elect Trumps Presidency.

Trump and his legal adviser Sheri Dillon said control of his property, hotels and golfing empire which includes two golf resorts in Scotland and one in Ireland would pass to his sons Eric and Donald Jr, and Trump executive Allen Weisslberg, before his inauguration as president on Friday 20 January.

There is speculation that Eric Trump will fly to Scotland next week, as that transfer of power takes place.

Trump International Golf Links, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Photograph: Mapbox, OpenStreetMap

Crucially, President-elect Trump has not agreed to sell or transfer his shares in the golf resorts, which means he retains ultimate ownership and stands to benefit from increases in the value of those investments. He owns 100% of the shares in the Aberdeenshire course, which has consistently made heavy losses. He has personally loaned it nearly 40m, and it lost 1.1m last year.

The so-called white paper released by Trumps legal advisers on Wednesday, setting out the new management arrangements and announcing a new trust to be run by his sons and Weisselberg, also said the agreement prohibits the Trump Organization from entering into any new transaction or contract with a foreign country, agency [or] any state or local government or any agency or instrumentality thereof, other than normal and customary arrangements already undertaken before the president-elects election.

Trumps legal advisers claim this structure will prevent Trump from breaching foreign bribery rules because any profits earned by allowing foreign dignitaries and leaders to stay at his two Scottish hotels, and his large Irish golf resort and hotel at Doonbeg there, would be passed to the US Treasury.

Walter M Shaub, director of the US Office of Government Ethics, said Trumps plan doesnt meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and every president in the past four decades has met.

Painter added that this structure was not legally enforceable. This is meaningless language, because what is the definition of a new deal? When youre a real estate developer, you are constantly entering into new contracts, expanding existing facilities, refinancing leases.

The phrase new deal is subject to such wide range of interpretation that it can easily be worked around, he said.

Trumps executives in Scotland argue that his new agreement to halt overseas investment cannot affect the Trump International Golf Course Scotland in Aberdeenshire course, which lies 10 miles north of Aberdeen, since its expansion plans predate Trumps election victory on 9 November. A spokesperson for the Trump transition team did not immediately return a request for comment.

The expansion proposals are partly derived from the resorts masterplan, which was approved against fierce opposition from environmentalists by the Scottish government in 2008.

The largest of his two Scottish hotels is the 149-room five-star hotel at Turnberry, which Trump bought with its associated Open championship course in 2014. He has since spent some 60m developing the resort, adding a new ballroom, a 3,500-a-night presidential suite and an ostentatious fountain.

Aberdeenshire councils planning department has recently approved plans to expand Trumps boutique hotel at the resort north of Aberdeen, which he bought in 2006, and is processing a live planning application for the second golf course.

On 2 November, a week before Trump stunned his opponents by winning the presidency, it gave listed building consent to extend the resorts boutique hotel, a converted early Victorian country house called Macleod House in memory of the president-elects Scotland-born mother Mary Macleod, to include a banqueting hall and six new bedrooms.

On 22 December, the council published a further official report on water management plans for the second 18-hole golf course, which is also being named in honour of Trumps mother. The course was a central part of the 2008 masterplan and this application has been in the planning system since September 2015.

The boutique hotel was not included in the masterplan approved by Scottish ministers in 2008 but it has been in use as a hotel for several years. Trumps critics in Aberdeenshire argue that its expansion raises substantial questions about the future of Trumps ultimate plans for the resort.

The Trump Organization had tried to dilute the original masterplan proposals last year by setting out plans for a new 850-home private housing estate and 1,900 leisure accommodation units, thought to be timeshares. Those plans were incorporated in Aberdeenshires draft local plan, although the council said he would also have to build a new primary school and affordable homes for local residents in return for planning consent.

But in December government planning inspectors threw that proposal out and insisted the Trump Organization stuck to the original 2008 plan which requires it to first build the 450-bed luxury hotel, and associated sports facilities, as a prerequisite for approval to build highly profitable private homes.

They said that if he built a new housing estate, he must also provide hundreds of affordable homes, the new school, community facilities and pay for a new roundabout, alongside robust environmental checks during construction.

David Milne, a local resident and vocal critic of the resort, said the decision to press ahead with expanding the boutique hotel suggested the Trump Organization had dropped plans for a five-star hotel at the resort.

I would question whether or not theres any valid reason why the plans are compatible, Milne said. If youre going to be required to do a 450-room hotel, why are you messing around with adding a six-bedroom extension to a boutique hotel?

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Will the ascent of Donald Trump make American athletes irate again? | Bryan Armen Graham

If sport is a microcosm of life the ascent of Donald Trump is no different with LeBron James and Tom Brady among those speaking their minds from both sides of the debate

The noise cascaded down from the west end of Madison Square Garden. It started in low. Then it started to grow. Donald Trump had just emerged from a tunnel on to the arena floor during the undercard of the middleweight title fight between Gennady Golovkin and David Lemieux, prompting a crescendo of boos from the crowd of more than 20,000 spectators that stuffed the midtown Manhattan arena to capacity. It was October 2015, four months after the real-estate mogul and reality TV star had announced his presidential bid with a speech that established his nativist bona fides by branding Mexicans as rapists and criminals. Now he had turned up to watch a sport largely populated and supported by the minorities his candidacy would seem to marginalise.

Trump made a half-circuit of the arena floor as the din grew to earsplitting volumes and turned into another tunnel almost immediately. As he made his way to the locker room of Golovkin, a Kazakh whose career has soared to new heights since coming to America and settling in Los Angeles, an aide straight-facedly reassured him the reaction from the crowd was 50-50.

