Saturday, January 21, 2017

An Obama staffer takes stock of his accomplishments

from http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/1/20/1622772/-An-Obama-Staffer-s-Parting-Note-to-Progressives

"When Obama passed the Recovery Act, a bigger stimulus than the New Deal, the infrastructure spending, the investments in clean energy manufacturing, and the Making Work Pay tax cuts were for working people.
  • When we passed the ACA, that was aimed straight at working peoplewhite working people, black working people, Hispanic, Asian, and tribaland Republicans are now finally having ‎to face up to that fact. Not just the 20+ million who got coverage, but the ~150 million with preexisting conditions and the vast majority of Americans who get their coverage through work who were always at risk of getting screwed by some insurance company loophole. It was for people like my parents who are self-employed and could never afford real insurance for our family while I was growing up.
  • When we passed the CFPB, that was for working people who were getting screwed every which way by predatory financial industries.
  • When Obama executed the auto bailout, despite shudder-inducing unpopularity at the time, a million working people kept their livelihoods.
  • When Obama ended the Bush tax cuts for millionaires, even as he ‎extended working class tax cuts like the Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and the new American Opportunity Tax Credit, that was for working people.
  • When we repealed DADT, and helped make marriage equality a reality, that was for working people who wanted to live free of discrimination in a loving relationship or serving their country.  
  • When we implemented DACAthat was for working people who just wanted‎ to come out of the shadows and contribute to this country in the light of day.
  • When Obama signed the law to reduce crack/cocaine sentencing discrepanciesand pushed the sentencing commission for reform, and made a cause out of his presidential commutation power, and pushed to "ban the box" on employment forms, that was for working people who wanted to ‎make a living for themselves and their families, and not have their lives destroyed by some drug offense for which a wealthy kid might have gotten a slap on the wrist.
  • When the president brought more than 90 percent of our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, stayed out of a full-blown ground war quagmire in Syria despite constant criticism, ‎and used diplomacy to block Iran's nuclear program and avoid another warthat was for the working people who make up America's militarywhite working people, black working people, Hispanic, Asian, and tribalwho want to serve their country and get an education they might not otherwise be able to afford, and who are treated like cannon fodder by Washington's war "hawks."
  • When Obama took on toxic pollution on things like mercury‎ and countless other rules, that was for working people, who are the ones who bear the brunt of that toxicity, saving tens of thousands from sickness and death.
  • Setting aside the fact that climate change will destroy the planet that working people work on, he has also pushed against widespread skepticism, constant political criticism, and even mockery,‎ to make clean energy a source of manufacturing jobs for working people for decades ahead, and there is now widespread agreement that the clean energy revolution has begunand can't be reversed.
  • When Obama took major executive actions and pushed to make fair pay and paid leave central to the political debate, to recognize them as economic issues and not solely gender equality issues, that was, obviously, about working people.
  • Executive actions on overtime pay, payday lenders, crooked retirement brokers: working people.
  • And when Obama pushed for the American Jobs Act, for immigration reform, for universal background checks, for universal pre-K and free community college and for minimum wage increases, and was blocked by Republicans, that was all for working people.

Obama wasn't perfect; with any president you can find shortcomings, and more people that could have or should have been helped; we owe it to those people to learn lessons and do better in the future. But I honestly believe he will be remembered as one of our greatest presidents, precisely because fighting for working people is literally what got him (and his staff) out of bed in the morning, what made him love and cherish the job up to the very last day. And the Democratic Party, which buckled down and sacrificed huge numbers of its members for the sake of insuring tens of millions of people, and which in vast majority stood strong to stop war in Iran, has been a party I can believe in as a vehicle for change, for all its warts. "





rest at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/1/20/1622772/-An-Obama-Staffer-s-Parting-Note-to-Progressives

Friday, January 20, 2017

Obamas seek public input on upcoming Presidential Center for Chicago https://goo.gl/kxuJsb

from http://chicago.curbed.com/2017/1/20/14337646/obama-presidential-center-foundation-chicago?utm_campaign=issue-51424&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Curbed+Chicago

