Economy & Business

Most Americans Continue to Oppose U.S. Border Wall, Doubt Mexico Would Pay for it

by ROB SULS – As was the case throughout the presidential campaign, more Americans continue to oppose (62%) than favor (35%) building a wall along the entire U.S. border with Mexico. And while President Donald Trump has said the U.S. would make Mexico pay for the wall, the public is broadly skeptical: 70% think the U.S. would ultimately pay for the wall, compared with just 16% who think Mexico would pay for it. The proposal to build the wall was one of several contentious issues that loomed over a meeting between Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Mexican officials this week to discuss immigration and border issues. The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Feb. 7-12, 2017 among 1,503 adults, finds the public holds mixed views on a border wall’s potential impact on illegal immigration. About three-in-ten (29%) think a wall along the entire border with Mexico would lead to...

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Why the Emerging Bill to Repeal the Affordable Care Act Will Fail

by Topher Spiro and Harry Stein – Last week, the House majority released an outline for repealing the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. Although the document provides no new details, it does provide enough information to evaluate the adequacy of financing, the likely policies needed to pay for new tax credits for health insurance, the likely effects on tax credit levels, and the political hurdles to such an approach. This analysis is based exclusively on numbers from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO. Although the congressional majority will claim that the emerging repeal bill represents a simultaneous replacement of the ACA, the math does not add up. Using CBO estimates, the Center for American Progress calculates that the repeal bill will cut the Medicaid expansion by $277 billion over 10 years. To finance new tax credits for health insurance, the repeal bill will likely cut Medicaid—including funding for nursing homes...

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Right-Wingers Want Us to Accept Inequality and Move On

by SAM PIZZIGATI – Cheerleaders for concentrated wealth have a new reason to cheer. They have chanced upon a fresh rationalization for inequality. This new rationalization comes from an unlikely source, a sober and thoughtful just-published book from a distinguished historian and classicist, Stanford’s Walter Scheidel. In The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, Scheidel builds upon his considerable academic expertise on the ancient world and explores how and when societies have actually become less unequal. In the process, he has brought forth a book that could hardly be more profoundly depressing. Scheidel’s basic thesis: Down through history, only “massive and violent disruptions of the established order” have generated “big equalizing moments.” “It is almost universally true,” he advises, “that violence has been necessary to ensure the redistribution of wealth at any point in time.” The violence that Scheidel details has taken various...

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New Deportation Rules Could Cost the Economy Trillions

by Bryce Covert – Deporting all undocumented immigrants would have extreme effects on the economy. President Trump pushed forward on his campaign promise to deport all undocumented immigrants on Tuesday by releasing new guidelines to expand and speed up deportations. The memos from the Department of Homeland Security target all undocumented immigrants for deportation, even those who haven’t committed serious crimes, while necessitating the hiring of thousands of new agents and building new detention facilities. These policies are going to wreak havoc on the lives, families, and communities of those who end up deported. And they will also come with a steep cost for everyone in this country. It’s still not clear whether the administration will actually have the resources and ability to deport every undocumented immigrant. But even if it were able to deport just the 7 million undocumented workers in this country, out of the estimated 12 million total, it...

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The For-Profit Presidency, Month One

by Robert Weissman – One month into the Trump administration, and it’s clear that there has been a wholesale corporate takeover of the government A day-by-day review of the administration’s first month shows that virtually every day there has been a new, extraordinary grant of power to corporate interests and/or another development in Donald Trump’s get-rich-quick-scheme known as the American presidency. America has never seen anything like this, and it’s only the first month. Poorly attended though it might have been, the inauguration itself was a paean not just to the new president but to his corporate backers. Corporations that have pending business before the president — AT&T, Bank of America, Boeing, Chevron, Deloitte, JPMorgan Chase and United Parcel Service – were among the top funders of the inauguration and surrounding festivities. We still do not know the full list of donors to the inauguration. New President Trump signaled his intent...

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Iowa Bill Would Force Universities to Hire Right-Wing Professors

by Nika Knight – The proposed law ‘could bring about a Soviet-style purge of liberal-leaning college staff in Iowa’. As Republican-dominated state governments push frightening right-wing legislation nationwide, a GOP senator in Iowa joined the fray on Monday with a bill that would force universities to exclusively hire Republican professors and temporarily bar Democrats until “partisan balanced” is reached. The bill, Senate File 288, “could bring about a Soviet-style purge of liberal-leaning college staff in Iowa,” warned Pat Rynard in the local politics blog Iowa Starting Line.  “The obvious impact and purpose of this bill would be to ban Democrats from getting hired anymore at Iowa colleges,” Rynard continued. “If you took a survey right now, it’s highly likely that Iowa professors are registered as Democrats at a much higher rate than Republican. So any new hires would be strictly limited to Republican or o arty voters.” Iowa state senator Mark Chelgren, who...

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Defence Secretary Jim Mattis: Not in Iraq to Seize Oil

Jim Mattis arrives on unannounced visit to Iraq as Pentagon considers acceleration of military campaign against ISIL. US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, on an unannounced visit to Iraq, said the United States does not intend to seize Iraqi oil, shifting away from an idea proposed by President Donald Trump that has rattled Iraq’s leaders. Mattis arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday, as the battle to oust the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group fighters from western Mosul moved into its second day, and as the Pentagon considers ways to accelerate the campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Under the president’s deadline, Mattis has just a week to send Trump a strategy to ramp up the fight and defeat ISIL. And any plan is likely to depend on US and coalition troops working with and through the local forces in both countries. “We’re going to make...

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This Isn’t Just Trump. This Is Who the Republicans Are (VIDEO)

by Dave Johnson – So far President Donald Trump has signed very few bills. One lets coal companies dump waste into streams. Another lets oil companies bribe foreign dictators in secret. Now he is moving to block a Labor Department “fiduciary rule” that requires financial advisers to act in the best interests of their clients when advising on retirement accounts. Here’s the thing: this isn’t just Trump doing this. The Republican-controlled House and Senate passed those two bills, and the Republicans have been fighting that fiduciary rule tooth and nail. It’s not just Trump, Republicans as a party are using Trump to engage in a general assault on protections from corruption, pollution, corporate fraud and financial scams. This is who they are. “We Just Need A President To Sign This Stuff” This is not just Trump. What we are seeing happening to our government is the end result of a decades-long...

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Major Outdoor Retailers Boycott Utah over Threats to Sell off Public Lands

by Jenny Rowland and Nicole Gentile – “It is important to our membership, and to our bottom line.” After countless attempts by Utah politicians to sell off or abolish national parks, forests, and national monuments, the world’s largest outdoor gear show has decided to take its business out of the state. “Outdoor Industry Association will continue to support the efforts of Outdoor Retailer to seek a new home for the trade show,” Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association, said in a statement. “It is important to our membership, and to our bottom line that we partner with states and elected officials who share our views on the truly unique American value of public lands for the people and conserving our outdoor heritage for the next generation.” After 20 years of hosting the bi-annual outdoor retailer show in Salt Lake City, organizers of the show finalized their decision to move...

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With Mulvaney in Place, Budget Office Preps ‘Hit List’ on Public Programs

by Nadia Prupis – National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Americorps are among targets meant to showcase ‘waste’ of taxpayer funds. With Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) confirmed to lead the White House budget office, the Trump administration is getting ready to follow through on plans to slash major domestic programs, the New York Times reported Friday. Work on President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal has been delayed as Republicans worked to get Mulvaney—known for his unyielding stances on safety net programs—approved as head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Now, his office has targeted nine popular and critical programs to axe, according to an early internal OMB memo obtained by the Times. The so-called “hit list” includes, in part, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the...

