Paris police bracing for more violent protests…

PARIS (AP) — Anticipating a fifth straight weekend of violent protests, France’s president on Friday called for calm and the Paris police chief warned that armored vehicles and thousands of officers will be deployed again in the French capital.

Police chief Michel Delpuech told RTL radio that security services intend to deploy Saturday in the same numbers as last weekend, with about 8,000 officers and 14 armored vehicles protecting the streets of Paris during a planned anti-government protest by the yellow vest movement.

Delpuech said the biggest difference will be the deployment of more groups of patrol officers to catch vandals, who last weekend roamed the streets around the elegant Champs Elysees, looting and causing damage. Police arrested more than 1,000 people in Paris last weekend and 135 people were injured, including 17 police officers.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner also urged protesters to express themselves peacefully after a police shootout on Thursday ended a two-day manhunt for a man suspected of killing four people near a Christmas market in the eastern city of Strasbourg. Hundreds of police were mobilized in the search, which ended with the suspect being shot dead.

“I can’t stand the idea that today people applaud police forces and that tomorrow some people will think it makes sense to throw stones at us,” Castaner said from Strasbourg.

A sixth “yellow vest” protester was killed this week, hit by a truck at a protest roadblock. Despite calls from authorities urging protesters — who wear the fluorescent safety vests that France requires drivers to keep in their cars — to stop their violence demonstrations, the movement rocking the country since mid-November has showed no signs of abating.

“Last week, we pretty much handled the yellow vests but we also witnessed scenes of breakage and looting by criminals,” Delpuech said. “Our goal will be to better control this aspect.”

The protests began Nov. 17 against a rise in gas taxes but have morphed into an expression of rage against France’s high taxes and a sense that President Emmanuel Macron’s government does not care about French workers.

Macron has acknowledged he’s partially responsible for the anger and has announced a series of measures aimed at improving French workers’ spending power but has refused to reinstate a wealth tax that was lifted to spur investment in France.

On Friday, Macron called for calm and order ahead of another weekend of protests.

“I don’t think our democracy can accept” the “occupation of the public domain and elements of violence,” Macron said in Brussels, speaking after attending a European Union summit there.

“Our country needs calm. It needs order. It needs to function normally again,” Macron said.

He insisted he had heard the protesters’ concerns and defended his promises to speed up tax relief. He also dismissed calls for his resignation, which is now among the protesters’ disparate demands.

Some trade unions are now calling for rolling strikes across the country.

“The best action is to go on strike,” said Philippe Martinez, the head of leftist trade union CGT. “There are inequalities in this country and we need to make big company bosses pay.”

One group of yellow vests has urged a non-violent protest on the Place de la Republique in Paris under the slogan “Je Suis Strasbourg” (“I am Strasbourg”) to show solidarity with those killed and injured in Strasbourg on Tuesday night.

That refers to the “Je Suis Charlie” motto used by supporters of freedom of speech after a 2015 attack in which 12 people were killed at the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

A fourth person died Friday from wounds suffered in an attack on the Christmas market in Strasbourg, as investigators worked to establish whether the main suspect had help while on the run.

Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz, who handles terror cases throughout France, told a news conference that seven people are in police custody for the Strasbourg attack, including four family members of suspect Cherif Chekatt.

Chekatt, 29, was shot dead Thursday during a police operation.

“We want to reconstruct the past 48 hours in order to find out whether he got some support,” Heitz said.

Apple recovers losses after Chinese court bans sale of most iPhones

A Chinese court ordered a ban on most iPhone sales in the country as part of two preliminary injunctions.
Qualcomm sought the injunctions, alleging Apple violated two of its patents.

Apple denies violating the patents and says the scope of the iPhone ban in China goes beyond what the injunction calls for.

Apple recovered from earlier losses Monday after a Chinese court banned the import and sale of most iPhone models in the country as part of an injunction. The stock fell as much as 3 percent, but ended the day up 0.7 percent. Qualcomm requested the injunction for alleged patent violations and announced the news in a statement Monday morning.

