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5 things everyone should know about the Trump economy | LIBERAL.GUIDE

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President Donald Trump will give his first official State of the Union address Tuesday night.

And he will, no doubt, tout what he’s seen as one of his biggest accomplishments since he took office: the economy.

“The president is going to talk about how America’s back,” said White House legislative director Marc Short in a call to reporters previewing the president’s remarks.

During Trump’s first maiden appearance at the World Economic Forum at Davos, the president laid out the country is strong economically, and it all has to do with his first year in office.

“After years stagnation the nights is once again experiencing strong economic growth. The stock market is smashing one record after another, and has added more than $7 trillion in new wealth since my election,” Trump said. “Since my election we’ve created 2.4 million jobs and that number is going up very, very substantially […] The world is witnessing the resurgence of a strong and prosperous America.”

From corporate tax bill bonuses to black unemployment, here is what you need to know about the economy before Trump gives his first State of the Union address.

Job growth was slower in 2017 than every year since 2010

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised he’d be the “greatest jobs president God ever created.”  In a tweet last week he claimed his administration’s massive corporate tax cut has created, and will continue to create, “jobs, jobs, jobs!” for Americans.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017 saw 2.06 million jobs created, making the most sluggish job growth in America since Obama’s first term, when the economy was pulling out of the Great Recession.

(Credit: Diana Ofosu)
(Credit: Diana Ofosu)

The anemic job numbers are also an indicator that Trump is misguided in his belief that gutting regulations actually creates jobs.

Corporations are spending less than 1 percent of their tax cut on bonuses

The White House and President Trump have made a big to-do out of the GOP tax bill starting a wave of corporate tax cut bonuses.

Big banks and corporations like AT&T, Comcast, Wal-Mart, and Wells Fargo have announced their plans to deliver bonuses to non-executive employees in light of a massive tax cut courtesy of the GOP tax bill.

Under the new tax law, corporations will be taxed at a rate of 21 percent instead of 35 percent.

But there is more than meets the eye beyond the flashy headlines.

While the bonuses sound impressive, they’re table scraps compared to the total cost of the corporate tax cut. A ThinkProgress analysis of a report from the conservative Americans For Tax Reform group found the bonuses total roughly .1 percent of the trillion dollar corporate tax cut.

Credit: Adam Peck
Credit: Adam Peck

Some corporations, like AT&T and Boeing possibly have sinister motivations for giving out bonuses. Boeing relies on government contracts for much of its business, while AT&T is in pursuit of acquiring Time Warner, a merger which the Justice Department is suing to block. Trump, who previously described the merger as “not good for the country,” received the AT&T news about bonuses before speaking at a White House even celebrating the legislative victory.

AT&T, however, is also in the process of laying off thousands of employees, according to the Communication Workers of America (CWA) union, which represents AT&T workers. CWA filed a lawsuit against the company claiming that some of those layoffs are needless, and that the timing of the terminations — just two weeks before Christmas — represents “an extraordinary act of corporate cruelty.”

Comcast similarly laid off 500 employees before Christmas as well, shortly after promising $1,000 bonuses to 100,000 employees.

GDP growth was lower in 2017 than two of the previous three years

In a speech in front of America’s mayors last week, Trump predicted the final growth quarter would hit around 3 percent, and would only grow from there.

“You take a look at your GDP then and take a look at what’s happened now,” he started. “We’ll have three quarters in a row over 3. We had 3.2, and a lot of people thought it would take two or three years to get there. And we’re going to be hitting 4 soon, and then we’re going to be hitting 5s.”

The fourth quarter GDP growth numbers for 2017 were the final, definitive test as to whether the first year of the Trump presidency produced an economic boom — or “Trump Boom” as Fox News and the conservative Daily Wire describe it. Coming in at just 2.3 percent, the result, while better than the previous year, is lower than two of the previous three years. The United States GDP was 2.6 in 2014, 2.9 percent in 2015, before dipping to 1.5 percent last year.

Black unemployment fell at a slower rate in 2017 than the previous four years

Whenever Trump is questioned about he treats communities of color, he is quick to fall back on one statistic: the black unemployment rate.

During a CNN interview Saturday Night, Van Jones asked musician Jay-Z if it was okay  “to say terrible things but put money in our pockets.”  Jay-Z replied no,”because it’s not about money at the end of the day. Money doesn’t equate to happiness. It doesn’t. That’s missing the whole point. You treat people like human beings. That’s the main point [..] It goes back to the whole thing — ‘treat me really bad and pay me well.’ It’s not going to lead to happiness, it’s going to lead to, again, the same thing. Everyone’s going to be sick.”

Trump responded to Jay-Z via Twitter Sunday morning, again, citing black unemployment numbers.

But President Trump had little to do with this statistic.

As Washington Post reporter Philip Bump noted recently, Trump is taking credit for something he had no part in:

It’s not as if black unemployment was 18 percent under Barack Obama and, as soon as Trump took office, it plummeted. Black unemployment fell fairly consistently from 2010 on, as did the rates for whites and Hispanics.

From January to December 2017, the unemployment rate among black Americans fell 1 percentage point. During the same period in 2016, it fell the same amount. In 2015, it fell 1.9 points. The previous year, it fell 1.5 points. The year before that, it fell 1.8 points

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for whites is 3.7 percent, almost half the 6.8 percent for black Americans. If Trump truly cared about the economic well-being of black Americans, he would notice the double-difference disparity is a “historic fixture of racial discrimination at play in our national economy,” as ThinkProgress’ Sam Fullwood put it.

The stock market is soaring but wages are stagnant

While the soaring stock market has captured the attention of Trump’s Twitter feed, there is little conversation surrounding wages.

Despite the stock market numbers and low unemployment rate, average hourly earnings grew by only 0.4 percent in 2017, a step backward from 1.8 percent in 2015 and 0.8 percent in 2016.

And for rank-and-file workers the numbers are even more dismal. The average hourly wage of production and non-supervisory workers was $22.30, growing just 4 cents, or 0.17 percent from December of 2016.

Minimum wage workers, meanwhile, have continued to see the federal minimum wage remain at a paltry $7.25 — where it has remained since 2009.


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Author: Rebekah Entralg

Trump Launched Campaign to Discredit Potential FBI Witnesses | LIBERAL.GUIDE

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President Donald Trump pressed senior aides last June to devise and carry out a campaign to discredit senior FBI officials after learning that those specific employees were likely to be witnesses against him as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to two people directly familiar with the matter.

In testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, recently fired FBI Director James Comey disclosed that he spoke contemporaneously with other senior bureau officials about potentially improper efforts by the president to curtail the FBI’s investigation of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s efforts constituted obstruction of justice.

Not long after Comey’s Senate testimony, Trump hired John Dowd, a veteran criminal defense attorney, to represent him in matters related to Mueller’s investigation. Dowd warned Trump that the potential corroborative testimony of the senior FBI officials in Comey’s account would likely play a central role in the special counsel’s final conclusion, according to people familiar with the matter.

In discussions with at least two senior White House officials, Trump repeated what Dowd had told him to emphasize why he and his supporters had to “fight back harder,” in the words of one of these officials.

In a brief conversation Friday afternoon, Dowd denied the accounts of administration officials contained in this story as “flat-out wrong,” but he also refused to discuss what details were incorrect. “My advice to the president is confidential,” he told Foreign Policy.

“You don’t know me,” Dowd added. “You don’t how I lawyer, and you don’t know what I communicated to the president and what I did not.”

While Dowd’s private advice to the president would ordinarily be protected by attorney-client privilege, Mueller might be able to probe comments that Trump made to others about that legal advice by asking him directly about it as well as anyone else he shared that advice with.

A person with direct knowledge of the matter said although Dowd explained the risks of senior FBI officials joining Comey in testifying against Trump, that information was part of a broader presentation to the president about Mueller’s investigation. It is not improper, but in fact is a duty, for an attorney to explain to a client how they are at risk, the source said. What may have been improper, however, were actions Trump took upon learning that information.

Since Dowd gave him that information, Trump — as well as his aides, surrogates, and some Republican members of Congress — has engaged in an unprecedented campaign to discredit specific senior bureau officials and the FBI as an institution.

The FBI officials Trump has targeted are Andrew McCabe, the current deputy FBI director and who was briefly acting FBI director after Comey’s firing; Jim Rybicki, Comey’s chief of staff and senior counselor; and James Baker, formerly the FBI’s general counsel. Those same three officials were first identified as possible corroborating witnesses for Comey in a June 7 article in Vox. Comey confirmed in congressional testimony the following day that he confided in the three men.

In the past, presidents have attacked special counsels and prosecutors who have investigated them, calling them partisan and unfair. But no previous president has attacked a long-standing American institution such as the FBI — or specific FBI agents and law enforcement officials.

Mueller has asked senior members of the administration questions in recent months indicating that prosecutors might consider Trump’s actions also to be an effort to intimidate government officials — in this case FBI officials — from testifying against him.

The New York Times reported late Thursday that Trump also ordered the firing of Mueller last June. Trump reportedly changed his mind after White House counsel Donald McGahn threatened to resign and two of the president’s highest-ranking aides told him that it would have devastating effects on his presidency.

Press reports at the time said there were indications that Mueller was already investigating Trump for obstruction of justice, even though he was only recently appointed.

Obstruction of justice cases depend largely on whether a prosecutor can demonstrate the intent or motivation of the person he or she charges. It’s not enough to prove that the person under investigation attempted to impede an ongoing criminal investigation — a prosecutor must demonstrate some corrupt purpose in doing so.

That Trump may have been motivated to attack specific FBI officials because they were potential witnesses against him could demonstrate potential intent that would bolster an obstruction of justice case. 

The White House declined comment for this story, but a White House spokesman, Raj Shah, responded to recent reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had pressured FBI Director Christopher Wray to remove McCabe as deputy director. Having the attorney general pressure the FBI director to remove his deputy would be an unprecedented act in modern U.S. political history.

“The president has enormous respect for the thousands of rank-and-file FBI agents who make up the world’s most professional and talented law enforcement agency,” Shah said. “He believes politically motivated senior leaders, including former Director Comey and others he empowered, have tainted the agency’s reputation for unbiased pursuit of justice.’’

In June, Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that Trump had pressured him during a private Oval Office meeting in February to shut down a criminal investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Comey refused to do so, and Trump fired him on May 9.

Comey confirmed during his testimony that he discussed these events on a regular basis with the “senior leadership team” of the FBI — which he identified as his deputy director, chief of staff, and the general counsel — and then named two other senior FBI officials who attended meetings about Trump’s attempts to influence the FBI’s Russia investigation on a number of occasions.

Since Comey’s testimony, Trump and his political supporters have personally targeted all three FBI officials.

Rybicki has been the frequent target of Republican attacks in recent months. This week, Wray announced that Rybicki, who had continued as chief of staff under the new director, was resigning.

Trump also mentioned Baker, who was recently replaced as the FBI’s top lawyer, following allegations that he had served as a source for a reporter. “Wow, ‘FBI lawyer James Baker reassigned,’ according to @FoxNews,” Trump tweeted on Dec. 23.

McCabe, at the time Comey identified him as a corroborating witness, was acting director of the FBI. McCabe became interim director when Comey was fired and then went back to being deputy director after Wray was named as the new FBI director.

As acting FBI director — and later returning as deputy director — McCabe could potentially be, next to Comey, the most damaging FBI witness against Trump in Mueller’s investigation.

Trump has singled out McCabe for his most aggressive attacks.

On July 26, Trump tweeted that Sessions should fire McCabe: “Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got … big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!”

Trump was making reference to the fact that McCabe’s wife — Jill McCabe — had run for the Virginia State Senate and received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the Virginia Democratic Party, as well as from a political action committee associated with then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close political ally of the Clintons.

Jill McCabe received no money directly from Hillary Clinton.

Andrew McCabe helped oversee the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server. FBI ethics officials cleared McCabe’s involvement in the case, which occurred long after his wife’s political campaign was over.

After it was reported that McCabe planned to retire later this year, Trump tweeted: “FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!”


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Author: Murray Waas

President Trump is Right – US Markets Up Nearly 50% (44%) Since 2016 Election! | CENSORED.TODAY

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President Trump is Right – US Markets Up Nearly 50% (44%) Since 2016 Election!

Guest post by Joe Hoft

President Trump gave a speech today at Devos to world government, academic and business leaders at the World Economic Forum. He stated in his speech that the US stock markets are up due to his policies and programs where the markets would be down by the opposite amount had Hillary won!

