Sunday, April 21, 2019

Baltimore Activist Alert April 21 – July 28, 2019


Baltimore Activist Alert April 21 – July 28, 2019

"I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours." -Martin Luther King Jr.

Friends, this list and other email documents which I send out are done under the auspices of the Baltimore Nonviolence Center.  Go to www.baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com.  If you appreciate this information and would like to make a donation, send contributions to BNC, 325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218.  Max Obuszewski can be reached at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net.

1] Books, buttons and stickers
2] Web site for info on federal legislation
3] Get involved with NCNR   
4] Buy an Anti-War Veteran hat  
5] Lawyers Against War
6] “Explore & Live Palestine” from July 11 through July 25, 2019
7] SUPPORT AMAZON WORKERS OF CONSCIENCE
8] CODEPINK NEEDS YOU AT THE VENEZUELA EMBASSY
9] Shadows and Ashes: The Peril of Nuclear Weapons – through May 31
10] Community Land Trusts – April 21
11] Get involved with a Butterfly Garden Cleanup – April 21
12] Baltimore Green Party meeting – April 21
13] ERA Call – April 21
14] Civil Rights double header – April 21
15] Persecution of Julian Assange – April 21
16] Pentagon Protest – April 22
17] Bird Banding – April 22
18] Earth Day giveaway – April 22
19] Food Rescue – April 22
20] Food Rescue Pop-Up – April 22
21] Artificial Intelligence film – April 22
22] Get the Money Out conference call – April 22
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1] – Buttons, bumperstickers and books are available.  “God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions” stickers are in stock. Call Max at 410-323-1607.

2] – To obtain information how your federal legislators voted on particular bills, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/.  Congressional toll-free numbers are 888-818-6641, 888-355-3588 or 800-426-8073. The White House Comment Email is accessible at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/.

3] – THE ORGANIZING LIST will be the primary decision-making mechanism of the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR].  It will be augmented by conference calls and possibly in-person meetings as needed.  It will consist of 1 or 2 representatives from each local, regional, or national organization (not coalitions) that wishes to actively work to carry out the NCNR campaign of facilitating and organizing nonviolent resistance to U.S. wars.

To join the ORGANIZING List, please send your name, group affiliation, city and email address to mobuszewski2001 at Comcast dot net.  Different local chapters of a national organization are encouraged to subscribe.  

4] – Get a good-looking black hat which says Anti-War Veteran in the front and Viva House 50th in the back.  The cost is $10. Contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski2001 at Comcast dot net.

5] – Jeff Ross, an attorney in Maryland, is interested in gathering with other lawyers to discuss ways in which the legal profession and the law generally can be conceptualized as a peace-building and war-resisting institution and redirected to these ends. Areas to explore might include: 1) ways in which this group could support with legal analysis/writing those lawyers who are representing peace-builders/war-resisters in criminal prosecutions; 2) ways in which, from a more theoretical perspective, the law might be grounded in an ethic of non-violence; and 3) ways in which law students and young lawyers might be exposed to a non-violent vision of the law. All religious, philosophical, and critical perspectives on the law are welcome. The group might want to call itself Lawyers Against War. Jeff can be reached at 443-690-6872 and jross50@hotmail.com.

6] – If you are 18 to 35, don't miss this unique opportunity to visit Palestine! Registration is Now Open at https://kthps.org/join. For more information, please visit: https://kthps.org/.  Know Thy Heritage, Inc. is offering a Leadership Initiative “Explore & Live Palestine” from July 11 through July 25, 2019.  This is a program of The Arab American Institute.  Visit http://www.aaiusa.org/.

7] -- SUPPORT AMAZON WORKERS OF CONSCIENCE.  We are in a deep struggle to support conscience within the high tech community, which may be the only way to prevent a major leap into artificial intelligence warfare that we see the beginnings of in the expanding global U.S. drone war system.  This may be of particular interest to Johns Hopkins' Navy-funded researchers, some of whom have been working on swarming drone technology.

These are not major asks and can be a powerful reinforcement of conscience at an extremely critical moment.  Please consider circulating this link to your lists encouraging people to sign the linked RootsAction petition - https://www.knowdrones.com/blog/2019/3/6/support-amazon-workers-who-dont-want-to-work-for-war and leafletting Whole Foods in your areas. This is a link to the leaflet -- https://gallery.mailchimp.com/dd110b000ca250d868d4f419b/files/107fc695-8af9-4f7e-a523-ecd1d1dfd28f/Wholefoods_Leaflet.pdf. Should you have interest in circulating the links and possibly leafletting, contact Nick Mottern at  nickmottern at gmail.com.

8] – Urgent: CODEPINK needs you at the Venezuela Embassy, 1099 30th St. NW, WDC, through all of next week.   A group of activists have been living in the embassy to protect it from a hostile takeover by the opposition, in violation of international law.  We’ll also have events all week long. For a list of all the activities, see https://www.codepink.org/washington_dc_24_7_protection_of_dc_venezuelan_embassy.