"the Obamas launched a new website for the Obama Foundation and spoke to their plans to create a library and community center on Chicago's South Side. The splash page features a video of Barack and Michelle briefly describing their intentions and asking for input on the new Obama Presidential Center, stating that "this will be your presidential center just as much as it is ours.""

rest at http://chicago.curbed.com/2017/1/20/14337646/obama-presidential-center-foundation-chicago?utm_campaign=issue-51424&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Curbed+Chicago

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Obama's legacy: eight years of not holding executives criminally responsible for their companies' misdeeds

from http://boingboing.net/2017/01/11/obamas-legacy-eight-years-o.html

"...Holder believes that jailing executives -- and exacting other forms of significant criminal justice against criminal corporations -- is fundamentally unjust, because of all the collateral damage to investors, employees and customers. Instead, Holder preferred to fine companies very large sums (but not so large that the companies were jeopardized), effectively turning criminal lawbreaking into a predictable line item, one of the costs of doing business. Meanwhile, the collateral damage from the jailing of poor people -- damage to their families and their communities -- was considered an unavoidable and tolerable result of a functional criminal justice system.

It's thanks to Holder than not one banking exec went to jail for the mass fraud that led to the collapse of the global economy in 2008 -- ironically, the Holder doctrine's rise coincides with the peak of extreme prison sentences for minor crimes -- as Matt Taibbi documents in his amazing book The Divide, which begins with two sentencing hearings, in the same building, on the same day: in the first, a man gets years in prison for possessing a small amount of marijuana; in the second, HSBC executives are allowed to walk free after being convicted of laundering literally billions of dollars for barbaric Mexican drug cartels -- despite having ordered the construction of wider teller-windows to accommodate the enormous sacks of cash that drug cartel bagmen brought into HSBC branches (that's not a metaphor -- that actually happened).

The Too-Big-To--Fail bankster is a creation of the Obama DoJ, and it's a significant contributor to the widespread perception that the "system is rigged," and the election of Donald Trump -- who knew exactly how rigged the system is, because he is a major beneficiary of that rigging.

Holder left the DoJ job in 2015 and started drawing a $3M/year salary as a finance exec; it was his successor, Loretta Lynch, who began jailing executives for ordering crimes. Her Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, author of the "Yates Memo," advocated for the zealous prosecution and jailing of executives, and the prosecution of VW executive, Oliver Schmidt, is a case study in how devastatingly effective the application of normal criminal justice procedures to big companies can be."




rest ta http://boingboing.net/2017/01/11/obamas-legacy-eight-years-o.html

Thursday, December 29, 2016

@REALDONALDTRUMP Trump isn't responsible for Sprint bringing 5,000 jobs to the US

FROM https://www.engadget.com/2016/12/28/trump-isnt-responsible-for-sprint-bringing-5-000-jobs-to-the-us/

President-elect Donald Trump said he was contacted by Sprint executives today and told that the company was making an investment in domestic jobs, according to Reuters and Bloomberg. "Because of what's happening and the spirit and the hope I was just called by the head people at Sprint and they're going to be bringing 5,000 jobs back to the United States," Trump said outside his Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida. "Masa [Son] and some other people were very much involved with that."

Sprint issued a press release, patting itself on the back for the deal. "We are excited to work with President-Elect Trump and his administration to do our part to drive economic growth and create jobs in the U.S." CEO Marcelo Claure said in the statement.

"We believe it is critical for business and government to partner together to create more job opportunities in the U.S. and ensure prosperity for all Americans."

"I just spoke with the head person," Trump told Bloomberg. "He said because of me they're doing 5,000 jobs in this country."

Here's the problem: Despite what Trump and the press release from Sprint said (and what its CEO recently tweeted), these jobs were part of a previous announcement from Softbank (Sprint's parent company) CEO Masayoshi Son -- not the direct result of working with Trump.




REST AT https://www.engadget.com/2016/12/28/trump-isnt-responsible-for-sprint-bringing-5-000-jobs-to-the-us/

@readdonaldtrump claim he brought 5000 jobs back from Sprint is FALSE

FROM http://boingboing.net/2016/12/29/every-trump-lie-will-be-instan.html

Yesterday, Donald Trump claimed to have gotten Sprint to bring 5,000 jobs back to America. This claim is false; the jobs have been coming for months. But a lot of media instantly published Trump's claim, many with Trump as the sole source and no reporting or fact-checking whatosever.

