Disasters

The Pronk Pops Show 997, November 7, 2017, Story 1: Communist Chinese Connection To Trade — Nuclear Proliferation — and — Terrorism (TNT) — Peace or War — China Must Destroy North Korea Nuclear Weapons and Missiles or Face The Consequences of Overthrow of Communist Party — U.S.Complete Embargo on All Chinese Trade and Investment — Story 2: President Trump Meets With Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe and President Moon Jai-in As U.S. Navy Flexes Air Power — All Options Are On The Table — Video — Story 3: Saudi Arab On The Brink of War With Lebanon Controlled By Iran-backed Lebanese Shi‘ite group Hezbollah — Saudi Arab Blames Iran For Yemen Missile Attack — Purge and Roundup of Royal Prince Continues — Videos —

Posted on November 8, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Bombs, Breaking News, Cartoons, College, Communications, Computers, Congress, Constitutional Law, Countries, Cruise Missiles, Culture, Defense Spending, Disasters, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Drones, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, Energy, European History, First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Freedom of Speech, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Hate Speech, Health, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal, Iraq, Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic State, Israel, Japan, Language, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Media, Medicare, MIssiles, Movies, National Interest, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Networking, North Korea, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, Obama, Oil, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Pistols, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Religion, Resources, Rifles, Rule of Law, Saudi Arabia, Scandals, Science, Second Amendment, Security, Senate, Social Security, South Korea, Spying, Success, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Surveillance/Spying, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, Trucks, Trump Surveillance/Spying, Turkey, U.S. Negotiations with Islamic Republic of Iran, Unemployment, United Kingdom, United States Constitution, United States of America, United States Supreme Court, Videos, Violence, War, Water, Wealth, Weapons, Weather, Welfare Spending, Wisdom, Yemen | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

Project_1

The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 997, November 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 996, November 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 995, November 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 994, November 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 993, November 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 992, October 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 991, October 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 990, October 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 989, October 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 988, October 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 987, October 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 986, October 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 985, October 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 984, October 16, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 983, October 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 982, October 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 981, October 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 980, October 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 979, October 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 978, October 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 977, October 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 976, October 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 975, September 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 974, September 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 973, September 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 972, September 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 971, September 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 970, September 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 969, September 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 968, September 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 967, September 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 966, September 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 965, September 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 964, September 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 963, September 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 962, September 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 961, September 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 960, September 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 959, September 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 958, September 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 957, September 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 956, August 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 955, August 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 954, August 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 953, August 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 952, August 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 951, August 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 950, August 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 949, August 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 948, August 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 947, August 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 946, August 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 945, August 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 944, August 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 943, August 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 942, August 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 941, August 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 940, August 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 939, August 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 938, August 1, 2017

Image result for hina's Communist party enshrines Xi Jinping ideology in constitutionImage result for Nations with nuclear weaspon

Image result for trump meets japanes prime ministerImage result for President Donald Trump President Moon Jae-in at the Blue House in Seul, South Korea

Saudi Arabia arrests princes, ministers for corruption

Story 1: Communist Chinese Connection To Trade Nuclear Proliferation and Terrorism (TNT) — Peace or War — Destroy North Korea Nuclear Weapons and Missiles or Face The Consequences of Overthrow of Communist Party — Total Complete Embargo on All Chinese Trade and Investment —

Image result for Nations with nuclear weaspon

Image result for Nations with nuclear weaspon

Image result for Nations with nuclear weaspon

Image result for Nations with nuclear weaspon

Image result for Nations with nuclear weaspon

Image result for u.s. trade deficits with countries china 1900=2016

Image result for u.s. trade deficits with countries china 1900=2016

Image result for u.s. trade deficits with countries china 1900=2016

Image result for u.s. trade deficits with countries china 1900=2016

Image result for u.s. trade deficits with countries china 1900=2016

Image result for Eric X. Li: A tale of two political systems

Donald Trump arrives in Beijing President to tell China ‘get tough on North Korea threat’

Why Trump needs to work with China to stop North Korea from attaining nukes

Trump in Beijing and US-China trade

North Korea Crisis: Trump Threatens to Stop U.S. Trade With China. Could He?

Here’s Who Could Lose the Most in a U.S.-China Trade War

What would a U.S.-China trade war look like? | CNBC Explains

Understanding the Chinese mindset

China and Democracy

The Future of China and the Chinese Communist Party | China Uncensored

Who Would Win a US-China Trade War? | China Uncensored

Chinese Leaders Fear Military Revolt | China Uncensored

Why China Fears Japan’s Military | China Uncensored

North Korea “Fatal Mistake” WW3 Nuclear Invasion

North Korea War Countdown Initiated ~ Urgent Warning

WHY & HOW CHINA HELPED NORTH KOREA IN DEVELOPING ITS NUCLEAR ARSENAL?

How Does North Korea Have Nuclear Weapons?

Who Are The World’s Nuclear Watchdogs?

What Countries Have Nuclear Weapons?

Where Are The World’s Nuclear Weapons Stored?

[youtyube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTSTddC4O2c]

How Powerful Are Modern Nuclear Weapons?

Nuclear Proliferation

‘THE BOMB” NEW PBS Documentary about the history of nuclear weapons!!

Published on Jul 23, 2017
The Bomb is a 2015 American documentary film about the history of nuclear weapons, from theoretical scientific considerations at the very beginning, to their first use on August 6, 1945,to their global political implications in the present-day.The two-hour PBS film was written and directed by Rushmore DeNooyer, who noted the project took a year and a half to complete, since much of the film footage and images was only recently declassified by the United States Department of Defense. According to DeNooyer, “It wouldn’t take very many bombs to really change life on Earth, … The idea that there are thousands of them sitting around is pretty scary. I don’t think people today realize that. They don’t think about it. I don’t think they are scared. But in a way, they should be. Mark Dawidziak, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, summarized the film as follows: “The Bomb moves swiftly to cover Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Cold War, the arms race, the Red Scare, the witch hunt, the Cuban Missile Crisis, test-ban treaties, the “Star Wars” initiative, the anti-nuke movement, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of new nuclear threats. According to historian Richard Rhodes, “The invention [of ‘The Bomb’] was a millennial change in human history: for the first time, we were now capable of our own destruction, as a species…

How Does China’s Government Work?

TED – China’s Political System

Eric X. Li: A tale of two political systems

It’s a standard assumption in the West: As a society progresses, it eventually becomes a capitalist, multi-party democracy. Right? Eric X. Li, a Chinese investor and political scientist, begs to differ. In this provocative, boundary-pushing talk, he asks his audience to consider that there’s more than one way to run a succesful modern nation. TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more. Find closed captions and translated subtitles in many languages at

Xi Jinping: Why are we called Communist Party of China?

China congress: Xi Jinping declares ‘new era’ for China – BBC News

China’s Communist party enshrines Xi Jinping ideology in constitution

Published on Oct 24, 2017
China’s ruling Communist Party has voted to enshrine Xi Jinping’s name and ideology in its constitution, elevating him to the level of founder Mao Zedong. The unanimous vote to incorporate “Xi Jinping Thought” happened at the end of the Communist Party congress, China’s most important political meeting. Mr Xi has steadily increased his grip on power since becoming leader in 2012. This move means that any challenge to Mr Xi will now be seen as a threat to Communist Party rule. More than 2,000 delegates gathered in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People for the final approval process to enshrine “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era” into the Communist Party constitution of China. At the end of the process, delegates were asked if they had any objections, to which they responded with loud cries of “none”, reported journalists at the scene.

How Xi Jinping Went From Feeding Pigs to Ruling China

China Just Sent a Chilling Warning to North Korea About The United States

 

North Korea Is SCREWED After China Issues Brutal Threat Of What Will Happen If They Hit U.S.

 

Published on Aug 15, 2017
China Just Sent a Chilling Warning to North Korea About The United States
The threat of a North Korean nuclear attack is Trump’s biggest test of leadership yet – but another country might actually end up calling the shots. And Trump, to be fair, has been warning us about China for years. But I’m willing to bet that even he didn’t see this coming.
Fact is, aside from being deadly, brutal, and destructive, war is also expensive. And if you can’t afford to do it, you probably shouldn’t start it.
Or join it, for that matter. It’s why China has unofficially leaked a government policy for the world to see – that if North Korea attacks the US, China will remain neutral.
But if the US attacks first, China will join the war. Which means, put bluntly, that the only way World War III doesn’t start is for North Korea to hit us first. Which is unacceptable. About as unacceptable as World War III.China really put Trump in a bind.
Breitbart reports:
The Communist Party organization Global Times [published] an editorial declaring that China would remain neutral if North Korea starts a war but intervene on North Korea’s behalf if the U.S. and South Korea attempt a preemptive strike.
The Chinese government may eventually seek some diplomatic wiggle room by insisting the Global Times is but a newspaper printing an editorial, and the piece is written in the style of newspaper editors lecturing officials about what they “should” do, but China’s state-run media is a mouthpiece for its authoritarian government.If it sounds complicated, it’s really not. The Chinese government is run by the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese Communist Party owns and runs the Global Times. Therefore, whatever the Global Times prints is what the Communist Party wants it to print.
But it’s still a newspaper, of course, which means that, if the world – or, sometimes, the Chinese themselves – really don’t like a policy, the government can pretend that the newspaper just got the story wrong.
It’s an easy way to test a policy before you pass it. Or, in this case, an easy way to tell the world what you’re going to do, without all the trouble of officially telling the world what you’re going to do.
Fact is, China can’t really afford this war – Breitbart lists off several reasons, including tensions with India, Japan, and all the work securing the South China Sea. The Korea thing is just one more brick on an already heavy pile. But their way out of it forces Donald Trump to let the US get hit first.

‘Welcome to China! I love you!’: Beijing schoolchildren thrill Trump with Peking opera performance after private tour of the Forbidden City and tea with China’s Xi and Madame Peng

  • Trump landed Wednesday in China for meetings with President Xi Jinping
  • School children waving American flags greeted him at the airport in Beijing
  • President and first lady took in an extra special performance of Peking opera during a grand tour of the Forbidden City put on for him by Xi
  •  President has touted his close relationship with Xi, calling it ‘outstanding’
  • But he says that won’t stop him from getting tough with China over trade 
  • North Korea is expected to dominate the agenda as it did when pair met in April 
  • Last year when he visited China, Obama was prevented from using his stairs to deplane Air Force One in a major snub
  • Trump didn’t have that problem: Chinese authorities had a rolling staircase tall enough to reach the front door of the plane

President Donald Trump took in an extra special performance of Peking opera on Wednesday evening in Beijing during a grand tour of the Forbidden City put on for him by China‘s Xi Jinping.

Xi had the production staged in the former imperial palace that is now a museum just for Trump’s visit.

‘Welcome to China! I love you!’ a group of children who were part of the performance told the U.S. president when it was finished.

The president and first lady Melania Trump ended their evening with a dinner in another section of the Forbidden City with the Chinese leader and his wife, Madame Peng Liyuan.

'Welcome to China! I love you!' a group of children who were part of a Peking opera performance told the U.S. president this evening in Beijing

Trump took in an extra special performance of Peking opera on Wednesday during a grand tour of the Forbidden City put on by Chinese President Xi Jinping. President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are seen here in the Forbidden City with Xi and his wife Madame Peng Liyuan

The Trumps are at a private dinner now with Xi and his wife, Madame Peng Liyuan

SPECIAL MOMENT: The president and first lady share a fond moment after their arrival in the Forbidden City

President Trump tours the Conservation Scientific Laboratory of the Forbidden City with his wife, Xi and Peng

Trump viewed a clock on a "musical clock with country scene," a "gourd-shaped clock with rotating flowers," and a "clock with lifting tower," according to a placard bearing an English and Chinese-language descriptions of the items

Trump viewed a clock on a “musical clock with country scene,” a “gourd-shaped clock with rotating flowers,” and a “clock with lifting tower,” according to a placard bearing an English and Chinese-language descriptions of the items

After the tour, the presidents and the first ladies of the US and China watched a special performance of Peking opera that was staged for Trump's visit

After the tour, the presidents and the first ladies of the US and China watched a special performance of Peking opera that was staged for Trump’s visit

A military honor guard and flag-waving schoolchildren greeted Trump when he arrived Wednesday afternoon in China, the third country in his 12-day Asia tour.

U.S. ambassador to China Terry Branstad met Trump and his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, after Air Force One stopped on the tarmac in Beijing.

Trump deplaned from Air Force One without incident, avoiding the embarrassment Barack Obama suffered a year ago as he landed in China during the annual Group of 20 summit.

Obama was humiliated when he had to exit from the belly of the aircraft because authorities didn’t approve a staircase tall enough for him to walk out of the front exit of the plane.

Chinese officials rolled a large set of stairs to the aircraft’s door on Wednesday. 

WARM REUNION: Trump and Xi greeted each other like old friends on Wednesday in the Forbidden City

Trump was especially interested in a clock with lifting tour during his tour of an artifacts restoration center in the Forbidden City.  'Unbelievable,' he said

Trump and Xi watch the Peking opera from the Hall of Character Cultivation in the Forbidden City

Trump and Xi watch the Peking opera from the Hall of Character Cultivation in the Forbidden City

The U.S. president was delighted as children in yellow and red costumes danced on stage with peacock feathers

As Trump left the performance, the told inquiring reporters, 'We’re having a great time, thank you'

Trump hopped in his motorcade and sped through Beijing to the Forbidden City, where he had tea with his Chinese counterpart, whom he had entertained at his Florida Mar-a-Lago club in April, and the first lady of sprawling Asian country that is home to 1.4 billion people.

After a warm reunion over tea, Chinese president Xi Jinping led the Trumps to the Conservation Scientific Laboratory of the Forbidden City to participate in an artifact restoration.

Trump was intrigued by a ‘musical clock with country scene’ and a ‘gourd-shaped clock with rotating flowers,’ according to English-language placards.

Viewing a ‘clock with lifting tower, Trump said it was ‘unbelievable.’

Once Trump had moved on to another room, Tillerson entered with the rest of the U.S. delegation, including Branstad. The diplomat was eager to know more about the artifacts, asking many questions as White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, senior adviser Jared Kushner and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster milled about the room.

The two first couples next watched a performance of Peking opera, a distinctively Chinese art form that combines music, mime, dance and acrobatics.

Posing for pictures with the cast when the opera had concluded, Trump told them the extravagant show was ‘beautiful!’

Children waving American flags greet the Trumps as they arrive at the Beijing airport

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrived on Air Force One in Beijing, China on Wednesday

Trump left Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea on his way to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping to talk about global trade and the North Korean nuclear menace

A U.S> and Chinese honor guard met the Trumps, along with a cadre of schoolchildren waving the flags of both nations

Obama was denied use of an airport staircase when he deplaned Air Force One last September as he arrived in China for the annual Group of 20 summit – a move that was seen globally as a major snub

The Forbidden City, now a major tourist attraction, has its roots in the 15th Century and was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty through 1912.

On the agenda for Trump during his Beijing visit are requests for a hardline approach to economically paralyzing North Korea, and talks aimed at shrinking America’s massive trade deficit with China.

Last year the Chinese sold $347 billion more in goods to the U.S. than America sold into the world’s largest communist nation.

Trump is on a five-country trip through Asia traveling to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines

Trump roared with approval as he waded through a sea of children on the tarmac Wednesday in China

Trump said Monday in Japan that he's fond of Xi Jinping, the newly-elevated communist party chair of China, and the foreign leader likes him too

Trump left South Korea on Wednesday after delivering a speech to the country’s National Assembly. He said in a tweet Wednesday morning that he was looking forward to again seeing Xi, ‘who is just off his great political victory.’

He said Monday inJapan that he’s fond of Xi, the newly-elevated communist party chair of China, and the foreign leader likes him.

But he won’t allow their mutual affection to cloud his judgement, Trump asserted, as he pledged to take ‘very, very strong action’ against China and other countries that have been treating the United States ‘unfairly’ in the trade arena.

‘He represents China. I represent the United States,’ Trump said at a news conference in Tokyo.

On the way to Beijing, a senior White House official told reporters that the president plans to keep up his habit of tweeting while he’s in China, even though Chinese citizens can’t do it.

‘The president will tweet whatever he wants,’ the official said. ‘That’s his way of communicating directly with the American people. Why not?’

‘So long as he can access his Twitter account – because Twitter is banned in China along with Facebook and most of the other social media. I’m sure we’ve got the gear aboard this airplane to make it happen. But it is noteworthy that none of the major western platforms for social media are even allowed to operate in China.’

On Tuesday in Seoul, Trump pressured Xi’s government to totally isolate Kim Jong-un, the 33-year-old despot across the border, during remarks in Seoul.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that he was looking forward to renewing his bond with Xi, whom he welcomed to his Florida Mar-a-Lago private resort in April

Trump tweeted Wednesday that he was looking forward to renewing his bond with Xi, whom he welcomed to his Florida Mar-a-Lago private resort in April

Trump has touted his relationship with Xi Jinping calling it 'outstanding', but says he still intends to get tough with the Chinese leader over trade in Beijing

In this photo taken on October 31, 2017, Chinese paramilitary guards walk in The Forbidden City in Beijing

All responsible nations must cut off North Korea’s cash flow by imposing and enforcing international sanctions on Kim and his government, Trump declared, singling out China and Russia, two permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

‘It’s time to act with urgency and with great determination,’ the U.S. president said in a joint press conference with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in.

Beijing is the third destination on a five-nation hustle across eastern Asia.

As with every other stop on this trip, North Korea is expected to dominate Xi and Trump’s discussions.

But in Beijing, more than anywhere else during the visit, Trump – a former titan of real estate – is also under pressure to address the regional trade practices that he said as a candidate he would fix.

Trump pounded China for alleged currency manipulation in the presidential election last year that unexpectedly put him in power. He’s said as recently as February that the Chinese were ‘grand champions’ at the economic trick.

By artificially devaluing its currency, the yuan, Beijing has been able to been able to lower the price of its exports, ‘stealing’ American jobs, Trump has said.

Trump will tour a famous imperial palace and take in the opera today today with first lady Melania Trump as he brings his high-wire circuit of Asia to Beijing

His assessment was rejected by the International Monetary Fund last year, and Trump’s own administration has shied away from shackling China with the designation.

Since his April summit with Xi, the U.S. president has also backed off his verbal assault.

‘The relationship developed by President Xi and myself I think is outstanding,’ Trump said after less than a day of talks with the Chinese president and his representatives.

‘We look forward to being together many times in the future. And I believe lots of very potentially bad problems will be going away.’

Days later Trump was still gushing about his weekend in Florida with Xi in what amounted to a total about-face of his previous criticisms.

‘Now what am I going to do? Start a trade war with China while in the middle of him working on a bigger problem, frankly, with North Korea?’ he asked rhetorically in an interview with Fox & Friends.

Trump said later that month that it wouldn’t make sense to label Xi’s country a currency manipulator after the Chinese leader offered to assist the U.S. in its efforts to constrain North Korea.

‘Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens!’ Trump tweeted.

China’s stepped up efforts to choke off Kim Jong-un’s finances has not kept Trump from complaining about the gross trade deficit between the two countries, nor has it had an immediate effect on the United States’ enforcement of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

Trump told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo late last month that the U.S. loses ‘hundreds of billions a year’ a year to China.

Trump is due in Beijing on Wednesday where he will meet Chinese leader Xi Jingping on his home soil for the first time (the two are pictured at the G20 summit in Germany in July)

‘We lose with almost every country, we have massive deficits,’ the billionaire president insisted. ‘We can’t allow the world to look at us as a whipping post. Not gonna happen, anymore.’

Monday, at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Trump told a reporter who asked how his administration plans to enforce its mandate of a ‘free and open’ Indo-Asia Pacific without riling up China, a major power on the continent, that he would not allow the communist country to take advantage of the U.S.

‘You will be seeing things of countries that have been treating the United States and the United States worker and companies…our country, and our workers very unfairly, you will be seeing that the United States will take very, very strong action,’ Trump said.

The legal work is mostly finished, he revealed. ‘And you’re going to see a very big difference, and it’s going to happen very soon. Because the United States, by many countries, has been treated very, very unfairly when it comes to trade.’

Trump has not shied away from attacking China on Twitter, both before and after his first meeting with Xi at Mar-A-Lago back in April

Trump has not shied away from attacking China on Twitter, both before and after his first meeting with Xi at Mar-A-Lago back in April

The administration believes that China is behind as much as $600 million in IP theft through forced technology transfers.

China’s Commerce Ministry has called the probe ‘irresponsible’ and ‘not objective.’ Beijing would almost certainly bring additional U.S. action before the World Trade Organization.

But Trump could unilaterally impose tariffs on Beijing through Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 if USTR determines that China is engaging in ‘unfair trade practices’ – a powerful weapon if he decides to use it.

Trump has been hesitant to act against Beijing so long as Xi goes along with his plans to suffocate North Korea’s nuclear ambition.

The resident left Seoul on Wednesday after meeting with Moon Jae-in, the newly elected leader of South Korea

Trump visited Japan earlier this week and after stopping in Beijing he is due to visit Vietnam and the Philippines before heading back to the US

At a briefing with reporters on Sunday evening in Tokyo, a senior White House official insisted that the economic and security concerns of the Trump administration are wholly separate issues when it comes to North Korea and trade with countries in the Indo-Pacific.

‘The United States isn’t going to barter away our interests on the trade front in order to make gains doing what the entire world has, more or less, obligated itself to do, and that is to contain and confront the threat from North Korea,’ the official asserted. ‘So I don’t see a comingling of those two issues.’
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5060593/Trump-tours-Forbidden-City-takes-opera-China.html#ixzz4xt5UopYC

 

 

Socialism with Chinese characteristics

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
National Emblem of the People's Republic of China (2).svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
China
Socialism with Chinese characteristics
Simplified Chinese 中国特色社会主义
Traditional Chinese 中國特色社會主義

Socialism with Chinese characteristics, meaning Marxism–Leninism adapted to Chinese conditions, is the official ideology of the Communist Party of China (CPC), claimed to be based upon scientific socialism. The term means Mao Zedong ThoughtDeng Xiaoping TheoryThree RepresentsScientific Outlook on Development and Xi Jinping Thought; that is, if you want to introduce socialism with Chinese characteristics in practice you have to implement, for instance, Xi Jinping Thought (which is a set of Marxist policies to implement socialism).

Primary stage of socialism

During Mao era

The concept of a primary stage of socialism was conceived before China introduced economic reforms.[1] When discussing the necessity of commodity relations at the First Zhengzhou Conference (2–10 November 1958) Mao Zedong—the Chairman of the CPC’s Central Committee—said that China was in the “initial stage of socialism” [1] Mao never elaborated on the idea; his successors were left to do this.[1]

After Mao’s death

On 5 May 1978, the article “Putting into Effect the Socialist Principle of Distribution According to Work”, elaborated on the idea that China was still at the first stage of reaching pure communism[2] and that it had not become a truly socialist society.[2] It is said[by whom?] that the article was written on the orders of Deng Xiaoping, so as to “criticize and repudiate” the beliefs of the communist left.[3] The term reappeared at the 6th plenum of the 11th Central Committee on 27 June 1981 in the document, “Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of our Party since the Founding of the PRC”.[4] Hu Yaobang, the CPC’s general secretary, used the term in his report to the 12th CPC National Congress on 1 September 1982.[4] It was not until the “Resolution Concerning the Guiding Principle in Building Socialist Spiritual Civilization” at the 6th plenum of the 12th Central Committee that the term was used in the defense of the economic reforms which were being introduced.[4]

At the 13th CPC National Congress, acting CPC General Secretary Zhao Ziyang, on behalf of the 12th Central Committee, delivered the report “Advance Along the Road of Socialism with Chinese characteristics”.[5] He wrote that China was a socialist society, but that socialism in China was in its primary stage;[5] a Chinese peculiarity which was due to the undeveloped state of the country’s productive forces.[5] During this phase of development, Zhao recommended introducing a planned commodity economy on the basis of public ownership.[5] The main failure of the communist right, according to Zhao, was that they failed to acknowledge that China could reach socialism by bypassing capitalism. The main failure of the communist left was that they held the “utopian position” that China could bypass the primary stage of socialism, in which the productive forces are to be modernized.[6]On 25 October 1987, Zhao further expounded on the concept of the primary stage of socialism, and said that the Party line was to follow “One Center, Two Basic Points”; the central focus of the Chinese state was economic development, but that this should occur simultaneously through centralized political control (i.e., the Four Cardinal Principles) and upholding the policy of reform and opening up.[4]

CPC General Secretary Jiang Zemin further elaborated on the concept ten years later; first during a speech to the Central Party School on 29 May 1997 and again in his report to the 15th CPC National Congress on 12 September 1997.[4] According to Jiang, the 3rd plenum of the 11th Central Committee correctly analyzed and formulated a scientifically correct program for the problems facing China and socialism.[4] In Jiang’s words, the primary stage of socialism was an “undeveloped stage”.[4] The fundamental task of socialism is to develop the productive forces, therefore the main aim during the primary stage should be the further development of the national productive forces.[4] The primary contradiction in Chinese society during the primary stage of socialism is “the growing material and cultural needs of the people and the backwardness of production”.[4] This contradiction will remain until China has completed the process of primary stage of socialism, and because of it, economic development should remain the CPC’s main focus during this stage.[4]

Jiang elaborated on three points to develop the primary stage of socialism.[7] The first—to develop a socialist economy with Chinese characteristics—meant developing the economy by emancipating and modernizing the forces of production while developing a market economy.[7] The second—building socialist politics with Chinese characteristics—meant “managing state affairs according to the law”, developing socialist democracy under the CPC and making the “people the masters of the country”.[7] The third point—building socialist culture with Chinese characteristics—meant turning Marxism into the guide to train the people so as to give them “high ideals, moral integrity, a good education, and a strong sense of discipline, and developing a national scientific, and popular socialist culture geared to the needs of modernization, of the world, and of the future.”[7]

When asked how long the primary stage of socialism would last, Zhao replied, “[i]t will be at least 100 years … [before] socialist modernization will have been in the main accomplished.”[8] The state constitution states that “China will be in the primary stage of socialism for a long time to come”.[9] As with Zhao, Jiang believed that it would take at least 100 years to reach a more advanced stage.[4]

Socialist market economy

Deng Xiaoping, the architect of the Chinese economic reforms, did not believe that the market economy was synonymous with capitalism or that planning was synonymous with socialism.[11] During his southern tour, he said, “planning and market forces are not the essential difference between socialism and capitalism. A planned economy is not the definition of socialism, because there is planning under capitalism; the market economy happens under socialism, too. Planning and market forces are both ways of controlling economic activity”.[11]

Ideological justification

In the 1980s it became evident to Chinese economists that the Marxist theory of the law of value—understood as the expression of the labor theory of value—could not serve as the basis of China’s pricing system.[12] They concluded that Marx never intended his theory of law of value to work “as an expression of ‘concretized labor time’ “.[12] Marx’s notion of “prices of production” was meaningless to the Soviet-styled planned economies since price formations were according to Marx established by markets.[13] Soviet planners had used the law of value as a basis to rationalize prices in the planned economy.[14] According to Soviet sources, prices were “planned with an eye to the … basic requirements of the law of value.”[14] However, the primary fault with the Soviet interpretation was that they tried to calibrate prices without a competitive market since, according to Marx, competitive markets allowed for an equilibrium of profit rates which led to an increase in the prices of production.[15] The rejection of the Soviet interpretation of the law of value led to the acceptance of the idea that China was still in the “primary stage of socialism”.[14] The basic argument was that conditions envisaged by Marx for reaching the socialist stage of development did not yet exist in China.[14]

