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Donors Flee Financing Cholera Fight in Haiti

This is a very sad state of affairs, when Haitian citizens still suffer fro Cholera, but the world has largely washed their hands of the country.

This largely has to do with the frustration with corrupt or misguided Haitian Government officials who have stymied nearly every effort to help the country. And no, that doesn’t mean the UN’s hands are clean.

After Bringing Cholera to Haiti, U.N. Can’t Raise Money to Fight It

When the leader of the United Nations apologized to Haitians for the cholera epidemic that has ravaged their country for more than six years — caused by infected peacekeepers sent to protect them — he proclaimed a “moral responsibility” to make things right.

The apology, announced in December along with a $400 million strategy to combat the epidemic and “provide material assistance and support” for victims, amounted to a rare public act of contrition by the United Nations. Under its secretary general at the time, Ban Ki-moon, the organization had resisted any acceptance of blame for the epidemic, one of the worst cholera outbreaks in modern times.

Since then, however, the United Nations’ strategy to fight the epidemic, which it calls the “New Approach,” has failed to gain traction. A trust fund created to help finance the strategy has only about $2 million, according to the latest data on its website. Just six of the 193 member states — Britain, Chile, France, India, Liechtenstein and South Korea — have donated.

Other countries have provided additional sources of anti-cholera funding for Haiti outside the trust fund, most notably Canada, at about $4.6 million, and Japan, at $2.6 million, according to the United Nations. Nonetheless, the totals received are a fraction of what Mr. Ban envisioned.

In a letter sent to member states last month, Mr. Ban’s successor, António Guterres, asked for financial commitments to the trust fund by March 6. He also appeared to raise the possibility of a mandatory dues assessment if there were no significant pledges.

The deadline came and went without much response.

Mr. Guterres has not stated publicly whether he intends to push for a mandatory assessment in the budget negotiations now underway at the United Nations. Privately, however, diplomats and United Nations officials said he had shelved the idea, partly because of strong resistance by some powerful members, including the United States.

Diplomats said part of the problem could be traced to simple donor fatigue, as well as to many countries’ reluctance to make financial commitments without certainty that the money will be used effectively.

 

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2017 in Haiti

 

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More Corruption and Thuggery – Trump Tries to Force Country to Use His Hotel

Want an appointment with the Chumph? Pay $1 million to his kids, or schedule a major event at his hotel. The Four Seasons is one of the best Hotels in DC with an absolutely “killer” chef. It isn’t for the weak of wallet, or faint of plastic though. Moving from the Four Seasons to the Trump Hotel is like moving from the Ritz to a Motel 6.

Conflict of interest, corruption, and profiteering is supposedly against the law.

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Four Seasons Banquet

Kuwait cancels event because of pressure to move to Trump hotel

The Embassy of Kuwait allegedly cancelled a contract with a Washington, D.C. hotel days after the presidential election, citing political pressure to hold its National Day celebration at the Trump International Hotel instead.

A source tells ThinkProgress that the Kuwaiti embassy, which has regularly held the event at the Four Seasons in Georgetown, abruptly canceled its reservation after members of the Trump Organization pressured the ambassador to hold the event at the hotel owned by the president-elect. The source, who has direct knowledge of the arrangements between the hotels and the embassy, spoke to ThinkProgress on the condition of anonymity because the individual was not authorized to speak publicly. ThinkProgress was also able to review documentary evidence confirming the source’s account.

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Chumph Motel 6 in DC

ThinkProgress reported late Monday that employees of the president-elect’s private business interests were ultimately successful in their campaign to pressure Kuwait into moving its National Day celebration to the Trump International Hotel from the Four Seasons, where the event has been held annually for years. According to an anonymous source with knowledge of the arrangements and documentary evidence reviewed by the news site, the decision to move the event to Trump’s hotel was a result of “political pressure” by the Trump Organization:

In the early fall, the Kuwaiti Embassy signed a contract with the Four Seasons. But after the election, members of the Trump Organization contacted the Ambassador of Kuwait, Salem Al-Sabah, and encouraged him to move his event to Trump’s D.C. hotel, the source said.

Kuwait has now signed a contract with the Trump International Hotel, the source said, adding that a representative with the embassy described the decision as political. Invitations to the event are typically sent out in January.

This comes after the Trump International Hotel hosted some 100 foreign diplomats for a reception in mid-November, according to The Washington Post. The Embassy of Bahrain also hosted a reception at Trump’s hotel on Dec. 7.

