Argentina Is In Crisis, In Danger Of Collapse From The Inside, Government Is Aloof

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL 247 NEWS)

 

Map Shows The Salary You Need To Afford A Home In Every State

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘SIMPLEMOST’ ‘CURIOSITY’)

 

CURIOSITY

Map Shows The Salary You Need To Afford A Home In Every State

Where does your state rank?

Chances are you’ve considered how much money you would need to earn in order to buy a home. The answer, of course, depends largely on where you live. To give you an idea, finance website HowMuch.net recently crunched the housing affordability numbers for each state.

To arrive at its estimates, the website layered in several factors. The team collected average home prices in every state from Zillow, then plugged those figures into a mortgage calculator to determine monthly payments. HowMuch.net considered an interest rate that varied between 4 and 5 percent in each state. Also, it was assumed buyers were contributing a 10-percent down payment.

Existing Home Sales And Prices Hit Record High
Getty Images | Tim Boyle

Given that many financial advisors recommend the total cost of housing take up no more than 30 percent of gross income (i.e. the amount before taxes, retirement savings, etc.), the data team used that rule as a benchmark to calculate the minimum salary needed to afford the average home in each state. The figures are based on 30-year mortgages.

HowMuch.net

Next, we took HowMuch.net’s findings a step further by including the latest U.S. Census Bureau data on median household income to help illustrate how affordable a home purchase may actually be for the average person living in that state.

Ready to see how your state fares when it comes to affordability and home prices?