Mao said that the imposition of “progressive relations of production” would revolutionize production.[16] His successor’s rejection of this view has, according to A. James Gregor, thwarted the ideological continuity of Maoism—officially “Mao Zedong Thought“.[16] Classical Marxism had argued that a socialist revolution would only take place in advanced capitalist societies, and its success would signal the transition from a capitalist commodity-based economy to a “product economy” in which goods would be distributed for people’s need and not for profit.[16] If because of a lack of a coherent explanation in the chance of failure this revolution did not occur, the revolutionaries would be forced to take over the responsibilities of the bourgeoisie.[16] Thus Chinese communists are looking for a new Marxist theory of development.[16] Party theorist Luo Rongqu recognized that the founders of Marxism had never “formulated any systematic theory on the development of the non-Western world”, and said that the Communist Party should “establish their own synthesized theoretical framework to study the problem of modern development.”[17] According to A. James Gregor, the implication of this stance “is that Chinese Marxism is currently in a state of profound theoretical discontinuity.”[18]

Private ownership

The concept of private ownership is rooted in classical Marxism.[19] Because China adopted socialism when it was a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country, it is in the primary stage of socialism.[19] Because of this, certain policies and system characteristics—such as commodity production for the market, the existence of a private sector and the reliance of the profit motive in enterprise management—were changed.[19] These changes were allowed as long as they improve productivity and modernize the means of production, and thus further develop socialism.[19] According to this perspective, Mao’s leftist belief that China could advance to full socialism immediately by bypassing capitalism is considered false.[19]

The CPC still considers private ownership to be non-socialist.[20] However, according to party theorists, the existence and growth of private ownership does not necessarily undermine socialism and promote capitalism in China.[20] It is argued that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels—the founders of communism—never proposed the immediate abolishment of private ownership.[20] According to Engel’s book Principles of Communism, the proletariat can only abolish private ownership when the necessary conditions have been met.[20] In the phase before the abolishment of private ownership, Engels proposed progressive taxation, high inheritance taxes and compulsory bond purchases to restrict private property while using the competitive powers of state-owned enterprises to expand the public sector.[20]Marx and Engels proposed similar measures in the Communist Manifesto in regards to advanced countries, but since China was economically undeveloped, party theorists called for flexibility regarding the CPC’s handling of private property.[20] According to party theorist Liu Shuiyuan, the New Economic Policy program initiated by Soviet authorities in the aftermath of the war communism program is a good example of flexibility by socialist authorities.[20]

Party theorist Li Xuai said that private ownership inevitably involves capitalist exploitation.[20] However, Li regards private property and exploitation as necessary in the primary stage of socialism, claiming that capitalism in its primary stage uses remnants of the old society to build itself.[20] Sun Liancheng and Lin Huiyong said that Marx and Engels, in their interpretation of the Communist Manifesto, criticized private ownership when it was owned solely by the bourgeoisie but not individual ownership in which everyone owns the means of production and hence cannot be exploited by others.[21] Individual ownership is consistent with socialism since Marx wrote that post-capitalist society would entail the rebuilding of “associated social individual ownership”.[22]

Criticism

According to writer and researcher Huang Yasheng and many others, the economic theory in China is not socialism with Chinese characteristics but the opposite—capitalism with Chinese characteristics.[23]

See also

References

Citations

  1. Jump up to:a b c Li 1995, p. 400.
  2. Jump up to:a b He 2001, p. 385.
  3. Jump up^ He 2001, pp. 385–386.
  4. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k He 2001, p. 386.
  5. Jump up to:a b c d Li 1995, p. 399.
  6. Jump up^ Schram 1989, p. 204.
  7. Jump up to:a b c d He 2001, p. 387.
  8. Jump up^ Vogel 2011, p. 589.
  9. Jump up^ 2nd session of the 9th National People’s Congress (14 March 2004). “Constitution of the People’s Republic of China”Government of the People’s Republic of China. Retrieved 14 January2013.
  10. Jump up^ Deng, Xiaoping (30 June 1984). “Building a Socialism with a specifically Chinese character”People’s DailyCentral Committee of the Communist Party of China. Retrieved 13 January2013.
  11. Jump up to:a b Staff writer (3 February 2012). “Market fundamentalism’ is unpractical”People’s DailyCentral Committee of the Communist Party of China. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  12. Jump up to:a b Gregor 1999, p. 114.
  13. Jump up^ Gregor 1999, pp. 114–116.
  14. Jump up to:a b c d Gregor 1999, p. 116.
  15. Jump up^ Gregor 1999, pp. 115–116.
  16. Jump up to:a b c d e Gregor 1999, p. 117.
  17. Jump up^ Gregor 1999, pp. 117–118.
  18. Jump up^ Gregor 1999, p. 118.
  19. Jump up to:a b c d e Hsu 1991, p. 11.
  20. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i Hsu 1991, p. 65.
  21. Jump up^ Hsu 1991, pp. 65–66.
  22. Jump up^ Hsu 1991, p. 66.
  23. Jump up^http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/economics/public-economics-and-public-policy/capitalism-chinese-characteristics-entrepreneurship-and-state?format=HB

Sources

Further reading

  • A. James Gregor. Marxism and the Making of China. A Doctrinal History. Palgrave Macmillan. 2014

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism_with_Chinese_characteristics

Story 2: President Trump Meets With Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe and President Moon Jai-in As U.S. Navy Flexes Air Power — All Options Are On The Table — Let’s Make A Deal North Korea — Video —

Image result for President Donald Trump President Moon Jae-in at the Blue House in Seul, South KoreaImage result for trump meets japanes prime ministerImage result for trump meets japanes prime minister

Trump’s South Korea speech, in 3 minutes

Trump’s speech to South Korea’s parliament (full)

Is Trump softening his stance on North Korea?

Trump urges N Korea to ‘come to the table’

Trump Calls On North Korea To “Make A Deal” – Full News Conference In Seoul

President Trump Receives a Military Briefing on North Korea from Top Generals 11/7/17

President Trump Has Lunch with U.S. Troops in South Korea (Camp Humphreys) 11/6/17

Donald Trump in South Korea, Gives hint of Handling North Korea in Some different way.

President Trump meeting with President Moon Jae In of the Republic of Korea. Nov 7, 2017

President Trump participates in a bilateral meeting with President Moon Jae In of the Republic of Korea

Trump arrives in South Korea amid tensions with North

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump is officially welcomed to Seoul, Republic of Korea.

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrives in South Korea. November 7, 2017.

Is Melania Trump’s coat for South Korea fashion hit or miss?

Warning: China Russia Saudi Arabia & Iran To Use Yuan For Trading Oil Next Step Is WW3

High Alert: For The First Time In 13 Years, U.S. Deploys 7 Aircraft Carriers Simultaneously

For The First Time In 13 Years, U.S. Deploys 7 Aircraft Carriers Simultaneously

The US has simultaneously deployed 7 of the 11 U.S. nuclear aircraft carriers for the first time in over a decade according to the US Naval Institute. The three aircraft carriers with full air wings and strike groups positioned in the Western Pacific are the following: USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76); USS Nimitz (CVN-68); USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). Another four are conducting “short training missions as part of training operations or workups ahead of deployment”. Two out of four are operating in Eastern Pacific – USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) – and the remaining two are operating in the Atlantic, the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) and USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78).

What 3 US Supercarriers in the Asia-Pacific Means for N. Korea

High Alert: 3 US Carrier Strike Groups Enter Asia-Pacific Ahead of Trump Visit

President Trump Joint Press Conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Japan. Tokyo. Nov 6, 2017.

President Trump attends state banquet hosted by Japanese PM. President Trump in Japan.

President Trump Participates in a Working Lunch with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan

Trump and Abe meet at a golf course in Japan

President Trump Plays Golf with Prime Minister Abe in Japan 11/5/17

Trump abruptly talking negotiations, not threats in Korea

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Softening his aggressive rhetoric, at least for the moment, President Donald Trump stood on South Korean soil Tuesday and urged North Korea to come to the negotiating table. It’s time, he said, for the North to “make a deal” to rein in its nuclear weapons program.

It was a striking shift in tone for the president, who for months has issued increasingly dire threats to answer any hostile North Korean action with “fire and fury.” On Tuesday, his first day on the Korean Peninsula as president, Trump said he’d seen “a lot of progress” in dealing with Pyongyang, though he stopped short of saying whether he wanted direct diplomatic talks.

“It makes sense for North Korea to come to the table and make a deal that is good for the people of North Korea and for the world,” Trump said at a news conference with South Korean president Moon Jae-in. “I do see certain movement.”

Trump was winding down his visit to Seoul on Wednesday with an address to South Korea’s National Assembly, where he was expected to outline his view of dangers posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The next stop on his five-nation Asian tour: Beijing, where he will press China to constrict the North’s economic lifeblood.

President Donald Trump says he believes he sees a lot of progress on the North Korean issue. Trump also urged North Korea to ‘come to the table and make a deal.’ He spoke during a news conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. (Nov. 7)

Ever the showman, Trump teased that he had a surprise in store for Wednesday, saying at a Tuesday evening banquet that he had an “exciting day” planned — “for many reasons that people will find out.” He did not elaborate.

Overall, the president sounded an optimistic note on disagreements with the North, saying confidently, if vaguely: “Ultimately, it’ll all work out.” Whether the shift in rhetoric signaled a change in policy or diplomatic strategy remained uncertain.

Mark Fitzpatrick, executive director in Washington for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said it could simply be Trump projecting “what he most recently heard” from Moon and Japan’s Shinzo Abe.

“I expect he heard from both Prime Minister Abe and President Moon the need to give diplomacy a chance,” Fitzpatrick said. “Of course, it’s not the first time he has talked about engaging with North Korea. The issue has been one of timing. Now is a good time, during a pause in missile testing.”

North Korea has fired off more than a dozen missiles this year but none in nearly two months. But analysts caution against reading too much into the pause.

There’s no public sign of any diplomatic progress between Washington and Pyongyang. U.S. officials say the back channel between the State Department and the North Korean mission at the United Nations in New York remains intact, but contacts have not been substantive other than achieving the release of American college student Otto Warmbier in June. He died days after his repatriation to the U.S.

Still, Trump’s conciliatory comments would be welcome in South Korea, where both the government and the wider population have been unnerved by the president’s threats against the North.

Trump did note the United States’ military options, mentioning that three aircraft carrier groups and a nuclear submarine had been deployed to the region. But he said “we hope to God we never have to use” the arsenal. And he accused North Korea’s Kim Jong Un of “threatening millions and millions of lives, so needlessly.”

Moon, who has been eager to solidify a friendship with Trump, said he hoped the president’s visit would be a turning point in the standoff with North Korea.

The president began his day with a visit to Camp Humphreys, a joint US-Korean military base where he shook hands with American and Korean service members and ate lunch with troops in a large mess hall. The visit was intended to underscore the countries’ ties and South Korea’s commitment to contributing to its own defense.

When he leaves South Korea, Trump flies to Beijing for what the White House sees as the centerpiece of his five-nation Asia trip.

China is North Korea’s largest trade partner, and Trump is expected to press its leaders to curtail their dealings with Pyongyang and to expel North Korean workers from its borders. Trump has praised China for adopting tough United Nations sanctions against North Korea but has urged it to do more.

“I want to just say that President Xi — where we will be tomorrow, China — has been very helpful. We’ll find out how helpful soon,” Trump said. “But he really has been very, very helpful. So China is out trying very hard to solve the problem with North Korea.”

Trump and first lady Melania Trump on Wednesday will meet and have dinner with Xi Jinping and his wife and receive a private tour of The Forbidden City, Beijing’s ancient imperial palace. White House officials point to the leaders’ successful summit in Florida this spring, an event in part defined by Trump telling his Chinese counterpart about the missile strike he had ordered on Syria while the two men enjoyed chocolate cake. But experts in the region suggest that Xi will have the advantage over Trump.

“Trump keeps portraying his relationship with XI as great pals but that’s wildly naive,” said Mike Chinoy, a non-resident senior fellow at the US-China Institute at the University of Southern California. “The Chinese have figured out how to play Trump: flatter him. And there’s nothing the Chinese do better than wow foreign diplomats.”

___

Associated Press writers Matthew Pennington, Ken Thomas and Catherine Lucey contributed from Washington.

___

https://apnews.com/19aece3ccf5c4c9496a777497379e709/In-Seoul,-Trump-calls-for-North-Korea-to-%22make-a-deal%22

EXCLUSIVE: We are ready for anything – don’t mess with our Hornets. Admiral in charge of supercarrier which will sail for North Korea’s doorstep sends message to Kim Jong-Un as Trump touches down in Seoul

  • DailyMailTV joined the Rear Admiral and crew of the USS Carl Vinson as the huge warship left its port in San Diego for a series of exercises ahead of its deployment
  • The Vinson will sail for the Western Pacific to relieve the USS Ronald Reagan and be one of two carrier strike groups in the region amid ongoing tensions with North Korea
  • Rear Admiral John Fuller, Commander of Carrier Strike Group 1, will lead the vessel and its ferocious armament of planes and escort of Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers and a guided missile cruiser
  • Aboard the 95,000 ton vessel are fighter aircraft such as the $70million F/A-18 Super Hornet – capable of reaching Mach 1.8 (1,190mph) with a massive armament of bombs and missiles
  • In a message to Kim Jong-Un Rear Admiral Fuller said: ‘He needs to think very carefully on how he works with us, he needs to understand that we have capabilities that no other country has.’
  • The supercarrier has more than 3,500 crew which swells to 5,300 when the air wing is on board – the warship was used to transport Osama bin Laden’s body for its burial at sea in 2011
  • President Trump embarked on his 12-day trip to Asia, arriving on Sunday in Tokyo, where he met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe amid heightened tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests

The twin engines of the F/A-18 Super Hornet build into a roar and the $70million supersonic jet is catapulted from the deck of the USS Carl Vinson with an ear-splitting blast.

The aircraft disappears off the bow of the enormous nuclear-powered super carrier in a haze of steam, the bright glow of its engines disappearing into the distance.

This is one of the planes the man in charge of the supercarrier wants Kim Jong-Un to fear – because the Vinson is due to set sail for waters close to North Korea.

President Trump arrives in South Korea Monday night putting him on Kim’s doorstep as tensions mount over the ‘little Rocket Man’s’ escalating nuclear threat.

Now one of the president’s most important commanders tells DailyMailTV that his sailors are ready for anything – and that Kim needs to ‘think carefully’ when Carrier Strike Group One is in his waters.

Rear Admiral John Fuller, Commander of Carrier Strike Group 1, will lead the Vinson, its ferocious armament of planes, and its escort of Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers and a guided missile cruiser.

Don't mess with our Hornets: DailyMailTV witnessed the incredible sight of hundreds of sailors and airmen on board the 1,092ft long, 117,000 sq ft USS Carl Vinson as they put its four aircraft catapults through their paces. Its aircraft include the Hornet and Super Hornets and the EA-18 Growler (pictured) electronic attack aircraft, which jams enemy radar systems 

Don’t mess with our Hornets: DailyMailTV witnessed the incredible sight of hundreds of sailors and airmen on board the 1,092ft long, 117,000 sq ft USS Carl Vinson as they put its four aircraft catapults through their paces. Its aircraft include the Hornet and Super Hornets and the EA-18 Growler (pictured) electronic attack aircraft, which jams enemy radar systems

Aboard the 95,000 ton vessel, the twin engines of the F/A-18C Hornet were heard roaring off as the $70 million aircraft was catapulted off the deck. The strike fighter aircraft, which can reach Mach 1.8 (1,190mph), disappeared off the bow of the super carrier in a haze of steam

Aboard the 95,000 ton vessel, the twin engines of the F/A-18C Hornet were heard roaring off as the $70 million aircraft was catapulted off the deck. The strike fighter aircraft, which can reach Mach 1.8 (1,190mph), disappeared off the bow of the super carrier in a haze of steam

Preparation: Before liftoff, Navy crew work diligently to complete the complex tasks

Mini tractors tow the F/A18s into place and the Top Gun pilots ready the jets for take off

Commander Brian 'Convict' Felloney gets ready for take-off. The decorated pilot has more than 620 carrier landings on his record, and was a Top Gun instructor on a previous deployment

This is how the Vinson deploys: In May the supercarrier was photographed from the air as it and the whole strike group got an escort from two South Korean destroyers, the Sejong the Great and the Yang Manchun. The Carl Vinson's U.S. Navy escorts were the USS Lake Champlain, a Ticonderoga-class cruiser, and the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers the USS Michael Murphy and the USS Stethem

This is how the Vinson deploys: In May the supercarrier was photographed from the air as it and the whole strike group got an escort from two South Korean destroyers, the Sejong the Great and the Yang Manchun. The Carl Vinson’s U.S. Navy escorts were the USS Lake Champlain, a Ticonderoga-class cruiser, and the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers the USS Michael Murphy and the USS Stethem

In an exclusive interview with DailyMailTV Rear Admiral Fuller says his strike group is ‘ready and in a direct message to Kim says: ‘He knows the capabilities we have.

‘Right now there are three aircraft carriers there, when we go through there – if we go off the coast [of North Korea] depending on our operations – he needs to think very carefully on how he works with us, he needs to understand that we have capabilities that no other country has.’

Standing on the deck of the Vinson, those capabilities are in no doubt.

DailyMailTV joined the Rear Admiral and crew of the Vinson as the huge warship left its port in San Diego for a series of exercises ahead of its deployment.

The ship raised its two 60,000lb anchors and set sail from Naval Air Station North Island, in Coronado.

Capable of reaching more than 30 knots (35mph) the Nimitz-class supercarrier – one of ten nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in the US Fleet – headed out into the Pacific Ocean.

DailyMailTV witnessed the awesome sight of hundreds of sailors and airmen on board the 1,092ft long, 117,000 sq ft warship put its four aircraft catapults through their paces.

Four giant elevators brought aircraft up from the hangar deep below the 4.5 acre flight deck as Super Hornets lined up on deck to be catapulted into the air – just like in a real war.

The USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Theodore Roosevelt are both in the region amid ongoing tensions with North Korea. The Vinson will relieve the USS Ronald Reagan, keeping two carrier strike groups in the Western Pacific.

The ship is the same vessel that was used to transport Osama bin Laden’s body for its burial at sea in 2011.

Last week it was reported that the USS Nimitz had left the Middle East and is also heading to the Pacific to join the US Navy’s 7th Fleet area of operations.

Rear Admiral John Fuller (pictured above in the flag bridge aboard the ship) Commander of Carrier Strike Group 1, will lead the Vinson. He said his strike group is 'ready' and in a direct message to Kim said: 'He knows the capabilities we have'

All hands on deck: One of the most important man on the flight deck is Lieutenant Commander Erick Stroud (pictured) who serves as the Aircraft Handling Officer (ACHO) - also called the handler or mangler and manages the movement and positioning of aircraft

President Trump will visit Asia for the first time when he leaves Washington D.C. on Friday for a 12-day trip which will include China, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and Vietnam.

The might of the Vinson is part of his message to the region’s leaders – that America has its allies’ backs, and its enemies should be afraid.

The Rear Admiral said: ‘There happens to be three carriers there that are gonna be working together for a while. This is good timing for us.

‘We’re going to go out to provide presence, stability, we’re going to go work with our partners and allies, we’re going to try to foment rules, laws and norms of theater.’

North Korea has not test-launched a missile in over a month, but has continued its threats on Guam and last week even threatened to detonate a nuclear weapon above ground.

Fuller, 52, the son of a retired Army colonel, said the ‘scheduled short cycle’ deployment is the Vinson’s ‘opportunity’.

‘I just know the Carl Vinson strike group is going to do the training to be ready to do what we’re called to do,’ he said.

Petty Officer 3rd class Joseph Newman, a 42-year-old nine-year veteran of the US Navy from Evansville, Indiana, is in charge of communications on the flight deck

‘We’re gonna go prepare our forces and our team to make sure that whatever missions they call us to do, so this provides perspective, Korea is one possible contingency plan that the aircraft carrier strike group is supposed to support.’

The Rear Admiral said the ‘beauty’ of what a carrier strike group brings is to project ‘awesome’ power at sea.

‘We don’t have to ask permission to go to some other land to operate our forces, we have the opportunity to use the seas to maneuver freely and we have the capability to project power from the sea as required.

‘But it is also a very stabilizing thing for our friends and allies that this capability is there as needed, we have the will power to use it and we have the proficiency to use it well.’

The Rear Admiral insists, however that the Navy’s first line of defense is to ‘promote peace’, adding: ‘My job is to make sure if they decide to use the capabilities an aircraft carrier and a strike group has, that we’re prepared to deliver those.

‘The civilian policy maker will do what they feel is in the best interests.

‘But I owe it to the parents of my sailors to make sure we’re ready.’

On deck getting ready is a complex task. Mini tractors tow the F/A18s into place and the Top Gun pilots ready the jets for take off.

Commanding Officer of the Vinson, Captain Doug ‘V8’ Verissimo gives the order and the jets roar into action.

Jet blast deflector (JBD) operator ABE3 Jasper Evans, who is known as a ‘Green Jersey’ describes the ‘intense’ moment a F/A-18 takes off.

His job is to raise the JBD to protect his shipmates from the searing heat of a jet engine.

‘Whenever the aircraft is getting ready to launch they throttle up and I raise the JBD so that no one behind can get burnt or blown away off the flight deck,’ he explained.

‘It gets really hot up here, really intense. But we’re fully protected, we wear float coats, flight deck pants and jersey, and a helmet and goggles.’

Evans, 27, is in his fourth year with the US Navy. Originally from Lawrenceville, Georgia, he has just one year left to complete his service.

Donald Trump kicked off his 12-day Asian trip in Japan on Sunday. The President met with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe amid heightened tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests

He has been on two long deployments overseas and is used to the strict routine of life at sea.

‘Everything is routine on a ship, you wake up at a certain time, go eat breakfast and get ready for when they call flight operations and we come upstairs on the flight deck, we suit up and get ready to launch the aircraft.

‘A work day ends at 10 or 11 o’clock and it repeats – very long days.’

The flight deck is awash with dedicated crewmen like Evans wearing different colored jerseys.

Green jerseys operate the JBDs, aircraft handlers wear yellow jerseys, blue jerseys work in the hangar bay and purple jerseys refuel the aircraft, while red jerseys handle aviation ordinance and crash and salvage.

The whole manic scene is watched over by white jerseys.

Interior Communications Electrician Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Newman from Evansville, Indiana is in charge of communications on the flight deck.

Everyday is routine on the ship as Navy crew are expected to wake up early in the morning, eat breakfast, get ready, arrive on the flight deck, suit up, and prepare to launch the aircraft. A typical work day ends at 10pm or 11pm

The flight deck is awash with dedicated crewmen wearing different colored jerseys. Green jerseys (center) operate the jet blast deflectors, and aircraft handlers wear yellow jerseys (right) 

‘I take care of all the maintenance of the cameras, the comms systems and the deck lighting as well as the lights up on the island,’ he explains.

Blue jerseys work in the hangar bay and purple jerseys refuel the aircraft, while red jerseys handle aviation ordinance and crash and salvage. The Hornets, Super Hornets and Growlers are moved up to the flight desk on huge aircraft elevators

Four giant elevators brought aircraft up from the hangar deep below the 4.5 acre flight deck as Super Hornets lined up on deck to be catapulted into the air - just like in a real war

‘I also take care of the ‘meat ball’, [a gray boom that displays lights that pilots use to help during the final seconds of landing].

‘You’ll hear the pilots say they’re on the ball as they come in to land. We also take care of all the sound power headsets that the crew use to communicate, we keep things running.

‘It’s a big job, up here in V2 and air department and we also have ICs downstairs in combat systems.’

Newman is a 42-year-old nine-year veteran of the US Navy and has served on the Vinson for six years.

‘I joined late, I did apartment maintenance before this.’

But perhaps the most important man on the flight deck is Lieutenant Commander Erick Stroud.

Stroud is the Aircraft Handling Officer (ACHO) – also called the handler or mangler and manages the movement and positioning of aircraft.

Stroud, 42, a married father of four from Griffin, Georgia, said the most important part of the preparations is keeping his flight deck clean and free of foreign objects.

‘I don’t want to be associated with damaging a $70million aircraft so we go to the extreme to make sure we’re prepared,’ he said.

The ship operates four squadrons of F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornets, one squadron of EA-18G Growlers, and Seahawk helicopters for transportation and maritime patrols 

Also on board is a squadron of E-2C Hawkeye early warning aircraft - designed to detect jets, ships and other vehicles from long distances 

Also on board is a squadron of E-2C Hawkeye early warning aircraft – designed to detect jets, ships and other vehicles from long distances

There are more than 3,500 crew on the Vinson which swells to 5,300 when the full air wing is on embarked, as it was in this 2011 photograph. The warship – call sign 'Gold Eagle' - can operate for up to 20 years without refueling since it is nuclear-powered

Speaking from his control room – a buzz of phone calls and radio chatter – just off the flight deck, he added: ‘This is the nucleus of aviation and flight operations, I control the entire flight deck as well as movement in the hangar bay and all the people involved, we have about 600 people working in those two areas and we integrate with the squadrons, that’s about 500 people.

‘That’s 1,100 people working together seamlessly to make this all happen.’

DON’T MESS WITH OUR SUPER HORNETS

The twin-engine strike fighter aircraft were first introduced to the US Navy in 1999 to replace the F-14 Tomcat, made famous in the hit movie Top Gun.

The F/A-18 Super Hornet can reach Mach 1.8, which is equivalent to 1,190mph at 40,000 ft.

On the Vinson they operate alongside the older Hornet and the related Growler. 

The Super Hornets’ armament includes: 

One M61A1/A2 Vulcan 20mm cannon

The strike fighter has 11 hard points on its wings and under the main fuselage which can carry a mixture of:

Missiles: Four AIM 9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles

Two AIM 7 Sparrow/ (2) AIM-120 AMRAAM

One Standoff Land Attack Missile

One AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile

One HARM (Anti-Radiation Missile) – designed to destroy enemy radar systems

Maverick air to ground missiles: Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW); Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM).

Bombs: Paveway laser guided bomb; JDAMs (joint direct attack munitions); freefall bombs; mines.

As of 2011, 500 Super Hornets have been built on single-seat (F/A-18E) and twin-seat (F/A-18F) variations.

Source: US NAVY 

 Stroud keeps an eye on two large digital status boards showing the movements of aircraft on the flight deck but he also uses an old school ‘Ouija Board’ – a scaled replica of the flight deck on which templates of aircraft are moved around based on messages radioed in from spotters.

The lieutenant commander, a 25-year veteran, has four catapults to launch aircraft at his disposal as well as four arresting cables to recover the aircraft.

He moves the aircraft up from the hangar bay in the guts of the ship on four giant elevators.

When planes make an arrested landing, pilots aim to hit the No 3 cable of four arrested cables numbered 1-4 from aft to forward.

Their performance goes up on a board so it gets competitive.

But crew safety is of utmost importance.

Stroud explains: ‘There’s a red and white foul line, which is said to be drawn in blood, because you have to judge where the aircraft is coming in and everybody has to stand on the opposite side of the line.

‘If an aircraft is coming in and you get one of the tall guys level with the wing on the wrong side of the line, it’ll take his head off and we’ll have a body to clean up.

‘When we get into that level of complacency, where we get into the same routine every day, launching planes and recovering planes, that one second of being inattentive is dangerous.

‘You have to keep your head on a swivel no matter what.’

Everyone on the Vinson seems on point inside the 3,000 room hull underneath the flight deck.

There are several cafeterias, nine gyms, a Starbucks-style coffee shop and ‘luxury’ state rooms for ‘Distinguished Visitors’.

Since it is nuclear-powered, the Vinson – call sign ‘Gold Eagle’ – can operate for up to 20 years without refueling. It also has anti-submarine capabilities.

The seal of the ship is an eagle with extended wings, carrying a banner in its beak.

The Latin phrase ‘Vis Per Mare’ -‘Strength through the Sea’ – is inscribed on the banner.

The ship operates four squadrons of F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornets, one squadron of EA-18G Growlers – which disrupt enemy radar – one squadron of E-2C Hawkeye early warning aircraft, as well as a compliment of C2-A Greyhound transport planes and Seahawk helicopters.

