Donald Trump should never have been allowed to view the White House lawn from any vantage point except a television set—hooked up for the inmates in the common room of a state penitentiary. According to the The New York Times, before he engaged in defrauding investors through his Trump University scam, before his habitual, pre-declaration of bankruptcy stiffing of his employees and contractors, even before his off-camera antics harassing or sleeping with various women and paying them for their silence, the current occupant of the Oval Office was engaged in ripping off the tenants of properties owned by his father, and pocketing the profits. They were collateral damage as Donald J. Trump and his siblings dodged inheritance taxes and gained control of their father’s fortune: thousands of renters in an empire of unassuming red-brick buildings scattered across Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. The Times investigation of the latest in Trump’s seemingly bottomless history of perpetrating frauds and scams to bilk people out of their money details Trump’s jacking up the rents of thousands of middle-class residents who had the misfortune to live in one of the Trump-family owned apartment residences during the 1990s. Many of these properties had been financed by Fred Trump through low-cost government loans, and were therefore subject to rent regulation. But the residents of these thousands of apartments, many of whom were retirees living on a fixed income, suddenly began to see inexplicable rises in those regulated rents. As it turned out, a hidden scam lurked behind the mysterious increases. In October, a New York Times investigation into the origins of Mr. Trump’s wealth revealed, among its findings, that the future president and his siblings set up a phony business to pad the cost of nearly everything their father, the legendary builder Fred C. Trump, purchased for his buildings. The Trump children split that extra money. The “padded costs” translated into higher rents imposed on these tenants, as the younger Donald and his partners could point to the increased costs of maintaining them. Except the costs were phony—Trump and his family continued to negotiate for “everything from roofs to window cleaner,” according to the Times report. The costs were inflated through a sham organization ostensibly created (on paper alone) as a “purchasing agent” for Fred Trump’s properties, and it was owned by Donald Trump, his siblings and a cousin. The “purchasing agent,” called “All County Building Supply and Maintenance,” (or “All County BS,” for short?), would issue checks to vendors servicing Trump’s buildings, but would receive reimbursement from Fred Trump’s apartments with a 20-50% markup. The “markup,” which actually represented a tax-free “gift” to Trump and his cohorts, was then used to justify gouging apartment dwellers in Trump’s buildings with higher rents. These fraudulently jacked-up rents amounted to an increase of $30-$60 per month on a yearly basis, which many renters could doubtless afford. But as the Times points out, the “padded invoices still affect the rent, as the increase has compounded over the years:” The padded invoices have been baked into the base rent used to calculate the annual percentage increase approved by the city. The sum total of the rent overcharges cannot be calculated from available records. As a way to appreciate the scope of the impact, a onetime $10 increase in 1995 on all the 8,000 apartments involved would put the total overpaid by tenants at more than $33 million to date, an analysis of approved rent increases shows.
The families of Sandy Hook Promise have teamed up to unleash one hell of a short film on the world on the sixth anniversary of the day that changed their lives forever. December 14, 2012 saw 20 children and six teachers murdered in the school shooting that should have ended the gun control debate full stop, but didn’t. Called “Point of View,” the PSA, produced by top-tier ad agency BBDO New York, and directed by Snow White and the Huntsman’s Rupert Sanders, takes a different approach to showing the dark realities of school shootings, since dead children and sobbing families still hasn’t seemed to have much of an impact on those American legislators who have been bought and sold by the ever-declining NRA. 7,000 pairs of empty shoes to memorialize the 7,000 children killed by gun violence since the Sandy Hook school shooting Please, do find the time to watch it through till the end … then watch it again, and look a little closer. x x YouTube Video Next, head over to Sandy Hook Promise and see if you saw the warning signs sprinkled throughout the video. I certainly didn’t catch them all. Please share this video widely, and keeping the following facts in mind. Most mass shootings are planned for 6 months to a year. In almost every documented case, warning signs were given off that were not understood, were not acted upon quickly or was not shared with someone who could help In 4 out of 5 school shootings, at least one other person had knowledge of the attacker's plan but failed to report it 70% of people who commit suicide tell someone their plans or give some other type of warning signs Sandy Hook Promise was founded in 2014 to educate people about these red flags, so that these tragedies, and other deadly acts of gun violence, like suicide, can be stopped before they happen. SHP co-founder Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan would be 12 today if he hadn’t been murdered, says she looks forward to a day when we no longer need the work of organizations like Sandy Hook Promise. “Honestly, I want to put my organization out of business,” she said. “I don’t want us to exist because I don’t want to have this need anymore.” Sadly, Hockley’s wish doesn’t seem likely to be coming true any time soon. According to a recent study from the Department of Homeland Defense and Security, 2018 marks the worst year for school shootings in recorded history.
