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These Are The Unsung Winners And Losers Of Donald Trump’s Boeing Tweet

Article posted December 8, 2016 at 9:20 PM

By Jason Linkins

President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday directed one of his infamous impulsive tweets at Boeing, which currently has a contract to build the next version of Air Force One. Specifically, he said: “Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!”

Boeing’s stock took a wild ride downward in the immediate aftermath of the outburst, but bounced back to roughly where it began by the time the closing bell rang. As it turned out, the Department of Defense had budgeted $1.65 billion ― not $4 billion ― and Boeing said it currently has a $170 million contract with the Air Force. Such clarity aided the company’s late-in-day stock rally.

But the tweet touched off a furious round of “Where did Donald Trump get his information?” questions. Reporters were subsequently tasked with the job of questioning whether Trump had any skin in the game with regard to Boeing. Spokespersons for the president-elect said ― without providing documentation ― that he had sold all of his stock holdings earlier in the year.

The whole incident revived concerns about the potential for Trump’s tweets to suddenly manipulate markets for no good reason. But it also uncovered other winners and losers that went relatively unnoticed.

BIG WINNER: THE PENTAGON

Perhaps the day’s biggest irony is that Trump’s complaints about imaginary Air Force One cost overruns pushed an even bigger story about government waste right out of the newshole. Prior to Trump’s Boeing complaint, most of the media was still absorbing a blockbuster story from The Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward. They described how the Pentagon went in search of wasteful spending, found a nonsensical amount of it, and then buried its own findings.

As the Post reported:

The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.

Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.

According to my back-of-the-envelope calculations, $125 billion is greater than $4 billion. And yet I have a really good feeling about which story will attract the lion’s share of attention on the Sunday morning political chat shows. The Pentagon caught a nice break.

BIG LOSER: CORPORATE CEOS

It’s hard to feel bad for our nation’s chief executives, who over the past four decades have enjoyed skyrocketing increases to their take-home pay that don’t align with the relative quality of American CEO-ing over the same period of time. But the Chicago Tribune’s Robert Reed argues that we should feel some concern over the “chilling effect on corporate CEOs speaking out in public.”

While not hearing from CEOs isn’t a major hardship for most people, this backing away threatens to damage the already shaky dialogue that exists between business leaders and the rest of us.

Even in a controlled environment of a Chamber of Commerce occasion or similar event, businesspeople get out there and share their views about the issues of the day, whether it’s public safety, the environment, markets, free trade or community development.

[…]

Sounds corny, but at such events the protective corporate bubble can be pierced, if only a little. Community activists, media members, employees, students and other stakeholders get to quiz executives about their corporate strategies and decisions.

“We need more healthy CEO dialogues, not fewer,” Reed writes.

ALSO WINNING: EVERYONE WHO DIDN’T WRITE THIS CNBC PIECE ASKING US TO CONSIDER THE COST-CUTTING VALUE OF TRUMP’S PRIVATE JET

For some reason, CNBC’s Robert Frank wrote a piece titled, “As Trump pushes back on Boeing, consider his private jet cost a fraction of Air Force One.”

Hmmm, yes, let’s consider.

So, after about two seconds of considering, I’m thinking that maybe one of the big reasons that Trump’s own plane “cost less then a tenth of Air Force One” is because Air Force One was specifically designed with the goal of making sure the president of the United States isn’t getting shot down all the damn time. This isn’t something that I thought we were ready to rethink. But as Frank points out, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s secondhand plane cost Trump merely $60 million after all the renovations were done. Let’s definitely see if Allen has any more planes laying around.

Frank pauses momentarily to ponder the innovative way Air Force One has been designed to “the president shouldn’t die” specifications, but dismisses such thoughts in the next breath:

Aviation experts say Trump’s plane is more luxurious, but Air Force One is a technology marvel, with an anti-missile system, scramblers, massive communications systems and back-up systems. So the two aircraft are not really comparable. But based on the Trump-gold standard for private jets, it’s no wonder he’s demanding a cost cut from Boeing.

Again, based on the “Trump-gold standard for private jets,” you don’t have an anti-missile system or other state-of-the-art countermeasures to being blown out of the sky, but it really makes you think, man.