There are more than 3,500 crew on the Vinson, which swells to 5,300 when the air wing is on board, which means working seven days a week with shifts often lasting 12 hours or more. But few complain about living on the floating city.

The massive warship has a 3,000-room hull below the flight deck which includes several cafeterias, nine gyms, a Starbucks-style coffee shop and 'luxury' state rooms for 'Distinguished Visitors'

On a daily average, the Navy spends around $60,000 feeding sailors and on Sunday, they serve a special brunch meal which includes Belgian waffles or some shrimp

On a daily average, the Navy spends around $60,000 feeding sailors and on Sunday, they serve a special brunch meal which includes Belgian waffles or some shrimp

In addition to the gym facilities, sailors also have the opportunity to take Zumba and spin classes, weight-lifting and functional fitness classes and even rowing club

‘On a daily average we spend around $60,000 to feed the crew, which is roughly about 15-20 pallets worth of food.

‘A special day for us is Sunday, we do a brunch we serve things like Belgian waffles, some shrimp, a special chance to give the sailors a chance to refresh for the next week.’

After filling up a lot of the sailors like to keep fit. Dan Larrell is in charge of putting them through their paces in the ship’s nine gyms.

‘I am a fitness director, if you imagine this warship as a large 24 hour fitness, we have 4,500 sailors and we treat them all as our clients,’ he explains.

Larrell says as well as running and maintaining the gyms he puts together the fitness schedule and offers Zumba and spin classes, weight-lifting and functional fitness classes and even rowing club.

‘Any sailor on any watch on any schedule can come to our classes,’ he added.

‘What’s really incredible is that we not only get the younger sailors at our classes but we get the captain of the ship, the XO [executive officer] of the ship and the admiral of the ship, when I train them… it’s the first time in a very long time someone is telling them what to do. It’s my time to make them work a little bit harder.’

Running the Vinson, let alone a whole Carrier Strike Group, is a huge undertaking and one that Fuller doesn’t take lightly.

He says he’s incredibly ‘honored and humbled’ to be in the position he’s in.

‘I never expected that I would have the opportunity to lead such an awesome fighting force and such an awesome group of sailors. It hasn’t even really sunk in, I’m just amazed I get this chance here. I am exceptionally proud of that.’

And the commander says America should be equally proud of the US Navy’s achievements.

He said: ‘The most awesome thing we have is some of the best people in America who volunteered to help protect and promote prosperity for our American citizens and then with those great people we have fantastic equipment and systems that allow us to project power from the sea for sustained periods of time in ways no other country can.’

Soon the Vinson will be in Kim’s waters – and those people and equipment could be tested as never before.

Story 3: Saudi Arab On The Brink of Proxy War With Lebanon Paritally Controlled By Iran-backed Lebanese Shi‘ite group Hezbollah — Saudi Arab Blames Iran For Yemen Missile Attack — Purge and Roundup of Royal Prince Continues — Videos —

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𝐁en 𝐒hapiro 𝐄xplains 𝐓he 𝐆odfather 𝐒cenario 𝐇appening 𝐈n 𝐒audi 𝐀rabia

Ben Shapiro: At least 17 princes and top officials arrested in Saudi Arabia. What’s going on there?

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Saudi Minister: Lebanon declared war on kingdom

Published on Nov 7, 2017
A senior Saudi minister has accused Lebanon of declaring war against the kingdom. The minister for Persian Gulf Affairs, Thamer al-Sabhan also accused the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah of committing acts of aggression and attacking the Saudi kingdom without further elaborations. He then urged the Lebanese government to realize the risks of Hezbollah actions. Al-Sabhan made the comments in reaction to criticism Riyadh has been facing over the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri. Hariri made the announcement in a statement broadcast on Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV. On Sunday, Hezbollah chief Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah and other Lebanese officials accused Riyadh of forcing Hariri to quit in a bid to create tensions in Lebanon.

Saudi Arabia’s proxy war with Iran intensifies

Iran denies arming Yemenis with missiles

Is Lebanon on the brink of turmoil? – Inside Story

Published on Nov 5, 2017
Hariri’s resignation came as a surprise. The fact that he did it from Riyadh, accusing Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of sowing strife in the Arab world, sent shockwaves through the region. His resignation shatters a delicate deal that put him in a coalition government after a two-year political vacuum. It is not the first time a Lebanese government has collapsed- it happened in 2005, 2011 and 2013. The country’s political structure requires that the President must be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, and the Speaker of Parliament a Shia Muslim. Last year Lebanon’s parliament swore in a new cabinet dominated by Hezbollah and its allies – in a major victory for the Shia, Iran-backed group. Add to that, Hezbolllah’s military wing has been racking up victories in Syria, building up its arsenal, and steadily increasing its influence at home, and that’s upset some, including Saudi Arabia So, what’s next? And will Lebanon again become the battleground for other peoples’ wars?

Did the Saudis Force Lebanese PM to Resign?

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The Middle East Crisis in a nutshell

The Middle East’s cold war, explained

Saudi Arabia vs. Iran: The Sunni-Shiite Proxy Wars

Iranian proxy Hezbollah increasing influence over Lebanese politics and army

What the rising power of Hezbollah means for the Middle East

What If Saudi Arabia And Iran Went To War?

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The Great Divide: Sunni vs. Shi’a – Full Episode

Foreign Policy Association
Published on Feb 29, 2016
From the conflicts in Iraq and Syria to the tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the struggle between Sunni and Shi‘a groups for hegemony is tearing apart the region and shows no signs of abating. But for all the religious discourse permeating the conflict, much of its roots are political, not religious. How does sectarianism fit into a larger narrative of the Middle East? How have governments manipulated sectarian differences? And finally, what is the U.S. doing about it? Full episode from the Great Decisions PBS series: http://www.greatdecisionsonpbs.com/ Visit our website for more information: http://www.fpa.org/ Narrated by Academy Award nominated actor David Strathairn and produced by the Foreign Policy Association, each half-hour episode of the Great Decisions documentary series tackles a different challenge facing America today. This episode first aired in January 2015.

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Ben Shapiro: At least 17 princes and top officials arrested in Saudi Arabia. What’s going on there?

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Dozens of Saudi princes, businessmen arrested in anti-corruption bid

Saudi Arabia Arrests 11 Princes Including A Billionaire

Cabinet reshuffle, crackdown on corruption in latest Saudi purge

After shakeup, can Saudi Arabia’s crown prince deliver on promise of reform?

PBS NewsHour

Published on Nov 6, 2017

In the name of fighting corruption in Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman announced over the weekend the government would hold trials for 11 princes, stamping out opposition and cementing his rule. Special correspondent Nick Schifrin is joined by Bilal Saab of the Middle East Institute and Aaron David Miller of the Wilson Center to discuss the potential fallout of the crackdown.

Saudi Arabia arrests 4 ministers and 11 princes

PBS NewsHour

Published on Nov 5, 2017

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered the arrest of four government ministers and 11 royal princes hours after he was named the head of a new anti-corruption committee. Billionaire prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who has stakes in major U.S. companies like Apple and Twitter, was among those arrested. Gary Sick, a senior research scholar at Columbia University, joins Hari Sreenivasan.

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Saudi Arabia attacked by Yemen missile in Riyadh intercepts ballistic missile

Saudi Arabia Missile: Air Force intercepts missile near Riyadh

Saudi prince killed in helicopter crash near Yemen border – BBC News

Published on Nov 6, 2017
A senior Saudi prince and seven other officials have been killed in a helicopter crash near the country’s border with Yemen, state media report. Prince Mansour bin Muqrin, the deputy governor of Asir province, was returning from an inspection tour when his aircraft came down near Abha late on Sunday, the interior ministry said. It did not give a cause for the crash. But it came hours after a major purge of the kingdom’s political and business leadership. An anti-corruption body led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, ordered the detentions of dozens of people, including 11 princes, four ministers and dozens of ex-ministers. Analysts see the unprecedented move as an attempt to cement the power of the heir to the throne.

10 Minutes: Saudi Arabia’s New Crown Prince

Inside Saudi Arabia: On front line of war with Yemen – BBC News

The 18 Religions That Make Up Lebanon’s Government

Why Lebanon Is Fractured By The Conflicts In The Middle East

Saudi Arabia says Lebanon declares war, deepening crisis

People walk next to a poster depicting Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who has resigned from his post, along a street in the mainly Sunni Beirut neighbourhood of Tariq al-Jadideh in Beirut, Lebanon November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Lebanon has been thrust to the center of regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran since the Saudi-allied Lebanese politician Saad al-Hariri quit as prime minister on Saturday, blaming Iran and Hezbollah in his resignation speech.

Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan said the Lebanese government would “be dealt with as a government declaring war on Saudi Arabia” because of what he described as aggression by Hezbollah.

Faulting the Hariri-led administration for failing to take action against Hezbollah during a year in office, Sabhan said “there are those who will stop (Hezbollah) and make it return to the caves of South Lebanon”, the heartland of the Shi‘ite community.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya TV, he added: “Lebanese must all know these risks and work to fix matters before they reach the point of no return.”

He did not spell out what action Saudi Arabia might take against Lebanon, a country with a weak and heavily indebted state that is still rebuilding from its 1975-90 civil war and where one-in-four people is a Syrian refugee.

There was no immediate comment from the Lebanese government.

Hezbollah is both a military and a political organization that is represented in the Lebanese parliament and in the Hariri-led coalition government formed last year.

Its powerful guerrilla army is widely seen as stronger than the Lebanese army, and has played a major role in the war in neighboring Syria, another theater of Saudi-Iranian rivalry where Hezbollah has fought in support of the government.

Lebanese authorities said on Monday the country’s financial institutions could cope with Hariri’s resignation and the stability of the Lebanese pound was not at risk.

But the cash price of Lebanon’s U.S. dollar-denominated bonds fell, with longer-dated maturities suffering hefty losses as investors took a dim view of the medium- to longer-term outlook for Lebanon.

A poster depicting Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who has resigned from his post, hangs along a street in the mainly Sunni Beirut neighbourhood of Tariq al-Jadideh in Beirut, Lebanon November 6, 2017. The Arabic on the poster reads, “With you forever”. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

HARIRI FREE TO TRAVEL, SAUDI FM SAYS

Hariri cited a plot to assassinate him during his unexpected resignation speech broadcast from Saudi Arabia which caught even his aides off guard. He also slammed Hezbollah and Iran, accusing them of sowing strife in the Arab world.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has said he will not comment on Hariri’s speech, calling it a “Saudi statement” and saying Riyadh had forced Hariri to resign.

The sudden nature of Hariri’s resignation generated speculation in Lebanon that his family’s Saudi construction business had been caught up in an anti-corruption purge and he had been coerced into resigning.

Slideshow (3 Images)

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir said it was “nonsense” to suggest Hariri had been coerced into quitting in a CNN interview on Monday. Hariri had quit because Hezbollah had been “calling the shots” in the government, he said. Hariri, a Saudi citizen, was free to leave the country at any time, he said.

Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk, a senior member of Hariri’s political party, said he was under the impression Hariri would return to Beirut within days.

A meeting between Saudi King Salman and Hariri in Riyadh on Monday proved “rumors” wrong, he said – an apparent reference to speculation that Hariri was detained or forced to quit.

Earlier on Monday, President Michel Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah, appealed for national unity.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, another political ally of Hezbollah, said in a televised statement after meeting Aoun it was too early to talk about forming a new government.

The crisis could re-aggravate tensions between Sunni and Shi‘ite Muslims and afflict Lebanese government with paralysis once again. All of the sides have called for calm and there has been no sign of unrest since Hariri’s resignation.

The Hariri-led government took office last year in a political deal that made Aoun president. The deal ended years of deadlock, and last month it produced Lebanon’s first budget since 2005.

Hariri flew to Saudi Arabia on Friday after meeting in Beirut the top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, who described the coalition as “a victory” and “great success” afterwards.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-missiles-yemen/saudi-led-forces-close-air-sea-and-land-access-to-yemen-idUSKBN1D60I8

Saudi Arabia Blames Iran for Missile Attack

Yemeni rebels’ missile intercepted near Riyadh was made in Iran, Saudis say; Iran denies involvement

Smoke from an alleged Saudi-led airstrike on the Yemeni capital, San'a, on Sunday.
Smoke from an alleged Saudi-led airstrike on the Yemeni capital, San’a, on Sunday. PHOTO: ARHAB/EPA-EFE/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Yemeni rebels’ missile attack on the Saudi capital on Saturday could be considered an Iranian act of war, Saudi Arabia said, in a statement likely to intensify tensions between the archrivals.

Saudi Arabia intercepted the ballistic missile east of Riyadh’s main airport after it flew more than 500 miles from Yemen. It was fired by Houthi rebels, who are seen by Saudi Arabia as proxies of Iran.

The Saudi-led military coalition that has been at war with the Houthis in Yemen for more than 2½ years “considers this a blatant act of military aggression by the Iranian regime and could rise to be considered as an act of war against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” according to a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Debris from the missile showed it was made in Iran, the statement said, adding that the coalition “reserves its right to respond to Iran in the appropriate time and manner, in accordance with international law and based on the right of self-defense.”

Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, dismissed the claim.

“We are not basically capable of transferring missiles to Yemen,” he said Sunday, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. Houthi missiles, he said, are homegrown.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghasemi, on Monday called Saudi accusations against Iran “unfair, irresponsible, destructive and provocative,” according to a state television news website. He advised the kingdom to stop its assault on Yemen to pave the way for peace talks.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted that Saudi Arabia was bombing Yemen and killing thousands of innocent people and spreading famine.

The kingdom “is engaged in wars of aggression, regional bullying, destabilizing behavior and risky provocations,” he said. “It blames Iran for the consequences.”

Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir tweeted that Iranian intervention in the region was undermining security and repeated that Saudi Arabia had the right to respond.

The Houthis, who in the past have presented missiles as domestically sourced, have fired dozens at Saudi Arabia since the coalition began a campaign to oust them from Yemen’s capital, San’a, in 2015.

The range of some, like the “Volcano H2” the group fired Saturday, has increased markedly in 2017, putting significant Saudi population centers and energy infrastructure within range.

Saudi Arabia, which controls Yemeni airspace and oversees shipping traffic through its ports, said all land, sea and air borders with the country would be closed temporarily to address the missile threat, although humanitarian supplies would still be allowed in.

Tensions between Saudi Arabia, the leading Sunni Muslim power in the region, and Iran, its main Shiite rival, have risen in recent days. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a close Saudi ally, resigned Saturday, blaming Iran for destabilizing the region and saying his life was under threat.

Saudi Arabia has more aggressively confronted Iran under 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who orchestrated Saudi involvement in Yemen.

 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-arabia-blames-iran-for-missile-attack-1509955160

Saudi Crackdown Targets Up to $800 Billion in Assets

Authorities detain more prominent businessmen, freeze bank accounts

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, has said tackling corruption is necessary to overhaul Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent economy.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, has said tackling corruption is necessary to overhaul Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent economy.PHOTO: SAUDI PRESS AGENCY/REUTERS

The Saudi government is aiming to confiscate cash and other assets worth as much as $800 billion in its broadening crackdown on alleged corruption among the kingdom’s elite, according to people familiar with the matter.

Several prominent businessmen are among those who have been arrested in the days since Saudi authorities launched the crackdown on Saturday, by detaining more than 60 princes, officials and other prominent Saudis, according to those people and others.

The country’s central bank, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, said late Tuesday that it has frozen the bank accounts of “persons of interest” and said the move is “in response to the Attorney General’s request pending the legal cases against them.”

The purge is the most extensive of the kingdom’s elite in recent history. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the son of King Salman, was named heir to the throne in Juneand has moved to consolidate power. He has said that tackling corruption at the highest level is necessary to overhaul what has long been an oil-dependent economy.

The crackdown could also help replenish state coffers. The government has said that assets accumulated through corruption will become state property, and people familiar with the matter say the government estimates the value of assets it can reclaim at up to 3 trillion Saudi riyal, or $800 billion.

“They reckon that they could get around 2 to 3 trillion riyals from these people. That’s the number they are talking about,” said a person close to the government.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince: Three Things to Know
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has appointed his son, Mohammed bin Salman, as crown prince, replacing his nephew, Mohammed bin Nayef, as first in line to the throne. WSJ’s Niki Blasina explains who he is, and what this means for the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the broader region. Photo: Getty Images. (Originally Published June 21, 2017)

Much of that money is abroad, which will complicate efforts to reclaim it, people familiar with the matter said. But even a portion of that amount could help Saudi Arabia’s finances. A prolonged period of low oil prices forced the government to borrow money on the international bond market and to draw extensively from the country’s foreign reserves, which dropped from $730 billion at their peak in 2014 to $487.6 billion in August, the latest available government data.

Who Has Been Promoted, Who Has Been Detained in Saudi Arabia

Under King Salman, many senior princes have been sidelined from power or detained, according to people familiar with the matter. Here are a few of the important moves.

King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud

The founder of modern Saudi Arabia, who ruled from 1932

to 1953

Detained

Promoted

Other direct descendant

LINE OF SUCCESSION

King Salman bin

Abdulaziz

King 2015-present

He is the sixth brother in a row to assume the throne. He became king in 2015 and in June appointed his own son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as his heir.

Prince Miteb bin Abdullah

Prince al-Waleed

bin Talal

Prince Mohammed bin Nayef

Crown Prince

Mohammed bin Salman

He is one of the world’s richest men. Through his firm Kingdom Holding Co., he has invested in Apple, Twitter, and Citigroup. He was detained on Nov. 4.

Previous head of the elite Saudi Arabian National Guard

Previous crown prince

The 32-year-old prince has ascended to a position of unrivaled power since his father became king, and oversees most key policy areas in the country, from the economy to defense. He is the architect of the ambitious plan to end the kingdom’s dependence on oil. As minister of defense, he launched Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. He became crown prince in June.

Prince Mohammed, a former powerful minister of interior, was removed from the position of crown prince in June and replaced by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a younger cousin. His ouster faced some resistance within the royal family

He is the politically influential son of the previous monarch, King Abdullah. He was fired and detained on Nov. 4.

Prince Abdulaziz bin

Saud bin Nayef

New minister of interior

He was appointed as minister of interior in June. He belongs to the same branch of the royal family as Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the ousted crown prince.

Note: not all descendants represented

Sources: Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia; staff reports.

The arrests were ordered by a newly established anticorruption agency headed by Prince Mohammed.

The crown prince “needs cash to fund the government’s investment plans,” political risk advisory firm Eurasia Group said in a note on Monday. “It was becoming increasingly clear that additional revenue is needed to improve the economy’s performance. The government will also strike deals with businessmen and royals to avoid arrest, but only as part of a greater commitment to the local economy.”

Spokespeople for the Saudi government didn’t respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia’s minister of commerce, Majid al Qasabi, on Tuesday sought to reassure the private sector that the corruption investigation wouldn’t interfere with normal business operations.

The procedures and investigations undertaken by the anticorruption agency won’t affect ongoing business or projects, he said.

Running LowSaudi Arabia is heavily dependent on oilexports, and government revenues havetaken a hit as crude prices have tumbled inrecent years.THE WALL STREET JOURNALSource: Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority
.trillion riyalsOil revenueOther revenue2006’08’10’12’14’160.000.250.500.751.001.251.50

In its statement on Tuesday, the Saudi central bank said that individual accounts had been frozen, not corporate accounts. “It is business as usual for both banks and corporates,” the central bank said.

The central bank sent a list of hundreds of names to lenders, asking them to freeze any accounts linked to them, according to people familiar with the matter.

“These are just the initial stages of either asset freezes or arrests. More people are expected to be impacted as the investigation unfolds,” said a Saudi official.

The government earlier this week vowed that it would arrest more people as part of the corruption investigation, which began around three years ago.

As a precautionary measure, authorities have banned a large number of people from traveling outside the country, among them hundreds of royals and people connected to those arrested, according to people familiar with the matter.

Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, a Saudi billionaire and founder of Kingdom Holding Co., spoke at a conference in Chicago in 2013.
Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, a Saudi billionaire and founder of Kingdom Holding Co., spoke at a conference in Chicago in 2013. PHOTO: DANIEL ACKER/BLOOMBERG NEWS

The government hasn’t officially named the people who were detained.

They include billionaire Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, one of the most widely known members of the Saudi royal family and a major investor in companies including Apple Inc., Twitter Inc. and Citigroup Inc. He faces allegations of money laundering, bribery and extortion, according to a senior Saudi official. A representative of Prince al-Waleed didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to people familiar with the investigation, those detained over the weekend also include Bakr bin Ladin, the chairman of the construction giant Saudi Binladin Group. A spokesman for Saudi Binladin didn’t respond to request for comment.

Saudi Binladin, the biggest construction firm in the Gulf region, flourished as one of the government’s preferred builders during the boom years in the oil-rich country, winning a high-profile contract to expand the grounds of the Great Mosque in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site. The people familiar with the investigation said Mr. bin Ladin faces allegations of bribery in connection with that project.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-arabia-expands-crackdown-on-elite-1510062385

A resignation, detentions and missiles: 24 hours that shook the Middle East

Trump voices ‘great confidence’ in Saudi Arabia amid royal purge

President Trump on Monday gave a vote of confidence to the leadership of Saudi Arabia amid a royal family purge that has rocked the Middle East.

“I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing,” Trump tweeted while traveling in Asia. “Some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years!”

The president appeared to lend his endorsement to this weekend’s arrests of 11 members of the Saudi royal family, which authorities there described as a crackdown against corruption.

The mass arrests amounted to the most sweeping purge of the Saudi ruling elite in the country’s modern history. Advisers, ministers and businessmen were also taken into custody on orders from a newly formed anti-corruption committee.

Regional observers see the round-up as one of the most dramatic moves yet by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to consolidate power.

The crown prince, 32, has taken over several key government posts over the past two years while pushing aside rivals as he seeks to position himself as the next leader of the oil-rich kingdom.

He also heads the anti-corruption panel.

Among those arrested were Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, a son of the late King Abdullah and head of the National Guard, and the kingdom’s wealthiest investor, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

Mohammad bin Salman has pushed the hidebound kingdom to implement reforms while cozying up to the U.S., a top Saudi ally.

The crown prince, who is a son of King Salman, has also formed a relationship with President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Kushner made an unannounced visit to Saudi Arabia last month, where U.S. officials said he intended to discuss Middle East peace.

Saudi Arabia was the site of Trump’s first trip abroad as president, a visit Mohammad bin Salman was said to have helped arrange.

Trump also has ties to bin Talal, who helped bail him out of financial trouble in the 1990s. The investor was part of a group that purchased New York’s Plaza Hotel from Trump as well as the real-estate mogul’s yacht.

No one should ever have to negotiate between getting lifesaving care or accessing their prescriptions.

Their relationship took a turn for the worse in 2015, when bin Talal bashedTrump’s campaign rhetoric and called on him to drop out of the presidential race.

“Dopey Prince @Alwaleed_Talal wants to control our U.S. politicians with daddy’s money,” Trump responded on Twitter. “Can’t do it when I get elected. #Trump2016”

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/359036-trump-voices-great-confidence-in-saudi-arabia-amid-royal-purge

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The Pronk Pops Show 986, October 18, 2017, Story 1: Breaking Bad — The Real Russian Collusion Story That Big Lie Media Will Not Cover — Russian Bribery, Payoffs, Extortion, Blackmail,Kickbacks and Cover-up — Aided and Abetted By Obama Administration — FBI Under Mueller, Comey and McCabe and Department of Justice Attorney General Eric Holder Knew of Russian Bribery and Kickbacks and Did Not Inform The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) — Racketeers Hillary and Bill Clinton Were Paid Off Through The Clinton Foundation — Pay For Play — Rule of Law Crisis — Special Counsel To Investigate FBI, Department of Justice, Obama Administration, and Clinton Foundation — The American People Demand It — Videos

Posted on October 20, 2017. Filed under: 2016 Presidential Candidates, American History, Bill Clinton, Blogroll, Breaking News, Bribery, Budgetary Policy, Cartoons, Communications, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Disasters, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Employment, Energy, European History, Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Former President Barack Obama, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton, History, Human Behavior, Independence, Investments, Iran Nuclear Weapons Deal, James Comey, Labor Economics, Language, Lying, Monetary Policy, Nuclear, Nuclear, Obama, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Barack Obama, President Trump, Progressives, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Resources, Robert S. Mueller III, Rule of Law, Scandals, Security, Spying, Spying on American People, Surveillance/Spying, Tax Policy, Trade Policy, Trump Surveillance/Spying, United States of America, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Image result for branco cartoons on russian uranium deal and bribery of clintons

Image result for branco cartoons on russian uranium deal and bribery of clintons

Judicial Watch President, Tom Fitton, on Russia & the Clinton Connection

Hannity on Uranium One Deal: ‘Hillary Clinton and Her Husband Sold Out America to the Russians’

Russian Uranium Clinton Connection Heats Up!

FBI Informant Threatened into Silence by Obama Admin During Clinton Russia Scandal

Uranium One and the Clintons. A Very Tangled Web!

FBI Evidence Released of Hillary Clinton’s Collusion with Russia

Clinton cash trail in the ‘real’ Russian collusion scandal

‘Clinton Cash’ Author Peter Schweitzer Breaks Down Hillary-Russia Scandal

Grassley Has Finally Order the committee to investigate the Uranium one dea – Obama/Clinton – Dobbs

Sessions refuses to lift gag order on informant in Clinton-Russia probe

Did Clinton accept bribes during the uranium deal?

Hannity: Exposing the real Russia collusion

FBI – Russia Bribed for Uranium Deal, 1843

Mark Levin: Bill Clinton sought State’s permission to meet with Russian nuclear official

After Obama Threatened To ‘Disappear Him,’ FBI Informant’s ‘Shocking Secret’ Saves Trump

BREAKING Real Russia collusion Obama Hillary Clinton selling Russia USA Uranium October 2017 News

FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before uranium deal

Tucker Carlson Tonight 10/19 General Kelly Scolds Congresswoman & More Yellow Cake Drama..!

Breaking Now A New Report Documents The Obama FBI Investigated Hillary’s Russian Uranium Deal

WOW! AG Sessions Says Rosenstein Can Investigate Himself in Uraniam One Scandal

FBI Uncovered Russian Bribery Plot In 2009 Before Obama Sold Russia A Bunch of Uranium

FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before uranium deal

Explosive new Russia Collusion & Bribery Evidence Covered Up by FBI/DOJ Related to Uranium One

Gregg Jarrett: Mueller & Rosenstein Hid Clinton Russian Bribery From Congress- MUST RESIGN

Shocking FBI Corruption Exposed | True News

Hannity on Uranium One Deal: ‘Hillary Clinton and Her Husband Sold Out America to the Russians’

#SeanHannity Destroyed #HillaryClinton and Laid the Groundwork for a Multi-Count Indictment

Mark Levin breaks down the REAL Russia scandal | White House Brief

Resignation?! Special Counsel Robert Mueller Implicated In Shocking Scandal, You’ll Be Speechless!

Ben Shapiro: Obama Admin Knew About Bribery in Russian Nuclear Deals!

Mark Levin: Bill Clinton sought State’s permission to meet with Russian nuclear official

Obama and the Clintons are the Real Russian Colluders (EVIDENCE)

Mark Levin: Why the Russia story is a minefield for Democrats and the media (March 09 2017)

“Hillary Clinton Gave Uranium To Russia & You Say I’m Close” President Trump Slams Reporter

“Hillary Clinton Sold 1/5th Of Our Uranium To Russia” Sean Spicer Slams Democrats

REPORT: Obama Connected To Massive “Collusion” Plot

BREAKING!! FBI Indictments Imminent In The Clinton Foundation Investigation

BREAKING: FBI Sources Believe Clinton Foundation Scandal Headed Towards Indictment

Hannity: Uranium One and the Clinton connection

Has Hillary Clinton Sold Our Uranium to Russia?