President Trump is right. He stated that US markets are up by nearly 50% since his election.  (The Dow is up 44% since the 2016 election as of yesterday.)  He also stated that the markets have hit 84 all time highs since the election.  He actually understated the correct amount.  As of yesterday, with the Dow reaching another all time high, the Dow reached its 98th all time high since the election.

President Trump’s stock markets hit many records in his first year in office as noted in many previous posts here at TGP.  The stock market on Wednesday, January 17th, 2018, says it all. On that day the Dow broke 26,000 points for the first time in its history.  As a result the Dow broke the record for the fastest 500, 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 and 7,000 point increases between major milestones in the history of the Dow.  All of these increases occurred since Donald Trump was elected President.  Yesterday the Dow landed at 26,392.

The President also stated in a question and answer period that he believes that if Hillary Clinton would have won the Presidency that the markets would be down nearly 50% because of the business suffocating policies of the Obama Administration that the Hillary team was sure to continue.

Next month Americans will receive more money in their checks due to lower taxes from the Trump Tax Cut law just passed. As time goes by, Americans will see more and more the blessing that President Trump won the 2016 election.


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Trump lands in Switzerland without Melania to defend ‘America First’ | CENSORED.TODAY

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  • President Donald Trump has arrived to Switzerland to participate in the Davos economic conference 
  • Members of his cabinet arrived in advance and joined in panels and interviews 
  • He will push his ‘America First’ agenda and seek more fair, reciprocal trade between the US and its allies
  • ‘America first is not America alone,’ said White House senior economic adviser Gary Cohn
  • Trump met the British Prime Minister Theresa May after canceling a visit to the UK earlier this month
  • The president and Prime Minster shook hands after reaffirming the ‘Special Relationship’ between the nations
  • Trump said that he would ‘fight’ for Britain and said that any rumors of a fracture in relations were false 
  • Met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who thanked Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as capital
  • He will also attend a reception the White House has said will be held in his honor and meets with CEOs
  • Trump said before departing that he was ‘looking forward’ to speaking to special counsel Robert Mueller
  • Trump, never invited as a businessman, will be the first president to attend Davos since Bill Clinton in 2000

Geoff Earle, Deputy U.s. Political Editor For Dailymail.com In Davos, Switzerland

and
Chris Pleasance for MailOnline

and
Reuters

President Donald Trump landed Thursday in Switzerland, where his outsized personality and determination to push an ‘America First’ agenda is already upending the annual Davos conference. 

To an extent, the annual confab of billionaires and CEOs was already centering around Trump even before Air Force One touched down in Zurich, then flew aboard Marine One to Davos in the Swiss Alps. 

Trump waved to a bank of cameras when he arrived, before being immediately whisked away to the annual gathering of heads of state and business leaders where he will have a one-on-one meeting with Theresa May. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel took on isolationism and protectionism in her remarks here Wednesday, while French President Emmanuel Macron took a dig at Trump over global warming. 

Trump’s advisors have forecast that he will give a full-throated defense of his ‘America First’ policies in a Friday speech, at a time when the conference is wrapping up. 

The president was not accompanied by his wife Melania, who pulled out of the trip at short notice following allegations that he had an affair with a porn star. 

President Donald Trump opens up his arms as he arrives at the Congress Center during the 48th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland

Trump is due to have meetings with British Prime Minister Theresa May and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the conference 

Trump is due to have meetings with British Prime Minister Theresa May and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the conference 

Trump is due to have meetings with British Prime Minister Theresa May and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the conference 

Trump flew to the town of Davos by helicopter from Zurich, where he arrived Thursday morning after flying overnight from Washington

The world’s political and business elite headed on January 25 into a compelling encounter with President Donald Trump as the United States bids to carve out a competitive edge in trade, taxes and currency rates

President Donald Trump landed Thursday in Switzerland, where his 'America First' agenda is already upending Davos

President Donald Trump landed Thursday in Switzerland, where his 'America First' agenda is already upending Davos

President Donald Trump landed Thursday in Switzerland, where his ‘America First’ agenda is already upending Davos

President Trump's helicopter touching down in Davos

President Trump's helicopter touching down in Davos

President Trump leaving his Marine One helicopter in Davos

President Trump leaving his Marine One helicopter in Davos

The President’s ‘Marine One’ helicopter touched down at Davos after taking him to the ski resort from Zurich airport 

The president arrives at the conference in Switzerland after landing earlier in the day for the World Economic Forum 

The president arrives at the conference in Switzerland after landing earlier in the day for the World Economic Forum 

The president arrives at the conference in Switzerland after landing earlier in the day for the World Economic Forum 

The president was not accompanied by his wife Melania, who pulled out of the trip at short notice following allegations that he had an affair with a porn star.

The president was not accompanied by his wife Melania, who pulled out of the trip at short notice following allegations that he had an affair with a porn star.

The president was not accompanied by his wife Melania, who pulled out of the trip at short notice following allegations that he had an affair with a porn star.

Marine One carrying US President Donald Trump lands at the heliport during Trump's arrival at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum

Marine One carrying US President Donald Trump lands at the heliport during Trump's arrival at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum

Marine One carrying US President Donald Trump lands at the heliport during Trump’s arrival at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum

Marine One carrying US President Donald Trump lands at the heliport prior to the economic conference in Davos 

The president's motorcade then made its way through the streets of the town after his helicopter touched down

The president's motorcade then made its way through the streets of the town after his helicopter touched down

The president’s motorcade then made its way through the streets of the town after his helicopter touched down

Security was stepped up 

Security was stepped up 

A squadron of helicopters swooped out of a red morning sky and into Zurich airport on Thursday morning ahead of the arrival of President Trump, who was due to stop there before moving on to Davos 

He’s also planning to hobnob with other world leaders at a reception the White House said is being held in his honor. He’ll also court European business leaders to try to persuade them to invest in the U.S. 

But it was Trump’s unexpected comments about Robert Mueller’s Russia probe that made headlines as he took off for Europe. 

‘I’m looking forward to it, actually,’ Trump, told reporters in a surprise press availability in the White House. ‘I would do it under oath,’ he said.