TOO EARLY TO TELL: HIGH-FREQUENCY TRADERS

Redeeming CNBC’s coverage of Boeing Tweet Day, Eamon Javers digs into the notion that traders might be able to game Trump’s Twitter activity with computerized algorithms designed to start immediately capitalizing on Trump’s market manipulations. That sounds great, just great. Naturally, people are already working on figuring out a way to do this.

Efrem Hoffman, founder of a market analysis firm called Running Alpha, said Trump’s tweets represent a new source of market information for those willing to study them and identify patterns. “One specific strategy that I am working on is looking at tweets that come from Trump’s Android phone — as these have been shown to reflect his personal beliefs and convictions,” Hoffman said. “Somewhat more unfiltered than tweets coming from other mobile devices that reflect the opinions of his colleagues/staff.”

Hoffman said he is analyzing the sequencing of Trump’s tweets in terms of volatility between Trump’s episodes of anger or jubilation, and cross referencing those episodes with keywords associated with specific industries of policy categories. He said he is looking at the sentiment of Trump’s followers and how the tweets are received as a possible measure of market player uncertainty.

There is a healthy amount of skepticism as to whether something like this could be pulled off, and Javers notes that it “is always possible that algorithmic traders are already analyzing Trump’s tweets and simply decided that the [Boeing] tweet was too vague to trade on.”