The events are part of an ongoing presence at the Venezuelan embassy by the Embassy Protection Collective. We have been staging a round-the-clock vigil inside the embassy for the past two weeks, including overnight shifts, and organizing activities at the embassy every night.  We think this will be the week that the opposition comes to take over. So this coming week is critical, especially Thursday and Friday. You can come anytime, or join us overnight. 

The opposition already took over the Venezuelan military attaché office in Washington, DC and the Venezuelan consulate in New York City in violation of Article 22 of the Vienna Convention and has announced its intention to take over the Embassy next week.  Call 415-235-6517.

9] – An important art exhibition continues at the Takoma Park campus of Montgomery College through May 31.  The exhibit is named Shadows and Ashes: The Peril of Nuclear Weapons, and features works by photographer Gary Schoichet; drawings by the child survivors of Hiroshima; ceramic masks by multimedia artist Marion Held; the poetry of John Canaday; and the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University  This is a traveling exhibition from Princeton University, sponsored by Montgomery College’s Institute for Race, Justice, and Civic Engagement, Peace Action Montgomery, and Prevent Nuclear War/Maryland, and it will be on view at Montgomery College’s Cultural Arts Center, 7995 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring. It will be accompanied by various events, including films, lectures, and discussion.

This exhibition of art and science examines the role of nuclear weapons in our society and reflects on their results. By combining artwork and scientific information, it opens conversations on the practical and the philosophical implications of humans’ continued efforts to create and to dismantle nuclear weapons. This multi-faceted exploration of the implications of nuclear weapons includes photographs, drawings, masks, and technical information. Photographer Gary Schoichet provides portraits and reflective comments of Hiroshima survivors, as well as documentary photographs of the historic 1982 Anti-Nuclear Rally in New York City. All Souls Church in Washington, D.C., contributes Hiroshima Children’s Drawings in crayon from 1947 by young survivors. In commemoration of the human catastrophe in Japan, multimedia artist Marion Held has made ceramic masks as a response to her exploration of the site of the bombing at Hiroshima. Related events will be posted throughout the time of the exhibition on the website, www.peaceactionmc.org/. For information on exhibit hours and parking, visit mcblogs/montgomerycollege.edu/cac

10] –Usually, the Baltimore Ethical Society, 2521 St. Paul St., Baltimore 21218, meets on Sundays, and generally there is a speaker and discussion at 10:30 AM.  On Sun., April 21, the platform address is “Community Land Trusts: Tools for Uplifting Community Values.”  The Charm City Land Trusts is a resident-led organization designed to hold land together and cultivate a neighborhood vision that promotes the values, prioritizes the needs, and creates a path for community ownership of its residents. CCLT is active in East Baltimore, a historically redlined community that is stewarding vibrant community green space, reclaiming vacants, and organizing for policy change that will support the CLT movement. CCLT is becoming a tool through which neighbors values are made evident in the space we inhabit, especially as we grapple with market forces that displace and disorganize our communities.

Adriana Foster is a leadership organizer with United Workers and a co-facilitator of the Baltimore Housing Roundtable. She lives and works in East Baltimore and is a member of Charm City Land Trusts. Her work centers on the human right to land, housing, and development that meets community needs. Call 410-581-2322 or email ask@bmorethical.org

11] –  On Sun., April 21 from 2 to 5 PM, get involved with a Butterfly Garden Cleanup, hosted by JHU Students for Environmental Action, outside of the FFC, JHU.  Come help prepare the butterfly garden for spring! Weed and prepare the ground for later plantings. The garden is full of native plants to support native species!  Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/553668908473875/.

12] – On Sun., April 21 from 4 to 6 PM, there is a General Membership Meeting of the Baltimore City Green Party.  Following that meeting, there are meetings on Sun., May 19, 4 to 6 PM and Sun., June 16 from 4 to 6 PM.  These meetings will be at the University Of Baltimore Law School Library, top floor. 1401 N. Charles St. The meeting of the Baltimore City Green Party is an opportunity for members and interested individuals to discuss, debate, decide and plan for the work of the Baltimore City Green Party.  See https://www.facebook.com/events/1967876273521515/?event_time_id=1967876276854848.

13] – On Sun., April 21, April 28 and May 5 from 4 to 5 PM, get on The CALL - ERA Education Program at Katrina's Dream, PO Box 32003, WDC 20007.  Tickets are at www.katrinasdream.org.  Please come each Sunday and help build the groundswell. The collaboration of grassroots organizers, lobbyists, and professionals is dedicated to promoting and educating folks across the United States of America to empowering women around the world.

The CALL IN NUMBER is 563.999.2090, the CONFERENCE NO: 898879#.  Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1710130249022424/?event_time_id=1710130255689090.

14] – On Sun., April 21 from 5:45 to 9:40 PM, see a Double Feature: “Nothing But A Man” and “The Cool World” at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring 20910.  Tickets are at silver.afi.com.  NOTHING BUT A MAN [1964] is set against the stirrings of the Civil Rights Movement and a rising wave of burgeoning black pride.  It tells the story of Duff (Ivan Dixon), who went on to direct 1973's THE SPOOK WHO SAT BY THE DOOR), a railroad section hand who is forced to confront racial prejudice and self-denial when he falls in love with Josie (Abbey Lincoln), an educated preacher's daughter. The film explores the painful nuances of life in the 1960s South, and themes of fatherhood and sacrifice.

