Economy & Business

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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Police Union Objects to ‘Black Lives Matter’ Shirts Being Sold on Amazon

by Ed Krayewski – FOP president calls the products “offensive,” wants them removed. The president of the Fraternal Order of Police urged Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to remove shirts and sweatshirts with the slogans “Black Lives Matter,” “Bulletproof,” and the “urban myth of ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot'” from its website, saying in a letter the products were “offensive to the public” and “may damage your company’s good name amongst FOP members and other active and retired law enforcement officers.” “I am saddened to learn that these third party sellers are making money by exploiting the racial divisions in our country—divisions that the FOP is working hard to heal at the local, State and national level,” Fraternal Order of Police National President Chuck Canterbury wrote. “Commercializing our differences and perpetuating the myths which harm the relationships between the protectors and their communities is wrong at any time of year, but it is...

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As President, Will Donald Trump and His Cabinet Trade Inside Information?

by Dean Baker, Truthout | Op-Ed – I don’t know that Donald Trump will take advantage of the inside information he will have access to as president, but no one knows that he won’t. And the president has access to a massive amount of inside information. Just for beginners, the president gets advance access to the monthly jobs numbers and the quarterly GDP report. Suppose Trump finds out that the job growth in March is far weaker than the markets expected, or that GDP growth for the first quarter of 2017 is surprisingly strong. These reports would have a huge effect on the stock and bond markets. Trump could make a fortune by making highly leveraged bets just before the government reports are officially released. Or, if he doesn’t want to make the trades himself, he can pass the information along to Vincent Viola, his designee for secretary of the...

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Cuomo Said He’d Return 50,000 Apartments to Rent Regulation. He Didn’t Come Close

by Cezary Podkul – A push by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to return 50,000 apartments to the city’s stock of rent-regulated housing has fallen far short of its goal as hundreds of landlords appear to have ignored the state’s plea to comply voluntarily with laws limiting rent increases. The Cuomo administration’s effort stemmed from a 2009 court decision which said landlords cannot charge market-rate rent increases while collecting a popular tax break known as J-51. Instead, the state’s highest court ruled that apartments must be subject to rent stabilization — state laws limiting rent increases — as long as owners receive the benefit. As we reported in July, the state had ignored requests from tenant groups to enforce this landmark ruling, known as Roberts vs. Tishman Speyer. That was supposed to change in January, when Gov. Cuomo unveiled his effort to make owners comply with the Roberts ruling. At the time,...

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Millions of Workers Saw Minimum Wage Rise in 2016, No Thanks to Congress

by Laura Clawson – The federal minimum wage remained stuck at $7.25 an hour, with a tipped minimum wage of $2.13 an hour, in 2016. And with Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, that won’t be changing anytime soon. The good news is, cities and states continued taking action of their own in 2016, so a lot of workers got a raise and will see further increases in 2017 and beyond. California became the first state to pass a $15 an hour minimum wage, though workers won’t actually be paid $15 until 2022. New York sort of passed a $15 an hour minimum wage, but it’s complicated. Different areas of the state will get to $15 at different times, and the schedule could be delayed past a certain point. But New York City workers will get $15 at the end of 2018. Washington, D.C. also passed a $15 an hour minimum wage....

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Under Pressure, Trump to Dissolve Charitable Foundation

Attorney General says foundation cannot close because it remains the subject of an ongoing investigation. US President-elect Donald Trump says he will be dissolving his philanthropic foundation – the Donald J Trump Foundation – to avoid conflicts of interest once he takes over at the White House. However, the move has been dismissed by the attorney general office which, in a statement released to US media on Saturday, said Trump could not yet close the foundation because it was still under investigation by New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman. “The Trump Foundation is still under investigation by this office and cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete,” Schneiderman spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick said. How Trump may change US foreign policy Trump’s portfolio of US and overseas business interests and holdings, as well as his his philanthropic foundation, have come under increased scrutiny since his election. “The foundation has done enormous good...

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Trump’s “Half-Blind” Trust Blasted as Absurd

by Nadia Prupis – ‘By not disclosing and divesting, Trump is betraying his own voters by prioritizing his own corporate interests at the expense of working families’ President-elect Donald Trump’s team is reportedly considering setting up a “discretionary trust” that would allow Trump to distance himself from his businesses while still reaping their financial benefits—an arrangement that, as government watchdogs put it, is “inappropriate” at best and “a betrayal” at worst. Politico on Wednesday reported that Trump aides were speaking with the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) this week, indicating that the team is still attempting to sidestep ethical boundaries rather than abide by them. It’s the latest in a series of steps by the family that suggest they are selling off access to the president and attempting to profit off Trump’s rise to power. “It’s highly inappropriate,” former ethics lawyer Richard Painter told Politico. “To have someone baby-sit your conflict-creating...