Nevertheless, that 10-second delay between Trump’s Twitter missive and the market’s convulsions remain exploitable terrain. Someone is sure to find a way to get rich off Trump’s tweets. Probably not you, though!

~~~~~

Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Via: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/12/08/donald-trump-boeing-tweet-winners-losers_n_13519430.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=Politics

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The Reality-Based Community And Trump’s Orwellian Dystopia

Article posted December 8, 2016 at 9:13 PM

By Dr. Milton Mankoff

Back in 2004, journalist Ron Suskind interviewed a top aide to President George W. Bush, later identified as Karl Rove. As Suskind reported:

The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality–judiciously, as you will–we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

The quote was chilling, because it implied that the most powerful government on earth was confident it could be guided, not by empirical evidence, but by its ideological inclinations. Reality, of course, does matter and Rove and his boss learned, both in Iraq and when the economy collapsed in 2008, that there are costs to denying it. Happily, for them, those costs were primarily borne by those who had little choice but to live in the reality-based community: soldiers and civilians in Iraq; US homeowners and workers.

Rove’s confidence US Administrations could “create reality” was not entirely naïve, at least in the short-term. For over a century, legitimate analyses of impediments to objectivity (examined in depth by psychology, neuroscience, and post-modernist philosophy, and depicted in the arts) have penetrated our culture, reinforcing the view that “knowledge” is frequently subjective. Ideological appeals often are strengthened by “emotional reasoning,” by which our feelings alone validate what constitutes a fact.

Professional journalism, often viewed as a powerful countervailing force to ideology and propaganda, has failed. As practiced on network television, where most people seek news, “objectivity” is not defined by a search for verifiable facts and accurate interpretations, but “even-handedness.” News presenters believe they are being “objective” if they allow each side equal time to express themselves. Interviewees are almost never challenged and virtually any reply to a rare follow-up question will be accepted. Journalists have become mere stenographers. (The glaring exception to “even-handedness” is Fox News, which explicitly tailors journalism to be in sync with Republican Party ideology at the expense of accuracy).

The internet (including social media), television news’ chief rival, works in the opposite direction. Users reinforce their pre-existing ideology by typically choosing to increase exposure to partisan political news and views. Thus, as with television journalism, the internet does not induce many to challenge their own biases.

Karl Rove was a cynical political visionary, but Donald Trump’s surreal road to the White House is that vision’s nightmarish embodiment. The term “truth,” which once indicated a claim supported by incontestable facts, has, because of Trump, been re-defined. Sometimes it means “truthiness,” coined by Stephen Colbert, signifying phenomena which feel true though not supported by fact (e.g., gun ownership saves lives). Oftentimes, however, assertions are almost impossible to believe (e.g., Obama founded ISIS). Almost.

Trump has set a likely unbreakable record for a President-elect by having made hundreds of baseless claims since last year. Yet, polls indicated voters perceived Hillary Clinton, though actually far less prone to tell blatant lies, less honest. For this to be comprehensible, truth has had to be re-defined as communicating whatever one honestly believes, even if it may not, or, almost certainly, could not be true.

Facts are “trumped” by beliefs, when the purveyor of false information is not viewed as disingenuous. Hillary Clinton’s far greater factual accuracy, even if accepted, was irrelevant, because she was thought to be consciously lying about her emails, and a willing Wall Street puppet. Oddly, Trump’s refusal to release his taxes, or disclose his business with Russian oligarchs tied to Vladimir Putin, was never perceived by his supporters in the same light.

In addition to making truth dependent upon honest conviction, not the weight of objective evidence, we have also witnessed fabricated online stories gone viral. In some instances, this has been done for profit. Macedonian teenage entrepreneurs, for example, created tales accepted by credulous Trump supporters, such as that Pope Francis endorsed Trump. Others, primarily right-wing sites, have had clear-cut political motives: Conservative Daily Post falsely claimed the FBI confirmed evidence of a “huge underground Clinton sex network”; Cathy O’Brien, employing John Birch Society rhetoric about the Illuminati, accused the Clintons along with Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush of using mind control to make her, her daughter, and countless others, into sex slaves, to facilitate their diabolical quest for a New World Order. Before the internet, these concoctions would have reached a small audience. Now they can be directly accessed by millions and further amplified via apolitical social media, because fact-checking is difficult, even if one is motivated.

Most ideologues who spread fake news may have had no direct ties to Donald Trump. But, Stephen Bannon, who will be chief strategist in the Trump Administration, does. Breitbart News, which Bannon served as executive chairman of from 2012 until joining the Trump campaign in August, has published both real and fake news.

Laura Ingraham, who has been mentioned as a possible Press Secretary in the coming Administration, is another disturbing figure. She owns an online publishing company which operates LifeZette. a “news” site which has trafficked in conspiracy theories, including one accusing Clinton of being responsible for the death of John F. Kennedy Jr. A video produced by LifeZette, Clinton Body Count, which made this accusation among others, was viewed 14 million times. Perhaps her talents would be wasted in a position that requires only obfuscation, not invention.

