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Vox Sentences: Is France going to resist far-right-ification?

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Donald Trump is getting his global business empire all mixed up with his White House; France's presidential primary; police crack down on #NoDAPL.

That fine line between "conflict of interest" and "corruption"

A Trump hotel Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • It turns out — brace yourselves — that alleged billionaire Donald Trump has several business interests that could overlap with parts of the world he'll be crafting America's foreign policy toward as president. [Washington Post / Drew Harwell and Anu Narayanswamy]
  • You could refer to these as "conflicts of interest." Or if you're of a more cynical bent, you could just call it "corruption." [TPM / Josh Marshall]
  • In theory, the Constitution offers protection against this sort of thing via the "Emoluments Clause," which prevents the president from accepting gifts from foreign governments. But it's not clear how exactly this would be enforced against President Trump, especially if the Republican Congress is keen to give him a pass. [Mother Jones / Russ Choma]
  • Trump, for his part, swears that he's separating himself from his business to focus on the presidency. He says his children are running the business in a blind trust. Except ... that his daughter Ivanka, who's supposed to be on the business side, attended Trump's first meeting with a foreign head of state (Shinzo Abe of Japan). [Think Progress / Judd Legum]
  • And ... Trump's business partner got appointed trade envoy from the Philippines. [Philippine Star / Iris Gonzales]
  • And ... Trump took time off from planning the presidential transition to meet with three Indian businessmen who are building a Trump apartment complex outside Mumbai. [NYT / Eric Lipton and Ellen Barry]
  • And ... Trump's DC hotel held a special event after the election to pitch foreign diplomats on booking their delegations there during visits to the capital — which many diplomats are all too happy to do as an easy favor to the incoming president. [Washington Post / Jonathan O'Connell and Mary Jordan]
  • Not every report about a Trump conflict of interest is true: A report that he'd discussed a Buenos Aires business venture during his call with the president of Argentina, for example, was proven to be exaggerated speculation. But it's not hard to understand why that confusion might have come up! [BuzzFeed News / Karla Zabludovsky and Hayes Brown]

Sarkozy, c'est la vie

Sarkozy Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images
  • In the first round of its presidential primary, the French right-wing party Les Republicains selected conservative former Prime Minister François Fillon and moderate former Prime Minister Alain Juppé to face off in a runoff next week. [The Guardian / Angelique Chrisafis]
  • The winner of the primary will represent the party against the Socialist nominee (likely either embattled current President François Hollande or his prime minister, Manuel Valls); centrist Emmanuel Macron, who resigned from Hollande's cabinet to run as an independent; and the far-right Marine Le Pen of the National Front. [Reuters / Andrew Callus and Emmanuel Jarry]
  • Fillon — who was seen as the third wheel in the primary but pulled off a stunning victory in the first round primary, with 44 percent of the vote — is a champion of economic deregulation and a Catholic who is personally opposed to birth control and same-sex marriage but uninterested in prosecuting them as culture-war issues. He's a standard European conservative. [The Guardian / Kim Willsher and Matthew Weaver]
  • But the real story is who lost. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who came out of retirement to run for the presidency again, was expected to be Juppé's main competition in the primary but didn't even make it to the runoff. [France24 / Joseph Bamat]
  • Sarkozy was known as a cultural nationalist and a hard-liner against Muslim immigrants. He ran on similar themes this go-round, in an attempt to win some support from Le Pen's party. But he may have misjudged France's mood: despite the terrorist attacks of the past two years, many in France are uninterested in fire-and-brimstone rhetoric. [NYT / Sylvie Kauffmann]
  • Whether this is true of enough French voters to stop the surging Le Pen from winning the presidency — a victory that would leave Germany's Angela Merkel as the only cosmopolitan in the UN Security Council — is yet to be seen. [NYT / Adam Nossiter]

Seriously, though, water cannons at sub-freezing temperatures?

Standing Rock protesters Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • On Sunday night, police hit protesters at the Standing Rock site of the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline with water cannons and rubber bullets. (Temperatures at the site were below freezing.) [Inverse / Cory Scarola]
  • Police described the events as an "ongoing riot"; protesters described them as an attack after they tried to pull burned-out cars out of the road to allow emergency vehicles to access the site. [Reuters / Chris Michaud and Stephanie Keith]
  • Water cannons in below-freezing conditions pose serious health concerns. So do rubber bullets, which Vox's Sarah Kliff has described as "incredibly unsafe." [Vox / Sarah Kliff]
  • The protest over the pipeline has been going on for several weeks now, and doesn't appear to be dying down — if anything, the use of aggressive police tactics has added another grievance (and another constituency) to the progressive laundry list of problems with the project, from environmental concerns to native groups' land rights. [Vox / Brad Plumer]
  • It's taken as a given that the pipeline will be approved at this point. If President Obama doesn't do it (and the rumor last week was that he would), President Trump will. [Politico / Elana Schor]
  • Maybe that's why the parent corporation of the company trying to build the pipeline got sold Monday in what energy analysts are calling the first merger of the Trump era — for a price of $21 billion. [Slate / Daniel Gross]


  • Sociologists who study protest movements explain how anti-Trump protesters could improve their strategy and get more effective. [NY Mag / Jesse Singal]
  • Turnout in poor Milwaukee neighborhoods dropped precipitously this year — and many residents, who voted for Obama twice, have no regrets about staying home. [NYT / Sabrina Tavernise]
  • The single best way to reduce inequality in the world (rather than within countries) is increased migration from poor countries to rich ones. But after Brexit and Trump, will anyone stand up for migrants? [Prospect / David Hulme]
  • This is the Daft Punk/Beastie Boys mashup album we, as a nation, deserve. [A.V. Club / Clayton Purdum]
  • In a world where web developers are asked to skirt drug advertising laws, and where faulty airplane software can kill people, is it time for computer programmers to develop a code of ethics the way doctors and other professionals have? [Business Insider / Julie Bort]


  • "It is not good enough for somebody to say, 'I'm a woman, vote for me.' That is not good enough." [Bernie Sanders via WBUR / Simón Rios]
  • "He railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the 'children of the sun,' a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President-elect Donald J. Trump, were 'awakening to their own identity.'" [NYT / Joseph Goldstein]
  • "The US is not a failed state. How do we know? Because that’s what Trump said it was during the election campaign and he was lying." [LRB / David Runciman]
  • "How do I explain to my daughter, a proud US citizen who recites the pledge of allegiance in class every morning, that millions of her fellow Americans elected as her next president a man who claims her faith 'hates' America, and who falsely accused Muslim Americans of celebrating on 9/11 and of not reporting terrorists to the authorities?" [The Guardian / Medhi Hasan]
  • "Now, no one was watching. No one was weighing me. I was the only arbiter of my body. What does a person eat when her only goal is satiation? Who was I, when I was alone?" [NYT / Zoe Kazan]

Watch this: How repealing Obamacare could challenge millions of lives

Meet one of the many worried what the future holds. [YouTube / Liz Scheltens, Gina Barton, Dion Lee, Vishakha Darbha, and Bran Dougherty-Johnson]

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