Alabama

Salary needed to afford a home: $47,960

Median household income: $46,257

gulf shores alabama photo
Flickr | chocmonk

Alaska

Salary needed to afford a home: $67,280

Median household income: $76,440

anchorage alaska photo
Getty Images | Streeter Lecka

Arizona

Salary needed to afford a home: $67,280

Median household income: $53,558

sedona photo
Getty Images | Bruce Bennett

Arkansas

Salary needed to afford a home: $41,040

Median household income: $44,334

little rock arkansas photo
Flickr | Sean Davis

California

Salary needed to afford a home: $120,120

Median household income: $67,739

golden gate bridge photo
Getty Images | Justin Sullivan

Colorado

Salary needed to afford a home: $100,200

Median household income: $65,685

downtown denver photo
Getty Images | Doug Pensinger

Connecticut

Salary needed to afford a home: $75,280

Median household income: $73,433

Connecticut photo
Flickr | jjbers

Delaware

Salary needed to afford a home: $67,960

Median household income: $61,757

delaware photo
Flickr | -Jeffrey-

District Of Columbia

Salary needed to afford a home: $138,440

Median household income: $75,506

washington dc photo
Flickr | szeke

Florida

Salary needed to afford a home: $70,360

Median household income: $50,860

florida beach photo
Flickr | apasciuto

Georgia

Salary needed to afford a home: $59,520

Median household income: $53,559

savannah georgia summer photo
Flickr | Ken Lund

Hawaii

Salary needed to afford a home: $153,52o

Median household income: $74,511

hawaii photo
Flickr | Anthony Quintano

Idaho

Salary needed to afford a home: $70,360

Median household income: $51,807

idaho photo
Flickr | treegrow

Illinois

Salary needed to afford a home: $53,880

Median household income: $60,960

chicago photo
Flickr | szeke

Indiana

Salary needed to afford a home: $42,560

Median household income: $52,314

Indianapolis photo
Getty Images | Chris Graythen

Iowa

Salary needed to afford a home: $44,360

Median household income: $56,247

iowa state fair photo
Flickr | SchwhatNow

Kansas

Salary needed to afford a home: $43,160

Median household income: $54,935

downtown topeka photo
Flickr | Dougtone

Kentucky

Salary needed to afford a home: $44,360

Median household income: $46,659

kentucky photo
Flickr | nickirp

Louisiana

Salary needed to afford a home: $50,320

Median household income: $45,146

new orleans photo
Flickr | faungg’s photos

Maine

Salary needed to afford a home: $55,520

Median household income: $53,079

maine photo
Flickr | Ken Lund

Maryland

Salary needed to afford a home: $72,200

Median household income: $78,945

maryland photo
Flickr | Dougtone

Massachusetts

Salary needed to afford a home: $101,320

Median household income: $75,297

boston photo
Getty Images | Maddie Meyer

Michigan

Salary needed to afford a home: $40,800

Median household income: $52,492

downtown detroit photo
Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla

Minnesota

Salary needed to afford a home: $64,720

Median household income: $65,599

minneapolis photo
Getty Images | Tom Dahlin

Mississippi

Salary needed to afford a home: $44,360

Median household income: $41,754

mississippi photo
Flickr | Ken Lund

Missouri

Salary needed to afford a home: $42,200

Median household income: $51,746

st louis arch photo
Getty Images | Todd Warshaw

Montana

Salary needed to afford a home: $75,520

Median household income: $50,027

glacier national park montana photo
Flickr | dconvertini

Nebraska

Salary needed to afford a home: $51,520

Median household income: $56,927

omaha nebraska photo
Getty Images | Peter Aiken

Nevada

Salary needed to afford a home: $73,120

Median household income: $55,180

las vegas strip photo
Flickr | holidaypointau

New Hampshire

Salary needed to afford a home: $68,440

Median household income: $70,936

new hampshire photo
Flickr | kla4067

New Jersey

Salary needed to afford a home: $69,640

Median household income: $76,126

jersey shore photo
Flickr | milst1

New Mexico

Salary needed to afford a home: $54,880

Median household income: $46,748

albuquerque photo
Flickr | Corvair Owner

New York

Salary needed to afford a home: $91,720

Median household income: $62,909

new york city photo
Flickr | Zeeyolq Photography

North Carolina

Salary needed to afford a home: $63,840

Median household income: $50,584

outer banks beach photo
Flickr | smkybear

North Dakota

Salary needed to afford a home: $56,000

Median household income: $60,656

north dakota photo
Getty Images | Andrew Burton

Ohio

Salary needed to afford a home: $38,400

Median household income: $52,334

roebling bridge cincinnati photo
Flickr | string_bass_dave

Oklahoma

Salary needed to afford a home: $45,320

Median household income: $49,176

oklahoma photo
Flickr | Larry Smith2010

Oregon

Salary needed to afford a home: $87,160

Median household income: $57,532

cannon beach photo
Getty Images | Brent Stirton

Pennsylvania

Salary needed to afford a home: $47,960

Median household income: $56,907

philadelphia photo
Flickr | Jamesy Peña

Rhode Island

Salary needed to afford a home: $69,640

Median household income: $60,596

providence photo
Flickr | spablab

South Carolina

Salary needed to afford a home: $58,840

Median household income: $49,501

charleston rainbow row photo
Flickr | AJ Photographic Art

South Dakota

Salary needed to afford a home: $55,360

Median household income: $54,467

south dakota photo
Flickr | Ladycliff

Tennessee

Salary needed to afford a home: $55,760

Median household income: $48,547

ryman auditorium photo
Flickr | Picster Jimster

Texas

Salary needed to afford a home: $66,080

Median household income: $56,565

san antonio riverwalk photo
Flickr | J.R.Ramos

Utah

Salary needed to afford a home: $83,720

Median household income: $65,977

park city utah photo
Flickr | Ken Lund

Vermont

Salary needed to afford a home: $62,600

Median household income: $57,677

vermont photo
Flickr | denisbin

Virginia

Salary needed to afford a home: $71,960

Median household income: $68,114

virginia photo
Flickr | lukas schlagenhauf

Washington

Salary needed to afford a home: $87,040

Median household income: $67,106

space needle photo
Flickr | Maëlick

West Virginia

Salary needed to afford a home: $38,320

Median household income: $43,385

new river gorge bridge photo
Flickr | jalexartis

Wisconsin

Salary needed to afford a home: $50,080

Median household income: $56,811

madison wisconsin photo
Getty Images | Jamie Squire

Wyoming

Salary needed to afford a home: $58,000

Median household income: $59,882

jackson hole photo
Flickr | Larry Johnson

Following the Money in Trumpland Leads Ugly Places

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘NEW YORKER’ MAGAZINE)

 

 / THE NATIONAL CIRCUS

Following the Money in Trumpland Leads Ugly Places

By 

Michael Avenatti is doing what Woodward and Bernstein did: exposing the money trail. Photo: MSNBC

Most weeks, New York Magazine writer-at-large Frank Rich speaks with contributor Alex Carp about the biggest stories in politics and culture. Today, the meaning of Michael Avenatti’s disclosures, Trump’s decision to kill the Iran deal, and Rudy Giuliani’s media tour.

With Michael Avenatti’s revelation that the shell company Michael Cohen used for the Stormy Daniels payoff also received money tied to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg (as well as payments from other companies with government business), it looks like the two main threads of Donald Trump’s legal troubles may be part of the same story. Has Avenatti found the “collusion” that Trump has spent so much energy denying?

Avenatti, whose revelations have since been verified by the Times and others, is doing exactly what Woodward and Bernstein did in Watergate — following the money. By doing so he has unveiled an example of collusion so flagrant that it made Trump and Rudy Giuliani suddenly go mute: a Putin crony’s cash turns out to be an essential component of the racketeering scheme used to silence Stormy Daniels and thus clear Trump’s path to the White House in the final stretch of the 2016 election. Like the Nixon campaign slush fund that Woodward and Bernstein uncovered, this money trail also implicates corporate players hoping to curry favor with a corrupt president. Back then it was the telecommunications giant ITT, then fending off antitrust suits from the government, that got caught red-handed; this time it’s AT&T. Both the Nixon and Trump slush funds were initially set up to illegally manipulate an American presidential election, hush money included. But the Watergate burglars’ dirty tricks, criminal as they were, were homegrown. Even Nixon would have drawn the line at colluding with Russians — or, in those days, the Soviets — to sabotage the Democrats.