Sport has always served as a mirror of American society, from the way Jackie Robinsons penetration of Major League Baseballs colour barrier pushed forward integration to how Muhammad Alis conscientious objection swayed national perceptions of the Vietnam war. Thats no different today as the reactions within US sport to Trumps ascent to the presidency, with his inauguration on Friday, reflect the deep political and cultural divides of the nation itself.

What it means for the games we watch remains as uncertain as what a Trump presidency will mean for the nation at large, but it has become clear that athletes on either side of the aisle are less inclined to stick to sports than any time in the past few decades.

As the money flowing into professional sports has ballooned to stupefying heights in recent decades, athletes have been drilled into eschewing political discourse. Michael Jordans infamous assertion that Republicans buy sneakers, too a quote of dubious authenticity but undeniable influence prompted a generation of athletes to keep their heads down when it came to thorny issues lest they alienate the consumerbase.

But a contentious election and the proliferation of social media have led athletes to speak out on politics with a frequency and ardour not seen since the high water mark of athlete activism of the 1960s, when champions such as Ali, Jim Brown and Kareem AbdulJabbar risked it all to stand on the front line of the civil rights movement.

LeBron James, who stumped for Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail, has said he would not stay at the Trump SoHo when the Cleveland Cavaliers made road trips to New York. When asked whether he would make the traditional visit to the White House were his team to repeat as NBA champions this summer, James was noncommittal: Well have to cross that road, I guess.

But for every sportsperson thats spoken out against Trump, there have been just as many celebrating his victory: the Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta, the Buffalo Bills lineman Richie Incognito, the Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer and the LPGA golfer Natalie Gulbis. Perhaps more revealing are those in sports who have shown a silent allegiance to the president-elect while stopping short of outspoken support, a trend that serves to illustrate the disconnect between the polls that spelled Trumps doom and election results that sealed his coronation.

Consider Trumps fascinatingly opaque relationship with the New England Patriots, the most successful NFL team of their generation. The four-times Super Bowl champions hail from the only state in the union where every county went for Clinton, yet the three figures most responsible for the Patriots runaway dominance the owner, Robert Kraft; the head coach, Bill Belichick; and the quarterback Tom Brady have all shown a quiet allegiance to Trump while stopping short of public endorsement.

Kraft held a meeting with the presidentelect in New York shortly after his victory, while Trump made no secret of the most beautiful letter he received from Belichick. When Brady was spotted with a Make America Great Again hat in his locker at Gillette Stadium shortly after Trump announced his candidacy, the two-times NFL most valuable player said it would be great if his friend and golfing buddy won the presidency. I support all my friends in everything they do, said Brady. I think its pretty remarkable what hes achieved in his life.

Trump has always valued sports as an inextricable stripe of American life. He owned a team in the upstart United States Football League in the early 1980s and hosted a series of major fights at his casino in Atlantic City before it went bankrupt, most notably the 1988 blockbuster between Mike Tyson and Michael Spinks, for which he paid a then-record $11m site fee.

He has actively courted athlete endorsements throughout his political rise, keenly aware of the power of sportsperson as influencer. Its only fitting his election has awakened that potential in ways not seen for years.

Its too soon to say whether the Trump presidency will usher in a renaissance of athlete activism. That may be unwelcome news for those who turn to sports as escapist entertainment. But if it can promote engagement in a democracy thats seen voter turnout fall to perilously low levels, then surely its a small price to pay.

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FBI chief given dossier by John McCain alleging secret Trump-Russia contacts

Russian intelligence alleged to have compromising material on Trump, say unverified reports drawn up by western ex-counter-intelligence official

Senator John McCain passed documents to the FBI director, James Comey, last month alleging secret contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow and that Russian intelligence had personally compromising material on the president-elect himself.

The material, which has been seen by the Guardian, is a series of reports on Trumps relationship with Moscow. They were drawn up by a former western counter-intelligence official, now working as a private consultant.

The Guardian has not been able to confirm the veracity of the documents contents, and the Trump team has consistently denied any hidden contacts with the Russian government.

Trumps transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but late on Tuesday, Trump tweeted: FAKE NEWS A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT! He made no direct reference to the allegations.

An official in the US administration who spoke to the Guardian described the source who wrote the intelligence report as consistently reliable, meticulous and well-informed, with a reputation for having extensive Russian contacts.

Some of the reports which are dated from 20 June to 20 October last year also proved to be prescient, predicting events that happened after they were sent.

One report, dated June 2016, claims that the Kremlin has been cultivating, supporting and assisting Trump for at least five years, with the aim of encouraging splits and divisions in western alliance.

It claims that Trump had declined various sweetener real estate deals offered him in Russia especially in developments linked to the 2018 World Cup finals but that he and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals.

Most explosively, the report alleges: FSB has compromised Trump through his activities in Moscow sufficiently to be able to blackmail him. The president-elect has not responded to the allegations.

CNN reported on Tuesday that the FBI was still investigating the credibility of the documents but added that the intelligence chiefs had included a summary of the material in a secret briefing on Russian interference in the election delivered last week to Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

The emergence of the documents is potentially explosive, 10 days before Trumps inauguration and on the eve of his first planned press conference since July last year.

Despite glowing references from US and foreign officials who have worked with the source, there are some errors in the reports. One describes the Moscow suburb of Barvikha as reserved for the residences of the top leadership and their close associates, but although it is a very expensive neighbourhood, there are no restrictions on who can own property there. The document also misspells the name of a Russian banking corporation.