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Saudis Plan $2 Trillion IPO to End Their ‘Dangerous’ Addiction to Oil

by Joe Romm – Saudi Aramco will go public to monetize its oil reserves before demand peaks and price collapses for good. What does a country do when in its entire economy is built around a natural resource that the world is starting to shift away from? In the case of Saudi Arabia, they plan their own shift off oil — financed by the world’s largest initial public offering (IPO) of stock, some 5 percent of Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company. Last year, deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the plan to take Aramco, which the Saudis value at some $2 trillion, public. Last month, the Financial Times reported those plans are on track for an IPO next year, noting that Saudi advisers say a successful IPO “is essential to the deputy crown prince’s radical efforts to wean the kingdom off oil through his Vision 2030 programme.” Credit: Financial Times The...

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$300 Million Dollar Potential Conflict Of Interest Between Trump And Deutsche Bank Emerges

by Whitney Webb – The massive German bank faces huge potential fines from the US government following federal probes into conflicts of interest between them and President Trump. According to Trump biographers Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher – authors of the recent publication “Trump Revealed” – Trump has long relied on a unique bargaining tool as leverage with banks: his personal guarantee. Using his name as leverage, he has repeatedly negotiated better terms worth hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to his Trump Organization, a Trump-owned private real estate development company owning and operating several properties, hotels and casino resorts among other businesses Bloomberg reported. This has been especially true of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest bank as well as one of the world’s most insolvent banks – largely believed to be on the brink of collapse. As a result of this unique agreement with one of its highest profile clients,...

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For the Insurance Lobby, Old Habits Are Hard to Break

by Maura Calsyn, Kellan Baker, and Topher Spiro – Before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, the health insurance industry was like the Wild West, where anything goes. Health insurance companies could discriminate against the old and the ill, keep the sick quarantined in separate pools, and deny coverage for some of the most essential benefits. If insurers did not deny coverage to the old and sick altogether, they restricted their benefits or charged them exorbitant premiums. During the initial rollout of the ACA, however, the insurance industry partnered with both consumer groups and the Obama administration. Their efforts helped increase enrollment and smoothed a difficult first open enrollment period. Over the next few years, insurers continued to engage with consumer groups and the administration to address issues that arose as implementation continued. But with the future of the ACA uncertain, it turns out that old habits are...

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Republicans Finally Unmask Their Healthcare Agenda – And it Isn’t Patient-Centered

by Donna Smith – If you have been inclined to trust in any way that the Republicans in Congress or the Trump-Pence-Ryan regime intend to make things better for you and your family in terms of healthcare policy, think again and stop wondering.  The plan is simple.  They will protect and enhance the insurance companies and other profit centers in healthcare.  No matter how many ads they purchase or how much message tweaking they do, patients are not at the center of the Republican plans. From an article in The Hill this morning, “The Trump administration on Wednesday proposed a regulation aimed at ‘stabilizing’ the ObamaCare marketplace by making changes favorable to insurers…” Just a bit lower in the article, we see the glaring, shocking reality of what the Republicans think of those in need of healthcare.  “The regulation requires people enrolling through extra sign-up periods outside of the normal time...

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New York Attorney General Reviewing Request to Bring Action to Dissolve Trump Organization

by Kira Lerner – An alternate legal route, when impeachment isn’t possible. Non-profit advocacy group Free Speech for People has asked New York’s attorney general to investigate whether to file a lawsuit to revoke the charter of The Trump Organization for violating state business laws. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the group and four attorneys said that the attorney general’s office has the power to revoke the corporate charter from Trump’s organization, which has violated laws that prohibit the president from receiving payments from foreign governments. Schneiderman’s press secretary Amy Spitalnick told ThinkProgress that the attorney general’s office will review the letter. In an FAQ document, Free Speech for People and attorneys Jonathan S. Abady, Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Ben T. Clements, and Fordham University School of Law Professor Jed Shugerman explain how Schneiderman could bring about a lawsuit. “Under Section 1101 of New York’s Business Corporation Law,...

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Puzder Out: Fast Food CEO Drops Nomination to Head Labor Dept. (VIDEO)

by Andrea Germanos – ‘This is welcome news for working people.’ Fast-food CEO Andy Puzder, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Labor Department, withdrew his nomination Wednesday afternoon. “While I won’t be serving in the administration, I fully support the President and his highly qualified team,” Puzder said in a statement. An unnamed source close to Puzder said to CBS News ahead of his formal statement that it was unlikely he would sit for his Senate confirmation hearing scheduled for Thursday because “I think he’s very tired of the abuse.” RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, welcomed the news on Twitter, writing, “Puzder felt abused? Try working for him!” RoseAnn DeMoro  ✔@RoseAnnDeMoro Andrew Puzder to withdraw his nomination: http://huff.to/2l987uj  U ‘n I did it! Puzder felt abused? Try working for him! #WednesdayWisdom 2:53 PM – 15 Feb 2017 His nomination drew fierce opposition, as fast food workers have said...

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Apple CEO Wants Schools to Help Fix the World’s Fake News Problem

by Lauren C. Williams – In Telegraph interview, Tim Cook said battling fake news needs to be “ingrained in the schools” because “it’s killing people’s minds.” For Apple CEO Tim Cook, fake news isn’t just a social media phenomenon, it’s a societal problem that needs to be addressed in every corner of our culture, starting with the education system. “It has to be ingrained in the schools, it has to be ingrained in the public,” Cook told the UK’s Telegraph in an exclusive interview. “There has to be a massive campaign.” The rise of fake news is a “short-term thing” that people don’t want, Cook said, emphasizing that a problem which is “killing people’s minds” can only be solved by educating children who will then push their parents to act. “It’s almost as if a new course is required for the modern kid, for the digital kid,” he said. “In some ways...

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Trump’s Ineptitude Causes Huge Drop In Investment, Future Of Our Nation Is In Peril

by Stephen D Foster Jr – America’s creditors are now thinking twice about investing in our nation because Donald Trump’s policies have turned us into a bigger credit risk. On Election night, as the returns came in favoring Trump for president the stock market took a hit and the dollar dipped in value. It soon bounced back but markets around the world and in the United States are nervous about what will happen as long as Trump continues to push an economic policy that significantly lowers taxes on the rich, slashes regulations, boosts spending like never before, and antagonizes American and foreign businesses. Trump’s escalation of confrontations with Iran and China, along with European fear of an invasion by Russia have also left the future of the world economy in doubt. Trump has been erratic, paranoid, and quick to whine on Twitter and has shown a willingness to attack businesses that...

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Despite Lying to the Senate, Trump’s Treasury Pick is Confirmed

by Bryce Covert – Mnuchin oversaw a bank that has been accused of breaking a number of laws. Steve Mnuchin, former Goldman Sachs partner and CEO of mortgage lender OneWest, was confirmed to be the next Treasury Secretary on Monday night. The confirmation came despite the fact that Mnuchin appears to have lied to the Senate about practices at OneWest, and despite evidence that the bank broke foreclosure laws and anti-discrimination laws under his leadership. The Senate vote was nearly along party lines, with all Republicans voting in favor plus Democrat Joe Manchin (WV), and all the rest of the Democrats plus two independents voting against. After his Senate hearing, Mnuchin was asked directly about whether OneWest robo-signed foreclosure documents, or had officials rapidly sign off on them without adequately reviewing or verifying them as required by law, thus potentially speeding up the foreclosure process. In his written response, he said, “OneWest...