CLINTON NEWS ALERT! JUDGE PIRRO: “CLASSIC RICO CORRUPTION – GO TO JAIL!”

A Few Thoughts Now On The Overwhelming Evidence Against The Clintons – Lou Dobbs Commentary

Russian COLLUSION with Clintons and Obama – proof

Giuliani: Police and FBI understand Clinton is corrupt

Rudy Giuliani: Clinton Foundation “is a classic RICO enterprise”, Bribery Op

Giuliani says the case is clearer against Clinton Foundation

Anonymous – Bill & Hillary Clinton: The Untold Story “Clinton Cash” Full Documentary

Clinton Foundation Gets Millions In Exchange For Uranium Deal – News Brief

Western Journalism

Published on Apr 24, 2015

Hillary Clinton recently launched her presidential campaign promising to be champion for the middle class yet she seems to be more of a champion of herself and foreign governments by accepting hundreds of millions of dollars in donations to her piggy bank – The Clinton Foundation. Canadian businessman Frank JEW-STRA along with Bill and Hillary Clinton were part of a group that built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One. The Russian government controls Uranium One and now controls 20 percent of America’s uranium supply which it can sell to other countries who are our bitter enemies like Iran. This jeopardizes both our national and energy security. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to be involved in the approval of Uranium One’s sale to Russia.

Grassley Seeks Information from FBI Informant in Uranium One Probe

Oct 19, 2017
Reported Justice Department Gag Orders Prevent Accountability of Controversial Obama-Era Deal with Russian Entities
WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is calling on the Justice Department to lift a reported non-disclosure agreement preventing a former FBI confidential informant from speaking to Congress about the handling of a criminal probe linked to a controversial deal that ceded ownership of U.S. uranium assets to the Russian government.  Despite an ongoing criminal investigation into officials working for subsidiaries of Rosatom, the Russian government entity seeking to acquire ownership of U.S. uranium, the Obama Administration approved the deal. The Justice Department has reportedly threatened to prosecute the informant if he discloses details of his involvement in the investigation.
“The Executive Branch does not have the authority to use non-disclosure agreements to avoid Congressional scrutiny.  If the FBI is allowed to contract itself out of Congressional oversight, it would seriously undermine our Constitutional system of checks and balances.  The Justice Department needs to work with the Committee to ensure that witnesses are free to speak without fear, intimidation or retaliation from law enforcement. Witnesses who want to talk to Congress should not be gagged and threatened with prosecution for talking. If that has happened, senior DOJ leadership needs to fix it and release the witness from the gag order,” Grassley said.
According to recent news reports, a U.S. businessman-turned-confidential informant documented bribes, extortion and money laundering by Russian entities that were attempting to secure U.S. government approval of a deal to acquire Uranium One, which reportedly owned 20 percent of American uranium assets at the time.  According to the news reports, the informant has information regarding payments made by Russian executives to a U.S. entity that supported President Bill Clinton’s foundation.  In 2010, despite an ongoing criminal investigation into officials working for Rosatom subsidiaries, the Obama Administration approved the takeover of Uranium One.
Last week, Grassley asked several federal agencies involved in approving the deal whether they had any knowledge of the ongoing criminal investigation and all communications relating to donations made to the Clinton Foundation by interested parties in the transaction. Those agencies include the Justice Department and State Department.
Grassley has previously raised concerns about the use of non-disclosure agreements by the federal government, specifically, the Justice Department and FBI, as a means of avoiding congressional oversight.
Grassley sent a letter Wednesday to the Justice Department asking for a copy of any reported non-disclosure agreement and calling for it to be lifted.  Grassley also sent a letter to the attorney representing the confidential informant seeking an interview.
Those letters follow:
October 18, 2017
VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
The Honorable Jeff Sessions
Attorney General
United States Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20220
Dear Attorney General Sessions:
On October 12, 2017, I wrote to several agencies, including the Department of Justice, regarding the Uranium One/Rosatom transaction that was approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) during the Obama administration.  In that letter, I noted that the Department had an ongoing criminal investigation into Rosatom officials during the CFIUS approval process and asked, among other things, whether CFIUS was informed of that criminal matter.
On October 18, 2017, The Hill reported that “[a]n American businessman . . . worked for years undercover as an FBI confidential witness” to assist in the Department’s criminal investigation.[1]  According to the reporting, the confidential witness “was asked by the FBI to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) that prevents him from revealing what he knows to Congress.”[2]  Further, the witness’ attorney said, “the Obama Justice Department threatened him with loss of freedom.  They said they would bring a criminal case against him for violating an NDA.”[3]
These restrictions appear to improperly prevent the individual from making critical, good faith disclosures to Congress of potential wrongdoing.  They also purport to limit the Committee’s access to information it needs to fulfill its constitutional responsibility of oversight.  This Committee has oversight jurisdiction of the Justice Department, and if this NDA does in fact exist, it hinders the Committee’s ability to do its job.   Accordingly, please provide a copy of the NDA by November 1, 2017.  In addition, should the NDA exist, I request that you release him from it and pledge not to engage in any form of retaliation against him for good faith communications with Congress.
Should you have further questions, please contact Josh Flynn-Brown or DeLisa Lay of my Committee staff at (202) 224-5225.
Sincerely,
Charles E. Grassley
Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
October 18, 2017
VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
Ms. Victoria Toensing
diGenova & Toensing, LLP
1776 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20006
Dear Ms. Toensing:
On October 12, 2017, I wrote to several agencies, including the Department of Justice, regarding the Uranium One/Rosatom transaction that was approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) during the Obama administration.  In that letter, I noted that the Department had an ongoing criminal investigation into Rosatom officials during the CFIUS approval process and asked, among other things, whether CFIUS was informed of that criminal matter.
On October 18, 2017, The Hill reported that you represent a confidential informant used by the FBI during its criminal investigation into Rosatom employees connected to the CFIUS transaction.[4]  Reporting indicates that “the informant’s work was crucial to the government’s ability to crack a multimillion dollar racketeering scheme by Russian nuclear officials on U.S. soil” and that the scheme involved “bribery, kickbacks, money laundering, and extortion.”[5]  Further, the reporting indicates that your client can testify that “FBI agents made comments to him suggesting political pressure was exerted during the Justice Department probe” and “that there was specific evidence that could have scuttled approval of the Uranium One deal.”[6]
It appears that your client possesses unique information about the Uranium One/Rosatom transaction and how the Justice Department handled the criminal investigation into the Russian criminal conspiracy.  Such information is critical to the Committee’s oversight of the Justice Department and its ongoing inquiry into the manner in which CFIUS approved the transaction.  Accordingly, the Committee requests to interview your client.  Please contact Committee staff by October 25, 2017, to arrange the interview.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Sincerely,
Charles E. Grassley
Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary

Bill Clinton sought State’s permission to meet with Russian nuclear official during Obama uranium decision

FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow

As he prepared to collect a $500,000 payday in Moscow in 2010, Bill Clinton sought clearance from the State Department to meet with a key board director of the Russian nuclear energy firm Rosatom — which at the time needed the Obama administration’s approval for a controversial uranium deal, government records show.

Arkady Dvorkovich, a top aide to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and one of the highest-ranking government officials to serve on Rosatom’s board of supervisors, was listed on a May 14, 2010, email as one of 15 Russians the former president wanted to meet during a late June 2010 trip, the documents show.

“In the context of a possible trip to Russia at the end of June, WJC is being asked to see the business/government folks below. Would State have concerns about WJC seeing any of these folks,” Clinton Foundation foreign policy adviser Amitabh Desai wrote the State Department on May 14, 2010, using the former president’s initials and forwarding the list of names to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s team.The email went to two of Hillary Clinton’s most senior advisers, Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills.

The approval question, however, sat inside State for nearly two weeks without an answer, prompting Desai to make multiple pleas for a decision.

“Dear Jake, we urgently need feedback on this. Thanks, Ami,” the former president’s aide wrote in early June.

Sullivan finally responded on June 7, 2010, asking a fellow State official “What’s the deal w this?”

The documents don’t indicate what decision the State Department finally made. But current and former aides to both Clintons told The Hill on Thursday the request to meet the various Russians came from other people, and the ex-president’s aides and State decided in the end not to hold any of the meetings with the Russians on the list.

Bill Clinton instead got together with Vladimir Putin at the Russian leader’s private homestead.

“Requests of this type were run by the State Department as a matter of course. This was yet another one of those instances. Ultimately, President Clinton did not meet with these people,” Angel Urena, the official spokesperson for the former president, told The Hill.

Aides to the ex-president, Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation said Bill Clinton did not have any conversations about Rosatom or the Uranium One deal while in Russia, and that no one connected to the deal was involved in the trip.

A spokesman for Secretary Clinton said Thursday the continued focus on the Uranium One deal smacked of partisan politics aimed at benefiting Donald Trump.

“At every turn this storyline has been debunked on the merits. Its roots are with a project shepherded by Steve Bannon, which should tell you all you need to know,” said Nick Merrill. “This latest iteration is simply more of the right doing Trump’s bidding for him to distract from his own Russia problems, which are real and a grave threat to our national security.”

Current and former Clinton aides told The Hill that the list of proposed business executives the former president planned to meet raised some sensitivities after Bill Clinton’s speaker bureau got the invite for the lucrative speech.

Hillary Clinton had just returned from Moscow and there were concerns about the appearance of her husband meeting with officials so soon after.

In addition, two of the Russians on the former president’s list had pending business that would be intersecting with State.

The first was Dvorkovich, who was a chief deputy to Medvedev and one of the Russian nuclear power industry’s cheerleaders. He also sat on the supervisory board of Rosatom, the state owned atomic energy company that was in the midst of buying a Canadian uranium company called Uranium One

The deal required approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an intergovernmental panel represented by 14 departments and offices that approve transactions and investments by foreign companies for national security purposes. Approval meant that control of 20 percent of U.S. uranium production would be shifting to the Russian-owned Rosatom’s control.

CFIUS approved the transaction in October 2010, saying there was no national security concerns. Hillary Clinton has said she did not intervene in the matter and instead delegated the decision to a lower official, who said he got no pressure from the secretary on any CFIUS matters. Any one of the participating offices and departments could have sought to block the deal by requesting intervention by the president.

The Hill reported earlier this week that the FBI had uncovered evidence that Russian nuclear officials were engaged in a massive bribery scheme before CFIUS approved the deal, raising new questions in Congress and drawing attention from President Trump. Uranium “is the real Russia story,” he told reporters, accusing news media of ignoring the new developments reported in The Hill.

The second person on the list that caught attention was Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg.

Two days after Hillary Clinton’s visit to Russia, Vekselberg was named by Medvedev to oversee a new technology investment project called Skolkovo, designed to be Russia’s new Silicon Valley, according to media reports.

Hillary Clinton had directly discussed the Skolkovo project with Medvedev, and her State Department was whipping up support for it among U.S. companies, creating the potential appearance for a conflict. She even attended a major event with the Russians in 2010 to promote the project.

“We want to help because we think that it’s in everyone’s interest do so,” she was quoted as saying at the time.

A third issue that emerged was Renaissance Capital, a Russian bank that actually paid the $500,000 speaking fee to the former president for his 90-minute June 29, 2010, speech, one of the largest one-day fees Bill Clinton ever earned.

Renaissance Capital had ties with the Kremlin and was talking up the Uranium One purchase in 2010, giving it an encouraging investment rating in Russia right at the time the U.S. was considering approval of the uranium sale, according to reports in The New York Times in 2015.

The Hill was alerted to Bill Clinton’s attempted meeting with Dvorkovich from a nonpolitical source involved in the FBI investigation into Russian nuclear corruption. The Hill then scoured through thousands of pages of documents released under Freedom of Information Act requests over the past four years and located the Bill Clinton emails in a batch delivered to the conservative group Citizens United.

The head of that group, David Bossie, said Thursday the documents forced into the public by federal lawsuits continue to shed light on new questions arising from Hillary Clinton’s time at State, and that Citizens United still gets documents released almost every month.

“Citizens United continues to unearth important information about the relationship between Hillary Clinton’s State Department and the Clinton Foundation through our ongoing investigations and litigation,” he said.

A source familiar with that FBI investigation says an undercover informant that Congress is currently trying to interview possesses new information about what Russian nuclear officials were doing to try to win approval of the Uranium One deal.

The importance of CFIUS’s approval was highlighted in Rosatom’s annual 2010 report that listed Dvorkovich as one of its supervisor board directors. The report crowed the U.S. approval was one of its most “striking events” of the year and allowed Russia to begin “uranium mining in the United States.”

The head of Rosatom boasted in the report that the Uranium One deal was part of a larger Putin strategy to strengthen “Russia’s prestige as a leader of the world nuclear industry.”

Inside the Clintons’ inner circle, there also was a debate in 2010.

A close associate of Bill Clinton who was directly involved in the Moscow trip and spoke on condition of anonymity, described to The Hill the circumstances surrounding how Bill Clinton landed a $500,000 speaking gig in Russia and then came up with the list of Russians he wanted to meet.

The friend said Hillary Clinton had just returned in late March 2010 from an official trip to Moscow where she met with both Putin and Medvedev. The president’s speaker’s bureau had just received an offer from Renaissance Capital to pay the former president $500,000 for a single speech in Russia.

Documents show Bill Clinton’s personal lawyer on April 5, 2010, sent a conflict of interest review to the State Department asking for permission to give the speech in late June, and it was approved two days later.

The Clinton friend said the former president’s office then began assembling a list of requests to meet with Russian business and government executives whom he could meet on the trip. One of the goals of the trip was to try to help a Clinton family relative “grow investments in their business with Russian oligarchs and other businesses,” the friend told The Hill.

“It was one of the untold stories of the Russia trip. People have focused on Uranium One and the speaking fees, but opening up a business spigot for the family business was one only us insiders knew about,” the friend said.

Conservative author Peter Schweizer, whose 2015 collaboration with The New York Times first raised questions about the Uranium One deal and Clinton donations, said Thursday the new emails were “stunning they add a level of granularity we didn’t have before.”

“We knew of some sort of transactions in which the Clintons received funds and Russia received approvals, and the question has always been how and if those two events are connected,” he said. “I think this provides further evidence the two may be connected.”

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/356323-bill-clinton-sought-states-permission-to-meet-with-russian-nuclear

 

FBI informant blocked from telling Congress about Russia nuclear corruption case, lawyer says

Lawyer describes how Justice Department kept FBI undercover from telling Congress about Russian nuclear bribery scheme under Obama

An American businessman who worked for years undercover as an FBI confidential witness was blocked by the Obama Justice Department from telling Congress about conversations and transactions he witnessed related to the Russian nuclear industry’s efforts to win favor with Bill and Hillary Clinton and influence Obama administration decisions, his lawyer tells The Hill.

Attorney Victoria Toensing, a former Reagan Justice Department official and former chief counsel of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday she is working with members of Congress to see if they can get the Trump Justice Department or the FBI to free her client to talk to lawmakers.

“All of the information about this corruption has not come out,” she said in an interview Tuesday. “And so my client, the same part of my client that made him go into the FBI in the first place, says, ‘This is wrong. What should I do about it?’”

Toensing said she also possesses memos that recount how the Justice Department last year threatened her client when he attempted to file a lawsuit that could have drawn attention to the Russian corruption during the 2016 presidential race as well as helped him recover some of the money Russians stole from him through kickbacks during the FBI probe.The undercover client witnessed “a lot of bribery going on around the U.S.” but was asked by the FBI to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) that prevents him from revealing what he knows to Congress, Toensing explained.

When he tried to bring some of the allegations to light in the lawsuit last year, “the Obama Justice Department threatened him with loss of freedom. They said they would bring a criminal case against him for violating an NDA,” she added.

Emails obtained by The Hill show that a civil attorney working with the former undercover witness described the pressure the Justice Department exerted to keep the client from disclosing to a federal court what he knew last summer.

“The government was taking a very harsh position that threatened both your reputation and liberty,” the civil lawyer wrote in one email. In another, she added, “As you will recall the gov’t made serious threats sufficient to cause you to withdraw your civil complaint.”

Justice Department and FBI officials did not return calls seeking comment.

Federal court records from 2014 and 2015 show that a wide-ranging FBI probe into Russian nuclear industry corruption was facilitated by an unnamed American consultant who worked for the Moscow-based nuclear energy giant Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary on a multiyear campaign to grow Moscow’s uranium business inside the United States.

Those efforts included winning U.S. approval of Rosatom’s controversial purchase of Canada-based Uranium One’s American uranium assets, securing new approvals to sell new commercial uranium to the federally backed United States Enrichment Corporation and winning billions in new U.S. utility contracts for Russian nuclear fuel.

The court records alternatively refer to the FBI informant as “confidential source 1,” the “contractor” and “Victim 1” without ever naming him. The records make clear he came to the FBI immediately after Russian officials asked him to engage in illegal activity in 2009.

Toensing said the confidential witness identified in those court documents is her client.

Working as a confidential witness, the businessman made kickback payments to the Russians with the approval of his FBI handlers and gathered other evidence, the records show.

Sources told The Hill the informant’s work was crucial to the government’s ability to crack a multimillion dollar racketeering scheme by Russian nuclear officials on U.S. soil that involved bribery, kickbacks, money laundering and extortion. In the end, the main Russian executive sent to the U.S. to expand Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear business, an executive of an American trucking firm and a Russian financier from New Jersey pled guilty to various crimes in a case that started in 2009 and ended in late 2015.

Toensing added her client has had contact from multiple congressional committees seeking information about what he witnessed inside the Russian nuclear industry and has been unable to provide that information because of the NDA.

The information the client possesses includes specific allegations that Russian executives made to him about how they facilitated the Obama administration’s 2010 approval of the Uranium One deal and sent millions of dollars in Russian nuclear funds to the U.S. to an entity assisting Bill Clinton‘s foundation. At the time, Hillary Clinton was serving as secretary of State on the government panel that approved the deal, the lawyer said.

It has been previously reported that Bill Clinton accepted $500,000 in Russian speaking fees in 2010 and collected millions more in donations for his foundation from parties with a stake in the Uranium One deal, transactions that both the Clintons and the Obama administration denied had any influence on the approval.

Federal law requires officials such as then-Secretary Clinton to avoid both conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflicts when it comes to the business and financial interests of a spouse. Clinton signed a special agreement when she became secretary to disclose her husband’s charitable donations to the State Department to avoid any such conflicts. Both Clintons have repeatedly insisted no donations raised by the foundation ever influenced her decisions.

A spokesman and a lawyer for the Clintons did not return calls seeking comment.

Toensing said her client can also testify that FBI agents made comments to him suggesting political pressure was exerted during the Justice Department probe of the Russia corruption case and that there was specific evidence that could have scuttled approval of the Uranium One deal if it became public.

“There was corruption going on and it was never brought forward. And in fact, the sale of the uranium went on despite the government knowing about all of this corruption. So he’s coming forward. He wants the right thing to be done, but he cannot do it unless he is released from the NDA,” she added.

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/355937-fbi-informant-blocked-from-telling-congress-about-russia-nuclear

Making sense of Russia, uranium and Hillary Clinton

 October 19 at 12:00 PM

President Trump says the “real” Russia story involves a deal on U.S. uranium mines under the Obama administration struck when Hillary Clinton ran the State Department and not the “hoax” collusion story. (Reuters)

To hear Sean Hannity tell it, the media is ignoring “what is becoming the biggest scandal — or, at least, one of them — in American history.”

Hannity is jumping waaay ahead of the facts. So is Breitbart News, which has been running misleading headlines like this: “FBI uncovers confirmation of Hillary Clinton’s corrupt uranium deal with Russia.”

Brent Bozell, founder of the conservative Media Research Center, claims that there is “another coverup in the making.” And President Trump chimed in Thursday morning on Twitter.

Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn’t want to follow!

New reporting this week by the Hill has, indeed, added a layer of intrigue to the sale of a uranium mining company to Russia’s atomic energy agency, which was approved by the Clinton-led State Department and eight other U.S. government agencies. But the latest developments, as they relate to Clinton, are not as explosive as certain news outlets — eager to draw attention away from reporting on President Trump and Russia — would have you believe.

Let’s break it down:

What the Hill reported

Journalists John Solomon and Alison Spann reported Tuesday that before the Obama administration approved Russia’s 2010 acquisition of a majority stake in a Canadian firm that owned uranium mines in the American West, the FBI had begun investigating a Kremlin scheme to grow Russia’s influence in the United States’ nuclear industry through corrupt business practices.

Here’s an excerpt:

Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.

Why the FBI probe matters

Investigators’ findings suggest that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to let Russia buy the mining company.

Uranium One, as the firm became known under Russian ownership, controls one-fifth of uranium mining capacity in the United States — a sizable share. For this reason alone, the wisdom of approving Russia’s takeover of the company is debatable.

“Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies,” including the State Department, the New York Times explained in 2015.

If committee members knew that Russia, as it tried to acquire a large stake in U.S. uranium, was engaged in illegal business, then approving the deal would be even harder to justify.

So, did committee members — especially Clinton — know what the FBI had found?

That’s unclear.

“Multiple current and former government officials told the Hill they did not know whether the FBI or [Justice Department] ever alerted committee members to the criminal activity they uncovered,” Solomon and Spann reported.

This is a key point. In response to the Hill’s report, the Senate Judiciary Committee has asked the agencies that signed off on the deal to disclose what, if anything, they knew about the FBI’s investigation. If it were to turn out that Clinton and others were aware of the FBI’s findings — and ignored them — that could be difficult to explain.

But there is reason to doubt that Clinton would have been in the know. The FBI investigation was still four years from completion at the time that the uranium deal was approved. (One Russian official, Vadim Mikerin, was indicted in 2014 and later sentenced to four years in prison.)

Then there’s this:

Ronald Hosko, who served as the assistant FBI director in charge of criminal cases when the investigation was underway, told the Hill he did not recall ever being briefed about Mikerin’s case by the counterintelligence side of the bureau, despite the criminal charges that were being lodged.

“I had no idea this case was being conducted,” a surprised Hosko said in an interview.

Likewise, major congressional figures were also kept in the dark.

Former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who chaired the House Intelligence Committee during the time the FBI probe was being conducted, told the Hill that he had never been told anything about the Russian nuclear corruption case, even though many fellow lawmakers had serious concerns about the Obama administration’s approval of the Uranium One deal.

If people like Hosko and Rogers did not know about the FBI’s investigation, then Clinton probably didn’t, either.

What about those donations from Russia to the Clinton Foundation?

The New York Times reported in 2015 that “as the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation.”

It is virtually impossible to view these donations as anything other than an attempt to curry favor with Clinton. Donations alone do not, however, prove that Clinton was actually influenced by money to vote in favor of the Uranium One sale — or to overlook the FBI investigation. Again, there is no evidence that she even knew about the investigation.

Similarly, it is virtually impossible to view foreign dignitaries’ habit of lodging at Trump’s Washington hotel as anything other than an attempt to curry favor with the president. Reservations and room service alone do not, however, prove that Trump’s foreign policy is actually influenced by money.

Some people willing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt are denying Clinton the same courtesy.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/10/19/making-sense-of-russia-uranium-and-hillary-clinton/?utm_term=.a040887beac3

 

Uranium One

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Uranium One Inc.
Industry Mining
Founded 2005
Headquarters Toronto, OntarioCanada
Key people
Chris Sattler (CEO)
Vadim Zhivov (President)
Products Uranium
Gold
Number of employees
2,220[1]
Parent Rosatom
Website www.uranium1.com

Uranium One is a uranium mining company with headquarters in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It has operations in AustraliaCanadaKazakhstanSouth Africa and the United States. In January 2013 Rosatom, a Russian State-owned enterprise, through its subsidiary ARMZ Uranium Holding, purchased the company at a value of $1.3 billion.[2]

History

On July 5, 2005, Southern Cross Resources Inc. and Aflease Gold and Uranium Resources Ltd announced that they would be merging under the name SXR Uranium One Inc.[3]

In 2007 Uranium One acquired a controlling interest in UrAsia Energy,[4] a Canadian firm with headquarters in Vancouver, from Frank Giustra.[5] UrAsia Energy has interests in rich uranium operations in Kazakhstan.[6] UrAsia Energy’s acquisition of its Kazakhstan uranium interests from Kazatomprom followed a trip to Almaty in 2005 by Giustra and former U.S. President Bill Clinton where they met with Nursultan Nazarbayev, the leader of Kazakhstan. Substantial contributions to the Clinton Foundation by Giustra followed.[5][7][8] The Podesta Group then lobbied on behalf of Uranium One.[9]

In June 2009, the Russian uranium mining company ARMZ Uranium Holding Co. (ARMZ), a part of Rosatom, acquired 16.6% of shares in Uranium One in exchange for a 50% interest in the Karatau uranium mining project, a joint venture with Kazatomprom.[10] In June 2010, Uranium One acquired 50% and 49% respective interests in southern Kazakhstan-based Akbastau and Zarechnoye uranium mines from ARMZ. In exchange, ARMZ increased its stake in Uranium One to 51%. The acquisition resulted in a 60% annual production increase at Uranium One, from approximately 10 million to 16 million lb.[11][12] The deal was subject to anti-trust and other conditions and was not finalized until the companies received Kazakh regulatory approvals, approval under Canadian investment law, clearance by the US Committee on Foreign Investments, and approvals from both the Toronto and Johannesburg stock exchanges. The deal was finalized by the end of 2010.[12] Uranium One paid its minority shareholders a significant dividend of 1.06 United States Dollars at the end of 2010.

ARMZ took complete control of Uranium One in January 2013[2] in a transaction which was reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.[7] In December 2013 an internal reorganization of Rosatom extinguished the interest of ARMZ making Uranium One a direct subsidiary of Rosatom.[3]

See also

References

  1. Jump up^ “Company Profile for Uranium One Inc (CA;UUU)”. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  2. Jump up to:a b Commodities; Mining (2013-01-14). “Uranium One bought by top Russian shareholder ARMZ for $1.3-billion”Financial Post. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  3. Jump up to:a b WISE Uranium Project “Following the completion of the Going Private Transaction, and an internal reorganization by ARMZ’s parent corporation, Russia’s State Atomic Energy Company ‘Rosatom’ in December 2013, Uranium One is now a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of Rosatom and is no longer controlled by ARMZ.” updated April 1, 2015, accessed April 23, 2015
  4. Jump up^ Kazakhstan probing sales of uranium deposit shares
  5. Jump up to:a b An Ex-President, a Mining Deal and a Big Donor, by Jo Becker and Don Van Natta Jr., The New York Times: January 31, 2008
  6. Jump up^ “UrAsia Energy Ltd.” updated 21 April 2007, accessed 23 April 2015
  7. Jump up to:a b Jo Becker and Mike Mcintire (April 23, 2015). “Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation as Russians Pressed for Control of Uranium Company”The New York Times. Retrieved April 23, 2015Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra orchestrated his first big uranium deal, with Mr. Clinton at his side.
  8. Jump up^ Jo Becker and Don Van Natta Jr. (January 31, 2008). “After Mining Deal, Financier Donated to Clinton”The New York Times. Retrieved April 23, 2015The monster deal stunned the mining industry, turning an unknown shell company into one of the world’s largest uranium producers in a transaction ultimately worth tens of millions of dollars to Mr. Giustra, analysts said.
  9. Jump up^ H. A. Goodman: General Michael Flynn Was Right To Discuss Obama’s Sanctions With Russian Ambassador, The Huffington Post, October 24, 2016
  10. Jump up^ “Kazakh tie-in for Uranium One and ARMZ”. World Nuclear News. 2009-06-15. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
  11. Jump up^ Uranium One to Acquire Two More Kazakh Mines from ARMZ and To Pay Special Dividend to Minority Shareholders of at least US$ 1.06 per Share
  12. Jump up to:a b “ARMZ takes hold of Uranium One”. World Nuclear News. 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2010-06-09.