Qualcomm alleged that Apple violated two patents it holds on features that let users reformat the size and appearance of photos and manage applications on a touch screen when navigating through phone apps. The two preliminary injunctions were granted by the Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court in China. Apple says that it did not violate these patents and that the ban goes beyond the scope of the injunction itself.

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100 Christians snatched in overnight raids on underground Chinese church

Worshippers were taken from their homes and off the streets in coordinated crackdown across Chengdu in Sichuan province.

A pastor was among those arrested.

About 100 worshippers at an unofficial church in southwestern China were snatched from their homes or from the streets in coordinated raids which began on Sunday evening.

Chinese authorities targeted members of the Early Rain Covenant Church across various districts of Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan, in what appeared to be an effort to close down one of the country’s most prominent Protestant house churches.
Members’ personal accounts and cell group discussions on social media channels were blocked at around 9pm on Sunday while the church’s telephone line was also cut. The homes of the church’s leaders, including pastor Wang Yi, were among those raided.

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“Everybody Was Getting Laid”: Hollywood’s Queen of 1980s Nightlife (Finally) Tells All

Long before smartphones, actress and belly dancer Helena Kallianiotes presided over a members-only club where Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston partied with Prince and Madonna, Sean Penn let loose and photos were never, ever allowed. Says Melanie Griffith: “That was the thing: to dance, hang out at Helena’s and do drugs.”
In 1985, a private membership-only nightclub on the corner of L.A.’s Rampart Boulevard and West Temple Street called Helena’s opened. It was operated by an actress and belly dancer named Helena Kallianiotes, who had performed memorable roles in such seminal ’70s films as Five Easy Pieces. Helena’s was a big hit despite its location on the then-gang-ridden Eastside, in part because Kallianiotes counted Jack Nicholson as a friend and investor. “Oh, he was there every Friday,” she recalls. Kallianiotes also was close to Madonna, Sean Penn, Anjelica Huston, Harry Dean Stanton and Marlon Brando, all of them charter members and frequent guests.

But Helena’s wasn’t a roaring success only because it attracted huge stars. It was where huge stars could comfortably hang out, dance and drink and misbehave, at a time before the internet and smartphones ended Hollywood’s tradition of anything-goes nightlife. Helena’s thrived when a no-photography rule could be enforced like biblical law by a proprietress who wasn’t a deep-pocketed hospitality conglomerate but merely a once-in-a-generation host — one who has never talked about the club publicly since its heady six-year run 30 years ago. Until now.

Kallianiotes, now 80 — who with her raven-black hair and lined eyes resembles an older, Greek Elizabeth Taylor, only in cutoff denim shorts, a tank top and kitten heels — opened the club after taking over the lease for a studio where she was teaching folk and belly dancing. “I hired Marlon Brando’s son Christian [later convicted of manslaughter] to do the iron work on the railing — he was a welder,” she recounts. “Marlon would come there every night to see his son’s work, and he started doing construction. I had a license to open, but I refused to because he was there all the time,” and she knew her friend would stop showing up once the public arrived.

“I had the front door locked,” she says. “And then one time I didn’t. Madonna, who would practice [dance], said, ‘Helena, turn around. Slowly.'” Kallianiotes did and faced hundreds of guests: “They poured in, and it was like sardines on the dance floor. Ever since then, I had to work the door. I started to make it membership.”

Because Kallianiotes had enjoyed huge success among the Hollywood crowd as co-host of a weekly roller-skating event called Skateaway at a Reseda rink, the membership waiting list for Helena’s quickly grew to about 2,000 people (annual memberships cost from $500 to $3,000). The list counted not only stars Michael Douglas, Joni Mitchell, the Pointer Sisters, Meryl Streep and Barbra Streisand, but also such directors as Kathryn Bigelow and Gus Van Sant and executives including Lynda Obst, Island Records’ Chris Blackwell and New Line’s Bob Shaye. Lawyers and agents were not welcome, says Kallianiotes, “because they bothered people.” She made her own agent, Sandy Bressler (also Nicholson’s rep), “work the coatroom. He only came once.” Huston describes the scene: “Prince on the dance floor; Paul Getty in his wheelchair doing circles; Sean Penn punching someone over Madonna: People being themselves — it just happened a bunch were really famous.”