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No, Trump Doesn’t Have a Plan to Reduce Cost of his $21 Billion-Plus Border Wall

by Aaron Rupar – U.S. taxpayers are on the hook for Trump’s increasingly expensive vanity project. The projected cost for President Donald Trump’s border wall continues to rise, and Trump has no good plan to contain it. On Thursday, Reuters reported that the border wall will be much more expensive than the $10 billion figure Trump repeatedly cited during his campaign or the $12–$15 billion cited by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) last month. “Trump’s ‘wall’ along the U.S.-Mexico border would be a series of fences and walls that would cost as much as $21.6 billion, and take more than three years to construct,” Reuters reported, citing a U.S. Department of Homeland Security document the outlet obtained. And it could end up costing even more than that. “Bernstein Research, an investment research group that tracks material costs, has said that uncertainties around the project could...

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Intel’s Job Announcement at the White House was Just a PR Stunt

by Bryce Covert – The plant that Intel says it will now complete was first announced alongside President Obama. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich traveled to the White House on Wednesday to announce his company will spend $7 billion on a semi-conductor chip plant in Chandler, AZ — which will mean hiring 3,000 new people once it’s completed. Later that day, President Trump took to Twitter to take credit for the news. “Thank you Brian Krzanich,” he wrote. “A great investment ($7 BILLION) in American INNOVATION and JOBS!” Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump Thank you Brian Krzanich, CEO of @Intel. A great investment ($7 BILLION) in American INNOVATION and JOBS! #AmericaFirst 2:22 PM – 8 Feb 2017 The White House also sent out an email in which it said “we have already begun bringing OUR jobs back to OUR country,” pointing to the Intel announcement. But as with other recent jobs announcements, there’s not much...

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Deutsche Bank Remains Trump’s Biggest Conflict of Interest Despite Settlements

by Jesse Eisinger – Deutsche Bank is Trump’s largest lender. While the troubled bank has settled several of the charges against it, it’s still undergoing scrutiny by the Justice Department and other federal regulators, and is being overseen by six independent monitors, making conflicts of interest inescapable. If you measure President Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest by the amount of money at stake, or the variety of dicey interactions with government regulators, one dwarfs any other: his relationship with Deutsche Bank. In recent weeks, Deutsche Bank has scrambled to reach agreements with American regulators over a host of alleged misdeeds. But because the president has not sold his company, the bank remains a central arena for potential conflicts between his family’s business interests and the actions of officials in his administration. “Deutsche poses the biggest conflict that we know about in terms of dollar amounts and the scale of legal exposures,”...

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NJ Congressman Invokes 1924 Tax Law Giving Congress Power to Examine Trump’s Returns

by Jen Hayden – Rep. Bill Pascrell (NJ-09) serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and he wants to use a 1924 tax law that allows Congress to examine tax returns for the purpose of determining whether conflicts of interest exist, even if those tax returns belong to the president. From NorthJersey.com: After privately examining returns — Pascrell is seeking 10 years’ worth — the committee could decide to share them with the full House, which would in effect make them public. The 1924 law gives congressional committees that set tax policy the power to examine tax returns. It was used in 1974 when Congress looked at President Richard Nixon’s returns, and in 2014 when the Ways and Means Committee released confidential tax information as part of its investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s handling of applications for nonprofit status If Sen. Mitch McConnell can invoke the rarely used “Rule 19”, Rep. Pascrell and Congress...

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A History of Ivanka Trump Using her Dad’s Presidency for Profit

by Jessica Goldstein – How her brand got a boost from the RNC to the White House. Things are looking dark at the Trump White House, and not just because his aides reportedly can’t figure out how to turn on the lights in the cabinet room. Amid growing concerns among ethics experts that President Trump is not doing nearly enough to avoid conflicts of interests with his businesses, the one member of the Trump family who is arguably the most popular with the American people— his older daughter, Ivanka — is seeing her brand face boycotts and backlash since her father’s ascent to the presidency. Though Ivanka’s brand saw sales rise during 2016, its performance has apparently suffered enough in the wake of the election for major department stores, including Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, to drop its merchandise entirely. Likely contributing to these falling sales is the Grab Your Wallet campaign, which encourages shoppers...

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Michael Flynn Lied About Russian Sanctions, Sent ‘Inappropriate and Potentially Illegal Signal’

by Mark Sumner – A month before Trump was inaugurated, National Security Adviser-to-be Michael Flynn held multiple conversations with Russia’s Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. Asked whether those conversations included US sanctions imposed against Russia, Flynn gave a definitive answer. Flynn on Wednesday denied that he had discussed sanctions with Kislyak. Asked in an interview whether he had ever done so, he twice said, “No.” Flynn wasn’t the only one. Other officials in the Trump regime, including Mike Pence, also denied that there had been any discussion of the sanctions. The problem with that answer—it’s not true. National security adviser Michael Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials, current and former U.S. officials said. The discussion of lifting sanctions took place during the transition, but it wasn’t Flynn’s only...

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Melania Trump Reveals Plan to Leverage Presidency to Ink ‘Multi-Million Dollar’ Endorsement Deals

by Judd Legum – The admission came in a defamation lawsuit the First Lady filed against the Daily Mail. In a lawsuit filed Monday, First Lady Melania Trump revealed her intention to leverage the presidency to ink new “licensing, branding, and endorsement” deals worth many millions of dollars. In the filing, Melania Trump’s lawyer described the position of First Lady as a “once-in-a-lifetime” money making opportunity. She told the court she intended to pursue deals in “apparel, accessories, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care, skin care, and fragrance.” These kind of endorsement deals would be especially lucrative while Melania Trump is First Lady and thus “one of the most photographed women in the world.” Melania Trump v. Mail Media Inc, Supreme Court of The State of New York. Filed 2/6/17 The First Lady’s lawsuit is against the Daily Mail, which published a story repeating allegations in a Slovenian magazine that Melania Trump once worked...

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Keeping out Mexican Immigrants won’t Help U.S. Workers

by Bryce Covert – The U.S. once tried to shut out immigrants to increase jobs and wages, but it failed at both goals. President Trump assumed the presidency promising to be “the greatest jobs producer God ever created.” And one way he said he would reach that goal as he campaigned for the White House would be to dramatically reduce immigration. “I will change immigration rules to give unemployed Americans an opportunity to fill good, really good paying jobs,” he said in June. “We don’t have good paying jobs anymore. These will be good paying jobs.” The U.S. tried this approach before. A program that made it easier for agricultural workers from Mexico to work in the United States was ended in the 1960s as an explicit move to increase jobs and pay for U.S.-born workers. But a new paper finds that it didn’t do what leaders at the time wanted: wages...

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The Economist Editors Take Aim at Trump and Issue Dire Warnings for America and the World

by VTGenie – There is no mincing words: this is a radical cover for a magazine that is not exactly known for its radicalism. The main editorial gets right to the point (my emphasis throughout): WASHINGTON is in the grip of a revolution. The bleak cadence of last month’s inauguration was still in the air when Donald Trump lobbed the first Molotov cocktail of policies and executive orders against the capital’s brilliant-white porticos. He has not stopped. Quitting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, demanding a renegotiation of NAFTA and a wall with Mexico, overhauling immigration, warming to Brexit-bound Britain and Russia, cooling to the European Union, defending torture, attacking the press: onward he and his people charged, leaving the wreckage of received opinion smouldering in their wake.  They also astutely describe the transition of Trump the candidate to Trump the President, particularly his use of outrage to both inflame and inspire his supporters. His...

