What Trump Wants on Immigration Is Ethnic Cleansing

mother contemplative with child in hammock

Image: Flickr / Kazyel

I’ll be honest: I didn’t watch Trump’s State of the Union address when it aired.

Instead, I put my baby to bed and watched reality TV with my wife. If that rattled a few brain cells, hopefully I saved a few more by not guzzling the bourbon I’d set aside to steel myself for the speech.

The next day’s headlines put an end to this brief indulgence in self care.

Trump had extended an “open hand” to work with Democrats on immigration, they reported. He crowed that he’d come up with a “bipartisan approach” that “should be supported by both parties as a fair compromise.”

The first part of the deal should sound familiar: Trump said he’d support “a path to citizenship” for nearly 1.8 million undocumented young people, or Dreamers, in exchange for his border wall.

What Trump didn’t say was that he’d already removed deportation protections from the 700,000 young people who rely on the DACA program, which Trump unilaterally revoked. And he’d already rejected an offer by Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer to fund the wall in exchange for authorizing those same people.

Democrat Luis Gutierrez, perhaps the staunchest wall critic and immigrant advocate in the House, even said he’d “take a bucket, take bricks, and start building it myself” if it saved the Dreamers.

Trump’s about-face on that deal is why the government shut down this January.

Now Trump wants two more enormous concessions: an end to the so-called “diversity visa” program and the end of family reunification policies for documented immigrants who are already here.

Trump rattled off these demands like they were perfectly reasonable — “a down-the-middle compromise,” he called them. They’re not. In fact, one former speech writer for the last White House called them “a white nationalist wish list.”

That’s because, according to immigration analysts, those latter two provisions would cut legal immigration by nearly halfHalf.

And to get that, Trump’s ransomed nearly 2 million Dreamers, whom 80 percent of Americans support legal status for.

He’s taking them hostage, he says, “because Americans are Dreamers, too.” All you need to know about that last remark is that former KKK leader David Duke quoted it right back on Twitter, adding “Thank you, President Trump.”

Let’s put all this in context. Trump’s offering a fig leaf of legal status for a relatively small slice of the undocumented population. In return, he wants to permanently — and drastically — reduce the number of all immigrants who come to this country.

What Trump and his GOP backers want is ethnic cleansing.

It’s not just the Dreamers Trump has endangered, after all. He’s unleashed his ICE stormtroopers on hundreds of thousands of immigrants with no criminal backgrounds, often in hospitals, churches, and schools.

And wherever he can, he’s turned perfectly legal residents into deportable immigrants overnight.

With the stroke of a pen, he ended protections for 200,000 Salvadorans and 60,000 Haitians, while 57,000 Hondurans wait in limbo. And he’s brought refugee admissions to their lowest levels in over three decades, despite a global refugee crisis.

All that tracks perfectly for a guy who called darker-skinned countries “s—holes” and wondered why we can’t have more immigrants from Norway.

Democrats who’d offer a border wall in the face of all this miss the point: That “open hand” is full of poison pills.

The post What Trump Wants on Immigration Is Ethnic Cleansing appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

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Apple Avoided $40 Billion in Taxes. Now It Wants a Gold Star?

apple-corporate-taxes

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The public relations spin doctors are working overtime at Apple this week.

The tech giant just announced that it will pay $ 38 billion to the U.S. Treasury in taxes brought home from overseas—and “create” some 20,000 new jobs. It pledged to invest $ 350 billion in the U.S. over the next five years and give employees $ 2,500 in restricted stock units.

That’s all spin.

What Apple really unveiled were plans to collect a massive windfall from the GOP’s corporate tax handout. This was a pay-to-play political scam at its ugliest—and the rest of us are the chumps.

Read the full article in Fortune.

The post Apple Avoided $ 40 Billion in Taxes. Now It Wants a Gold Star? appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

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What Russia Really Wants (And Got) From Trump

Putin and Trump

(Photo: Mike Maguire / Flickr)

It has all the hallmarks of a compelling thriller.

