The Foreign Emoluments Clause and the Washington DC Lawsuit Against Donald Trump

All the President’s Profits

Al Jazeera (2008)

Film Review

All the President’s Profits is a documentary about the current lawsuit again Donald Trump by the attorneys general of Washington DC and Maryland. The suit concerns the continued operation of the Trump International DC hotel, which they assert violates the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.* The latter expressly forbids any sitting president from personally accepting payments from foreign governments.

Since Trump’s election in 2016, many delegations from foreign governments have stayed in the DC Trump hotel or held lavish events there. In nearly all cases, their motives – to curry favor with the President (eg favorable trade deals, foreign/slash military aid packages, etc) – have been really obvious.

In framing the Constitution, the founding fathers sought to prevent foreign policy decisions that enabled sitting presidents to line their pockets to the detriment of the American people.

Trump is the first president in history to refuse to either divest himself of his businesses or to place them in a blind trust.* * Instead he has turned them over to his family to run. The lawsuit alleges he continues to have knowledge of and influence over the operation of the Trump DC hotel (he has visited the hotel 12 times since his election). He’s also able to draw profits from it any time he chooses.

The lawsuit seeks to force him to divulge exactly which foreign governments have stayed or entertained there and how much they have paid for this privilege. It also seeks to make his tax returns public.

The US Justice Department is defending him against the suit.


*Foreign Emoluments Clause: “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State” (from Article I).

**A blind trust prevents a business owner from having any knowledge, influence or benefit from the operation of their business.

 

The 1968 Global Revolt and the Brutal 1969 Global Crackdown

1968 Global Revolt – Part 3 The Explosion

DW (2018)

Film Review

Part 3 focuses on 1969 and the extreme police and military violence directed at anti-government protests in the US, Japan, Italy and Germany.

In the US, 1969 saw the occupation of derelict University of California-Berkeley property for the formation of a People’s Park and the formation of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The latter would be destroyed by heavy CIA/FBI infiltration and assassination and false imprisonment of many of its leaders. 1969 also saw the sidetracking of many US antiwar protestors into environmental activism, women’s and gay liberation and alternative lifestyles (the hippy peace, love and truth movement, Woodstock and communal living).

In Germany, the students rejecting bourgeois capitalist lifestyles formed the Kommune movement. The filmmakers erroneously describe the Baader-Meinhoff Gang (aka the Red Army Faction), responsible for setting fire to department stores and warehouses, as a fringe offshoot of the the Kommune movement. The Baader-Meinhoff Gang was exposed in the early 90s as a CIA/NATO-driven product of Operation Gladio.*

The filmmakers also mischaracterize Italy’s Red Brigades as a violent offshoot of the Italian antifascist movement that mobilized tens of thousands of workers and students. The Red Brigades, responsible for tens of thousands of false flag bombings and assassinations, was also created and run by Operation Gladio. The Italian government used the Red Brigades “terrorist” activities events to justify the adoption of extreme repressive measures, including the imprisonment of 30,000 antifascist activists.

Also disappointing is the filmmakers’ failure to identify the root cause of Japan’s anti-American protests (ie the CIA funding of their single party government). In his book Blowback, Chalmers Johnson compares Japan’s US-controlled post-war government to East Germany’s dictatorship. Also see CIA supported Japan’s ruling party during Cold War era

*Operation Gladio is the code name for a CIA/NATO backed paramilitary network that carried out thousands of false flag terrorist operations to justify repressive government legislation to suppress grassroots anti-capitalist organizing. It was exposed in a 1992 BBC documentary.

 

 

The Sanitized Version of the 1968 Global Revolt

1968 Global Revolt – Summer of Love, Summer of Conflict

DW (2018)

Film Review

Part 2 focuses mainly on 1976-68, starting with ongoing anti-Vietnam War protests that took place in 1967 in Rome, Paris, Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Berlin, Sidney, Melbourne and many other cities.

In addition to student uprisings across the US in 1967, 150 American cities and towns experienced inner city riots as African Americans protested substandard housing, mass unemployment and police brutality.