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Eric Schneiderman – A Champion Against Trump

by BadBoyScientist – If you want to feel optimistic, I suggest you read the full article in politico — it isn’t very long.    Some highlights follow. Eric Schneiderman is New York’s Attorney General and lead the suit against Trump University and forces Trump to settle that case for $25 million — despite Trump’s pledges not to settle it.  He also launched an investigation into the Trump Foundation — and when Trump won the election and attempted to dissolve the Foundation, Schneiderman ordered him not to. Schneiderman has experience dealing with Trump’s smear tactics: Schneiderman had seen dirty pool in his years as the state’s chief law enforcement officer, but his fight with the Trump Organization was, he says, “on the outer edge of normal.” Trump himself retaliated by filing a complaint against the AG with the New York State board of ethics. He alleged that Schneiderman and his aides several times approached [Trump...

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New Reports Confirm Trump’s Plan to Disentangle from his Business is a Farce

by Kiley Kroh – The conflicts of interest remain. CREDIT: Chris Kleponis/Pool via CNP/MediaPunch/IPX As soon as he was elected in November, the unprecedented conflicts of interest Donald Trump would bring to the White House generated significant concern from leading ethics lawyers, transparency experts, and even the head of the Office of Government Ethics. After several delays, Trump unveiled his so-called plan to address the conflicts — which included him retaining full ownership of the Trump Organization. Ethics lawyers for Presidents Obama and Bush concluded it “falls short in every respect.” That assessment is borne out by new reports. First, new records pertaining to Trump’s trust — which ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum initially pointed out was “neither blind nor independent” — show the president named two people very close to him, his son Donald Jr. and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, as trustees. What’s more, Trump, “who will receive reports on any profit, or loss, on his company as...

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Ivanka Trump Brand Responds to Nordstrom: Success is About ‘Integrity,’ Not Just ‘Profits’

by Jessica Goldstein – #GrabYourWallet is the new “grab them by the…” well, you know. In the aftermath of reports that Nordstrom would no longer sell Ivanka Trump’s clothing line due to falling sales — which may well have taken a hit due to the #GrabYourWallet campaign, which encourages those who oppose President Trump’s policies to boycott all Trump businesses — Ivanka’s brand has issued a response. The original news, broken by Racked on Thursday, was that Nordstrom planned to drop all Ivanka Trump branded wares from its shelves. Nordstrom did not cite politics in its statement, instead chalking up the decision solely to the brand’s lousy performance. (Nordstrom did not speculate, in its comment, as to why the brand was performing so poorly.) A company spokesperson told Racked, “We’ve said all along we make buying decisions based on performance,” and that of the “thousands of brands — more than 2,000 offered on the site alone,” approximately 10...

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‘Not on Our Watch’ — Veterans Promise ‘Boots on the Ground’ to Stop DAPL

by: Claire Bernish / The Free Thought Project –  A group of veterans has vowed to defend the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, saying DAPL will never be completed, ‘not on our watch.’ A group of U.S. military veterans, standing in defense of Indigenous rights, has vowed construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline will never be completed — and will put boots on the ground to ensure it. “We are committed to the people of Standing Rock, we are committed to nonviolence, and we will do everything within our power to ensure that the environment and human life are respected,” Anthony Diggs, spokesman for Veterans Stand, told CNBC. “That pipeline will not get completed. Not on our watch.” Veterans, said Diggs, seek to raise enough funds “to have a larger, solid boots-on-the-ground presence.” As staunch a stance as that might sound, the veterans remain committed to nonviolent action in defense...

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Neil Gorsuch Would Be a Dream Justice for Corporations Suing the Government

by Billy Corriher – President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court. Judge Gorsuch, now on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, did not appear on President Trump’s first list of potential Supreme Court nominees in May 2016, but he appeared on Trump’s second list just weeks after writing a judicial manifesto arguing that judges should have more power to strike down federal regulations. The approach outlined in Judge Gorsuch’s August 2016 opinion would benefit wealthy corporations challenging laws that protect workers, consumers, and the environment. This approach would tie the government’s hands in keeping Americans safe and healthy and let judges strike down common-sense regulations that ensure the nation’s air and water are clean. If he becomes a justice, the Supreme Court would very likely continue its trend of ruling in favor of big business. No deference to the EPA Judge...

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Thousands Demand Charities Call Off Galas at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Estate

by Nadia Prupis – “The Red Cross is dedicated to alleviating​ human suffering…Let’s get a HUGE turnout and show them we will not accept suffering at their host’s hands” Thousands of people are protesting two major medical fundraisers scheduled to be held at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, this month. The first, on Saturday, February 4, is the International Red Cross 2017 Ball, a gala that is poised to be met with more than a thousand protesters who say the charity’s humanitarian mission conflicts with Trump’s authoritarian first week in office. Another five thousand have also registered their interest in the march, which will go from Trump Plaza to Bingham Island to greet the gala’s fireworks display. “The Red Cross is dedicated to alleviating​ human suffering,” the organizers write on Facebook. “If Obamacare is repealed, it will be a disaster; 30 million Americans will be left suffering...

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In Show of Internal Dissent, Federal Workers Rising Up Against Trump

by Deirdre Fulton – Nearly 200 federal employees are reportedly set to attend an upcoming workshop on workers’ rights and civil disobedience. From the 1,000 State Department officials rushing to sign an official dissent cable, to the 180 federal workers signing up for a workshop on civil disobedience, to the dozens of “rogue” agency Twitter accounts that have sprouted up in the last week, internal resistance to the right-wing Trump agenda is rivaling the power of people on the streets—perhaps not in numbers, but in energy and creativity. In fact, according to the Washington Post, which reported on various strains of internal opposition on Tuesday, this “resistance from within” may be “potentially more troublesome to the administration” than airport protests or call-in campaigns. “The resistance is so early, so widespread, and so deeply felt that it has officials worrying about paralysis and overt refusals by workers to do their jobs,” wrote...

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‘Dangerous’ and ‘Dumb’: Trump Signs Executive Order Torching Regulations

by Andrea Germanos – “It will fundamentally change our government’s role from one of protecting the public to protecting corporate profits” President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday that aims to slash regulations—an action, advocacy groups say, that puts lives at risk. The order—the latest of a flurry since he took office—states that “for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination,” fulfilling a campaign promise he made. “For fiscal year 2017, which is in progress, the heads of all agencies are directed that the total incremental cost of all new regulations, including repealed regulations, to be finalized this year shall be no greater than zero,” it adds. Trump said before signing the order: “We’ll be reducing big league,” adding “This will be the biggest such act our country has ever seen.” Advocacy groups were quick to decry the executive order as...

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Democrats Boycott Hearings of Two Cabinet Nominees (VIDEO)

by Laurel Raymond – Republicans, meanwhile, labelled the action “unprecedented” obstructionism. Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee are boycotting the confirmation vote on President Donald Trump’s nominees Steve Mnuchin, for Treasury Secretary, and Tom Price, for Secretary of Health and Human Services. The boycott means that Democrats have delayed the confirmation vote of these two Trump nominees. Democrats don’t have enough votes to block Trump’s nominees — they can be confirmed with a simple majority alone, which Republicans have the numbers for. But the committee can’t vote without a quorum, and that requires at least some Senate Democrats to attend. Democrats said they were motivated to blocking the vote by reports in recent days that contradict the nominees’ sworn testimony before the committees. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) specifically said that Trump’s nominees had lied to senators in their confirmation hearings. “We’re not going to this committee today because we want the committee to...