5 of the Most Blatantly Unethical Moves by the Trump Administration

I know some accuse Avenatti of being a media whore, but he’s the one media whore I can’t get enough of. He knows what he’s doing, he has the goods, and he is playing high-stakes poker, shrewdly, with what appears to be a winning hand. It is also entertaining to imagine how crazy he is driving Trump. In personality and presence he’s exactly the kind of take-no-prisoners television defender that Trump would want appearing with Sean Hannity in his defense. That was the point of the Mooch. That is the point of Rudy. Apparently that was even once the point of Michael Cohen. If Avenatti, as others have noted, is Billy Flynn from the musical Chicagothen Trump is left with Larry, Curly, and Moe.

Donald Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. from the Iran deal has drawn condemnation from European alliesBarack Obama, and scores of other experts. Will Trump face any political penalty for his choice?

Honestly, I doubt Trump will still be in office when the full fallout of this blunder is felt. The blunder, one should add, is not only to pull out of a deal that was working but also to have no “better deal” (or policy at all) to take its place. But the interesting political piece about both this decision and the onrushing summit with Kim Jong-un is that Trump has persuaded himself that big bold foreign policy moves, however harmful to America and its allies, will rescue him from the rampaging scandal at home. This, again, has a Watergate echo: As the revelations of White House horrors piled up during the midterm election season of 1974, Nixon decided to travel to Moscow, ostensibly a diplomatic mission in the cause of détente. This stunt didn’t stave off the wolves closing in on him in Washington, and the current regurgitation of this tactic won’t save Trump either.

At least Nixon had foreign-policy expertise. He wouldn’t have given away the store to the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. By contrast, there’s every reason to fear that Trump’s ignorant foray into Korea will make Neville Chamberlain’s performance at Munich look Churchillian. Kim is not an idiot; he will keep playing the American president for all he can, knowing that Trump needs a “win” abroad to counterbalance all his losses at home. And Trump’s desperation to make a “deal” with North Korea for his own personal political salvation gets visibly greater with every Michael Avenatti television appearance. Witness the president’s decision to turn up at Andrews Air Force Base at 2 a.m. tomorrow to personally greet the three American detainees that North Korea released today. That Trump thinks this photo op will be effective counterprogramming to Stormy Daniels suggests he’s now lost one talent he unassailably did possess, an intuitive knack for show business.

Even in non-corrupt modern presidencies, there’s little evidence that foreign-policy achievements sway voters. (Foreign-policy debacles — wars that devolve into quagmires, for instance — do move voters, but not in a good way.) In Trump’s case, his America First base could not care less if he wins one of those suspect foreign Nobel Prizes as meaningless as the one awarded Obama. The majority of Americans who are not in Trump’s base won’t care either. Meanwhile, nuclear proliferation and possibly war hang in the balance.

After subjecting the country to a week of the Rudy Giuliani media tour, Donald Trump is now considering sidelining the lawyer. Has Giuliani done more damage to his own reputation or to Trump’s defense?

Both Trump’s legal strategy (if there is one) and Rudy’s reputation were in tatters well before this frequently hilarious and wholly unhinged media tour. It’s an indicator of how much the Trump defense is in disarray that the White House thought it was a good idea to send Giuliani to last weekend’s Sunday shows even after nearly a full week of screwups. And the debacle just keeps rolling along: Just hours before Avenatti posted his bombshell yesterday, Rudy was firmly declaring that Michael Cohen “possesses no incriminating information about the president.”

There’s clearly not just a screw loose in Giuliani but a missing link in his story with Trump. Rudy was a fierce Trump defender during the campaign and lobbied vociferously for a Cabinet position during the transition. Twice he was considered for both secretary of State and secretary of Homeland Security, and twice he was rejected. What does that say about him when you consider that those who did make the cut to top Trump administration jobs included Michael Flynn, Ben Carson, Tom Price, Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos, and Ryan Zinke? What does Giuliani have for — or on — Trump that brought him into the fold now? Inquiring minds would like to know.

In any case, Trumpism has bequeathed America not merely a post-fact but post-rule-of-law culture. Rudy, like his boss, claims nonexistent extralegal privileges for presidents, dismisses FBI agents as “stormtroopers,” and endorses “rumor” as a legal strategy. I’d say his record for mad-dog lunacy is perfect were it not for the moment when he told Hannity that Jared Kushner is “disposable” — a judgment that no doubt reflects the view of Kushner’s father-in-law and is surely correct. That is our national Godfather replay at its best.