Director John Huston, Anjelica’s father, drew a sketch of Kallianiotes that made up Helena’s menu cover.
Courtesy of Subject
Director John Huston, Anjelica’s father, drew a sketch of Kallianiotes that made up Helena’s menu cover.
Helena’s shared an unremarkable stucco facade with a Scientology office and sat across the street from a Salvadoran church and the Rampart police station, whose officers initially turned a blind eye to all the Ferraris and limos choking their parking lot until Kallianiotes felt compelled to lease two lots a block away: “Everybody was afraid to come [to the neighborhood]. “I had a gang that was Mexican on one side of the street and Salvadorian on the other side. They eventually became my dishwashers and busboys.”

Kallianiotes’ manager, Allan Mindel, is quick to say that he was No. 33 on the roster, as if nightclub membership were like a Facebook employee ranking: “Helena’s was like Elaine’s in New York,” he says. (Though Kallianiotes notes, “It wasn’t like [Studio] 54, where you have to have good shoes. I hate choosing people by their clothes.”) Actress Virginia Madsen adds fondly: “It was the first time I ever saw a velvet-rope situation, bodyguards out front and a list. Helena would pick who came in. Somehow she would know if a person just wanted to meet a famous guy, and they weren’t allowed in. Not that there wasn’t networking. I think somebody once said, ‘Helena’s: where every dance is a career move.'” Marilyn Black, Larry David’s former manager, says business was at times discussed at the nightspot and remembers running into Castle Rock’s Rob Reiner, Andy Scheinman and Marty Shafer: “Rob had read Larry’s script Prognosis Negative, which had already been bought, and wanted to know about future projects — of course they ended up being the producers of Seinfeld.”

Justine Bateman, who enjoyed poetry night on Wednesdays along with Robert Downey Jr., describes the spot as being “beautifully curated, like you just walked into a magazine.” Bathed in a flattering pink light, Helena’s was a white, two-floor space with a lobby, DJ booth (George Michael played music there for six months), bar and 2,000-square-foot dance floor, decorated with “Helena’s belly-dancing costume of gold coins encased in glass,” says Mindel. An adjacent 20-table dining room showcased a huge fireplace and a retractable roof. Technically a supper club (it didn’t have a dance license), for years it served oysters, Greek garlic pasta and a Huston specialty: “a flourless chocolate cake, which I learned from Maya’s, a fantastic restaurant in St. Barts,” Kallianiotes says.

The beer and wine list expanded to include spirits when a guest expedited a liquor license, about which Kallianiotes kept quiet until John Huston requested tequila. “Then word got out,” she says. Bottled water was free until “Jack came in and yelled, ‘Helena, charge them for the water! They can afford it!'”

Kallianiotes was not only a vigilant doorwoman but an active host, seating people she thought should sit together (“They’d say, ‘I can’t sit next to so-and-so because we’re having a lawsuit,'” she says, but by night’s end, “things were mended,” claims Mindel). Loree Rodkin, who at the time managed Robert Downey Jr., Sarah Jessica Parker and a host of Brat Packers including Demi Moore and Rob Lowe, remembers the presence of rock stars (Bernie Taupin with Elton John, Rod Stewart and then-wife Alana Hamilton), Ellen Barkin losing a diamond bracelet down the toilet that she was never able to retrieve, and how Helena’s was the very definition of tablehopping: “It was a subdued intimate dinner club for the Hollywood elite,” she says. “You’d say hello to all your friends at one table, then go on to the next. It was a movable dining experience.”

Her various bans — artist Ed Ruscha designed a “No Press, No Cameras” sign that was later stolen — were thwarted only twice in her memory, once by notorious paparazzo Ron Galella, who electrocuted himself trying to take a picture through a window. Another time, a fired waiter attempted revenge by surreptitiously taking photos of the guests. “Sean [Penn] chased him to the street and pulled the film from the camera,” recalls Kallianiotes.