As the news dropped this week that the NRA’s favorite Russian gun lady Maria Butina had pled guilty to being a Russian spy, everyone around the internets responded with a collective feeling of “We told you so.” Butina plead to conspiring with Russian officials to infiltrate Republican political circles by way of Second Amendment patriotic organization, the NRA. The irony, of course, has been lost on no one, but the sweetness of an organization like the NRA receiving this cosmic-level of comeuppance is most exquisitely experienced by reading gun control advocate David Hogg, who survived the Stoneman Douglas mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. xThoughts and prayers to the NRAs PR team pic.twitter.com/jC7ckgYnRN— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) December 13, 2018 I’ll just leave that right there.
Rosa Gutiérrez Lopez, a mom of three U.S. citizens including a boy with Down Syndrome, has become the first undocumented immigrant to publicly go into sanctuary in the Washington, D.C. area, following immigration officials ordering her to leave the country for her native El Salvador by Dec. 10. “I don’t know how long I will be here,” she said about her new home inside Cedar Lane Unitarian, “but I feel protected here.” Gutiérrez Lopez shouldn’t be a priority for deportation in the first place. Since 2014, she’s had a work permit issued to her by the U.S. that allowed her to work legally, so long as she continued checking in regularly with immigration officials. As someone with familial ties and no criminal record, she’d been considered low-priority for deportation. That changed following Donald Trump’s inauguration. “Suddenly,” Think Progress reports, “she had to come in twice a month and wear an ankle monitor at all times. Earlier this fall, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began encouraging her to self-deport, and warning her that if she didn’t do it herself they’d come for her themselves soon enough.” When she got a deportation date, her attorney appealed to a judge, but her case is still pending. With three young kids and one who requires specialized therapies, she went to DMV Sanctuary Congregation Network for help. “We don’t see why she is a priority for deportation,” said Faith In Action’s Richard Morales, who helped coordinate with Cedar Lane Unitarian. “There is no reason to separate this woman from her children.” For now, Gutiérrez Lopez will try to call Cedar Lane Unitarian home—she “plans to work for her keep by working and cleaning in the church”—and her children will be able to visit her on weekends. On weekdays, they’ll continue their education and medical treatments, which is so much of the reason why she’s fighting to stay here in the first place. “This is the way we live into our values and convictions,” said Cedar Lane Unitarian’s Rev. Abhi Janamanchi. The church held a celebration earlier this week to welcome Gutiérrez Lopez, and laid hands on her in prayer. “We are engaging in faithful resistance to unjust laws and inhumane practices.”
It’s another Saturday, so for those who tune in, welcome to a Saturday diary of Nuts & Bolts of a Democratic Campaign. If you’ve missed out, you can catch up anytime: Just visit our group or follow Nuts & Bolts Guide. I get a lot of questions, sometimes on Twitter, sometimes in comments, sometimes via email, about campaigns. Some of them have become entries in this series, and some of them have brought up subjects that led me to call others who work in campaigns to get their thoughts. Not all of them, though, are subjects that require long, detailed responses that would really make an entry all on their own. They are good questions, sure, but they don’t need the kind of answers that fill out a full weekly entry. This week, as we really wrap up the year, I’m going to go into the quick questions I’ve been asked this year.
