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  #981  
Old 03-27-2017, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Davian93 View Post
Also, perhaps people should start following the money...
This so much. Hillary's money problems were the main reason why I didn't want to vote for her (and didn't, though I would have if I lived in a slightly less blue state). Trump makes Hillary's corruption problem look really trivial. I don't know if this story has been posted here but it's just one of the many interesting stories floating around.
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  #982  
Old 03-27-2017, 01:25 PM
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This so much. Hillary's money problems were the main reason why I didn't want to vote for her (and didn't, though I would have if I lived in a slightly less blue state). Trump makes Hillary's corruption problem look really trivial. I don't know if this story has been posted here but it's just one of the many interesting stories floating around.
The Clintons are corrupt in the garden variety what you'd expect out of long-time politicians...although the attacks on their foundation were pretty unfounded given that it actually does a ton of good and everything has been pretty transparent (ie the exact opposite of any charity Trump has ever been involved in). Most of their issues were and have always been self-inflicted whether its setting up a private email server due to a massive level of paranoia over leaks to staining a blue dress....

I'm not saying either of them is squeaky clean by any means but 99% of the wacky conspiracy theories that the Right has pinned on them over the past 25 years are sheer fantasy at best.

Trump is evil on a scale never before seen in a major political office holder in the US. He makes Aaron Burr look like a good guy.
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  #983  
Old 03-27-2017, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Terez View Post
This so much. Hillary's money problems were the main reason why I didn't want to vote for her (and didn't, though I would have if I lived in a slightly less blue state). Trump makes Hillary's corruption problem look really trivial. I don't know if this story has been posted here but it's just one of the many interesting stories floating around.
Having read the article...kinda sounds like a money laundering scam to me.
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  #984  
Old 03-27-2017, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Davian93 View Post
Having read the article...kinda sounds like a money laundering scam to me.
It sounds like it was poorly planned, poorly located, and an abject failure (at least for the Azerbaijani, Trump seems to have turned a minor profit on it, mostly through naming rights, and didn't seem heavily involved - though Ivanka did seem to take a somewhat direct role in the planning, planning which doesn't particularly speak will to her acumen), but it doesn't really seem much more corrupt than what one would really expect from a somewhat run-of-the-mill shady construction project.

This would seem to cover most of the essential details (it's a long article).

Quote:
The more time I spent in the neighborhood, the more I wondered how the hotel could have been imagined as a viable business. The development was conceived, in 2008, as a high-end apartment building. In 2012, after Donald Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, signed multiple contracts with the Azerbaijani developers behind the project, plans were made to transform the tower into an “ultra-luxury property.” According to a Trump Organization press release, a hotel with “expansive guest rooms” would occupy the first thirteen floors; higher stories would feature residences with “spectacular views of the city and Caspian Sea.” For an expensive hotel, the Trump Tower Baku is in an oddly unglamorous location: the underdeveloped eastern end of downtown, which is dominated by train tracks and is miles from the main business district, on the west side of the city. Across the street from the hotel is a discount shopping center; the area is filled with narrow, dingy shops and hookah bars. Other hotels nearby are low-budget options: at the AYF Palace, most rooms are forty-two dollars a night. There are no upscale restaurants or shops. Any guests of the Trump Tower Baku would likely feel marooned.

The timing of the project was also curious. By 2014, when the Trump Organization publicly announced that it was helping to turn the tower into a hotel, a construction boom in Baku had ended, and the occupancy rate for luxury hotels in the city hovered around thirty-five per cent. Jan deRoos, of Cornell University, who is an expert in hotel finance, told me that the developer of a five-star hotel typically must demonstrate that the project will maintain an average occupancy rate of at least sixty per cent for ten years. There is a long-term master plan to develop the area around the Trump Tower Baku, but if it is implemented the hotel will be surrounded for years by noisy construction projects, making it even less appealing to travellers desiring a luxurious experience—especially considering that there are many established hotels on the city’s seaside promenade. There, an executive from ExxonMobil or the Israeli cell-phone industry can stay at the Four Seasons, which occupies a limestone building that evokes a French colonial palace, or at the J. W. Marriott Absheron Baku, which has an outdoor terrace overlooking the water. Tiffany, Ralph Lauren, and Armani are among the dozens of companies that have boutiques along the promenade.