President Donald Trump is trying to dispel the perception that he and British Prime Minister Theresa May don’t get along

President Donald Trump is trying to dispel the perception that he and British Prime Minister Theresa May don’t get along

President Donald Trump is trying to dispel the perception that he and British Prime Minister Theresa May don’t get along

No hard feelings: U.S. President Donald Trump shake hands with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May during the World Economic Forum

No hard feelings: U.S. President Donald Trump shake hands with Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May during the World Economic Forum

No hard feelings: U.S. President Donald Trump shake hands with Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May during the World Economic Forum

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos

Trump’s posture – wary of global pacts to fight climate change and blasting global trade deals as a ‘ripoff’ to the U.S. – as adverse to some of the overall sentiment at an event that brings celebrities, U.S. politicians and operatives from both parties, and leaders from around the world together.

The theme of the 2018 conference is ‘Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.’ 

First Lady Melania Trump did not accompany her husband on the trip. Her office cited logistical issues, and Trump did not announce his own intention to visit until weeks before the event began, leaving staff scrambling to find accommodations for the president’s retinue.

Other than a trip to Mar-a-Lago, the first lady has not been seen with the president since a Wall Street Journal report that Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen paid $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels just weeks before the 2016 campaign as part of a nondisclosure agreement. Daniels said in previous interviews that have since been published that she had a sexual affair with the president – something Trump denies.

Trump's advisors have forecast that he will give a full-throated defense of his 'America First' policies in a Friday speech, at a time when the conference is wrapping up 

Trump's advisors have forecast that he will give a full-throated defense of his 'America First' policies in a Friday speech, at a time when the conference is wrapping up 

Trump’s advisors have forecast that he will give a full-throated defense of his ‘America First’ policies in a Friday speech, at a time when the conference is wrapping up 

Trump is also planning to hobnob with other world leaders at a reception the White House said is being held in his honor

Trump is also planning to hobnob with other world leaders at a reception the White House said is being held in his honor

Trump is also planning to hobnob with other world leaders at a reception the White House said is being held in his honor

Macron, who is getting a state visit to the U.S. in a high honor, rapped Trump in his opening remarks here.

‘When you arrive here and see the snow, it could be hard to believe in global warming,’ he joked. ‘Obviously you don’t invite anyone skeptical about global warming this year.’

Trump previewed how he would herald the U.S. in a tweet shortly before he took off.

‘Will soon be heading to Davos, Switzerland, to tell the world how great America is and is doing. Our economy is now booming and with all I am doing, will only get better…Our country is finally WINNING again!’ he wrote. 

Trump’s Commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, has warned new U.S. trade actions could be coming.

But Alibaba CEO Jack Ma warned here: ‘Don’t use trade as a weapon.’ He added: ‘It’s so easy to launch a trade war, but it’s so difficult to stop the disaster of this war.’

Security at the secretive mountain resort of Davos was ramped up on Thursday morning ahead of the arrival of President Trump.

A tight operation was also in place in Zurich, where the President was due to stop briefly before being ferried to Davos, with heavily armoured police vehicles guarding the tarmac.

Helicopters swooped low out of a red morning sky like a scene from Vietnam war film Apocalypse Now ahead of the President’s arrival.

Trump boarded Marine One out of Washington on Wednesday evening and was expected to arrive in Zurich by mid-morning Thursday, before being ferried to Davos. 

Air Force One touches down at Zurich airport, from where President Trump boarded a helicopter to Davos

Air Force One touches down at Zurich airport, from where President Trump boarded a helicopter to Davos

Air Force One touches down at Zurich airport, from where President Trump boarded a helicopter to Davos

A heavily armoured police vehicle sits on the tarmac at Zurich awaiting the arrival of President Trump on board Marine One

A heavily armoured police vehicle sits on the tarmac at Zurich awaiting the arrival of President Trump on board Marine One

A heavily armoured police vehicle sits on the tarmac at Zurich awaiting the arrival of President Trump on board Marine One

US helicopters stop to refuel at Zurich airport before escorting Trump to Davos, where he is due to spend the next two days speaking with world and business leaders

US helicopters stop to refuel at Zurich airport before escorting Trump to Davos, where he is due to spend the next two days speaking with world and business leaders

US helicopters stop to refuel at Zurich airport before escorting Trump to Davos, where he is due to spend the next two days speaking with world and business leaders

In Davos itself security was also being stepped up, with snipers positioned on rooftops around the ski resort 

In Davos itself security was also being stepped up, with snipers positioned on rooftops around the ski resort 

In Davos itself security was also being stepped up, with snipers positioned on rooftops around the ski resort 

A Swiss Army helicopter patrols the skies above Davos, where the World Economic Forum is being held this week

A Swiss Army helicopter patrols the skies above Davos, where the World Economic Forum is being held this week

A Swiss Army helicopter patrols the skies above Davos, where the World Economic Forum is being held this week

First Lady Melania Trump did not accompany her husband to Davos, due to 'scheduling and logistical issues,' according to her office

First Lady Melania Trump did not accompany her husband to Davos, due to 'scheduling and logistical issues,' according to her office

First Lady Melania Trump did not accompany her husband to Davos, due to ‘scheduling and logistical issues,’ according to her office

He will spend two days mingling among the ‘globalists’ he spent much of the 2016 election campaign trashing, before delivering a speech on Friday. 

The President is expected to push his America First agenda and seek more fair, reciprocal trade deals with allies, having bemoaned chronic trade deficits with many of them in the past. 

‘America first is not America alone,’ said White House senior economic adviser Gary Cohn, who is traveling with Trump. ‘When we grow, the world grows; when the world grows, we grow. We’re part of it, and we’re part of a world economy. And the president believes that.’ 

Trump, never invited as a businessman, will be the first U.S. president to attend Davos since Bill Clinton in 2000. 

In the run-up to his trip to Davos, Trump slapped a 30 per cent tariff on imported solar panels, among the first unilateral trade restrictions imposed by the administration as part of a broader protectionist agenda.

Then on Wednesday in Davos, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he welcomed a weakening in the dollar. Fears of protectionist trade policies by the United States had already pushed the greenback to a three-year low, and Mnuchin’s remark pushed it down further.

