Posted by: maboulette | April 23, 2017

This Is What Will Protect Us From North Korea?


Top generals have been insisting for years that if North Korea launched a missile at the United States, the U.S military would be able to shoot it down.


But that is a highly questionable assertion, according to independent scientists and government investigators.


In making it, the generals fail to acknowledge huge questions about the effectiveness of the $40 billion missile defense system they rely on to stop a potential nuclear-armed ballistic missile fired by North Korean or Iran, according to a series of outside reviews.


“They are leading political leaders to believe that they have a military capability that they don’t, in fact, have,” says physicist David Wright, who has studied the program for years as co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.


Chris Johnson, a spokesman for the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, said the Pentagon “is confident in our ability to defend the homeland against ballistic missile threats.” While the program had reliability challenges early in its development, “we have made significant improvements over the last several years to ensure the system is able to operate as designed,” he added.


The missile defense system relies on 60-foot-tall, three-stage rockets of its own to knock the enemy projectiles out of space, a task that has been compared to shooting a bullet with a bullet. The system is known as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, or GMD.


There are 36 interceptors in operation, according to the Missile Defense Agency — four at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and 32 at Ft. Greely, Alaska. Eight more are due online by year’s end. In contrast to the Iron Dome system in Israel, which is designed to counter shorter range missiles and artillery, the GMD is made to hit missiles above the earth’s atmosphere — a more difficult proposition. It is among the heirs to the Strategic Defense Initiative, the so-called Star Wars program launched under Ronald Reagan.


The missiles are based in Alaska and California because the West Coast is the best place from which to intercept missiles that would travel the shortest routes from both Iran and North Korea. Congress has pushed for a third site on the East Coast.


Intelligence agencies don’t assess that North Korea is yet capable of firing a nuclear-armed missile at the U.S., but analysts believe it is on course to reach that goal.

But even through the system has been fielded it hasn’t been proven to work.


Last year, the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, concluded that the agency that runs the missile defense system “has not demonstrated through flight testing that it can defend the U.S. homeland.”


In nine simulated attacks since the system was deployed in 2004, interceptors have failed to take out their targets six times, even though the flight tests were far less challenging than an actual attack, according to The Los Angeles Times, which published an investigation of the missile defense system last year that uncovered a previously unknown test failure.

“Despite years of tinkering and vows to fix technical shortcomings, the system’s performance has gotten worse, not better,” The Times concluded.

Last July, the highly regarded Union of Concerned Scientists, which is often skeptical of military programs, weighed in with a 47-page report calling the U.S. approach to missile defense “disastrous.” Of the GMD, it concluded: “Its test record is poor and it has no demonstrated ability to stop an incoming missile under real-world conditions.”

A 2012 National Academy of Sciences study called the GMD “deficient” and recommended a complete overhaul of the interceptors, sensors, and concept of operations. No such overhaul has happened.


A senior Congressional aide who regularly receives classified briefings on the system told NBC News Tuesday: “None of this stuff works reliably. Nothing. Their interceptor programs are not working. They shoot down targets some of the time, but it’s not reliable enough that we would want to risk the catastrophic failure of a miss.”


The Pentagon and its Missile Defense Agency strongly disagree. Officials have repeatedly assured lawmakers and the public that the system, despite its testing failures, is up to the task of protecting the United States.


“Today we have exactly what we need to defend the United States of America against North Korea,” Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson, commander of the U.S. Northern Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 6.

Sen Lindsey Graham asked: “So if a missile were launched from North Korea in the next year we could knock it down?”

Yes sir,” Robinson replied.

There is no basis for such certainty, Wright and other experts say.

The Pentagon has spent more than $40 billion to field a system that has not been proven in a real world scenario.


The system has failed about half the time in tests that are scripted, Wright says — meaning those operating the missile defense system have information about the target they would not have in real life. In 2002, the program was exempted from normal testing and procurement standards so that it could be deployed faster.