A U.S. president willing to put his reputation on the line in the interests of peace and prosperity prepares to reach out to Russia. The Kremlin shows some cautious interest. But before the president can propose anything substantial, his opponents do everything possible to derail his efforts.

Worse, this “deep state” of operatives within government — and political actors on the outside — leverages a full range of false accusations to smother the administration in the fog of scandal.

Maybe Tom Clancy could have done something with this. But as presented by Donald Trump and his defenders, this plot was never particularly convincing, even going back to its origin myth in the presidential primaries in early 2016. As a candidate, Donald Trump’s admiration for Vladimir Putin and his desire to improve relations with Russia seemed an unbelievable plot twist.

After all, anti-Russian sentiment has always run strong within the Republican Party (remember Mitt Romney’s assertion that Russia was America’s “number one geopolitical foe”). Making nice with the Kremlin wasn’t a position that could appeal necessarily to independents. And Putin was known in America largely for getting rid of his rivals and threatening countries bordering his country.

Even following the money didn’t produce much of a rationale, since Trump didn’t have any substantial investments in Russia (though Russia apparently invested in him).

Sure, a certain far-right constituency in the United States, which has seen Russia as a valuable partner in the fight against Islam, immigrants, and “permissive” culture like gay marriage, warmed to Trump’s approach. And if you dug deep enough, maybe you could find a few outliers on the left who imagined, foolishly, that Trump would push a reset button on relations with Russia that could result in nuclear disarmament, a negotiated end to the war in Syria, and free Matryoshka dolls for everyone.

But none of this should have been sufficient reason for Trump to reverse his own negotiating principles by glad-handing the leader of a country with whom he’d be negotiating hard as president.

Then came the WikiLeaks that hobbled the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton in particular, which Trump welcomed even as evidence mounted that the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, had Russian fingerprints all over them.

Next up: revelations from a former British spy of more serious allegations that Russia had a file of compromising information about Trump, including tapes of a sexual nature from the future president’s 2013 visit to Moscow. And now come even more tantalizing clues that the U.S. intelligence community was on the trail of a Russian transfer of funds to Trump’s election campaign back in summer 2016. Since Donald Trump has never cared a whit about détente or disarmament, this emerging narrative of various quid pro quos makes much more sense.

So far, Russiagate has forced National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to resign because he lied about his discussions with Russian ambassador Sergei Kisalyov. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also lied about his meetings with Russians, but so far he’s merely recused himself from any investigation into the allegations of Russian involvement in the election campaign. No one within the Trump administration, including Trump himself, has yet been saddled with more serious impeachable offenses.

The Trump administration and its followers on the right continue to push the notion that Russia has done nothing wrong. So, strangely, have some people on the left — including Stephen Cohen, most recently in The NationGlenn Greenwald, Robert Parry of Consortium News, and Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity all question whether Russia was behind the DNC hack. It’s a “witch-hunt,” they say, and the Kremlin agrees.

The counter-evidence? Julian Assange of WikiLeaks says that Russia was not the source of the hacked materials, and the Obama administration has a “reputation for manipulating intelligence for political purposes.”

Well, I wouldn’t count Assange as a particularly reliable witness. And if the Obama administration was so good at manipulating intelligence for political purposes, why was it so slow off the mark in providing any of this supposedly doctored information before the election, when it would have actually counted for something politically?

Then there’s the argument that the NCCIC joint analysis report released at the end of December doesn’t contain a smoking gun. Okay, perhaps — I’m no cyber expert. But if it wasn’t the Russians, as the government analysis claims, then who had a motive to deep-six the Dems other than the Republicans and Russia? The skeptics are left with little more than Trump’s 400-pound hacker sitting on a couch. They might as well blame gremlins or extraterrestrials.

And please: a witch-hunt? Sorry, wrong era.

This isn’t a McCarthyite smear campaign of a handful of radicals but an effort to get to the heart of an intervention into politics by some very powerful actors. As in the Watergate scandal, the Democratic Party suffered a break-in. WikiLeaks successfully used the pilfered materials to influence the election. Russian hackers have been involved in countless hacking operations, and it goes beyond interfering only in the U.S. elections.