Trump left Washington on board Marine One on Wednesday night bound for Davos, where he promised to push his America First agenda among globalist leaders he spent the 2016 election campaign trashing

Trump left Washington on board Marine One on Wednesday night bound for Davos, where he promised to push his America First agenda among globalist leaders he spent the 2016 election campaign trashing

Trump left Washington on board Marine One on Wednesday night bound for Davos, where he promised to push his America First agenda among globalist leaders he spent the 2016 election campaign trashing

Marine One took Trump to Andrews Air Force Base where he switched to Air Force One before heading to Switzerland

Marine One took Trump to Andrews Air Force Base where he switched to Air Force One before heading to Switzerland

Marine One took Trump to Andrews Air Force Base where he switched to Air Force One before heading to Switzerland

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One for a trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One for a trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One for a trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos

Donald Trump issued this tweet before leaving for Davos on Wednesday, outlining his priorities for the summit

Donald Trump issued this tweet before leaving for Davos on Wednesday, outlining his priorities for the summit

Donald Trump issued this tweet before leaving for Davos on Wednesday, outlining his priorities for the summit

Trump will use his trip for some diplomacy. He has meetings with British Prime Minister Theresa May and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, current chairman of the African Union, and Swiss President Alain Berset on Friday.

Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East, North Korea’s nuclear challenge and the battle against Islamic State militants figured to be prominent topics of his meetings.

French President Emmanuel Macron told RTS channel that he had ‘strongly recommended’ to Trump to attend the Davos forum during a recent phone conversation they had on Iran … ‘because I think it’s a good thing for President Trump to explain his strategy for the U.S. and the world here in Davos.

‘And that he encounters some form of confrontation and dialogue,’ Macron said.

Trump will host a small dinner for European business executives on Thursday night.

There is broad concern in European capitals that 2018 could be the year Trump’s bark on trade turns into bite, as he considers punitive measures on steel and threatens to end the 90s-era North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.

Trump will appeal for increased global investment in the United States to take advantage of corporate tax cuts approved by Congress late in 2017 and Trump’s deregulatory policies.


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Nixing the Iran Deal Would Be Better Than a Fake Fix | LIBERAL.GUIDE

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President Donald Trump issued this month his final ultimatum to Congress regarding the Obama-era Iran nuclear agreement: You fix it, or I’ll nix it.

But in laying out his criteria for legislation, the president opened the door to countless loopholes that defenders of the deal might try to exploit. If Trump lets them, he’ll unknowingly share responsibility with his predecessor, President Barack Obama, for facilitating and legitimizing a nuclear-armed Iran.

The president, for example, said that any legislation “must demand that Iran allow immediate inspections at all sites requested by international inspectors.” The problem, of course, is that international inspectors have yet to request access to any Iranian military sites for fear that Iran will not comply with such requests. The condition is meaningless in that, technically, Iran is already complying with it.

The question should not be whether Iran complies with requests that never come. Congress, rather, should be asking the intelligence community to identify which Iranian military sites merit inspections and figuring out a way to force inspections at those sites. The former leaves a bad deal in place. The latter might change a fundamental flaw.

Another area of concern relates to key provisions of the nuclear deal that expire in just a few years, leaving Iran free to operate advanced centrifuges and build up an industrial-sized enrichment capability. The president says the legislation he wants from Congress must end these so-called sunsets by threatening to “automatically resume” the tough economic sanctions waived under the deal should any provision be violated, “not just for ten years, but forever.”

This sounds tough, but how Congress writes it into law will determine whether it ever actually happens. An automatic resumption of sanctions should be just that — upon receiving credible information that Iran has violated some condition of legislation, the president must reimpose all sanctions waived under the nuclear deal. But what if Congress legislates an off-ramp or two — a cooling-off period for a future Congress to reconsider whether sanctions should indeed snap back into place? Is an automatic resumption of sanctions still automatic if a future Congress can first vote to block that resumption if Iran ever crosses a red line?

Even if the issue of inspections and sunsets can be resolved, one final issue is likely to emerge above all others as a flashpoint between deal supporters and opponents: Iran’s ballistic missile program. How Congress handles this issue will determine whether Trump can truly fix the Iran deal or not.

A fatal flaw of the nuclear deal was its failure to tie Iran’s development of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles to the sanctions relief provided by the United States. A deal that leaves Iran’s enrichment infrastructure largely intact while allowing the regime to perfect its delivery systems will lead to a second North Korea-style crisis in just a few short years.

“Iran’s development and testing of missiles should be subject to severe sanctions,” the president said, leaving Congress to fill in the details. A real fix for the Iran nuclear deal, like one introduced in the House of Representatives last week by Rep. Peter Roskam, would tie the president’s automatic resumption of sanctions to “any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology.” After all, that’s the language used by the U.N. Security Council.

A phony fix might only address long-range missiles that don’t even exist yet, legitimizing Iran’s perfection of short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles capable of wiping out U.S. bases, allies, and interests. A fake fix, like the one under discussion in the Senate, might also detach Iran’s missile activity from the automatic resumption of sanctions, instead outlining lesser sanctions that will never successfully deter the mullahs from pressing forward with their illicit missile program.

Would Congress really be willing to enact legislation that punishes Iran more harshly for building an advanced centrifuge than for testing a missile that could wipe out Israel or decimate Saudi Arabia and Eastern Europe? Certainly not when you say it like that.

Therein lies the danger of the coming negotiation over legislation to fix the nuclear deal. Every caveat and exception written into a bill can entirely change its impact without diminishing its veneer. Legislation that produces no inspections of Iranian military sites, an off-ramp for a future Congress to maintain sunsets, and a legitimization of Iran’s existing ballistic-missile program can easily be made to look like a fix — but it wouldn’t be a fix at all.

Trump gave Congress 120 days to improve the Iran deal. A false solution would be bad for the United States and its allies. If deal opponents in Congress can’t get the votes for a proper fix, the president should nix the deal rather than allow its defenders to nix his last, best chance to fix it.


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Author: Richard Goldberg

The Cultural Roots of Trumpism | CENSORED.TODAY

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President Donald Trump’s occasional unfiltered coarse cloudbursts belie a man who is enormously joyful, having an abundance of entertaining good humor easily expressed, fairly shared.  Trump is having a ball, for good reasons.

Trump’s first year as president may have been the most extraordinary since the 1840s.  While Trump has disrupted almost all presidential governance and communication norms, his tenure so far has produced capital market gains of some $7 trillion, spreading investment wealth to millions of regular Joes and Marys, while tax cuts have already distributed $3 billion in bonuses and wage hikes to over 2 million workers and counting.

The Trump-inspired American economic revival, accompanied by a cultural earthquake in newfound respect, self-esteem, and optimism for working-class citizens, rural and urban – ignored and maligned since the industrial heartland was eviscerated in the 1980s – matches the economic and territorial expansions under presidents John Tyler and James Polk.