She was a belly dancer who also acted in ’70s films like Five Easy Pieces.
Courtesy of Subject
She was a belly dancer who also acted in ’70s films like Five Easy Pieces.
She claims no drugs were allowed. “I never took drugs. Everybody thinks I’m a druggie because of the roles I played,” says Kallianiotes. Melanie Griffith recalls the place differently. “It was so much fun because that was the thing: to dance, hang out at Helena’s and do drugs,” she says. Rita Wilson concurs: “Everybody was coked out and getting laid.”

One of the less scandalous highlights that took place before the club even opened was Nicholson renting a baby elephant for a birthday party for Anjelica Huston (his on-and-off girlfriend for 17 years), only for the guests to see it urinating for five minutes on the dance floor. “It was a lovely affair,” says Huston.

Among those who were turned away at the door was arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, who tried to bribe Kallianiotes with $10,000 to get in. She also once mistakenly turned away Prince: “I said I despise royalty, no way can they get in ahead of everybody else.” When she realized her mistake, she gave the “gentle, well-mannered” artist “a table every Friday. He drank only water. He used to bring his father in, who was as short as Prince.”

Rosanna Arquette recalls the time that “Prince’s bodyguard told me, ‘Prince wants to dance with you.’ I told him, ‘Tell him to ask me himself.’ He did. He put on [his song] ‘Kiss.'”

Kallianiotes (right) played a belly dancer in Head, a rock satire co-written by Jack Nicholson.
Courtesy of Everett Collection
Kallianiotes (right) played a belly dancer in Head, a rock satire co-written by Jack Nicholson.
Kallianiotes once threw out Lee Daniels, then a manager, when she thought he had claimed his blond date was Kim Novak. (She wasn’t.) They made up, and Daniels cast her in Fox’s Star as a strip club owner in 2017.

One of Helena’s main draws was Kallianiotes herself. Huston tries to put her finger on the mystique: “I met Helena at Jack Nicholson’s. It was the first night I met Jack, about 1972 or ’73. I remember this amazing-looking woman. She had a tattoo on her upper arm that was a crucifix that said ‘Mom.’ She was fascinating and scary. I soon learned that Helena has the gentlest of hearts.”

Kallianiotes was born in Megalopolis, a village in southern Greece, and after World War II, she and her family boarded a refugee boat and ended up in the “toughest section in Boston — Dorchester.” At 15, she ran away before her father could marry her off to a 60-year-old man. The rebellious, motorcycle-racing teen decided to drive cross-country (“I had no map. … I went toward the sun”). Along the way, she slept in her car and danced at places like Jack Ruby’s Texas strip dive to pay for the trip. Once in L.A., she bartered dancing services for meals at the Greek Village restaurant in Hollywood. Soon she was setting up a stage, hiring a bouzouki player (whom she was married to for three years) and telling the owner to get a liquor license. “That place had lines to get in,” she says.

Kallianiotes met Nicholson through Five Easy Pieces writer Carole Eastman, a Greek Village regular. She played poker once a week with the cash-strapped actor. “He’d bring a sock with pennies in it,” she says. “He had done nothing except Roger Corman movies.” He later spotted her at an audition for 1968’s Head, a movie starring The Monkees that he wrote with director Bob Rafelson. Kallianiotes was cast as a belly dancer, the first of several instances in which she worked with Rafelson, including in Five Easy Pieces as a swaggering hitchhiker. She later got a Golden Globe nomination in 1973 for playing a roller derby captain opposite Raquel Welch in Kansas City Bomber. One of her last feature roles was a turn in 1983 alongside Gene Hackman in Nicolas Roeg’s Eureka.

Kallianiotes (top) and Raquel Welch in 1972’s Kansas City  Bomber, for which Kallianiotes received a Golden Globe nomination.
Kallianiotes (top) and Raquel Welch in 1972’s Kansas City  Bomber, for which Kallianiotes received a Golden Globe nomination.
“She’s a remarkable actor,” says Huston. “There is something about her process that is super honest and fundamental.” But Kallianotes was tiring of acting. “All the parts they wanted me in were shooting people,” says Kallianiotes, who had seen violence as a girl when the Germans invaded Greece. “Guns are obscene. I quit.”