This contrasted starkly with the 1967 Summer of Love in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco. This movement focused less on protesting than on drug and sexual experimentation. The film quotes a social scientist who maintains the Haight “love-in” came directly of of “suburban” (ie upper middle class) culture. The filmmakers make no mention of the role the CIA played in disseminating LSD to California youth in an effort to derail the student antiwar movement (see How the CIA Used LSD to Destroy the New Left)

This episode devotes major attention to the 9 million-strong student/worker protest in France that brought France to a standstill for two weeks in 1968.

The most disappointing segment of this film is an appearance of leftist-turned-neocon (and likely CIA asset) David Horowitz to discredit anti-Vietnam War activists who promoted Vietnam’s right of self-determination in its independence struggle. According to Horowitz, this position “disregarded” the desires of the South Vietnamese.

Like many of Horowitz’s sound bites, this statement is both misleading and factually inaccurate. One of the main reasons the US lost the Vietnam War is that the vast majority of South Vietnamese civilians opposed the US military occupation and supported the Vietcong (the South Vietnamese guerilla army that fought alongside North Vietnamese troops). See What You Never Learned in School About the Vietnam War

 

1965-75: The Decade that Nearly Dismantled Capitalism?

Global Revolt – Part 1 The Wave

DW (2018)

Film Review

This is a four-part documentary series, based on archival video footage, of a global uprising that took place between 1965-75. Although the uprising began with student protests opposing the Vietnam war, disgruntled workers and farmers joined in with students in France, Italy, Chile and Brazil and Japan. The main weakness of this series is the absence of a unifying thread. Although the historical film footage is superb, the scattershot approach and the misidentification of various Operation Gladio programs (as genuine leftist movements) makes it impossible for the viewer to draw any real conclusions.

Part 1 mainly focuses on the US anti-Vietnam War movement. However it also briefly examines the youth uprisings that occurred in the UK, Italy, Germany and Japan, as well as the first international conference of the Non-Aligned Movement* in Havana in 1963.

For me, the most interesting part of the film was the International War Crimes Tribunal Jean Paul Sartre and Bertrand Russell organized in 1967 to investigate US war crimes in Vietnam.


*Operation Gladio is the code name for a CIA/NATO backed paramilitary network that carried out thousands of false flag terrorist operations in Cold War Europe. The goal of these operations was to justify repressive government legislation against grassroots anti-capitalist organizers. It was exposed in a 1992 BBC documentary:

**The Non-Aligned Movement is an organization of sovereign countries that refuse to ally themselves with or against any of the major power blocs (US, Russia, China).

9-11 Whistleblower: Ground Zero Eyewitness Testimony

Ground Zero 9/11: Blueprint for Terror Part I

Guns and Butter (2005)

This is a remarkable 2005 radio interview with a 9-11 whistleblower who spent four days as a rescue worker at Ground Zero. It provides important eyewitness evidence to the dire health hazards of the toxic particulate matter rescue workers and nearby residents were exposed to.

Indira Singh, who worked on Wall Street as a risk consultant for J P Morgan Chase, lived a few blocks from the Twin Towers. In her spare time she was a mountaineer and a certified (volunteer) Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).

Highlights from the interview:

10.45 When the first attack occurred, she returned to her apartment, changed into her EMT uniform and reported to an ad hoc triage center near World Trade Center Building 7. There was no coordinated civil defense rescue operation, in part because much of the police/fire department leadership were killed when the buildings collapsed. Compared to most rescue operations (earthquakes, etc), Ground Zero was unique, in part, because firefighters were unable to extinguish the burning ruble for four months, and, in part, due to the thick cloud of toxic particulate dust that persisted even longer.

11.45 Between 12 and 1 pm firefighters told Singh and her fellow rescue workers to move their triage station because “Building 7 is coming down.”

