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AlterNet / Andrew Cuomo Could Order Criminal Charges Against the Trump Family: But Will He?
« Last post by AlterNet on Today at 06:01:33 PM »
Andrew Cuomo Could Order Criminal Charges Against the Trump Family: But Will He?

New York?s attorney general can?t indict the Trump family over misuse of foundation funds ? but Cuomo could

The civil lawsuit filed against Donald Trump, three of his children and the Trump Foundation has brought to light a major shortcoming in New York state law that enables criminal fraud conducted through private foundations to escape state prosecution.

Manhattan is a major center of private foundations.

Under New York state law, the attorney general lacks fundamental legal authority to bring criminal cases. Indictments can be sought only after another state agency makes a referral to the state attorney general. The state charities bureau could make such referrals, but because it is under the attorney general no indictments could be brought.

The state civil lawsuit alleges years ?of illegal conduct by the Foundation and its board members [that] includes improper and extensive political activity, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions, and failure to follow basic fiduciary obligations or to implement even elementary corporate formalities required by law.?

Trump personally used $258,000 of charity money to settle lawsuits, a clear violation of the law. There?s also the $12,000 of charity money Trump spent to buy himself a signed Tim Tebow football helmet, a story the Washington Post broke in July 2016.

Barbara Underwood, who became New York's attorney general after the resignation of Eric Scheiderman, referred criminal matters to the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Elections Commission.

There is one person who can persuade Underwood to indict Trump, his three oldest children and others: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He could direct the state's Department of Taxation and Finance to refer the matter as a tax crimes offense. Underwood could then seek indictments.

The Trump Foundation case meets every federal standard for criminal prosecution. The behavior is significant in terms of dollars, involved many actions over many years and was flagrant and multi-faceted with explanations that lack credibility. It also meets the Justice Department?s general deterrence standard, which includes bringing cases that will encourage broad compliance because they are high-profile prosecutions.

?There?s almost no way for the state attorney general to bring a criminal case? over the private foundation fraud, said Sean Delaney, executive director of the New York Lawyers Alliance, which serves nonprofits. Delaney is a former head of the State Charities Bureau.

Because that bureau is also part of the state attorney general?s office, when it finds evidence of criminal fraud those findings would not allow the attorney general to bring criminal charges.

Under current New York law, even if police in New York City uncovered the fraud, a prosecution for violating state law could only be initiated by Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, who has shown a deep aversion to pursuing anything involving Trump.

Private foundation fraud is likely to go undetected because tax audits of private foundations are rare. This creates a low-risk opportunity for people like Trump to use charitable funds for personal benefit, which is a crime as well as a civil offense.

Contrast this with the audit of the Clinton Foundation, which raised money from despots and billionaires and used it for work that has saved at least 11 million lives. Auditors typically sample records, but in the Clinton Foundation's audit every single check going in and out was reviewed, along with the supporting documentation. The audit report turned up nothing amiss, only the kind sof minor discrepancies anyone will find in their check register.

The last time Congress looked deeply into private foundation abuse, in the late 1960s, it found extensive fraud, including thousands of foundations into which wealthy people made tax-deductible gifts and then traded scholarships between each other?s children.

The investigations by Rep. Wright Patman, a populist Texas Democrat, resulted in major reforms of foundation law. It also spurred foundations eager to protect their reputations to fund the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, which exists to serve as a watchdog to philanthropies, a subject I?ve written about for four decades.

Trump has tweeted that he would fight what he called ?this ridiculous case.? It was a typical Trumpian response, ignoring established facts and attacking law enforcement.

In this case, Trump has little to fear in terms of prosecution at the federal level. Only about 1,600 criminal tax cases are filed each year, most of them connected to drug trafficking and officials who take bribes. That?s roughly one prosecution for every 96,000 individual and corporate tax returns.

Further, Trump claims the power to stop any Justice Department investigation or criminal case, even though the Justice Department has previously prosecuted people for far less egregious conduct, said Marcus Owens, former head of the IRS tax-exempt organizations division.

And of course, if Trump were to become worried about prosecution at the federal level, he claims that the U.S. Constitution gives him the power to pardon himself.

Source: Andrew Cuomo Could Order Criminal Charges Against the Trump Family: But Will He?
AlterNet / Where?s That $4,000 Raise the GOP Promised Workers?
« Last post by AlterNet on Today at 10:29:25 AM »
Where?s That $4,000 Raise the GOP Promised Workers?