The FBI does not normally make any comment on ongoing counter-intelligence investigations but was under increasing pressure from Democrats and some Republicans to act before the inauguration, particularly because of Comeys announcement of a continuing investigation into Hillary Clintons email server 11 days before the election, which many of her supporters believe cost her the presidency.

The reports were initially commissioned as opposition research during the presidential campaign, but its author was sufficiently alarmed by what he discovered to send a copy to the FBI. It is unclear who within the organisation they reached and what action the bureau took. The former Democratic Senate leader, Harry Reid, has lambasted Comey for publicising investigations into Hillary Clintons private server, while allegedly sitting on explosive material on Trumps ties to Russia.

Another Democratic senator, Ron Wyden, questioned Comey insistently at a Senate intelligence committee hearing on Tuesday on whether the FBI was pursuing leads on Trump campaign contacts with Russia.

Has the FBI investigated these reported relationships? Wyden asked.

Comey replied: I would never comment on investigations in a public forum.

The Guardian can confirm that the documents reached the top of the FBI by December. Senator John McCain, who was informed about the existence of the documents separately by an intermediary from a western allied state, dispatched an emissary overseas to meet the source and then decided to present the material to Comey in a one-on-one meeting on 9 December, according to a source aware of the meeting. The documents, which were first reported on last year by Mother Jones, are also in the hands of officials in the White House.

McCain is not thought to have made a judgment on the reliability of the documents but was sufficiently impressed by the sources credentials to feel obliged to pass them to the FBI.

The Senate armed services committee, which Senator McCain chairs, launched an inquiry last week into Russian cyber-attacks during the election.

McCain was reluctant to get involved, according to a colleague, for fear the issue would be dismissed as a personal grudge against Trump. He pushed instead for the creation of a special Senate committee to look into connections between campaign staff and Moscow, but the proposal was blocked by the Republican leadership.

McCain told the NBC programme Meet the Press on Sunday: I would like to see a select committee. Apparently that is not in agreement by our leadership. So we will move forward with the armed services committee and Im sure foreign relations and intelligence committee will as well.

But the senator added: It is possible if enough information comes out, that that decision could be reversed. I still think its the best way to attack the issue.

Asked on the same programme on whether an investigation was ongoing into campaign links to Moscow, Senator Lyndsey Graham, another conservative Republican said: I believe that its happening.

According to the report passed to Comey, Russian intelligence allegedly gathered compromising material during Trumps stay in Moscow in November 2013, when he was in the city to host the Miss Universe pageant.

Another report, dated 19 July last year said that Carter Page, a businessman named by Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers, had held a secret meeting that month with Igor Sechin, head of the Rosneft state-owned oil company and a long-serving lieutenant of Vladimir Putin. Page also allegedly met Igor Divyekin, an internal affairs official with a background in intelligence, who is said to have warned Page that Moscow had kompromat (compromising material) on Trump.

Two months later, allegations of Pages meetings surfaced in the US media, attributed to intelligence sources, along with reports that he had been under FBI scrutiny.

Page, a vociferous supporter of the Kremlin line, was in Moscow in July to make a speech decrying western policy towards Russia. At the time he declined to say whether he had been in contact with Russian officials, but in September he rejected the reports as garbage.

The Guardian has learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The Fisa court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation.

A month after Trumps surprise election victory, Page was back in Moscow saying he was meeting with business leaders and thought leaders, dismissing the FBI investigation as a witch-hunt and suggesting the Russian hacking of the Democratic Party alleged by US intelligence agencies, could be a false flag operation to incriminate Moscow.

Another of the reports compiled by the former western counter-intelligence official in July said that members of Trumps team, which was led by campaign manager Paul Manafort (a former consultant for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine), had knowledge of the DNC hacking operation, and in return had agreed to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue and to raise US/Nato defence commitments in the Baltics and Eastern Europe to deflect attention away from Ukraine.

A few days later, Trump raised the possibility that his administration might recognise Russias annexation of Crimea and openly called on Moscow to hack Hillary Clintons emails.

In August, officials from the Trump campaign intervened in the drafting of the Republican party platform, specifically to remove a call for lethal assistance to Ukraine for its battle against Moscow-backed eastern rebels.

Manafort stepped down in August as campaign manager and the campaign steadily distanced itself from Page. However, Trumps praise of Putin and defence of Moscows actions in Ukraine and Syria remained one of the few constants in his campaign talking points.

Manafort has denied secret links with Moscow calling the allegation an outrageous smear being driven by Harry Reid and the Clinton campaign.

Since then, Trump has consistently cast doubt on Russian culpability for hacking the Democratic National Committee, defying a consensus of 17 national intelligence agencies. After Obama deported 35 Russian diplomats in retaliation for Moscows intervention, Trump praised Putin for not carrying out tit-for-tat deportations of US diplomats. I always knew he was very smart, he tweeted.

An FBI spokesman declined to comment after the CNN report.

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Trump names son-in-law Jared Kushner as senior adviser, testing nepotism law

Kushner, who had Trumps ear in an informal role during the election, will need to argue a federal anti-nepotism law does not apply to him

Donald Trumps son-in-law Jared Kushnerwas named senior adviser to the president on Monday, an appointment that would further entangle the incoming White House team in a web of potential conflicts of interest and accusations of nepotism.

For months, Kushner has had Trumps ear in an informal role alongside the businessmans three grown children: Donald Jr, Eric and Kushners wife, Ivanka.In a statement, Trumps transition team said that Kushner had formed an effective leadership team with the president-elects chosen chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon.

Kushner, 35, will need to argue that a federal anti-nepotism law does not apply to him. The law, enacted in 1967 after John F Kennedy appointed his brother as attorney general, prohibits any federal official from hiring family members to an agency or office which he or she leads.