THE COOL WORLD [1963] was produced by famed documentarian Frederick Wiseman and propelled by the sounds of Dizzy Gillespie.  This is a fictional snapshot of teenagers surrounded by pimps, prostitutes and corrupt cops in turbulent 1960s Harlem which packs a punch still undiminished five decades later. The enigmatic Duke is a wannabe gangster who dreams of procuring guns so he can walk tall with the thugs he idolizes. Tickets can be had at https://bit.ly/2Gx8g7j.  This is part of the "Library of Congress Film Preservation Showcase." The full schedule and tickets are at http://bit.ly/LOCPreservationShowcase.  See https://www.facebook.com/events/571425056670717/.

15] -- On Sun., April 21 from 7 to 8 PM, hear about the Persecution of Julian Assange, hosted by the Embassy Protection Collective at the Venezuela embassy, 1099 30th St., WDC.  Joe Lauria, editor of Consortium News and host of the Friday night #Unity4J online vigils, will speak about the current situation with Julian's incarceration and the future of WikiLeaks.  Events are being held at the Venezuelan embassy to protect this space from a take-over by the opposition. Children and families are welcome. The entrance is in the back. See https://www.facebook.com/events/664322450655312/.

16] – There is a weekly Pentagon Peace Vigil from 7 to 8 AM on Mondays, since 1987, outside the Pentagon Metro stop.  The next vigil is Apr. 22, and it is sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.  Email artlaffin@hotmail.com or call 202-882-9649.  The vigil will be outside the Pentagon's south Metro entrance and in the designated "protest zone" behind bicycle fences across from the entrance to the Metro.  By Metro, take Yellow Line and get out at the "Pentagon" stop. Do not go to the Pentagon City stop! Go up south escalators and turn left and walk across to protest area. By car from D.C. area, take 395 South and get off at Exit 8A-Pentagon South Parking. Take slight right onto S. Rotary Rd. at end of ramp and right on S. Fern St. Then take left onto Army Navy Dr. You can "pay to park" on Army Navy Dr.,  and there is meter parking one block on right on Eads St. Payment for both of these spots begin at 8 AM.  No cameras are allowed on Pentagon grounds. Restrooms are located inside Marriott Residence Inn on corner of S. Fern and Army Navy Dr. 

17] – On Mon., April 22 from 9 AM to noon , do Earth Day Bird Banding with BMore Food Parks, hosted by Baltimore Free Farm and Baltimore Foodparks, 3510 Ash Street, Baltimore 21211.  Even small patches of green space can serve an important purpose in the local ecosystem and can go a long way in improving a neighborhood.  Through his project Baltimore Foodparks, a program of Fusion Partnerships Inc., Eric Fishel is working to improve vacant lots, conduct scientific research, and help conserve Baltimore’s greenspace and wildlife all while educating and engaging communities.  Working with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, he will be responsible for banding local birds and then work with community members to observe the birds in public green spaces and vacant lots. Through research, Fishel hopes to expose young people in Baltimore City to careers in scientific research and spark a passion for science and nature. Even if they don’t pursue a career in science, they will learn more about research and develop new skills in the process.  Eric’s passion for connecting people to nature has been evident throughout his career as a naturalist. Eric Fishel is working with schools and community groups to learn more about conservation and conduct migratory bird research. Meet at the Ash Street Community Garden.  Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/413872946056313/.

18] – On Mon., April 22 from 11 AM to 2 PM, get over to an Earth Day Giveaway, hosted by CARE at the JHU Breezeway, Baltimore 21218.  Join PHSF (Public Health Student Forum) and CARE (Compassion, Awareness, and Responsible Eating) for free metal straws, reusable bags, eco-friendly snacks and the usual CARE merch including stickers, buttons, and posters! Pass by the Breezeway to celebrate THE EARTH with compassionate choices that take public health into consideration! Check out https://www.facebook.com/events/2203310216663618/

19] – On Mon., Apr. 22 at noon, there will be a Food Rescue at Land of Kush, 840 N. Eutaw St., Baltimore 21201. Food Rescue Baltimore is honored to partner with The Land of Kush each and every Monday to bring access to free vegan/plant-based food in the community. Bring a bag. Take what you want from noon to 1PM or while supplies last. No purchase is necessary to take advantage of the Food Rescue Baltimore give away. Items from The Land of Kush's menu are not included in the give-away but will be available for sale. See https://www.facebook.com/events/415842178868197/.