In between making her mark on Hollywood, then rejecting it, Kallianiotes married Father Knows Best actor Billy Gray. It wasn’t until they were separating that one of Hollywood’s most unusual living arrangements began to emerge, one that lasted 27 years.

In 1969, Nicholson bought a house on Mulholland Drive, “but he had never been in it,” says Kallianiotes, because he left to direct his first feature, Drive, He Said. “He was breaking up with a girl named Mimi, and she was sick,” she recalls. “I took her to the hospital, then stayed [in the house] to help out with the plants.” When Nicholson returned, says Kallianiotes, “he liked me there,” but she found the situation awkward. The place had newspapers on the windows and contained just his bed and another downstairs. “He says to me, ‘Helena, buy some furniture, buy a rug.'” Nicholson eventually gave her a Bullock’s credit card for household items.

Kallianiotes on the cover of Art Garfunkel’s 1975 album Breakaway, shot at Dan Tana’s.
Columbia Records
Kallianiotes on the cover of Art Garfunkel’s 1975 album Breakaway, shot at Dan Tana’s.

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“I thought, ‘What am I doing? What does this guy want?’ And then I would end up sewing his clothes,” says Kallianiotes, who nonetheless enjoyed hosting jam sessions at the compound with the likes of Neil Young and Janis Joplin. Nicholson “gave me all these things to do that were female-ish,” from cooking Greek pasta (until she hired a chef that he still employs) to watching his kids (she and his daughter Lorraine are still friends). She lobbied Nicholson to buy a neighboring house on the compound — where Marlon Brando also lived with wife Tarita — for $44,000, telling Nicholson’s manager, “You gotta buy it because Jack’s running around in the nude.”

Huston theorizes that the arrangement — Kallianiotes was neither paid nor paid rent — “was as much about escaping the aftermath of [her] marriage as it was about looking after Jack.” Kallianiotes says she and Nicholson were never romantically involved: “I had a platonic relationship with him, always.” In 1973, after five years of living with him, she moved next door “when Anjelica came in the picture. When she first moved in, she didn’t know me, and she was jealous.”

It was a business deal gone bad that prompted Kallianiotes to move out of Nicholson’s compound. In 2000, Kallianiotes was looking for a property to launch a spa at various locations outside of L.A. including Three Rivers, California. What followed is a convoluted tale involving a Colombian scam artist and money laundering of $1 million in her accounts that resulted in them being frozen. During a six-year legal battle (with depositions by Nicholson, Brando and Huston), Kallianiotes decided to leave the Mulholland property: “I thought, ‘I want to protect Jack’s children, because I didn’t know what I was involved in — it looked like I was involved with a guy that was in the cartel.” Kallianiotes eventually got her money back and for a spell worked out of a dance studio in a Venice building complex that also housed the workspace of sculptor Robert Graham, Huston’s husband, before deciding to leave Los Angeles altogether. She relocated to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where she’s lived for the past decade, building an artist retreat. Kallianiotes recently met with Nicholson after two years of not visiting the U.S., during which time the two kept in touch.

Helena’s ended in 1991 after Kallianiotes was injured in a car accident and had to reduce her involvement. “I came there for the Academy Awards in a huge cast on my leg,” she recalls. “I came in, and everybody was sitting there: Meryl Streep, Jack, Sam Shepard. Sam signed my cast, and I never went back.”


The entertainment A-listers who frequented the club were anything but regulars.


“I have a [special] karma with Anjelica,” says Kallianiotes. “I helped her move into [Nicholson’s place].”


“I remember Madonna coming up to me, saying, ‘Helena, how can people dance when you have garlic here?'” says Kallianiotes.


An investor, the actor dated then-waitress (and future mother to two of his children) Rebecca Broussard at the club.


The actor punched someone over Madonna and once ran after a would-be photographer, taking away his film.