Journalists have been trying to piece together a story that provides an explanation more convincing than the narrative that Trump and Putin have put out there. Sure, many people desperately want to believe that some evidence will come to light that can end the Trump nightmare. But even those who are skeptical of the stories leaked to the press so far should support an impartial investigation with real subpoena power. Better a proper investigation than continued innuendo.

In the meantime, forget about that reset with Russia. There never was much of a chance of a Trump-led détente in the first place. Russia played the United States. The Kremlin got what it wanted — an America paralyzed by an incompetent administration at odds with more than half the country’s population. And it cost a mere fraction of the price of a single nuclear warhead.

What Russia Wants

First of all, Russia isn’t interested in taking over the world.

Vladimir Putin isn’t even interested in reconstituting the Soviet Union.

Administering a lot of new territory is more of a headache than it’s worth. The only spit of land that Russia has actually absorbed, the Crimean peninsula, has been a drain on the Russian budget, and the exclave has seen very little of the prosperity Russia promised. The other parts of the near abroad locked in “frozen conflicts” — South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transnistria — are no great shakes economically either.

The Kremlin is content to have a secure perimeter free from NATO interference. Of course, given NATO’s perennial interest in expanding eastward, a basic conflict lies at the heart of East-West relations. Until the two sides come up with a disengagement agreement, Eastern Europe will continue to be a zone of contention, with poor Ukraine split in half like a cheap piñata.

Putin is really more concerned about economic matters.

When oil prices dropped, the Russian economy quickly went south as the GDP per capita suffered an astounding drop from $ 15,000 in 2014 to only $ 9,000 one year later. U.S. sanctions, imposed after Russia seized Crimea in 2014, certainly didn’t help matters. Since then, Russia has boosted oil production and taken advantage of a rise in prices. Modest growth has returned. Lifting U.S. sanctions would add as much as .2 percent to Russian growth in 2017 and .5 percent in 2018. That’s actually a lot of rubles.

Putin no doubt welcomed Trump’s hints that he would lift sanctions, cooperate with Russia against the Islamic State, and downplay U.S. concerns for human rights around the world. But Trump was never a reliable patsy.

For one thing, he wasn’t reliable, period. For another, he backed positions that would ultimately conflict with Russia, such as his promise to undo the nuclear agreement with Iran. If Russia were indeed behind the hack of the DNC — even if it’s proved to have funneled money into the election on Trump’s side — I’m not convinced that Putin ever expected Trump to win. As a canny politician, the Russian leader also would have anticipated that if Trump did manage to beat the odds, he would have to contend with a foreign policy establishment that is far from Russia-friendly.

So, more likely, Putin simply wanted to throw the American political system into turmoil. He was hoping for, at best, a legitimation crisis that would hobble any incoming administration and make it that much more difficult for the United States to act in the world.

As it happened, Trump won on a long shot, and the American political system has indeed been thrown into turmoil as a result of it. U.S. policy toward Russia hasn’t really changed. The sanctions remain in place, Washington still expects Russia to pull out of eastern Ukraine and give back Crimea, and the usual criticisms of Russian conduct prevail at the United Nations. As with everything to do with policy, Trump was winging it. Once in power, he has fallen back on the status quo ante.

But here’s the interesting part. There’s good reason to believe that, despite all the hoopla in Moscow over Trump’s victory, Russia took the first steps to begin to undermine the new administration. It was only two days after the election, after all, that the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov contradicted the claim of the Trump campaign that it hadn’t maintained contact with Russian officials.

Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak also confirmed that meetings took place, though he also sought to normalize them by saying that they happen all the time with political figures. That’s true, of course, but the Trump campaign was busy denying that they’d transpired in the first place.

So, perhaps Russia didn’t really expect that Trump would keep his word. Confirming that the meetings did in fact take place helped fulfill the underlying objective of destabilizing the American political system.

