The DC Trump Hotel: A Case of Garden Variety Corruption

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We are losing sight of the depth of Trump’s corruption.

by Matt Ford New Republic Jan 17, 2019

The Trump International Hotel enjoys an enviable location in the nerve center of American governance. It stands on Pennsylvania Avenue, situated roughly midway between the White House and the Capitol. Across the street is the headquarters of the FBI. It shares a block with the Internal Revenue Service’s main building. And just a few steps away is the Robert F. Kennedy Building, which houses the bulk of the Justice Department. But the real source of its power is its proximity to the president, his children, and their bottom lines.

Such is the nature of Trump’s Washington. The president rose to power in part by fashioning himself as an anti-corruption crusader, one whose personal wealth would insulate him from the muck of the “swamp.” Nothing could be further from the truth today. Two years after Trump took office, the swamp is as fetid as ever—and the strongest stench is emanating from Trump’s hotel.

Ethical quandaries about the president’s business empire often struggle to break through the news cacophony of the Trump era. But their lack of salaciousness doesn’t diminish their importance. The Washington Post’s report on Wednesday about T-Mobile is a case in point. The telecommunications company announced last April it would try to merge with Sprint—a deal that, like any major corporate merger, would be scrutinized by the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission.

The day after T-Mobile went public with its proposal, nine of the company’s top executives paid for rooms at the president’s hotel for a multi-day stay in Washington, according to the Post. One executive stayed at the hotel nine more times over the next two months. John Legere, the company’s CEO, booked rooms at least another four times, and reportedly was seen often in the lobby, decked out in T-Mobile apparel.

Other troubling cases abound. The New York Times reported earlier this month Trump’s inaugural planning committee paid the D.C. hotel “more than $1.5 million” for a variety of services, including the use of a ballroom and other rentable spaces. A spokesperson of WIS Media Partners, one of the contractors hired by the committee, told the newspaper that its staffers rented rooms at the hotel at the “explicit direction” of inaugural committee officials, though one member of the committee anonymously denied this to the Times. A WNYC/ProPublica investigation also found at least one inaugural committee planner raised concerns the Trump Organization overcharged them for use of the hotel.

Trump’s hotel is well-situated in the capital, so it’s not surprising that inaugural events would be held there. (For similar reasons, it’s also not surprising that top executives would opt to stay there.) But the optics are troubling at best. Trump’s inaugural committee raked in more than $100 million from corporate and individual donors, a far higher sum than similar committees operated by George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

By spending those funds at Trump’s properties, the inaugural committee effectively transfers those donors’ contributions directly into the Trump Organization’s coffers. And since Trump hasn’t fully divested himself of his business holdings, as ethics officials recommended before his inauguration, those profits eventually flow into the pockets of the president and his adult children.

What have donors received in return? Casino boss Sheldon Adelson, a Republican mega-donor and the committee’s largest individual contributor, gave more than $5 million. He happens to enjoy a close relationship with the president. Adelson and his wife joined Trump at a small private gathering last November to watch the results of the 2018 midterms. The Trump era has also been a fruitful one for Adelson.

The Las Vegas billionaire lobbied in favor of the president’s decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in 2017, reversing decades of U.S. foreign policy on the matter. And earlier this week, the Justice Department reversed an Obama-era legal opinion in declaring that federal law bans all forms of internet gambling, which Adelson strenuously opposes as a potential threat to his casino empire.

Adelson, like any other American, has the right to donate to political campaigns and committees and lobby elected officials. Foreign governments enjoy no such privileges, however. That distinction makes the overseas cash flows into the Trump Organization all the more alarming. Last month, the Post reported that a lobbyist for Saudi Arabia’s monarchy spent more than $270,000 for rooms at Trump’s hotel shortly after his election as president. Those rooms housed dozens of U.S. veterans who were then brought to Capitol Hill to lobby against a law that would open the door to lawsuits against the Saudi government for the September 11th attacks.

This isn’t the only time that foreign powers did business on Trump properties, either. The Times identified stays at the president’s hotels by the Malaysian prime minister and his staff, as well as by the Republic of Georgia’s ambassador to the United Nations. Romania’s consulate in Chicago also rented space at Trump’s hotel in that city for an event last November. Both the foreign governments and the Trump administration denied any wrongdoing or impropriety; the Trump Organization also paid six-figure sums to the Treasury to offset any foreign expenditures to it. The company hasn’t been forthcoming about tabulating the precise sources of these profits, however. And it’s unclear whether this is enough to avoid violating the Constitution’s ban on foreign incomes to federal public officials [. . .]