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Licensing Medical Marijuana Stirs Up Trouble for States

by Rebecca Beitsch – The seven lucky balls that popped out of the Arizona Department of Health Services lottery machine in October produced big winners — not in the state’s Powerball game, but in the competition to make money in the medical marijuana industry. The prize winners were granted licenses to open a medical marijuana dispensary in a state where patients with prescriptions to treat conditions such as glaucoma and cancer spent $215 million last year on marijuana products. Arizona’s public health officials awarded most licenses based on rules designed to place new dispensaries within range of the greatest number of medical-marijuana patients. But when it wasn’t clear which applicant was in the most patient-dense area, they used a lottery to randomly select the winners, hoping to sidestep conflict. States have struggled with how to give out potentially lucrative medical marijuana licenses — trying to balance public health concerns against an...

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Trump’s Vineyard Looks to Hire Foreign Workers for U.S. Jobs

by Nika Knight – Moreover, incoming Trump administration will have power to approve requested foreign worker visas. In another demonstration of President-elect Donald Trump’s blatant conflicts of interest, a Trump family vineyard filed a request this month for six temporary foreign worker visas—visas which Trump’s administration will soon have the power to approve. The U.S. Labor Department posted the request (pdf) that was submitted earlier this month online on Wednesday. “This is a powerful example of why Donald Trump needs to make a definitive break, not just with his operational interests but his ownership interests, by appointing an independent trustee to liquidate all that,” Norm Eisen, former chief White House ethics lawyer for President Obama, told the Washington Post. It’s “a classic conflict of interest,” Eisen said. And the conflict of interest isn’t the only noteworthy aspect of the situation: Like many U.S. businesses in the Trump empire, the vineyard often employs temporary foreign...

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Right Next to Carrier, Another Indiana Plant Moves to Mexico and Trump Stays Very, Very Quiet

by Walter Einenkel – When Donald Trump swooped in to give a fat corporate welfare package to Carrier in order to keep the company from moving all of its operation to Mexico, the deal was terrible but it did save around 730 jobs—for the time being. Around the same time, Trump also had this to say: Donald J. Trump ✔@realDonaldTrump Rexnord of Indiana is moving to Mexico and rather viciously firing all of its 300 workers. This is happening all over our country. No more! 10:06 PM – 2 Dec 2016 Since that time it has been crickets regarding keeping jobs in America. A couple of days ago, Chuck Jones went on CNN to explain how this deal seems finalized and will begin this February. Rexnord said Friday it will close its Indianapolis plant, which makes metal bearings, in June. The workers will be given a week’s pay for every year...

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NAACP Pushes for National Economic Boycott of North Carolina

by Alice Miranda Ollstein – Civil rights activists are also preparing lawsuits and mass protests to pressure the state’s Republican majority. Late Wednesday night, North Carolina Republicans reneged on their promise to repeal HB2, known colloquially as the “bathroom bill.” The legislation contained a number of controversial provisions, but chiefly banned transgender people from using the bathroom of the gender with which they identify and barred cities from passing laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination. The law has already cost the state hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars. On Thursday, the North Carolina NAACP announced it will turn up the heat on the state. The group plans to file lawsuits against the state, organize mass protests, and call for an economic boycott to pressure lawmakers to repeal HB2 and other legislation they say infringes on civil rights. “Enough is enough,” said Reverend Dr. William Barber, the president of the...

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Do the Russians Have Leverage Over Donald Trump? (VIDEO)

by Judd Legum – Washington Post national security reporter David Ignatius sounds the alarm. Appearing on CBS, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway described concern about Russian interference with the U.S. election as lacking evidence and claimed that President Obama’s vow to retaliate against Russia is “political.” Trump himself has publicly and repeatedly cast doubt on the intelligence community’s conclusions that Russia initiated hacks designed to damage Hillary Clinton. “Earlier this week, I met separately with FBI James Comey and DNI Jim Clapper, and there is strong consensus among us on the scope, nature, and intent of Russian interference in our presidential election,” CIA Director John Brennan wrote to agency employees. Trump says the hack is just as likely to have been perpetrated by a 400-pound man in New Jersey. Trump’s posture, as he prepares to assume the presidency and assume control over the American intelligence community, cast doubts on his willingness...