And now, what can Trump do? Admitting that he’s been played by Moscow would bring his administration crashing down around his head (not to mention damaging his ego). He can continue to lie, and ask his team to do the same, but only so many loyal adjutants can fall on their swords before all the blood on the floor makes governance impossible.

So, Trump did the only thing he knew how to do: make things up. His claim that the Obama administration was spying on him — a Watergate-sized accusation — suddenly had the media in a tizzy trying to find substantiation. In a reasonable world, Trump’s latest tweets would be his “Milo moment” when everyone realizes that, like the ludicrous pundit Milo Yiannopoulos, Trump is truly unhinged. Milo’s book contract can be rescinded, but it’s not so easy to take away Trump’s presidency.

The Future Impact of Russiagate

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was plagued by one scandal after another. But none of the gaffes and revelations and embarrassments seemed to end Trump’s political career.

Russiagate is different. First of all, Trump is now an elected figure, not just a cartoonish candidate. Second, this scandal involves much higher stakes than insulting John McCain’s war record or mocking a disabled reporter. Laws might have been broken; national security might have been breached; an election might have been compromised.

Pursuing an investigation into Trump’s possible misdeeds may have any number of unanticipated consequences. But it is not likely to precipitate a new Cold War with Russia. Such a development depends more on NATO policy in Eastern Europe, Russian actions in its near abroad, and imponderables such as the course of the war in Syria and petropolitics in Europe.

I have lots of reasons to criticize Vladimir Putin and his attempt to push a far right-wing agenda at home and abroad. But it’s absolutely critical to separate one’s views about Putin and Kremlin policies from an investigation into Donald Trump’s misconduct. Let me repeat: This is no witch-hunt. This is democracy in action in an effort to discover abuse of power.

If the appointment of a special prosecutor doesn’t attract bipartisan support, I will be unhappy but unsurprised. But everyone to the left of Ann Coulter should be on board. If ever there were a time for unity, it is now.

John Feffer directs the Foreign Policy in Focus project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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What Putin Wants from Trump

Putin world backdrop

(Image: Shutterstock / )

I wrote this article about Russian efforts to cultivate Donald Trump as an asset last week for a Korean newspaper where it was published on Sunday. Little did I know that news would break this week of allegations that Russia has a file of damaging information it can use to blackmail President-elect Trump. In that file is information about Trump’s dalliance with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel. The allegations come from a former British intelligence officer, and the Trump camp denies them. The information was “widely known among journalists and politicians in Washington,” according to The New York Times, but aside from a piece in Mother Jones, it remained under wraps.

In the world of espionage, the “honeypot” is trap in which someone seduces an unsuspecting diplomat or embassy employee. Then the seducer  a “swallow” (woman) or a “raven” (man)  blackmails the dupe. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union developed a certain expertise in using honeypots to extract information from CIA operatives, FBI agents, and ambassadors.

Russia is in the news at the moment for a more high-tech spying operation  its alleged hacking of Democratic Party e-mail accounts. The Obama administration claims that it has proof of Russian fingerprints on this operation and thus its influence on the November presidential elections. The White House has imposed a set of additional sanctions against Russia and also expelled 35 Russian diplomatic personnel.

These charges are serious and should be investigated. But they are a distraction. The real operation Russia is conducting in the United States is an old-fashioned honeypot trap. But it’s not a conventional version of the scheme in which an attractive woman makes eyes at a lonely intelligence officer.

Rather, the “raven” in this case is Vladimir Putin. And the dupe is Donald Trump. By romancing the Republican candidate, the Russian president has gotten much more than mere information. He is acquiring the most influential ally imaginable. And he doesn’t even have to wait until the inauguration. When the Obama administration announced its retaliatory moves, Putin declined to escalate. Trump, rather than standing behind his president, praised Putin and promised to “move on.”