Trump and Sprint simply put out PR and everyone rewrote it. Sprint ignored inquiries from reporters who figured it out, only admitting that the jobs were "previously announced" after the company became the story and things started getting hot.

When I reached out to a Sprint spokeswoman asking if the announcement was a direct result of working with Trump or part of a pre-existing deal, she copy and pasted the press release I'd sent along with my first email. I responded saying I already had the press release and asked again if this was a direct result of working with Trump or part of a pre-existing deal in place. I tagged Sprint in a tweet about the situation, and it wasn't until after that started getting retweeted that the spokesperson responded.

"This is part of the 50,000 jobs that Masa previously announced," she said. "This total will be a combination of newly created jobs and bringing some existing jobs back to the U.S."

This is how it's going to be: he lies, and reporters instantly launder the statement into impartial-sounding headlines in the rush to be first. The excuse will be that stenography is journalism.

Get used to this sort of thing:

The New York Times:

Trump Takes Credit for Sprint Plan to Add 5,000 Jobs in U.S.

USA Today:

Trump: Sprint moving 5,000 jobs back to US

CNN:

Trump Declares Victory: Sprint will create 5,000 U.S. jobs



REST AT http://boingboing.net/2016/12/29/every-trump-lie-will-be-instan.html

How Texas keeps tens of thousands of kids out of special ed

For 13 years, Texas has been secretly, illegally denying kids special education

from http://boingboing.net/2016/12/29/for-13-years-texas-has-been-s.html

In 2004, under then-governor Rick Perry, the Texas Education Agency secretly instituted a plan to cap the number of students receiving special education support at 8.5% -- far less than the national average.

In order to achieve this goal, the state forced teachers to illegally, systematically deny care to children, including speech therapy, psychological counseling, physical therapy, and access to therapeutic tools (for example, at least one student who was born without functional hands was denied the laptop he needed to do his schoolwork).

Many of those kids went on to drop out, but Texas also leads the country in its pipeline for kids sent to mental institutions, and the Houston Chronicle's six-part series on the policy also documents suicides and attempted suicides.

All along -- and even now -- the state and the local school districts deny that the policy exists, despite the testimonies of parents, students, and long-serving principals and teachers who quit rather than go along with orders. The state and local education authorities have also illegally refused to respond to public records requests.

Despite this stonewalling and lying, the Houston Chronicle has pieced together a damning, thorough documentation of the Rick Perry legacy: tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of children who were denied the education they were entitled to, who ended up uneducated, institutionalized, overmedicated, or dead -- all to save the state more than a billion dollars it was required, by law, to spend on its children. As you might expect: this policy landed disproportionately on racialized brown and black children.

Rick Perry is no longer governor of Texas: now he's America's problem, as Trump's pick for Secretary of Energy.




rest at http://boingboing.net/2016/12/29/for-13-years-texas-has-been-s.html

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

It’s almost impossible to describe how badly the GOP is about to mess up the economy

from http://www.eclectablog.com/2016/12/its-almost-impossible-to-describe-how-badly-the-gop-is-about-to-mess-up-the-economy.html

Trump and the GOP are about to unleash a series of policies that will almost exclusively benefit the rich and their corporations, who are already experiencing record profits.

These plans include:

And while the economy is being devoured by those who need it the least, Trump will deliver his symbolic and highly effective PR stunts that save a few jobs while everything else he can to hollow out the middle class.

We already know what this looks like in practice.

See America after 7 years of Bush/Cheney.

See Kansas after six years of Sam Brownback:


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Another fake news voucher story from the Great Lakes Education Project and Betsy DeVos

from http://www.eclectablog.com/2016/12/another-fake-news-voucher-story-from-the-great-lakes-education-project-and-betsy-devos.html

Another #fakenews story is being promoted by the Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP), Betsy DeVos's personally founded and funded school privatization guerrilla organization in Michigan. The mother quoted here, Maria Salazar, has been writing a version of this article for Betsy-DeVos-funded organizations since at least 2013: this one, from the American Federation for Children–a DeVos voucher front group–introduces us to Maria's daughter, who has seemingly been "rescued" from her public school through the generosity of Betsy DeVos herself…

The Corporate Tuition Tax Credit Scholarship program changed her life and gave her opportunities her single mother Maria could not have afforded on her own. Maria and Nydia immigrated to the U.S. from Peru when Nydia was a small child.

