Nel's New Day

December 22, 2019

Week 152 – World, Domestic Affairs

World and domestic affairs beyond impeachment affect the United States through decisions that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) makes.

DDT stayed silent during violent protests from India’s attempt to eliminate secularization. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a conservative re-elected in May, the parliament permits citizenship for undocumented migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who moved to India before 2014 and belong to one of six religious minorities, excluding Islam. Modi claims that the law protects persecuted religious groups, much like DDT said about his executive order protecting only Jewish people. India is now trying to control protests by shutting down phone and internet access in parts of the country.

Shortly before DDT was elected, Russian interference helped an anti-immigrant movement in Britain pass Brexit, a separation from the European Union. After agonizing over the process for over three years, the Brits elected Boris Johnson as prime minister to finish the process, much to the possible detriment of almost everyone in the country. Like DDT, Johnson is connected to corruption and sexual misconduct. The UK will leave the EU by the last day of 2020 no matter how disastrous, and the UK may have to pay the EU up to £39 billion. Northern Ireland stayed with the EU and will have a customs and regulatory border with Great Britain; Scotland voted to stay with the EU and may separate from the UK.

DDT, close friends with the autocratic Turkish president Recip Tayyip Erdogan, rejected the congressional votes to recognize that the Ottoman’s killing of Armenians in 1915-16 to support Germany in World War I was genocide. In retribution for the congressional resolution, Erdogan threatens to shut down Incirlik air base where the U.S. stores nuclear warheads. DDT called resolution criticizing the killing of 1.5 million Armenians “worthless” and the “biggest insult” to Turkish people. Erdogan also tried to prevent sanctions against Turkey after its military offensive in Syria by threatening to close the Kurecik radar base. Following DDT’s wishes, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tried to block the resolution. On December 12, the Senate unanimously passed the resolution after the House did so with only one no vote. Because resolutions do not have the weight of law, they do not require a president’s signature. 

Israel is headed for its third election in less than a year after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to put together a winning coalition but plans to stay prime minister. The national election to determine the Israeli prime minister is next March, but on December 26, 100,000 Likud party members, Netanyahu’s party, vote for their leaders. Gideon Sa’ar is challenging Netanyahu to represent Likud; the winner is in line to become prime minister.Christians in the Gaza Strip are banned from visiting holy cities such as Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Nazareth for Christmas. Last year, almost 700 Gazan Christians received permits to travel the holy cities.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor is investigating Israeli war crimes allegedly committed in the Palestinian territories. Netanyahu claims that the ICC has jurisdiction only for sovereign states and denies any Palestinian state. He plans to illegally take over the Jordan Valley, composing one-fourth of the West Bank. In the ICC, Palestine is suing the U.S. for DDT’s moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Two courts, one in the EU and the other in Canada, have also decided that Israel “an occupying power” and “not … a sovereign entity” in determining labeling of products from Jewish settlements in the West Bank.   

The end of the year means tax preparation. Last year the 2017 tax cuts hurt a large percentage of people in the U.S., but large corporations are making out like bandits from their 40-percent tax rate cut. Approximately 400 of the largest corporations in the U.S. paid an average federal tax rate of about 11 percent on their profits last year, roughly half the official rate set by the tax law and half the rate that they averaged between 2008 and 2015. In 2018, corporations averaged 11.3 percent in taxes, the lowest level in over 30 years, while the deficit hit $984 billion, unusual in a supposedly strong economy. There is no evidence of the GOP claim of lower taxes’ cut causing economic growth and boosting business investment. The unemployment rate has stayed low in some areas, but higher wages are largely caused by blue states increasing the minimum wage rate.

In the Fortune 500, 91 corporations earning $101 billion paid no federal taxes last year. Amazon paid no taxes on $10.8 billion in profits and got a $129 million rebate. Firing 800 people, Activision Blizzard made $447 million and received a tax rebate of $243 million, giving them a -54.4 percent.