The law has loopholes, however. Ethics experts say that Kushner could retain a technically unofficial role, for instance as a consultant, in order to skirt the law. Trumps transition team said Kushner has chosen to forego his salary while serving in the administration.

Attorneys for Kushner reportedly want to argue that the White House is technically not an agency, and that therefore Trump and Kushner would be exempt from nepotism rules. Trumps transition team has argued that this loophole would also make Trump exempt from his own possible conflicts of interest.

WilmerHale, a law firm contracted by Kushner, has said in a statement that he is committed to complying with federal ethics laws and has coordinated with the Office of Government Ethics.

Trump could also try to argue that he has wide authority to select his advisers, using Hillary Clintons work in the White House in the 1990s as a precedent. At the time, an appeals court ruled that Clinton could work in government because she already held an official title, first lady.

More traditional conflicts of interest also appear strewn across Kushners path to the White House. More so than his father-in-law, who has for years turned away from real estate in favor of branding deals, Kushner is a major figure in New York real estate, the scion of an extraordinarily wealthy family with business interests around the world.

Kushner Companies has invested billions in real estate around the US in the last decade, and relies heavily on foreign investment and lenders.

Experts have said that even should Kushner place holdings in a blind trust, he would still test ethics laws. Kushner will be required to make some financial disclosures, and would continuously test the limits of the law in the White House.

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Donald Trump to dissolve his charitable foundation after mounting complaints

President-elect released statement saying he would dissolve Trump Foundation to avoid even the appearance of any conflict with my role as President

Donald Trump announced on Saturday that he will shut down his charitable foundation, a response to mounting complaints over conflicts related to the president-elects charitable and business interests.

In a statement released by his campaign, Trump said the Donald J Trump Foundation would be dissolved to avoid even the appearance of any conflict with my role as President.

Trump said he would continue to pursue his strong interest in philanthropy in other ways.

The closure of the Trump Foundation, which was first reported by the New York Times, requires the approval of the New York attorney generals office, which is currently investigating the nonprofit and issued a cease and desist order to it in October.

The Donald J Trump Foundation was repeatedly the subject of controversy throughout the presidential campaign after a series of investigations by the Washington Posts David Fahrenthold. Trump reportedly used $258,000 of the foundations money to pay for personal legal settlements. He also spent charitable funds on multiple portraits of himself and on a football helmet autographed by Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.

The foundation also made a donation to a political group supporting Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, a longtime Trump backer in violation of tax law. The president-elect has since paid $2,500 to the Internal Revenue Service over the donation.

Trump had not donated to his own foundation since 2008; the nonprofit relied on donations from other Trump associates, including professional wrestling magnates Vince and Linda McMahon, who gave $5m to the Trump Foundation. Linda McMahon has since been announced as Trumps nominee to lead the Small Business Administration.

The decision also comes as Trumps children have been under scrutiny for charitable efforts that raised questions over whether people were paying foraccess to the incomingpresident and his family.

A celebrity auction for a coffee date with Ivanka Trump, sponsored by Eric Trumps charity, was called off earlier in Decemberbecause donors were apparently given an attempt to curry favor with the incoming president and buy access to one of his closest advisers.

Both Eric and his brother, Don Jr, were also scheduled to appear at a reception on behalf of conservation charities over the weekend of the inauguration. The reception, which has since been canceled, reportedly promised the opportunity to meet the president-elect in exchange for $1m in donations.

These issues have come as Trumps entire real estate business has come under scrutiny for potential conflicts of interest. In particular, Trumps international properties have the potential to violate the emoluments clause of the constitution, which prohibits anyone holding an office of profit or trust from accepting any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince or foreign state. But these conflicts also apply domestically, as the Kuwaiti government has already announced that it is shifting its annual party in February to Trumps new hotel in Washington.

The issues are further amplified because the Trump Organization is a privately held corporation and the president-elect has flouted longstanding tradition in not releasing his tax returns. The result is that there is no clear way to know what assets and liabilities Trump has. It is known, though, that Trump owes $364m to Deutsche Bank.

A news conference that the president-elect promised to hold on the topic on 15 December has since been postponed until sometime in January 2017.

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What George Clooney, Lupita Nyongo, Elton John and Eddie the Eagle taught us in 2016

George Clooney called Donald Trump a fascist, Lupita Nyongo took on Hollywood racism, Elton John discussed money and Eddie the Eagle admitted he skied like an ostrich what we learned in a year of Guardian interviews


Patti Smith is as hard as nails

You can decide your own fate. Are you going to let it all fall apart? Or are you going to own it?

Keith Richards reckons the Rolling Stones Altamont gig, where a man was killed by a Hells Angels security guard, wasnt all bad

I think given that there were about half a million people there, Id say that 499,000 had a good time. Which is not bad on the average, you know? And one man died, but a baby was born, so the same number came out as went in. If that hadnt happened, it would have been considered a Woodstock on the coast. All it takes is one sucker with a knife.

Thandie Newton is furious about abuse and exploitation

Im always angry. I wake up angry. There is a lot to be angry about. Anger, she says calmly, is a positive energy.

Nicola Adams enjoys her work

I guess when Im smiling, waving to the crowd, looking really happy, an opponent is going to look at me and think wow, is she even nervous? But really, Im just enjoying myself.

Woody Allen hasnt overcome trauma

I dont believe in the Nietzschean notion that what doesnt destroy you makes you stronger. You see these soldiers come back with PTSD; theyve been to war and seen death and experienced these existential crises one after the other. There are traumas in life that weaken us for the future. And thats whats happened to me. The various slings and arrows of life have not strengthened me. I think Im weaker. I think there are things I couldnt take now that I would have been able to take when I was younger.