"When we arrived in the U.S. I told Nydia that if I work hard to support us and she works hard to learn in school, we would find the opportunities we came here for," says Maria Salazar. "I was so relieved, excited and, most of all, grateful when I found out Nydia would have a scholarship to attend St. Mary's. It was everything I promised Nydia all those years ago."

Similar "news articles" from the past several years on Ms. Salazar's adventures in voucher marketing can be found here and here, from 2013, and here, in 2014. In fact, promoting Betsy's voucher plans seems to be something of a side job for Ms. Salazar.

Let's interject a little bit of context here: The AZ voucher program is actually a set of 5 different programs, and they have collectively been a disaster for Arizona by virtually any measure.




rest at http://www.eclectablog.com/2016/12/another-fake-news-voucher-story-from-the-great-lakes-education-project-and-betsy-devos.html

Were Trump's Fake Losses Legal As Tax Deductions?

from http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/10/johnsonwere-trumps-fake-losses-legal-as-tax-deductions.html

Calvin H. Johnson (Texas), Were Trump's Fake Losses Legal as Tax Deductions?:

Trump claimed almost a billion of tax losses on his 1995 tax return. Trump did not lose anything like that in economic substance because he never put that much money into his transactions. If he never put it, he did not lose it. Trump must have treated part of the $3.4 bank debt as a cost and tax basis, while inconsistently, not correcting his cost when it turned out not be paid. Sheppard and Lipton have proposed an S corporation or Gitlitz theory, which if applicable would allow the fake loss as a tax deduction, but real estate developers did not use S corporations in the early and middle 1990's because S corporations trapped all losses inside the corporation where they were wasted. Trump might have reduced basis in real property, rather than taking an immediate income or NOL reduction. In any event, the losses do not "impinge on the world" and courts take away fake tax losses when they see them.

"Legal" means that a court would uphold the tax loss when fully aware of the facts and with capable briefing by adversaries. The standards for reporting losses allow the taxpayer to report that this loss might be available, but it probably is not. "Legal" does not include claims that were not caught by a smart agent, which were in fact fraudulent.

The legality of Trump's claimed losses has some bearing on the current election. Even beyond the election, we need to understand his claim to ensure that such an awful result never happens again.



rest at http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/10/johnsonwere-trumps-fake-losses-legal-as-tax-deductions.html

REPORT: Trump Cabinet Picks, Meetings, Show Unprecedented Nods to Big Donors


During Donald Trump's presidential campaign, he touted his financial independence, stating that he would not be owned by donors or special interests the way establishment politicians might be. While it remains to be seen whether Trump's policies in office will be influenced by his backers, he has been giving them significant access since his election, and choosing a number of them for cabinet positions, according to a report by Politico.

The report, which was based on Federal Election Commission records, shows that more than one third of the people who Trump took meetings with since winning the election gave significant donations to either his campaign or Republicans in general. The 73 donors reportedly gave a total of $1.7 million to Trump and groups that supported him, and more than $57 million to the GOP. On top of that, 38 percent of those who Trump has named to government positions so far have been big donors. Picking supporters for positions is nothing new, but the degree to which Trump is favoring his financial backers is, the report states.



rest at http://lawnewz.com/high-profile/report-trump-cabinet-picks-meetings-show-unprecedented-nods-to-big-donors/

Facebook buys data and dossiers about you from brokers about your offline life

Facebook has long let users see all sorts of things the site knows about them, like whether they enjoy soccer, have recently moved, or like Melania Trump.

But the tech giant gives users little indication that it buys far more sensitive data about them, including their income, the types of restaurants they frequent and even how many credit cards are in their wallets.

Since September, ProPublica has been encouraging Facebook users to share the categories of interest that the site has assigned to them. Users showed us everything from "Pretending to Text in Awkward Situations" to "Breastfeeding in Public." In total, we collected more than 52,000 unique attributes that Facebook has used to classify users.