Let me be clear. I don’t think Russia directly tampered with the vote in November. Nor do I think that the revelations connected to the alleged Russian hacking made the difference in the election. Trump won for other reasons; Clinton lost for other reasons too. I’m not even sure that Putin wanted Trump elected. The Russian president probably just wanted to sow some confusion and discord in the U.S. political system.

Nor do I want to see a new Cold War develop between the United States and Russia. I’m not a fan of Vladimir Putin or current Russian policies in Ukraine or Syria. But Moscow and Washington can certainly identify common interests such as reducing nuclear weapons, preserving the landmark agreement with Iran, and negotiating some new agreement with North Korea.

But the honeypot that Russia has used to trap Trump will have much more serious ramifications than a few email accounts hacked or disinformation spread around the Internet.

First of all, Putin will get some immediate foreign policy benefits. The Trump administration is likely to lift all economic sanctions against Russia, which will provide a nice bump up for the Russian economy. The United States will accept the Kremlin’s seizure of Crimea and roll back its complaints over Russian meddling in Ukraine. Trump has already expressed reservations about NATO, so his administration will not likely welcome new members around Russia’s perimeter. And the new administration will cooperate with Russia in attacking the Islamic State and pull away from backing rebels who want to oust Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

All of that is worth a great deal more than the name of a few spies or a cache of secret Pentagon documents. But Vladimir Putin has even grander plans, and Donald Trump could play a role in those as well.

In a 2013 speech, Vladimir Putin chastised the Euro-Atlantic countries for “rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilization. They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious, and even sexual. They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan.” He went on to excoriate “political correctness” and “unlawful migration.” He added, “One must respect every minority’s right to be different, but the rights of the majority must not be put into question.”

Here are all the themes of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign two years before Trump even launched it. More importantly, these themes can found in the campaigns of most far-right-wing political parties in Europe. It’s no surprise that Marine Le Pen of France’s National Front, Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party, and Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary are all part of Putin’s widening circle of admirers.

Putin aspires to create a new global alliance founded on conservative values, religious principles, and autocratic leanings. The Russian leader is comfortable working with outright racists, xenophobes, and Islamophobes. He aims to unravel the European Union and has provided support to European movements that share that goal. He has nothing but contempt for civil society unless it slavishly follows his political line. He no longer appears to believe that global warming is a hoax, but he still presides over an economy dependent on fossil fuels that does some of the greatest damage to the environment.

Again, Donald Trump fits right into this picture. The honeypot scheme doesn’t involve sexual propositioning, but ideological seduction.

The greatest threat over the next couple years is not that the Trump administration will simply step back and allow Russia free rein in the world. Russia, after all, has rather limited global influence beyond its ties with right-wing extremists and a few morally bankrupt autocracies. Rather, the real threat is that Donald Trump will help Putin create a noxious alliance that gives an international platform for all the most deplorable actors, from white supremacists to crusading Islamophobes.

The media makes a mistake by calling the relationship between Putin and Trump a “bromance.” That somehow implies mutual fondness. Putin doesn’t care about romance any more than the “ravens” and “swallows” of the Cold War era. The Russian president has laid a trap for Donald Trump. And it looks as though Trump will drag America into the honeypot with him.

The post What Putin Wants from Trump appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus and the author of the new novel Splinterlands.

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Under Armour Wants to Use Baltimore Tax Revenue Without Giving Back to the City

The entire city of Baltimore seemed to be cheering on Michael Phelps as he won his latest set of Olympic medals, continuing his reign as the most decorated Olympian of all time. No one can mistake Baltimore’s pride in our hometown hero. At the entrance to the city on Interstate 95, a giant billboard image of Phelps welcomes one and all.

That image is an advertisement for Under Armour, a brand almost as synonymous with Baltimore as our star swimmer. The major difference between the two? These days, Under Armour and its founder Kevin Plank are getting jeers from once loyal fans.

Why are Under Armour and Plank in such hot water? Sagamore Development Corporation, a company owned by Plank, is planning to revitalize a 260-acre stretch of former industrial land along Baltimore’s Inner Harbor into an exclusive “city within a city” that would house an expanded Under Armour campus. Plank’s one request to the city of Baltimore: To complete this massive Port Covington project, he’s asking for $ 535 million in “tax increment financing.”