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium_One

 

Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act
Great Seal of the United States
Long title An Act relating to the control of organized crime in the United States
Acronyms(colloquial)
  • OCCA
  • RICO
Nicknames Organized Crime Control Act of 1970
Enacted by the 91st United States Congress
Effective October 15, 1970
Citations
Public law 91-452
Statutes at Large 84 Stat. 922-3 aka 84 Stat. 941
Codification
Titles amended 18 U.S.C.: Crimes and Criminal Procedure
U.S.C.sections created 18 U.S.C. §§ 19611968
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the Senate as S. 30 by John L. McClellan (DAR)
  • Passed the Senate on January 23, 1970 (74-1)
  • Passed the House on October 7, 1970 (341-26)
  • Signed into law by President Richard Nixon onOctober 15, 1970

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as the RICO Act or simply RICO, is a United States federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. The RICO Act focuses specifically on racketeering, and it allows the leaders of a syndicate to be tried for the crimes which they ordered others to do or assisted them in doing, closing a perceived loophole that allowed a person who instructed someone else to, for example, murder, to be exempt from the trial because they did not actually commit the crime personally.[1]

RICO was enacted by section 901(a) of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 (Pub.L. 91–452, 84 Stat. 922, enacted October 15, 1970), and is codified at 18 U.S.C. ch. 96 as 18 U.S.C. §§ 19611968G. Robert Blakey, an adviser to the United States Senate Government Operations Committee, drafted the law under the close supervision of the committee’s chairman, Senator John Little McClellan. It was enacted as Title IX of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, and signed into law by Richard M. Nixon. While its original use in the 1970s was to prosecute the Mafia as well as others who were actively engaged in organized crime, its later application has been more widespread.

Beginning in 1972, 33 states adopted state RICO laws to be able to prosecute similar conduct.

Summary

Under RICO, a person who has committed “at least two acts of racketeering activity” drawn from a list of 35 crimes—27 federal crimes and 8 state crimes—within a 10-year period can be charged with racketeering if such acts are related in one of four specified ways to an “enterprise”.[citation needed] Those found guilty of racketeering can be fined up to $25,000 and sentenced to 20 years in prison per racketeering count.[citation needed] In addition, the racketeer must forfeit all ill-gotten gains and interest in any business gained through a pattern of “racketeering activity.”[citation needed]

When the U.S. Attorney decides to indict someone under RICO, they have the option of seeking a pre-trial restraining order or injunction to temporarily seize a defendant’s assets and prevent the transfer of potentially forfeitable property, as well as require the defendant to put up a performance bond. This provision was placed in the law because the owners of Mafia-related shell corporations often absconded with the assets. An injunction and/or performance bond ensures that there is something to seize in the event of a guilty verdict.

In many cases, the threat of a RICO indictment can force defendants to plead guilty to lesser charges, in part because the seizure of assets would make it difficult to pay a defense attorney. Despite its harsh provisions, a RICO-related charge is considered easy to prove in court, as it focuses on patterns of behavior as opposed to criminal acts.[2]

RICO also permits a private individual “damaged in his business or property” by a “racketeer” to file a civil suit. The plaintiff must prove the existence of an “enterprise”. The defendant(s) are not the enterprise; in other words, the defendant(s) and the enterprise are not one and the same.[3] There must be one of four specified relationships between the defendant(s) and the enterprise: either the defendant(s) invested the proceeds of the pattern of racketeering activity into the enterprise (18 U.S.C. § 1962(a)); or the defendant(s) acquired or maintained an interest in, or control of, the enterprise through the pattern of racketeering activity (subsection (b)); or the defendant(s) conducted or participated in the affairs of the enterprise “through” the pattern of racketeering activity (subsection (c)); or the defendant(s) conspired to do one of the above (subsection (d)).[4] In essence, the enterprise is either the ‘prize,’ ‘instrument,’ ‘victim,’ or ‘perpetrator’ of the racketeers.[5] A civil RICO action can be filed in state or federal court.[6]

Both the criminal and civil components allow the recovery of treble damages (damages in triple the amount of actual/compensatory damages).

Although its primary intent was to deal with organized crime, Blakey said that Congress never intended it to merely apply to the Mob. He once told Time, “We don’t want one set of rules for people whose collars are blue or whose names end in vowels, and another set for those whose collars are white and have Ivy League diplomas.”[2]

Initially, prosecutors were skeptical of using RICO, mainly because it was unproven. The RICO Act was first used by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York on September 18, 1979, in the United States v. Scotto. Scotto, who was convicted on charges of racketeering, accepting unlawful labor payments, and income tax evasion, headed the International Longshoreman’s Association. During the 1980s and 1990s, federal prosecutors used the law to bring charges against several Mafia figures. The second major success was the Mafia Commission Trial, which resulted in several top leaders of New York City’s Five Families getting what amounted to life sentences. By the turn of the century, RICO cases resulted in virtually all of the top leaders of the New York Mafia being sent to prison.

State laws

Beginning in 1972, 33 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, adopted state RICO laws to cover additional state offenses under a similar scheme.[7]

RICO predicate offenses

Under the law, the meaning of racketeering activity is set out at 18 U.S.C. § 1961. As currently amended it includes:

Pattern of racketeering activity requires at least two acts of racketeering activity, one of which occurred after the effective date of this chapter and the last of which occurred within ten years (excluding any period of imprisonment) after the commission of a prior act of racketeering activity. The U.S. Supreme Court has instructed federal courts to follow the continuity-plus-relationship test in order to determine whether the facts of a specific case give rise to an established pattern. Predicate acts are related if they “have the same or similar purposes, results, participants, victims, or methods of commission, or otherwise are interrelated by distinguishing characteristics and are not isolated events.” (H.J. Inc. v. Northwestern Bell Telephone Co.) Continuity is both a closed and open ended concept, referring to either a closed period of conduct, or to past conduct that by its nature projects into the future with a threat of repetition.

Application of RICO laws

Although some of the RICO predicate acts are extortion and blackmail, one of the most successful applications of the RICO laws has been the ability to indict and or sanction individuals for their behavior and actions committed against witnesses and victims in alleged retaliation or retribution for cooperating with federal law enforcement or intelligence agencies.

Violations of the RICO laws can be alleged in civil lawsuit cases or for criminal charges. In these instances charges can be brought against individuals or corporations in retaliation for said individuals or corporations working with law enforcement. Further, charges can also be brought against individuals or corporations who have sued or filed criminal charges against a defendant.

Anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) laws can be applied in an attempt to curb alleged abuses of the legal system by individuals or corporations who use the courts as a weapon to retaliate against whistle blowers, victims, or to silence another’s speech. RICO could be alleged if it can be shown that lawyers and/or their clients conspired and collaborated to concoct fictitious legal complaints solely in retribution and retaliation for themselves having been brought before the courts.

Although the RICO laws may cover drug trafficking crimes in addition to other more traditional RICO predicate acts such as extortion, blackmail, and racketeering, large-scale and organized drug networks are now commonly prosecuted under the Continuing Criminal Enterprise Statute, also known as the “Kingpin Statute”. The CCE laws target only traffickers who are responsible for long-term and elaborate conspiracies, whereas the RICO law covers a variety of organized criminal behaviors.[8]

Famous cases

Hells Angels Motorcycle Club

In 1979 the United States Federal Government went after Sonny Barger and several members and associates of the Oakland charter of the Hells Angels using RICO. In United States vs. Barger, the prosecution team attempted to demonstrate a pattern of behavior to convict Barger and other members of the club of RICO offenses related to guns and illegal drugs. The jury acquitted Barger on the RICO charges with a hung jury on the predicate acts: “There was no proof it was part of club policy, and as much as they tried, the government could not come up with any incriminating minutes from any of our meetings mentioning drugs and guns.”[9][10]

Frank Tieri

On November 21, 1980, Genovese crime family boss Frank “Funzi” Tieri was the first Mafia boss to be convicted under the RICO Act.[citation needed]

Catholic sex abuse cases

In some jurisdictions, RICO suits have been filed against Catholic dioceses, using anti-racketeering laws to prosecute the highers-up in the episcopacy for abuses committed by those under their authority[citation needed]. E.g. a Cleveland grand jury cleared two bishops of racketeering charges, finding that their mishandling of sex abuse claims did not amount to criminal racketeering[citation needed]. Notably, a similar suit was not filed against Cardinal Bernard Law, then Archbishop/Emeritus of Boston, prior to his assignment to Vatican City.[11][12] In 2016, RICO charges were considered for cover-ups in Pennsylvania.[13]

Gil Dozier

Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Gil Dozier, in office from 1976 to 1980, faced indictment with violations of both the Hobbs and the RICO laws. He was accused of compelling companies doing business with his department to make campaign contributions on his behalf. On September 23, 1980, the Baton Rouge-based United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana convicted Dozier of five counts of extortion and racketeering. The sentence of ten years imprisonment, later upgraded to eighteen when other offenses were determined, and a $25,000 fine was suspended pending appeal, and Dozier remained free on bail.[14] He eventually served nearly four years until a presidential commutation freed him in 1986.[15]

Key West PD

About June 1984 the Key West Police Department located in the County of Monroe, Florida, was declared a criminal enterprise under the federal RICO statutes after a lengthy United States Department of Justice investigation. Several high-ranking officers of the department, including Deputy Police Chief Raymond Cassamayor, were arrested on federal charges of running a protection racket for illegal cocaine smugglers.[16] At trial, a witness testified he routinely delivered bags of cocaine to the Deputy Chief’s office at City Hall.[17]

Michael Milken

On 29 March 1989 American financier Michael Milken was indicted on 98 counts of racketeering and fraud relating to an investigation into an allegation of insider trading and other offenses. Milken was accused of using a wide-ranging network of contacts to manipulate stock and bond prices. It was one of the first occasions that a RICO indictment was brought against an individual with no ties to organized crime. Milken pleaded guilty to six lesser felonies of securities fraud and tax evasion rather than risk spending the rest of his life in prison and ended up serving 22 months in prison. Milken was also ordered banned for life from the securities industry.[18]

On 7 September 1988, Milken’s employer, Drexel Burnham Lambert, was threatened with RICO charges respondeat superior, the legal doctrine that corporations are responsible for their employees’ crimes. Drexel avoided RICO charges by entering an Alford plea to lesser felonies of stock parking and stock manipulation. In a carefully worded plea, Drexel said it was “not in a position to dispute the allegations” made by the Government. If Drexel had been indicted under RICO statutes, it would have had to post a performance bond of up to $1 billion to avoid having its assets frozen. This would have taken precedence over all of the firm’s other obligations—including the loans that provided 96 percent of its capital base. If the bond ever had to be paid, its shareholders would have been practically wiped out. Since banks will not extend credit to a firm indicted under RICO, an indictment would have likely put Drexel out of business.[19] By at least one estimate, a RICO indictment would have destroyed the firm within a month.[20] Years later, Drexel president and CEO Fred Joseph said that Drexel had no choice but to plead guilty because “a financial institution cannot survive a RICO indictment.”[21]

Major League Baseball

In 2002, the former minority owners of the Montreal Expos baseball team filed charges under the RICO Act against Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig and former Expos owner Jeffrey Loria, claiming that Selig and Loria deliberately conspired to devalue the team for personal benefit in preparation for a move.[22] If found liable, Major League Baseball could have been responsible for up to $300 million in punitive damages. The case lasted two years, successfully stalling the Expos’ move to Washington or contraction during that time. It was eventually sent to arbitration where the arbiters ruled in favor of Major League Baseball,[23] permitting the move to Washington to take place.

Pro-life activists

RICO laws were successfully cited in NOW v. Scheidler, 510 U.S. 249, 114 S. Ct. 798, 127 L.Ed. 2d 99 (1994), a suit in which certain parties, including the National Organization for Women, sought damages and an injunction against pro-life activists who physically block access to abortion clinics. The Court held that a RICO enterprise does not need an economic motive, and that the Pro-Life Action Network could therefore qualify as a RICO enterprise. The Court remanded for consideration of whether PLAN committed the requisite acts in a pattern of racketeering activity.

Los Angeles Police Department

In April 2000, federal judge William J. Rea in Los Angeles, ruling in one Rampart scandal case, said that the plaintiffs could pursue RICO claims against the LAPD, an unprecedented finding. The idea that a police organization could be characterized as a racketeering enterprise shook up City Hall and further damaged the already-tarnished image of the LAPD. However, in July 2001, U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess said that the plaintiffs do not have standing to sue the LAPD under RICO because they are alleging personal injuries, rather than economic or property damage.[24]

Mohawk Industries

On April 26, 2006, the Supreme Court heard Mohawk Industries, Inc. v. Williams, No. 05-465547 U.S. 516 (2006), which concerned what sort of corporations fell under the scope of RICO. Mohawk Industries had allegedly hired illegal aliens, in violation of RICO. The court was asked to decide whether Mohawk Industries, along with recruiting agencies, constitutes an ‘enterprise’ that can be prosecuted under RICO, but in June of that year dismissed the case and remanded it to Court of Appeals.[25]

Latin Kings

On August 20, 2006, in Tampa, Florida, most of the state leadership members of the street gang, the Latin Kings, were arrested in connection with RICO conspiracy charges to engage in racketeering and currently await trial. The operation, called “Broken Crown”, targeted statewide leadership of the Latin Kings. The raid occurred at the Caribbean American Club. Along with Hillsborough County Sheriff’s OfficeTampa Police Department, the State Attorney’s Office, the FBIImmigration and Customs Enforcement, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were involved in the operation. Included in the arrest were leader Gilberto Santana from Brooklyn NY, Captain Luis Hernandez from Miami FL, Affiliate Celina Hernandez, Affiliate Michael Rocca, Affiliate Jessica Ramirez, Affiliate Reinaldo Arroyo, Affiliate Samual Alvarado, Omari Tolbert, Edwin DeLeon, and many others, totaling 39.

Gambino crime family

Also, in Tampa, on October 16, 2006, four members of the Gambino crime family (Capo Ronald Trucchio, Terry Scaglione, Steven Catallono, Anthony Mucciarone and associate Kevin McMahon) were tried under RICO statutes, found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

Lucchese Crime Family

In the mid 1990s, prosecuting attorneys Gregory O’Connell and Charles Rose used RICO charges to bring down the Lucchese family within an 18-month period. Dismantling the Lucchese family had a profound financial impact on previously Mafia held businesses such as construction, garment, and garbage hauling. Here they dominated and extorted money through taxes, dues, and fees. An example of this extortion was through the garbage business. Hauling of garbage from the World Trade Center cost the building owners $1.2 million per year to be removed when the Mafia monopolized the business, as compared to $150,000 per year when competitive bids could be sought.[26]

Chicago Outfit

[citation needed]

In 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice‘s Operation Family Secrets indicted 15 Chicago Outfit (also known as the Outfit, the Chicago Mafia, the Chicago Mob, or The Organization) members and associates under RICO predicates. Five defendants were convicted of RICO violations and other crimes. Six plead guilty, two died before trial and one was too sick to be tried.

Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella

A federal grand jury in the Middle District of Pennsylvania handed down a 48-count indictment against former Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella.[27] The judges were charged with RICO after allegedly committing acts of mail and wire fraudtax evasionmoney laundering, and honest services fraud. The judges were accused of taking kickbacks for housing juveniles, that the judges convicted of mostly petty crimes, at a private detention center. The incident was dubbed by many local and national newspapers as the “Kids for cash scandal“.[28] On February 18, 2011, a federal jury found Michael Ciavarella guilty of racketeering because of his involvement in accepting illegal payments from Robert Mericle, the developer of PA Child Care, and Attorney Robert Powell, a co-owner of the facility. Ciavarella is facing 38 other counts in federal court.[29]

Scott W. Rothstein

Scott W. Rothstein is a disbarred lawyer and the former managing shareholder, chairman, and chief executive officer of the now-defunct Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler law firm. He was accused of funding his philanthropy, political contributions, law firm salaries, and an extravagant lifestyle with a massive 1.2 billion dollar Ponzi scheme. On December 1, 2009, Rothstein turned himself in to federal authorities and was subsequently arrested on charges related to RICO.[30] Although his arraignment plea was not guilty, Rothstein cooperated with the government and reversed his plea to guilty of five federal crimes on January 27, 2010. Bond was denied by U.S. Magistrate Judge Robin Rosenbaum, who ruled that due to his ability to forge documents, he was considered a flight risk.[31] On June 9, 2010, Rothstein received a 50-year prison sentence after a hearing in federal court in Fort Lauderdale.[32]

AccessHealthSource

Eleven defendants were indicted on RICO charges for allegedly assisting AccessHealthSource, a local health care provider, in obtaining and maintaining lucrative contracts with local and state government entities in the city of El Paso, Texas, “through bribery of and kickbacks to elected officials or himself and others, extortion under color of authority, fraudulent schemes and artifices, false pretenses, promises and representations and deprivation of the right of citizens to the honest services of their elected local officials” (see indictment).[33]

FIFA

Fourteen defendants affiliated with FIFA were indicted under the RICO act on 47 counts for “racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies, among other offenses, in connection with the defendants’ participation in a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer.” The defendants include many current and former high-ranking officers of FIFA and its affiliate CONCACAF. The defendants had allegedly used the enterprise as a front to collect millions of dollars in bribes which may have influenced Russia and Qatar’s winning bids to host the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups respectively.[34]

Drummond Company

In 2015, the Drummond Company sued attorneys Terrence P. Collingsworth and William R. Scherer, the advocacy group International Rights Advocates (IRAdvocates), and Dutch businessman Albert van Bilderbeek, one of the owners of Llanos Oil, accusing them of violating RICO by alleging that Drummond had worked alongside Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia to murder labor union leaders within proximity of their Colombian coal mines, which Drummond denies.[35]

Connecticut Senator Len Fasano

In 2005, a federal jury ordered Fasano to pay $500,000 under RICO for illegally helping a client hide their assets in a bankruptcy case.[36]

Art Cohen vs. Donald J. Trump

Art Cohen vs. Donald J. Trump was a RICO[37] class action suit filed October 18, 2013,[38] accusing Donald Trump of misrepresenting Trump University “to make tens of millions of dollars” but delivering “neither Donald Trump nor a university.”[37] The case was being heard in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego, No. 3:2013cv02519,[39] by Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel.[38] It was scheduled for argument beginning November 28, 2016.[40] However, just 20 days before that date and shortly after Trump won the presidential election, this case and two others were settled for a total of $25 million and without any admission of wrongdoing by Trump.[41][42]

International equivalents to RICO

The US RICO legislation has other equivalents in the rest of the world. In spite of Interpol having a standardized definition of RICO-like crimes, the interpretation and national implementation in legislation (and enforcement) widely varies. Most nations cooperate with the US on RICO enforcement only where their own related laws are specifically broken, but this is in line with the Interpol protocols for such matters.

By nation, alphabetically

Without other nations enforcing similar legislation to RICO many cross border RICO cases would not be possible. In the overall body of RICO cases that went to trial, at least 50% have had some non-US enforcement component to them. The offshoring of money away from the US finance system as part racketeering (and especially money laundering) is typically a major contributing factor to this.

However, other countries have laws that enable the government to seize property with unlawful origins. Mexico and Colombia both have specific laws that define the participation in criminal organizations as a separate crime,[45] and separate laws that allow the seizure of goods related with these crimes.[46] This latter provides a specific chapter titled “International Cooperation”, which instructs Mexican authorities to cooperate with foreign authorities with respect to organized crime assets within Mexico, and provides the framework by which Mexican authorities may politely request the cooperation of foreign authorities with respect to assets located outside of Mexico, in terms of any international instruments they may be party to.

Arguably, this may be construed as allowing the application of the RICO Act in Mexico, provided the relevant international agreements exist among Mexico and countries with RICO or RICO-equivalent provisions.

See also

References

Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal

The headline on the website Pravda trumpeted President Vladimir V. Putin’s latest coup, its nationalistic fervor recalling an era when its precursor served as the official mouthpiece of the Kremlin: “Russian Nuclear Energy Conquers the World.”

The article, in January 2013, detailed how the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, had taken over a Canadian company with uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West. The deal made Rosatom one of the world’s largest uranium producers and brought Mr. Putin closer to his goal of controlling much of the global uranium supply chain.

But the untold story behind that story is one that involves not just the Russian president, but also a former American president and a woman who would like to be the next one.

At the heart of the tale are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One.

Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

Photo

Frank Giustra, right, a mining financier, has donated $31.3 million to the foundation run by former President Bill Clinton, left.CreditJoaquin Sarmiento/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company’s assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show.

The New York Times’s examination of the Uranium One deal is based on dozens of interviews, as well as a review of public records and securities filings in Canada, Russia and the United States. Some of the connections between Uranium One and the Clinton Foundation were unearthed by Peter Schweizer, a former fellow at the right-leaning Hoover Institution and author of the forthcoming book “Clinton Cash.” Mr. Schweizer provided a preview of material in the book to The Times, which scrutinized his information and built upon it with its own reporting.

Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown. But the episode underscores the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation, headed by a former president who relied heavily on foreign cash to accumulate $250 million in assets even as his wife helped steer American foreign policy as secretary of state, presiding over decisions with the potential to benefit the foundation’s donors.

In a statement, Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign, said no one “has ever produced a shred of evidence supporting the theory that Hillary Clinton ever took action as secretary of state to support the interests of donors to the Clinton Foundation.” He emphasized that multiple United States agencies, as well as the Canadian government, had signed off on the deal and that, in general, such matters were handled at a level below the secretary. “To suggest the State Department, under then-Secretary Clinton, exerted undue influence in the U.S. government’s review of the sale of Uranium One is utterly baseless,” he added.

American political campaigns are barred from accepting foreign donations. But foreigners may give to foundations in the United States. In the days since Mrs. Clinton announced her candidacy for president, the Clinton Foundation has announced changes meant to quell longstanding concerns about potential conflicts of interest in such donations; it has limited donations from foreign governments, with many, like Russia’s, barred from giving to all but its health care initiatives. That policy stops short of a more stringent agreement between Mrs. Clinton and the Obama administration that was in effect while she was secretary of state.

Either way, the Uranium One deal highlights the limits of such prohibitions. The foundation will continue to accept contributions from foreign sources whose interests, like Uranium One’s, may overlap with those of foreign governments, some of which may be at odds with the United States.

When the Uranium One deal was approved, the geopolitical backdrop was far different from today’s. The Obama administration was seeking to “reset” strained relations with Russia. The deal was strategically important to Mr. Putin, who shortly after the Americans gave their blessing sat down for a staged interview with Rosatom’s chief executive, Sergei Kiriyenko. “Few could have imagined in the past that we would own 20 percent of U.S. reserves,” Mr. Kiriyenko told Mr. Putin.

Now, after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in Ukraine, the Moscow-Washington relationship is devolving toward Cold War levels, a point several experts made in evaluating a deal so beneficial to Mr. Putin, a man known to use energy resources to project power around the world.

“Should we be concerned? Absolutely,” said Michael McFaul, who served under Mrs. Clinton as the American ambassador to Russia but said he had been unaware of the Uranium One deal until asked about it. “Do we want Putin to have a monopoly on this? Of course we don’t. We don’t want to be dependent on Putin for anything in this climate.”

A Seat at the Table

The path to a Russian acquisition of American uranium deposits began in 2005 in Kazakhstan, where the Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra orchestrated his first big uranium deal, with Mr. Clinton at his side.

The two men had flown aboard Mr. Giustra’s private jet to Almaty, Kazakhstan, where they dined with the authoritarian president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev. Mr. Clinton handed the Kazakh president a propaganda coup when he expressed support for Mr. Nazarbayev’s bid to head an international elections monitoring group, undercutting American foreign policy and criticism of Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record by, among others, his wife, then a senator.

Within days of the visit, Mr. Giustra’s fledgling company, UrAsia Energy Ltd., signed a preliminary deal giving it stakes in three uranium mines controlled by the state-run uranium agency Kazatomprom.

If the Kazakh deal was a major victory, UrAsia did not wait long before resuming the hunt. In 2007, it merged with Uranium One, a South African company with assets in Africa and Australia, in what was described as a $3.5 billion transaction. The new company, which kept the Uranium One name, was controlled by UrAsia investors including Ian Telfer, a Canadian who became chairman. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Giustra, whose personal stake in the deal was estimated at about $45 million, said he sold his stake in 2007.

Soon, Uranium One began to snap up companies with assets in the United States. In April 2007, it announced the purchase of a uranium mill in Utah and more than 38,000 acres of uranium exploration properties in four Western states, followed quickly by the acquisition of the Energy Metals Corporation and its uranium holdings in Wyoming, Texas and Utah. That deal made clear that Uranium One was intent on becoming “a powerhouse in the United States uranium sector with the potential to become the domestic supplier of choice for U.S. utilities,” the company declared.

Still, the company’s story was hardly front-page news in the United States — until early 2008, in the midst of Mrs. Clinton’s failed presidential campaign, when The Times published an article revealing the 2005 trip’s link to Mr. Giustra’s Kazakhstan mining deal. It also reported that several months later, Mr. Giustra had donated $31.3 million to Mr. Clinton’s foundation.

(In a statement issued after this article appeared online, Mr. Giustra said he was “extremely proud” of his charitable work with Mr. Clinton, and he urged the media to focus on poverty, health care and “the real challenges of the world.”)

Though the 2008 article quoted the former head of Kazatomprom, Moukhtar Dzhakishev, as saying that the deal required government approval and was discussed at a dinner with the president, Mr. Giustra insisted that it was a private transaction, with no need for Mr. Clinton’s influence with Kazakh officials. He described his relationship with Mr. Clinton as motivated solely by a shared interest in philanthropy.

As if to underscore the point, five months later Mr. Giustra held a fund-raiser for the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative, a project aimed at fostering progressive environmental and labor practices in the natural resources industry, to which he had pledged $100 million. The star-studded gala, at a conference center in Toronto, featured performances by Elton John and Shakira and celebrities like Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Robin Williams encouraging contributions from the many so-called F.O.F.s — Friends of Frank — in attendance, among them Mr. Telfer. In all, the evening generated $16 million in pledges, according to an article in The Globe and Mail.

“None of this would have been possible if Frank Giustra didn’t have a remarkable combination of caring and modesty, of vision and energy and iron determination,” Mr. Clinton told those gathered, adding: “I love this guy, and you should, too.”

But what had been a string of successes was about to hit a speed bump.

Arrest and Progress

By June 2009, a little over a year after the star-studded evening in Toronto, Uranium One’s stock was in free-fall, down 40 percent. Mr. Dzhakishev, the head of Kazatomprom, had just been arrested on charges that he illegally sold uranium deposits to foreign companies, including at least some of those won by Mr. Giustra’s UrAsia and now owned by Uranium One.

Publicly, the company tried to reassure shareholders. Its chief executive, Jean Nortier, issued a confident statement calling the situation a “complete misunderstanding.” He also contradicted Mr. Giustra’s contention that the uranium deal had not required government blessing. “When you do a transaction in Kazakhstan, you need the government’s approval,” he said, adding that UrAsia had indeed received that approval.

But privately, Uranium One officials were worried they could lose their joint mining ventures. American diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks also reflect concerns that Mr. Dzhakishev’s arrest was part of a Russian power play for control of Kazakh uranium assets.

At the time, Russia was already eying a stake in Uranium One, Rosatom company documents show. Rosatom officials say they were seeking to acquire mines around the world because Russia lacks sufficient domestic reserves to meet its own industry needs.

It was against this backdrop that the Vancouver-based Uranium One pressed the American Embassy in Kazakhstan, as well as Canadian diplomats, to take up its cause with Kazakh officials, according to the American cables.

“We want more than a statement to the press,” Paul Clarke, a Uranium One executive vice president, told the embassy’s energy officer on June 10, the officer reported in a cable. “That is simply chitchat.” What the company needed, Mr. Clarke said, was official written confirmation that the licenses were valid.

The American Embassy ultimately reported to the secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton. Though the Clarke cable was copied to her, it was given wide circulation, and it is unclear if she would have read it; the Clinton campaign did not address questions about the cable.