Get the Data From This Story

Download the Facebook interest category and ad group data ProPublica collected to report this story, available now via the ProPublica Data Store.

Facebook's site says it gets information about its users "from a few different sources."

What the page doesn't say is that those sources include detailed dossiers obtained from commercial data brokers about users' offline lives. Nor does Facebook show users any of the often remarkably detailed information it gets from those brokers.

"They are not being honest," said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. "Facebook is bundling a dozen different data companies to target an individual customer, and an individual should have access to that bundle as well."

When asked this week about the lack of disclosure, Facebook responded that it doesn't tell users about the third-party data because it's widely available and was not collected by Facebook.

"Our approach to controls for third-party categories is somewhat different than our approach for Facebook-specific categories," said Steve Satterfield, a Facebook manager of privacy and public policy. "This is because the data providers we work with generally make their categories available across many different ad platforms, not just on Facebook."

Satterfield said users who don't want that information to be available to Facebook should contact the data brokers directly. He said users can visit a page in Facebook's help center, which provides links to the opt-outs for six data brokers that sell personal data to Facebook.

Limiting commercial data brokers' distribution of your personal information is no simple matter. For instance, opting out of Oracle's Datalogix, which provides about 350 types of data to Facebook according to our analysis, requires "sending a written request, along with a copy of government-issued identification" in postal mail to Oracle's chief privacy officer.

Users can ask data brokers to show them the information stored about them. But that can also be complicated. One Facebook broker, Acxiom, requires people to send the last four digits of their social security number to obtain their data. Facebook changes its providers from time to time so members would have to regularly visit the help center page to protect their privacy.

One of us actually tried to do what Facebook suggests. While writing a book about privacy in 2013, reporter Julia Angwin tried to opt out from as many data brokers as she could. Of the 92 brokers she identified that accepted opt-outs, 65 of them required her to submit a form of identification such as a driver's license. In the end, she could not remove her data from the majority of providers.

ProPublica's experiment to gather Facebook's ad categories from readers was part of our Black Box series, which explores the power of algorithms in our lives. Facebook uses algorithms not only to determine the news and advertisements that it displays to users, but also to categorize its users in tens of thousands of micro-targetable groups.

Our crowd-sourced data showed us that Facebook's categories range from innocuous groupings of people who like southern food to sensitive categories such as "Ethnic Affinity" which categorizes people based on their affinity for African-Americans, Hispanics and other ethnic groups. Advertisers can target ads toward a group — or exclude ads from being shown to a particular group.

Last month, after ProPublica bought a Facebook ad in its housing categories that excluded African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, the company said it would build an automated system to help it spot ads that illegally discriminate.


rest at https://www.propublica.org/article/facebook-doesnt-tell-users-everything-it-really-knows-about-them

West Virginia official loses job over ‘ape in heels’ slur — and her employer agrees to make big changes

A West Virginia county official who insulted Michelle Obama with racist Facebook posts has been removed from her job.

Pamela Taylor, who served as executive director of the Clay County Development Corporation, was relieved of her duties after the state reached an agreement with the nonprofit organization's board of directors, reported the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Taylor drew national attention after making a racist comparison between the First Lady and her successor, Melania Trump.

"It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House," Taylor wrote. "I'm tired of seeing an ape in heels."

Beverly Whaling resigned as mayor of Clay after praising Taylor's post, saying it "made my day."

Taylor was suspended for her comments but was later reinstated — which state officials said put the Clay County Development Corporation's federal and state funding in jeopardy.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's office issued a statement Tuesday saying that Taylor would be removed and the Appalachian Area Agency on Aging would manage the development corporation for six months.

The statement did not list Taylor's social media activity.

State officials said the CCDC was not following state nonprofit law regarding open meetings, public record requests and issues related to its board structure.

The Agency on Aging will be allowed to hire and fire staff members and recommend changes to the CCDC's bylaws, and the agency will also reorganize the department's board of directors.

The development corporation received about $1.5 million in federal funding and $363,000 in state funding in 2014, according to tax records.


rest at http://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/west-virginia-official-loses-job-over-ape-in-heels-slur-and-her-employer-agrees-to-make-big-changes/