Aside from the obvious conflict of interest concerns these arrangements elicit, it may be a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Trump’s hotel inside D.C.’s historic Post Office Pavilion is actually owned by the federal government. A group of Democratic House lawmakers recently warned that Trump would breach his 60-year hotel lease with the federal government “the moment he takes office” unless he fully divests his interests in it.

 
 

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Bad ‘Bidness’ — Trump Screwed Contractors…They Screwed Him Right Back

Back when I owned a government contracting business (Yes, I confess, I was a “Beltway Bandit”), there were a couple of Government agencies around town who were known to be particularly difficult to work for. Either stiffing contractors by exceedingly long payment cycles stretching payment for services often out over 90, 120, and even 180 days, changing project requirements in midstream and then being unwilling to pay the additional costs. And one particular agency whose contracting officers were known to be particularly hostile and difficult to work with. In any business your first priority (besides income) is to pay the people working for you….On time. That means if you contract for a 30 day payment cycle from your client, and you pay your employees weekly, you are out 4 weeks of salaries and expenses before you see the first dime roll in the door. Stretch that out 180 days, and if you have ten people making $50k a year…

That is $250,000 you have to come up with. Which is a hell of a lot of money for a small business.

Now, there are companies which will loan you money against invoices. You have invoiced Client X for $100,000, and they haven’t paid yet, you can borrow $100,000 to cover salaries until thy do. The problem being, you just lost, 3, 5, 8, 10% of what you borrowed as interest – subtracted directly from your bottom line. So let’s say your profit on $100,000 was planned to be $10,000 (Only the big Bandits get to mark up their margins to 30/35% in the Government contracting business, the small contractors are typically held to under 10%)…

You just paid $10,000 to borrow the money – meaning you made nothing. That profit is what allows your business to grow…And hire more people.

So what the businesses started doing is jacking the bids for work, and raising the rates to cover their anticipated losses. What should have been a $500,0000 contract became a $650,000 contract.

Congress finally stepped in and fixed that payment cycle in the mid 90’s, because the irresponsible and sometimes despicable actions of some government employees were driving small businesses out of business. And no, you can’t take them to court. You can’t sue the government unless they agree to be sued, and often such lawsuit is conducted in a special Kangaroo Court which massively favors the government, even when it’s employees have committed fraud.

In Civil Courts in the US, the outcome is determined by which party has the most money. A tool used by scumbags like Donald Trump against small businesses constantly.

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The ‘Trump Tax’: How Atlantic City businesses bilked Trump out of millions after he’d stiffed them

Has Donald Trump really refused to pay workers? Absolutely.

I grew up in Atlantic City, son of an Atlantic City firefighter. Like many firefighters, my dad had a side job working construction. When I was old enough, I apprenticed with a few of his friends so I could learn some trade skills over summer break. While neither of us personally did a job for Trump (and I was too young to have worked on them personally), we knew plenty of people who did. People on a job site talk, especially about horror stories with former projects. In all the stories I heard about work at Trump’s casinos, I don’t think I know a single person who received payment in full from Donald Trump without going to court.

The way a Trump project went in the early days of his AC properties was basically this:

The project started out with a tough, competitive bidding war. This was pretty common for casino projects prior to Trump, and everyone competed to be the cheapest and give a fair price. The contractor selected would then negotiate some specific terms. Typically Trump would try to reduce the price a bit more, and push as much of the payment as possible to the end of the contract. In itself, it’s not that unusual. It gives the client leverage when it comes to completing the project on time and at quality. But it puts the contractor in a bad position, as they have to cover payroll and often some materials out of pocket until the final payment comes through.

The job would then proceed. Complaints about delays due to Trump micromanaging things were common. He’d suddenly change suppliers or decide he didn’t like the carpet or drapes or chandeliers after they’d already been installed. So the project would run long and be over budget.

Eventually you’d finish and send off that final invoice. At this point, you’re stretched pretty thin. Your payroll and supply costs were higher than expected and all that cost has been out of pocket, so even with the final lump sum you’re doing a little better than breaking even. You pick up the check and it’s for exactly half what he owes you. You obviously ask for the rest and he makes up some reason for knocking off half what he owes (sometimes those delays he caused) and says if you want the rest you’ll have to sue him for it, but that he’s got a very good legal team and it’ll cost more than he owes you just to get it. You know you could win the suit, but financially you can’t afford a long drawn out legal battle.