“The system has still not been tested against realistic targets such as tumbling warheads, warheads accompanied by credible decoys, or warheads traveling at speeds and from distances similar to that of incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs),” the Union of Concerned Scientists report said. “Nearly 15 years after the GMD system was put on the fast track, the Pentagon’s own testing officials have said the system has not demonstrated an operationally useful capability to defend the U.S. public from a missile attack.”


Johnson, the missile agency spokesman, disputed that, asserting that the system had relied on “operationally realistic intercept tests.”


Military officials have acknowledged that the technology is not where they would like it to be. One of the ways they would seek to improve their odds is to fire four or five interceptors at any one missile, under what is known as “shot doctrine.”


“Today the shot doctrine, or number of (interceptors) launched at one incoming long range ballistic missile to ensure success, would be a high number,” says the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, a group of contractors that build the systems, on its web site.


However, the Union of Concerned Scientists has calculated that if five warheads were headed to the U.S., and each interceptor had a 50 percent chance of hitting its target, there would be a 28 percent chance that one warhead would get through. Those are not odds a president would want to rely on in the case of a nuclear weapon.


Moreover, those odds leave aside the potential use of decoys and countermeasures, which has bedeviled missile defense for years. The GMD relies on heat sensors to distinguish between the real warhead and decoys, Wright said, but that could be defeated by something as simple as using liquid nitrogen to cool the warhead before launch.


Supporters of the program argue that failed tests are part of the learning process.

“In the space business, that’s how you go fast,” said Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, in a recent appearance before Congress.

“Von Braun, in the early days of the rocket business, he had a 60 percent failure rate; maybe the greatest rocket scientist of all time,” he added, referring to German scientist Wernher von Braun, who is credited with inventing the V-2 rocket for Nazi Germany before being secretly spirited to the U.S., where he developed the Saturn V, which propelled the Apollo spacecraft to the moon.


But the problem, Wright and other critics say, is that the generals aren’t leveling with Congress and the American people about the uncertain state of the current technology. And they are spending billions fielding a system that may not work.

“More money to buy more bad stuff is not the answer,” the senior Congressional aide said. “More for research and development is the answer.”


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Trump mental health

35 psychiatrists this week gathered at a conference at Yale to sound the alarm on what they believe is President Donald Trump’s “dangerous mental illness.”


Per The Independent, the psychiatrists met at Yale’s School of Medicine on Thursday to talk about Donald Trump’s mental health, which they warned was frighteningly unstable.


We have an ethical responsibility to warn the public about Donald Trump’s dangerous mental illness,” said Dr. John Gartner, a practicing psychotherapist who advised psychiatric residents at Johns Hopkins University Medical School and who has in the past warned Trump is a “psychiatric Frankenstein monster.”

Gartner and other psychiatrists at the conference argued that Trump suffers from a particularly malignant case of pathological narcissism, which makes him a danger to the country and the world.


“Worse than just being a liar or a narcissist, in addition he is paranoid, delusional and grandiose thinking and he proved that to the country the first day he was president,” Gartner explained. “If Donald Trump really believes he had the largest crowd size in history, that’s delusional.”


Dr. James Gilligan, a psychiatrist and professor at New York University, said that Trump’s erratic behavior has similarly disturbed him — despite the fact that he has lots of experience working with violent convicted criminals.

“I’ve worked with murderers and rapists, I can recognize dangerousness from a mile away,” he said. “You don’t have to be an expert on dangerousness or spend fifty years studying it like I have in order to know how dangerous this man is.”


Typically, psychology professionals refrain from diagnosing public figures whom they haven’t personally interviewed, but Dr. Bandy Lee, an assistant clinical professor at the Yale School of Medicine, told the conference that the dangers Trump’s mental health present are simply too great to stay silent.


“As some prominent psychiatrists have noted, [Trump’s mental health] is the elephant in the room,” Lee explained. “I think the public is really starting to catch on and widely talk about this now.”