Jeremy Irons thinks abortion is a tremendous mental attack

I believe women should be allowed to make the decision, but I also think the church is right to say its a sin. Because sin is actions that harm us. Lying harms us. Abortion harms a woman its a tremendous mental attack, and physical, sometimes. But we seem to get that muddled. In a way, thank God the Catholic church does say we wont allow it, because otherwise nobodys saying that its a sin.

Vanessa Redgrave wanted to die after having a heart attack

Trying to live was getting too tiring. I was with my daughter, and I said, Im sorry, I just think Im going to have to give up, knowing shed be unhappy, of course. And she was wonderful. How did Joely (another successful actor) encourage her to keep living? By telling me I could. Her saying I could give up released me.

Lauren Laverne shudders at the memory of being a teenage pop star

I look back now and I feel terrified about all the things that I did. But also more forgiving towards myself because I was so young. Everyones an idiot when theyre 16.

The Heseltines have shot lots of grey squirrels on their Northamptonshire estate

Three hundred and fifty. Absolutely awful things.

Shah Rukh Khan, Robbie Williams, Clare Short, Samuel L Jackson and Marilyn. Composite: Linda Nylind, Getty, Sarah Lee,


Making mix tapes taught Lin-Manuel Miranda how to compose a Broadway smash

I feel lucky to have grown up in the era when we made mix cassettes. I think it affected how I write scores. Because when youre making a mix tape for your friends, its 90 minutes of music, in the order in which you curate it, so youre creating the ebb and flow. That prepared me to write scores more than anything else. You want to surprise them, tell them how you feel about them, you want to express the wealth of your taste. How is that different from writing a Broadway score?

Elton John doesnt play the piano at home

I play 107 shows a year, why am I going to go home and play the fucking piano? Ive got one at Woodside [his Windsor estate] and one at my house in Atlanta, and I never touch them. Rufus Wainwright plays every morning when he gets up I have to play an hour every day so everyones different, but, God, I couldnt think of anything worse. I have leisure, and I have work. And I do enough work. When I get home, the last thing I want to do is play the piano.

Boy George misses the wizard behind the curtain

When I was 19, there was still the mystery of rocknroll; there was still the wizard behind the curtain. Kids now, they know how to make records, they know where to get their clothes. We had to dream about it: is this possible? Now, its like: Yeah, you can be famous, you get on this show, you do that, you do this, but I think the thing is, I dont think it necessarily means that much. Im glad I had that exciting first part of my career in a decade when you could make a cultural difference of sorts, you know?

Phil Collins didnt get his message across on his 1993 album Both Sides

It was like coming out of a toilet with toilet paper on your foot and trying to walk elegantly while trying to get it off. I think thats one of the reasons I did retire, frankly. It seemed that the only way I could stop this was to stop and start again. I stopped. Im yet to start again.

Eddie the Eagle knew the sky was the limit

Id like to say I flew like an eagle, but I was probably closer to the ostrich. Did he ever say to the makers [of film Eddie the Eagle], youre doing me down?I thought the skiers skiing down that slope in the film are not very good, whereas in actual fact Im a hell of a lot better. But that didnt matter to me because I know Im a good skier, and people who know me know that.

Shah Rukh Khan says women made him a star

I lost my father, then my mother, early on, he says. But the women in my life the actresses have helped me immensely. Everything I am is because of them. They are doing all that work and, mostly, I take away the credit for the film. Im Shah Rukh Khan. None of them has become Shah Rukh Khan and I hope they do. Im not trying to be pompous about myself. Madhuri Dixit has held my hand in those dancing scenes and Im not leading her, shes leading me. Juhi Chawla taught me how to do comic timing, Kajol taught me how to cry. They worked their asses off and then, at the end of the film, its Shah Rukh Khan: the superstar. And I know it. I cant deny it. And I can never ever forget I am [there] because of women. All my chivalry, goodness, gentlemanliness only stems from the fact that its my way of saying thank you. They are fabulous in the films. In every film.


Robbie Williams gave up smoking but got hooked on Minstrels

Thats the thing with having an addictive personality. One fire goes out and another pops up. And that fire became working out and eating Minstrels. I transferred the smoking to working out three hours a day, and then eating Minstrels for three hours every night. Thats not an exaggeration. And then I stopped the working out and just carried on with the Minstrels and I ballooned to the point where the Daily Mail suggested I was akin to Elvis before he died. It was horrible, terrible. I had to go on stage, too: Yeah, I know, I look like Elvis before he died. Sorry, everybody, as Im pointing at you suggestively, pretending that you think Im sexy.

So I went on this pretty hardcore diet. You woke up and had a boiled egg, then nothing for five hours, then had vegetable broth, then steamed veg, then nothing until the next day. After five days of that, first off, I was really fucking emotional, because youve got nothing, your bodys starving. And the second thing is, you just needed something to suppress your appetite, so this started again. I tried to hide it from my wife for five weeks. At night Id hide my mouthwash and hand sanitiser in a safe place, then wake up an hour before she got up, climb out of the window, take my top off, so as not to smell of anything, then smoke, hand sanitiser and mouthwash, top back on, shoes off so as not to wake her up, climb back in the window.

Even when Samuel L Jackson was out it, he always hit his marks

I had a very good theatre reputation. Granted, I was a fucking drug addict and I was out of my mind a lot of the time, but I had a good reputation. Showed up on time, knew my lines, hit my marks. I just wasnt making a lot of money, but I was very satisfied artistically. I was doing Pulitzer prize-winning plays. I was working with people who made me better, who challenged me. So I was doing things the right way, it was just that one thing that was in the way my addiction. And once that was out of the way, it was boom! The door blew wide open.