Turks, Saudis, UAE said to pump quarter billion dollars into East Jerusalem

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Turks, Saudis, UAE said to pump quarter billion dollars into East Jerusalem

Israeli officials fear funds to ‘rescue’ Muslim holy sites could touch off Palestinian violence in run up to US embassy move to Israeli capital

File: Waqf officials and others prepare to pray outside the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City, rather than enter the compound via metal detectors set up by Israel following a terror attack, July 16, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

File: Waqf officials and others prepare to pray outside the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City, rather than enter the compound via metal detectors set up by Israel following a terror attack, July 16, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Less than two weeks away from the scheduled transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are pumping a quarter of a billion dollars into the Islamic Waqf and a slew of Muslim organizations in East Jerusalem, Hadashot news reported Wednesday.

The Waqf (Muslim Trust) administers the Temple Mount, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine, as well as a slew of schools, orphanages, Islamic libraries, Islamic courts and other properties. The mount is the holiest place in Judaism as the site of the ancient temples. Israel maintains overall security control at the site.

The three countries are describing the move as an act of “rescue” to finance renovations at holy sites, but Israeli officials fear their involvement will go beyond money and could spark violence in the run-up to the ribbon-cutting on May 14, the TV report said.

On Sunday, Hadashot News reported that US President Donald Trump was looking increasingly likely to come to the ceremony and was mulling allowing convicted American spy Jonathan Pollard to come too by lifting restrictions that prevent him from travelling to Israel.

Jonathan Pollard (left), and his lawyer Eliot Lauer leave federal court in New York following a hearing, July 22, 2016. (AP/Larry Neumeister, File)

Pollard served nearly 30 years for spying for Israel, and since being paroled in 2015 has been prohibited from leaving US soil, barring him from moving to the Jewish state as he wishes.

Trump’s announcement late last month that “I may go” to the ceremony reportedly surprised Israeli officials who had received no indication from the Americans that he might be attending.

It had been previously reported that Trump had considered but decided against attending the inauguration.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is currently set to lead the 250-member delegation for the event, which will include 40 members of Congress and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump. Other media reports have suggested that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo could lead the delegation, in lieu of a Trump arrival.

Welcomed by Israel, the Palestinians have seen the embassy move as a provocation, and have said it effectively negates the possibility of the Trump administration serving as an honest broker in peace talks. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other PA officials have refused to meet with anyone on Trump’s team since he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks during a press conference on Jerusalem, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on April 11, 2018. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

The opening of the embassy will take place just two days after the deadline for Trump’s decision on whether or not to scrap the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed in 2015 between Tehran and six world powers, including the US, under then-president Barack Obama.

The agreement curbed Tehran’s controversial nuclear enrichment program in exchange for relief from international sanctions.

Trump has termed the agreement the “worst deal ever” and has called on the other signatories to “fix it.”

He has threatened to tear up the deal unless new restrictions are imposed on Iran’s ballistic missile program and other military activities by May 12.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is campaigning for the deal to be fixed or nixed.

On Tuesday, he revealed that the Mossad intelligence agency had obtained 100,000 documents from Iran’s own secret nuclear weapons archive proving, he said, that the 2015 deal was based on “Iranian deception.”

READ MORE:

‘Teflon don, Trump’ About To Go Down In The Flames Of Impeachment?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

(Is The ‘Teflon don, Trump’ About To Go Down In The Flames Of Impeachment?)

Right Turn

Trump melts down after Cohen raid — and only hurts himself

  
 April 10 at 9:00 AM 
 2:01
Trump fumes ‘attorney-client privilege is dead’ after FBI raid

President Trump tweeted his outrage at an FBI raid of his personal attorney Michael Cohen’s home and offices, calling it a “witch hunt.”

In an extraordinary series of events, the FBI executed a no-knock raid on President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen’s office, home and hotel. The president, seated alongside his top military and civilian national security advisers to discuss a response to the Syrians’ use of chemical weapons, launched into a rant in which he did not rule out firing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, accused law enforcement of bias, whined that Hillary Clinton was not being prosecuted, suggested Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein had behaved improperly in signing off on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to conduct surveillance on Carter Page, railed again at Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself (and thereby allowing the investigation proceed) and deemed execution of a warrant signed off on by a federal judge and approved by a U.S. attorney and deputy attorney general, both of whom he appointed, to be an “attack” on the country.
Let’s start with the raid. The Post reports:

Michael Cohen, the longtime attorney of President Trump, is under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations, according to three people with knowledge of the case.
FBI agents on Monday raided Cohen’s Manhattan office, home and hotel room as part of the investigation, seizing records about Cohen’s clients and personal finances. Among the records taken were those related to a 2016 payment Cohen made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump, according to another person familiar with the investigation.
Investigators took Cohen’s computer, phone and personal financial records, including tax returns, as part of the search of his office at Rockefeller Center, the second person said.
In a dramatic and broad seizure, federal prosecutors collected communications between Cohen and his clients — including those between the lawyer and Trump, according to both people.