Westward expansion, Manifest Destiny, abetted by industrial innovation from the telegraph to steam engines to sewing machines, ushered in the longest economic growth period in American history – 1841 to 1859.

The 1840s also propelled the American Renaissance in literature and art.  The fabulous Hudson River School of landscape painting, originating around 1825, spawned two major shifts in the 1840s: landscapes capturing Easterners’ imagination about the West and illustrations of people in everyday scenes with the Americana backdrops.  Perhaps the best practitioner of the new genre was George Caleb Bingham, portrait painter and politician, who lived most of his life in Missouri.

Bingham captured the heart of the American spirit – a mix of personal liberty and economic fortunes – in his iconic 1846 painting, “The Jolly Flatboatmen,” now owned by and usually on display at the National Gallery of Art.

NGA director Rusty Powell says The Jolly Flatboatmen is ” the most important genre painting in American history.”

No one knows whether Bingham’s boatmen, dancing and luxuriating on the deck of a river flatboat barge loaded with furs, bolts of cloth, and other premium cargo, are floating downstream on the upper Missouri or Mississippi.  The exact topography doesn’t matter; the image conveying understated exuberance is infectious.

The solitary fiddler, the frying pan-tambourine man, and the other boatmen could have been figures drawn by Caravaggio, inviting the viewer to join in the moment, to take a seat on the hand-hewn oar or on top of the chicken coop – no more, no less.

Bingham’s clarity of purpose matches his clarity of brushstrokes.  The viewer’s angle could be from a small river skiff, such as a Mackinaw boat.  The closest boatman bemused at our attention seems contented enough, despite his toes sticking out from the welt of his shoe.  The slightly impish man in the Quaker wide-awake hat, alongside the steering-oarsman, looks self-satisfied, confident, and prosperous enough.

Franklin Kelly, curator at the NGA, said this about “The Jolly Flatboatmen”:

It’s very democratic.  These are working people; they’re wearing their ordinary clothes – tattered – but they’re having a good time.  It’s that notion of a democratic art in a democratic society.

Donald Trump, the NYC luxury high rise-builder, should be the most unlikely populist egalitarian.  Yet Trump would be at home with the jolly flatboatmen.  These are the people who built the nation, unmolested by a suffocating federal government.  By 1846, only Missouri and Iowa among the Missouri River territories had been admitted to the Union.

People of the frontier, anyplace west of the Appalachians, in the 1840s were tamers of the wilderness.  Life could be nasty, brutish, and short, as wrote Hobbes in another century.  Yet endurance, calculated risk-taking, commercial cleverness, and even desperation produced American pragmatism, and exeptionalism.

These are Hillary Clinton’s deplorables.  These are the Walmart shoppers.  These are the truck-drivers, machine tool-operators, steamfitters, and grocery aisle shelf-stockers.  These are the diverse line-up of Trump voters in Youngstown, Ohio, who stunned CNN about a week ago with their full-throated approval of Trump’s first year.

Bingham, the painter, was no stranger to the imperfect, messy features of frontier and small-town democracy. He dabbled in politics as a Missouri state senator and Missouri treasurer, among other statewide offices.

In his “The County Election” (St. Louis Museum of Art), Bingham displays both porcelain and pockmarks on the faces of a remarkable collection of backgrounds and temperaments, where each vote is equal, the outcome accepted.

There are four sweeping themes occupying American socio-economic history: westward expansion, slavery, immigration, and industrialization.  These themes have a common narrative: labor and natural resources.  The narrative about labor invokes contradictory notions about liberty and submission.  Moreover, the history of the American people is a complex saga of bloodshed for freedom from authoritarian tyranny, repudiation of an aristocracy to assure equality of opportunity, and the yearning for self-sufficiency and dignity.

The delivery of socio-economic justice, ameliorating the worst excesses within the labor narrative, has always been through the gifts of fertile land, “the fruited plain,” an abundance of natural resources.  The “peoples’ history,” expropriated by deconstructive historians using disingenuous storylines of labor oppression and subjugation, is really about rivers, harbors, timber, cotton, corn, wheat, coal, oil, and iron ore.  Ships, sails, barges, mills, machines, furnaces, coke and coal, iron, steel, rails and roads, steam engines, trucks, tractors, and airplanes – this is the stuff of nation-building, prosperity, and empire – and ultimate redemption.

Donald Trump gets it.  There are no Democrats remaining who get it.  No one should underestimate Trump’s legion of Jolly Flatboatmen who freely voted for their self-interest and can now dance to their own tune, all because of Donald Trump.

President Donald Trump’s occasional unfiltered coarse cloudbursts belie a man who is enormously joyful, having an abundance of entertaining good humor easily expressed, fairly shared.  Trump is having a ball, for good reasons.

Trump’s first year as president may have been the most extraordinary since the 1840s.  While Trump has disrupted almost all presidential governance and communication norms, his tenure so far has produced capital market gains of some $7 trillion, spreading investment wealth to millions of regular Joes and Marys, while tax cuts have already distributed $3 billion in bonuses and wage hikes to over 2 million workers and counting.

The Trump-inspired American economic revival, accompanied by a cultural earthquake in newfound respect, self-esteem, and optimism for working-class citizens, rural and urban – ignored and maligned since the industrial heartland was eviscerated in the 1980s – matches the economic and territorial expansions under presidents John Tyler and James Polk.

Westward expansion, Manifest Destiny, abetted by industrial innovation from the telegraph to steam engines to sewing machines, ushered in the longest economic growth period in American history – 1841 to 1859.

The 1840s also propelled the American Renaissance in literature and art.  The fabulous Hudson River School of landscape painting, originating around 1825, spawned two major shifts in the 1840s: landscapes capturing Easterners’ imagination about the West and illustrations of people in everyday scenes with the Americana backdrops.  Perhaps the best practitioner of the new genre was George Caleb Bingham, portrait painter and politician, who lived most of his life in Missouri.

Bingham captured the heart of the American spirit – a mix of personal liberty and economic fortunes – in his iconic 1846 painting, “The Jolly Flatboatmen,” now owned by and usually on display at the National Gallery of Art.

NGA director Rusty Powell says The Jolly Flatboatmen is ” the most important genre painting in American history.”

No one knows whether Bingham’s boatmen, dancing and luxuriating on the deck of a river flatboat barge loaded with furs, bolts of cloth, and other premium cargo, are floating downstream on the upper Missouri or Mississippi.  The exact topography doesn’t matter; the image conveying understated exuberance is infectious.