20] –On Mon., April 22 and 29 from 3 to 4 PM, there is a Food Rescue Pop-Up at Flourish, 3418 Belair Road, Baltimore 21213-1233.  Bring a bag, and take home healthy, free food! View https://www.facebook.com/events/301851223848295/?event_time_id=301851250514959

21] – On Mon., April 22 from 4 to 5:40 PM, see a SCREENING of "CyberWork and the American Dream," hosted by The Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Ave. NW, WDC 20001.  Tickets are at www.cato.org.  The perceived threat of artificial intelligence (AI) to the American workforce and society more broadly has become a common topic of discussion among policymakers, academics, and the wider public.  But is AI a threat? And if so, are there appropriate policy solutions? History is replete with examples of disruption caused by past technological advances. Are the lessons from those advances applicable to AI? These are just some of the questions addressed by the PBS television documentary. Enjoy a discussion after the film. REGISTER at https://www.cato.org/event/cyberwork-american-dream. If you can’t make it to the event, you can watch it live at www.cato.org/live and join the conversation on Twitter using #CatoTechnology. Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/827872140901039/.

22] – Join the Get Money Out of Maryland Teleconference on Monday, April 22 from 8:30 to 9:30 PM.  Call 605-475-6711, code 1136243#.  Work only on brainstorming ideas for participation in the upcoming General Election.

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/.

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs



Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Mueller Report: A Detailed Account of Trump’s Lies and Misconduct

Published on Portside (https://portside.org/)

The Mueller Report: A Detailed Account of Trump’s Lies and Misconduct

David Corn
April 18, 2019
Mother Jones
https://portside.org/sites/default/files/styles/medium/public/field/image/mueller-report_Trump_MotherJones.jpg

The long-awaited report by special counsel Robert Mueller confirms what we already knew: that Donald Trump and his campaign privately interacted with Russia while Putin’s regime was preparing—and then carrying out—an attack on the 2016 US presidential election; that Russia’s goal (as early as the start of 2016) was to help Trump become president; that Trump and his campaign had good reason to believe Putin’s regime was behind the ongoing assault (but kept insisting Moscow was doing nothing); and that Trump and folks in his orbit have lied about much of this.

   Lies, lies, and more lies. They lace this report.

   The basics of the Trump-Russia scandal were well established long before Mueller concluded his investigation, because so much of it had taken place in public view—Trump repeatedly echoing Russia’s false claims of innocence, for example. Other elements had been exposed by media reports—including Trump’s pursuit of a secret Moscow project while he was running for president, as well as the June 2016 Trump tower meeting, during which top Trump aides gathered to participate in what they were told was a Moscow plot to help Trump get elected. Numerous lies had already been exposed, including Trump saying he had nothing to do with Russia, and he and Donald Trump Jr. claiming that the Trump tower meeting had only been about adoption policy.

  Yet the Mueller report—while, as expected, not revealing any further criminality beyond the indictments already brought during the investigation—reinforces the case that much wrongdoing occurred on the part of Trump and his crew.

Here is just one overview Mueller provides in the report:

   During the 2016 campaign, the media raised questions about a possible connection between the Trump Campaign and Russia. The questions intensified after WikiLeaks released politically damaging Democratic Party emails that were reported to have been hacked by Russia. Trump responded to questions about possible connections to Russia by denying any business involvement in Russia—even though the Trump Organization had pursued a business project in Russia as late as June 2016. Trump also expressed skepticism that Russia had hacked the emails at the same time as he and other Campaign advisors privately sought information [redacted] about any further WikiLeaks releases.

  Lying and subterfuge—not crimes, but that’s what Mueller accuses Trump of engaging in. And given that this particular redaction probably refers to longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, whose lying-to-Congress case is still pending, this portion suggests that Trump himself ordered Stone to be in contact with WikiLeaks, while Julian Assange’s outfit was being used by the Russians as part of their covert operation to help Trump. Pause for a moment: A presidential candidate apparently directed a henchman to make contact with—perhaps collaborate with—an ongoing attack on American democracy.

   Another page of the report that is full of redactions shows that after WikiLeaks released emails swiped from the Democratic National Committee, Trump was keen on getting information about future WikiLeaks dumps—even as, as Mueller points out, Trump and the campaign were publicly dismissing the notion Moscow was intervening in the election. Trump, at the time, called “this whole thing with Russia” a “total deflection” and said that it was “farfetched” and “ridiculous.”

   Trump also proclaimed at that point, “I have nothing to do with Russia.” Yet, according to the report, when his then-fixer Michael Cohen questioned this denial, Trump told him that the potential Moscow tower project had not yet been finalized: “Why mention it if it is not a deal?” Trump said, despite the fact that a letter of intent had already been signed. In other words, Trump was willing to lie about a substantial conflict of interest.

  The report also details how Trump helped fashion a public statement—to be issued in the name of Donald Trump Jr.—that falsely described the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting as nothing more than a discussion of adoption policy. Another section of the report describes how Trump tried to force his own White House counsel, Don McGahn, to lie and say that Trump never ordered to him to fire Mueller. (Trump had.) McGahn refused to do so.

Lies, lies, and more lies. They lace this report. And as Mueller notes:

  [A]lthough the evidence of contacts between Campaign officials and Russia-affiliated individuals may not have been sufficient to establish or sustain criminal charges, several US persons connected to the Campaign made false statements about those contacts and took other steps to obstruct the Office’s investigation and those of Congress. This office has therefore charged some of those individuals with making false statements and obstructing justice.