Marilyn spent 20 years taking crack and heroin while watching the Alien movies on loop

He retreated to his mothers house in Hertfordshire and stayed there for 20 years, without going out, unless it was to the hospital or a dealer, or a doctor. But in general I just sat in a room for 20 years. I didnt want contact with people. The phone would ring and I just wouldnt pick it up. The curtains were always drawn, I didnt know whether it was night or day.

What did he do all day? You know the Alien movies? I had the box set of that. I had my laptop and my drug paraphernalia was all set up around me. And Id watch the first Alien film, then the second, then the third, fourth, fifth. And when it got to the end of the fifth one, Id put the first one back on again. So that was it. Over and over again. It was, like, my life has gone out of control, but I can control this, this tiny little bubble of behaviour: that was my safety, sitting in front of this computer screen with what Im watching, and I know all the dialogue and I know whats going to happen. I could control how I felt. Oh, Im bit tired, let me have some crack. Oh, Im a bit depressed, lets have some heroin. I need to go to sleep, Ill take a downer. I just wanted to die, but I couldnt do that, I think because I was brought up a Catholic, with that idea that if you kill yourself you go to purgatory. I kept thinking, Well, itll be just my fucking luck, Ill kill myself and wake up in exactly the situation Im trying to get away from and itll be for eternity. At least I know this is going to end at some point.

Boy George, Leslie Jones, Gary Lineker, Lupita Nyongo, Suggs and Steve McQueen. Composite: EPA, REX, Getty, Rob Greig,


Native Americans were like a religion for Adam Ant in the 1980s

It was all the things Id grown up with that I felt were heroic and sexy and had a warrior bravado to them. Id been reading about and studying pirates and the Native Americans for a few years the Native American thing was as close to a religion as I had. Putting the Apache war stripe across my nose was a declaration of arms against the music industry, which I felt had ignored me and treated me very unfairly. I wanted to look like a buccaneer: when they raided somewhere, they would take all the stuff they could carry or wear and not take anything else. And then I got the Hussar jacket, the one worn by the 11th Hussars in the charge of the Light Brigade. They were the most ridiculed regiment in the British army because they were thought to be too well dressed. People called them the Cherrybums, because their uniforms were so tight, and all the young ladies came out to look at them when they were on parade. They were despised by the rest of the army, but they did this heroic, disastrous thing.

Boy George explained the art of glamour and survival

Life is kind of like clinging to a rock, isnt it? Were all clinging to a rock, and some people have got a better grip than others. Some people look bedraggled and other people look like Jerry Hall dressed as a mermaid on that Roxy Music album cover.


Zac Goldsmith ranted about Sadiq Khan

Whos criticised me? Honestly, whos criticised me? He has. No one else has. Love it or hate it, the Labour party is more radical now than any time in my lifetime. He is radical and divisive because of his approach to politics. He is a fundamentally partisan figure in politics. These are terms that I use and will continue to use to describe Sadiq Khan. And it is obvious to anybody who is not unfair or wanting to misinterpret, the terms I was using were in a political context. He looks at me, and his hands are shaking.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson is not friendly with Jeremy Corbyn

At PMQs I always try to get myself into a Buddha-like state. I try not to have any facial expression at all. Because if I laugh at a Jeremy joke, two hours later on social media its either interpreted as me laughing at Jeremy, or laughing at an opposition joke. Or, if I scowl at something someone says, people are accusing me of scowling at Jeremy. So I try to keep a straight face, which everyone always interprets as me looking really sad and miserable. Thats actually not the case. Im generally just trying to remain expressionless.

Watson remains in contact with Corbyn, though it sounds rather semi-detached. We still send the odd text to each other. Its usually about family stuff, you know. My dads ill, and he [Corbyn] is always asking about my dad. My dads a big supporter of Jeremy. Its a sort of chat really.

Clare Short was underwhelmed by the Chilcot report

I dont think anyones even going to read it. Except perhaps historians. Do you know, its longer than all the Harry Potter books put together?

I thought, she says of the extracts she read, it was terrible. It was deeply underwhelming, and not well informed. It had lost the plot on what it was meant to do. The person who had written it well, I dont believe this is John Chilcot, because he is a very bright guy.


Leslie Jones knew it was important to be in Ghostbusters

Back in the day, when I was coming up, the last page of Jet magazine was a guide to all the times black people were going to be on TV, because we were hardly on TV and we needed to see and support our people when we were. So my thing is, my parents and grandparents would have been, Woah! She is in a Big Movie! A superhero in a BLOCKbuster. Why wouldnt you be dancing in the street?

Steve McQueen said the Oscars whitewash was like apartheid

Hopefully, when people look back at this in 20 years, itll be like seeing that David Bowie clip in 1983. He is referring to a clip that has been widely circulated online since Bowies death, in which the singer politely assails his interviewer about MTVs under-representation of black artists. Im hoping in 12 months or so we can look back and say this was a watershed moment, and thank God we put that right.

It is not just actors and directors either. Its like Johannesburg in 1976, if you go behind the scenes. I made two British movies [Hunger and Shame] and I never met one person of colour in any below-the-line situations. Not one. No black, no Asian, no one. Like, hello? Whats going on here? Very odd.

When it came to working in the US, making 12 Years a Slave, McQueen was adamant that he wouldnt let the same thing happen again, particularly not on a film about slavery. I expressly said in a meeting, Look, I cant make this movie in a situation where I dont see any black faces other than my own behind the camera. We need to employ certain people. I made that very clear and it was attended to. Two African American assistant directors were duly hired.