The solitary fiddler, the frying pan-tambourine man, and the other boatmen could have been figures drawn by Caravaggio, inviting the viewer to join in the moment, to take a seat on the hand-hewn oar or on top of the chicken coop – no more, no less.

Bingham’s clarity of purpose matches his clarity of brushstrokes.  The viewer’s angle could be from a small river skiff, such as a Mackinaw boat.  The closest boatman bemused at our attention seems contented enough, despite his toes sticking out from the welt of his shoe.  The slightly impish man in the Quaker wide-awake hat, alongside the steering-oarsman, looks self-satisfied, confident, and prosperous enough.

Franklin Kelly, curator at the NGA, said this about “The Jolly Flatboatmen”:

It’s very democratic.  These are working people; they’re wearing their ordinary clothes – tattered – but they’re having a good time.  It’s that notion of a democratic art in a democratic society.

Donald Trump, the NYC luxury high rise-builder, should be the most unlikely populist egalitarian.  Yet Trump would be at home with the jolly flatboatmen.  These are the people who built the nation, unmolested by a suffocating federal government.  By 1846, only Missouri and Iowa among the Missouri River territories had been admitted to the Union.

People of the frontier, anyplace west of the Appalachians, in the 1840s were tamers of the wilderness.  Life could be nasty, brutish, and short, as wrote Hobbes in another century.  Yet endurance, calculated risk-taking, commercial cleverness, and even desperation produced American pragmatism, and exeptionalism.

These are Hillary Clinton’s deplorables.  These are the Walmart shoppers.  These are the truck-drivers, machine tool-operators, steamfitters, and grocery aisle shelf-stockers.  These are the diverse line-up of Trump voters in Youngstown, Ohio, who stunned CNN about a week ago with their full-throated approval of Trump’s first year.

Bingham, the painter, was no stranger to the imperfect, messy features of frontier and small-town democracy. He dabbled in politics as a Missouri state senator and Missouri treasurer, among other statewide offices.

In his “The County Election” (St. Louis Museum of Art), Bingham displays both porcelain and pockmarks on the faces of a remarkable collection of backgrounds and temperaments, where each vote is equal, the outcome accepted.

There are four sweeping themes occupying American socio-economic history: westward expansion, slavery, immigration, and industrialization.  These themes have a common narrative: labor and natural resources.  The narrative about labor invokes contradictory notions about liberty and submission.  Moreover, the history of the American people is a complex saga of bloodshed for freedom from authoritarian tyranny, repudiation of an aristocracy to assure equality of opportunity, and the yearning for self-sufficiency and dignity.

The delivery of socio-economic justice, ameliorating the worst excesses within the labor narrative, has always been through the gifts of fertile land, “the fruited plain,” an abundance of natural resources.  The “peoples’ history,” expropriated by deconstructive historians using disingenuous storylines of labor oppression and subjugation, is really about rivers, harbors, timber, cotton, corn, wheat, coal, oil, and iron ore.  Ships, sails, barges, mills, machines, furnaces, coke and coal, iron, steel, rails and roads, steam engines, trucks, tractors, and airplanes – this is the stuff of nation-building, prosperity, and empire – and ultimate redemption.

Donald Trump gets it.  There are no Democrats remaining who get it.  No one should underestimate Trump’s legion of Jolly Flatboatmen who freely voted for their self-interest and can now dance to their own tune, all because of Donald Trump.


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Trump hits solar imports with tariff but still concedes millions of jobs to China | LIBERAL.GUIDE

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President Donald Trump decided to slap a 30 percent tariff on imported solar cells and panels, the White House announced Monday. The tariff comes after the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled last year that China had harmed the domestic solar manufacturing industry with policies aimed at taking over the global market.

While the administration claimed the president was acting to protect American jobs, the new tariff is only the latest in a series of efforts by the White House to slow the installation of renewable energy in this country in favor of fossil fuels — a strategy that kills jobs in both the near term and long term.

In the near term, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) says Trump’s decision may cost the fast-growing industry — which currently employees over 260,000 people, primarily in the installation business — some 23,000 jobs this year, and cause billions of dollars in solar investments to be canceled or delayed. Greentech Media tweeted that it expects “potential installations will be reduced by approx. 10% through 2022.”

In the long term, many millions of jobs are at risk from Trump administration’s long list of anti-clean energy policies. Ironically, in justifying this tariff, the White House Office of the U.S. Trade Representative asserted that “from 2012 to 2016, the volume of solar generation capacity installed annually in the United States more than tripled.” They attributed that to artificially low prices driven by “China’s industrial planning… a focus on increasing Chinese capacity and production of solar cells and modules, using state incentives, subsidies, and tariffs to dominate the global supply chain.”

So the White House is conceding that this is a very rapidly growing industry and that smart domestic policies can be used to achieve global leadership — at the very time the Administration is doing everything it can to undermine U.S. leadership in clean energy.

But if members of the Trump White House actually cared about the solar industry — if they wanted to seriously compete with China for the millions of jobs being created by this and other fast-growing renewable industries — they wouldn’t have embraced a series of policies aimed at harming the domestic industry.

Just one year into his presidency, Trump’s anti-renewable policies include: gutting the budget for clean energy, working to gut the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, and even trying to get federal regulators to raise consumer energy bills in order to subsidize coal and nuclear power plants.

The fact is that Trump’s new solar import tariff — which declines over time and disappears after four years — can’t revive the domestic solar manufacturing industry in this country. Prices are dropping way too fast here and abroad for a modest, short-term “fix” to help.

Restoring U.S. leadership in clean energy would instead require the same sweeping, long-term support for the industry that China and Germany and many other countries provide, exactly the kind of support the president reserves for fossil fuels.


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Author: Joe Romm

U.S. Sanctions Abet Iranian Internet Censorship | LIBERAL.GUIDE

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President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement if Tehran does not agree to renegotiate its terms this spring. But rather than tear up the nuclear agreement, the Trump administration should work to support the next #IranProtests — which would be far more likely to bring change to Tehran than would a U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

Over the past several weeks, Iranian repression and internet censorship have stifled the widespread protests that, beginning late last month, shook Iranian politics and drew global support. Rapidly escalating events caught many in Washington off-guard and struggling to find opportunities to assist the protesters — an all too common pattern when it comes to Iran. But the underlying tensions that drew the protestors into the streets — low wages, unemployment, and government corruption — remain. Now is the time for the Trump administration to ensure that the United States will be prepared when Iranians come back out to demand change.