As time passes more and more articles such as this are being published.


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Julian Assange.jpg

It’s been seven years since Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, first came under the watchful eye of the Department of Justice. After collaborating with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning, to publish thousands of stolen files, officials have been trying to find a way to apprehend Assange without violating his first amendment rights. But now, officials say that they have evidence of his direct involvement with interference in the 2016 election, actively assisting Edward Snowden and direction of Chelsea Manning.  Assange has always maintained that he only posted government data that others have stolen.


Assange, who is said to be currently avoiding rape charges in Sweden, is hosted by the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. American officials had high hopes that a change in the Ecuadorian government would lead to Assange’s “eviction,” as it were, but the new president of Ecuador stands firm on their decision to harbor Assange.


The problem with placing charges on Assange has always been that his site is not the only publication to share government secrets. In America, publications have the right to educate Americans on all manner of topics, even if they aren’t presenting the government in the best of lights. But, Assange may have gone too far.


CIA Director, Mike Pompeo, states that Assange guided Chelsea Manning so that she intercepted specific information, information that was pertinent to the United States. Pompeo also declares that Assange worked with Russian intelligence to disrupt the 2016 election with the Hillary Clinton email scandal.


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Posted by: maboulette | April 22, 2017

Other Countries Are Losing Patience with North Korea

North Korea missles.jpg

Kim Jong-un, supreme leader of North Korea, just tried to launch a missile last Sunday. Another one. It failed. Will it be the last? Nope. Kim will not be deterred. Ever. He will just keep launching those missiles until he finally has a sure-fire rocket that he can strap a nuclear payload to and deliver it right to America’s front door.


“We’ll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis,” said North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Han Song Ryol to the BBC, adding that “all-out war” would occur if the U.S. took military action. He reiterated that North Korea will react with a “nuclear pre-emptive strike by our own style and method.”


Basically, if the U.S. makes a move, Kim will go nuclear. This is probably why former President Barack Obama said to President Trump before leaving the White House that he thought North Korea would probably be his most difficult challenge. He was right on the money.

Jong-un tried to conduct a missile test on Sunday. It failed. Kim pretended nothing happened and went about celebrating the birthday of his now-deceased grandfather, who was the first in this line of dictators. There was music and dancing, and, of course, goose stepping by the military.


But it wasn’t hard to see how staged the whole thing was. The children went through motions they had probably rehearsed 20 times. Finally, they got to eat. The parade wasn’t like parades in most other parts of the world. Parades usually have floats and all kinds of performers and cotton candy. But Kim’s parade was essentially a long line of trucks — trucks with missiles.
We haven’t heard anything more from Kim yet. He’s probably still busy pretending the last launch didn’t fail. But, we will likely hear from him soon with another missile launch.


Now the world waits — and wonders what the next move will be. It seems there is a consensus from all the countries in North Korea’s sphere that everyone is done trying to get Kim’s nukes through diplomatic channels and sanctions. He, his Dad and Grandfather played four U.S. presidents for more than 20 years. And they’ve all kicked the can down the road. They refer to it as “strategic patience.”


But, President Trump doesn’t want to play strategic patience anymore. He made it very clear via his Vice President, Mike Pence, who just happened to be landing in Seoul, South Korea, just as the missile was failing. While he was there, Pence visited the DMZ (demilitarized zone), which separates North and South Korea. Later in a speech, Pence said that the “era of strategic patience is over.” Full stop. He also reassured the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that the U.S. plans to work closely with the Asian allies to achieve “a peaceable resolution and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”


While it seems the only options with North Korea at this point are existential, there are some other ways we might be able to disarm him. One method there seems to have been some success with has been in the cyber warfare arena. In fact, it’s possible that the failure to launch on Sunday could have been as a result of our hacking. The U.S. military is developing a number of cyber tactics to use to degrade North Korea’s missile capabilities

“There is a very strong belief that the US — through cyber methods — has been successful on several occasions in interrupting these sorts of tests and making them fail,” former British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind told the BBC.