Most of the money went to stock buybacks, which enrich corporate executives and wealthy stockholders.

When Republicans in Congress passed a big, fat tax break bill in December, they insisted it meant American workers would be singing ?Happy Days Are Here Again? all the way to the bank.

The payoff from the tax cut would be raises totaling $4,000 to $9,000, the President?s Council of Economic Advisers assured workers.

But something bad happened to workers on their way to the repository. They never got that money.

In fact, their real wages declined because of higher inflation. At the same time, the amount workers had to pay in interest on loans for cars and credit cards increased. And, to top it off, Republicans threatened to make workers pay for the tax break with cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

So now, workers across America are wondering, ?Where?s that raise??

It?s nowhere to be found.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this week that wages for production and nonsupervisory workers decreased by 0.1 percent from May 2017 to May 2018 when inflation is factored in. The compensation for all workers together, including supervisors, rose an underwhelming 0.1 percent from April 2018 to May 2018.

That?s not what congressional Republicans promised workers. They said corporations, which got the biggest, fattest tax cuts of all, would use that extra money to increase wages.

Some workers got one-time bonuses and an even smaller number received raises. But not many. The group Americans for Tax Fairness estimates it?s 4.3 percent of all U.S. workers.

Most of the money went to stock buybacks, which enrich corporate executives and wealthy stockholders because they have the effect of raising stock values. Corporations set an all-time record for buybacks in the first quarter of this year. They bought $178 billion of their own shares, up by more than 42 percent from the first quarter in 2017.

The New York Times story about this record breaker describes the phenomena this way: ?Companies buy back their shares when they believe they have nothing better to do with their money than to return capital to shareholders.? So despite promises from the GOP and the President?s Council of Economic Advisers, corporations believed further enriching their own executives and shareholders was a much better way to use the money than increasing workers? wages?wages that have been stagnant for decades.

From 1945 until 1982, worker pay rose in tandem with productivity. At that time, buybacks were rare, primarily because they were deemed a forbidden manipulation of stock prices. In 1981, S&P 500 companies spent about 2 percent of profits on buybacks.

But after 1982, when the Reagan administration legalized stock buybacks, the connection between wages and productivity ended as corporate executives focused all of their efforts on increasing share value. Last year, the S&P 500 companies spent 50 percent of profits on buybacks and 41 percent on dividends to stockholders. That left a pittance?9 percent. Corporations socked away some or all of that in overseas tax havens. Their workers, whose labor produced that profit, got virtually nothing.

CEOs? self-centered focus on stock buybacks is a big part of the reason Republicans? promised raise is illusory. But it?s not just the raise. The tax cut itself is a sham.

Workers can be excused for not noticing that big, fat tax cut in their paychecks. Those who earn less than $25,000 a year, that is those in the lowest fifth of income brackets, will get a tax cut this year totaling $60. That?s just about a dollar a week.

For those in the middle-income quintile earning between $49,000 and $86,000 a year, the average tax cut is $900. That?s $17 a week?the cost of a large pizza and a Coke. Hardly earth-shattering.

By contrast, the top 1 percent of taxpayers, those with incomes above $733,000 a year, will get a tax cut averaging $51,000. That?s $980 a week. So every week this year, Uncle Sam will hand the nation?s richest a tax benefit that is $80 more than the entire amount that the middle-income worker will get in a year.

Workers across America are wondering, ?Where?s that big, beautiful tax break??

While they?re searching, workers will have to pay more for cars and homes and credit card debt. That?s because the Federal Reserve increased the cost of borrowing this week for the second time this year and promised two more hikes before year?s end.

Fed officials said they did it because the tax break and additional federal spending have heated up the economy. It?s hot for corporations, alright, but not for workers.

And the real cost to workers hasn?t yet hit. The GOP?s tax cut will add $1 trillion to the national debt. Even before passing the tax cut legislation, Republican leaders like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan began saying that workers would have to pay those costs in the form of cuts to cherished safety net programs?that is, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

And they?re not kidding. They already tried to slash funding for food stamps, the program that feeds the poor.

And now, incredibly, Republicans are planning a second round of tax cuts. They say they want to make that $17-a-week tax break for the middle class permanent. As it is now, that tax cut disappears in 2025, while the massive break Republicans gave corporations is permanent. In addition, Republicans want to slash the capital gains tax. This, again, is a tax cut for the rich.

Now, it?s not as if workers haven?t benefited at all under the current administration. Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and former chief economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, estimates that the real hourly pay of middle-class workers has risen 0.4 percent over the past 18 months of Republican control of Congress and the White House.