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Moscow on the Potomac

by the CAP National Security and International Policy Team – Introduction and summary On October 16, 2016, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson issued an extraordinary statement, indicating that the “U.S. Intelligence Community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations.”1 The release of this hacked information was all directed at the Democratic presidential campaign and its affiliates, with no hacked information leaked regarding the campaign of the Republican presidential nominee, and now president-elect, Donald Trump. These senior U.S. intelligence officials pointed out that Russia, under President Vladimir Putin, had used similar tactics across Europe and Eurasia to bolster right-wing nationalist parties and that “hese thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.” Director Michael Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, noted,...

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‘Supervillian’ Rex Tillerson Also Runs This Tax-Hating US-Russian Oil Company

by Jon Queally – Leaked documents show Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State is director of subsidiary based in Bahamas. In response to the revelations, Duncan Meisel, an organizer with the climate action group 350.org, used his personal Twitter account to offer one explanation as to why Tillerson might be heads one of the world’s most maligned oil companies while also running a Russian-affiliated subsidiary based in a notorious tax haven:Documents leaked to a German newspaper reveal that ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to be the next Secretary of State, has been the quiet director of a U.S.-Russian oil firm registered in the Bahamas, one of the world’s key tax havens. According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which received the documents from the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in Germany, registration papers show “Tillerson was appointed in 1998 as a director of Exxon Neftegas, an ExxonMobil...

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Trump’s Pick for Commerce Secretary May Have the Biggest Conflicts of Them All

by Derek Kravitz – Wilbur Ross has made a fortune in steel — and the Commerce Department will soon make decisions that will affect his firms. Many of President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet picks are titans of industry with significant potential business conflicts of interest. But there is one in a class by himself: Commerce secretary choice Wilbur Ross. Ross has made a fortune in the steel industry — an industry of which the Commerce Department has significant oversight. Indeed, government transition documents show that the Commerce Department is slated to make no fewer than five decisions about steel trade soon after the inauguration which will directly affect businesses that Ross has a stake in. “It’s on a different order of magnitude and complexity than any other cabinet pick,” said Norman Eisen, the White House’s chief ethics lawyer in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2011. “Now it’s up to him to figure...

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Consumers Now Have the Right to Gripe Online

by Jenni Bergal – President Barack Obama signed a new law Thursday that protects consumers’ right to post negative online reviews without fear of retribution. The Consumer Review Fairness Act prohibits businesses from inserting “gag clauses” in the fine print of online service agreements that bar consumers from writing negative comments about them on sites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor. Some businesses angered by consumer ratings or reviews have threatened legal action against complaining customers or slapped them with financial penalties. Consumer advocates say most customers aren’t aware of non-disparagement clauses, which often are buried deep within boilerplate language of the agreements. They’re usually found online when customers click the “accept” button under “terms and conditions.” In written contracts, they’re tucked into the fine print. Before the federal action, two states — California and Maryland — enacted “Right to Yelp” laws that prohibit such gag clauses in consumer contracts, and several...

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Trump’s Dangerous, Unprecedented, and Unconstitutional Conflicts of Interest

by Liz Kennedy – President-elect Donald J. Trump’s private business holdings present foreign and domestic conflicts of interest that are severe and unprecedented for an American president. Today, instead of getting clarity about the president-elect’s plans to address these conflicts of interest in a long-promised press conference, Americans are left with little more that another vague pledge about transferring operations and nothing about transferring ownership. As the office in charge of overseeing executive branch ethics noted, this is wholly inadequate. To protect the interests of the American people and the integrity of the presidency, Trump must resolve his conflicts of interest or resign from office. As it stands, Trump will be in violation of the Constitution the day he takes office because a key anti-foreign corruption provision, the Emoluments Clause, bars the president from receiving payments or things of value from foreign states or their agents. As America’s founders understood, if...

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Trump Must Sell His D.C. Hotel, Federal Officials Tell Congressional Democrats

by Laurel Raymond – Giving it to his children isn’t good enough. President-elect Donald Trump is very proud of his new downtown Washington, D.C. hotel. He repeatedly bragged on the campaign trail about how it was the most sought-after location in Washington (after, of course, the White House), hijacked political events for free press when it opened, and often boasted of the great deal he made in procuring the lease for the property from the U.S. government. Now that he’s the head of that government, though, the validity of that lease is in question. When Trump takes office he will effectively be both tenant and landlord of the multi-million dollar property. According to a briefing given to lawmakers by the General Services Administration (GSA), which oversees the lease, Trump must therefore give up all ownership of the hotel or be in clear violation of his government contract. That view was publicly relayed...