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How to Cut Infrastructure Costs in Half

by Ellen Brown – Americans could save $1 trillion over 10 years by financing infrastructure through publicly-owned banks like the one that has long been operating in North Dakota. President Donald Trump has promised to rebuild America’s airports, bridges, tunnels, roads and other infrastructure, something both Democrats and Republicans agree should be done. The country needs a full $3 trillion in infrastructure over the next decade. The $1 trillion plan revealed by Trump’s economic advisers relies heavily on public-private partnerships, and private equity firms are lining up for these plumbing investments. In the typical private equity water deal, for example, higher user rates help the firms earn annual returns of anywhere from 8 to 18 percent – more even than a regular for-profit water company might expect. But the price tag can come as a rude surprise for local ratepayers. Private equity investment now generates an average return of about 11.8%...

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Drug Distributors Penalized For Turning Blind Eye In Opioid Epidemic

by Charles Ornstein – The middlemen between drug companies and pharmacies have been hit recently with fines for their role in not calling out suspicious transactions. “They’re like the quarterback. They distribute the ball,” a former DEA supervisor said. As the toll of the opioid epidemic grows, scores of doctors have lost their licenses and some have gone to prison. Pharmacies are being sued and shuttered. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are under investigation and face new rules from regulators. But penalties against companies that serve as middlemen between drug companies and pharmacies have been relatively scarce — until recently. In the past month, two major drug distributors, also known as wholesalers, have formally agreed to pay millions of dollars to settle claims that they failed to report suspicious orders for controlled substances to the Drug Enforcement Administration, as required by law. McKesson Corp., the largest such company in the U.S., last week agreed...

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Congress Is Opening the Door to ‘Alternative Facts’ in Budget Policy

by Harry Stein – Shortly after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway claimed that false statements coming from the White House were actually “alternative facts.” The new administration’s disregard for the truth is concerning on many levels, but it is particularly problematic for sound budget policy, which requires an honest evaluation of the cost of new legislation and the nation’s overall fiscal health. Data from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, is the main bulwark against false budget information. But lawmakers can always choose to use misinformation instead of CBO data. Moreover, if Congress follows through on its apparent plans to pass temporary tax and health measures, the resulting fiscal ambiguity will also make CBO data more nebulous. A lack of clarity in CBO data makes it easier for dishonest politicians to claim their fiscal falsehoods are actually just alternative facts. President Barack Obama took office...

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Most Trump Voters Didn’t Vote to Make Richest Richer, But GOP Congress Is About To

by Chuck Collins – Donald Trump’s voters have high hopes that he’ll boost the economy and protect jobs for those who’ve been left behind after three decades of flat or shrinking paychecks. They didn’t vote to make the super-wealthy even wealthier. Even Steve Mnuchin, the Goldman Sachs banker Trump picked to be his treasury secretary, seems to understand this. He promised “no absolute tax cuts for the upper class.” Yet one of the first priorities of Republicans in Congress is to give an exclusive tax break to multi-millionaires and billionaires. They plan to abolish the estate tax and allow tax loopholes for billionaires to continue. The estate tax, sometimes derided as a “death tax,” is only paid by households with assets over $11 million. In 2013, 99.8 percent of the population was exempt. But the 0.2 percent who are subject to the tax are well represented in Donald Trump’s cabinet. Our...

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Former Secretary Of Labor Debunks Popular Myth About Illegal Immigrants

by Brianna Acuesta – Robert Reich sets the record straight when it comes to immigrants, jobs, and taxes. There are a number of ‘facts’ spread about illegal immigrants and how they affect the United States, especially in recent years as the border and how to handle undocumented workers has moved into the spotlight. With President Donald Trump’s campaign, building a wall to keep such immigrants out has been a major talking point in major news outlets and in his own speeches. One of these such ‘facts’ that has been spread throughout the nation, as it is one of the main issues opponents of immigration point to, is that illegal immigrants often take the jobs of Americans and live in the U.S. without paying taxes. As Robert Reich, the Secretary of Labor during Bill Clinton’s Administration, clarified, “The labor markets that are taken by low-skilled immigrants have almost no native-born Americans in...

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Mexico Cancels. Trade War Started. How Trump Shredded US-Mexico Relations in Under 24 Hours (VIDEO)

by Nika Knight – President Donald Trump has bragged throughout his career that he makes “great deals—the best deals,” but it took him less than a week to create a major international rift with one of the nation’s neighbors and chief trading partners. Update 3:50pm EST: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer indicated that Trump plans to pay for the border wall by imposing a 20 percent tariff on all imported goods, provoking fears of a trade war. Update 12pm EST: Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto has canceled a planned meeting with President Donald Trump—which would have been the first between the two leaders—apparently in response to Trump’s hostile comments about Mexico’s refusal to pay for a new U.S.-Mexico border wall. Peña Nieto announced his decision on Twitter. “This morning we have informed the White House that I will not attend the meeting scheduled for next Tuesday with the @POTUS,” the...

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Federal Hiring Freeze will Kneecap Veterans more than Perhaps any Other Group

by Kerry Eleveld – Without bothering to check the numbers, White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed Monday that Donald Trump’s hiring freeze on nonmilitary federal employees would combat the “dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years.” But the only thing it will actually combat is veterans’ services and employment opportunities. Federal hiring has been significantly outpaced “in recent years” by the increase in civilian hiring—rising only about 3 percent from 2014 to 2016, compared to a 4.9 percent jump in civilian workers. Christopher Ingraham writes: As a share of the total civilian workforce, in percentage terms, the federal workforce is smaller than it’s been in nearly 70 years. There’s considerable doubt about the efficacy of hiring freezes as a federal management tool. A 1982 Government Accountability Office report found that “governmentwide hiring freezes, regardless of how well they are managed, are not an effective means of controlling federal employment.” The report...

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Senate Dems Throw Down Gauntlet for the GOP With Plan to Rebuild America

by Deirdre Fulton – “President Trump campaigned on rebuilding the infrastructure. Let’s do it in a way that does not provide huge tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this country and to the largest corporations.” Here, Reich explains what’s wrong with Trump’s plan:With a $1 trillion infrastructure plan unveiled Tuesday, Senate Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are offering President Donald Trump an opportunity to make good on a major campaign promise—without giving away billions to private corporations in the process. The sweeping proposal (pdf), which proponents claim would create 15 million jobs, focuses on repairing the nation’s “crumbling roads and bridges,” upgrading local water and sewer systems, replacing and expanding existing rail and bus systems, rebuilding schools, and expanding high-speed broadband in unserved and underserved areas, among other priorities. The plan would reportedly “rely on direct federal spending,” as the Washington Post reports, and be paid for by closing unspecified tax loopholes. The blueprint lays...

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SEC Launches Yahoo Investigation Over Improper Handling of Cyberattacks

by Lauren C. Williams – The agency is looking into whether the tech company waited too long to tell investors of the breaches. After unveiling a newer, smaller corporate identity following the sale of most of its holdings to Verizon, Yahoo is facing a federal probe for how it handled its massive data breaches, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating Yahoo to determine whether the company kept investors in the dark regarding its two mega-breaches that exposed more than a billion consumers’ data in two major breaches since 2013. Yahoo previously mentioned it was cooperating with international, state, and federal agencies regarding the 2014 breach, including the Federal Trade Commission and SEC, the Journal reported. The investigation will likely focus on the 2014 hack, which wasn’t publicly disclosed for two years. Even in the face of mounting criticism, Yahoo hasn’t given any reason for...