Lupita Nyongo is going to keep calling out the film industry

For the third time in as many years, she appeared on the front of the US edition of Vogue, which ran the coverline: I want to create opportunities for people of color. Its not the sexiest way to sell a fashion glossy, but Nyongo is unapologetic.

Films inspire people to feel differently. A lot more can be done. We can be more empathetic when we realise how much more alike we are than how different we are.

Does she feel a burden, as a black actor, to keep talking about the issues?

But you see, I dont like to fight the reality. The reason it is so acute is because of the stage we are at. When we are talking about inclusion in entertainment, its because entertainment isnt inclusive and, until such a time as that becomes the norm, then this work has to be done.


Nicola Adams says boxing is like chess

Boxing is 50/50, mental and physical. You can be the strongest, fastest, most technical boxer out there, but if youre not there mentally, you wont win. You see boxers who look unbelievable in the gym, and then they get into the ring and they fall to pieces. The mental aspect is about how to stay in control, to get your opponent to make mistakes and then to capitalise on them. Its a bit like chess, really. She has played chess since she was 10.

Gary Lineker compared football and sex

The one thing about scoring a goal is you never know if its going to happen again. Whereas with sex, theres always the chance that something

Chris Eubank Jr and Sr explained the psychology of boxing

Jr: Obviously, in the buildup to some fights, theres animosity and testosterone and banter but at the end of the day, we all understand that this is a business, just two men who are trying to further their careers and provide for their families. There shouldnt be any true malice towards your opponent.

I learned very early on once I started boxing as a kid that if you go into the ring emotionally charged you make mistakes. I have fought fighters in the past who I dont like as people, but you have to block out any type of dislike or hate.

Sr: The feeling between two fighters is profound. You smell a mans blood, it smells like rust. You get into a clench, you feel his strength, you feel his desperation, he feels yours. Youre sharing this.


Sarah Perry had a churchy childhood

I would go to school and people would be talking about television, which was meaningless to me, and bands. I can remember someone talking about Take That, and I was like: Take what? Her church, the Ebenezer Strict and Particular Baptist Chapel, was a 19th-century building in Chelmsford with thick, mottled-glass windows, like the bottom of a beer bottle, inappropriately. And on a Sunday morning, when Sunday trading opened, I would see people walking past the windows on the way into town. That glass might have been a gap of 100 years as far I was concerned, because I was in chapel with my head covered, in a long skirt, with my King James Bible, and at the front of the church a little old organ being pedalled away, and a man with a beard and proper fire-and-brimstone rhetoric. And people just trolleying along into town. I think that will never leave me, that feeling that something that may only be a pane of glass but might as well be an abyss separates me from everything else.

Vanessa Redgrave thinks there is no conflict between science and religion

I know its a strange question to ask a Marxist, but do you have faith? She smiles, almost beatifically. Yes, certainly I do. And the reason I do is because I dont consider science and religion two fixed opposites. Human beings have felt the need to explain things that they couldnt explain, and acknowledge the existence of things they cant explain but want to. She is talking so slowly, so deliberately, she could be setting a dictation test.

So religion and Marxism is another contradiction she is happy to embrace? Yes, because if youre not happy to embrace contradictions youre not going to get very far in understanding anything.


Ben Whishaw found it a relief to come out publicly

And that just made it worse. Because then people assume youve got some really juicy, awful thing that youre keeping from them. After an intrusive journalist exposed his civil partnership with composer Mark Bradshaw, he was forced to speak more openly, and he found this something of a relief. Because now people arent that interested, because now theres nothing being concealed, he says.

He tries not to think about how others might consider him or perceive his sexuality. If you dont let it be a weight upon you, it wont manifest as one in your life, he says. I just try to give it little space in my brain. Its not interesting to me.

George Takei was in the closet on Star Trek

You live under the fear of being outed all the time. I played the game. I took a female friend to premieres and parties, and then Id take her home and go to a gay bar. It was a double life. Interestingly, I recognised some faces in those bars and wed say Hi, but we didnt mention it the day after.

Christine McVie says Fleetwood Mac are umbilically tied together

I still think theres a certain need for each other in our band. In a strange way. Were umbilically tied together, somehow. Without one of us, were incomplete.

George Clooney, Macaulay Culkin, Lady Leshurr, Jay McInerney, Mark Ruffalo and Dustin Hoffman. Composite: Getty, Linda Nylind, Laura Barisonzi, WireImage


Woody Allen spends $100 a week on lottery tickets

Ive talked this over with my wife. We would still go on living in the same house, I would go on working, I dont want a boat, I dont want a plane.

So why do it? He seems stumped. The odds are bigger than astronomical. Youd have a better chance of shuffling a deck of cards and naming them all in row. Ive never got more than two numbers. Id probably shoot myself if I got five and missed by one. That would really be a killer but I dont have that problem.

Eddie the Eagle was rolling in cash in his heyday

In 1988, I earned something like 700,000. Yeah! I was earning 10 grand an hour opening shopping centres. Yeah! The most I earned in one day was 65 grand. I opened the Alton Towers fun ride in the morning, did a commercial in the afternoon and an appearance at a nightclub in the evening. Sixty-five grand in one day!

Suggs from Madness says London is no good for would-be stars

Nowadays, you cant even find somewhere to rehearse unless your mummy and daddy can pay for you. All the arts are just fucking old Etonians and that is a big problem. And its boring. Where are the urchins? We certainly wouldnt be sitting here now.