When Karl Rove mocked the “reality-based community” he was prophetic. But, he was no George Orwell, whose dystopian 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four coined the term “double-think,” the dominant political discourse in Oceania, the super-state he imagined, which foreshadowed the Age of Trump:

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it.

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Via: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-milton-mankoff/the-reality-based-community-and-trumps_b_13351438.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=Politics

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Hamburger Boy to Become Secretary of Labor

Article posted December 8, 2016 at 9:11 PM

By David Macaray It was announced that President-elect Donald Trump (how those four words still curdle in our throat!) will be appointing Andrew Puzder as his Secretary of Labor. Even though, considering all that’s happened in the last 30 years, there is no real surprise in this appointment, let us count the ways that it should scare the bejeezus out of anyone who pulls for the working class.

Firstly, Andrew Puzder is a deregulation fiend, a fanatic, who doesn’t believe in the salutary effects of labor laws, whether they be municipal, county, state or federal. In a word, he views the majority of labor laws (including the landmark National Labor Relations Act) as impediments to doing business.

As a consequence, he doesn’t believe it’s the federal government’s place to establish a minimum wage (like any other “free market” fundamentalist, he believes the marketplace should freely determine an employee’s rate of pay on a case by case basis), but if the feds insist on doing so, that figure should be no higher than $9 per hour, which amounts to $18,720 annually for someone working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year.

Secondly, as CEO of CKE Restaurants, which owns, among other things, the Carl’s Jr. hamburger chain, Andy Puzder opposes having fast-food workers and retail sales employees belong to labor unions. Considering that unions offer the triumvirate of better wages, better benefits, better working conditions, Andy’s opposition is solely profit-based. Indeed, it might be classified as the doctrine of a “classic fiscal conservative.” That or a “greedy bastard.”

This doctrine is unfortunate because fast-food workers and retail sales people (think of the employees of the mega- Wal-Mart corporation) are regarded by organized labor as the platform from which to launch the Second Wave of the labor movement. The First Wave was industrial; the Second Wave will be service oriented (with health care and civil service jobs already leading the charge).

Unlike vulnerable and outdated smoke-stack industries, restaurants and retail stores (of which there are tens of thousands nationwide) aren’t “portable.” Which is to say, you can’t sell Carl’s Jr. hamburgers to customers in Peoria, Illinois, by relocating the restaurant to labor-cheap Bangladesh. This circumstance gives fast-food workers at least a modicum of leverage.

And thirdly, as Secretary of Labor, Andy Puzder will be the position to kick everyone’s butt, and to do it legally. As the highest ranking (both functionally and symbolically) labor figure in the U.S., he will not only set the tone for labor-management relations during a Trump presidency, he has the right to appoint three (a majority) of the five members of the NLRB.

This is a huge responsibility. Among other things, the NLRB is charged with adjudicating critical labor disputes–those involving the very definition of workers’ rights. For instance, when a labor union, or a group of employees seeking to be represented by that union, contacts the NLRB and accuses the company of using unfair or illegal tactics to keep the union out, it falls upon the Labor Board to make a ruling, and that decision is pretty much final.

Given Andrew Puzder’s virulently anti-union sentiments, and him gleefully pulling the strings while eating hamburgers, one can only imagine how rare it’s going to be for the Board to side with labor in any crucial dispute. As Bette Davis (playing Margo Channing) famously said, “Fasten your seat belts; it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Via: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-macaray/hamburger-boy-to-become-s_b_13519372.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=Politics

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Democrats Should Fight All of Trump’s Nominees. Yes, All of Them.

Article posted December 8, 2016 at 9:11 PM

By Joan Walsh

Joan Walsh

He’s hoodwinked his working-class supporters by naming a cabinet of millionaire and billionaire insiders.

Via: https://www.thenation.com/article/democrats-should-fight-all-of-trumps-nominees-yes-all-of-them/

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Former ‘RBD’ Star Rejects How Trump Has Stereotyped Mexicans

Article posted December 8, 2016 at 8:50 PM

By Rahel Gebreyes

Actor Alfonso Herrera isn’t happy with how President-elect Donald Trump has depicted Mexicans.

The Mexican actor stopped by The Huffington Post on Wednesday to discuss his role in Fox’s “The Exorcist,” but he also weighed in on Trump’s controversial rhetoric. Although Herrera said he respects the “democratic processes” of the election, he rejected the way that Mexicans were portrayed during the U.S. presidential campaign.

“I mean, I’m Mexican. I feel very proud of my country,” he said. “I feel very proud of my roots. I feel very proud of my nationality and unfortunately we’ve been stereotyped in a way that we are not.”

The actor feared that the offensive rhetoric spreading across the U.S. signaled the beginning of a “very dark era,” especially because the United States has such a huge global influence.

“What happens here in the States, it’s going to impact the whole world,” Herrera said.

Hear more from Alfonso Herrera in the video above and check out his full interview here.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Via: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/12/07/alfonso-herrera-donald-trump-mexicans_n_13519310.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=Politics