  But read that carefully. George Papadopoulos, Stone, Cohen, and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn were each charged with lying. But Mueller is saying that he did not charge all the persons who lied, just “some” of them. (Trump and Trump Jr. refused to be interviewed by the Mueller team.)

   The report is full of more information about the curious actions of Trump’s people. Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort—who publicly denied the campaign or he had any Russian connections—is shown colluding with a former business partner who was (according to the FBI) tied to Russian intelligence, discussing a supposed peace plan for Ukraine that would benefit Russia. Manafort was also passing internal campaign information to Oleg Deripaska, a Putin-friendly oligarch, while running Trump’s campaign.

  Mueller has demonstrated that the president is a liar.

   And it turns out that on May 16, 2016—months before the Russians pushed the button on their election attack—Papadopoulos, a Trump foreign policy adviser, told Australian diplomat Alexander Downer that he had been informed by a Russian cut-out that Moscow could assist the Trump campaign by anonymously releasing information damaging to Clinton. His memory, though, was hazy on whether he shared this news with anyone inside the campaign. (He would tell an Aussie diplomat but none of his colleagues?)

   In the summer of that year, Papadopoulos and other Trump campaign aides discussed setting up a meeting in September that would occur with representatives of the “office of Putin.” That is, they considered this outreach to Putin while Putin was attacking the United States. The meeting never occurred. Papadopoulos declined to assist Mueller’s investigators in deciphering his handwritten notes about this potential get-together. He said he could not read his own handwriting. Moreover, Mueller notes that he never was able to get a full explanation of what Carter Page, another Trump foreign policy adviser, was up to when he visited Moscow in July 2016.

   Then there’s obstruction. The report is full of details about actions Mueller investigated when trying to ascertain if Trump obstructed justice—and legal experts and commentators will chew over all the details and legal interpretations. But in a concise, one-paragraph conclusion, Mueller notes that “if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.” There is no such stating.

   Trump defenders and Russiagate skeptics on the left will certainly point to this report and wave the Trump-did-not-conspire-directly-with-the-Russian-government-hack-and-dump-and-social-media-attack flag. But Mueller has demonstrated that the president is a liar. He has shown that Trump and his campaign made it easier for Moscow to pull off its attack on American democracy by asserting there was no attack. He has raised troubling questions about Trump’s adherence (or lack thereof) to the rule of law. He has added details to the known narrative of puzzling interactions between the Trump camp and Russia. He has reminded the public that an election was attacked by a foreign adversary (to help Trump) and that the president has not fully acknowledged that.

  Mueller has demonstrated that the Trump-Russia scandal is neither a hoax nor a conspiracy theory. He has not exonerated Trump. He has shown that even if Trump has not committed crimes, the president of the United States is guilty of many serious misdeeds and transgressions.

David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief and an on-air analyst for MSNBC. He is the co-author (with Michael Isikoff) of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump. He is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, Showdown, Hubris (with Isikoff), and The Lies of George W. Bush, as well as the e-book, 47 Percent: Uncovering the Romney Video that Rocked the 2012 Election. For more of his stories, click here. He's also on Twitter and Facebook.


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

 

The Toxic Lure of “Guns and Butter”


Published on Portside (https://portside.org/)

The Toxic Lure of “Guns and Butter”

Norman Solomon
April 15, 2019
Common Dreams

https://portside.org/sites/default/files/styles/medium/public/field/image/guns.jpeg

  The current political brawl over next year’s budget is highly significant. With Democrats in a House majority for the first time in eight years, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and most other party leaders continue to support even more largesse for the Pentagon. But many progressive congressmembers are challenging the wisdom of deference to the military-industrial complex—and, so far, they’ve been able to stall the leadership’s bill that includes a $17 billion hike in military spending for 2020.

   An ostensible solution is on the horizon. More funds for domestic programs could be a quid pro quo for the military increases. In other words: more guns and more butter.

   “Guns and butter” is a phrase that gained wide currency during escalation of the Vietnam War in the mid-1960s. Then, as now, many Democrats made political peace with vast increases in military spending on the theory that social programs at home could also gain strength.

  It was a contention that Martin Luther King Jr. emphatically rejected. “When a nation becomes obsessed with the guns of war, social programs must inevitably suffer,” he pointed out. “We can talk about guns and butter all we want to, but when the guns are there with all of its emphasis you don't even get good oleo [margarine]. These are facts of life.”

   But today many Democrats in Congress evade such facts of life. They want to proceed as though continuing to bestow humongous budgets on the Pentagon is compatible with fortifying the kind of domestic spending that they claim to fervently desire.

  Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have reflexively promoted militarism that is out of step with the party’s base. Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have reflexively promoted militarism that is out of step with the party’s base. In early 2018, after President Trump called for a huge 11 percent increase over two years for the already-bloated military budget, Pelosi declared in an email to House Democrats: “In our negotiations, Congressional Democrats have been fighting for increases in funding for defense.” Meanwhile, the office of Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer proudly announced: “We fully support President Trump’s Defense Department’s request.”