17.00 According to Singh, rescue workers labored round the clock for 48 hours pulling survivors from the rubble, stabilizing their injuries and summoning ambulances to take them to the hospital. They received no support (food, water, etc) from city, state or federal officials and had to break into nearby retail outlets to find food. After four days, they ceased to find living survivors and all were becoming increasing ill from the toxic fog. Singh was forced to leave the rescue effort due to increasing heart palpitations and difficulty breathing. When the EPA refused to declare the air around Ground Zero unsafe, she began organizing her friends to go door-to-door checking on the welfare of her neighbors.

25.00 By Nov 1, several neighborhoods were holding regular community meetings to pressure city, state and federal officials to address the growing health issues of rescue workers and residents adjacent to Ground Zero. Those who could afford to left lower Manhattan at this point to seek housing elsewhere.

27.00 Singh describes the total media blackout regarding the growing health crisis in lower Manhattan, including 11 anthrax scares and health department “spraying for cholera.”

29.00 Singh describes in detail the health symptoms of rescue workers and nearby residents, which were strangely reminiscent of radiation sickness: pervasive skin sores, loss of hair and teeth, palpitation, asthma, chronic cough, neurological dysfunction. Accessing treatment was virtually impossible because many victims had lost their jobs and health insurance.

33.00 After extensive lobbying, Mt Sinai Medical Center finally received a federal grant in December to do baseline monitoring (pulmonary/cardiac function, heavy metals screening) on rescue workers only. Residents experiencing health issues were excluded and no treatment was offered. All baseline medical screening results mysteriously vanished.

35.00 Singh contacted the CDC when many of her elderly and disabled neighbors – and illegal immigrants banks and other corporations hired to clean up their office buildings – started dying

 

 

The Preston Model: Empowering Local Economies

Building the Local Economy: From Preston, UK to Cleveland, OH

Produced by Laura Flanders (2018)

Film Review

This is a fascinating documentary about empowering local communities. It offers an in depth exploration of the so-called “Preston Model” of community wealth building.The Preston Model is based on the “Evergreen Model,” adopted by Cleveland’s cooperative movement. Although the UK city of Preston (pop 130,000) is much smaller than Cleveland, the economies of both communities have been devastated by the loss of heavy industry that previously supported them.

The goal of both models is to strengthen local economies by

  • promoting buy-local campaigns
  • actively procuring local investment
  • lobbying local government and “anchor” agencies (schools, hospitals, etc) to buy locally
  • pressuring local government to invest pension funds and tax remittances in local businesses
  • investing in apprenticeships and retraining programs
  • campaigning for a living wage in all industries.

The most interesting part of the film is an interview with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (Preston’s MP), who explains how the Labour Party is systematically rolling out similar programs in other councils they control.

 

 

Hacking for a Living

Internet Hackers in 2017

First Documentary (2017)

Film Review

This documentary provides a general overview of black hat, white hat and gray hat hacking. A black hat hacker hacks into government and/or corporate IT systems for criminal or political gain. At the time of filming, black hats had worked out how to hack into and disrupt high speed trains, blast furnaces, computerized SUVs and baby monitors. A white hacker hacks into corporate IT systems and alerts them to potential security vulnerabilities in return for a “bounty.”*

The private security industry is a billion dollar industry. According to the filmmakers, the US Secret Service has primary responsibility for investigating cyber crimes that threaten the security of US “financial markets.” Meanwhile the US military trains up future soldiers in the art of cyberwarfare.

The last half of the film concerns the current culture of surveillance we presently live in. For the most part, citizens of the industrialized world have traded privacy for security and convenience. In addition to ubiquitous CCTV cameras in most urban centers, Smartphones track people wherever they go. Most users are aware that Google, Facebook and AT&T spy on them and collect (and sell) their personal data but don’t seem to care.

The documentary also raises the alarm regarding the extreme vulnerability of modern computerized infrastructure to both cyber attack and natural events, such as solar storms. Solar flares nearly shut down all computerized infrastructure in 2012, 2013 and 2014. One black hat hacker interviewed by filmmakers claims it would only take him an hour to bring down the whole Internet.


*Sounds to me like a garden variety protection racket. I hate to think what happens to companies who refuse to pay the bounty.