If Plank gets these “TIFs” — a combination of upfront city bond payments and deferred property tax liability — his master plan wouldn’t add any new revenues to Baltimore’s tax base for another 40 years. On top of that, the Sagamore Development Corporation would be eligible for another $ 200 million in outright tax breaks.

Plank’s proposal comes with no binding commitment that the Port Covington project would create any affordable housing, hire locally, or promote local business development. What’s worse, his “city within a city,” local critics point out, would also put extra stress on Baltimore’s already underfunded schools, likely be inaccessible to current residents, and further segregate a Baltimore already deeply divided racially and economically.

Over recent years, Baltimore’s City Council has been greenlighting larger and larger TIF agreements and developer subsidies that have provided little if any public benefit. Observers expect the Council to approve the Port Covington plan early this fall, less than five months after its public unveiling.

Cities across the country have turned to similar TIF agreements and tax subsidies to attract big businesses and revitalize their urban cores. But studies and past experience have shown that these agreements do not serve the public interest. Plans like Plank’s have elsewhere generated few if any living-wage jobs for current residents and failed to create any appreciable wealth that trickles back into local communities.

Under Armour has built a compelling national identity around its Baltimore roots. Yet today the company operates just like any other multinational corporation. Baltimore has a skilled, experienced, and jobless industrial labor force. Yet all of Under Armour’s plants are located overseas, and no one at the company plans to move any of those jobs to its new Port Covington headquarters.

In his public outreach, Kevin Plank continues to claim that Under Armour remains committed long-term to Baltimore and the Port Covington project. His handshake agreements, vague promises, and hollow slogan, “We will build it together,” have enticed a few city residents.

But at a recent public hearing, Sagamore Development Corporation vice president, Caroline Paff, revealed Under Armour’s true colors on their future expansion.

“Development will happen here,” she not-so-subtly threatened, “or it will happen elsewhere.”

This sort of corporate strong-arming has become all too familiar in our modern age. Our contemporary urban development pits cities against one another, all to the benefit of a private corporate elite.

Instead of throwing our support behind large corporations that hold our cities hostage for subsidies and pledge allegiance only to shareholder bottom lines, we need to be investing in new sorts of participatory, community-driven development that circulates wealth back more widely throughout the local economy. And, in fact, Baltimore could learn some useful lessons from cities doing just that.

Cities elsewhere in the United States are now successfully building prosperity and a healthy tax base by encouraging cooperatively owned businesses and community-controlled housing. These cooperative enterprises are providing job opportunities in blighted communities often deemed too risky by traditional developers. Once up and running, they circulate money back into the local economy.

New York City has created a revolving loan fund that helps support new local businesses and gives them the tools they need to incorporate as worker-owned cooperatives. This fledgling new program has been so successful that the New York City Council has renewed and raised its funding.

Cleveland has developed what’s called an “anchor-institution strategy” that’s particularly relevant to Baltimore, a city with strong higher ed institutions — like Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland — committed to making an impact in their communities. Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperative took root when local hospitals and universities agreed to help catalyze new industry and purchase — on an ongoing basis — products and services from local cooperative enterprises in their surrounding neighborhoods.

This commitment by Cleveland’s anchor institutions has won national acclaim and created stable, living-wage jobs in green industries for residents of deeply poor communities.

In Boston, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative has transformed one of the city’s most blighted neighborhoods into a vibrant, stable, and active community with permanent affordable housing and services. The Baltimore Housing Roundtable’s 20/20 Vision is already working with communities throughout the city to adapt Dudley Street’s community land trust model.

Our cities are facing a crisis. We can continue business as usual and allow development to drive out current residents and make our cities accessible only to the most affluent. Or we can chart a new path of inclusive development that creates vibrant and sustainable urban spaces.

Are you listening, Baltimore City Council?