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Obama Administration To Open Temporary Shelters In Texas For Surge Of Immigrant Families

Article posted December 8, 2016 at 8:49 PM

By Roque Planas

Customs and Border Protection will open a new temporary shelter on Friday in Donna, Texas, to handle a sharp increase in the number Central American families and unaccompanied children crossing into the United States, the agency announced Thursday.

U.S. authorities have struggled since the summer of 2014 to accommodate an influx of Central American families and children, who often arrive seeking asylum or other humanitarian relief. After rising and falling over two years, the numbers jumped sharply this fall.

The set of tents and showers at Donna comes in addition to a similar facility that CBP opened last month in the West Texas town of Tornillo, outside El Paso. Each facility can hold up to 500 detainees.

“It got to the point where we simply could not handle the amount of people who were coming here and requesting asylum,” said David Higgerson, Laredo field operations director, according to KENS5 Eyewitness News.

Each of the shelters cost about $3.8 million to establish, KENS5 reports.

The number of apprehensions at the border has surged this year, with 46,195 people crossing into the United States without authorization ― a figure that includes people who request asylum or other humanitarian relief. That number marks a 41 percent increase compared to the same month last year.

Unaccompanied minors and mothers traveling with their children accounted for more than 19,000 of the new arrivals.

“This effort is designed to minimize the impact to border security operations while fulfilling our humanitarian efforts,” Manuel Padilla Jr., commander of the Joint Task Force-West South Texas Corridor, said in a press statement. “We will work closely with all our partner agencies to maintain efficient operations.”

Those passing through the shelters are supposed to remain in custody for three days or less.

The development comes as the Obama administration faces legal setbacks to its family detention policy and criticism from a Department of Homeland Security-fielded panel of experts over its reliance on for-profit prison contractors to run immigrant detention centers.

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Via: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/12/08/temporary-shelters-immigrants-texas_n_13519276.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=Politics

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Trump’s Labor Secretary Pick: ‘I Like Beautiful Women Eating Burgers In Bikinis’

Article posted December 8, 2016 at 8:46 PM

By Emily Peck

What kind of American values does Andy Puzder, reported to be Donald Trump’s pick for labor secretary, embrace?

Puzder, CEO of the company that operates burger chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, has been outspoken on a few issues. He doesn’t want to raise the minimum wage. He really dislikes Obamacare.

What, then, does he like?

Hot women in bikinis eating burgers.

“I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American,” Puzder told Entrepreneur last year. “I used to hear, brands take on the personality of the CEO. And I rarely thought that was true, but I think this one, in this case, it kind of did take on my personality.”

The comments ― and Puzder’s full-throated defense of his degrading ad campaigns ― are just the latest sign of how terrible the Trump administration is likely to be for American women. Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush both named women as labor secretaries.

Part of Puzder’s job as labor secretary would include protecting women’s rights in the workplace. He would oversee the Labor Department’s Women’s Bureau, which advocates for equal pay and offers resources for women discriminated against at work.

In Puzder’s world, the Women’s Bureau is the name of a “breastaurant” that serves high-end burgers.

His Carl’s Jr. has been running TV commercials showing super-attractive women eating burgers for more than a decade, beginning with a soft-porn spot featuring Paris Hilton nearly naked, washing a Bentley in heels and eating a burger. More recently, a young Kate Upton has taken on the mantle.

In these spots, women don’t just eat the food. They basically have sex with the food. We are not embedding these ads here.

Way to go @KateUpton! I’d use you in an ad again anytime!

— Andy Puzder (@AndyPuzder) September 12, 2016

“It’s upsetting because of its objectification of women,” Jezebel wrote in a post entitled, “Put It in My Mouth: A History of Disgusting Carl’s Jr. Ads.” It’s infuriating because who in their right mind eats a burger with sopping wet hands.”

In an interview with Fox in 2015, Puzder defended the half-naked-women-sell-burgers-strategy by saying, essentially, it works. “We always get blowback on the ads … The ads are very effective. They appeal to our young hungry guy demographic.”

The fast-food industry is not known as a particularly good place for women. Yet a stunning 70 percent of the front-line, low-wage jobs in fast food are held by women. (I don’t have data specific to Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., but the stats are likely similar.)

Forty percent of women working in the industry reported some kind of sexual harassment at work, according to a recent survey. That’s 2 in 5 women.

But sure ― keep teaching young boys that women are just burger-selling, bikini-wearing vehicles for their pleasure. That will definitely send the message that sexual harassment isn’t OK.

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Via: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/12/08/andy-puzder-women_n_13519118.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=Politics

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Trump Is Doing Exactly What He Promised To Do About Conflicts Of Interest: Almost Nothing

Article posted December 8, 2016 at 8:29 PM

By Ben Walsh