After Kallianiotes hired his son Christian to do welding work, Brando came in often to hang out and help with construction pre-opening.


“I would go to Prince’s house on Rexford, and we would play pool and talk about dancing,” recalls Kallianiotes.


A charter member, Stanton and Kallianiotes were so close that she organized a memorial for him when he died in 2017.


“She did it all,” says Begley, who has known Kallianiotes, “a very good friend,” for 46 years and started a weekly Hollywood roller-skating event with her called Skateaway that took place in the late 70s. At Helena’s, “she focused on logistics, from the right amount of logs on the fireplace to minding the door herself and overseeing the food and beverages. She was a very hands-on, micromanaging club owner.”


“I was about ready to move back to Kentucky when Helena called me and said ‘Becks, I want you to come work for me,'” says Broussard. “Working at Helena’s was such a grand experience. Helena really took care of her clientele, which included more celebrities than any awards show you’d ever go to. She made them feel safe, and it was almost a family atmosphere.” Broussard waitressed at Helena’s while dating Nicholson, with whom she later had two children. “In retrospect, Helena’s had an innocence. You can’t even imagine innocence at a club in the ’80s, but it was innocent.”


“My membership number was 98,” says the actress, who fondly recalls the night Prince asked her to dance … to his own song.

Additional reporting by Chris Gardner, Lindsay Weinberg, Marilyn Black and Vincent Boucher

Why a Super Producer Kept Her Cancer Battle Secret From Hollywood

A version of this story first appeared in the 2018 Women in Entertainment Power 100 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Airbnb bill would slash NYC listings

The air could soon be going out of Airbnb.

The home-sharing service and its competitors face severe downsizing under a bill signed Monday by Mayor de Blasio that requires the companies to turn over detailed data about their hosts.

The new law, which takes effect in February 2019, will provide the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement with names and addresses of hosts, the type of dwellings being rented, the frequency of rentals, the rental income and — in some cases — the account name and number where hosts receive their rental fees.

Fines for home-sharing services start at $1,500 for each incomplete or inaccurate submission or 12 months’ worth of the fees collected for that listing, whichever is greater.

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High Speed Stock Market Computers Tested in Prep of Crashing Economy Before 2020 Elections.

The sell-off started with a mysterious plunge overnight that caused the exchange to halt futures
CME Group says it had to intervene with multiple 10-second pauses to prevent a steeper decline in equity futures.
Speculation for the swell in volume and plunge in futures included the news of the arrest of the CFO of the Chinese telecom company Huawei.
Traders also speculated that the selling could be attributed to a large fund or funds liquidating a position.

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Democrats really do love Republicans — when they’re dead

He was a patriot, a hero, a ­genial gentleman and a great American. You can’t pick up a newspaper or go near a television without hearing leftists gush with praise for the late President George H.W. Bush. Who knew they felt this way?

And you are not mistaken if the outpouring of previously unknown affection for the first President Bush sounds familiar. That’s because it is almost identical to the loving send-off the same suspects gave Sen. John McCain after he died in August.

It all just goes to prove that Democrats and their media handmaidens really do love Republicans — when they’re dead. All the more so if, when they were alive, they ­opposed President Trump.

There were reports that both Bush and McCain voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. See, good Republicans.

McCain’s feud went beyond the grave, when it became known that he did not want Trump at his funeral. McCain got extra love for that ­final bit of pettiness.

Paradoxically, Bush gets extra credit because he wanted Trump at his funeral, even though both gestures are seen as a rebuke to the current president. In this case, Bush is hailed for rising above pettiness.

There is another phony dimension in the media’s praise for Bush and McCain in that both were said to epitomize a less toxic time in politics. While it’s true that politics wasn’t always as vicious as it is now and that Democrats and Republicans actually socialized frequently, the mainstream media didn’t share in that bipartisan bonhomie when it came to coverage.

Even then, their bias tilted left, although their double standard has reached new depths in recent years. I believe the press corps’ lapdog approach to Barack Obama and attack-dog approach to Trump are part of why Americans have become so polarized.