Plenty of people have taken him to court. And he stalls. That’s his whole strategy. Just wait until you can’t afford to keep the case up. If you can hold out, you know you’ll win, but by then you’re in bad shape and may default on loans or lose your business. And it’s not just you, it’s the guys on your crew. You owe them their paychecks. You can’t just screw them because Trump screwed you. So most people just took what he was willing to give.

Eventually we got smart. We instituted the Trump Tax. Contractors started padding out their bids by quite a bit, so that even if you didn’t get that final payment you’d at least break even. Trump still thought he was being clever and making those “great deals” he’s always talking about, but in truth he was now getting hosed and losing more money over his dishonesty than he ever saved. Every once in a while someone would break ranks and give Trump a fair price. They’d lose their shirt on the job and learn a lesson.

In the long run, it would have been better for everyone involved if Trump had just played it straight. But he couldn’t help himself. And the people of Atlantic City paid the lion’s share of the price.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2016 in Chumph Butt Kicking

 

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More Massive Corruption at Wells Fargo Bank

I have said here that Wells Fargo is the most corrupt bank in America. They paid $1.2 billion a few years ago, then the largest fine ever levied on a financial institution for their part in the Mortgage scams leading up to the Great Depression of 2009. IN 2013 the Bank was forced to pay $203 million in restitution and penalties for fake overdraft fees in Gutierrez vs. Wells Fargo. In 2012, the Justice Department ( Justice Dept. vs.Wells Fargo) the court reached a verdict based on Discrimination against African-American and Hispanic borrowers who were steered into high-cost, subprime mortgages. $175 million to be paid to the victims – 34,000 black and Hispanic Mortgage holders.

Here they are again paying a record fine for screwing the customers again…

Supposedly the company has terminated 5,300 employees as part of an internal review. How much you want to bet not a single one of them is one of the crooks at the top?

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Wells Fargo making a get away after a robbery…

 

Wells Fargo Fined $185 Million Over Creation Of Fake Accounts For Bonuses

Wells Fargo Bank has been ordered to pay $185 million in fines and penalties to settle what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau calls “the widespread illegal practice of secretly opening unauthorized deposit and credit card accounts.”

Thousands of Wells Fargo employees opened the accounts in secret so they would get bonuses for hitting their sales targets, according to investigators. More than 2 million deposit and credit card accounts may have been created without customer authorization.

The bank must pay $100 million to the CFPB — the largest fine ever levied by the federal consumer watchdog. It also will pay $50 million to the City and County of Los Angeles, along with a $35 million penalty to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

It’s also on the hook to pay full restitution to all victims of the scheme.

“Because of the severity of these violations, Wells Fargo is paying the largest penalty the CFPB has ever imposed,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Today’s action should serve notice to the entire industry that financial incentive programs, if not monitored carefully, carry serious risks that can have serious legal consequences.”

The CFPB’s consent order says the bank has already terminated 5,300 employees as part of an internal review.

Wells Fargo said in a statement that it has fired managers and employees “who acted counter to our values” in carrying out the schemes. It also refunded $2.6 million in fees it collected from customers. The bank said that “accounts refunded represented a fraction of one percent of the accounts reviewed, and refunds averaged $25.”

In addition, the Sioux Falls, S.D.-based bank says it is taking steps to keep this type of scheme from occurring again, noting that it will now send a customer an email confirmation shortly after a deposit account is opened.

“This is a major victory for consumers,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, whose office sued Wells Fargo in 2015 after a Los Angeles Times investigation into the fake accounts. “Consumers must be able to trust their banks. They should never be taken advantage of by their banks.”

Feuer’s office says that after the suit was filed, the city attorney received “more than 1,000 phone calls and emails from customers and current and former Wells Fargo employees across the nation about the issues raised in the litigation.”

 

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2016 in American Greed

 

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Who’s Afraid of Democracy Spring?

For the past week a group of demonstrators called Democracy Spring have been protesting at the Capital. So far, over 1200 of them have been arrested, including a number of famous names…

Yet – you wouldn’t know this massive demonstration is going on watching he MSM.

The paymasters of the MSM don’t want you to know that thousands are showing up to protest bought out politicians, bought out elections, and a bought out Press.