  What set the stage for the latest funding battle in the House was a Budget Committee vote that approved the new measure with the $17 billion military boost. It squeaked through the committee on April 3 with a surprising pivotal “yes” vote from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who is now among the lawmakers pushing to amend the bill on the House floor to add $33 billion in domestic spending for each of the next two years.

   As Common Dreams reported last week, progressives in the House “are demanding boosts in domestic social spending in line with the Pentagon's budget increase.” But raising domestic spending in tandem with military spending is no solution, any more than spewing vastly more carcinogenic poisons into the environment would be offset by building more hospitals.

  Rep. Ro Khanna and Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Pramila Jayapal, who both voted against the budget bill in committee, have said they won’t vote for it on the House floor. In Khanna’s words, “You can't oppose endless wars and then vote to fund them.” Jayapal said: “We need to prioritize our communities, not our military spending. Progressives aren’t backing down from this fight.”

   The New York Times described the intra-party disagreement as “an ideological gap between upstart progressives flexing their muscles and more moderate members clinging to their Republican-leaning seats.” But that description bypassed how the most powerful commitment to escalation of military spending comes from Democratic leaders representing deep blue districts—in Pelosi’s case, San Francisco. Merely backing a budget that’s not as bad as Trump’s offering is a craven and immoral approach.

   Sen. Bernie Sanders’ staff director, Warren Gunnels, responded cogently days ago when he tweeted: “How can we keep giving more money to the Pentagon than it needs when 40 million live in poverty, 34 million have no health insurance, half of older Americans have no retirement savings, and 140 million can't afford basic needs without going into debt? This is insanity.”
Yet most top Democrats keep promoting the guns-and-butter fantasy while aiding and abetting what 
  
  Dr. King called “the madness of militarism.”

   Norman Solomon is co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org.


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs



Friday, April 19, 2019

You Paid Taxes. These Corporations Didn’t.


Friends, But, but something is wrong.  The Supreme Court said corporations are people.  So why do only real people have to pay taxes? Kagiso, Max

Published on Portside (https://portside.org/)

You Paid Taxes. These Corporations Didn’t.

Kathryn Kranhold
April 11, 2019
The Center for Public Integrity
https://portside.org/sites/default/files/styles/medium/public/field/image/CorporateTaxes-4-14-2019.jpg

About twice as many of the largest U.S. companies reported they didn’t owe taxes in 2018 compared with previous years, a partial result of the 2017 Trump tax law, according to a report.
This story was published in partnership with NBC News. 

INTRODUCTION

Taxpayers are scrambling to make last-minute payments due to the Internal Revenue Service in just four days, but many of the country’s largest publicly-held corporations are doing better: They’ve reported they owe absolutely nothing on the billions of dollars in profits they earned last year.
At least 60 companies reported that their 2018 federal tax rates amounted to effectively zero, or even less than zero, on income earned on U.S. operations, according to an analysis released today by the Washington, D.C.-based think tank, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The number is more than twice as many as ITEP found roughly, per year, on average in an earlier, multi-year analysis before the new tax law went into effect.

Among them are household names like technology giant Amazon.com Inc. and entertainment streaming service Netflix Inc., in addition to global oil giant Chevron Corp., pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lilly & Co., and farming and commercial equipment manufacturer Deere & Co.

The identified companies were “able to zero out their federal income taxes on $79 billion in U.S. pretax income,” according to the ITEP report, which was released today. “Instead of paying $16.4 billion in taxes, as the new 21 percent corporate tax rate requires, these companies enjoyed a net corporate tax rebate of $4.3 billion, blowing a $20.7 billion hole in the federal budget last year.” To compile the list, ITEP analyzed the 2018 financial filings of the country’s largest 560 publicly-held companies.

The following is a list of the country’s largest publicly-held profitable corporations that paid no federal income taxes in 2018 on billions in U.S. income, according to ITEP analysis of 560 companies. ITEP reports U.S. income before federal taxes, and takes into consideration paid state and local taxes, which could reduce or increase U.S. income.  The report does not look at total tax provision, a number that could include foreign taxes and deferred taxes. 

All figures, except for tax rate, are in millions.
Company
U.S. Income
Federal Tax
Effective Tax Rate
Amazon.com
$10,835
–129
–1%
Delta Air Lines
$5,073
–187
–4%
Chevron
$4,547
–181
–4%
General Motors
$4,320
–104
–2%
EOG Resources
$4,067
–304
–7%
Occidental Petroleum
$3,379
–23
–1%
Honeywell International
$2,830
–21
–1%
Deere
$2,152
–268
–12%
American Electric Power
$1,943
–32
–2%
Principal Financial
$1,641
–49
–3%
FirstEnergy
$1,495
–16
–1%
Prudential Financial
$1,440
–346
–24%
Xcel Energy
$1,434
–34
–2%
Devon Energy
$1,297
–14
–1%
DTE Energy
$1,215
–17
–1%
Halliburton
$1,082
–19
–2%
Netflix
$856
–22
–3%
Whirlpool
$717
–70
–10%
Eli Lilly
$598
–54
–9%
IBM
$500
–342
–68%
Goodyear Tire & Rubber
$440
–15
–3%
Penske Automotive Group
$393
–16
–4%
Aramark
$315
–48
–15%
AECOM Technology
$238
–122
–51%
Tech Data
$203
–10
–5%
Performance Food Group
$192
–9
–4%
Arrow Electronics
$167
–12
–7%
Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

   The controversial Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed by President Donald Trump in December 2017, lowered the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, among other cuts. That’s partly to blame for giving corporations an easier way out of paying taxes, said Matthew Gardner, an ITEP senior fellow and lead author of the report. The new corporate tax rate “lowers the bar for the amount of tax avoidance it takes to get you down to zero,” he said.

