Wilbur Ross stands to profit from company run by Russians, some of whom are under US sanctions
Source: Trump commerce secretary’s business links with Putin family laid out in leaked files
In 2014, Ross led a €1bn takeover of the Bank of Cyprus, a favoured destination for Moscow oligarchs seeking to store their wealth. The bank’s biggest shareholder at the time was the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. In 2008, as the US began to fall into a financial crisis, Rybolovlev bought a Florida mansion from Trump for $95m. The future president had paid $41m for it four years earlier.
Also invested in the bank takeover was the billionaire Russian industrialist Viktor Vekselberg. Vekselberg, who owns the world’s biggest collection of Fabergé eggs, attended the now infamous December 2015 dinner in Moscow for the Kremlin TV channel RT, where Trump’s future national security adviser Michael Flynn was photographed next to Putin.
Ross sat on the senior leadership team of Bank of Cyprus alongside Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, a former KGB colleague of Putin’s who is also on the board of several state corporations in Moscow.
And in 2015, while Ross was vice-chairman of the bank, its Russia-based businesses were sold off to Artem Avetisyan, a Russian businessman who had been appointed by Putin to lead an agency responsible for strengthening ties between the Kremlin and business.
Records had shown multiple communications between suspected gunmen and an unnamed DESA official, according to GAIPE findings reported by Associated Press.An international outcry ensued after the murder of Caceres who with her movement Copinh led indigenous Lenca peoples in opposing the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam project.Construction was subsequently suspended when investors, including a Dutch bank and a Finnish fund, froze funding.
Source: Plot behind Caceres murder in Honduras, says legal panel | News | DW | 31.10.2017
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt decreed that scientists who receive EPA funding for their research may no longer sit on key scientific advisory boards. This policy will freeze out many academic experts who rely on public grants to conduct independent studies. Pruitt also dismissed independent scientists from several important scientific bodies and replaced them with industry insiders.
Source: Scott Pruitt’s EPA Just Shut the Door on Independent Scientists | Earthjustice
Zuckerberg and company seem stuck in a cushy Silicon Valley mindset that assigns actual reality to the milk-and-cookies stereotypes that investors and advertisers are comfortable with. The monster they’ve created is being used for far more sinister purposes than what falls within purview of the company advertising parameters. Facebook remains flat-footed and clumsy in response to troll accounts that literally call for U.S. violence, and internationally, use of Facebook to cause real-life mass violence.There is a popular Silicon Valley notion that tech execs like Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and Sergey Brin are the best and brightest minds of our era. But if their platforms are being used in ways they didn’t anticipate and still can’t control, well, doesn’t that inherently make them not best and brightest minds of our era?
Source: The 14 Stereotypes That Facebook Assigns To All Of Us: SFist
The Ebola epidemic in West Africa may have surprised most of the medical establishment – this is the first such outbreak in the region – but the risk had been steadily rising for at least a decade. The risk had grown so high, in fact, that this outbreak was almost inevitable and very possibly predictable.All that was needed was to see the danger was a bat’s eye view of the region. Once blanketed with forests, West Africa has been skinned alive over the last decade. Guinea’s rainforests have been reduced by 80%, while Liberia has sold logging rights to over half its forests. Within the next few years Sierra Leone is on track to be completely deforested.This matters because those forests were habitat for fruit bats, Ebola’s reservoir host. With their homes cut down around them, the bats are concentrating into the remnants of their once-abundant habitat. At the same time, mining has become big business in the region, employing thousands of workers who regularly travel into bat territory to get to the mines.
Source: How saving West African forests might have prevented the Ebola epidemic | Vital Signs | The Guardian
Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz had demanded greater transparency over the $300m deal secured by Whitefish Energy, a tiny two-year-old firm based in the Montana home town of the US interior secretary, Ryan Zinke.
Source: Firm restoring Puerto Rico’s power threatened to quit, mayor says | World news | The Guardian
Whitefish had only two full-time employees when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on 20 September, killing more than 50 people and knocking out power to the whole island. The company has since contracted more than 300 workers, but three-quarters of the US territory remains without electricity.
The report said the letter had been hand-delivered to him at a private dinner by Steve Wynn, a Las Vegas casino magnate and Republican National Committee finance chairman with interests in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau, for which Wynn relies on Beijing for licensing.The marketing director for Wynn Resorts Ltd, Michael Weaver, told the Journal in a written statement: “[T]hat report regarding Mr Wynn is false. Beyond that, he doesn’t have any comment.”Weaver did not respond to a request for comment from the Guardian on what part of the story was false and whether Wynn had ever delivered a letter from the Chinese government to Trump.The Journal report said that aides tried to persuade Trump out of going ahead with Guo’s deportation, noting he was a member of the president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. The aides later ensured that the deportation would not go ahead.There was no immediate response from the White House or the state department to a request to comment on the report.
Source: Trump sought dissident’s expulsion after hand-delivered letter from China – report | World news | The Guardian
In a letter to the league’s 32 teams concerning players’ protests against police brutality, Goodell urged them to ‘move past this controversy’ and ‘honor our flag’
Source: NFL boss Roger Goodell says all players should stand for the national anthem | Sport | The Guardian
Though La Canfora did meet with Kaepernick, his girlfriend, and his trainer on Saturday, they never spoke about whether Kaepernick would continue with his on-field demonstrations against police brutality, i.e., the kneeling. They did speak about his commitment to becoming a better quarterback, though, so there’s that. CBS didn’t air any direct quotes from Kaepernick at the time, either.
Source: Sports Reporter Retracts Incorrect Report Saying Kaepernick Would Stand For National Anthem Again: SFist
In the early stages of promoting Trump’s tax cut, they have made a series of statements that are blatantly false — not merely shadings of truth or questionable claims but outright up-is-down falsehoods mocked by various fact-checkers. The statements make the two look more like Trump press secretaries than serious business executives whom members of Congress can trust.They fall into two main categories. The first is who benefits from the tax plan. “Wealthy Americans are not getting a tax cut,” Cohn said on “Good Morning America.” He was echoing a promise that Mnuchin had made before the inauguration: “Any reductions we have in upper-income taxes will be offset by less deductions, so that there will be no absolute tax cut for the upper class.”No one needs to read a sophisticated analysis (although you can do that, as well) to know these claims are ridiculous. Trump’s tax plan is reducing the top income-tax rate to 35 percent, from 39.6 percent. It is deeply cutting corporate taxes, which benefits people who own a lot of stock. It is eliminating the estate tax.Want to guess how many families in New York State — population 20 million — are wealthy enough that they’re likely to pay any estate tax next year, according to an estimate based on I.R.S. data? Just 470. The number is so low in Montana, Vermont, West Virginia and four other states — likely fewer than 10 families in each — that the I.R.S. doesn’t provide details, to avoid privacy concerns.There is no way to make up for tax cuts this large by eliminating deductions, as Mnuchin claimed. The administration isn’t trying very hard, anyway. The deductions for charitable donations and mortgage interest, including on second homes, will remain.