What is clear is that the embassy acted, with the cables showing that the energy officer met with Kazakh officials to discuss the issue on June 10 and 11.

Three days later, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rosatom completed a deal for 17 percent of Uranium One. And within a year, the Russian government substantially upped the ante, with a generous offer to shareholders that would give it a 51 percent controlling stake. But first, Uranium One had to get the American government to sign off on the deal.

The Power to Say No

When a company controlled by the Chinese government sought a 51 percent stake in a tiny Nevada gold mining operation in 2009, it set off a secretive review process in Washington, where officials raised concerns primarily about the mine’s proximity to a military installation, but also about the potential for minerals at the site, including uranium, to come under Chinese control. The officials killed the deal.

Such is the power of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The committee comprises some of the most powerful members of the cabinet, including the attorney general, the secretaries of the Treasury, Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce and Energy, and the secretary of state. They are charged with reviewing any deal that could result in foreign control of an American business or asset deemed important to national security.

The national security issue at stake in the Uranium One deal was not primarily about nuclear weapons proliferation; the United States and Russia had for years cooperated on that front, with Russia sending enriched fuel from decommissioned warheads to be used in American nuclear power plants in return for raw uranium.

Among the Donors to the Clinton Foundation

Frank Giustra
$31.3 million and a pledge for $100 million more
He built a company that later merged with Uranium One.
Ian Telfer
$2.35 million
Mining investor who was chairman of Uranium One when an arm of the Russian government, Rosatom, acquired it.
Paul Reynolds
$1 million to $5 million
Adviser on 2007 UrAsia-Uranium One merger. Later helped raise $260 million for the company.
Frank Holmes
$250,000 to $500,000
Chief Executive of U.S. Global Investors Inc., which held $4.7 million in Uranium One shares in the first quarter of 2011.
Neil Woodyer
$50,000 to $100,000
Adviser to Uranium One. Founded Endeavour Mining with Mr. Giustra.
GMP Securities Ltd.
Donating portion of profits
Worked on debt issue that raised $260 million for Uranium One.

Instead, it concerned American dependence on foreign uranium sources. While the United States gets one-fifth of its electrical power from nuclear plants, it produces only around 20 percent of the uranium it needs, and most plants have only 18 to 36 months of reserves, according to Marin Katusa, author of “The Colder War: How the Global Energy Trade Slipped From America’s Grasp.”

“The Russians are easily winning the uranium war, and nobody’s talking about it,” said Mr. Katusa, who explores the implications of the Uranium One deal in his book. “It’s not just a domestic issue but a foreign policy issue, too.”

When ARMZ, an arm of Rosatom, took its first 17 percent stake in Uranium One in 2009, the two parties signed an agreement, found in securities filings, to seek the foreign investment committee’s review. But it was the 2010 deal, giving the Russians a controlling 51 percent stake, that set off alarm bells. Four members of the House of Representatives signed a letter expressing concern. Two more began pushing legislation to kill the deal.

Senator John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, where Uranium One’s largest American operation was, wrote to President Obama, saying the deal “would give the Russian government control over a sizable portion of America’s uranium production capacity.”

Photo

President Putin during a meeting with Rosatom’s chief executive, Sergei Kiriyenko, in December 2007.CreditDmitry Astakhov/Ria Novosti, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Equally alarming,” Mr. Barrasso added, “this sale gives ARMZ a significant stake in uranium mines in Kazakhstan.”

Uranium One’s shareholders were also alarmed, and were “afraid of Rosatom as a Russian state giant,” Sergei Novikov, a company spokesman, recalled in an interview. He said Rosatom’s chief, Mr. Kiriyenko, sought to reassure Uranium One investors, promising that Rosatom would not break up the company and would keep the same management, including Mr. Telfer, the chairman. Another Rosatom official said publicly that it did not intend to increase its investment beyond 51 percent, and that it envisioned keeping Uranium One a public company

American nuclear officials, too, seemed eager to assuage fears. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission wrote to Mr. Barrasso assuring him that American uranium would be preserved for domestic use, regardless of who owned it.

“In order to export uranium from the United States, Uranium One Inc. or ARMZ would need to apply for and obtain a specific NRC license authorizing the export of uranium for use as reactor fuel,” the letter said.

Still, the ultimate authority to approve or reject the Russian acquisition rested with the cabinet officials on the foreign investment committee, including Mrs. Clinton — whose husband was collecting millions in donations from people associated with Uranium One.

Undisclosed Donations

Before Mrs. Clinton could assume her post as secretary of state, the White House demanded that she sign a memorandum of understanding placing limits on the activities of her husband’s foundation. To avoid the perception of conflicts of interest, beyond the ban on foreign government donations, the foundation was required to publicly disclose all contributors.

To judge from those disclosures — which list the contributions in ranges rather than precise amounts — the only Uranium One official to give to the Clinton Foundation was Mr. Telfer, the chairman, and the amount was relatively small: no more than $250,000, and that was in 2007, before talk of a Rosatom deal began percolating.

Photo

Uranium One’s Russian takeover was approved by the United States while Hillary Rodham Clinton was secretary of state. CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

But a review of tax records in Canada, where Mr. Telfer has a family charity called the Fernwood Foundation, shows that he donated millions of dollars more, during and after the critical time when the foreign investment committee was reviewing his deal with the Russians. With the Russians offering a special dividend, shareholders like Mr. Telfer stood to profit.

His donations through the Fernwood Foundation included $1 million reported in 2009, the year his company appealed to the American Embassy to help it keep its mines in Kazakhstan; $250,000 in 2010, the year the Russians sought majority control; as well as $600,000 in 2011 and $500,000 in 2012. Mr. Telfer said that his donations had nothing to do with his business dealings, and that he had never discussed Uranium One with Mr. or Mrs. Clinton. He said he had given the money because he wanted to support Mr. Giustra’s charitable endeavors with Mr. Clinton. “Frank and I have been friends and business partners for almost 20 years,” he said.

The Clinton campaign left it to the foundation to reply to questions about the Fernwood donations; the foundation did not provide a response.

Mr. Telfer’s undisclosed donations came in addition to between $1.3 million and $5.6 million in contributions, which were reported, from a constellation of people with ties to Uranium One or UrAsia, the company that originally acquired Uranium One’s most valuable asset: the Kazakh mines. Without those assets, the Russians would have had no interest in the deal: “It wasn’t the goal to buy the Wyoming mines. The goal was to acquire the Kazakh assets, which are very good,” Mr. Novikov, the Rosatom spokesman, said in an interview.

Amid this influx of Uranium One-connected money, Mr. Clinton was invited to speak in Moscow in June 2010, the same month Rosatom struck its deal for a majority stake in Uranium One.

The $500,000 fee — among Mr. Clinton’s highest — was paid by Renaissance Capital, a Russian investment bank with ties to the Kremlin that has invited world leaders, including Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, to speak at its investor conferences.

Renaissance Capital analysts talked up Uranium One’s stock, assigning it a “buy” rating and saying in a July 2010 research report that it was “the best play” in the uranium markets. In addition, Renaissance Capital turned up that same year as a major donor, along with Mr. Giustra and several companies linked to Uranium One or UrAsia, to a small medical charity in Colorado run by a friend of Mr. Giustra’s. In a newsletter to supporters, the friend credited Mr. Giustra with helping get donations from “businesses around the world.”

Photo

John Christensen sold the mining rights on his ranch in Wyoming to Uranium One.CreditMatthew Staver for The New York Times

Renaissance Capital would not comment on the genesis of Mr. Clinton’s speech to an audience that included leading Russian officials, or on whether it was connected to the Rosatom deal. According to a Russian government news service, Mr. Putin personally thanked Mr. Clinton for speaking.

A person with knowledge of the Clinton Foundation’s fund-raising operation, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about it, said that for many people, the hope is that money will in fact buy influence: “Why do you think they are doing it — because they love them?” But whether it actually does is another question. And in this case, there were broader geopolitical pressures that likely came into play as the United States considered whether to approve the Rosatom-Uranium One deal.

Diplomatic Considerations

If doing business with Rosatom was good for those in the Uranium One deal, engaging with Russia was also a priority of the incoming Obama administration, which was hoping for a new era of cooperation as Mr. Putin relinquished the presidency — if only for a term — to Dmitri A. Medvedev.

“The assumption was we could engage Russia to further core U.S. national security interests,” said Mr. McFaul, the former ambassador.

It started out well. The two countries made progress on nuclear proliferation issues, and expanded use of Russian territory to resupply American forces in Afghanistan. Keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon was among the United States’ top priorities, and in June 2010 Russia signed off on a United Nations resolution imposing tough new sanctions on that country.

Two months later, the deal giving ARMZ a controlling stake in Uranium One was submitted to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States for review. Because of the secrecy surrounding the process, it is hard to know whether the participants weighed the desire to improve bilateral relations against the potential risks of allowing the Russian government control over the biggest uranium producer in the United States. The deal was ultimately approved in October, following what two people involved in securing the approval said had been a relatively smooth process.

Not all of the committee’s decisions are personally debated by the agency heads themselves; in less controversial cases, deputy or assistant secretaries may sign off. But experts and former committee members say Russia’s interest in Uranium One and its American uranium reserves seemed to warrant attention at the highest levels.

Photo

Moukhtar Dzhakishev was arrested in 2009 while the chief of Kazatomprom.CreditDaniel Acker/Bloomberg, via Getty Images

“This deal had generated press, it had captured the attention of Congress and it was strategically important,” said Richard Russell, who served on the committee during the George W. Bush administration. “When I was there invariably any one of those conditions would cause this to get pushed way up the chain, and here you had all three.”

And Mrs. Clinton brought a reputation for hawkishness to the process; as a senator, she was a vocal critic of the committee’s approval of a deal that would have transferred the management of major American seaports to a company based in the United Arab Emirates, and as a presidential candidate she had advocated legislation to strengthen the process.

The Clinton campaign spokesman, Mr. Fallon, said that in general, these matters did not rise to the secretary’s level. He would not comment on whether Mrs. Clinton had been briefed on the matter, but he gave The Times a statement from the former assistant secretary assigned to the foreign investment committee at the time, Jose Fernandez. While not addressing the specifics of the Uranium One deal, Mr. Fernandez said, “Mrs. Clinton never intervened with me on any C.F.I.U.S. matter.”

Mr. Fallon also noted that if any agency had raised national security concerns about the Uranium One deal, it could have taken them directly to the president.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, the State Department’s director of policy planning at the time, said she was unaware of the transaction — or the extent to which it made Russia a dominant uranium supplier. But speaking generally, she urged caution in evaluating its wisdom in hindsight.

“Russia was not a country we took lightly at the time or thought was cuddly,” she said. “But it wasn’t the adversary it is today.”

That renewed adversarial relationship has raised concerns about European dependency on Russian energy resources, including nuclear fuel. The unease reaches beyond diplomatic circles. In Wyoming, where Uranium One equipment is scattered across his 35,000-acre ranch, John Christensen is frustrated that repeated changes in corporate ownership over the years led to French, South African, Canadian and, finally, Russian control over mining rights on his property.

“I hate to see a foreign government own mining rights here in the United States,” he said. “I don’t think that should happen.”

Mr. Christensen, 65, noted that despite assurances by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that uranium could not leave the country without Uranium One or ARMZ obtaining an export license — which they do not have — yellowcake from his property was routinely packed into drums and trucked off to a processing plant in Canada.

Asked about that, the commission confirmed that Uranium One has, in fact, shipped yellowcake to Canada even though it does not have an export license. Instead, the transport company doing the shipping, RSB Logistic Services, has the license. A commission spokesman said that “to the best of our knowledge” most of the uranium sent to Canada for processing was returned for use in the United States. A Uranium One spokeswoman, Donna Wichers, said 25 percent had gone to Western Europe and Japan. At the moment, with the uranium market in a downturn, nothing is being shipped from the Wyoming mines.

The “no export” assurance given at the time of the Rosatom deal is not the only one that turned out to be less than it seemed. Despite pledges to the contrary, Uranium One was delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange and taken private. As of 2013, Rosatom’s subsidiary, ARMZ, owned 100 percent of it.

Correction: April 23, 2015 
An earlier version of this article misstated, in one instance, the surname of a fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is Peter Schweizer, not Schweitzer.An earlier version also incorrectly described the Clinton Foundation’s agreement with the Obama administration regarding foreign-government donations while Hillary Rodham Clinton was secretary of state. Under the agreement, the foundation would not accept new donations from foreign governments, though it could seek State Department waivers in specific cases. It was not barred from accepting all foreign-government donations.
Correction: April 30, 2015 
An article on Friday about contributions to the Clinton Foundation from people associated with a Canadian uranium-mining company described incorrectly the foundation’s agreement with the Obama administration regarding foreign-government donations while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. Under the agreement, the foundation would not accept new donations from foreign governments, though it could seek State Department waivers in specific cases. The foundation was not barred from accepting all foreign-government donations.

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The Pronk Pops Show 985, Story 1: Fed Draining The Swamp — A Flattening Treasury Yield Curve Indicator of Possible Recession Especially If Republican Controlled Congress Fails To Totally and Completely Repeal and Replace Obamacare and Passes Trump’s Timid Tiny Targeted Temporary Tax Cut For Middle Class — Replace All Federal Taxes With A Broad Based Consumption Tax With Generous Tax Prebates And Balanced Budgets — FairTax or Fair Tax Less That Democrats, Republicans and Independents Would Pass — Otherwise Recession in 2018 –Videos

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Bond market flashing warning sign even as stocks rally to new highs

  • Bond pros are watching a phenomenon in the bond market that could signal recession ahead and trouble for the stock market.
  • The yield curve is flattening, meaning the spread between 2-year note yields and 10-year yields is narrowing, and at 0.75, it was the lowest since before the financial crisis.
  • Even though the move is a warning, strategists say some of the action has to do with the Fed reversing long-term easing policy and may not be a problem for stocks.

Bond market flashing warning sign even as stocks rally to new highs

Bond market flashing warning sign even as stocks rally to new highs  

The bond market is warning that trouble could be on the horizon, either from an economic slowdown or an eventual recession.

The yield curve, a set of interest rates watched closely by bond market pros, has gotten to its flattest level since before the financial crisis. The spread between 2-year note yields and 10-year yields this week reached near the lows, at about 0.75, it has been since before the financial crisis.

“It certainly is giving you some sort of signal in here. The signals are when the yield curve flattens, it tells you that inflation is not a problem and the Fed is doing something at the front end,” said David Ader, Informa Financial Intelligence chief macro strategist. “Historically, it signals a slowdown or recession.”

But with the Federal Reserve set to raise interest rates in December, and uncertainty about who the next Fed chief will be, there are also other concerns in the market, including that a new Fed head could be more hawkish and set the Fed on a more rapid rate-hiking course.

“It’s also telling you there could be a policy error in the Fed’s hiking particularly if they accelerate it,” said Ader. Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s monthly fund manager survey showed that fund managers in October believe the biggest risk for markets is a central bank policy misstep.

Treasurys on the move  

Some strategists say ignore it at your own peril, but others point to the fact that stocks can still rally when longer-duration interest rates are low but the short-term rate is rising.

The fear is that a flattening yield curve could lead to an inversion, meaning the short-end rate would actually go higher than the longer-end yield. That is typically viewed as a recession signal, and the flattening curve is a warning of that.

“Typically you eventually get to a much flatter yield that could lead to a recession,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst with the Lindsey Group. “Right now it’s hard to get to inversion because of how actually low short-term interest rates are. You don’t need to get to the inversion this time.”

Jeff Gundlach, CEO of DoubleLine, weighed in on Twitter, pointing out that stock market bulls point to low rates as a positive, yet rates are climbing. The 2-year yield was at a new nine-year high Wednesday, touching 1.57 percent, while the 10-year was at 2.34 percent.

2 year Tsy yield back on the rise. Should accelerate w/ a close above 1.56%. Keep hearing SPX P/E OK due to low rates. But they are rising.

Strategists say years of quantitative easing by global central banks and extreme low interest rates cast doubt on some of the conventional wisdom about bond behavior. For instance, the Fed is also slowing down its purchases of Treasurys, mostly at the short end, and that could be influencing the behavior of the curve.

“I think it’s the expectation that further Fed tightening, whether it’s on the short end or it’s the quantitative tightening, is eventually going to slow the U.S. economy, and that’s what the yield curve is saying, while the stock market is drunk on hopes for tax reform,” Boockvar said. At the same time, expectations for a Fed rate hike at its December meeting continue to rise.

Wealth manager: bond markets are creating the 'biggest financial crisis of our lifetime'

Wealth manager: Bond markets are creating the ‘biggest financial crisis of our lifetime’  

Dallas Fed President Rob Kaplan said the low rate of the 10-year may not be because of easy financial conditions. “That may be a sign of worry about future growth,” Kaplan told reporters after participating on a panel with New York Fed President William Dudley about regional economic trends.

Source: Strategas Research

Todd Sohn, technical analyst at Strategas, looked at the behavior of the stock market during periods of flattening yield curves, and he found that until the curve actually inverted, stocks performed very well. In some cases, it took awhile for stocks to react when the curve inverted.

“It’s on our mind,” he said. “But until you get the inversion I don’t think we should put too much weight on it. Equity performance is still positive.”

Sohn said as the curve flattened between August 1977 and August 1978, for example, the S&P 500 gained 7 percent. But after the curve inverted in August 1978, the S&P corrected, falling about 14 percent from September to mid-November.

As the curve flattened between July 1988 and January 1989, the S&P was up 9 percent. But Sohn said after the curve inverted in January 1989, the S&P went uninterrupted until October 1989, when it corrected about 10 percent through February 1990. Then it saw a 20 percent correction from July 1990 to October 1990.

“The curve inversion in June 1998 saw a sharp 19 percent S&P correction from mid-July 1998 and the end of August 1998… before the race higher into the March 2000 peak,” he noted.

Just ahead of the financial crisis, the curve inverted in January 2006. There was a shallow 8 percent correction from May to June 2006, and stocks moved higher until October 2007.

“It’s very case-by-case but curve inversion does typically lead to some form of a correction,” Sohn noted. “We’re not there yet but just something worth keeping in mind.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/18/bond-market-flashing-warning-sign-even-as-stocks-rally-to-new-highs.html

Here’s how the Fed is flattening the yield curve

Published: Oct 18, 2017 2:42 p.m. ET

‘There is a sense that the market is getting ahead of itself’: BMO

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
One way to flatten things.

By SUNNYOH

Traders betting on a steeper yield curve are being thwarted by two factors: a Federal Reserve intent on raising rates and lackluster inflation. This potent combination is making for the flattest yield curve by one measure in nearly a decade.

The yield curve is a line plotting the yields across Treasury maturities from the shortest dated to the longest, and can reflect investor expectations for growth and inflation. A flatter curve is seen as a sign investors are worried about growth.

SeeShould investors still worry if the yield curve sends this ominous signal?

After four rate increases in the current hiking cycle, the spread between the 5-year yield TMUBMUSD05Y, +2.22%   and the 30-year yield TMUBMUSD30Y, +1.78%   one way to assess the curve’s steepness, narrowed to 0.86 percentage point. The curve has flattened steadily since Donald Trump’s presidential election victory last November sparked a selloff in long-dated Treasurys on fears that his pro-growth agenda would spur inflation. Yields and bond prices move in opposite directions.

The dramatic speed of the flattening has surprised investors. In the past four tightening cycles, the gap between the 5-year yield and the 30-year yield narrowed on average by 0.98 percentage point. But after peaking at 3.02 percentage points in November 2010, the spread has tightened by 2.18 percentage points.

“There is a sense that the market is getting ahead of itself in the aggressiveness of the flattening currently underway,” wrote Ian Lyngen and Aaron Kohli, fixed-income strategists at BMO Capital Markets.

ReadInvestors fear a Fed policy misstep as central bank reaffirms rate-hike trajectory

Traders tend to concentrate on the spread between the 5-year yield and the 30-year yield versus other measures of the curve. The 5-year yield can serve as a more accurate reflection of market expectations for short-term rates than the 2-year yieldTMUBMUSD02Y, +2.41%  , which is largely under the central bank’s control, said Tim Alt, director of currencies and rates at Aviva Investors.

At the long end of the curve, the 30-year yield has slipped as inflation expectations weaken. Investors demand more of a yield premium when they fear inflation is on the rise because inflation erodes the purchasing power of future cash flows.

“It is the lack of inflation and anemic term premium that are exaggerating the move,” wrote Lyngen and Kohli. The term premium refers to the extra yield investors need to be compensated for buying a long-dated bond if short-term yields do not develop as expected.

The narrowing term premium reflects the newfound transparency of the Federal Reserve under Chairwoman Janet Yellen and former chairman Ben Bernanke, said Marvin Loh, senior fixed-income strategist at BNY Mellon.

Since the Fed’s September policy meeting, investors have been inundated with speeches from central bankers. Every voting member of the Fed’s interest-rate setting body has delivered public remarks, many more than once, giving market participants a clear idea of the central bank’s plans, as well as factors that could forestall the current tightening path.

On the flip side, the central bank’s push to telegraph its intentions have also helped power short-dated yields TMUBMUSD02Y, +2.41%   to their highest level since the recession. Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan highlighted this trend, saying the central bank should raise rates one more time this year on Tuesday. The Federal Reserve has signaled further rate rises on the assumption that tightness in labor markets will spur wage growth and, in turn, inflation.

But inflation has been absent in recent months. The Fed’s preferred inflation measure, known as the personal consumption expenditures deflator, was 1.43% year-over-year in August, a steady descent from the five-year high of 2.18% notched in February.

Nonetheless, Yellen has tried to get ahead of the curve, adding to investors’ concerns that a lack of price pressures will not put off the central bank’s plan to see interest rates move higher.

Also readFed flunks econ 101: understanding inflation

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-how-the-fed-is-flattening-the-yield-curve-2017-10-18

One Of These 3 Black Swans Will Likely Trigger A Global Recession By End Of 2018

 Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Shutterstock

Exactly ten years ago, we were months way from a world-shaking financial crisis.

By late 2006, we had an inverted yield curve steep to be a high-probability indicator of recession. I estimated at that time that the losses would be $400 billion at a minimum. Yet, most of my readers and fellow analysts told me I was way too bearish.

Turned out the losses topped well over $2 trillion and triggered the financial crisis and Great Recession.

Conditions in the financial markets needed only a spark from the subprime crisis to start a firestorm all over the world. Plenty of things were waiting to go wrong, and it seemed like they all did at the same time.

We don’t have an inverted yield curve now. But when the central bank artificially holds down short-term rates, it is difficult, if not almost impossible, for the yield curve to invert.

We have effectively suppressed the biggest warning signal.

But there is another recession in our future (there is always another recession), which I think will ensue by the end of 2018. And it’s going to be at least as bad as the last one was in terms of the global pain it causes.

Below are three scenarios that may turn out to be fateful black swans. But remember this: A harmless white swan can look black in the right lighting conditions. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to start a panic.

Black Swan #1: Yellen Overshoots

It is clear that the U.S. economy is not taking off like the rocket some predicted after the election:

  • President Trump and the Republicans haven’t been able to pass any of the fiscal stimulus measures we hoped to see.
  • Banks and energy companies are getting some regulatory relief, and that helps, but it’s a far cry from the sweeping health care reform, tax cuts and infrastructure spending we were promised.
  • Consumer spending is still weak, so people may be less confident than the sentiment surveys suggest. Inflation has perked up in certain segments like health care and housing, but otherwise it’s still low to nonexistent.

Is this, by any stretch of the imagination, the kind of economy in which the Federal Reserve should be tightening monetary policy? No—yet the Fed is doing so.

It’s in part because they waited too long to end QE and to begin reducing their balance sheet. FOMC members know they are behind the curve, and they want to pay lip service to doing something before their terms end.

Plus, Janet Yellen, Stanley Fischer and the other FOMC members are religiously devoted to the Phillips curve.

The black-swan risk here is that the Fed will tighten too much, too soon.

We know from recent FOMC minutes that some members have turned hawkish in part because they wanted to offset expected fiscal stimulus from the incoming administration. That stimulus has not been coming, but the FOMC is still acting as if it will be.

What happens when the Fed raises interest rates in the early, uncertain stages of a recession instead of lowering them? Logic suggests the Fed will curb any inflation pressure that exists and push the economy into outright deflation.

Deflation in an economy as debt-burdened as ours could be catastrophic.

Let me make an uncomfortable prediction: I think the Trump Fed—and since Trump will appoint at least six members of the FOMC in the coming year, it will be his Fed—will take us back down the path of massive quantitative easing and perhaps even to negative rates if we enter a recession.

The urge to “do something,” or at least be seen as trying to do something, is just going to be too strong.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnmauldin/2017/07/27/one-of-these-3-black-swans-will-likely-trigger-a-global-recession-by-end-of-2018/#520a1131875f

4 Non-Reasons For Recession In 2018

 Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Forecasts of a recession next year are nothing new. In early 2016, I noticed analysts saying we might are already be in recession. One source quoted perennial bear Peter Schiff, another interviewed Jim Grant, and gold bug David Haggith wrote that we definitely were in recession. Not only did 2016 turn out to be not a recession, but it looks like 2017 won’t be either.

Dr. Bill Conerly based on Wall Street Journal survey.

Risk of Recession

Recessions don’t just happen randomly, nor do they occur because the expansion is old, nor do they come about because a certain person is in the White House. There is always a trigger, so we’ll go through the usual causes of recession.

1. Overly tight monetary policy is the most common cause of recession, but is unlikely right now. Here in the United States, the Federal Reserve caused or played a large role in the recessions of 1973-74, 1980, 1982, 1990 and 2001. I’ve heard it argued monetary policy was overly tight in 2008, but I don’t buy that as the cause of that recession, but perhaps the cause of the anemic recovery.

 Risk of Recession

Could monetary policy be tight enough to trigger a recession in 2018? Keep in mind that monetary policy acts with long time lags, so a December rate hike wouldn’t do much damage in the following year. The Fed’s rate hikes this year total one-half a percentage point, with perhaps one or two more on the way. (That’s the Fed’s own guess; mine is no more rate hikes this year.)

When the Fed moves strongly, it pushes short-term interest rates about three percentage points in a year. (1969, 1973, 1979, 1981, 1989) In the past six months, short-term interest rates have risen three-quarters of a percent—hardly a recessionary change.

 Yield curve June 2017 and 2016
Dr. Bill Conerly based on Federal Reserve data.

Yield curve June 2017 and 2016

The yield curve is a common expression of monetary policy and works pretty well as a predictive indicator. When interest rates are plotted against time to maturity—one month Treasury notes on the left and 30-year bonds on the right—then the shape of the curve is a good leading indicator. The normal shape is for the curve to rise, meaning higher interest rates are paid on bonds of longer maturity. Recessions are frequently preceded by an inverted yield curve, meaning short-term interest rates are higher than long-term interest rates. Right now the curve is very normal, and the last year’s shift upward has been an almost parallel move, with little change in the relationship between short-term rates and long-term rates. I see no recession coming from tight monetary policy, at least in the usual way.

The unusual way relates to the Fed’s reduction of its holdings of long-term securities, which will push interest rates up. This is uncharted territory. As the Fed had never before engaged in massive quantitative easing, it also never unwound a past massive easing. Two considerations are in order. First, the Fed won’t be too aggressive in its unwinding. If they see their actions pushing up long-term interest rates too quickly, they will hold off on further asset sales. Worrying about time lags—that the Fed won’t see their errors soon enough to ward off recession—makes senses, but it’s not certain.