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‘Hostile Takeover’: Oil & Gas Industry Now In Charge of US Foreign Policy

by Jon Queally – Confirming Rex Tillerson, Republicans on Senate Foreign Relations Committee “just knowingly handed our international climate diplomacy over to a rogue oil mogul” In a vote strictly along party lines, Republican members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to confirm former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State on Monday. Despite unified opposition from Democrats on the committee and a campaign by climate action and corporate accountability groups, Tillerson’s confirmation now passes to the full Senate where the Republican majority is nearly certain to finalize his appointment. Those who opposed Tillerson most aggressively responded to Monday’s vote by calling Republicans “spineless” and promised that the confirmation would only serve to further unify climate activists and the broader anti-Trump movement. “The Senators voting to confirm Rex Tillerson have clearly left their spines at home. Instead of standing up to a historically unpopular President, they’re letting Trump hand...

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In First of Many, ACLU FOIA Request Seeks Information About Trump’s Conflicts of Interests

by Brett Max Kaufman, Staff Attorney, ACLU Center for Democracy – During the Trump administration, our country faces an unprecedented constellation of threats to the regular oversight processes that keep the powers that be in check. Faced with attacks on journalists critical of the president as perpetrators of “fake news,” an era of one-party rule threatening healthy competition between the branches of government, the constant subversion of democratic and ethical norms, and more, the ACLU and the citizenry will unfortunately have many opportunities to provide a public check to keep our government honest. Well, we just couldn’t wait: on Thursday, we filed our first Freedom of Information Act request of the Trump Era, seeking documents relating President Trump’s actual or potential conflicts of interest relating to his business and family connections. Since the election, it has become clear that during the Trump administration the public’s relentless focus on government transparency...

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Eerie Echo of Nixon as Trump Camp Declares President ‘Has No Conflicts By Law’

by Lauren McCauley – However, Zephyr Teachout argues that by keeping his extensive business ties, the president-elect will be in violation of the U.S. Constitution “on day one”. Following Spicer’s press conference, Eisen also took to Twitter to chide the soon-to-be-press secretary for his glowing endorsement of Trump’s D.C. hotel. Seemingly adhering to the Nixonian adage that “if the president does it, that means it is not illegal,” the Trump team continues to stand by the legitimacy of the incoming president keeping his business ties. When asked by MSNBC‘s Katy Turr during his first official news conference on Thursday if President-elect Donald Trump would release, if not his tax returns, at least a list of those people or institutions to whom he is indebted, incoming press secretary Sean Spicer made clear that information would not be forthcoming. “I think that question has been asked and answered a hundred times,” Spicer said....

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Spicer Turns Press Conference into Infomercial for Trump’s Hotel

by Aaron Rupar – Profiting off the presidency before he’s sworn in. During a pre-inauguration news conference on Thursday, Sean Spicer, President-elect Donald Trump’s soon-to-be press secretary, dismissed concerns his boss is using the power of the presidency to promote his Washington, D.C. hotel and thereby line his pockets. With regard to Trump’s decision to dine at the hotel’s restaurant on Wednesday night — Trump also reportedly plans to eat there Thursday — Spicer said, “I think that’s pretty smart.” “I think the idea that he’s going to his own hotel shouldn’t be a shocker,” Spicer continued. “It’s a beautiful place, it’s somewhere that he’s very proud of and I think it’s symbolic of the kind of government that he’s going to run.” Spicer went on to encourage people to check out the place for themselves. “It’s an absolutely stunning hotel. I encourage you to go there if you haven’t been by,” he said. But even...

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Mnuchin’s Bank Foreclosed on Thousands of Homeowners, but: ‘I’m Proud of our Results’

by Bryce Covert – Steven Mnuchin came under fire during his confirmation hearing for numerous complaints against OneWest. At Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin’s Senate hearing on Thursday, Democratic lawmakers repeatedly brought up the foreclosure practices of the bank Mnuchin previously ran, OneWest. During one particularly heated exchange, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) aired a laundry list of complaints that were made about OneWest’s practices while Mnuchin was CEO. Brown cited the assertion by the community group California Reinvestment Coalition that the bank foreclosed on 60,000 homes across the country and denied three-quarters of borrowers’ applications for loan modifications so that they could avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. He brought up a consent order that OneWest entered into with the Office of the Comptroller for the Currency (OCC) over “errors that resulted in financial harm.” This included 10,781 loans the OCC determined needed to be remedied, including 23 foreclosures on borrowers...

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Trump Nominee Admits Personally Directing Suspicious Stock Purchases (VIDEOS)

by Laurel Raymond – “That was a decision I made, yes,” Price said regarding bio industry purchases, though he denied wrongdoing. Trump’s pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price, is under fire for allegations of potential insider trading. Several recent reports suggest Price traded medical stock while making decisions about legislation in Congress that directly impacted the medical industry. And at his hearing before the Senate HELP committee on Wednesday, questions about whether Price made unethical and possibly illegal stock trades got even murkier. Price told Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) that he is personally involved in making some decisions about his stocks in the biotech field, and said he made a decision about purchasing stock in a company after talking to another member of Congress who sits on that company’s board. His comments seem to contradict a defense the Trump transition team has offered to brush aside...

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Trump’s Minimum Wage Hating Nominee for Labor Secretary is in Search of an Exit

by Mark Sumner – Andy Puzder has no problem fighting against overtime pay and increases in the minimum wage, but he’s less interested in being challenged by people not wearing a Hardee’s uniform who want to see his financial information. President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to be labor secretary has voiced second thoughts in recent days, because of a relentless barrage of criticism from Democrats, labor unions and other liberal groups, a business ally and GOP sources tell CNN. … “He may be bailing,” said a Republican source plugged into the Trump transition effort. “He is not into the pounding he is taking, and the paperwork.” Oh, man. Paperwork. That is hard. You can’t expect someone making just $5 million a year (down from as much as $30 million in past years) to do paperwork. No. That’s something better suited for people making $24,000 a year who work 60 hour weeks without extra...

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Negative Views of Trump’s Transition, Amid Concerns About Conflicts, Tax Returns

58% say Trump will be ‘too impulsive’ making important decisions. Ahead of Donald Trump’s scheduled press conference in New York City on Wednesday, the public continues to give the president-elect low marks for how he is handling the transition process. Most disapprove of the job he has done outlining his plans for the country’s future and there remain widespread concerns about his potential conflicts of interest – though these concerns are somewhat lower than they were a month ago. In addition, Trump is at odds with the public over his tax returns: A wide majority says he has a responsibility to release his tax returns, a step he has yet to take. The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Jan. 4-9 among 1,502 adults, finds that 39% approve of the job President-elect Trump has done so far explaining his policies and plans for the future to the...

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Maybe This Is How Democracy Ends

by Mike Lofgren – The frightening rise of authoritarian populism in the West is a very real, clear, and present danger. The election of Donald Trump has triggered as much wonderment abroad as it has in the United States. David Runciman, a professor of politics at the University of Cambridge, has written in the London Review of Books a provocative reflection on the nature of democracy in the age of Trump: “Is this how democracy ends?” There is much to praise in his essay, including his heavy qualification that we really don’t know for sure if what we are seeing is the end phase of mature Western democracies since we do not have the appropriate historical precedents to be certain. Runciman is correct; as an admirer of Karl Popper, I believe that there is no such thing as historical determinism, either in the form of the Marxist dialectical process, or in...

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Dan Rather Tributes President Obama

by Leslie Salzillo – Most Americans are familiar with the legendary investigative reporter Dan Rather. Over the past year, Rather has again emerged to become one of America’s most admired and respected beacons of journalism and truth. In a recent Facebook post, Rather commends the Farewell Address by a man who  deserves great praise and who will be solemnly missed as he leaves Oval Office next week: President Barrack Obama. On January 10, 2016, Dan Rather starts off with a quote: He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again. – Hamlet Whatever you think of the presidency of Barack Obama, and I know there are many who think of him as one of our greatest presidents and others with a distinctly differing opinion, I think we can all safely say he was unlike any man who has ever occupied the office of President of the United States. And I cannot imagine anyone quite like him in the future. ...