Following the standard foreign policy playbook, the Trump White House issued forceful public statements supporting the protesters and sanctioned Iranian officials involved in political repression, both of which were welcome moves. But a more powerful form of support for the Iranian public would be to liberalize the U.S. sanctions rules that continue to impede Iranians’ access to cutting-edge apps and other technology — tools that would enable the protesters to more effectively defy the Iranian government’s repression and censorship.

Iranians’ access to secure messaging apps and other technology was critical to the protests. They were coordinated largely on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app based in Europe and Dubai. After the Iranian government tried to block  access to Telegram, millions of Iranians turned to popular online censorship circumvention tools, such as Toronto-based Psiphon, which reported that its daily users in Iran went from some 3 million to 15 million as the protests spread.

It is no coincidence that Telegram, Psiphon, and many other apps and online tools popular in Iran are not made in the United States: Sanctions continue to prohibit U.S. companies from making many of the world’s most popular technologies available in Iran. Far too often those striving to improve internet connectivity in Iran find themselves blocked by U.S. regulations. The Trump administration should end these restrictions, which hurt the millions of ordinary Iranians that the United States hopes will one day lead reform efforts inside Iran.

There has been bipartisan support for internet access in Iran over the past decade. In his first speech to the United Nations, Trump condemned the Iranian government’s restrictions on internet access and satellite television. During the protests, the State Department called on Iran to open up internet access and, after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Iranians should be able to access social media sites, a senior State Department official urged Tehran to follow his lead.

Since 2013 the U.S. government has issued licenses that allow U.S. companies to make available certain kinds of personal communications technology in Iran. For example, licenses allow U.S. companies to provide inside Iran certain personal communications apps and devices. This allows companies to provide antivirus software and other secure messaging tools that might limit the ability of the Iranian government to spy on its own people.

However, these existing licenses contain gaps that limit their utility for American companies seeking to open up to Iranian users. For example, an important component of the popular U.S. messaging app Signal appears to be blocked because it depends on a Google product, Google App Engine, which is not available due to sanctions concerns. Similarly, last August Apple removed hundreds of Iranian-developed apps from its app store, apparently after determining that the existing licenses did not cover their distribution of Iranian-developed apps. U.S. licensing policies should bolster internet connectivity, foster creative strategies to support freedom of expression, and empower Iranian entrepreneurs, rather than impose hurdles that only benefit the regime.

Expanded licenses are only part of the answer. The situation also requires better cooperation between the U.S. government and tech companies grappling with hard sanctions questions. Many American companies are wary of making products available in Iran, because even if existing licenses legally allow firms to provide certain products there, they fear repercussions if the wrong people find a way to use them. Sanctions regulators generally expect American banks and companies not to do business with the Iranian government or with specifically sanctioned individuals in Iran. But U.S. tech companies that offer free or low-cost apps have no practical way of reliably identifying individual users to screen out those who are prohibited.

As a result, many U.S. companies find it easier to block all users in Iran rather than risking fines and other costly punishments. U.S. authorities need to give the tech sector clear, practical guidance on the level of due diligence tech companies should take in Iran, and refrain from prosecuting companies if a few sanctioned actors manage to use their products despite a company taking appropriate due diligence steps.

Finally, and particularly given the economic demands that drove many of the protesters, the Trump administration should expand the licenses to let U.S. tech companies train and do other work with Iranian tech entrepreneurs and small businesses — work that the existing licenses do not allow. Many of Iran’s young people are tech-savvy and would welcome the opportunity for greater connections with the U.S. tech sector.

Far too often brief windows of protest and political change in Iran capture international attention, only to fade after the Iranian government cracks down. Enabling U.S. tech companies to help protect internet access would send a powerful message that the Trump administration stands firmly with the Iranian people and against the Iranian regime. More broadly, pursuing aggressive efforts to ensure that U.S. sanctions don’t impede access to the internet, apps, and other digital tools in Iran could create a model for ensuring that U.S. government sanctions against oppressive regimes elsewhere do not interfere with people’s ability to communicate online. The State Department and Treasury should promote open access and secure communications worldwide as part of their global commitment to defending the open internet.


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Author: Peter E. Harrell and Collin Anderson

Trump lawyer set up a shell company to pay adult film star hush money a month before the election | LIBERAL.GUIDE

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President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, established a private company in Delaware in October 2016 to pay hush money to former adult film star Stephanie Clifford, according to a report Thursday. Clifford, who goes by the stage name “Stormy Daniels,” allegedly had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that Cohen had paid Clifford $130,000 a month before the 2016 election in return for her agreeing not to publicly discuss her alleged encounter with Trump last week, and on Thursday, the Journal reported Cohen had done so through a private company and used pseudonyms to mask the identities of the people involved in the transaction.

Clifford was identified as “Peggy Peterson,” according to Thursday’s report, while Cohen was listed as the “authorized person” for a company called Essential Consultants LLC. (Cohen could have hired a lawyer or agent to serve as the “authorized person” for the LLC but listed himself instead.) Cohen then used a bank account linked to the entity to pay Clifford $130,000.

According to the Journal’s report, Cohen had planned to make the payment to Clifford using a private company called Resolution Consultants LLC, which he created in September 2016, but he ultimately used Essential Consultants. Cohen created Essential Consultants on October 17, 2016 and dissolved Resolution Consultants two minutes later. It’s unclear why Resolution Consultants was dissolved.

Following the original report about Cohen’s payment to Clifford last week, Cohen distributed a statement purportedly signed by Clifford denying she ever had a sexual relationship with Trump, but a number of outlets, including Slate and The Daily Beast, have reported having been in contact with Clifford during the campaign. InTouch is publishing an interview Friday with Clifford from 2011 in which she talks about having had sex with Trump. Fox News also reportedly had the story and killed it right before the election.

On Thursday, Mother Jones published a piece with more salacious details about Trump and Clifford’s alleged encounter, including the fact that Clifford once allegedly spanked Trump with a copy Forbes Magazine at his request.

The story matters beyond its juicy tidbits, though. As ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum wrote earlier this week, the Clifford scandal indicates that Trump is willing to lie about his encounters with women, and that the alleged story has parallels to other women’s claims that Trump assaulted them. Additionally, it suggests that Trump is vulnerable to blackmail and extortion.


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Author: Addy Baird

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