A former top official in Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Tourism says that, when he learned of the Trump hotel project, he asked himself, “Why would someone put a luxury hotel there? Nobody who can afford to stay there would want to be in that neighborhood.”

The Azerbaijanis behind the project were close relatives of Ziya Mammadov, the Transportation Minister and one of the country’s wealthiest and most powerful oligarchs. According to the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, Azerbaijan is among the most corrupt nations in the world. Its President, Ilham Aliyev, the son of the former President Heydar Aliyev, recently appointed his wife to be Vice-President. Ziya Mammadov became the Transportation Minister in 2002, around the time that the regime began receiving enormous profits from government-owned oil reserves in the Caspian Sea. At the time of the hotel deal, Mammadov, a career government official, had a salary of about twelve thousand dollars, but he was a billionaire.

The Trump Tower Baku originally had a construction budget of a hundred and ninety-five million dollars, but it went through multiple revisions, and the cost ended up being much higher.
So, idiotic location, and way over budget. Azerbaijani partners are very shady - they aren't just corrupt businessmen/govt officials, the article also describes extensive ties to the Revolutionary Guard in Iran.

Quote:
According to Garten, Trump played a passive role in the development of the property: he was “merely a licensor” who allowed his famous name to be used by a company headed by Ziya Mammadov’s son, Anar, a young entrepreneur. It’s not clear how much money Trump made from the licensing agreement, although in his limited public filings he has reported receiving $2.8 million. (The Trump Organization shared documents that showed an additional payment of two and a half million dollars, in 2012, but declined to disclose any other payments.) Trump also had signed a contract to manage the hotel once it opened, for an undisclosed fee tied to the hotel’s performance.
This sounds pretty typical modus operandi for Trump.

Quote:
Ivanka Trump was the most senior Trump Organization official on the Baku project. In October, 2014, she visited the city to tour the site and offer advice. An executive at Mace, the London-based construction firm that oversaw the tower’s conversion to a hotel, met with Ivanka in Baku and New York. He told me, “She had very strong feelings, not just about the design but about the back of the hotel—landscaping, everything.” The Azerbaijani lawyer said, “Ivanka personally approved everything.” A subcontractor noted that Ivanka’s team was particular about wood panelling: it chose an expensive Macassar ebony, from Indonesia, for the ceiling of the lobby. The ballroom doors were to be made of book-matched panels of walnut. On her Web site, Ivanka posted a photograph of herself wearing a hard hat inside the half-completed hotel. A caption reads, “Ivanka has overseen the development of Trump International Hotel & Tower Baku since its inception, and she recently returned from a trip to the fascinating city in Azerbaijan to check in on the project’s progress.”
So, this was Ivanka's project, and she apparently approved the site, i.e. she put a luxury hotel not on the coastline, alongside all the other luxury hotels and establishments, but out in the ghetto.

Bottom line...

Quote:
No evidence has surfaced showing that Donald Trump, or any of his employees involved in the Baku deal, actively participated in bribery, money laundering, or other illegal behavior. But the Trump Organization may have broken the law in its work with the Mammadov family. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, passed in 1977, forbade American companies from participating in a scheme to reward a foreign government official in exchange for material benefit or preferential treatment. The law even made it a crime for an American company to unknowingly benefit from a partner’s corruption if it could have discovered illicit activity but avoided doing so. This closed what was known as the “head in the sand” loophole.
This is shady, but really only underlines how necessary it is that we have a fuller picture of his financial holdings and dealings around the world, especially, as is the case here, as it would help illuminate his disreputable connections to corrupt government officials, connections which should worry us vis-a-vis his foreign policy decisions. Nonetheless, in terms of actual criminality, this just seems more in the unethical spectrum. This definitely doesn't seem as bad as two truly egregious examples we have of Trump and associates back at home - the blatant criminality of Trump University, and the clear signs of bribery by the Chinese govt in excess of hundreds of millions via the ridiculous overpayment on their purchasing of the aptly named 666 5th Avenue building. Kushner seemingly is going to walk away with a $400 million bribe on that transaction.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...-marquee-tower