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Thousands of Women will go on Strike to Protest Trump’s Inauguration

by Bryce Covert – “Women have the power to disrupt systems, outside the home and inside the home.” The election made Ann want to do something big and bold. As a working mother who is also a first-generation Muslim immigrant — and who declined to give her full name for fear of President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to create a Muslim registry — she has much to be concerned about. “The recent election and just all the negative commentary and hateful remarks around immigration, immigrants, and Muslims and people of color really has impacted me,” she said. “All the rhetoric around taking away women’s reproductive freedoms, even such basic freedoms as access to contraception, the thought of not having that is frightening.” “Even the thought of the Muslim registry…the thought of registering my child, it gives me goosebumps even just saying it,” she added. So on January 20 and 21, inauguration weekend, she will not just be...

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Guilty VW to Pay Record $4.3B over Emissions Scandal

Penalty is largest ever levied by the US government against an automaker as Volkswagen admits guilt to three charges. German car giant Volkswagen (VW) will admit guilt and pay a record $4.3bn in fines to settle a diesel emissions cheating scandal, according to US officials. The US justice department also charged six VW executives for their roles in the conspiracy, five of whom are believed to be in Germany while one was arrested in Miami on Saturday. “Today’s actions reflect the Justice Department’s steadfast commitment to protecting consumers, to protecting the environment and our financial system, and holding individuals and companies accountable for corporate wrongdoing,” US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Wednesday. She also said the size of the penalty, the largest ever for a car company in US history, reflects the unusual level of premeditation of wrongdoing at high levels of Volkswagen. “The knowledge and choices they made went to the executive...

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Nation’s First “For-Profit President” as Trump Refuses to Divest

by Nadia Prupis – Trump holds first post-election presser, confirming plans to hand over control of corporate empire to sons. President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday gave his first press conference since the November election—indeed, since July—but gave little information on his relationship with Russia and outlined a plan to address his conflicts of interest that at least one government watchdog group called a “failure on all levels.” Trump said he would not divest his business holdings before taking office, but confirmed that he would hand the reins of his corporate empire and a trust containing his assets over to his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, as well as an appointed trustee, for the duration of his term. That comes shortly after the sons, and daughter Ivanka, were widely criticized for their continued attempts to sell off access to the president and the First Family. So any proposal that lets them keep...

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Fiat Chrysler says Trump had Nothing to do with its Jobs Announcement

by Bryce Covert – The company says it has already invested $9.6 billion in the U.S. and created 25,000 jobs since 2009. On Sunday, FCA US, the parent company of Fiat and Chrysler, announced that it will spend $1 billion to expand plants in Michigan and Ohio and create 2,000 more jobs in the U.S. The move, as the company made clear in its press release, is simply the next phase in an expansion plan it announced last year and comes on top of billions of previous investments that created thousands of jobs. “This plan was in the works back in 2015,” Jodi Tinson, a spokeswoman for FCA, told ThinkProgress. “This announcement…was just final confirmation.” When asked directly if it was true that politics and the election had no influence on the announcement, she said, “Correct.” But that didn’t stop President-elect Donald Trump from tweeting about it without that context. “It’s finally...

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Government Ethics Office says Trump Keeps Ignoring Warnings to Sell his Assets

by Jack Jenkins – The ethics office only considers something a blind trust if its assets have “been sold off.” New emails reveal that the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) reportedly “lost contact” with President-elect Donald Trump’s team during the ongoing transition to power, despite efforts to warn officials about ethical issues posed by nominees and “blind trusts.” According to emails uncovered by MSNBC, OGE director Director Walter Shaub contacted Trump aides in November expressing deep frustration with the lack of cooperation between his organization and the president-elect’s team. Shaub reportedly cautioned Trump against creating a blind trust of his business holdings without speaking to the OGE first, noting that the ethics office only considers something a blind trust if its assets have “been sold off”—a very different standard that the “half-blind” trust floated by Trump’s own team. (To date, Trump has not suggested that he will sell off his assets.) MSNBC...

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Donald Trump was Bailed out of Bankruptcy by Russian Crime Bosses

by Mark Sumner – In 2008, Donald Trump Jr. attended a real estate conference, where he stated that Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia. As it turns out, that may have been an understatement. Human rights lawyer Scott Horton, whose work in the region goes back to defending Andrei Sakharov and other Soviet dissidents, has gone through a series of studies by the Financial Times to show how funds from Russian crime lords bailed Trump out after yet anther bankruptcy. The conclusions are stark. Among the powerful facts that DNI missed were a series of very deep studies published in the that examined the structure and history of several major Trump real estate projects from the last decade—the period after his seventh bankruptcy and the cancellation of all his bank lines of credit. … The money to build these projects flowed...

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Ending DACA Will Cost States Billions of Dollars

by Silva Mathema – Since June 2012, more than 752,000 people who came to the United States as children have benefitted from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. This initiative has provided recipients with a temporary reprieve from deportation and renewable work permits. DACA has lessened the barriers for these recipients to reach their full potential—they have been able to secure good jobs, obtain driver’s licenses, and pursue higher education—so that they might better contribute to their communities. A 2016 survey of DACA recipients shows that they work across many different industries ranging from educational and health services to nonprofits. Along with receiving higher wages, DACA recipients are buying cars, homes, and other goods and services to boost local economies. But this quintessential embodiment of the American dream is under attack. During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump threatened to end DACA, along with other executive actions. While it remains to...

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Rex Tillerson’s Big Oil Ties Endanger the Climate and National Security

by Cathleen Kelly – The direct link between climate change threats and the duties of the secretary of state is strong. As droughts, floods, heat waves, and other symptoms of a warming world increase both in number and intensity—throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Arctic, Europe, and the United States—the next U.S. secretary of state will face urgent pressure to curb climate change and manage the effects of a warming planet that can no longer be avoided. Failure to do so will damage the global economy and destabilize an already wobbly security landscape, with potentially dire consequences for U.S. national security interests. The next U.S. secretary of state must, as Secretary John Kerry has, protect U.S. foreign policy and security interests and demonstrate a track record of personal and diplomatic credibility. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the job, former* ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, does not meet those qualifications. Foreign policy...

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Trump to Cede Millions of High-Wage Jobs to China

by Joe Romm – Beijing will create 13 million jobs by 2020, investing $360 billion in clean energy, while Trump vows to abandon the sector.   Renewable energy jobs in select countries (excluding large hydropower). CREDIT: IRENA China is preparing to go big on the only major new source of sustainable high-wage employment in the coming decades. Beijing’s newest 5-year energy development plan invests a stunning 2.5 trillion yuan ($360 billion) in renewable generation by 2020. Of that, $144 billion will go to solar, about $100 billion to wind, $70 billion to hydropower, and the rest to sources like tidal and geothermal power. The Chinese National Energy Administration said in a statement Thursday the resulting “employment will be more than 13 million people.” China is already doing way better than the U.S. in this regard, and President-elect Trump’s commitment to opposing clean energy will not make things any better. As the International Renewable...

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Trump Said he had $315 Million in Debt. He Left out $1.5 billion

by Judd Legum – A new report reveals the breathtaking scope of Trump’s conflicts of interest. Trump filed documents with the FEC over the summer that revealed he owed at least $315 million to ten entities. This debt, some of which is personally guaranteed by him, was a clear conflict. As president, Trump will be responsible for regulating entities that he also owes money to. Worse, these debts are frequently renegotiated, giving these companies leverage over Trump in the regulatory process.                               From Trump’s 2016 FEC financial disclosure form A report this afternoon from the Wall Street Journal, however, revealed that Trump’s disclosure was the tip of the iceberg. The FEC required Trump only to report debt from entities he fully controls. The disclosure left out “more than $1.5 billion lent to partnerships that are 30%-owned by...