Indeed, many Trump voters ­explain their support for him as a reaction to left-wing press bias and the failure of other Republicans to fight back the way Trump does.

The heydays of press hatred for Bush and McCain came during their presidential campaigns. Long before they were saluted for their late-in-life stances against Trump, Bush 41 and McCain were declared unfit to be president.

George H.W. Bush remembered as casket arrives in DC
George H.W. Bush remembered as casket arrives in DC
The New York Times, which last endorsed a Republican for president in 1956, backed the hapless Michael Dukakis over Bush in 1988, and Bush went on to win in a landslide, picking up more than 53 percent of the popular vote and 426 electoral votes.

Four years later, the paper supported Bill Clinton, ripping Bush’s economic management as “exasperating” and his positions on individual rights as “infuriating.” It accused him of stoking racial resentment, of going to “radical ­extremes” in supporting right-to-life measures, and said his “capacity to govern has collapsed.”

When Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court in 1991, he and Thomas got the same kind of character smearing that Trump and Brett Kavanaugh got this year.

Now, in his coffin, Bush is a model of American greatness.

McCain likewise was hailed as a brave maverick in 2000 when he sought the GOP nomination against George W. Bush. But when he won the nomination in 2008 to run against Barack Obama, the Times said McCain had “retreated farther and farther to the fringe of American politics, running a campaign on partisan division, class warfare and even hints of racism. His policies and worldview are mired in the past.”

As he lay dead, the paper hailed the “adventurous bipartisanship” he demonstrated “in a long and distinguished career.”

The Washington Post, which has never endorsed a Republican for president, followed a similar trajectory: condemnation for McCain when he criticized Obama and other Dems, lavish praise when he turned fire on Republicans, especially Trump.

Trump won’t attend services for John McCain
Trump won’t attend services for John McCain
There is, of course, nothing wrong in saying something nice about the recently departed. Eulogies are not the time or place to seek balance.

The problem emerges when the partisan lens becomes the decisive factor in switching from damnation to praise. Then it is hypocrisy masquerading as principle and grace.

The flip-flops are the latest reminders that, more than two years after Trump’s stunning upset, it is not adequate to say American elites of both parties and the media have yet to accept his presidency. It is clear they never will.

Instead, they distort reality to make it fit their prejudice. They discover virtues in men they never supported only to use them as a cudgel against Trump.

Bush was elected in 1988 largely because he was seen as Ronald Reagan’s third term, and he was not an inspiring president, getting just 37 percent of the popular vote in 1992 in a three-way field, with Ross Perot getting 19 percent.

His post-presidential life was noteworthy mostly because his son also became president, and because he lived to 94.

Yet Jimmy Carter, another ex-president, is also 94, but even fellow Dems shun him, so he’s not seen as beloved or a national treasure by almost anyone.

As for McCain, his bitterness toward Trump was personal, dating to nasty remarks Trump made in 2015 about McCain’s five years of captivity and torture by the North Vietnamese. “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured,” Trump said then. “I like people that weren’t captured.”

McCain did his best to get even, reportedly giving the phony Russian dossier on Trump to the FBI. That kind of payback, more than his military career or captivity, is what finally endeared him to the left.

Marriott Starwood hotel data breach FAQ: What 500 million hacked guests need to know

What was stolen?

Marriott is still sorting through the data it was able to recover, but for most customers, the following data may have been stolen: name, mailing address, phone number, email address, passport number, Starwood Preferred Guest (“SPG”) account information, date of birth, gender, and arrival and departure information, along with reservation dates and communication preferences.

It’s been a couple of months since a major company unveiled a data breach that affected millions of people, so it’s time for a new one. The Marriot hotel chain has announced a major database breach that could affect anyone who stayed at its 6,700 worldwide Starwood hotel properties since 2014—up to 500 million people in total.

That’s a lot of people an a long stretch of time, so check out our FAQ for all of the information:

What happened?

Marriott says it received an alert from an internal security tool on September 8 warning of an attempt to access the Starwood guest reservation database in the United States. In its investigation of the incident, Marriott learned that an unauthorized party gained access to the company’s customer database and “copied and encrypted information, and took steps toward removing it.”