Let us not understate how extraordinary a development this is. The standard of proof required to raid any attorney’s office is exceptionally high. To authorize a raid on the president’s lawyer’s office, a federal judge or magistrate must have seen highly credible evidence of serious crimes and/or evidence Cohen was hiding or destroying evidence, according to legal experts. “The FBI raid was the result of an ongoing criminal investigation *not* by Mueller but by the interim US Attorney personally interviewed and selected by Trump himself, pursuant to a warrant issued under strict standards by a federal judge, subject to approval by the head of the Criminal Division,” said constitutional scholar Larry Tribe. He warns that “firing Sessions or Rosenstein (or reining in Mueller) would trigger a crisis for the Constitution and our national security but wouldn’t even extricate Trump from criminal investigation of his innermost circle.” In short, Tribe concludes, “This is every bit as shattering as many have surmised.”

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What we don’t know is whether the suspected wrongdoing extends to Trump or is solely attributable to Cohen. (By referring the matter to the New York prosecutor, Mueller may have signaled this is not germane to the Russia investigation; however, any possible crimes concerning Stormy Daniels, for example, may or may not implicate Trump.) Whatever the FBI sweeps up may very well further enmesh Trump in an investigation in which what seemed like a series of separate topics — Trump’s personal finances, potential obstruction of justice, possible Russian collusion and hush money paid to a porn star — have begun to bleed into one another. Trump is as vulnerable as he has always been, in part because he plainly does not know what federal prosecutors now have in their possession and because intense pressure may be brought to bear on Cohen to “flip” on Trump.
Trump cannot take much comfort in the attorney-client privilege. For one thing, it applies to legal communications; if Cohen is acting as a businessman/”fixer,” no privilege may attach. Moreover, the attorney-client privilege cannot apply to communications that are part of a crime (e.g., a conspiracy to obstruct justice). Trump once said investigating his finances were a “red line” for Mueller; the latest move in raiding Cohen transgresses any limitation Trump could possibly have dreamed up. His reaction reflects his fury in not being able to fend off Mueller.
Trump’s response was disturbing on multiple levels.
First, Trump in essence declared war on the rule of law. “It’s, frankly, a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for,” said the president, who now equates the operation of the criminal-justice system under the rule of law to be an attack on the country. He is the country in his eyes. Those who challenge him are enemies of the country. There is no better formulation of his authoritarian, anti-democratic mindset than this.

 3:03
Opinion | Trump can fire Mueller, but that won’t get rid of the Russia investigation

Opinion | If President Trump fires the bane of his legal troubles, he could spark a legal and constitutional crisis.

Second, his tirade against Sessions should rekindle concerns that he is contemplating firing him and putting in a flunky to protect himself. “The attorney general made a terrible mistake when he did this, and when he recused himself,” Trump said. “Or he should have certainly let us know if he was going to recuse himself, and we would have used a — put a different attorney general in. So he made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country.” That, too, is a picture-perfect distillation of his warped view of the presidency. He hands Mueller another admission that he thinks the DOJ should protect him from, instead of conducting investigations into criminal and counterintelligence matters.
Third, Trump’s attempts to discredit Mueller’s team and the FBI should highlight the necessity of Congress protecting the special counsel. (“This is the most biased group of people. These people have the biggest conflicts of interest I’ve ever seen.”) When he says the investigation is a “witch hunt,” he may be plowing the way to fire Mueller and/or Rosenstein or refuse to cooperate with an interview. In either event, we would face a constitutional crisis.
Fourth, Trump’s insistence that his campaign has been exonerated from “collusion” (“So they find no collusion, and then they go from there and they say, ‘Well, let’s keep going.’”) is baseless. More than 70 different contacts between Trump team and Russian-related figures have been found. Multiple indictments and plea deals have been struck. The investigation continues. His false certainty that there is no evidence of collusion can now be seen as the motive for his attempts to discredit and derail the investigation, to obstruct justice, in other words.
Finally, Trump’s rambling, unhinged reaction — after his attorneys no doubt counseled him to keep quiet — should shake his supporters. The pressure of the investigation and vulnerability to prosecution and/or impeachment are not going to vanish. His family and his fix-it lawyer won’t stop Mueller. His TV friends cannot keep the FBI at bay. He lashes out like a cornered animal. The angrier and more panicked Trump becomes, the greater chance he will behave in extreme and destructive ways.
“The president cannot help himself,” former White House ethics counsel Norman Eisen told me. “Instead of doing his job as our chief federal law enforcement official and allowing the rule of law to operate unimpeded, he lashes out when he feels personally threatened.” He adds, “The president’s words were more befitting a mob don when the feds are closing in. Given Michael Cohen’s role in Trump’s past, perhaps they are. The American people will not stand for any Trump attempt to match his hostile words with aggressive action against Mueller, Sessions, Rosenstein or other DOJ officials. If he does, it will be the beginning of the end for his presidency.”
Now would be a good time for Republicans to find their spines, remember their oaths and act to insulate Mueller and Rosenstein from Trump. A simple declaration that firing either would be an impeachable offense would, frankly, be a help to Trump. He could use some outside restraint.