The post Under Armour Wants to Use Baltimore Tax Revenue Without Giving Back to the City appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Allie Busching is a New Economy Maryland Fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies.

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What the Public Wants: A Guide for Clueless CEOs

corporate-greed-silences-america

(Photo: Flickr / Glenn Halog)

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that “Populist Tone Rankles America’s Executives.”

Apparently the CEOs and board members of big American companies are “increasingly frustrated” by the anti-business rhetoric of both parties, and concerned such sentiments might translate into meaningful public policy change after the election.

“The precipitousness of the political debate is a little scary right now,” Boeing CEO Jim McNerney told The Wall Street Journal. General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt informed investors that relations between government and big business are “the worst I have ever seen.”

Former Republican U.S. Senator Judd Gregg, currently a board member of Honeywell, complained that the GOP has “been captured by a large number of people who basically do not like big.”

Bernie Sanders has shined a bright spotlight on Wall Street greed and millions of voters are cheering him on. With GOP candidates Cruz and Trump both opposed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce agenda on free trade, corporate mergers, and immigration, the corporate elites are running scared.

How clueless can you be? Our imperial CEOs need a little populism 101. Here are a few clues on what the public is demanding:

Clue #1: Pay Your Taxes: General Electric, Boeing, Verizon and 23 other profitable Fortune 500 firms paid no federal income taxes from 2008 through 2013, according to Citizens for Tax Justice. Show some love to the country that pays for the infrastructure upon which you transport your products, protects your intellectual property in global tribunals, and educates your workers and takes care of them when they are sick or retired.

Clue #2. Stop Squeezing Us. Your global business model seems to be focused on squeezing your workers, your customers, and the communities where you’re based. Verizon is hammering their workers for another healthcare cut. General Electric just squeezed $ 151 million in tax breaks in their relocation to Boston.

It seems like what passes for “innovation” in corporate America is an experiment in “how hard can we squeeze customers and workers until they push back?” So are you really surprised that people are pushing back?

Have any of you luxury jet flying CEOs been on a commercial airline flight in the last ten years? Talk about squeezing your customers, physically in seats and literally for every nickel and dime. This is the capitalism we are living through. Big corporations take things away (like legroom, checked bags, and snacks) and sell them back to us.

Clue #3. Support Young Workers. Have you talked to any college students lately who don’t have daddy CEOs to pay their tuition? Do you know what it’s like to graduate from college with $ 100,000 in debt? Imagine entering a workforce where, thanks to corporate lobbying, the minimum wage is insufficient to live on.

This populism isn’t anti-business. But people are enraged with disconnected business elites at global companies that use their considerable clout to shape the rules of the economy – like trade policy, minimum wage, deregulation – and don’t pay their fair share of taxes to continue basic services.

Many small and medium-sized businesses in our communities are appreciated and valued. They are rooted in place and understand that you can’t keep squeezing your customers, workers, and communities before no one comes to your door. It’s the big boys that squeeze the hardest and then wonder, “why are people upset?”

The chairman of a medium-sized steel company, Jim Philipsky, tried to explain rising populism to his CEO brethren. He told The Wall Street Journal, “The establishment has been at the wheel for a long time, and the system has worked well for them, but not for everyone else.”

There’s a CEO who’s been paying attention.

The post What the Public Wants: A Guide for Clueless CEOs appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Chuck Collins directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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Company wants to build 344000-chicken-per-day processing plant – Lincoln Journal Star


Lincoln Journal Star
Company wants to build 344000-chicken-per-day processing plant
Lincoln Journal Star
While Dodge County's unemployment rate is low — 3.3 percent in February according to the Nebraska Department of Labor — business has been stagnant, said Bob Missel, chairman of the County Board of Supervisors and owner of Sampter's clothing store in …

and more »

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If Israel Wants to Prevent Terrorism, It Should Stop Evicting Palestinians

A bulldozed Palestinian home in the village of Beit Ommar. (Source: Palestine Solidarity Project)

A bulldozed Palestinian home in the village of Beit Ommar. (Source: Palestine Solidarity Project)

Late last year, two Palestinian cousins broke into a Jerusalem synagogue, killing five Israelis before being slain by police.