 

via This Is Not Normal. This Is Not Normal. This Is Not Normal.

Smithsonian Map Shows US Military Operating In Over 40% Of World’s Countries

The authors note that US counter-terror operations abroad “are likely more extensive than this map shows,” especially as this is merely based on non-classified information.

peoples trust toronto

Smithsonian Magazine this month published a stunning map detailing just how expansive the post-9/11 “war on terror” has become, demonstrating that contrary to the common assumption that it’s “winding down” more than 17 years later, it actually continues to grow and has now spread to more than 40% of the world’s countries

This includes American military and support personnel engaged in ongoing missions in 80 nations on six continents, according to Brown University’s Costs of War Project at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, which has recently calculated that since 2001 the US has spent $5,900,000,000,000 on war, mostly in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen  where US military operations have become more or less permanent, with no consideration of ending them under any circumstances.

The map creators for The Smithsonian culled information from foreign government sources, published and unpublished reports, military websites and geographical databases, as…

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12 Reasons Why Even Low Levels of Glyphosate Are Unsafe

Glyphosate based herbicides are the most widely used in the world and residues of glyphosate have been found in tap water, children’s urine, breast milk, chips, snacks, beer, wine, cereals, eggs, oatmeal, wheat products, and most conventional foods tested.

peoples trust toronto

https://ift.tt/eA8V8J

By Zen Honeycutt, Founding Executive Director Mom’s Across AmericaChildren’s Heath Defense Coalition Partner

Proponents of GMOs and Glyphosate-based herbicides and staunch believers in the EPA have long argued that low levels of glyphosate exposure are safe for humans. Even our own EPA tells us that Americans can consume 17 times more glyphosate in our drinking water than European residents. The EWG asserts that 160 ppb of glyphosate found in breakfast cereal is safe for a child to consume due to their own safety assessments, and yet renowned scientists and health advocates have long stated that no level is safe.  Confusion amongst consumers and the media is rampant.

Glyphosate is the declared active chemical ingredient in Roundup and Ranger Pro, which are both manufactured by Monsanto, the original manufacturer of Agent Orange and DDT. There are 750 brands of glyphosate-based herbicides.Glyphosate based herbicides are the most…

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The Children’s Health Defense Team: Fluoridation Must End

On January 9, 2019, Robert F Kennedy Jr’s Children’s Health Defense Team joined the call to end water fluoridation based on major peer-reviewed study linking fluoridation with decreased IQ in children.

AGR Daily 60 Second News Bites

The Children’s Health Defense Team: Fluoridation Must End

According to Robert Kennedy’s team, “U.S. officialdom persists in making hollow claims that water fluoridation is safe and beneficial, choosing to ignore even its own research… Dozens of studies and reviews… have shown that fluoride is neurotoxic and lowers children’s IQ.”

They stated, “A multimillion-dollar longitudinal study published in Environmental Health Perspectives in September, 2017, for example, was largely funded by the National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences—and the seminal study revealed a strong relationship between fluoride exposure in pregnant women and lowered cognitive function in offspring.”

Of particular importance is that the fluoride levels in this study are expected to be the same for women living in communities that fluoridate their drinking water.

via PRNewswire The Children’s Health Defense Team: Fluoridation Must End

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From the Barracks to the Courtroom: the New Role of ‘Lawfare’ in CIA Coups

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By Wayne MADSEN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 18.01.2019

Somewhere along the line in recent history, some US think tank in the employ of the Central Intelligence Agency must have come up with the idea that overthrowing governments in Latin America by military coups came with bad optics for the coup plotters. Often, democratically-elected Latin American leaders were demonized by a cabal of military officers who left their barracks and laid siege to the presidential palaces. After taking control of the national radio stations, these generals would announce they had seized control of the government to “protect” the people from “communism” or some other concocted bogeyman.

Beginning in the early 2000s, another plan was devised by US national security planners ensconced in their faux academia “think tanks.” Their plan was simple: overthrow anti-American elected leaders in Latin America through the courts. In effect, lawyers and judges, not generals, caudillos, or military juntas, would carry out coups by abusing constitutional provisions and laws as a clever ruse.

Under Allen Dulles and Richard Helms, the Central Intelligence Agency relied on the old tried and true method of promoting coups via the façade of a “popular” rebellion. After the 1973 CIA-directed coup in Chile, which saw Socialist president Salvador Allende die in a hail of bullets fired from aircraft and tanks at the La Moneda presidential palace, the CIA began to look at other avenues to overthrow presidents in the Western Hemisphere.