FBI Raids The Office Of Trumps Personal Lawyer

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

The FBI raided the office of Michael Cohen, a personal lawyer and confidant of President Donald Trump, Cohen’s attorney confirmed to CNN Monday.

One source familiar with the matter told CNN that included in the documents authorities seized was information related to Stephanie Clifford, better known as porn actress Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had an affair with Trump in 2006 that the White House has denied.
Stephen Ryan, a lawyer for Cohen, said in a statement that the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York had executed “a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communications” between Cohen and his clients.
A White House official said Trump had been watching TV reports of the FBI raiding Cohen’s office, and that Trump knew about the raid before the news broke.
Ryan’s statement called the search “completely inappropriate and unnecessary,” and said federal prosecutors had told him it stemmed partially from a referral by the office of special counsel Robert Mueller.
“I have been advised by federal prosecutors that the New York action is, in part, a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller,” Ryan said in the statement. “… It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney client communications between a lawyer and his clients. These government tactics are also wrong because Mr. Cohen has cooperated completely with all government entities, including providing thousands of non-privileged documents to the Congress and sitting for depositions under oath.”
The New York Times first reported on news of Monday’s raid.
The special counsel’s office declined to comment on the searches Monday.
A person briefed on the search told the Times that the FBI also seized emails, tax documents and business records, including communications between Trump and Cohen.
The White House official said it is unclear if Trump has spoken to Cohen.
Cohen is a longtime ally of the President, and admitted earlier this year to setting up a limited liability company in 2016 to pay Daniels. She has alleged she had an affair with Trump a decade earlier, and that the payment was hush money. The White House has denied Daniels’ allegations of an affair with Trump.
Asked about the Daniels controversy last week, Trump said he did not know about the payment and declined to comment further, instead referring questions to Cohen.
“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen,” Trump said. “Michael is my attorney. You’ll have to ask Michael.”

TEHRAN, Iran — Labor strikes Nationwide protests Bank failures

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

FILE- In this Jan. 5, 2018 file photo, Iranian senior cleric Ahmad Khatami delivers his sermon during Friday prayer ceremony in Tehran, Iran. In recent months, Iran has been beset by economic problems despite the promises surrounding the 2015 nuclear deal it struck with world powers. (Ebrahim Noroozi, File/Associated Press)
 March 10 at 4:29 AM
TEHRAN, Iran — Labor strikes. Nationwide protests. Bank failures.In recent months, Iran has been beset by economic problems despite the promises surrounding the 2015 nuclear deal it struck with world powers.

Its clerically overseen government is starting to take notice. Politicians now offer the idea of possible government referendums or early elections. Even Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei acknowledged the depths of the problems ahead of the 40th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution.

“Progress has been made in various sectors in the real sense of the word; however, we admit that in the area of ‘justice’ we are lagging behind,” Khamenei said in February, according to an official transcript. “We should apologize to Allah the Exalted and to our dear people.”

Whether change can come, however, is in question.

Iran today largely remains a state-run economy. It has tried to privatize some of its industries, but critics say they have been handed over to a wealthy elite that looted them and ran them into the ground.

One major strike now grips the Iran National Steel Industrial Group in Ahvaz, in the country’s southwest, where hundreds of workers say they haven’t been paid in three months. Authorities say some demonstrators have been arrested during the strike.

More than 3.2 million Iranians are jobless, government spokesman Mohammad-Bagher Nobakht has said. The unemployment rate is over 11 percent.

Banks remain hobbled by billions of dollars in bad loans, some from the era of nuclear sanctions and others tainted with fraud. The collapse last year of the Caspian Credit Institute, which promised depositors the kinds of returns rarely seen outside of Ponzi schemes, showed the economic desperation faced by many in Iran.

Meanwhile, much of the economy is in the grip of Iran’s security services.

The country’s powerful Revolutionary Guard paramilitary force, which answers only Khamenei and runs Iran’s ballistic missile program, controls 15 to 30 percent of the economy, analysts say.

Under President Hassan Rouhani, a relatively moderate cleric whose government reached the atomic accord, there has been a push toward ending military control of some businesses. However, the Guard is unlikely to give up its power easily.

Some suggest hard-liners and the Guard may welcome the economic turmoil in Iran as it weakens Rouhani’s position. His popularity has slipped since winning a landslide re-election in May 2017, in part over the country’s economic woes.

Analysts believe a hard-line protest in late December likely lit the fuse for the nationwide demonstrations that swept across some 75 cities. While initially focused on the economy, they quickly turned anti-government. At least 25 people were killed in clashes surrounding the demonstrations, while nearly 5,000 reportedly were arrested.

In the time since, Rouhani has suggested holding a referendum, without specifying what exactly would be voted on.