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Purging Career Civil Servants? That’s The Conservative Playbook

by Bill Scher – When the Trump transition asked the Energy Department to name employees that attended climate change conferences, many people — especially Energy Department employees — reacted in horror, concluding that the incoming administration wants to purge career civil servants from the government. As the Washington Post has reported, some Trump advisers are counseling him to weaken civil servant protections and make purging easier: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) urged Trump to take on unions by “getting permission to fire corrupt, incompetent and dishonest workers,” declaring in a New Yorker magazine article, “you have to end the civil-service permanent employment.” Reuters quoted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) saying Trump should seek civil service changes to make it “a lot easier to fire those people.” Of course, the recommendations are publicly couched in terms of improving government effectiveness. But it’s a longstanding chapter in the conservative playbook...

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Los Angeles Bans Criminal History Checkboxes on Job Applications

by Alan Pyke – Hiring equity law covers private employers too in victory for “Ban the Box” movement. Companies in the nation’s second-largest city must stop requiring job applicants to disclose criminal convictions on hiring forms next year after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a “Ban the Box” law there on Friday. The law does not prevent companies from conducting background checks once they have made a conditional job offer to a finalist. But it eliminates a standardized checkbox question about previous run-ins with the law, a common feature of job paperwork that makes it much harder for people to get back on their feet after serving their time. Firms with fewer than 10 employees are exempt from the law. Sometimes called fair-chance hiring laws, such restrictions on how hiring managers solicit information about applicants’ criminal histories have grown in popularity over the past few years. But the laws have...

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As Trump Stalls, Observers Warn Business Empire Could Cause ‘Unprecedented Threat’

by Nadia Prupis – Americans skeptical Trump will extricate himself from corporate empire, which some say is already threatening U.S. stability and interests. President-elect Donald Trump on Monday canceled plans for a press conference this week that would have addressed his conflicts of interest—some of the most blatant in history—leading many to speculate that he will ultimately use his presidential power to benefit his corporate empire. Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks confirmed to CNN that the press conference will take place next month. But Americans were already doubting that the incoming president will extricate himself from his many conflicts of interest, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted before the briefing was postponed. Politico reports: A majority of voters, 52 percent, say Trump’s “business interests and positions” will affect his decision-making as president “a lot,” and another 29 percent say they will have “some” effect on his decisions. Poll respondents are split,...

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Trump Got Smacked By Newsweek For Putting Money Ahead Of Our Nation’s Best Interests

by Stephen D Foster Jr – Newsweek just published a damning investigative report detailing how Donald Trump is already fundamentally changing American foreign policy to enrich himself, even if it means being a puppet for dictators. Ever since Russia helped him win the election, Trump has refused to sever ties with his company, which builds hotels and resorts around the world. But Trump’s business interests are putting him in the position of being controlled by other nations because every decision he makes could jeopardize his company and the profits it brings in. For instance, Trump is getting awfully cozy with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who is busy slaughtering thousands of his own people in a supposed effort to rid his country of drugs. Governments around the world have condemned the killings. So has the United Nations. But because Trump has a hotel that is nearing completion in the Philippines, he is...

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An ‘Undeniable Success’: Divestment From Fossil Fuels Passes $5 Trillion

by Andrea Germanos – The value of funds making the commitment has doubled in size since September 2015 Marking the divestment movement’s “undeniable success,” a new report shows the value of funds controlled by individuals and institutions who have vowed to dump their fossil fuels assets now surpasses $5 trillion. 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben said the “news is mammoth.” The report (pdf) by Arabella Advisors for the Divest-Invest Network shows that the value of global funds making the commitment—now at about $5.2 trillion—has doubled in size since September 2015, and comes from 688 institutions and over 58,000 individuals spanning 76 countries. It comes exactly one year after the adoption of the landmark Paris climate accord, and that agreement, the report says, “bolstered the economic arguments underpinning divestment, validating it as a key tool for achieving the agreements goals.” Pointing to the election of climate science-denier Donald Trump, the report adds: “Any...

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Prudential Now Looks To Be Complicit In Wells Fargo’s Massive Fraud

by m2c4 – Wells Fargo fraud scandal now includes life insurance policies offered through Prudential and sold by Wells Fargo bankers. Apparently, Wells Fargo coordinated with Prudential to offer the Prudential MyTerm life insurance to Wells Fargo customers. The MyTerm policies were easy to sign up for as they required no medical exam, just a few questions that could be answered online. Bankers are not usually licensed to also sell life insurance so the Wells employees would steer customers to either a website or a kiosk inside the bank where the insurance could be purchased. The employees would then get some credit toward their sales goals, the same high pressure sales goals that led to the opening of thousands of fraudulent accounts without customer authorization. In the same way, Wells bankers also began purchasing these MyTerm life insurance policies for their customers without authorization for more than a decade. And the...