For decades, CIA-influenced media, including the dubious Wikipedia, have insisted Allende committed suicide with an AK-47 assault rifle presented to him by Cuban leader Fidel Castro. However, nature would later provide the evidence that Allende was assassinated. The proof came in a 300-page top secret report found in the debris of the house of a former military officer. The house had been destroyed in the 2011 Chilean earthquake. The story of Allende’s “suicide” was spread around CIA-friendly media to mask the agency’s role in yet another assassination of a foreign leader. The CIA’s media manipulation was honed during its pre-eminent role in covering up the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King. For the CIA, however, assassinations were costly in terms of the agency’s public image, so some other method of dispatching targeted leaders was in order.

A formerly CONFIDENTIAL CIA “Intelligence Memorandum,” dated December 29, 1975, concluded that Latin America had to be weaned away from “Third Worldism.” The conclusion was based on the votes of certain Latin American countries that had voted in favor of a United Nations General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism. The countries were Brazil, Cuba, Grenada, Guyana, and Mexico. Eleven other countries in the Western Hemisphere abstained.

As the bloody coups in Chile, the Dominican Republic, and other countries showed, there had to be a simpler and less lethal way for the US to bring about undemocratic changes in governments in the hemisphere.

If the CIA were able to infiltrate a nation’s judiciary and law enforcement structures — the latter having already been thoroughly subsumed through CIA-financed “training programs” – it could bring spurious charges against targeted heads of state. This form of coup d’état would become known as “lawfare.”

The leader of the French left, Jean Luc Melenchon, recently condemned the use of lawfare against former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Lula, as he is popularly known, has been imprisoned since April 2018 on trumped up charges of corruption. Melenchon told the Brazilian press that “lawfare is now used in all countries to get rid of progressive leaders. This is what they did with Lula.” Melenchon added, “the judge [Sergio Moro] who condemned Lula is now a minister [minister of justice and public security] of Jair Bolsonaro, the new president of Brazil.” Lula was sentenced to 12 years in prison on politically-motivated money-laundering charges ginned up by Moro and other neo-fascists in the Brazilian judiciary. Bolsonaro, a champion of Brazil’s former military dictatorship and an admirer of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Donald Trump, has vowed to keep Lula in prison. Lula would have defeated Bolsonaro for the presidency had he been released from prison and allowed to run for political office. However, Moro and his fellow lawfare practitioners ensured that appeals to the Brazilian Supreme Court for Lula’s release were all dead-on-arrival.

Melenchon also stated “Lula has been a direct victim of accusations to destroy his work and image, built in more than 40 years of public life.” British human rights attorney Geoffrey Robertson QC echoed Melenchon in comments made to the “New Internationalist” in January 2018. Robertson cited the “extraordinarily aggressive measures” taken to imprison Lula and prevent him from running for president. Robertson cited as Lula’s enemies the judiciary, media, and “the great sinews of wealth and power in Brazil.”

Lawfare coups have been embraced by both Republican and Democratic administrations over almost two decades. The first example of a coup by semi-constitutional fiat was the February 28, 2004 forced removal from office of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. US Marines and American mercenaries escorted Aristide and his party from the presidential palace to a white plane with no other markings except for an American flag on the tail. The United States claimed Aristide voluntarily resigned his office, something that Aristide and his advisers vehemently denied. Aristide was literally tossed off the plane, along with his wife, in Bangui, Central African Republic. Through the abuse of “national emergency” provisions, the United States installed Haiti’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, Boniface Alexandre, in the presidential palace. The coup began after CIA-supported rebels and narcotics-gangs seized control of northern Haiti and marched to the capital of Port-au-Prince with the intention of ousting Aristide.

The second lawfare coup was against Honduras’s president, Manuel Zelaya. Staged on June 28, 2009, the coup was approved in advance by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as leaked cables from the US embassy in Tegucigalpa attest. Coup leader Roberto Micheletti cited the Honduran Constitution and a decision by the Supreme Court as providing legitimacy for Zelaya being marched from his home in his pajamas to a waiting plane that flew him to Costa Rica. The military junta that replaced Zelaya said that his letter of resignation had been approved by the National Assembly. Zelaya declared the letter to be a forgery.