The second consideration is that long-term interest rates are determined globally, by the world’s demand for credit compared to its supply of savings. The U.S is a big part of the global financial market, but it’s not the whole thing.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/billconerly/2017/07/19/4-non-reasons-for-recession-in-2018/#19da4731616c

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The Pronk Pops Show 975, September 29, 2017, Part 3 of 3,  Story 1: The Tiny Timid Trump Tax Reform Resembles Liberal Democratic Party Proposals vs. Fair Tax Less Would Replace All Federal Taxes With A Single Consumption Tax On What You Buy Not What You Earn With A Generous Tax Prebate and Future Government Spending Limited To 90% of Fair Tax Less Revenues — Affordable, Effective, Efficient, Fair, Reasonable, Simple, and Transparent With Progressive Effective Rates Due To A Generous Monthly $1,000 Per Month or $12,000 Per Year Tax Prebate For All Adult American Citizens — American Friendly Not Revenue Neutral — Balanced Budgets With Real Spending Cuts and No More Budget Deficits — Booming Economy With Jobs, Jobs, and Jobs — The Time Is Now or Never For Fair Tax Less — Videos — Story 2: Secretary of Health and Human Resources Thomas Price Resigns and President Trump Accepts After Trump Outraged Over Use Expensive Private Chartered Jet Flight To Conduct Government Business — Don Wright to serve as acting secretary of the HHS — Videos —

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Part 3 of 3,  Story 1: The Tiny Timid Trump Tax Reform Resembles Liberal Democratic Party Proposals vs. Fair Tax Less Would Replace All Federal Taxes With A Single Consumption Tax On What You Buy Not What You Earn With A Generous Tax Prebate and Future Government Spending Limited To 90% of Fair Tax Less Revenues — Affordable, Effective, Efficient, Fair, Reasonable, Simple, and Transparent With Progressive Effective Rates Due To A Generous Monthly $1,000 Per Month or $12,000 Per Year Tax Prebate For All Adult American Citizens — American Friendly Not Revenue Neutral — Balanced Budgets With Real Spending Cuts and No More Budget Deficits — Booming Economy With Jobs, Jobs, and Jobs — The Time Is Now or Never For Fair Tax Less — Videos


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Why is the FairTax better than a flat income tax?

Freedom from the IRS! – FairTax Explained in Detail

Congressman Pence – FairTax and FlatTax

Pence on the Fair Tax

Congressman Woodall Discusses the FairTax

Rob Woodall Floor Speech: The FairTax will bring jobs back to America

Rep. Woodall Discusses FairTax with Colleagues on House Floor

The Fair Tax

Congressman King Speaks in Favor of FairTax

Rep. Woodall Discusses FairTax on House Floor

Sen. Moran Discusses FairTax Legislation on U.S. Senate Floor

Why is the FairTax better than other tax reform efforts?

AIRtax-What is It? Replaces income tax and payroll tax with sales tax

Why is the FairTax better than a flat income tax?

What is the FairTax legislation?

Does the FairTax protect privacy and other civil liberties?

How is the FairTax collected?

How does the FairTax affect the economy?

How does the FairTax impact interest rates?

Are any significant economies funded by a sales tax?

Is consumption a reliable source of revenue?

How will used goods be taxed?

What assumptions does the FairTax make about government spending?

Will the FairTax lead to a massive underground economy?

Can’t Americans just cross the border to avoid the FairTax

Will the FairTax drive the economy down if people stop buying?

How does the FairTax impact savings?

How does the FairTax impact the middle class?

How will the FairTax impact seniors?

How will Social Security payments be calculated under the FairTax?

How will the FairTax impact people who don’t file income taxes?

How will the FairTax help people who don’t hire an accountant?

How does the FairTax affect compliance costs?

How does the FairTax impact tax free bonds?

What will happen to cities who depend on tax free bonds?

What is the impact of the FairTax on business?

How does the FairTax impact retailers?

How does the FairTax affect tax preparers and CPAs?

Will the FairTax tax services?

Can I pretend to be a business to avoid the sales tax?

If people bring home their whole paychecks how can prices fall?

What is the Prebate?

How does the “prebate” work?

Is the FairTax truly progressive?

Wouldn’t it be more fair to exempt food and medicine from the FairTax?

How is the FairTax different from a Value Added Tax (VAT)?

Is it fair for rich people to get the same prebate as poor people?

Will the prebate create a massive new entitlement system?

How does the FairTax impact the middle class?

How do we keep exemptions and exclusions from undermining the FairTax?

How does the FairTax impact charitable giving?

Will the FairTax hurt home ownership with no mortgage interest deduction?

Will bartering present a compliance problem under the FairTax?

How does the FairTax affect illegal immigration?

How does the FairTax rate compare to today’s?

Wouldn’t it be more fair to exempt food and medicine from the FairTax?

Is education taxed under the FairTax?

Will government pay taxes under the FairTax?

How can you tax life saving medical treatment?

Will the FairTax hurt home ownership with no mortgage interest deduction?

What will the transition be like from the income tax to the FairTax?

Isn’t it a stretch to say the IRS will go away?

The Fair Tax – It’s Time

FairTax Prebate Explained

The FairTax… For a better America

Is the Fair Tax Act Fair?

Is America’s Tax System Fair?

Sen. Moran Discusses FairTax Legislation on U.S. Senate Floor

Pence on the Fair Tax

#30 The FAIRtax and President Elect Trump

Elvis Presley – It`s Now Or Never 1960

Elvis – It’s Now Or Never (O Sole Mio)

Elvis Presley – My Way (High Quality)

Frank Sinatra .My Way

Trump’s tax plan is ALREADY in trouble with his own party as plan to axe state and local tax deduction comes under fire from Republicans

  • The White House’s tax plan proposes to raise $1 trillion over 10 years by eliminating the deduction for the state and local income taxes people pay
  • That’s drawing howls of protest from Republicans whose states charge high income tax rates
  • Seven states have no income taxes, meaning their citizens wouldn’t be affected
  • But some states charge up to 13.3 per cent on top of federal taxes
  • A family in Los Angeles earning $100,000 would have to fork over roughly an additional $1,800 to Washington if the longstanding deduction goes away
  • Trump is pitching his tax plan to the National Association of Manufacturers on Friday 

As President Trump prepares to sell his tax plan to the nation’s manufacturing lobby on Friday, his best-laid tax plans have already drawn objections from some fellow Republicans who are fuming over the decision to end deductions for state and local income taxes.

The situation will pit the White House against members of Congress from states that pile high income taxes on top of what the federal government takes from paychecks.

High-income Californians, for instance, pay as much as 13.3 per cent of their income to the state in addition to their federal taxes. New Yorkers can pay up to 8.82 per cent.

Just seven U.S. states have no personal income taxes, including Texas, Florida and Nevada.

As President Trump pushes his tax plan, House Ways and Means chairman Kevin Brady (right) says he'll listen to congressmen from states that would be affected most if citizens lose deductions for state and local income taxes

As President Trump pushes his tax plan, House Ways and Means chairman Kevin Brady (right) says he’ll listen to congressmen from states that would be affected most if citizens lose deductions for state and local income taxes

State income tax rates vary widely; seven states (in gray) don't collect any, and the highest rates (dark blue) can go as high as 13.3 per cent

State income tax rates vary widely; seven states (in gray) don’t collect any, and the highest rates (dark blue) can go as high as 13.3 per cent

Under the Trump tax reform plan, a family earning $100,000 in Los Angeles pays about $6,000 in state and local income taxes. Losing the ability to deduct that expense would cost the hypothetical taxpayers around $1,800.

The GOP is working on a way to pacify legislators whose constituents would wind up paying more.

‘The members with concerns from high-tax states have to be accommodated,’ Illinois Republican Rep. Peter Roskam told The Wall Street Journal. Roskam is a senior member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

‘So, you can imagine a soft landing on this that creative people are putting much time and energy into.’

The White House has shown no sign that it’s willing to budge on eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes since it would bring in about $1 trillion over a 10-year period.

With the prospect of persuading Democrats to go along with a new tax play already slim, the GOP will need every Republican vote it can get.

The Journal reports that the nine states whose citizens use the deduction, measured as a percentage of income, are represented by 33 House Republicans.

If Republicans lose more than 22 votes, Trump’s tax plan is effective dead.

Ways and Means member Peter Roskam, and Illinois Republican, says tax code-writers are finding a 'soft landing' for states that pay the most income tax to their local governments

Ways and Means member Peter Roskam, and Illinois Republican, says tax code-writers are finding a ‘soft landing’ for states that pay the most income tax to their local governments

White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn briefed the press at the White House on Thursday but wouldn't promise that every middle-class U.S. family would get a tax cut

White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn briefed the press at the White House on Thursday but wouldn’t promise that every middle-class U.S. family would get a tax cut

APRIL 13, 2016

High-income Americans pay most income taxes, but enough to be ‘fair’?

Corporations paying fewer taxes

Tax-deadline season isn’t many people’s favorite time of the year, but most Americans are OK with the amount of tax they pay. It’s what other people pay, or don’t pay, that bothers them.

Just over half (54%) of Americans surveyed in fall by Pew Research Center said they pay about the right amount in taxes considering what they get from the federal government, versus 40% who said they pay more than their fair share. But in a separate 2015 surveyby the Center, some six-in-ten Americans said they were bothered a lot by the feeling that “some wealthy people” and “some corporations” don’t pay their fair share.

It’s true that corporations are funding a smaller share of overall government operations than they used to. In fiscal 2015, the federal government collected $343.8 billion from corporate income taxes, or 10.6% of its total revenue. Back in the 1950s, corporate income tax generated between a quarter and a third of federal revenues (though payroll taxes have grown considerably over that period).

Nor have corporate tax receipts kept pace with the overall growth of the U.S. economy. Inflation-adjusted gross domestic product has risen 153% since 1980, while inflation-adjusted corporate tax receipts were 115% higher in fiscal 2015 than in fiscal 1980, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. There have been a lot of ups and downs over that period, as corporate tax receipts tend to rise during expansions and drop off in recessions. In fiscal 2007, for instance, corporate taxes hit $370.2 billion (in current dollars), only to plunge to $138.2 billion in 2009 as businesses felt the impact of the Great Recession.

Corporations also employ battalions of tax lawyers to find ways to reduce their tax bills, from running income through subsidiaries in low-tax foreign countries to moving overseas entirely, in what’s known as a corporate inversion (a practice the Treasury Department has moved to discourage).

But in Tax Land, the line between corporations and people can be fuzzy. While most major corporations (“C corporations” in tax lingo) pay according to the corporate tax laws, many other kinds of businesses – sole proprietorships, partnerships and closely held “S corporations” – fall under the individual income tax code, because their profits and losses are passed through to individuals. And by design, wealthier Americans pay most of the nation’s total individual income taxes.

Wealthy pay more in taxes than poorIn 2014, people with adjusted gross income, or AGI, above $250,000 paid just over half (51.6%) of all individual income taxes, though they accounted for only 2.7% of all returns filed, according to our analysis of preliminary IRS data. Their average tax rate (total taxes paid divided by cumulative AGI) was 25.7%. By contrast, people with incomes of less than $50,000 accounted for 62.3% of all individual returns filed, but they paid just 5.7% of total taxes. Their average tax rate was 4.3%.

The relative tax burdens borne by different income groups changes over time, due both to economic conditions and the constantly shifting provisions of tax law. For example, using more comprehensive IRS data covering tax years 2000 through 2011, we found that people who made between $100,000 and $200,000 paid 23.8% of the total tax liability in 2011, up from 18.8% in 2000. Filers in the $50,000-to-$75,000 group, on the other hand, paid 12% of the total liability in 2000 but only 9.1% in 2011. (The tax liability figures include a few taxes, such as self-employment tax and the “nanny tax,” that people typically pay along with their income taxes.)

All told, individual income taxes accounted for a little less than half (47.4%) of government revenue, a share that’s been roughly constant since World War II. The federal government collected $1.54 trillion from individual income taxes in fiscal 2015, making it the national government’s single-biggest revenue source. (Other sources of federal revenue include corporate income taxes, the payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare, excise taxes such as those on gasoline and cigarettes, estate taxes, customs duties and payments from the Federal Reserve.) Until the 1940s, when the income tax was expanded to help fund the war effort, generally only the very wealthy paid it.

Since the 1970s, the segment of federal revenues that has grown the most is the payroll tax – those line items on your pay stub that go to pay for Social Security and Medicare. For most people, in fact, payroll taxes take a bigger bite out of their paycheck than federal income tax. Why? The 6.2% Social Security withholding tax only applies to wages up to $118,500. For example, a worker earning $40,000 will pay $2,480 (6.2%) in Social Security tax, but an executive earning $400,000 will pay $7,347 (6.2% of $118,500), for an effective rate of just 1.8%. By contrast, the 1.45% Medicare tax has no upper limit, and in fact high earners pay an extra 0.9%.

All but the top-earning 20% of American families pay more in payroll taxes than in federal income taxes, according to a Treasury Department analysis.

Still, that analysis confirms that, after all federal taxes are factored in, the U.S. tax system as a whole is progressive. The top 0.1% of families pay the equivalent of 39.2% and the bottom 20% have negative tax rates (that is, they get more money back from the government in the form of refundable tax credits than they pay in taxes).

Of course, people can and will differ on whether any of this constitutes a “fair” tax system. Depending on their politics and personal situations, some would argue for a more steeply progressive structure, others for a flatter one. Finding the right balance can be challenging to the point of impossibility: As Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV’s finance minister, is said to have remarked: “The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.”

Note: This is an update of an earlier post published March 24, 2015.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/13/high-income-americans-pay-most-income-taxes-but-enough-to-be-fair/

Distrust of Senate grows within GOP

A day after the GOP presented a united front around the rollout of President Trump’s tax plan, House Republicans are expressing deep reservations about the Senate’s ability to get the job done.

Lawmakers stung over the failure to pass ObamaCare repeal worry the same fate could befall the tax measure if a handful of senators raise objections.

Donald Trump won with an electoral landside and his three big campaign points were ObamaCare repeal, tax reform and border security. For a handful of senators to derail that agenda is very frustrating,” said Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas).

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who is close to the House GOP leadership, says colleagues are frustrated with a handful of senators “overruling the will of the entire House.”

“We do need to see them step up and actually deliver for a change. We have over 200 bills sitting stalled over there. They haven’t been able to deliver on [health care] reform and they all ran on it and now we have a do-or-die moment on tax reform,” he said.

There’s also a sense among House Republicans that their Senate brethren aren’t under the same pressure to get results — perhaps because the GOP’s majority in the Senate is seen as safer in the 2018 midterm elections than the House majority.

“They put our majority in jeopardy with their failure on health care, more than they did their own,” Cole said.

While Republicans have a bigger majority in the House than in the Senate, the political map favors the Senate GOP in 2018.

Republicans only have to defend nine seats next year, and only one — held by Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) — is in a state won by 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Democrats are defending more than 20 seats, including 10 in states won by Trump.

In the House, Republicans represent 23 districts carried by Clinton, just shy of what Democrats would need to win to take back the majority.

Republicans are excited about moving to tax reform, and Trump’s plan received enthusiastic support at a half-day private retreat the House GOP held Wednesday to review it.

The president’s proposals to eliminate the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax received ovations.

But the mood turned more somber when Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine) stood up to ask if the Senate could be counted on to pass tax legislation, according to people familiar with the meeting.

A spokesman for Poliquin did not respond to a request for comment.

“A lot of House members trust a lot of senators to introduce their own tax reform bills,” said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), alluding to how senators seek to show independence by offering their own bills.

House Republicans say they can easily see GOP Sens. Susan Collins(Maine), John McCain (Ariz.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), who all voted against a slimmed-down ObamaCare repeal bill in July, bucking the leadership again.SPONSORED BY NEXT ADVISOR

“I do not understand what motivates John McCain,” King said. “I don’t know what goes on in the minds of folks from Maine.”

Earlier this year, in an illustration of the frustration House Republicans hold for the Senate hold-outs, Farenthold joked about challenging Collins to a duel. He later apologized.

McCain later told The Hill that the health-care bill was doomed because it’s virtually impossible to tackle something as huge as reform as health care on a partisan basis.

“If you’re going to pass a major reform, you got to have bipartisan support,” he said.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is making the case that Senate Republicans are more likely to come through on tax reform because McConnell and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have already negotiated a tax reform framework with the administration and House leaders.

“What we did differently in this go around is we spent the last four months basically working together, the Senate Finance Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee and the White House, making sure that we’re on the same page,” Ryan told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday morning.

Ryan explained that leaders made sure they did “the hard lifting, the tough work ahead of schedule, ahead of rollout.”

But he also acknowledged that House Republicans have just about run out of patience with the Senate after the collapse of health care reform this week.

“We’re really frustrated. Look, we passed 373 bills here in the House — 270-some are still in the Senate,” he said.

Already there are doubts that Senate Republicans will stick to the plan on taxes.

Hatch, who heads the Senate’s tax writing panel, told reporters Thursday afternoon that he would like to keep in place the deduction for state and local taxes, which the administration wants to eliminate to provide revenue for lower rates.

A spokeswoman for the Finance Committee said, “Chairman Hatch recognizes that every major provision within the tax code has an important constituency and consequence.”

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/352999-distrust-of-senate-grows-within-gop

Key Findings

  • This year, Tax Freedom Day falls on April 23rd, 113 days into the year.
  • Tax Freedom Day is a significant date for taxpayers and lawmakers because it represents how long Americans as a whole have to work in order to pay the nation’s tax burden.
  • Americans will pay $3.5 trillion in federal taxes and $1.6 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total bill of more than $5.1 trillion, or 31 percent of the nation’s income.
  • Americans will collectively spend more on taxes in 2017 than they will on food, clothing, and housing combined.
  • If you include annual federal borrowing, which represents future taxes owed, Tax Freedom Day would occur 14 days later, on May 7.

What Is Tax Freedom Day?

Tax Freedom Day® is the day when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay its total tax bill for the year. Tax Freedom Day takes all federal, state, and local taxes—individual as well as payroll, sales and excise, corporate and property taxes—and divides them by the nation’s income. In 2017, Americans will pay $3.5 trillion in federal taxes and $1.6 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total tax bill of $5.1 trillion, or 31 percent of national income. This year, Tax Freedom Day falls on April 23, 113 days into the year.

What Taxes Do We Pay?

This year, Americans will work the longest—46 days—to pay federal, state, and local individual income taxes. Payroll taxes will take 26 days to pay, followed by sales and excise taxes (15 days), corporate income taxes (10 days), and property taxes (10 days). The remaining six days are spent paying estate and inheritance taxes, customs duties, and other taxes.

When Is Tax Freedom Day if You Include Federal Borrowing?

Since 2002, federal expenses have surpassed federal revenues, with the budget deficit exceeding $1 trillion annually from 2009 to 2012. In calendar year 2017, the deficit is expected to shrink slightly, from $657 billion to $612 billion. If we include this annual federal borrowing, which represents future taxes owed, Tax Freedom Day would occur on May 7, 14 days later. The latest ever deficit-inclusive Tax Freedom Day occurred during World War II, on May 25, 1945.

When Is My State’s Tax Freedom Day?

The total tax burden borne by residents across states varies considerably due to differing tax policies and the progressivity of the federal tax system. This means that states with higher incomes and higher taxes celebrate Tax Freedom Day later: Connecticut (May 21), New Jersey (May 13), and New York (May 11). Residents of Mississippi bear the lowest average tax burden in 2017, with their Tax Freedom Day having arrived on April 5. Also early were Tennessee (April 7) and South Dakota (April 8).

2017 Tax Freedom Day - State Dates

How Has Tax Freedom Day Changed over Time?

The latest ever Tax Freedom Day was May 1, 2000; in that year, Americans paid 33 percent of their total income in taxes. A century earlier, in 1900, Americans paid only 5.9 percent of their income in taxes, so that Tax Freedom Day came on January 22.

Tax Freedom Day Over Time

Methodology

In the denominator, we count every dollar that is officially part of net national income according to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the numerator, we count every payment to the government that is officially considered a tax. Taxes at all levels of government—federal, state, and local—are included in the calculation. In calculating Tax Freedom Day for each state, we look at taxes borne by residents of that state, whether paid to the federal government, their own state or local governments, or governments of other states. Where possible, we allocate tax burdens to each taxpayer’s state of residence. Leap days are excluded, to allow comparison across years, and any fraction of a day is rounded up to the next calendar day

https://taxfoundation.org/publications/tax-freedom-day/

Feds Collect Record Taxes Through August; Still Run $673.7B Deficit

By Terence P. Jeffrey | September 13, 2017 | 4:28 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) – The federal government collected record total tax revenues through the first eleven months of fiscal 2017 (Oct. 1, 2016 through the end of August), according to the Monthly Treasury Statement.

Through August, the federal government collected approximately $2,966,172,000,000 in total tax revenues.

That was $8,450,680,000 more (in constant 2017 dollars) than the previous record of $2,957,721,320,000 in total tax revenues (in 2017 dollars) that the federal government collected in the first eleven months of fiscal 2016.

At the same time that the federal government was collecting a record $2,966,172,000,000 in tax revenues, it was spending $3,639,882,000,000—and, thus, running a deficit of $673,711,000,000.

Individual income taxes have provided the largest share (47.9 percent) of federal revenues so far this fiscal year. From Oct. 1 through the end of August, the Treasury collected $1,421,997,000,000 in individual income taxes.

Payroll taxes provided the second largest share (35.9 percent), with the Treasury collecting $1,065,751,000,000 in these taxes.

The $233,631 in corporate income taxes collected in the first eleven months of fiscal 2017 equaled only 8.6 percent of total tax collections.

The $21,172,000,000 collected in estate and gift taxes equaled only 0.71 percent of total taxes collected this fiscal year.

(Tax revenues were adjusted to constant 2017 using the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator.)

The Latest: State legislatures ‘dismayed’ by GOP tax plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Republican plan to overhaul the tax code (all times local):

4:40 p.m.

An organization that advocates for state legislatures says it’s “dismayed” the Republican tax cut proposal unveiled Wednesday would do away with a deduction for state and local taxes paid.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says the deduction has existed in the federal tax code since its inception. The group says “tens of millions of middle-class taxpayers of every political affiliation” would experience a greater tax burden if the deduction were eliminated.

The group says the deduction’s elimination will also impede states in their efforts to invest in education and other public services.

About a third of tax filers itemize deductions on their federal income tax returns. The Tax Policy Center says virtually all who do claim a deduction for state and local taxes paid.

___

4:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump is issuing a warning shot to Indiana’s Democratic senator: Support my tax overhaul or I’ll campaign against you next year.

Trump says at a tax event in Indiana that if Sen. Joe Donnelly doesn’t approve the plan, “we will come here and we will campaign against him like you wouldn’t believe.”

But Trump is predicting that numerous Democrats will come across the aisle and support his plan “because it’s the right thing to do.”

The president has made overtures to Democratic senators like Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota in recent weeks. All three are facing re-election in 2018.

___

4 p.m.

Small business advocates are split over the draft of the new Republican tax plan.

The National Federation of Independent Business is praising the proposal to tax business income at 20 percent — including sole proprietors whose business income is taxed at individual rates up to 39.6 percent.

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council says the plan would simplify business taxes, encourage business investment and increase owners’ confidence.

But the Small Business Majority says the plan wouldn’t help most small companies, and the current top rate is paid by less than 2 percent of those businesses.

And John O’Neill, a tax analyst at the American Sustainable Business Council, says tax reform isn’t as useful to the economy as investing in infrastructure and education.

President Donald Trump is calling the current tax system a “relic” and a “colossal barrier” that’s standing in the way of the nation’s economic comeback.

Trump says at an event in Indianapolis that his tax proposal will help middle-class families save money and will eliminate loopholes that benefit the wealthy.

Trump says the wealthy “can call me all they want. It’s not going to help.” The billionaire president says he’s “doing the right thing. And it’s not good for me, believe me.”

The president says under his plan, “the vast majority of families will be able to file their taxes on a single sheet of paper.”

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3:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump is making the case for a sweeping plan to overhaul the tax system for individuals and corporations. He calls it a “once in a generation” opportunity to cut taxes.

The president says in Indiana that he wants to cut taxes for middle-class families to make the system simpler and fairer.

Trump says his tax plan will “bring back the jobs and the wealth that have left our country.” He says it’s time for the nation to fight for American workers.

He’s praising his vice president, Mike Pence, Indiana’s former governor. Trump says, “it’s time for Washington to learn from the wisdom of Indiana.”

__

2:52 p.m.

A budget watchdog group in Washington says the new GOP tax plan could cost $2.2 trillion over the next 10 years.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget admits its estimate is very preliminary since so many details are unclear, but its take is that the plan contains about $5.8 trillion in tax cuts but only $3.6 trillion worth of offsetting tax increases. That $2.2 trillion would be added to the nation’s $20 trillion debt.

That’s more than the $1.5 trillion debt cost that has emerged in a deal among Senate Republicans.

Republicans controlling Congress initially promised that the overhaul of the tax code wouldn’t add to the debt. The group also notes that the $2.2 trillion cost could grow by another $500 billion when interest costs are added in.

_____

1:54 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he’s always wanted to reduce the corporate tax rate to 20 percent — even though he said repeatedly he wanted to see it lowered to 15 percent.

Trump told reporters as he departed Washington for Indiana on Wednesday afternoon that a 20 percent rate was his “red line” and that it had always been his goal.

“In fact, I wanted to start at 15 so that we got 20,” he said, adding: “20′s my number.”

Trump also denies the plan unveiled by the White House and congressional Republicans Wednesday would benefit the wealthy.

He says: “I think there’s very little benefit for people of wealth.”

Under the plan, corporations would see their top tax rate cut from 35 percent to 20 percent.

____

1:37 p.m.

A vocal group of the most conservative House Republicans has come out in support of a draft tax plan endorsed by both President Donald Trump and top congressional GOP leaders.

The House Freedom Caucus endorsement is noteworthy because it could ease House passage of a budget plan that’s the first step to advancing the tax cut measure through Congress.

The group says the outline will allow workers to “keep more of their money,” while simplifying the loophole-choked tax code and making U.S. companies more competitive with their foreign rivals.

The group had held up action on the budget measure as they demanded more details on taxes.

_____

11:21 a.m.

President Donald Trump has two red lines that he refuses to cross on overhauling taxes: the corporate rate must be cut to 20 percent and the savings must go to the middle class.

Gary Cohn, the president’s top economics aide, says any overhaul signed by the president needs to include these two elements.

Trump had initially pushed for cutting the 39.6 percent corporate tax rate to 15 percent.

The administration says that the benefits of any tax cut will not favor the wealthy, with Cohn saying that an additional tax bracket could be added to levy taxes on the top one percent of earners if needed.

_____

11:20 a.m.

The Senate’s top Democrat is blasting a new tax cut plan backed by President Donald Trump as a giveaway to the rich.

Sen. Chuck Schumer says Trump’s plan only gives “crumbs” to the middle class, while top-bracket earners making more than a half-million dollars a year would reap a windfall.

The New York Democrat also blasted the plan for actually increasing the bottom tax rate from 10 percent to 12 percent, calling it a “punch to the gut of working Americans.”

Schumer said the plan is little more than an “across-the-board tax cut for America’s millionaires and billionaires.”

The plan, to be officially released Wednesday afternoon, is the top item on Washington’s agenda after the GOP failure to repeal the Obama health care law.

_____

9:53 a.m.

A new Republican blueprint for overhauling the U.S. tax code employs the themes of economic populism that President Donald Trump trumpeted during the presidential campaign to win support from working-class voters.

A copy of the plan to be released later Wednesday says, “Too many in our country are shut out of the dynamism of the U.S. economy.” That’s led to what the plans says is “the justifiable feeling that the system is rigged against hardworking Americans.”

The plan, obtained by The Associated Press, says the Trump administration and Congress “will work together to produce tax reform that will put America first.”

The GOP plan for the first major rewrite of the U.S. tax code in 30 years also says corporations will be stopped from shipping jobs and capital overseas.

_____

9:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans are proposing a tax plan that they say will be simple and fair.

In a document obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday, they outline a blueprint for almost doubling the standard deduction for married taxpayers filing jointly to $24,000, and $12,000 for individuals.

The plan calls for cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. The GOP proposal also calls for reducing the number of tax brackets from seven to three with a surcharge on the wealthiest Americans.

The plan also leaves intact the deduction for mortgage interest and charitable deductions.