Trump’s formula for his unfortunate electoral victory in 2016 relied heavily on persuading voters in the so-called “heartland” that their economic decline was due not to any fault of corporate, late-stage capitalism, but that their jobs were being “stolen” by people with darker skin than themselves. By scapegoating Latinos in particular, and by employing familiar Republican stereotypes against African-Americans, Trump succeeded in eking out the win against a polarizing female Democratic candidate by mobilizing rural “working class’” Americans, mostly white and male, to vote for him out of a sense of race-based grievance. In an article for the New York Times, Thomas Edsall shows how Trump and the Republicans almost immediately betrayed that rural voting base with their massive tax giveaway to corporations in 2017, by creating a tax incentive bonanza that encouraged and accelerated the pace of automation and the implementation of robots, now displacing thousands of relatively low-skilled workers in largely Trump-voting areas of the country. Another article by Eduardo Porter (also written this week for the Times) highlights the root causes behind the seemingly intractable problem of rural poverty in this country, and offers some clues on how Democrats might reclaim many of those rural voters without compromising values on issues of racial inclusion and equality. If for nothing else, last month’s elections were remarkable for the fact that virtually no Republicans highlighted their singular legislative achievement, a massive tax giveaway to corporate America. One obvious reason for that is that few Americans making less than mid-six figure incomes saw any benefit to themselves from this tax cut. But the other reason was even more damning, if less noticeable: buried in this gargantuan payoff to reward the CEO donors in boardrooms who supported their campaigns, Republicans deliberately provided a huge incentive for corporations to eliminate the very jobs that their rural base needed to survive. Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut has increased incentives to replace workers with robots, contradicting his campaign promise to restore well-paying manufacturing jobs in the nation’s heartland. The Trump tax bill permits “U.S. corporations to expense their capital investment, through 2022. So, if a U.S. corporation buys a robot for $100 thousand, it can deduct the $100 thousand immediately to calculate its U.S. taxable income, rather than recover the $100 thousand over the life of the robot, as under prior law,” Steven M. Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and a specialist in tax policy, wrote me by email. The sheer appeal to corporations of an immediate tax deduction through investments in automation cannot be understated. The biggest liability corporations face is the high cost of paying their workers. But robots do not need health benefits and “sick time”—they need only to be programmed and oiled on occasion. They do not require wage increases, because they do not require any wages to begin with. So a tax incentive to automate was immediately hailed by corporate America as a win-win. And the impact has, for the most part, fallen upon those industries that typically employ the same type of non-college educated, usually male, workers (semi-skilled assemblers, machinists, material handlers, welders) who voted, in droves, for Donald Trump. Edsall quotes Jeffrey Sachs, a professor of economics at Columbia University: The demographic group most hindered by the rise of automation, Sachs wrote, “has been the proverbial white male with less than a college degree and living in rural and semirural areas.” Sachs believes that [T]he next wave of job losses will be in basic business services (wholesale and retail trade, warehousing and transport) which will mean another hit for workers with relatively lower educational attainment. Edsall also cites and quotes extensively a recent study out of MIT, which shows the Trump-voting swathes of the South and Midwest have a far higher concentration of robot-dependent industries than other areas of the country. But the Trump tax cut did more than just drive the automated replacement of workers in Trump country—it encouraged industries to move out of the country altogether. The 2017 Trump tax cut not only boosted incentives for corporations to replace workers with robots, it has also created incentives for American companies to move production overseas, even as it directed resources toward “opportunity zones” in what the Trump administration defines as “neglected and underserved communities” — incidentally providing a bounty of lucrative grants, guarantees and breaks for real estate developers. Many in the Democratic Party, frankly, feel like these voters in Trump country are getting exactly what they deserve for supporting Trump and his cast of enabling charlatans in the GOP. And there is undoubtedly some appeal in schadenfreude, that sense of pleasure that people derive from others’ misfortune, particularly if it is viewed as deserved. But the racism that drove Trump voters to the polls didn’t grow in a vacuum. It was packaged, stoked and fed to them as an easy opportunity to assign blame to what they felt was a real problem: the plain fact that American business industries are not offering livable jobs in rural areas any more. I was in Fayette County, Pennsylvania this week. This is a county about an hour south of Pittsburgh, bordering West Virginia. The collapse of the steel industry turned the region into an economic basket case several decades ago. Today the people who live and work there are largely employed in low-paying service or retail industries, at places like Applebee’s or Walmart, or desperately trying to land a few jobs with a