At that rate, Bernstein figures, it will take 28 years for a worker to get that promised $4,000 pay bump.

So before Republicans start trying to reward rich people again for being rich, they need to answer one question:

Where?s that $4,000 pay raise promised to the middle class?


Related Stories

Source: Where?s That $4,000 Raise the GOP Promised Workers?
The Media Should Stop Gifting Trump with Ego-Boosting 'Trump Said' Headlines and Tweets

Merely repeating the president just spreads his propaganda.

Writing the word ?lied? is apparently so time-consuming, that in their effort to get a headline out the door, it simply can?t be accommodated. Otherwise it?s difficult to excuse this breaking, big scoop headline from the Associated Press.

BREAKING: Trump says officials at FBI 'were plotting against my election'.

Or this tweet from the New York Times

President Trump said the IG report proved there had been FBI bias against him ahead of the 2016 presidential election, citing ?vicious? texts? between investigators and findings that he said illustrate ?criminal? behavior by James Comey

Or the Associated Press ? again.

The Latest: President Trump says the Justice Department watchdog report on the Clinton email probe shows the FBI was biased against him "at the top level" and was "plotting against my election."

Thanks guys. Just ? thanks. Because, yes, Donald Trump did say those things. But none of them was true. Not one. In fact, what the Inspector General?s report showed was that there was no political bias behind the actions taken by the FBI and it did not reveal any ?plot? against Trump. But by blasting Trump?s words out without bothering to mention that they are total fabrications, the media provides an echo chamber for Trump. It does not have to be this way. One moment?s thought, and ten seconds time, can result in a headline or tweet that relays the facts, rather than reinforcing the lie that Trump is trying to spread.

For many people, those headlines and tweets are all they will ever see of the story. For many people, the AP and New York Times just said that what Trump claimed is true.

Taking another example from this morning?s headlines at MSNBC

Trump calls IG report 'horror show', blames Dems for separations

Contrast with the headline for an article dealing with the exact same statement at CNN.

Trump again falsely blames the Democrats for his administration's family separations

Really. Is that so hard?



Related Stories

Source: The Media Should Stop Gifting Trump with Ego-Boosting 'Trump Said' Headlines and Tweets
Infoshop News / Bullshit Jobs: A Theory; Blue Collar Frayed: work in tomorrow?s economy
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on Yesterday at 06:02:09 AM »
Bullshit Jobs: A Theory; Blue Collar Frayed: work in tomorrow?s economy

In 2013 the essay On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs appeared in the radical ≠London-based magazine Strike!. Its author, anthropologist and political activist David Graeber, sought an answer to a simple question: how is it that developed economies in thrall to ideals of efficiency and high ≠productivity generate so many jobs that even the people who do them regard as pointless?
Source: Bullshit Jobs: A Theory; Blue Collar Frayed: work in tomorrow?s economy
Infoshop News / Prefigurative Politics, Catastrophe, and Hope
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on Yesterday at 06:02:09 AM »
Prefigurative Politics, Catastrophe, and Hope

Anarchists such as David Graeber and Cindy Milstein have used the term ?prefigurative politics? to describe the anarchist principle that the ways we organize in the present should reflect the sort of society we hope to create in the future.
Source: Prefigurative Politics, Catastrophe, and Hope
Infoshop News / Remembering ?Brownie Mary,? San Francisco?s Marijuana Pioneer
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on Yesterday at 06:02:09 AM »
Remembering ?Brownie Mary,? San Francisco?s Marijuana Pioneer

She baked thousands of pot brownies for AIDS patients.
Source: Remembering ?Brownie Mary,? San Francisco?s Marijuana Pioneer
AlterNet / Secret Information Is Hidden in Your Hair
« Last post by AlterNet on Yesterday at 06:02:05 AM »
Secret Information Is Hidden in Your Hair

A recent court case shows how far the technology to analyze hair has come.


Your hair can say a lot about you. It doesn?t just give people clues about your personality or your taste in music. It can also record evidence of how much you drink, whether you smoke or take drugs, and perhaps even how stressed you are. My colleagues and I research how hair can be used to provide more accurate testing for these attributes. And a recent court case shows how far the technology has come.

In 2008, a mother who had been struggling with alcohol abuse was asked by a UK court judging a child custody case to abstain from drinking for one year. To assess whether she managed to do this, scientists used a hair analysis that can detect long-term drug or alcohol abuse (or abstinence) over a period of many months, from just one test.