The White House and Republicans plan a formal roll out later Wednesday.

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4:26 a.m.

President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans are rolling out a sweeping plan to cut taxes for individuals and corporations, simplify the tax system, and likely double the standard deduction used by most Americans.

Months in the making, the plan meets a political imperative for Republicans to deliver an overhaul of the U.S. tax code after the failure of the health care repeal.

The public reveal of the plan was set for Wednesday. The day before, details emerged on Capitol Hill while Trump personally appealed to House Republicans and Democrats at the White House to get behind his proposal.

https://apnews.com/f609602269d54524aa14e1d9c74ec97c

 

President Trump spoke about his administration’s tax reform plan in Indianapolis on Wednesday.CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The tax plan that the Trump administration outlined on Wednesday is a potentially huge windfall for the wealthiest Americans. It would not directly benefit the bottom third of the population. As for the middle class, the benefits appear to be modest.

The administration and its congressional allies are proposing to sharply reduce taxation of business income, primarily benefiting the small share of the population that owns the vast majority of corporate equity. President Trump said on Wednesday that the cuts would increase investment and spur growth, creating broader prosperity. But experts say the upside is limited, not least because the economy is already expanding.

The plan would also benefit Mr. Trump and other affluent Americans by eliminating the estate tax, which affects just a few thousand uber-wealthy families each year, and the alternative minimum tax, a safety net designed to prevent tax avoidance.

The precise impact on Mr. Trump cannot be ascertained because the president refuses to release his tax returns, but the few snippets of returns that have become public show one thing clearly: The alternative minimum tax has been unkind to Mr. Trump. In 2005, it forced him to pay $31 million in additional taxes.

Mr. Trump has also pledged repeatedly that the plan would reduce the taxes paid by middle-class families, but he has not provided enough details to evaluate that claim. While some households would probably get tax cuts, others could end up paying more.

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The plan would not benefit lower-income households that do not pay federal income taxes. The president is not proposing measures like a reduction in payroll taxes, which are paid by a much larger share of workers, nor an increase in the earned-income tax credit, which would expand wage support for the working poor.

Indeed, to call the plan “tax reform” seems like a stretch — Mr. Trump himself told conservative and evangelical leaders on Monday that it was more apt to refer to his plan as “tax cuts.” Mr. Trump’s proposal echoes the large tax cuts that President Ronald Reagan, in 1981, and President George W. Bush, in 2001, passed in the first year of their terms, not the 1986 overhaul of the tax code that he often cites. Like his Republican predecessors, Mr. Trump says cutting taxes will increase economic growth.

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The public portion of the debt equaled 24 percent of the gross domestic product in 1981 when President Ronald Reagan signed a tax cut at his vacation home near Santa Barbara, Calif. In June of this year, the debt equaled 75 percent of economic output. CreditAssociated Press

“It’s time to take care of our people, to rebuild our nation and to fight for our great American workers,” Mr. Trump told a crowd in Indianapolis.

But the moment is very different. Mr. Reagan and Mr. Bush cut taxes during recessions. Mr. Trump is proposing to cut taxes during one of the longest economic expansions in American history. It is not clear that the economy can grow much faster; the Federal Reserve has warned that it will seek to offset any stimulus by raising interest rates.

At the time of the earlier cuts, the federal debt was considerably smaller. The public portion of the debt equaled 24 percent of the gross domestic product in 1981, and 31 percent in 2001. In June, the debt equaled 75 percent of economic output.

The Trump administration insists that its tax cut will catalyze such an economic boom that money will flow into the federal coffers and the debt will not rise. The Reagan and Bush administrations made similar claims. The debt soared in both instances.

Another issue: Both Mr. Bush and Mr. Reagan proposed to cut taxes when federal revenues had climbed unusually high as a share of the national economy.

Mr. Trump wants to cut taxes while revenues are close to an average level.

Since 1981, federal revenue has averaged 17.1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, while federal spending has averaged 20.3 percent.

Last year’s numbers were close to the long-term trend: Federal revenue was 17.5 percent of gross domestic product; spending was 20.7 percent.

Martin Feldstein, a Harvard University economics professor and a longtime adviser to Republican presidents, said that the moment was not perfect, but that Mr. Trump should nevertheless press ahead because the changes would be valuable.

“The debt is moving in the wrong direction,” Mr. Feldstein said. “But the tax reform is moving in the right direction.”

Proponents of the plan assert that the largest benefits are indirect. In particular, they argue that cutting corporate taxes will unleash economic growth.

Mr. Trump’s plan is more focused on business tax cuts than the Reagan and Bush plans, and economists agree that this makes economic gains more likely.

The key elements are large reductions in the tax rates for business income: To 20 percent for corporations, and to 25 percent for “pass-through” businesses, a broad category that includes everything from mom-and-pop neighborhood shops to giant investment partnerships, law firms — and real estate developers.

The plan also lets businesses immediately deduct the full cost of new investments.

“You’re going to get a boost in investment,” said William Gale, co-director of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. “It’s hard to argue that there won’t be a positive effect.”

But Mr. Gale added that there are reasons to think it would be modest.

The most important is that the economy is already growing at a faster pace than the Fed considers sustainable. “Economy roaring,” Mr. Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

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After President George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cuts, the wealthiest Americans paid 34.7 percent of their income in taxes, while Americans in the middle income brackets paid 16.1 percent. CreditRon Edmonds/Associated Press

Also, interest rates are low, and nonfinancial companies are sitting on $1.84 trillion that they don’t want to spend. “It’s not lack of funds that’s stopping companies from investing,” Mr. Gale said.

And the stimulus would come at the cost of increased federal borrowing. Interest rates might not rise if foreigners provide the necessary money, as happened in the 1980s and the 2000s, but that means some of the benefits also end up abroad.

It’s a venerable principle that lower tax rates encourage corporate investment. But a study of a 2003 cut in the tax rate on corporate dividendsfound no discernible impact on investment. The finding would not have surprised Mr. Bush’s Treasury secretary at the time, Paul O’Neill, who was fired for opposing the plan. “You find somebody who says, ‘I do more R & D because I get a tax credit for it,’ you’ll find a fool,” Mr. O’Neill, a former Alcoa chairman, said at the time.

Mr. Trump’s plan also continues a long-term march away from progressive taxation. The federal income tax is the centerpiece of a longstanding bipartisan consensus that wealthy Americans should pay an outsize share of the cost of government.

But successive rounds of tax cuts have eroded that premise, according to research by the economists Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley. In 1980, the wealthiest Americans paid 59 percent of their income in taxes while the middle 20 percent of Americans paid 24.5 percent. After the Bush tax cuts, the wealthiest Americans paid 34.7 percent of their income in taxes, while Americans in the middle income brackets paid 16.1 percent.

Under President Barack Obama, Congress increased taxation of upper-income households. Mr. Trump is seeking to resume the long-term trend toward flattening the curve. Upper-income households would get large tax cuts; lower-income households would get none.

The exact impact on the middle class is not yet clear. The outline released Wednesday proposes new tax brackets but does not specify income thresholds. It also proposes to replace the current tax deduction for each dependent with a child tax credit — but the administration did not propose a dollar amount for that new credit.

 

The administration said Wednesday that it was committed “to ensure that the reformed tax code is at least as progressive as the existing tax code.” That language, however, applies only to personal income taxes. The proposed reduction of business taxes and the elimination of the estate tax would both disproportionately benefit wealthy Americans.

“I don’t think there’s any way to justify this as a progressive proposal,” said Lily Batchelder, a law professor at New York University who served as deputy director of Mr. Obama’s National Economic Council. “In broad brush strokes, they’re doing nothing for the bottom 35 percent, they’re doing very little and possibly raising taxes on the middle class, and they’ve specified tax cuts for the wealthy.”

 

Tax reform: Trump, GOP mull surcharge on wealthy, doubling standard deduction

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with members of the House Ways and Means committee in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)(<cite>Evan Vucci</cite>)
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with members of the House Ways and Means committee in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)(Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans are considering an income tax surcharge on the wealthy and doubling the standard deduction given to most Americans, with the GOP under pressure to overhaul the tax code after the collapse of the health care repeal.

On the eve of the grand rollout of the plan, details emerged on Capitol Hill on Tuesday while Trump personally appealed to House Republicans and Democrats at the White House to get behind his proposal.

“We will cut taxes tremendously for the middle class. Not just a little bit but tremendously,” Trump said as he met with members of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. He predicted jobs “will be coming back in because we have a non-competitive tax structure right now and we’re going to go super competitive.”

Among the details: repeal of the tax on multimillion-dollar estates, a reduction in the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and potentially four tax brackets, down from the current seven. The current top rate for individuals, those earning more than $418,000 a year, is 39.6 percent.

The goal is a more simple tax code that would spur economic growth and make U.S. companies more competitive. Delivering on the top legislative goal will be crucial for Republicans intent on holding onto their majorities in next year’s midterm elections.

The tax overhaul plan assembled by the White House and GOP leaders, which would slash the rate for corporations, aims at the first major revamp of the tax system in three decades. It would deliver a major Trump campaign pledge.

The outlines of the plan were described by GOP officials who demanded anonymity to disclose private deliberations.

The plan would likely cut the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. A new surcharge on wealthy taxpayers might soften the appearance of the wealthiest Americans and big corporations benefiting from generous tax cuts.

Republicans already were picking at the framework, pointing up how divisions within GOP ranks can complicate efforts to overhaul taxes as has happened with the series of moves to repeal the Obama health care law.

Details of the proposal crafted behind closed doors over months by top White House economic officials, GOP congressional leaders and the Republican heads of tax-writing panels in the House and Senate were set to be released Wednesday. Trump and the Republicans were putting the final touches on the plan when the Democrats were brought in. A senior Democrat saw it as the opening of negotiations.

Trump had previously said he wanted a 15 percent rate for corporations, but House Speaker Paul Ryan has called that impractically low and has said it would risk adding to the soaring $20 trillion national debt.

Trump said Tuesday some of the components included doubling the standard deduction used by families and increasing the child tax credit. He said the majority of Americans would be able to file their taxes on a single page. “We must make our tax code simple and fair. It’s too complicated,” Trump said.

Some conservative GOP lawmakers, meanwhile, dug their heels in on the shape of the plan.

Rep. Mark Meadows, head of the House Freedom Caucus, said he’d vote against tax legislation if it provided for a corporate tax rate over 20 percent, a rate for small businesses higher than 25 percent, or if it fails to call for a doubling of the standard deduction.

“That’s the red line for me,” Meadows said at a forum of conservative lawmakers. He noted he was speaking personally, not as head of the conservative grouping.

Disgruntlement came from Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., over the process of putting together the plan.

“I get that we want to move to 3 percent but I’d like to know how,” Kennedy said referring to Trump’s ambitious goal of annual growth in the economy through tax cuts. “I’m not much into all the secrecy,” he said. “We need to do this by November, and at the rate we’re going I’m not encouraged right now.”

The Democrats, while acknowledging the tax system should be simplified, have insisted that any tax relief should go to the middle class, not the wealthiest. Tax cuts shouldn’t add to the ballooning debt, the Democrats say.

Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, came away from the White House meeting in a negotiating mood. “This is when the process gets kicked off,” Neal told reporters at the Capitol.

The rate for wealthiest taxpayers shouldn’t be reduced, he said. Democrats are concerned by indications from Trump and his officials that “they intend to offer tax relief to people at the top,” he said.

Still, there may be room to negotiate over the Republicans’ insistence on repealing the estate tax, Neal indicated, since “there are other things you can do with it” to revise it short of complete elimination.

http://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/09/tax_reform_trump_gop_mull_surcharge_on_wealthy_doubling_standard_deduction.html

9 ways Trump’s tax plan is a gift to the rich, including himself

President Trump and congressional Republicans keep saying their tax plan doesn’t help the rich. But that’s not true.

The nine-page outline released Wednesday is full of goodies that will make millionaires and billionaires happy. Republicans say it’s a starting point, but it would have to be turned on its head to be anything other than a windfall for the wealthy. In fact, in nine pages, The Washington Post counts at least nine ways the wealthy benefit, including Trump himself. Here’s our list:

1) A straight-up tax cut for the rich. The top tax rate in the United States is 39.6 percent. Trump and GOP leaders propose lowering that to 35 percent. It’s also worth noting the 39.6 percent tax rate applies only to income above $418,400 for singles and $470,700 for married couples. The outline doesn’t specify what income level the new 35 percent rate would kick in at. It’s possible the rich will get an every bigger tax cut if the final plan raises that threshold.

2) The estate tax goes bye-bye. Trump likes to call the estate tax the “death tax.” At the moment, Americans who pass money, homes or other assets on to heirs when they die pay a 40 percent tax. But here’s the important part Trump leaves out: The only people who have to pay this tax are those passing on more than $5.49 million. (And a married couple can inherit nearly $11 million without paying the tax.)

September 28 at 12:45 PM

Trump frequently claims the estate tax hurts farmers and small-business owners. But as The Post’s Fact Checker team points out, only 5,500 estates will pay any estate tax at all in 2017 (out of about 3 million estates). And of those 5,500 hit with the tax, only 80 (yes, you read that right) are farms or small businesses.

3) Hedge funds and lawyers get a special tax break. The plan calls for the tax rate on “pass-through entities” to fall from 39.6 percent to 25 percent. Republicans claim this is a tax break for small-business owners because “pass-through entities” is an umbrella term that covers the ways most people set up businesses: sole proprietorships, partnerships and S corporations. But the reality is, most small-business owners (more than 85 percent) already pay a tax rate of 25 percent or less, according to the Brookings Institution.

Only 3 percent pay a rate greater than 30 percent. That 3 percent includes doctors, lawyers, hedge fund managers and other really well-off people. Instead of paying a 35 percent income tax, these rich business owners would be able to pass off their income as business income and pay only a 25 percent tax rate. (The tax outline released Wednesday “contemplates” that Congress “will adopt measures to prevent” this kind of tax dodging. But there’s no guarantee that will happen).

4) The AMT is over. Republicans want to kill the alternative minimum tax, a measure put in place in 1969 to ensure the wealthy aren’t using a bunch of loopholes and credits to lower their tax bills to paltry sums. The AMT starts to phase in for people with earnings of about $130,000, but the vast majority of people subject to the AMT earn over $500,000, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Trump himself would benefit from repealing the AMT. As The Post’s Fact Checker team notes, Trump’s leaked tax return from 2005 shows that the AMT increased his tax bill from about $5.3 million to $36.5 million. In 2005 alone, he potentially could have saved $31 million.

5) The wealthy get to keep deducting mortgage interest. Only about 1 in 4 taxpayers claims the mortgage interest deduction, the Brookings Institution says. “Upper-income households primarily benefit from the subsidy,” wrote Brookings scholar Bruce Katz in a report last year. In fact, the wealthy can deduct interest payments on mortgages worth up to $1 million. There have been many calls over the years to lower that threshold, but the Trump tax plan is keeping it in place.

The GOP is doing this even though the tax cuts would add to the United States’ debt, since it doesn’t raise enough revenue to offset all the money lost from the new tax breaks. The outline also calls for the charitable deduction to stay, another deduction used heavily by the top 1 percent.

6) Stockholders are going to be very happy. Trump is calling for a super-low tax rate on the money big businesses such as Apple and Microsoft bring back to the United States from overseas, a process known as “repatriation.” Trump argues companies will use all this money coming home to build new U.S. factories. But the last time the United States did this, in the early 2000s, it ended up being a big win for people who own stocks. Companies simply took most of the money and gave it to shareholders in the form of dividends and share buybacks.

Guess what? Just about everyone (outside the White House) predicts the same thing will happen again. Corporations are even admitting it.

7) The favorite tax break of hedge fund billionaires is still safe. There’s no mention in the tax-overhaul rubric of “carried interest.” Those two words make most people’s eyes glaze over, but they are a well-known tax-dodging trick for millionaires and billionaires on Wall Street. Hedge fund and private-equity managers earn most of their money from their investments doing well. But instead of paying income taxes on all that money at a rate of 39.6 percent, the managers are able to claim it as “carried interest” so they can pay tax at the low capital gains rate of 20 percent.

Trump called this totally unfair on the campaign trail. During the primaries, he said he would eliminate this loophole because hedge fund managers were “getting away with murder.” But that change didn’t end up in the GOP plan.

8) Capital gains taxes stay low. The nine-page document also says nothing about capital gains, the tax rate people pay when they finally sell a stock or asset after holding on to it for many years. At the moment, the wealthiest Americans pay a 20 percent capital gains rate. Trump and Republican leaders aren’t proposing any changes to that, even though it is a popular way for millionaires to lower their tax bill.

9) The Obamacare investment tax goes away. The Affordable Care Act put in place a 3.8 percent surcharge on investment income (known formally as the Net Investment Income Tax). It applies only to individuals earning more than $200,000 a year and married couples earning more than $250,000. There’s no mention of this tax in the outline released this week, but Republicans clearly want to get rid of it. Repealing it was part of the GOP health-care bills that failed to pass Congress in recent weeks. One way or another, Republicans are likely to roll back this tax.

When reporters asked Trump whether the tax plan would help him personally, he quickly said no.

“No, I don’t benefit. I don’t benefit,” Trump said. “In fact, very, very strongly, as you see, I think there’s very little benefit for people of wealth.”

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), who was part of the team that worked with the White House to craft the tax-overhaul outline, was asked a similar question on Fox News. He, too, said this plan does little to help the rich.

“I think those who benefit most are middle-class families struggling to keep every dollar they earn,” Brady told Fox News.

But one look at this plan tells a very different story. It gives an outright tax cut to the wealthiest Americans and it preserves almost all of the most popular loopholes they use to reduce their tax bills.

Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), a strong proponent of tax cuts, was more straightforward this week. He told reporters, “This is a supply-side approach,” another way of saying trickle-down economics.

Read more:

The GOP tax plan, explained in simplest possible terms

Fact-checking President Trump’s tax speech in Indianapolis

The one surefire way to grow your wealth in the U.S.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/09/28/9-ways-trumps-tax-plan-is-a-gift-to-the-rich-including-himself/?utm_term=.bb9dafe36550

The GOP tax plan, explained in simplest possible terms

The big tax code makeover President Trump and Republicans have been promising for months is finally out.

It’s nine pages long. That may sound like a lengthy document, but the final bill in Congress will be hundreds of pages. What the White House released today is a framework. It’s a summary of what top Trump officials and congressional Republican leaders have agreed to so far. The Trump administration says it’s the job of Congress to flesh out the specifics.

Here are the key takeaways:

  • The plan will likely add to America’s $20 trillion debt. There are lots of tax cuts spelled out. There are almost no loopholes eliminated.
  • The rich make out pretty well. The White House vows poor people won’t have to pay more than they do now, but there are few specifics in the plan so far to ensure that.
  • Businesses (both small and large) get major tax cuts.
  • Most people will pay lower taxes, although it’s unclear if the rich get a bigger break than the middle class.
  • There are still a lot of details Congress has to figure out.

What’s in there for the rich?
The wealthy get a tax cut. They will pay only 35 percent on their income taxes (down from 39.6 percent). At the moment, this rate applies to any income above about $418,000. It’s unclear if Congress will tinker with the income level that rate kicks in at. Trump says he would be fine with Congress raising taxes on the rich in the final plan, but he isn’t requiring that they do that.

The bigger tax break for the rich is the elimination of the estate tax, sometimes called the “death tax.” It’s the tax families currently pay when an asset like a house or ranch worth over $5.49 million is passed down to a heir after someone dies. Trump’s plan scraps this tax entirely.

What’s in there for the middle class?
This is the giant question mark. There’s a lot of details left for Congress to fill out. Under the plan, America will have just three tax rates: 35, 25 and 12 percent, but we don’t know yet which rate someone earning $50,000 or $80,000 will pay.

What we do know is the standard deduction (currently $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for married couples) will nearly double. This means that a married couple earning $24,000 or less or an individual earning $12,000 or less won’t pay any taxes. But the plan also eliminates what’s known as the additional standard deduction and the popular personal exemption. Some filers may end up worse off after these changes.

The plan also promises a “significant increase” to the child tax credit (it’s currently $1,000 per child) and that middle class Americans can keep using the mortgage interest deduction as well as tax breaks for retirement savings (e.g. 401ks) and higher education. But it eliminates the state and local tax deduction, which is used by many in high-tax states like New York and California.

Can I really file my taxes on a postcard?
The “file on a postcard” idea was an exaggeration. The goal now is to get most people’s tax returns down to one page.

What about the working poor?
A senior White House official told journalists Tuesday, “We are committed to making the tax code at least as progressive as the current tax code.” Translation: The poor should not end up paying more than they do now. But it’s hard to check if that’s true because we still don’t have enough details.

In theory, increasing the standard deduction should mean that more Americans pay $0 in taxes, but it depends what happens to a lot of other tax provisions (and whether Congress ends up cutting safety net programs that help the poor to pay for tax cuts). Top Republican officials have not decided what to do with the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which is widely used by the working poor to help them reduce their tax bill and even get a small amount of money back from the government.

What happens to the Alternative Minimum Tax?
The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) would go away under the plan. It currently applies mainly to individuals earning more than $130,000 and married couples earning more than $160,00. It was created in the 1970s to prevent wealthier families from taking so many tax breaks that they end up paying little to no taxes, but over the years, the AMT has impacted more and more families.

What happens to big businesses?
America’s large corporations will get a big tax cut. The top rate at the moment is 35 percent, one of the highest rates among developed nations. Most U.S. companies don’t pay that rate, but it is still a starting point. The Trump plan slashes the rate to 20 percent, just below the average of major developed countries the U.S. competes against.

The White House and Congress promised to close some loopholes that businesses currently enjoy, but no one is saying what those are yet. In fact, the only details we have show MORE business goodies, not less. The plan calls for businesses to be able to write off their investments (e.g. the cost of building a new factory) right away instead of crediting a little bit each year for several years. This is supposed to encourage companies to invest more, which will hopefully create more jobs.

What happens to small businesses?
Small businesses also get a tax cut under the plan. At the moment, many small business owners pay whatever their personal income tax rate is, so some end up paying as much as 39.6 percent. Under this plan, most “pass throughs” (code for small businesses) would pay at the 25 percent rate (the exception is if a small businesses earned very little income, they might be able to pay at the 12 percent rate).

There’s concern some rich people, especially hedge fund managers and consultants to the stars, will simply use this as a way to lower their tax bill. Instead of paying at the new 35 percent top income tax rate, they could say all their income is small business income and pay at the 25 percent rate. Trump has promised to fix that problem, but no one is sure how.

How will this plan help growth?
Trump’s big claim is that this tax overhaul will unleash economic growth. The United States has been growing at about 2 percent a year lately, below the historic norm. Trump keeps saying this plan will unleash growth of 3 percent — or more.

Economists, even those who work at Wall Street banks and for big companies, only project a modest boost to growth. Estimates range from 2.1 percent to 2.25 percent.

How much will this add to the debt?
Originally, Republican leaders said they would not add $1 to America’s debt, but that promise appears to be gone. The White House says it will go along with whatever price tag Congress allows. Right now, Senate Republicans have a deal to add $1.5 trillion to the debt over the next decade, so there’s a good chance this tax plan will add to the debt.

What are the pitfalls?
There’s a ton we don’t know yet. Many on the left are concerned this plan gives away too much to the rich and big businesses. Many across the political spectrum are alarmed that it will likely add to America’s already large debt.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/09/27/the-gop-tax-plan-explained-in-simplest-possible-terms/?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.4de9a2bfc9ce

Some tax breaks are for the rich.
Others for the poor. Which are for you?

The Republican tax reform plan is finally out – you can read the full document here. The framework touches on many parts of the tax code, but two critical areas are tax deductions and credits. These reduce how much taxpayers owe, but they affect income groups differently. How could the proposed changes to these policies affect your taxes?

Most beneficial tax deductions and exemptions, 2015

Deductions and exemptions reduce your tax bill by decreasing your taxable income.

Other deductionsState and local taxesCharitable contributionsReal estate taxesEmployee business expensesMedical/dental expensesHome mortgage interestStandard deductionPersonal and dependent exemptions$10,000$25,000$50,000$100,000$500,000Lower incomeHigher income$30,000 to $40,000
DEDUCTION MEAN DEDUCTION*
Personal and dependent exemptions (?) $7,700
Standard deduction (?) $7,100
Home mortgage interest (?) $700
Medical/dental expenses (?) $500
Employee business expenses (?) $400
Real estate taxes (?) $400
Charitable contributions (?) $300
State and local taxes (?) $200
Other deductions $200

* Mean deduction is the total deduction amount received by the income group divided by the number of returns in that group, including those that did not receive the deduction.

Note: Returns for those filing singly and those filing jointly or in other categories are lumped together. Tax returns cannot claim both the standard deductions and itemized deductions. Total deductions and exemptions can exceed adjusted gross income, but the excess does not affect taxes owed, as taxable income cannot drop below zero.

Taxpayers – except the highest earners – are currently eligible for tax “exemptions” to reduce their taxable income. In 2016, Americans could take a $4,050 personal exemption from their income (double if filing as a married couple), and then get additional exemptions for dependents.

After exemptions taxpayers can further reduce their taxable income by taking tax deductions. 69 percent of taxpayers in 2015 took the “standard deduction,” a fixed amount that is currently $6,300 for (most) taxpayers filing singly.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/politics/tax-breaks/?utm_term=.09de159b6eeb

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The remaining taxpayers – mostly in higher income groups – “itemized” their tax returns, meaning they chose to take advantage of more specific tax deductions based on their expenses. The deductions came out to more than they would have gotten through the standard deduction.

Here’s what the Republican’s tax reform framework would change about deductions:

  • Republicans want to nearly double the standard deduction to $12,000 for those filing singly and $24,000 for those filing jointly. At the same time, the framework calls for the repeal of exemptions, consolidating these different parts of the tax system.
  • The framework aims to simplify the tax code by gutting many itemized deductions, although charitable contributions and mortgage interestwould be retained. That makes the state and local taxes deduction (SALT) a major target. SALT lets you deduct state and local income or sales taxes you owe from your federal taxable income and largely benefits blue states with higher taxes.

Most beneficial tax credits, 2015

Tax credits are subtracted directly from taxes owed.

Prior-year minimum tax creditGeneral business creditResidential energy creditsForeign tax creditChild care creditOther creditsAmerican opportunity creditNonrefundable education creditChild tax creditAdditional child tax creditEarned income credit$10,000$25,000$50,000$100,000$500,000Lower incomeHigher income$30,000 to $40,000
CREDIT MEAN CREDIT*
Earned income credit (?) $500
Additional child tax credit (?) $300
Child tax credit (?) $200
Nonrefundable education credit (?) $100
American opportunity credit (?) $100
Other credits $0
Child care credit (?) $0
Foreign tax credit (?) $0
Residential energy credits (?) $0
General business credit (?) $0
Prior-year minimum tax credit (?) $0

* Mean credit is the total credit amount received by the income group divided by the number of returns in that group, including those that did not receive the credit.

Note: Returns for those filing singly and those filing jointly or in other categories are lumped together.

Credits can reduce federal income taxes owed down to zero, but “refundable” credits can reduce them even more, allowing some taxpayers to receive a net gain from the federal government after filing.

Here’s what the Republican’s tax reform framework would change about credits:

  • The plan calls for an expansion of the child tax credit, increasing its value from the current $1,000 max and making it available to more income groups. The framework also proposes an additional $500 non-refundable credit for “non-child dependents.”
  • Like with deductions, the framework calls for the repeal of “numerous other” credits to simplify the tax code but does not specify which policies will be targeted.

Just part of the picture

Of course, the tax policies we’re looking at above are just part of U.S. federal tax code. Actual income tax rates are central to tax reform proposals; the Republican tax reform framework would reduce the seven income brackets currently used to just three, lowering rates for many but increasing them for some in the lowest bracket. It also calls for the repeal of the estate tax.

The plan also proposes a large decrease in the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent, among many other chang