number of fracking companies that are sucking every drop of natural gas out of the land. Everyone seems to know someone who has overdosed and died from opioids. There is no economic recovery going on in Fayette County right now. It is white, semi-rural, and unabashedly Trump-supporting, just like a thousand other forgotten places in this country. Which brings us back to Eduardo Porter’s piece., which takes a hard, cold look at the prospect of reclaiming a decent standard of living for the 60 million or so Americans who live in backwaters like Fayette County, Pennsylvania. For the last 25 years, these areas have seen nothing but economic and population decline. Rural America is getting old. The median age is 43, seven years older than city dwellers. Its productivity, defined as output per worker, is lower than urban America’s. Its families have lower incomes. And its share of the population is shrinking: the United States has grown by 75 million people since 1990, but this has mostly occurred in cities and suburbs. Rural areas have lost some 3 million people. Since the 1990s, problems such as crime and opioid abuse, once associated with urban areas, are increasingly rural phenomena. While there have been many solutions suggested as ways to rejuvenate these areas, none of them seem to have taken hold. That is primarily because of a now wholly globalized, Hobbesian economy, and remarkable, if unsettling, leaps in worker-replacement technology and artificial intelligence. Robots and workers in China put together most of the manufactured goods that Americans buy, and the high-tech industries powering the economy today don’t have much need for the cheap labor that rural communities contributed to America’s industrial past. They mostly need highly educated workers. They find those most easily in big cities, not in small towns. Even the people recommending a revolution in rural investment suggest targeting areas that lie near major cities (“big tech hubs”), because those are the areas with the existing infrastructure to support such efforts; more importantly, those are the areas where highly-skilled workers are likely to be found. There’s a reason, for example, that Amazon just decided to build a new campus in Austin, Texas, rather than even a medium-sized city in the state. This is the inescapable reality of agglomeration, one of the most powerful forces shaping the American economy over the last three decades. Innovative companies choose to locate where other successful, innovative companies are. That’s where they can find lots of highly skilled workers. The more densely packed these pools of talent are, the more workers can learn from each other and the more productive they become. This dynamic feeds on itself, drawing more high-tech firms and highly skilled workers to where they already are. And if medium-sized cities can’t compete for such job-creating industries, what chance is there for rural areas? The brutal conclusion for Porter is: not a lot. So what to do? Rather than do nothing, and let the people in these regions wither away (because most people living there can’t afford to leave), Porter suggests that we undertake some efforts geared to encourage relocation of people to where the jobs are. That would necessitate lowering the cost of living in some of the places that are thriving, most significantly, for housing. Revision of zoning rules to permit more affordable housing in and around places like New York, San Francisco, and other major cities is one of his suggestions. Implementing a national strategy to revitalize rural communities would seem to be another. Assisting people in obtaining an education is an obvious one. Making a combination of all these approaches a national priority is a natural fit for Democratic policy-making. In particular, a strategy of bringing people to the areas where these jobs are would appear to benefit the long-term fortunes of Democrats, as cities also promote inclusion and diversity. People are just less inclined to hate and fear something or someone they encounter and work with every day. There is no easy solution to the problems faced by rural America. But the failure of Trump and the Republicans to do anything but enrich themselves—and their donor base—with perversely counterproductive tax cuts provides Democrats with an enormous and inviting opportunity to make inroads with these potential voters, without compromising our values. Because, when it comes down to it, everyone wants a good place to work.
Spidey's co-creator offers some advice from beyond the grave.
Cyber attackers will use more sophisticated tools in 2019 to take advantage of the changing technology landscape and prey upon evolving corporate technology environments especially Cloud, cyber security firm Trend Micro has said.
If the vote of no confidence passed, most Marshallese expected the opposing senators to repeal the cryptocurrency law
High-end cars, watches, planes, clothes prices have all gone through the roof, and now the high-end audio market is ready for the $250,000 Dan D’Agostino Relentless amplifier.
The company said the contract was terminated due to «alleged slow progress».
Years after becoming one of the go-to destinations for iOS jailbreaks, Cydia’s app store is disabling purchases. Users will be able to access existing downloads through the store and access purchases via third-parties, but beginning this week, they’ll no longer be able to buy apps through the store. Founder Jay “Saurik “ Freeman revealed the […]
Neuroscientists have used data from the human brain connectome -- a publicly available 'wiring diagram' of the human brain based on data from thousands of healthy human volunteers -- to reassess the findings from neuroimaging studies of patients with Alzheimer's disease.