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How Airbnb pushed Marriott to nab Starwood

The combination of two storied hotel brands announced this week creates the world’s largest lodging company, with more than a million rooms. But the $12.2 billion agreement by Marriott International (MAR) to acquire Starwood International (HOT) isn’t a mark of hotel industry triumph.

It’s more of an anti-Airbnb defensive maneuver. If you listen closely, you can hear the ominous hoof beats of online competition closing in on the traditional hospitality business. Hotels want to bulk up against threats from the likes of Airbnb, a digital service that allows travelers to book private homes for stays.

The hotel industry is doing well, for now. Since the recession, business has been great, and mergers also give it scale to take advantage of that. Revenue per available room (the sector’s main metric) will grow a health 6.8 percent this year, research firm STR estimates, followed by a similar expansion next year.

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Strip clubs ruled out as Vatican warns against profane purposes for deconsecrated churches

Club-goers at a vampire-themed night at the Limelight nightclub, which occupied a deconsecrated church in Manhattan, New York CREDIT: MARK PETERSON/GETTY

From strip joints to nightclubs and pizzerias, the Vatican is urging Catholic countries around the world not to allow deconsecrated churches to be used for profane purposes, in the first conference dedicated to the issue.

Falling congregations, a lack of clergy and crippling maintenance costs means that thousands of Catholic churches around the world are being decommissioned and turned into restaurants, pubs, cafes and even skateboarding venues.

More than 500 Catholic churches have closed down in Germany since 2000, while in Canada one fifth of Catholic churches were deconsecrated in the same period.

In the Netherlands, an estimated 500 churches are due to fall out of religious use in the next decade.

There is a danger that they will end up being used for “inappropriate activities”, as one delegate delicately put it at the conference, titled “Doesn’t God Live Here Anymore?”

“I know of a little church in northern Ontario that was turned into a strip club,” Paul-André Durocher, the archbishop of Gatineau in Canada, told The Telegraph. “It went up in flames, thank God. That’s one of the worst examples.”
In Prague, a church was turned into an ice cream parlour, while in Arnhem in the Netherlands, a deconsecrated church became a skateboarding hall.

In Asti in northern Italy a church has been turned into a bar called “Il Diavolo Rosso” – The Red Devil.

In 2005, a late 18th century Catholic church in Liverpool was converted into a nightclub, which is “still very much regretted by the Catholic community,” said Sophie Andreae, vice-chair of the patrimony committee of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales.

“This is going to be a big issue in the future and that’s why guidance from Rome is so important.”

There was a scandal in Naples earlier this month when a former church was used for a Halloween party, with young women dressed in sexy witch outfits and leather mini-skirts sitting on the altar.

A fashion show held in a church in Florence also caused a stir. “Some of the models were rather scantily clothed,” said Monsignor Carlos Azevedo, one of the conference organisers. “People were a bit scandalised.”

In a message sent to the conference, held in a Catholic university in Rome, Pope Francis acknowledged a decline in the number of faithful and a dearth of priests but said that deconsecrated churches could be given “a new life”, preferably in service of the poor.
Some bishops, including in Britain, are looking at using covenants to lay down legally binding rules about what can and cannot be done with deconsecrated churches.

“The critical thing is that it carries forward so that even if the church is sold again, the covenant still applies,” said Ms Andreae.

While striptease clubs and bars are definitely out, the Vatican looks favourably on former churches being turned into social centres, soup kitchens, museums or bookshops.

“A church in my diocese was turned into a palliative care centre. That’s in keeping with the Church’s mandate,” said Archbishop Durocher.

At the end of the two-day conference, the Vatican is expected to issue guidelines for dioceses around the world on how to manage the sale of deconsecrated churches.

“Property laws differ around the world so it has to be tackled on a country-by-country basis,” said Monsignor Paul Tighe, the secretary for the Pontifical Council for Culture.

“But bishops need to explore what options there are for protecting churches when they are sold.”

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