Overturning the Affordable Care Act would give the wealthy and pharmaceutical companies a huge tax break. The top 1,400 highest-earning taxpayers would receive $3.8 billion, and pharmaceutical companies would pay $2.8 billion less in taxes. People on Medicare would pay more for prescription drugs, and U.S. drug costs are already the highest in the developed world. Twenty million people would lose health insurance, and the poverty rate would increase. Causing a crack in the ACA, a state judge overturned the individual mandate in the ACA despite a Supreme Court ruling that accepted it.

DDT plans to reduce aid to the 39.7 million people in the United States living in poverty by allowing sports stadiums and arenas to use opportunities designed to meet the needs of middle- and low-income people. The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act requires financial institutions to meet the credit needs of all communities where they do business so that they can’t refuse to serve people based on income level and demographics rather than credit worthiness. Under DDT’s plan, investors can delay taxes or reduce tax payments on their capital gains while building stadiums that displace people of color. 

Eating pork may be dangerous under DDT’s new rules, according to Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors Jill Mauer and Anthony Vallone, who filed whistleblower disclosure forms. A pilot program for over 92 percent of U.S. pork plants will provide fewer inspectors who must stand at a distance while untrained plants’ employees check carcasses and still try to maintain line speeds. Defects can include feces, sex organs, toenails, bladders, and unwanted hair—think Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Beef processing may suffer from the same MO.  

The U.S. Forest Service is permitting Canada’s Midas Gold to write the environmental report necessary to obtain approval for mining in Idaho after a “collaborative” meeting that included Midas. In that way, Midas can avoid habitat restoration work to protect the surrounding area.

In a software failure, Boeing’s Starliner, intended to fly NASA astronauts to space, didn’t get to the right orbit. A few days earlier, Boeing announced it was stopping the production of the 737 Max that killed 346 people in two crashes and demonstrated multiple other problems. The planes have been grounded since March 11, pending approval for planes being built. Almost 400 737 Max jets at the Renton (WA) facility are costing the company about $4.4 billion every three months for production, storage, and maintenance. Although Boeing may not have any work stoppage, hundreds of other U.S. manufacturers in its supply chain may be forced to lay off workers. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that Boeing’s problems had taken 0.4 percent off the GDP for the year.

For years, the FAA allowed Boeing to perform its own inspections. High level Boeing officials knew about the planes’ problems and lied to the FAA. Earlier this month, the FAA fined Boeing $3.9 million for “knowingly submitted aircraft” to the agency for safety certification even after learning that crucial wing components “could not be used due to a failed strength test.”

State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo not only fired Bill Taylor, acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, but also told him to get out of the country early because he didn’t want to be photographed with the highly respected career diplomat. Pompeo urged Taylor to take the job, and Taylor then testified to the House Intelligence Committee about DDT’s attempts to extort Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Taylor believes his obligation is to the country, not DDT, and Pompeo wants to be the senator from Kansas.

Another of DDT’s circle of associates is now heading for prison, but Rick Gates, associate of DDT’s campaign manager Paul Manafort, gets only 45 days after evading taxes and concealing millions of dollars representing pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine after Gates’ cooperation. Manafort, DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, and DDT’s first national security adviser are in the slammer. George Papadopoulos, DDT’s former campaign adviser on foreign policy, and Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who worked with Manafort and Gates, have finished their prison sentences. Roger Stone, longtime DDT adviser and confidant, awaits sentencing. DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani faces a criminal investigation. Others connected to DDT include Richard Pinedo, who has a prison sentence for fraudulently trying to hurt Clinton’s campaign; Sam Patten and Maria Butina, who were charged with being unregistered foreign agents; and those on this long list of indicted Russian individuals and entities. 

New Jersey’s Rep. Jeff Van Drew switched from Republican to Democrat and swore “undying support” to DDT—until someone asked him about it. He said he didn’t say “undying.” Republicans don’t want him.

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