President-elect Donald Trump is doing exactly what he always said he was going to do with his company, the Trump Organization. But he’s spinning it as a new decision — and the press is buying it.

The New York Times, citing unnamed sources, reported Wednesday evening that Trump won’t sell his stake in his company. His adult sons will run the business, but he won’t transfer ownership to them. And he certainly won’t be doing anything remotely resembling divesting or installing an independent administrator to run the Trump Organization.

It’s a plan that does almost nothing to address the massive conflicts of interest inherent in owning a real estate and branding business while serving as president of the United States.

It’s also the same thing he’s been promising to do for months.

You don’t need to rely on unnamed sources to know that Trump plans to have his adult children run his business while he’s in the Oval Office. He said so on live TV during a Republican primary debate in January. He said so in September. His son Donald Jr. has said the same thing. On Nov. 10, two days after Trump won the election, his attorney said the president-elect’s children were already running the business with, he claimed, no involvement from their father. (Heightening the conflicts of interest is the fact that his three oldest children are also on his transition team’s executive committee.)

The only notable difference reported in the New York Times story is that Trump’s daughter Ivanka will also step aside from the business. Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, are reportedly moving to Washington, D.C., to work in some as-yet-to-be-determined roles in her father’s administration. (Kushner’s potential position brings its own multibillion-dollar conflicts and, given his marriage to Ivanka, may also violate anti-nepotism laws.)

And the president-elect’s team is making sure reporters know he may still change his mind. “No final decisions have been made,” Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told HuffPost. Hicks added that, as previously announced, Trump will publicly announce his plan on Dec. 15.

“This leaves us exactly where we thought we would be,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “It is, assuming this is what he announces next week, an entirely inadequate approach to avoiding conflicts.”

By maintaining a stake in his company, Trump will not relieve himself of his conflicts of interest, current or future, or any appearance of conflicts. He will maintain an enormous private financial interest that could at any time clash with American interests. His private business interests create a conflict for the president-elect whenever he assesses what the United States should do or say about the actions of world leaders.

Consider the brutal state campaign of murder led by President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines. Trump has his name on a tower in metro Manila and would benefit from an amicable relationship between Duterte’s regime and the U.S. government. Last week, Trump invited the Philippine leader to Washington and reportedly praised the way police in that country have been killing people suspected of using or dealing drugs. Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway did not respond when she was asked about the invitation on Dec. 3.

Domestically, Trump will soon appoint a new head of the General Services Administration, which oversees the lease for Trump’s D.C. hotel. Each year, that person will have to renegotiate terms of his boss’s lease with his boss’s adult children. This appointment is an immediate conflict of interest for Trump; the relationship will be an ongoing conflict for the incoming GSA head.

The same will be true of Trump’s appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, who will be able to rule against union organizing efforts at Trump’s casinos and hotels.

Trump’s reported refusal to divest from his business — despite the recommendations of ethics experts from both parties as well as in a bizarre stream of tweets by the Office of Government Ethics — may technically be allowed under federal law. His foreign holdings and debts, however, could very well be unconstitutional under the emoluments clause, which bars government officials from receiving payments or gifts from foreign governments or foreign government-owned corporations.

Trump owes hundreds of millions of dollars to the government-owned Bank of China, while the Trump Tower in New York City rents space to the government-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. Since his election, the Trump International Hotel in D.C. has become a hotspot for holiday events held by foreign governments, including Bahrain and Azerbaijan.

The appointment of Donald Jr. and Eric Trump as joint heads of the Trump Organization will also do nothing to alleviate any concerns about conflicts of interest. They serve on the executive committee of their father’s transition team, thus negating any separation between the business and his administration. They can use their two roles to advance their own and their father’s private financial interests. The president-elect obviously wants his company to succeed ― to keep him rich, to keep his children employed and successful, and to ensure them great wealth upon his retirement.

These aren’t just apparent conflicts of interest. They are actual conflicts of interest.

“It goes to the core of what presidents are supposed to do,” said Norm Eisen, former ethics adviser to President Barack Obama. “They’re there to serve the public interest and not the private interest, and the worst private interest of all is their own financial interest.”

That’s the interest Trump seems to be refusing to leave behind as he enters office.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Via: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/12/08/trump-conflicts-of-interest_n_13518852.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=Politics

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Keith Ellison Secures Nation’s Biggest Labor Endorsement

Article posted December 8, 2016 at 8:29 PM

By Zach Carter

WASHINGTON ― America’s largest federation of labor unions on Thursday endorsed Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