“If factions have differences, there is no need to fight, bring it to the ballot,” Rouhani said in a speech Feb. 11. “Do whatever the people say.”

Such words don’t come lightly. There have been only two referendums since the Islamic Revolution. A 1979 referendum installed Iran’s Islamic republic. A 1989 constitutional referendum eliminated the post of prime minister, created Iran’s Supreme National Security Council and made other changes.

A letter signed by 15 prominent Iranians published a day after Rouhani’s speech called for a referendum on whether Iran should become a secular parliamentary democracy. The letter was signed by Iranians living inside the country and abroad, including Nobel Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.

“The sum of the experiences of the last 40 years show the impossibility of reforming the Islamic Republic, since by hiding behind divine concepts … the regime has become the principal obstacle to progress and salvation of the Iranian nation,” read the letter, which was posted online.

But even among moderates in Iran’s clerical establishment, there seems to be little interest in such far-reaching changes, which would spell the end of the Islamic Republic. Hard-liners, who dominate the country’s security services, are adamantly opposed.

“I am telling the anti-Islamic government network, the anti-Iranians and those runaway counterrevolutionaries … their wish for a public referendum will never come true,” Tehran Friday prayer leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said Feb. 15, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

Yet there are signs that authorities realize that something will have to give. Khamenei’s apology in February took many by surprise, especially as the country’s true hard-liners believe he is the representative of God on earth.

Khamenei’s apology came after a letter from Mehdi Karroubi, an opposition activist who remains under house arrest, demanding that the supreme leader take responsibility for failures.

“You were president for eight years and you have been the absolute ruler for almost 29 years,” Karroubi wrote in the letter, which was not reported on by state media. “Therefore, considering your power and influence over the highest levels of state, you must accept that today’s political, economic, cultural and social situation in the country is a direct result of your guidance and administration.”

Iran’s former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, blamed by many for the country’s economic woes, has come out for early elections. He also demanded they be “free and fair,” while continuing his own campaign against Khamenei, whom he ignored in his attempt to run in the 2017 presidential election.

However, Ahmadinejad’s action drew immediate criticism, as his own widely disputed 2009 re-election sparked unrest and violence that killed dozens.

___

Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

How Does Centrally Planned China Raise Capital?-Answer, Hong Kong

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FORBES INVESTING MARKET MOVES)

 

Investing #MarketMoves

How Does Centrally Planned China Raise Capital?

I write financial newsletters for investors on how to profit in Asia.  Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

A general view from Victoria Peak shows Victoria Harbour and the skylines of the Kowloon district (background) and Hong Kong island (foreground) on July 3, 2017. (ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

Through careful planning and strategic economic policy reforms, mainland China has evolved from a country struck by poverty to the world’s second largest economy. But don’t think this was solely the Chinese bureaucrats’ doing.  The U.K.’s special “present” to China proved to be essential to the story of China’s miraculous development.

In 1997, Tony Blair, who was U.K.’s prime minister at the time, went to Hong Kong to give the city back to Beijing. 156 years of colonial rule had completely transformed the city.

What was once a backwards fishing village, was now one of the worlds’ most important financial hubs.

Hong Kong currently has the highest concentration of international banks in the world. The 71 largest international banks and almost 300 international fund management companies are housed in Hong Kong. The island also has most beneficial legal regulations for both residents and companies.

China basically saw Hong Kong attending a 150 yearlong financial course. The financial powerhouse now belongs back to the Middle Kingdom that uses it to funnel foreign capital into its centrally planned economy. Something the mainland wasn’t able to do by itself.

Never before has a centrally planned economy ever received such a precious gift as Hong Kong.

How Hong Kong feeds China

Companies in planned economies – like China’s – typically have a hard time raising capital. That makes Hong Kong a key factor in China’s economic development.

With its leading financial institutions in place, Hong Kong is able to raise capital unhindered by political or economic instability. A problem free market economies like in the U.S. generally have to deal with.

Four years before Hong Kong was given back to China, it was responsible for 27% of China’s GDP. Let’s put this in perspective. At the time, only 6.5 million people lived in Hong Kong while mainland China had a population of 1 billion people. It’s easy to see that Hong Kong’s impact on China’s economic growth was tremendous.

The mainland did catch up over time as the graph below clearly illustrates. By 2017, Hong Kong accounted for merely 3% of the GDP.

One Road Research

Hong Kong’s Share of China’s GDP

Hong Kong’s return in 1997 coincided with the dramatic rise of China’s GDP.

One Road Research

China’s GDP in Current US$

China’s economic growth was partially due to twenty years of export-oriented policies from Beijing. But without Hong Kong’s well-established financial markets, necessary funds couldn’t have been raised.