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Global Economic Realities Confirm, the ‘Future is Not in Fossil Fuels’

by Deirdre Fulton – While oil and gas companies falter, ‘renewable energy has reached a tipping point,’ says World Economic Forum expert. Underscoring the need for a global shift to a low-carbon economy, a new report finds a record number of U.K. fossil fuel companies went bust in 2016 due to falling oil and gas prices. The Independent reported the analysis from accounting firm Moore Stephens which found “16 oil and gas companies went insolvent last year, compared to none at all in 2012.” And the trend was not unique to the U.K.—a year-end bankruptcy report from Texas-based Haynes and Boone LLP showed there have been 232 bankruptcy filings in the U.S. and Canadian energy sector since the beginning of 2015. “As the warnings from climate science get stronger, now is the time to realize…that the future is not in fossil fuels,” Dr. Doug Parr of Greenpeace U.K. told The Independent....

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Democrats Aim to Slam Brakes on Key Members of Trump’s “Rigged Cabinet”

by Deirdre Fulton – Tillerson, Sessions, DeVos, and Mnuchin among those set for messy confirmation process. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been warned that Senate Democrats are planning to “aggressively target” eight of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees, aiming to delay as long as possible the confirmation hearings slated to start next week. “President-elect Trump is attempting to fill his rigged cabinet with nominees that would break key campaign promises and have made billions off the industries they’d be tasked with regulating,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Sunday reported by the Washington Post. “Any attempt by Republicans to have a series of rushed, truncated hearings before Inauguration Day and before the Congress and public have adequate information on all of them is something Democrats will vehemently resist,” Schumer said. “If Republicans think they can quickly jam through a whole slate of nominees without a...

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Alongside Sanders, New York Governor Announces First-in-Nation Free Tuition Plan

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘Our job is to encourage every person in this country to get all of the education they can, not to punish them for getting that education,’ Sanders says in New York. With Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at his side, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced a plan to offer free tuition at state and city colleges for middle- and low-income New Yorkers. Under the Excelsior Scholarship, described as the first of its kind in the nation, students whose families make $125,000 or less per year would be eligible to attend all public universities in New York for free. More than 940,000 middle class families and individuals would qualify for the program, according to a statement from Cuomo’s office. “A college education is not a luxury—it is an absolute necessity for any chance at economic mobility,” said Cuomo, a Democrat, “and with these first-in-the-nation Excelsior Scholarships,...

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‘The Greatest Single Step’ to Help Elephants Was Just Taken

by Andrea Germanos – In ‘game-changing’ development, China announces it will ban all domestic ivory trade by end of 2017 In a development widely described as game changing for the ecosystem engineers, China has announced it will enact a total ban on its domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017. The news on Friday, as Agence France-Press reports, “follows Beijing’s announcement in March to widen a ban on imports of all ivory and ivory products acquired before 1975, after pressure to restrict a trade that sees thousands of elephants slaughtered every year.” Reuters adds: “The State Council said in a notice a complete ban would be enforced by Dec. 31, 2017. A first batch of factories and shops will need to close and hand in their licenses by March 31, 2017.” It is indeed a significant step, as “China is currently the biggest buyer and seller of ivory in the...

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Trump’s Poor and Putin Knows it

by 4CasandChlo – We tend to flag, or at least strongly resist speculation here, especially when one speculates as to facts that might support a theory. But, with respect to key aspects of Trump’s business status, and the potential conflicts with the Office of the President, we must speculate, because he simply won’t provide the facts to questions that must get asked. So, I’m going to speculate, thus; Trump is not only, “not a billionaire,” he carries so much debt that, relative to his hard assets, he’s poor, especially with respect to cash flow through cash intensive investments such as resorts, etc, where one has to pay large monthly bills to keep the lights on and the greens, well — green. In any given quarter, Trump faces situations where he doesn’t have the cash to keep up “appearances” and must borrow cash, at whatever rate, to maintain the cloak of worth,...

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Tripwires for the Trumpsters

by Ralph Nader – The Trumpsters are coming to town—led by a failed gambling czar, corporate welfare king and major tax escapee—and they are hell bent on unmaking Washington, D.C. With all three branches of government  dominated by Republican members of Congress and Republican appointees—due to a mixture of abysmal deficiencies in the Democratic Party and the interloping luck of the atavistic Electoral College—the wrecking crew of Trump’s nominees to high cabinet and other positions brings with it a host of politically perilous baggage. First, the Trumpsters have vowed to dismantle various government programs. They are determined to severely limit the protection of labor, replace public schools with taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools, and drop regulatory protections in the health, safety and environmental fields, among others. Acting without the requisite legal authority is of little concern to Mr. Trump. Having sworn in their oaths of office (to “faithfully execute the laws...

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Even as Global Trade Dropped, US Arms Sales Boomed in 2015

by Nadia Prupis – Even as other nations tighten budgets for weapons amid domestic financial concerns, US manages to sell $40 billion in one year. The U.S. sold more weapons than any other country in 2015 despite a drop in the global arms trade, according to a new congressional report. At $40 billion, the U.S. signed more than half of all arms agreements last year, and more than double the next-highest seller, which was France at $15 billion. American weapons sales included bombs, missiles, armored tanks, Apache attack helicopters, F-15 fighter jets, and other items. The report (pdf) was published by the Congressional Research Service, which conducts national policy analysis for Congress. It looked at conventional arms transfers to developing nations from 2008 to 2015. Russia sold $11.1 billion, a slight drop from its 2014 count at $11.2 billion. China sold $6 billion, doubling its output from last year. The leading...

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Damning Investigation Finds Trump’s Philanthropy Largely a “Facade”

by Lauren McCauley – One of the Trump Foundation’s most consistent causes was Donald Trump himself. President-elect Donald Trump continues to boast about his charitable giving, but those claims were cast into further doubt on Thursday after a damning Washington Post investigation into his philanthropy concluded that it is, for the most part, a “facade.” Despite claims of tens of millions of dollars donated to charitable causes, the months-long investigation by Post reporter David A. Fahrenthold was only able to verify “$7.8 million in charitable giving from Trump’s own pocket since the early 1980s,” and none since 2009. Fahrenthold acknowledges that, because the president-elect has refused to release his tax records, it is impossible to know for certain. Nonetheless, the reporter contacted “420-plus charities with some connection to Trump,” finding “only one personal gift from Trump between 2008 and the spring of this year”—a less than $10,000 donation in 2009 to the...

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Trump Takes Credit for New Sprint Jobs He Had Nothing To Do With

by Lauren McCauley – …and the corporate media lets him. President-elect Donald Trump wasted no time taking credit for the thousands of new and returning American jobs announced by Sprint on Wednesday—opportunities which, as many are pointing out, the real estate mogul had very little to do with. Speaking to reporters from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Trump said Wednesday: “Because of what’s happening and the spirit and the hope I was just called by the head people at Sprint and they’re going to be bringing 5,000 jobs back to the United States.” “Also,” he continued, “OneWeb, a new company is going to be hiring 3,000 people so that is very exciting.” Later, he doubled down on that claim saying: “Because of me they’re doing 5,000 jobs in this country.” And while most corporate media outlets allowed the incoming president to pat his own back for the economic boost, some digging...

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