“Representative Ellison meets the high standard working people expect from leaders of our political parties,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a written statement. “He is a proven leader, who will focus on year-round grassroots organizing to deliver for working families across America.”

The AFL-CIO represents 56 different labor unions. Several large unions, including Communication Workers of America and United Steelworkers, have already announced their support for Ellison’s DNC bid, as have key labor figures like the chiefs of the American Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The nod from the AFL-CIO, however, suggests that a recent smear campaign attempting to brand Ellison as anti-Semitic is not scaring off major Democratic-allied institutions. Ellison would be the first Muslim to head the party.

Ellison has long been one of the most aggressive congressional supporters of the American labor movement. He has repeatedly rallied with striking workers, and participated last month in a demonstration by Minneapolis fast food employees seeking a $15 minimum wage. His DNC policy platform calls for Democratic leaders to embrace “labor as a full partner,” which would represent a shift from recent decades in which union concerns have been subjugated to Wall Street and Silicon Valley interests within the party.

Ellison backed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during the Democratic presidential primary, and his candidacy has quickly converted the DNC race into a proxy battle over the direction of the party after Hillary Clinton’s loss to president-elect Donald Trump. Ellison is pressing to refocus party attention on working people by emphasizing small-dollar fundraising, much as the Sanders campaign did. Most recent DNC chairs, including Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), have focused on major corporate donors.

The AFL-CIO endorsement consolidates Ellison’s status as front-runner in the DNC race. More than 100 lawmakers have already backed his candidacy, including Sanders and progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), along with establishment leaders like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

But the DNC election remains more than two months away, and other candidates have also secured prominent supporters. South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison, a former corporate lobbyist, has been endorsed by the third-ranking House Democrat, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). President Barack Obama has signaled support for either Labor Secretary Thomas Perez or former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who both endorsed Clinton in the Democratic primary.

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Via: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/12/08/keith-ellison-afl-cio_n_13518850.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=Politics

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John Glenn Dead At 95: He Served His Country In War And In Space

Article posted December 8, 2016 at 8:26 PM

By Ryan Grenoble

John Glenn, an astronaut, senator and old-fashioned American hero, died Thursday at the age of 95, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

Glenn was the last survivor of the Mercury 7, selected in 1959 as NASA’s first group of astronauts. He became the first American to orbit the Earth on Feb. 20, 1962. It was a solo flight, not everything went as planned in space, and Glenn personified cool under pressure.

Those nerves had earlier served him well as a much-decorated veteran of two wars and a military test pilot ― and perhaps they came in handy later in his 24 years in the U.S. Senate representing his native state of Ohio.

He was born July 18, 1921, in Cambridge, Ohio, to Clara and John Herschel Glenn Sr. The family moved to nearby New Concord when he was two, where his father opened a plumbing business. Glenn later wrote, “A boy could not have had a more idyllic early childhood than I did.”

He attended Muskingum College to study engineering, but dropped out to enlist in the Navy’s aviation program after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. “I knew my responsibility,” he later said, “and I thought it was important to get going.”

In World War II, Glenn flew 59 combat missions in the South Pacific as a Marine aviator. He flew a further 90 combat missions during the Korean War. For his valor, he earned numerous awards and decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross six times.

His aircraft was hit by enemy fire on five different occasions, yet he escaped serious injury. A 1962 Life magazine spread noted that Glenn once returned from a mission in Korea with 375 holes in his plane. Crew members nicknamed the aircraft “the flying doily.”

Before missions, he shared an inside joke with his wife Annie, assuring her that he was just going to the corner store to get a pack of gum, to which she would reply, “Don’t be long.” Years later, just before his solo spaceflight, he gave her a present, a pack of gum, which she carried in a pocket next to her heart until he returned safely.

The Glenns were childhood sweethearts who had married in 1943. He would later remark that her decades-long struggle with — and ultimate triumph over — a severe stutter out-shined his own accomplishments.

“I saw Annie’s perseverance and strength through the years and it just made me admire her and love her even more,” he wrote. “I don’t know if I would have had the courage.”

After the Korean War, Glenn joined the Naval Air Test Center, where he worked as a test pilot. In 1957, he piloted an F8UI Crusader from Los Angeles to New York in just under three and a half hours. That transcontinental flight, dubbed “Project Bullet,” was the first to average supersonic speed.

His most famous accomplishment, however, came when he was launched into space in February 1962 in a tiny Mercury capsule atop an Atlas rocket.

In the span of four hours and 55 minutes, Glenn orbited the Earth three times aboard the Friendship 7 spacecraft, at a maximum altitude of around 162 miles and an orbital velocity of nearly 17,500 miles per hour.