Welcome to Lawless Latvia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘LAWLESS LATVIA’ WEBSITE)

 

Welcome to Lawless Latvia

Lawless Latvia provides information about Latvian crimes that are ignored by the corrupt media and authorities. Latvia is the offshore banking center for the former Soviet Union, to the detriment of everyone in the world including Latvians and excluding only a few Oligarchs. The EBRD, EU, IMF, and World Bank are making the problem worse by funding the Oligarchs, fraudulently in the case of the EBRD. Please like or friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Learn more about this site »

EBRD openly criminal

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is funded by 65 countries with a mission of fostering transparency and democracy in 30 countries.  From 2009 to 2014, the EBRD was caught running a scam with the Latvian government to temporarily cover-up the disappearance of the assets of Parex Bank.  The government claims that Parex collapsed because of the United States and Sweden, however the real recipients of the disappeared assets were likely Russian oligarchs and Latvian politicians.

From 2009 to 2013, the EBRD insisted that it really bought Parex shares and denied rumors that the privatization was planned to be reversed by a secret guarantee (‘put option’) in 2014.  When the Latvian government did reverse the privatization in 2014, proving that the EBRD was lying and the privatization was a fraud, then the EBRD became silent.

However now something amazing has happened.  The EBRD had admitted on its own website that it is offering a fraud service!  This webpage states that the EBRD will buy shares in a company if the seller guarantees to reverse the investment later!  There is only one reason why a seller (for example a national government) would effectively pay the EBRD to temporarily claim to be owner of shares.  This reason is fraud!  Such transactions are completely illegal since they mislead creditors about the true value of the shares, which for a corrupt and looted government company is usually zero.

We wonder how many of the EBRD’s 30 countries currently have false financial statements because of this racket.

EBRD webpage:

http://www.ebrd.com/work-with-us/project-finance/equity/direct-equity.html%20

pdf in case the EBRD takes down the webpage:

ebrd put option

An $846,000 Inheritance Got Lost In Transit. That Was In February

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)

 

An $846,000 Inheritance Got Lost In Transit. That Was In February

It has been more than nine months since a family in Canada realized that UPS lost a bank draft worth $846,000 (Canadian) that was sent to an inheritor. So far, the only money recovered is the $32 it cost to ship the document. The family’s bank, TD Canada Trust, has delayed issuing a new bank draft.

Lorette Taylor, who lives in Ontario, was distributing the proceeds from her late father’s estate when she tried to send an inheritance to her brother, Louis Paul Hebert, who lives near Cornwall, Ontario, some 270 miles from the office of the family’s lawyer.

Their story ran on the CBC on Thursday — and within hours, reporter John Lancaster says in a tweet, TD Canada Trust issued a statement on Thursday that read, “It’s clear to us we didn’t get this right along the way and that there was more we could have done to come to a resolution faster.”

Taylor told the CBC that she and her husband, John, went to their longtime bank, TD Canada Trust, hoping to get a certified check for $846,000 Canadian — around $660,000 in U.S. dollars, at today’s exchange rate. But TD employees had a different idea. As Taylor said, given the large sum, “They said a bank draft was more appropriate.”

Bank drafts are generally seen as being one step beyond cashier’s checks, in terms of security and guarantee. In nearly every case, they’re issued to signify that a bank has total control of the money being transferred. And in theory, at least, they’re able to be replaced or reimbursed if an initial draft is lost or destroyed.

An mage taken from a TD Canada Trust error messagethat NPR received when trying to read about how the institution handles bank drafts.

TD Canada Trust/Screenshot by NPR

We can’t get more specific about how TD’s Canada operation handles bank drafts, because when we clicked a link in this statement on its site to “find out more information about purchasing a draft,” the site returned a page stating, seemingly without ironic intent, “The document you requested cannot be found.”

The Taylors’ bank draft never made it to Cornwall. UPS says it was able to track it to Concord, north of Toronto. But after that, the shipping company says, the trail turns cold. In February, TD Bank said the draft could be canceled — but only if the Taylors signed an indemnity agreement.

“Essentially, the bank wanted to hold Lorette — the executor of her father’s estate — liable for life if the draft was cashed illegally,” the CBC reports. Under the terms, the liability would extend to Lorette’s spouse and heirs.

Lorette Taylor eventually signed that agreement; the bank still did not produce the funds. TD officials told the Taylors that they would need to secure the balance of the draft further, by taking a lien on their home. To that, they refused.

“If the bank really wants indemnity,” she said in explaining her thinking to the CBC, “then UPS should sign it.”

There may now be new hope of a deal being reached, particularly as TD Canada Trust has issued a new statement as the story has won a wide audience in Canada and beyond.

But Hebert, 61, who went to the UPS store to await his hefty check back in February, is still waiting.

“TD has the money” he told the CBC. “The money is actually sitting in an account with TD. Nothing has been stolen. It’s there. That’s my inheritance.”

Every day, Hebert said, he kicks himself for not simply driving to pick up the bank draft.

Discussing the difference the money could have made, he said, “I would have been retired.”

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