“The specter of big corporations avoiding all income taxes on billions in profits sends a strong and corrosive signal to Americans: that the tax system is stacked against them, in favor of corporations and the wealthiest Americans,” Gardner wrote in the report.

‘I DON’T SEE THAT BEING FAIR’

    The Moline, Illinois-based Deere, which was started in 1837 by blacksmith John Deere, who made farming plows, reported earning $2.15 billion in U.S. income before taxes. It owed no U.S. taxes in 2018 and reported that it was owed $268 million from the government, after taking into consideration various deductions and credits, according to its annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company reported global profits of $2.37 billion.

  Asked about the rebate, Brian Moens, one longtime Deere employee, was contemplative. “Everyone should pay their fair share whether it is an individual or a corporation,” he said. “If just the small individuals are paying it without large corporations doing their part, I don’t see that being fair.”
https://portside.org/sites/default/files/inline-images/JohnDeere-ic-4-14-2019.jpg

   The blacksmith John Deere set out in 1837 to make a plow that could break up the prairie soil of Illinois. More than 180 years later, the Moline, Illinois-based Deere Co., which sells farming and commercial equipment worldwide, Deere had $2.15 billion in U.S. income before taxes in 2018. Its federal tax bill: zero. Deere said the U.S. government owed it $268 million in 2018. Charles & Hudson / Creative Commons

   Moens credits his wife with getting their taxes filed early in February. They anticipated a refund, like in past years, because they overpaid during the year. “It wasn’t quite what Trump had said it was going to be,” said Moens, who assembles farm planting tractors at the Moline factory. “It was less than what we had received in previous years,” although nothing had changed.

   Deere declined to elaborate on its taxes. Spokesman Ken Golden said, “We do not provide comments beyond what is contained in Deere & Company’s public filings as we believe the public filings provide the necessary information when they are assessed in their entirety.”

  Trump’s tax cut bill slashed the corporate tax rate and eliminated and tightened certain deductions, while providing other new tax breaks to companies. The cut in the corporate tax rate alone will save corporations $1.35 trillion over the next 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, which reports to the Senate and House finance and budget committees.

   The United States theoretically had one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, though many firms had an effective rate much lower. Previous administrations, including President Barack Obama’s, had sought to modestly cut the corporate tax rate to make it more competitive. After taking office in January 2017, Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress quickly enacted one of the most sweeping tax bills in decades — an overhaul that is estimated to raise the federal deficit to $900 billion this year, and more than $1 trillion, starting in 2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan legislative agency.

   Corporations generally don’t get “refund” checks as individuals do for overpaying. Instead, corporations calculate how much in taxes they owe by rolling up various deductions and tax credits that then lower the tax bill until, in many cases, they owe nothing in taxes or accrue a deficit, referred to as a rebate, that they use to offset taxes in the future.

   Robert Willens, an independent tax advisor who teaches corporate tax courses at Columbia Business School, said corporations have typically sought to obtain a refund on taxes paid in preceding years when they generated net operating losses in those years. The new tax bill eliminated that ability to carry back those net operating losses, but it allowed companies to carry the losses forward indefinitely, he said. Willens said he expects to see fewer refunds than in the past since net operating losses were the principal source.

  “However, if a corporation files an amended tax return, because it now decides that it paid too much in taxes in a prior year based on its revised treatment of an item of income or expense, it can certainly get a refund of all or a portion of the taxes paid in the earlier year,” Willens said.

WE PAY ALL REQUIRED TAXES

  Studies show that many corporations rarely paid the 35 percent rate under the old tax code. Over the years, companies found many ways to cut their tax bills, from sheltering foreign earnings in low-tax countries and banking credits for money spent on research and development to deducting the expense of stock options for executives.

   Gardner said the new tax law has left most of the old tax breaks intact while cutting the rate by almost half, resulting in a “continued decline in our already low corporate revenues.” Revenues from the corporate tax fell by 31 percent in 2018 to $204 billion from $297 billion. “This was a more precipitous decline than in any year of normal economic growth in U.S. history,” he wrote.
Tax Foundation chief economist Kyle Pomerleau said the U.S. corporate tax law was “in need of reform.” He said the new law reduced the U.S. rate to discourage companies from moving profits to countries with lower tax rates as well as allowing for certain deductions that encourage more immediate investment in factories and equipment.