A cheap and effective new catalyst can generate hydrogen fuel from water just as efficiently as platinum, currently the best -- but also most expensive -- water-splitting catalyst out there.The catalyst, which is composed of nanometer-thin sheets of metal carbide, is manufactured using a self-assembly process that relies on a surprising ingredient: gelatin, the material that gives Jell-O its jiggle.
It feels like there’s a WeWork on every street nowadays. Take a walk through midtown Manhattan (please don’t actually) and it might even seem like there are more WeWorks than office buildings. Consider this an ongoing discussion about Urban Tech, its intersection with regulation, issues of public service, and other complexities that people have full […]
For three years, Tony Hawk has been conspicuously absent from the video store shelves. For most game developers, that’s little more than a blip between titles. When your name and face are attached to 16 titles in 15 years, however, everyone starts to notice when you’re gone. “It’s usually the first topic of discussion with […]
On the heels of a dire government report published last month about climate change and its devastating impacts, many cities and states are scrambling to find ways to curb the greenhouse gas emissions that threaten their air quality, not to mention their economies. As is often the case, California is leading the charge, yesterday becoming […]
NEW YORK (AP) - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an unlikely national rock star. But «The Notorious RBG» is now the subject of a second film about her this year. On Saturday evening, the 85-year-old Brooklyn native appeared in person, expressing love for her hometown of New ...
MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (AP) - The Francis Marion National Forest in South Carolina has grown by a few hundred acres. The Post and Courier reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently finalized its long-planned purchase of the 637-acre (257hectares 7847.5) Honey Hill Tract off S.C. Highway 45 for $1.61 million. ...
Netflix will be ringing in the new year in style, with blockbuster movies (Solo: A Star Wars Story and The Incredibles 2) and binge-worthy original television shows (season 2 of Friends from College, […] The post Here’s Everything Coming to Netflix in January 2019 appeared first on Geek.com.
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Gov. Phil Murphy has signed into law a bill to bar circuses, carnivals and fairs from using wild and exotic animals such as elephants and tigers. The measure signed Friday makes it illegal to use such animals in traveling acts such as carnivals, circuses, fairs, parades ...
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) - Select roads in Yellowstone National Park have opened to the public for motorized oversnow travel. Visitors on Saturday morning were able to travel the park's interior roads on commercially-guided snowmobiles and snowcoaches from the West and South Entrances. Visitors who have proper permits can ...
Tired of losing your favorite games? Maybe you want to strengthen your puzzle-solving acumen. Well, this new Humble Book Bundle by Wiley packs in loads of great information and practice in a set […] The post Geek Deals: Improve Your Chess, Poker, and D&D Game with Humble Bundle appeared first on Geek.com.
The Florida Panthers edged the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime 4-3 after Aleksander Barkov scored his first career hat trick.
Dunn, Markkanen rally Bulls late to beat Spurs, 98-93
Columbus had a 37-22 shot advantage, but could only get one past Anaheim goalie John Gibson
Ryan Johansen got the winning goal in the sixth round of the shootout to lift the Nashville Predators to a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils
Payton Pritchard had 19 points and five assists as Oregon overcame the absence of freshman star Bol Bol to race past Boise State 66-54
Since being drafted with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller has been one of the best players in franchise history. He added to his historic resume on Saturday with a record-breaking sack in the fourth quarter. At the start of the first quarter with Denver in need of a stop on third down, its star pass rusher shined as he almost always does. Miller came free up the middle on a stunt and brought down Mayfield for the 98th sack in his career. #BroncosCountry : #CLEvsDEN on @nflnetwork WATCH: https://t.co/dD7nbXb1fP pic.twitter.com/JvdemsoXdR — NFL (@NFL) December 16, 2018 Miller’s huge sack not only provided momentum for Denver, it also helped him pass linebacker Simon Fletcher for Denver’s all-time record of 97.5 sacks. Once the record was his, the Broncos released a statement on behalf of Fletcher congratulating Miller for his new record. It’s been a treat for football fans to watch Miller throughout his NFL career. He is only 29, so it’s safe to say mor