Though his heart rate monitor showed a pulse of between 60 and 80 beats per minute while awaiting liftoff — “closer to bored than apprehensive,” wrote Columbus Monthly in 1998 — Glenn was well aware of the mission’s dangers. Several of the prior unmanned test launches had ended catastrophically, and his own mission had been called off 10 times in the previous four months.

He later joked, “I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and knew you were sitting on top of 2 million parts — all built by the lowest bidder on a government contract.”

The flight wasn’t without its terrifying moments. At the end of his first orbit, a jet clogged and pitched the capsule 20 degrees to the right. Glenn had to abandon the automatic control system in favor of manual “fly by wire” controls for much of the remaining mission.

During his second orbit, a warning indicated that the spacecraft’s heat shield — critical to keep it from burning up on re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere — might have come loose.

NASA instructed Glenn not to jettison a set of retro-rockets after firing them to slow his re-entry, hoping they would help hold the heat shield in place.

“There were flaming chunks of the retro-pack burning off and coming back by the window,” Glenn recalled. “I didn’t know for sure whether it was the retro-pack or the heat shield, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it either way, except just keep trying to work and keep the spacecraft on its actual best attitude coming back in.”

The shield held and he splashed down 800 miles southeast of Florida, where the USS Noa picked him up 21 minutes later.

Celebrity greeted him on his return to Earth. Not only had Glenn’s flight advanced science; it boosted the spirits of Cold War America. The Soviets had beaten the U.S. into space in both manned and unmanned spacecraft, and Glenn’s flight marked an American comeback.

“We hadn’t really thought that any nation could even touch us technically,” Glenn told ABC News in 1998, recalling the attitude at the time. “And all at once, here was this bunch of Soviets over there, for heaven’s sake, outdoing the United States of America in technical and scientific things.”

Glenn received a ticker-tape parade in New York and met President John F. Kennedy in the White House.

Then he returned to NASA and awaited another mission — one that wouldn’t come for several more decades. Unbeknownst to the astronaut, Kennedy viewed him as such a political asset and national symbol that he had prohibited NASA from sending Glenn back into space, worried he might lose his life.

In 1964, Glenn left NASA to run for the U.S. Senate. Within weeks, a fall on his head left him hospitalized for nine months, scrapping his campaign plans.

But he didn’t give up on political life. He had developed a personal friendship with the Kennedy family. In 1968, when a gunman left Bobby Kennedy mortally wounded, his wife, Ethel, turned to the Glenns to take the Kennedy children away and look after them. And it was John Glenn who had to tell those children that their father had died. It was, he said, “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.”

Glenn ran for Senate again in 1970, losing in the Democratic primary to Howard Metzenbaum, and then tried once more in 1974. His third bid was successful. He would serve four terms in the Senate until his retirement in 1999.

As a senator, Glenn helped author the 1978 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act and served on the Foreign Relations Committee, the Armed Services Committee and the Special Committee on Aging. He chaired the Governmental Affairs Committee from 1978 to 1995, where he pushed to increase government accountability. He also made an unsuccessful run for the White House in the 1984 election cycle.

In 1989, Glenn found himself embroiled in a growing scandal along with four other senators who had received donations from a wealthy banker named Charles Keating Jr. Keating had defrauded investors in his Lincoln Savings and Loan Association of more than $250 million. U.S. taxpayers ended up on the hook for $3.4 billion to cover the S&L’s losses, reports The Economist. But as regulators closed in on him, Keating called upon the senators he’d donated to — later dubbed the “Keating Five” — for help stalling the investigation.

A 1991 inquiry by the Senate Ethics Committee cleared Glenn of impropriety, though it concluded he had exercised “poor judgment.” Ohio voters, apparently undeterred by the scandal, re-elected him to the Senate in 1992 for his fourth term.

Throughout the years, Glenn longed to return to space.

The opportunity finally came on Oct. 29, 1998, nearly four decades after his first launch, when Glenn strapped in aboard the space shuttle Discovery. At age 77, he was the oldest person to fly in space. Over the course of the shuttle’s nine-day mission, Glenn helped scientists peek into the aging process and the effects of spaceflight on the human body.

Unlike his solitary first mission, this time around Glenn was joined by an entire crew of other astronauts. His descent back to Earth was likely more enjoyable as well. Aboard the shuttle, the elder astronaut had to withstand a G-force of 3 on re-entry, compared to the 6 Gs he experienced on Friendship 7.

In retirement, Glenn remained a vocal supporter of space exploration in general and NASA in particular. On the 50th anniversary of his historic flight, he reflected in a 2012 interview with The Associated Press that he’d been “very fortunate to have a lot of great experiences in my life.”

His one major regret, he said, was not having personally made it to the Moon. That accomplishment went to another man from Ohio, Neil Armstrong.

Armstrong responded by calling Glenn’s original flight “the most significant of all the space anniversaries.”

“John Glenn deserves all the honors that his country can bestow,” Armstrong added. “He is an American patriot.”

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Via: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/01/15/john-glenn-dies-dead-astronaut-senator_n_13518842.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&ir=Politics

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