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Trump Spokeswoman says He will Produce The Apprentice in His ‘Spare Time’

by Laurel Raymond – When asked whether the future President would be taking a salary from his side gig, Conway punted. While President, Donald Trump will still be credited as an executive producer on The Celebrity Apprentice, Variety reported on Thursday. According to Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks, Trump maintains a “big stake” in the show, financially speaking. As the show returns to NBC, President-Elect Trump stands to profit from its success. Trump is also likely to be paid “in the low five-figures, at minimum” per episode, according to Variety, by though his exact compensation has yet to be determined. His fee will come from MGM, while the show will air on NBC — so as President, Trump will be on the payroll of a show aired on one of the major news networks. Although NBC’s entertainment and news divisions are separate, this still represents a massive, unprecedented conflict. On Friday, however, Trump campaign manager...

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Trump’s Labor Secretary Pick Really Likes his Company’s Sexist Burger Ads

by Kira Lerner – On Thursday, Trump announced that he would be nominating CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder to serve as his labor secretary. Not only has Puzder opposed workers’ attempts to earn higher wages and boasted that he’d replace workers with robots, but he also seems to share the same sexist views as the future president. Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., the restaurants operated by CKE, are both known for their incredibly sexist and hyper-sexualized ad campaigns. The chains are notorious for using supermodels to sell its fast food, featuring them splayed across the hoods of cars holding burgers or licking ketchup off their bodies. In one 2009 ad, Kim Kardashian seductively ate a salad in bed as dressing dripped down her nightgown. “Who says salads can’t be hot?” the voice-over asks. In another released this year, three women feed each other bacon while wearing skimpy bikinis.  Hardee’s ✔@Hardees You can...

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Pentagon Buried Report Finding $125 Billion in Bureaucratic Waste

by Anthony L. Fisher – Rather than face reality, Defense Department wants to continue to peddle the fiction that it is underfunded. The Department of Defense (DoD) learned the hard way to not ask for the truth if you don’t want to hear it. Senior Pentagon officials commissioned a study from the Defense Business Board, titled “Transforming DoD’s Core Business Processes for Revolutionary Change,” which delivered its assessment of the department’s spending in January 2015. The very first words summarizing the report are “We are spending a lot more than we thought.” But the report never saw the light of day, because its staggering finding of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste contradicted the Pentagon’s repeated complaints that the U.S. military was being deprived of necessary financing, according to the Washington Post. The report found that the DoD was employing almost the same amount of people as active duty troops (1.3 million)...

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Anti-Euro Populists Emboldened by Italy Vote—But Should They Be?

by Deirdre Fulton – “Italy’s no vote does not fit quite so neatly into the narrative of a populist revolt against globalization and elites.” While far-right populist forces in Italy and beyond are claiming Sunday’s referendum outcome and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s subsequent resignation as a victory, others say that while the losers are clear, the winners of the vote on constitutional reform are far less obvious. The plebiscite asked Italians to vote on a package of changes to the country’s constitution, which would have afforded more power to Renzi and future prime ministers. A broad coalition of opponents included anti-establishment and right-wing parties—leading some to wonder if the vote “could ultimately lead to Italy’s exit from the E.U.” But “Italy’s no vote does not fit quite so neatly into the narrative of a populist revolt against globalization and elites,” wrote Luigi Scazzieri of the Center for European Reform on Monday, responding...

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Trump’s Deal with Carrier is a Shell Game. Keep your Eye on Federal Contractor Rules

by Alan Pyke – Why does Trump want to cut a deal with Carrier but not regulate it? Donald Trump and Mike Pence have managed to make a lot of hay out of last week’s announcement that Indiana-based manufacturer Carrier Corp. will now move fewer jobs to Mexico than it had previously planned, in exchange for tax breaks from Pence’s home state. The president-elect says he didn’t explicitly threaten to punish Carrier or its parent firm United Technologies by shifting federal contracts to other vendors in the future. But the prospect of such punitive measures doubtless played some role in the talks, as Indiana Economic Development Commission board member John Mutz more or less confirmed to a local business paper. The episode therefore spotlights a contradiction in Trump’s campaign promises (in addition to stoking fears that he will speed up a corporate race to the bottom where companies extort states for tax...