There are still some who believe that there can be more diplomacy here, even though it’s had little impact thus far. But the U.S. and its allies, including China, have been and will continue to work on a range of other responses to the latest missile test.


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Pressing issues

America has a “lying press” problem.  And it’s not the “enemy of the people” condition our president has asserted.

Think about the largest threats America faces right now.  


Abrupt climate change is happening around the world as a result of our usage of fossil fuels. France 24 reported on February 18 that half the population of Somalia is facing famine because of an extraordinary, climate change-driven drought that’s spreading across north and central Africa, while the United States is whipsawed between record weather extremes because there’s 6 percent more moisture in the air than in 1950, feeding these massive storms. The list goes on from the Arctic, which was up to 50 degrees warmer than it should be, to the Antarctic, where sea ice is also reaching lows not seen since humans came out of the trees.  

Have you seen the story on American network news? Probably not!


While Canada has acknowledged the internet to be a “fundamental right for all” and is strengthening its version of net neutrality while extending high-speed, low-cost (and often free) broadband internet service to all Canadians, the new head of the FCC, Ajit Pai, has said right out loud that he wants to end net neutrality in the U.S.  This would mean:

  • Increasing costs for Americans;
  • Potentially limiting access to websites;
  • Pay ISP’s extra for “fast access.”

Have you seen the story on American network news? No, probably not.


Fracking is triggering an explosion of earthquakes in Oklahoma, Ohio and Pennsylvania (among others) and devastating water supplies around the nation, while fossil fuel giants hand so much money off to Republican politicians that they’re willing to deny that human-caused climate change is even a problem or that fracking is unsafe. The fossil fuel industry has now largely grabbed control of the EPA.

Have you seen the story on American network news? Doubt it!


A flare-up of merging corporates in America started in 1982 when Reagan successfully stopped the enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. The last real enforcement was by Nixon against AT&T, which resolved under Carter with the company breaking up into 7 “Baby Bells” to improve competition, but those companies are now all re-consolidated.


Reagan’s deregulation lead to the merging and acquisition craze from the 1980s to today, emphasized in the movie Wall Street with Michael Douglas famously echoing Michael Milken’s emotion that “Greed is good.” The latest industries to recently hyper-consolidate are Big Pharma and Big Health Insurance. But media consolidation is the most pernicious when it comes to a “lying press.”

Have you seen the story on American network news? Never!


An American landscape that used to be filled with local, independently owned businesses has become so homogenized by the handful of companies that control our retail, restaurant, and travel sectors that you could parachute from space to any random area of the country and have no idea where you are because everything is the same. It makes billions for the billionaires, but locks out anything approaching the local competition that used to be a trademark of American business.

Have you seen the story on American network news? No, no you haven’t.


While pundits rant about crime in Chicago, nobody mentions the likely:

  • 100,000 people who die every year from workplace-related diseases;
  • 65,000 who die from mostly fossil fuel-related air pollution;
  • 400,000 Americans killed every year by the tobacco industry.

At the same time we hyperventilate about street crime and drugs, corporate criminals and banksters destroy working class families with much higher frequency than burglars or robbers but are almost never, ever jailed.


Have you heard a single complete word about any of these issues on the network news?  Odds are the answer is “No,” and when you have, it really is the rare exception that proves the rule, and usually presented in a frame that is very narrow that doesn’t include corporate malfeasance.


Our radio and TV press is not keeping us up-to-date about things that actually matter to our everyday lives and economy, and in its place focus on things that drive up ratings (including, but not limited to, the Donald Trump Reality Show POTUS Version, which they cynically hit us over the head with throughout 2015 and 2016 because it was, as CBS’s Les Mooves famously said, not good for America but great for CBS).  