Elton John doesnt spoil his children, Zachary and Elijah

They get 3 pocket money, but 1 is for charity, 1 is for saving and 1 is for spending, they get three coins and put them in separate jars. And they have to work for it help in the kitchen, help in the garden. Theyve got to learn the value of doing something and earning something for themselves. They live a very local life in Old Windsor, they go round their mates houses, its not a showbiz life as such. Theyre not stuck behind the gates of a mansion. Saturdays when Im home, we go to Pizza Hut with them, we go to Waterstones, we go to the cinema. Ive never been a recluse, Ive never hidden away. Im on the school run.

Lady Leshurr turned down her first big break because it meant starting a beef with Nicky Minaj

Atlantic Records in the US offered her a deal. They flew me out and we had a conversation, but their idea was that they were going to pit me against Nicki Minaj. It was like: Shes the biggest female MC and you need to take her down, and I wasnt feeling that at all. That whole stereotype of female rappers and their supporters having to compete with each other it seems to be a crime to be a fan of two female rappers that are successful. So I turned it down. The amount of money they were offering me was amazing. Ive always turned to music to get my mum out of the house, out of that situation, so to see that type of money thrown at me … Im not going to lie, I cried on the plane home, because I thought Id made a mistake and my mum needed the money. It might have been my only chance. But I know by now I would probably have been dropped and my career would have been ruined.


George Clooney thinks hes a fascist

I met Donald once. I was sitting in a booth and we talked for a while. Then he did Larry King, and he said I was very short. And I was like: I was sitting down the whole time, Donald! Hes just an opportunist. Now hes a fascist; a xenophobic fascist

Lets put things into perspective. You know, the truth of the matter is, in election season, things go crazy, and the loudest voices are the furthest and most extreme. So you hear a massively stupid idea, like were going to ban Muslims from the country. Now, were not ever going to do that. He shrugs. It says in the Statue of Liberty, bring us your huddled masses. Its not whats going to happen.

Elton John wouldnt let his music be played at election rallies

I dont really want my music to be involved in anything to do with an American election campaign. Im British. Ive met Donald Trump, he was very nice to me, its nothing personal, his political views are his own, mine are very different, Im not a Republican in a million years. Why not ask Ted fucking Nugent? Or one of those fucking country stars? Theyll do it for you.

Macaulay Culkin is superstitious about even saying his name

I have leanings, but Im the definition of a disenfranchised voter I think the system is ugly. This whole Trump thing is amazing. (Trump cameos in Home Alone 2, showing our hero the way to the Plaza Hotel lobby, although we cant talk about it.) Culkin doesnt want to be drawn further. Discussing politics is the quickest way to alienate people, so I dont wanna go into it. And Trump has enough column inches? Exactly! Hes like the Candyman, we have to stop saying his name.

Mark Wahlberg has played golf with him

Hes an OK golfer. Ive gotten to know him a little bit since, on various occasions. Ive never met Hillary Clinton.

It turns out that Wahlberg and Trump met almost a decade ago at one of those weird celebrity golf events that always seem to be happening in California or Florida. What did they talk about? He was very Donald Trump-like, talking about the things that he does, things that he has, business interests, properties, stuff like that. But he wasnt ever mean or rude. I dont think he asked me too many personal questions, or about what I do.

Dustin Hoffman thinks hes a conman

Its not that hes there, its that he has a following thats more disturbing, says Hoffman. He fell in at this moment when the majority of the Republican electorate feel, as they say, betrayed by their own party. Hes not that original weve seen people throughout our lifetime that are Donald Trumps. He does have a charisma, but so does the guy selling you a watch on the corner and telling you that its a Rolex.

Tim Roth hates him

I hate everything that he stands for. He should never be forgotten or forgiven for anything he said on the road to the White House. There should be no concession to him. No Lets give him a chance. None of it, he says. Grab them by the pussy, right? Look at where we are now and who is in charge of this country and, by extension, a good chunk of the world someone with misogynistic tendencies.

If you neglect the working class for so fucking long they will rebel against you. There was a dire need to stop a rise of fascism in America and we didnt take it seriously enough.

Mark Ruffalo says hes a blip

I feel bad for the Republicans. Its an untenable situation for them in a lot of ways. The people who are clear-headed and really do hold conservative values are on the outs. Whats driving the party at the moment is nothing other than fear and xenophobia, and a kind of paranoia that is not sustainable. You cant govern with it. Trump, he says, is an interesting blip in a country that is undergoing kind of a correction. Money has corrupted the political system, which has lost its credibility on both sides of the aisle. To Ruffalo, [Tump] is playing into all the ugliest aspects of the fear that has been fomented by the media and the politicians themselves; in contrast, he says, Bernie Sanders is offering a reimagining of the basic premise of what America is.

Jay McInerney says he gives New York a bad rep

Hes this cartoon of a New York tycoon, and barely a tycoon at that. I have friends in the real estate business and they say, number one, he has hugely overinflated his wealth, and number two, hes impossible to do business with; hes not trustworthy, he sues everybody. Hes not well regarded in that community As a New Yorker, I regret that hes associated with the city I love.

Interviews by Alex Needham, Paula Cocozza, Jess Cartner-Morley, Catherine Shoard, Simon Hattenstone, Archie Bland, Emma Brockes, Alexis Petridis, Dorian Lynskey, Nosheen Iqbal, John Patterson, Decca Aitkenhead, Steve Rose, Emine Saner, Alexis Soloski, Ryan Gilbey, Peter Robinson, Andrew Pulver, Rhik Samadder, Hadley Freeman and Rory Carroll.

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