The third major lawfare coup came in 2012. Paraguay’s democratically-elected president, Fernando Lugo, was ousted in a political impeachment carried out by right-wing forces in the Paraguayan Congress and Senate, with the full support of the US-trained and equipped Paraguayan military. From Washington, Secretary Clinton moved hastily to recognize the right-wing vice president, Federico Franco, and his new right-wing government to replace the center-left government of Lugo. As with Haiti and Honduras, the Paraguayan coup was accomplished with the thin veneer of the constitution.

In 2016, it was Brazil’s turn in the lawfare arena. The impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff of the left-wing Workers’ Party ensured that Michel Temer, her right-wing vice president, assumed the presidency. Without Rousseff in the presidential palace, her predecessor, Lula, became fair game for the right-wing.

Next on the American hit list was Venezuela. On December 6, 2015, the US-backed rightist opposition won control over the National Assembly. The rightists immediately commenced procedures to remove progressive socialist President Nicolas Maduro from power through dubious “constitutional” means. However, the plan faltered in Venezuela. In reaction, Washington applied crippling economic sanctions on the country, something that was to be repeated by the Trump administration against both Venezuela and the democratically-elected government of President Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.

Pro-democracy forces in Latin America and elsewhere no longer have to worry about sudden troop movements and tanks converging on presidential palaces, but armies of judges and lawyers armed with nothing more than constitutional provisions and criminal codes stretched to the point of incredulity.

via From the Barracks to the Courtroom: US ‘Lawfare’ in Action

Climate Emergency School Strikes going Viral ..#FridaysForFuture

The movement for climate justice is growing fast – many young people are getting active because they see that the “traditional” political system is not acting against climate change.

The Free

#FridaysForFuture: “We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not”

FridaysForFuture      Published by Enough is Enough. Written by Riot Turtle.       More and more cities across the globe are joining the Frifays for Future school strikes.

On the German territory alone students will go on strike in more than 50 cities on Friday January 18. The school strikes for climate justice were started by 16 year old Greta Thunberg last year.

Students and others hold up placards with climate messages during a demonstration against climate change in Brussels, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. Thousands of students as part of the Youth for Climate movement took time off school Thursday to call for stronger action against climate change. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Associated Press)

Is it an anarchist movement.? .. No its not, but many of the school strikes are self-organized and…

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Hidden History: The 1893 US Invasion of Hawaii

The Betrayal of Liliuokalani: Last Queen of Hawaii 1838-1917

By Helena G Allen

Mutual Publishing (1982)

Book Review

This comprehensive biography of the last Queen of Hawaii, deposed during an 1893 US invasion, is based mainly on her diary and other writings. It reveals that the sovereignty of Hawaii had largely been usurped by foreign missionaries, adventurers and sugar entrepreneurs well before Liliuokalani’s birth in 1838.

Hawaii became a constitutional monarchy in 1852, with voting for the national legislature was limited to male property owners. Although native Hawaiians retained the throne until Liliuokalani was formally deposed in 1893, Hawaiian monarchs had no standing military nor ability to limit haole* immigration, ongoing seizure of their lands nor tax the enormously lucrative haole sugar plantations.

When Queen Liliuokalani ascended the thrown in 1891, haole members of the legislature had been plotting the overthrow of the monarchy for two years.

In 1893, haole of US origin residing in Honolulu organized a coup against the Queen. To assist them, they prevailed on US appointed minister to Hawaii John L Stevens to call in 162 marines from the USS Boston.

When he learned of the coup and the marine intrusion, outgoing president Benjamin Harrison requested Hawaii’s new Provisional Government hold a plebiscite. Aware that 90% of the country’s population supported the Queen’s restoration, the latter refused.

On March 1, 1893 incoming president Grover Cleveland ordered the marines to withdraw and replaced Stevens with James Henderson Blount, whom he ordered to restore Liliuokalani to her throne.

When Blount failed to do, so a group of native Hawaiians launched an armed uprising. The Provisional Government responded by declaring martial law. Although Liliuokalani denied any knowledge of the rebellion, she was arrested and convicted of “misprision.”**

Following her 20-month imprisonment, she made repeated trips to the US to advocate for the human rights of native Hawaiians.

The US would formally annex Hawaii in 1898 where they declared war on Spain and invaded the Philippines. In 1900, Hawaii officially became a US territory.


*A term used to refer to “white” residents of Hawaii who are not descendants of native Hawaiians.

**A term in English law referring to neglect in preventing or reporting a felony or treason by a non-accessory.