In a word: Profits. Profits over truth! Profits over “news”! Profits over the planet! Profits over human survival!


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Posted by: maboulette | April 21, 2017

New CIA Chief Mike Pompeo Condemns WikiLeaks


In a week of head-snapping policy reversals by the Trump administration, new CIA chief Mike Pompeo delivered an unexpected broadside at WikiLeaks and Russia, both of which were once praised by his boss on the campaign trail—and even Pompeo himself once tweeted out WikiLeaks stories.   


“WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service,” he told the crowd at a Washington, D.C. think tank in his first public remarks as head of the intelligence agency Thursday. He accused WikiLeaks of endangering lives and acting as a veritable arm of Russian intelligence.

He said Russian military intelligence, the GRU, “had used WikiLeaks to release data… obtained through cyber operations against the Democratic National Committee,” a one-two punch that added up to another cold blast aimed at Moscow from President Donald Trump’s administration. 


The speech clearly marked Pompeo as one of the Team Trump newcomers who brought along a hawkish attitude toward Russia, much like the secretaries of state and defense. It marked yet another break from the warming trend toward Moscow that Trump had promised on the campaign trail, when he was being advised by his former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, and campaign team members Paul Manafort and Carter Page, all now under federal investigation for alleged ties to Russia. 


A former congressman, Army officer, and Harvard-trained lawyer, Pompeo is among the cabinet-level officials Trump is growing to rely on and trust, according to multiple U.S. officials speaking anonymously to describe the relationship. 


Pompeo called the relationship between Trump and the intelligence community “fantastic,” in a turnaround from the rocky start when Trump talked about the size of his inauguration crowd in front of the CIA’s hallowed Memorial Wall honoring those lost in service to the nation, and launched tweet storms accusing U.S. intelligence of leaking damaging material about his campaign. Now Pompeo says he’s at the White House almost daily, briefing Trump and often Vice President Mike Pence as well. 

“They are voracious consumers of the product we develop. They ask really hard questions,” Pompeo said, adding that Trump is “completely prepared to hear things that run counter” to his hypothesis. 


But the CIA has been under siege since Pompeo took the helm, after WikiLeaks released thousands of documents that it says show how the CIA spies via everything from laptops, smart phones to smart TVs. The CIA has declined to confirm the authenticity of the documents, but current and former intelligence officials say they are legitimate though mostly dated. 


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called such leaks “truths regarding overreaches and abuses conducted in secret by the powerful,” in an opinion piece in several newspapers this week.

The new CIA chief struck back, calling Assange a coward, a narcissist and a hero for al Qaeda, which has praised the leaks of former NSA contractor-turned-fugitive Edward Snowden exposing American and British spycraft, and he lamented that roughly a 1,000 CIA targets had changed how they communicated after the WikiLeaks-spread disclosures. 

“While we do our best to quietly collect information on those who present very real threats to our country, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden seek to use that information to make a name for themselves,” Pompeo said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies event. “As long as they make a splash they care nothing about the lives they put at risk or the damage they cause to national security.” 

Yet Pompeo himself once found such documents useful—or his Congressional staff did, depending on who was running the Kansas Republican’s @repmikepompeo Twitter account. A now-deleted tweet gleefully shared a report of WikiLeaks disclosures on hacked DNC emails that were so damaging to the campaign of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

“Need further proof that the fix was in from Pres. Obama on down?” Pompeo’s now-deleted tweet asked rhetorically, linking to a conservative blog. 

The CIA declined to comment. 

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Oreilly and Trump

Bill O’Reilly will receive tens of millions of dollars in his high-profile exit from Fox News amid sexual harassment allegations, according to a report.


The longtime “The O’Reilly Factor” host, axed by the network on Wednesday after 21 years, had a sizeable safety net in his contract, CNN reported.

“It is a staggering amount,” a source involved in the anchor’s departure told the news network.