This case turned out to be a landmark moment for toxicological hair analysis. The labs analysing the mother?s hair suggested that she may have been drinking during the time she was supposed to be abstinent. The case ended up in the High Court, where the scientific principles underlying hair testing and, crucially, the way the results are reported were thoroughly debated. The judge was critical of the interpretation of the hair analysis data and disagreed with the scientists, ruling that there was no evidence to support drinking during the defined time-period.

Fast forward to 2017 and hair analysis featured in the High Court again. Yet this time the reliability of hair testing was confirmed. A lot changed in the intervening years between these cases. Technology advanced but, importantly, so did our understanding of what hair analysis data actually means.

The traditional samples for drug and alcohol testing are blood and urine. These provide evidence for cases where we require an indication of exposure to drugs and alcohol in a very recent time frame. These samples have what is referred to as a ?window of detection?. This is a timeframe over which that sample can demonstrate exposure to drugs or alcohol. The window of detection for blood is often measured in hours, and urine can show evidence over a few days, possibly a few weeks.

By contrast, hair can show a retrospective history of your drug or alcohol consumption (or abstinence) over many months. This level of information makes hair testing invaluable in a wide variety of legal scenarios. If you need to screen potential employees for a safety-critical role, you can use a hair test to check they are not regular drug users. What if you?re concerned your drink was spiked at a party, but too much time has passed for any drug to still be found in your blood or urine? The drugs can remain trapped in your hair, which gives you a longer window of detection and allows scientists to find traces of the drug long after the actual crime event.

My research group is investigating factors that affect the hair concentration of certain chemicals produced when the body ?processes alcohol (metabolites). This sort of work is important to give confidence to the results of hair testing when presented in court. We need the utmost confidence in the data, when a court judgment may have life-changing consequences.

We recently showed that hair sprays and waxes can greatly increase the level of alcohol metabolites found in hair, giving a false positive result in an alcohol test. In one of our experiments, a volunteer who was strictly teetotal tested negative for fatty acid ethyl esters (metabolites of alcohol) in head hair untreated with hair spray, but tested positive after application of hair spray. Not just a little positive either. The volunteer tested significantly over the threshold for chronic excessive alcohol consumption after using hair spray.

This may sound alarming for a test that is used in court, but now that scientists are aware of these limitations, procedures can be put in place to mitigate against them and guidance can be updated. Ethyl glucuronide (a different alcohol metabolite) is not affected by hair sprays and waxes and so is a better target to test when someone uses cosmetic products.

Other ways of testing

Hair is not the only alternative to blood and urine testing. I?m currently investigating whether fingernails might be a better sample to test in cases where we need to prove abstinence from alcohol. It has been shown that fingernails may incorporate significantly more ethyl glucuronide (an alcohol metabolite) than hair samples. This means fingernails may be more sensitive than hair and could be better at distinguishing low levels of drinking and complete abstinence.

Toxicological hair analysis is not about catching criminals. It?s not about penalty or punishment. It?s about helping people. Results from hair testing can help support people struggling with addiction. In the future I hope we will also be using hair analysis as a diagnostic tool in healthcare.

The research I?m conducting at the moment is evaluating the potential for hair to be used as a diagnostic marker of chronic stress. Stress can lead to very serious healthcare issues. We are examining the stress hormone cortisol to see if we can identify people at risk from future healthcare issues from the concentration of this hormone in hair.

The ConversationIf successful, this work will take hair analysis into a new realm. I?d like to see a future where hair testing is used for a national screening programme for older adults who are most at risk from chronic stress. This could allow scientists to target interventions to lower stress at people who need them the most, which could significantly improve the health and well-being of older people in particular.

Richard Paul, Principal Academic in Biological Chemistry, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Related Stories

Source: Secret Information Is Hidden in Your Hair
Richard Mellor / Why are the LIberal Writers So Depressing?
« Last post by Richard Mellor on June 15, 2018, 06:01:23 PM »
Why are the LIberal Writers So Depressing?

Some potential for conflict here I think
 Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Just saying the problem with the world is "greed" explains nothing.

What is the authors intention in this article below?  I do not think the word capitalism appears once. He talks of the emergence of European powers in the 15th century competing for world markets, labor and raw material (although he doesn't mention that either, they were simply driven by the desire for "subjugation" in the abstract) What was the economic foundation of these states?  What is history?