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Ensure an Infrastructure Plan Benefits Workers, Not Wall Street

by Rejane Frederick and Angela Hanks – Investing in infrastructure is crucial for the nation’s competitiveness and long-term economic growth. President-elect Donald Trump has indicated that rebuilding America’s infrastructure will be one of his first priorities upon taking office. Unfortunately, the plan he has put on the table would provide enormous tax breaks to elite Wall Street investors instead of real dollars to communities facing significant infrastructure needs. A true 21st century infrastructure plan should create good jobs for all communities while strategically targeting investments to communities that have the highest need for infrastructure investments and job creation. It should create high-quality jobs that enable all families to get ahead, not just get by. And it should prioritize smart, clean investments, such as improving and expanding existing public transportation, modernizing energy infrastructure and water systems, and rebuilding the nation’s crumbling housing stock. Here are three ways to make real infrastructure investments that would...

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Trump and His Betraying Makeover

by Ralph Nader – Attention workers who voted for Trump, either eagerly or as a vote against  the hawkish, Wall Street favorite, Hillary Clinton: Donald Trump, less than a month after the election, has already begun to betray you. You can often see where a president-elect is going by his nominations to high positions in his forthcoming administration. Across over a dozen crucial posts, Mr. Trump has chosen war hawks, Wall Streeters (with a former Goldman Sachs partner, Steven Mnuchin, as his pick for Treasury Secretary) and clenched teeth corporatists determined to jettison life-saving, injury and disease preventing regulations and leave bigger holes in your consumer pocketbooks. In addition to lacking a mandate from the people  (he lost the popular vote), the president-elect continues to believe that mere showboating will distract from his breathtaking flip-flops in his campaign rhetoric. Remember his last big TV ad where he blasted “a global power...

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Who is Wilbur Ross?

by Josh Israel – The “king of bankruptcy” is Donald Trump’s choice for Commerce Secretary. President-elect Donald Trump has named billionaire Wilbur Ross Jr. as his Secretary of Commerce. The man who Fortune called the “king of bankruptcy” and “dean of distressed investing” has been criticized as a “vulture” capitalist who made a fortune while running roughshod over workers and “shedding retiree benefits.” After a lengthy career leading the bankruptcy team at Rothschild Inc., Ross launched his own firm, WL Ross & Co., in 2000. Between 2001 and 2011, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) determined, his company made more than $10 million from investors in improperly disclosed fees (for which the firm paid a $2.3 million civil fine as part of a settlement, but did not admit wrongdoing). Here are some other things to know about the man who would be in charge of economic growth and opportunity in the...

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An Expert Breaks Down Trump’s Carrier Deal: ‘Ineffective’ and ‘Very Costly’

by Bryce Covert – Announcing the deal, Trump also promised to scrap most business regulations. After trumpeting a deal that his administration struck with the air conditioning and heating furnace manufacturer Carrier to avert the loss of some American jobs, President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday announced specifics of what he offered the company. At an event in Indiana, Trump said he pledged to more than cut the corporate tax rate in half for all companies, lowering it from 35 percent to 15. While he falsely claimed the United States is the highest taxed country in the world, he said this would make us one of the lowest taxed. He also pledged to take on business regulations, which he said was a greater priority for the CEO of United Technologies, Greg Hayes, the parent company of Carrier, in their negotiations. “Most of the regulations will be gone,” Trump said. “We need regulations...

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Dakota Access Pipeline Permit Denied

by Nika Knight – ‘For the first time in Native American history, they heard our voices.’ In a long-awaited victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has denied a permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline, tribal leadership announced late Sunday. The agency will not allow the pipeline to be built under Lake Oahe, a reservoir near the tribal reservation, without a full environmental impact assessment that examines alternative routes for the pipeline. While acknowledging that it may only end up being a temporary pause in pipeline construction, many see it as an incredible victory for the water protectors, who have faced water cannons, mace, rubber bullets, mass arrests, and more in their months-long struggle to protect their drinking water and treaty land. Other activists expressed suspicion and caution, as the U.S. government has historically betrayed its promises to Native Americans, and warned that the water protectors must remain...