CNN reported the 67-year-old O’Reilly’s recent contract extension was set to pay him $25 million a year.


A source added that O’Reilly won’t get the full amount of the contact, which was set to carry the high-ranking TV host at least through the 2020 election, according to the network.


Parent company 21st Century Fox worked “outs” into O’Reilly’s extension when it was signed last month.


Weeks after the contract was signed, The New York Times reported O’Reilly and Fox News had paid $13 million to pay five sexual harassment accusers over the last few years.


Members of the Murdoch family who run 21st Century Fox were aware of the coming Times story and weaved the “outs” into his contract, CNN reported. But they didn’t expect that the fallout — including pulled advertising and protests outside company headquarters — would be this strong.


Longtime Fox News CEO Roger Ailes was paid the whole remainder of his contract when he resigned from the company last summer — grappling with his own set of harassment allegations.

He collected over $40 million during his departure, according to CNN.

So Trump becomes President and O’Reilly gets 24 millions – just doesn’t make sense does it!


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humanitarian aid

A few hours before the wealthy Donald Trump decided to blow things up in order to stop the disastrous coverage of his equally disastrous presidency, Chris Matthews had four-star Army General Barry McCaffrey on his show Hardball. Gen. McCaffrey was there to discuss the Trump administration’s clear overtures of imminent U.S. military action in Syria. Gen. McCaffrey was asked about the merits of a small scale missile strike, like the one that actually ended up happening.

MCCAFFREY: The question is has the Trump white house written down the political objectives they are trying to achieve through military force? And if we’re signaling displeasure to killing people with chemical weapons, there will be a consequence of that strike that will achieve no decisive results in this ongoing war. A half million have been murdered. Self-propelled artillery tanks, AK-47s. Now we’re going to respond with military power over 100 people murdered with chemical weapons? I’m not too sure there’s clarity in what they’re trying to achieve.

MATTHEWS: What would be the reason for a military person in the situation or wherever at the Pentagon to recommend, if it is such a limited strike, what would be the argument for it except, you know, P.R.?

MCCAFFREY: Well, I don’t think there is an argument. I think it would be a mistake to conduct limited political signaling using naval air power or F-16s flying out of someplace in the region. I do believe there’s a chance that Mattis will table—the secretary of defense—an option to eliminate the Syrian air force. The Russians will not confront U.S. Air force and naval air in air combat. We probably would kill some of them, but I think they would probably step aside. Now, the consequences of that, though, might be Iranian revolutionary guards killing soldiers, U.S. Soldiers in Iraq. Hezbollah going after the Israelis. So, military power invites unknown consequences when you carry it out. The question might be, why don’t we consider significant humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees in border regions of Turkey and Jordan and Iraq, in lieu of ineffective military strikes.

That’s just a small bit of the thinking that clearly wasn’t involved in last night’s public relations event.

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trump nd manfort

One day after his bank records were found to have aligned with Ukrainian records asserting that he was paid tens of millions of dollars by a Kremlin intermediary, Paul Manafort announced that he’ll be retroactively registering as a foreign agent. But now another shoe has dropped. According to the New York Times, the day Manafort stepped down from the Donald Trump campaign, he created a shell company which Trump’s allies filled with $13 million in “loans.”


The stunning new revelation suggests that Trump may have had his financial associates pay the radioactive Paul Manafort to go away, after allegations of the Kremlin payments surfaced during the height of the 2016 campaign. Manafort had been running the Trump campaign while taking no salary, so his departure from the campaign would not have placed any sudden financial strain on him. Yet nonetheless, Manafort instantly borrowed millions from Trump associate Alexander Rovt, who has a long financial association with Trump hotels.