   Today’s ITEP report is partly a follow-up to a multi-year analysis of profitable U.S. corporations that showed many paid zero taxes. The institute reviewed the financial filings of more than 600 corporations ranked on the Fortune 500 list between the years 2008 and 2015. On average, about 30 companies each year reported zero U.S. taxes or less. ITEP identified more than twice as many companies claiming they owed no U.S. taxes in 2018.

  “The specter of big corporations avoiding all income taxes on billions in profits sends a strong and corrosive signal to Americans: that the tax system is stacked against them, in favor of corporations and the wealthiest Americans.”

MATTHEW GARDNER, ITEP SENIOR FELLOW AND LEAD AUTHOR OF THE REPORT

   One new significant provision expanded companies’ ability to write off certain investments in equipment and factories as well as intellectual property, allowing a full expensing or a 100 percent write off immediately. The rule is in effect until 2022, but gradually phases out by the end of 2026.
Jeffrey Hoopes, an accounting professor at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the government typically provides such tax breaks during an economic recession “to get companies to invest more” — not when the “economy is doing well.” The U.S. economy grew 2.9 percent in 2018, as fast as or faster than any year since 2005.

   Amazon reduced its tax bill partly through accelerated depreciation deductions primarily on equipment, according to its federal filing. In addition, Amazon stated that it has tax benefits related to excess stock-based compensation. ITEP found that Amazon reduced its tax bill by $1 billion through deductions for expenses related to stock-based compensation, one common means for reducing tax bills.

  The Seattle-based retail and technology behemoth reported a federal tax rebate of $129 million on $10.8 billion in U.S. income before taxes.

An Amazon spokesman said the company “pays all the taxes we are required to pay in the U.S. and every country where we operate.”

The spokesman said Amazon has paid $2.6 billion in taxes over the last three years but declined to specify whether those taxes were paid in the U.S. or overseas.

PROFITS: HALF A BILLION. REFUND: $342M

  Pharmaceutical and technology companies have long been criticized for leaving profits overseas in countries with little or no corporate taxes, or tax havens like the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The 2017 tax law looked to address those issues by changing the way the profits from foreign subsidiaries are taxed in the United States. As part of the shift to a new tax regime, U.S. corporations were assessed a one-time tax on foreign profits; the tax can be paid over eight years.
A number of companies accounted for the foreign profits payment in 2017 and 2018, resulting in significant tax bills.

   Under the new law, a company’s income is only taxed in the country in which it is earned.  The U.S. no longer taxes new foreign profits unless they reach a certain threshold, at which point the income is taxed at 10.5 percent, half that of the U.S. effective rate.

   Take for example the giant technology hardware and services company IBM Corp., which consistently ranks among the biggest U.S. companies. The company had revenues of $79.6 billion, more than 60 percent of which came from outside the United States. To that end, IBM made a $2 billion tax payment on future foreign profits in 2018, according to its financial filings. Tax advisor Willens noted IBM elected to make the $2 billion tax payment on future overseas earnings in 2018 instead of down the road in the period it occurs as many companies will do.

   Meantime, in the United States, IBM reported getting a federal refund of $342 million on its U.S. income before taxes of $500 million, according to ITEP and the company’s annual filing. That computes to an effective U.S. tax rate of negative 68 percent. Its worldwide profits were $8.7 billion – and its total tax provision was $2.6 billion including the foreign tax payment.

  IBM did not return requests for comment. On a January conference call with investors, IBM Chief Financial Officer Jim Kavanaugh said it anticipated “an all-in rate of at least 11 percent to 12 percent” in 2019, but he did not elaborate.

  Certain tax rules did not change under the 2017 law, such as the ability of companies to offset taxes with business losses from previous years. Prior to filing for bankruptcy in September 2005, Delta Airlines compiled massive losses that it carries forward, allowing the company to forego paying taxes for years.

  At the end of 2010, Delta had $17.1 billion of federal pre-tax net losses, according to its financial filing; those offsets have dwindled over the years. ITEP states that Delta also was among the companies that used accelerated depreciation of presumably flight equipment to “dramatically reduce their tax rates.” Delta had a rebate of $187 million on $5 billion in U.S. income before federal taxes. Delta did not respond to requests for comment.

  Delta’s tax-free days may be coming to an end — soon. In a conference call with investors in December, Delta Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson acknowledged that the company may pay “cash taxes” as early as next year. Jacobson told investors the new tax law will save the company $800 million a year at its current earnings level. Will the 21 percent corporate rate help Delta? No — because the company doesn’t need it. Jacobson estimates the company’s cash tax rate will be much lower: between 10 to 13 percent.

Kathryn Kranhold is currently working as part of the Center’s team writing about the economic effects of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Kranhold is a former staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal and for The Hartford Courant. At the Journal, Kranhold wrote about General Electric Co.’s far-ranging global operations, and covered the legal system, including the anti-trust case against auction houses Sotheby’s Holdings Inc. and Christie’s International PLC. Kranhold was the paper’s leading public utilities reporter during the late 1990s, and part of the team covering California’s energy crisis and the rise and fall of Enron. Kranhold spent 10 years at The Hartford Courant, covering the court system and politics. Kranhold has also worked in communications, advising universities, non-profits and corporations on strategic issues.

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