The political orientation of authors like this one, Hedges is another and there are many more, leaves one in a state of despair. The period described boils down to the greed of rich individuals or a collection of rich individuals who want to subjugate people. The crisis facing global society at the moment is greed whatever that is and Bush had a lot to do with it. Are these individuals feudal lords?

"What the Bush administration did was simply take one gulp too many and the result has been a kind of national (and planetary) indigestion." the author writes.

What does this mean? It sounds like a cooking show.  The reason this world outlook is so empty and depressing is that those holding it do not have a historical materialist world view. Not only is there no such thing as capitalism, therefore no capitalists, there is no working class either. Working class history in this author's mind doesn't exist. The class struggle doesn't exist whether it is in the form of the Native American's struggle against colonization and the introduction of capitalism to the continent or the factory occupations and strikes in France and the US during the 1930's or the revolutions in Russia, Spain and around the world.

That's why this worldview is so pessimistic and is more likely to be read by the petit bourgeois than working people. There is no force in society that can change society for the author, the working class doesn't exist and certainly cannot play a revolutionary role if it did. That working people could govern society would be an absurd concept.  And perhaps the most important aspect of this thinking is that there is no alternative to capitalism, to the present mode of production and the political superstructure and social organization that arises from it.

This is the doomsday school of thought.

Compare this to what Engels wrote:
The materialist conception of history starts from the proposition that the production of the means to support human life and, next to production, the exchange of things produced, is the basis of all social structure; that in every society that has appeared in history, the manner in which wealth is distributed and society divided into classes or orders is dependent upon what is produced, how it is produced, and how the products are exchanged. From this point of view, the final causes of all social changes and political revolutions are to be sought, not in men's brains, not in men's better insights into eternal truth and justice, but in changes in the modes of production and exchange. They are to be sought, not in the philosophy, but in the economics of each particular epoch. 

Here there is an attempt to explain the workings of society and what form it takes.
Engels continues:
The growing perception that existing social institutions are unreasonable and unjust, that reason has become unreason, and right wrong, is only proof that in the modes of production and exchange changes have silently taken place with which the social order, adapted to earlier economic conditions, is no longer in keeping. From this it also follows that the means of getting rid of the incongruities that have been brought to light must also be present, in a more or less developed condition, within the changed modes of production themselves. These means are not to be invented by deduction from fundamental principles, but are to be discovered in the stubborn facts of the existing system of production.
Engels, Socialism Utopian and Scientific part 111

What is happening
now is that a global order that was brought about in the aftermath of a second great global war between the capitalist powers that killed some 50 million people is collapsing. The bi-polar world where two powers were able to maintain a certain stability for a period ended with the collapse of Stalinism and now we have a declining US imperialism, a power that for a brief moment of the 21st century dominated the global scene, threatened by the rise of China.  Despite its decline, US imperialism is armed to the teeth and the most dangerous and destructive force on the planet.

The author of the linked article is right when he writes that the events we have witnessed over the past period, "....could, in the end, result in ruin of a historic kind". We have made that very clear on this blog that unless capitalism is overthrown and replaced by a global federation of democratic socialist states, capitalism will end life as we know it.

But we have a more optimistic and realistic view. The working class, united and conscious of the task history has laid out for it, is the only force that can prevent the environmental and humanitarian catastrophe that capitalism offers. History teaches us this. There are no guarantees, leadership is a major factor in the outcome of any struggle. But the working class has the power to change society of that there is no doubt.
Here is the article:

Source: Why are the LIberal Writers So Depressing?
Infoshop News / How My Father?s Ideas Helped the Kurds Create a New Democracy
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on June 15, 2018, 06:01:21 PM »
How My Father?s Ideas Helped the Kurds Create a New Democracy

It turned out that following his arrest, ÷calan was given access to hundreds of books, including Turkish translations of numerous historical and philosophical texts from the West.
Source: How My Father?s Ideas Helped the Kurds Create a New Democracy
Infoshop News / Liberals Are Criticizing the Korea Summit From the Right. Here?s Why They Have it All Wrong.
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on June 15, 2018, 06:01:21 PM »
Liberals Are Criticizing the Korea Summit From the Right. Here?s Why They Have it All Wrong.

With an end to the 68-year Korean War finally in sight, some U.S. ?progressives? are pushing Trump to be more hardline?despite the fact that Koreans overwhelmingly want peace.
Source: Liberals Are Criticizing the Korea Summit From the Right. Here?s Why They Have it All Wrong.
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