At the time Manafort resigned from the Trump campaign, he had been its chairman for several months, and had also briefly served as campaign manager. The cynical understanding would be that Trump had his associates funnel the money to Manafort in exchange for stepping down quietly and keeping any campaign secrets to himself. This part is not proven. However, a number of other Trump campaign advisers having secretly met with Russian government officials during the election, and at least two of them having acted so suspiciously that the FBI was able to obtain FISA surveillance warrants on them. So there was quite a lot of dirt for a departing campaign chairman to have kept quiet about.


It’s not yet clear if the loans to Manafort have been paid back, or if they will be paid back — or if they were merely “loans” in the sense that Deutsche Bank keeps mysteriously funneling money into Trump’s hands even though he tends not to pay his loans back. Deutsche, in turn, was recently busted by the State of New York for laundering Russian money into clients in New York City.


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Posted by: maboulette | April 20, 2017

President Trump – Release Your Taxes Returns

Trump tax returns

Some wore shirts with an image of President Trump as the Monopoly mascot hauling a bag of money. Others taunted the president with signs that said they would show him their taxes, if he showed them his. And in front of a few thousand people on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol there was an oversized inflatable chicken with hair resembling Trump’s, suggesting the president is “too chicken” to release his taxes to the public.


From Seattle to the District, protesters gathered in cities throughout the country Saturday calling on Trump to release his personal tax returns as part of a nationwide Tax March. The protest falls on the country’s traditionally recognized deadline to file taxes, April 15.


In all, dozens of protests occurred throughout the country. The main march unfolded in the nation’s capital, where protesters gathered for a rally in front of the Capitol and then marched west along Pennsylvania Avenue. In South Florida, activists marched to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, where the president is staying this weekend. Thousands more gathered at a large march in New York City, where activists, comedians and a state senator spoke. Many of the protests featured an inflatable chicken, a mascot of sorts for the march.


Presidents are not required to release their tax returns but have done so voluntarily dating to the 1970s. Activists and others say it is the only way to be fully open about any potential conflicts of interest.


In the nation’s capital, the crowd was mostly filled with locals and Spring Break tourists, some of whom purposely planned their trips to coincide with the march.

C.J. Ingram, a D.C. resident in her 50s who works in a funeral home, attended the march, her first protest during Trump’s presidency

I’m really mad because he made Barack Obama produce his birth certificate, and he’s not even producing his tax returns,” Ingram said. “Come on, really? What are you hiding?”


Trump has refused to release his tax returns, stating that he has been under audit. Asked for comment Thursday on the Tax March, the White House referred to comments earlier this week from press secretary Sean Spicer, who repeated that Trump is under an IRS audit, but indicated the president has been transparent with his finances.


The non-profit, Electronic Privacy Information Center filed suit in D.C. federal court Saturday over Trump’s tax returns, arguing there is a provision in IRS regulations that allows their release.


During the march in the District, the lineup of speakers included Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) and others. The speakers derided the president, and called on him to act ethically and read the Constitution.

“Releasing your tax returns is lowest ethical bar for a president,” Wyden said. “And we’re going to make sure he clears that hurdle.”

Raskin suggested Trump was acting more like a king than an elected president.

“In America, no one is above the law, and all of us are subject to it,” the Maryland congressman said. “If you don’t release your taxes, we have no way of knowing if you are putting America first, or Donald Trump first.”


Tom Kelleher, 64, was visiting from California and carried a sign pointing out that even Nixon, who resigned the presidency in disgrace, released his taxes. Other signs suggested that the president may be refusing to release his taxes because it would link him to Russia.

As they marched, some in the crowd chanted “Hey, Hey we want to see your Schedule A” — a reference to a tax form used to itemize deductions.


Jennifer Taub, a professor at Vermont Law School, said the purpose of the march is also call on lawmakers to pass tax reforms that don’t only benefit the richest Americans. And, of course, she said she hopes citizens can compel the president to release his taxes to ensure he has no conflicts of interest.

“I do care about his taxes. I care about transparency and conflict of interest,” Taub said in an interview last week. “I think it’s important for us, we the people, to express First Amendment rights and say we want to see them.”


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