 

1,240 arrested in past week as “Democracy Spring” movement against money in politics spreads throughout U.S.

Activists carried out one of the biggest acts of civil disobedience in recent history—yet got little media coverage

It was one of the most massive acts of civil disobedience in recent U.S. history. Over the past week, well over 1,000 people were arrested in an enormous sit-in protest at the U.S. Capitol.

The demonstration is part of a new movement that calls itself “Democracy Spring.” Activists are calling for ending the chokehold money has on U.S. politics, overturning Citizens United and restoring voting rights.

On April 2, activists launched a colossal 10-day, 140-mile march from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. This was the preface to the mass arrests.

At least 1,240 protesters were arrested in the week from Monday, April 11 to Monday, April 18, according to police, on charges of crowding, obstructing or incommoding. Some activists even tied themselves to scaffolding in the Capitol rotunda.

Activists say even more people were arrested. The Nation put the figure at 1,400. The left-wing magazine refers to Democracy Spring and the allied Democracy Awakening protests from April 16 to 18 as “the most important protest of the 2016 election.”

A host of celebrities and prominent figures joined the protesters. Actress Rosario Dawson — who has become an outspoken Bernie Sanders supporter — was arrested, as was Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig, along with leaders from the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the AFL-CIO and the NAACP.

And although the Washington, D.C. demonstration officially ended Monday, Democracy Spring is only just beginning.

Leaders in the movement say they plan on expanding it throughout the country.

“Despite this unprecedented call to action, the congressional leadership did nothing,” Kai Newkirk, the campaign director of Democracy Spring, explained.

“Now we will take the battle into their offices in D.C., their home districts and to their fundraisers, to the party conventions and beyond.”

 Democracy Spring activists are asking that all U.S. political candidates sign the Equal Voice for All Declaration, which maintains that the “government should be free from the corrupting influence of big money in politics and solely dependent upon the People” and calls “for pro-democracy, anti-corruption reforms, including voting rights protections, citizen-funded elections, and a constitutional amendment to overturn
Citizens United.”

The movement is non-partisan and is not affiliated with any political candidates or parties. It has been organized by a coalition of more than 120 organizations, activist groups and unions, which share principles of unity.

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has expressed support for the new movement.

“We must overturn Citizens United if we are serious about maintaining the foundations of American democracy,” his campaign tweeted.

“Americans understand that our gov’t is dominated by big money. Glad to see people taking action to restore democracy.”

 

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Egyptian Court Convicted 1 Year Old for Murder!

That’s right. The search for courts more dysfunctional than those in some parts of America is over!

Seems the little tyke was convicted of killing three people, carrying guns and firebombs, blocking a road with burning tires, and trying to damage government buildings.

One bad a** baby!

Egyptian Military Calls Toddler’s Life Sentence for Murder a Mistake

As alibis go, this one would seem to be airtight: Your honor, my client was only a year old at the time of the crime.

But it did not stop an Egyptian military court from convicting the accused, a boy now 3 ½, of killing three people, carrying guns and firebombs, blocking a road with burning tires, and trying to damage government buildings — and sentencing him to life in prison.

The verdict came last week in a mass trial of 107 people suspected of being members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, and the charges stemmed from the protests, street clashes and police crackdowns in Egypt after the military overthrow of the elected Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, in 2013. Hundreds of people were killed and thousands were jailed.

After an uproar over the conviction of the boy — Ahmed Mansour Qorani Sharara, who was never arrested — the military said that it was a case of mistaken identity, and that the authorities had actually meant to try a 16-year-old student with the same name. The teenager is on the run, the military added in a post on its official Facebook page.

But that, too, may be a mistake: Before the military statement, a police spokesman, Abu Bakr Abdel-Karim, said in a television interview that the wanted culprit was the toddler’s uncle, a 51-year-old man who has a similar name.

In an interview on Tuesday, Mr. Abdel-Karim said the reason for the mix-up remained unknown. “I don’t know why there is a contradiction between the statements,” he said. “I’m not the one responsible for communication with the army.”

A military spokesman, Mohammed Samir, refused to comment.

The case shed a stark light on the often dysfunctional Egyptian judiciary, which since 2013 has sentenced hundreds of people to death or to life in prison in mass trials on what human rights advocacy groups have called trumped-up charges. Ahmed’s conviction was for crimes allegedly committed by supporters of Mr. Morsi in January 2014.