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How Donald Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Fails America

by Kevin DeGood – “Wisdom, itself, is often an abstraction associated not with fact or reality but with the man who asserts it and the manner of its assertion.” — John Kenneth Galbraith1 Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump boasted frequently and with great vigor that he would rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure as part of his pledge to make America great again. This claim turns out to be as bankrupt as many of his businesses. In the place of actual federal spending on critical projects, President-elect Trump has pushed the idea of authorizing a pool of tax credits that would flow to equity investors in large public-private partnership, or P3, deals. These project debts would be repaid by tolls and other fees levied on the people and businesses that use the new facilities.2 The plan suffers from five fatal flaws: The plan would push state and local governments to use...

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Trump’s Pick for Head of Nation’s Economic Policy “A Self-Dealing, Wall Street Tool”

by Andrea Germanos – Sen. Elizabeth Warren calls Steven Mnuchin ‘the Forrest Gump of the financial crisis’ President-elect Donald Trump announced Wednesday that former Goldman Sachs partner Steven Mnuchin—a man described as “the anti-populist from Hell”—is his pick for Treasury Secretary. His appointment, according to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), “should send shivers down the spine of every American who got hit hard by the financial crisis.” Mnuchin, she added, “is the Forrest Gump of the financial crisis—he managed to participate in all the worst practices on Wall Street.” Warren and other critics of his appointment say Mnuchin’s background—including running a bank described as “a foreclosure machine”—is further evidence that Trump has no intention of fulfilling his campaign promise to “drain the swamp” of corporate lobbyists and Wall Street executives. “This isn’t draining the swamp—it’s stocking it with alligators,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), ranking member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and...

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More Than Half Of New Yorkers Are One Paycheck Away From Homelessness

by Whitney Webb – A new report has found that 60% of New Yorkers could face eviction, foreclosure, or homelessness in the event of a lost job, medical emergency, or similar crisis due to a lack of emergency savings. Since the 2008 economic crisis, most Americans have seen little of Obama’s much-touted economic “recovery” in their personal lives. Considering that the so-called “recovery” involved printing millions of dollars that went directly into the pockets of the same bankers who created the crisis itself, it’s not surprising that many Americans still find themselves struggling. Throughout the nation, many families are struggling just to get by, especially in areas were wages remain stagnant and the cost of living and housing continues to climb. Many American cities are a microcosm of this larger phenomenon, perhaps none more so than New York City. However, a recent report from the Association for Neighborhood & Housing...

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Trump’s Carrier Deal Doesn’t Look so Good if You Read Past the Headlines

by Laura Clawson – Kudos to Donald Trump on the PR win of his deal to keep somewhat less than half the jobs Carrier had planned to move to Mexico in the United States. The headlines are great for him, few people will ever know much more than the initial headlines, and … hey, around 1,000 jobs saved is around 1,000 jobs saved. Or maybe the number is only 800. It still sounds really good, and for the workers who will keep their jobs, it is really good. If, however, you are interested in more than PR wins and losses, there are some big questions about the deal. First, let’s be clear that around 1,300 jobs are still being moved to Mexico. Second, the workers who are not losing their jobs and their union are still waiting to hear if they’re going to be pushed to accept pay cuts. Third, the jobs that are...

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Trump’s Plan to no Longer Participate in his Company’s ‘Business Operations’ is a Sham

by Ian Millhiser – It’s not enough if he still knows where the money is coming from. President-elect Donald Trump, who’s been widely criticized by constitutional experts and former White House ethics attorneys for the conflicts of interests presented by his business, attempted to defuse these concerns Wednesday morning with a series of four tweets. Trump now says that he will be removed from the operations of the business that bears his name. Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task! 6:59 AM – 30 Nov 2016 Trump’s full tweetstorm proclaims that he will hold a press conference with his children in December to announce that his is leaving his business. He also claims, falsely, that he is “not mandated” to do so, but that it is “visually important, as President, to in no...

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Twelve Ideas Post-Election from Front Line Organizers

by Bill Quigley – When you find yourself in a suddenly darkened room, what do you do?   Some rush blindly to where they think the door might be.  Others stand still, let their eyes get adjusted to the different environment, re-orient themselves, then cautiously and sensitively, move forward.  Some search out people who might be able to show the way.  Post-election, a lot of people are re-assessing and searching for the best way forward.  Here are some ideas on where we should be going and what we should be doing from experienced, thoughtful people who are organizing on the front lines. One.  You Were Born for This Time. My friend, Cherri Foytlin, a mother who lives in rural Louisiana in a deeply Republican area, gives her life organizing to protect our earth, water and the rights of indigenous people.  For that she has been arrested and is subject to death threats. ...