In retaliation, as part of the government’s “counterterrorist deterrence policy,” the homes of these two Palestinians were slated for demolition. Their houses were destroyed on October 6th of this year, displacing six of their family members.

A week later, their cousin Alaa Abu Jamal drove his car into a Jerusalem bus stop and killed a bystander with a cleaver.

This episode is emblematic of a larger phenomenon: Israel’s “punitive housing demolitions” are not only ethically problematic and illegal under international law, which — under the Fourth Geneva Convention — prohibits the “occupying power from destroying private property or forcibly transferring the protected population.” They’re also blatantly counterproductive at deterring terrorism.

Tensions in Jerusalem — as well as in Israel-Palestine more generally — are often boiled down to ethnic rivalry and conflicts over access to the city’s historic places of worship. But media reports often ignore or play down much more concrete grievances like home demolitions, which may have inspired Alaa Abu Jamal and others like him to lash out against Israeli civilians.

In order to better comprehend the recent wave of stabbings, a look at one of Israel’s least discussed policies is necessary. Housing demolitions, both as a military tool of “deterrence” and civil tactic of displacement, create an environment of constant anxiety for Palestinians in the West Bank — conditions that can account for the spate of violence in the past few months.

The precedent for punitive demolitions comes from the Defence Emergency Regulation (DER)119 — a 1945 law established under British colonial rule — which authorized the confiscation and destruction of “any house, structure, or land” owned by an alleged perpetrator of violence.

In the decades since, the Israeli military has used DER 119 to seal up or demolish thousands of Palestinian homes under the pretext of deterring terrorism. In 2005, however, the IDF discontinued the practice after internal studies demonstrated its ineffectiveness at achieving its stated goal. In fact, as one official remarked, “the policy had caused Israel more harm than good by generating hatred among the Palestinians.”

Yet current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been quick to forget the findings of his own military, revitalizing punitive demolitions in response to car bombings in Jerusalem last winter. The decision has sparked a violent backlash this year: at least ten Israelis have been murdered and more than 70 wounded, further undermining the policy’s stated goal of counterterrorism.

Importantly, demolitions aren’t just used to punish the families of suspected terrorists. In fact, Israel regularly demolishes the homes of civilians who have no terrorist affiliations. Between 1988 and 2014, Israel’s Civil Administration issued 14,000 demolition orders in the West Bank, of which 11,000 are still outstanding and can be enforced at any time. Palestinians living in these condemned structures can be displaced at the whims of the ICA, and are often not notified of their demolition date until a bulldozer shows up at their doorstep. These incidents, which occur in East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank, occur when Israeli authorities accuse Palestinians of failing to obtain building permits for their homes.

While this may sound reasonable in theory, the sheer regulatory nightmare Palestinians are subjected to highlights their intentional exclusion from civic services. A study published on December 7th reveals that only 7 percent of building permits in Jerusalem go to Palestinian neighborhoods, despite the fact that they make up 41 percent of the city’s population. Because permits are rarely — if ever — issued to Palestinians, they’re forced to construct homes without them, giving Israel a “justification” for demolishing these structures and displacing their inhabitants.

Laura Wharton, a city councilor in Jerusalem, is unequivocally clear about the link between these demolitions and recent violence: she writes, “’If anyone thinks the Palestinians’ frustration and rage are the result of incitement alone, the numbers and facts on the ground show otherwise.”

Under these conditions, it’s easy to understand the frustration of Jerusalemites; faced by impending demolitions, either as the result of familial ties or discrimination by civic services, Palestinians like Alaa Abu Jamal lash out violently. If Israel truly wants to mitigate civilian deaths going forward, it must cease demolitions immediately.

Otherwise, the cycle of violence will continue unabated.

The post If Israel Wants to Prevent Terrorism, It Should Stop Evicting Palestinians appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Laith Shakir is an alum of the Next Leaders program at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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