The army’s announcements about the case of mistaken identity have not included any apology for the distress caused to the child’s family, which was evident in an appearance the boy and his father made on one ofEgypt’s most-watched talk shows.

“I swear I don’t want to upset anyone,” the father, Mansour Qorani Sharara, said through sobs as he held the boy and pleaded for help. “They told me they will take my child. No one will take my child.”

The show’s host, Wael el-Ibrashy, favored the ouster of Mr. Morsi and is a prominent supporter of the current government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. But he said despondently, “I don’t know how people are meant to believe in justice after they see this.”

Mr. Sharara’s wife, Hemat, called in to the show to say that the police came to the family home looking for her husband and child while Mr. Sharara was on the air. Mr. Sharara had already spent four months in prison because the authorities mistook him for his son.

Egypt maintains that its judiciary is independent, and the government routinely rejects all criticism of its judges or their verdicts. Even so, human rights groups say Egyptian judges comply with the government’s wishes.

Insulting the judiciary is a crime in Egypt, and many people have been convicted of the charge in recent years.

The judiciary came under fire this week after a Cairo court sentenced an author, Ahmed Nagy, to two years in prison for publishing an excerpt from his novel, which contained sexually explicit details and drug scenes, in a magazine.

 

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2016 in General, News

 

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FCC Forcing Minority Owned Stations Off the Air

The more things change…The more they remain the same. This is all about the big cell carriers getting their way, and screw the consumers an small station owners. The coverage area of the crappy new Digital TV is pitiful, and many subscribers are left with no option but to pay exorbitant, rip-off cable TV bills for piss poor service and channel selection. Consumers yet again screwed by a corrupt government.

Michelle Diaz Agha and her husband, Maxwell C. Agha, own KSDY-TV Channel 50, a small station in San Diego

Many small TV stations may soon be forced off the air

Maxwell C. Agha and his wife, Michelle Diaz Agha, have pumped $15 million into their small San Diego TV station over the last two decades so they could broadcast Spanish-language news, Catholic shows and local programming.

But KSDY-TV Channel 50 and many other small, low-power TV stations, which often broadcast foreign-language and religious programming, soon could be silenced — knocked off the air involuntarily by the federal government with no compensation to their owners or alternatives for their often low-income viewers.

The stations are the potential collateral damage of an ambitious attempt, set to begin next month, to transform the public airwaves for the mobile needs of the 21st century.

The Federal Communications Commission plans to use a complex auction to shift a huge swath of public airwaves from carrying TV signals to delivering wireless services to smartphones and other data-hungry mobile devices.

Because of that effort, the Aghas could face the prospect of spending millions of dollars more to keep their station on the air by moving to another channel — if one is even available after broadcasters are squeezed into a smaller chunk of the radio-wave spectrum.

If there is no free channel available, KSDY would go dark.

“They awarded these licenses and asked people to invest and now they say they can just take this and auction it and keep the money,” said Maxwell Agha, chief executive of International Communications Network Inc., which owns the station. “It’s a totally unfair process.”

The two-part auction, which begins March 29, aims to attract some of the nation’s 1,782 full-power broadcasters and 405 specially licensed Class-A low-power stations to give up their rights to those airwaves in exchange for a cut of the proceeds paid by wireless providers for licenses to use them.

The auction could produce as much as $40 billion in new licensing fees from AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and other wireless providers. Proceeds of even half that could lead to a jackpot of hundreds of millions of dollars to some TV station owners who decide to give up their airwaves.

But the auction could be a disaster for many of the smallest players in the broadcast world and their viewers: the 1,822 standard low-power TV stations.

“It’s catastrophic,” said Ravi Kapur, who owns a Chicago low-power station and founded a network that airs South Asian programming on low-power stations in Los Angeles and Houston. “These stations will go off the air and there will be a whole lot of calls to the FCC and members of Congress and it will be too late.”

The FCC created low-power TV licenses in 1982 “to provide opportunities for locally oriented television service.” The stations are limited in their signal power, allowing them to broadcast on unused patches of the airwaves as long as they don’t cause interference with full-power stations.

Because they are easier to obtain and less costly to run, low-power TV stations have a much more diverse ownership.

About 15% of the stations were owned by women, 10% by Latinos and 1.3% by blacks, as of 2013, the most recent FCC data available. That compares with 6.3% of full-power stations owned by women, 3% by Latinos and 0.6% by blacks.

 

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