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Pay More and Get Less: The Ryan Plan to Privatize Medicare

by David Akadjian – One of the fights likely to come up early during the next administration is privatizing Medicare. Tom Price, chairman of the House Budget Committee, has indicated Republicans will try to privatize Medicare in a budget reconciliation bill (a sneaky filibuster proof attack). You’re going to hear a lot about “choice” and “efficiency” and the amazingness of markets, but Ryan’s plan basically comes down to two things: 1) you will pay more, and 2) you will get less. Ryan’s proposal is for what he calls “premium support” programs. Think premium like an insurance premium, not like a Cadillac. The latter usage of the word is not a mistake though. The intent is to make it sound desirable. The big change is that Medicare would no longer provide coverage for medical care but would be a subsidy towards the purchase of a privatized insurance plan. No surprise. Ryan wants to...

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Businesses Take Fight Over Credit Card Fees to Supreme Court

by Rebecca Beitsch – The stylists at Expressions Hair Design, a salon in upstate New York, used to display a sign near the register telling customers who wished to pay with a credit card that they would be charged an additional fee to cover the cost. Then a client told them they ought to take it down. “That’s illegal,” the client, who was also a lawyer, told salon co-owner Linda Fiacco. And in New York, it is. The state is one of 10 that allow businesses to charge more for credit card purchases only if they describe the difference as a cash discount and not a credit card surcharge. The owners of Expressions Hair Design in Vestal, along with other New York businesses that have sued the state over the law, say their freedom of speech is being impinged on because they can’t explain to customers how credit card fees affect...

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A Progressive Agenda for Renegotiating NAFTA

by TIMOTHY A. WISE – Here’s what President-elect Trump should do to make trade deals better for US workers. During the campaign, President-elect Donald Trump pledged to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada, or withdraw the United States from the pact. Although no one at Trump Tower so far has asked me for advice (and I’m not waiting by my phone for a call), I know a little bit about this subject: Eight years ago I helped convene a panel of experts to make recommendations to another president who promised to rewrite NAFTA. That would have been Barack Obama, who, as a candidate in 2008, was clear on the issue: “NAFTA’s shortcomings were evident when signed and we must now amend the agreement to fix them.” Alas, as president, he did no such thing, which is of course one of the reasons we find ourselves...

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Conflicts of Interest Could Put Trump in Violation of Constitution ‘On Day One’

by Deirdre Fulton – Under President-elect Trump, the country is facing a “wholesale oligarchic kleptocracy of a kind that we have never seen before in our history.” President-elect Donald Trump’s global business interests continue to come under intense scrutiny, with two top ethics lawyers saying the Electoral College must reject Trump on December 19 if he does not divest his holdings and establish a truly blind trust. Norman Eisen, chief ethics counsel for Barack Obama, told ThinkProgress this week that “the founders did not want any foreign payments to the president. Period.” “This principle,” explained ThinkProgress editor Judd Legum, “is enshrined in Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution, which bars office holders from accepting ‘any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.'” The provision, he said, is aimed at limiting foreign influence over the president. However, according to Legum: Eisen said that Trump’s businesses, foreign and domestic, “are...

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Donald J. Trump is a Confirmed Charlatan and a Fraud

by Frank Vyan Walton – The bogus nature of Donald Trump’s claims of wealth and competence may not be news to many of us who opposed his presidency, or happened to have read anything about the trail of waste and destruction his businesses practices have left in his wake. To anyone who has watched Trump over the past four decades, none of this is a surprise. His presidential campaign is built on the claim that he’s a brilliant businessman worth $10 billion who turns every challenge into success, but Trump is none of those things. Instead, he was born into an exceedingly wealthy family and tried to build upon his father’s success with ever-riskier ventures, and by any rational measure, he failed again and again. He’d have done better if he’d never gone into business. In 1982, Trump reported to New Jersey regulators a personal net worth of $321 million, built largely...

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Electoral College Must Reject Trump Unless he Sells his Business, Top Lawyers for Bush and Obama Say

by Judd Legum – Ethics lawyers for the last two presidents are in agreement. Members of the Electoral College should not make Donald Trump the next president unless his sells his companies and puts the proceeds in a blind trust, according to the top ethics lawyers for the last two presidents. Richard Painter, Chief Ethics Counsel for George W. Bush, and Norman Eisen, Chief Ethics Counsel for Barack Obama, believe that if Trump continues retain ownership over his sprawling business interests by the time the electors meet on December 19, they should reject Trump. In an email to ThinkProgress, Eisen explained that “the founders did not want any foreign payments to the president. Period.” This principle is enshrined in Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution, which bars office holders from accepting “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.” Debates and...

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