When the dems regain control of Congress they must pass legislation requiring full financial disclosure by all presidential candidates. We tend to focus on the damage that he is doing to his reputation, but think also of how much money he is going to add to the Trump coffers via shady dealings during his presidency. This likely is part, or the entirety, of the reason why he is so much friendlier with corrupt and hostile governments than with our traditional allies. It's harder to pull off shady business dealings in reputable countries than in those of the more laissez-faire variety (which unfortunately includes us).
  #985  
Old 03-28-2017, 11:56 AM
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I think you are assuming a bit too much incompetence there...it would have been a great cover for huge transfers of money in a "failed business venture".

Not as obvious as his "Buy Property A for $1 Million and then sell it a year later for $10 million to a Russian Oligarch" type of scam that he's also done but still a good way to move some money around and avoid those pesky sanctions.

In other news, the WH is attempting to prevent Sally Yates from testifying to Congress...Gee, I wonder why.
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  #986  
Old 03-28-2017, 02:50 PM
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I didn't take away the same sense of misconduct from the Trump Tower Baku project as the rest of you. Not saying the Trump Organization didn't due its due diligence (and thus committed a crime), but the actual involvement of the organization seems pretty minimal.
  #987  
Old 03-28-2017, 03:03 PM
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I didn't take away the same sense of misconduct from the Trump Tower Baku project as the rest of you. Not saying the Trump Organization didn't due its due diligence (and thus committed a crime), but the actual involvement of the organization seems pretty minimal.
I doubt Ivanka would travel there like that if they were only minimally involved. Seems a bit odd even if there were no other indications either in the article or in Trump's previous dealings in that region when it comes to getting around US sanctions.
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"We caught them in an alley on skid row in downtown Philly and brought them down with Uzi's and dogs. I beat the shit out of one of the guys for resisting arrest. After that, I went home, fried up some tofu with strawberry preserves and melon sticky rice, laid down on the couch with my snuggie and ate rose petals in sweet daisy wine sauce and watched Mamma Mia on DVD and then cried myself to sleep."

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  #988  
Old 03-28-2017, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Davian93 View Post
I doubt Ivanka would travel there like that if they were only minimally involved. Seems a bit odd even if there were no other indications either in the article or in Trump's previous dealings in that region when it comes to getting around US sanctions.
I actually don't agree.

First off, she might very well have expensed a business trip but gone to be a tourist, mainly.

Secondly, I have to defend Trump to some small degree here. His reputation is built on his licensing, and his licensing business is built on quality control. People expect a level of luxury from the Trump brand, and the activities that Ivanka and the Trump Organization as a whole are mentioned engaging in are pretty standard. And despite, or perhaps especially because of, Azerbaijan's reputation for corruption, it makes a TON of sense to have a high ranking TO executive who is beyond bribery go to inspect the final product being built.

The whole Foreign Corruption Act aspect is entirely separate, and if anyone in the whole world screams "stick my head in the sand if it makes me a buck but draw the line at open bribery/fraud," it is Donald Trump, but I wasn't commenting on that portion of the article.
  #989  
Old 03-28-2017, 03:14 PM
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It also makes sense to send a trusted associate who can essentially negotiate or accept things on your behalf while also providing you plausible deniability in the long run.

The bottom line is that every thing they do as a family or corporation looks shady as hell at this point. All the evidence across the board points to them simply being con men that are milking the system for as much as they can. Unless they want to release their financials or even just his tax returns, I'll continue to assume the very worst. Particularly given that any time anyone questions any of their contacts, they act guilty as hell with their denials, deflections and attempted redirections.
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  #990  
Old 03-28-2017, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Davian93 View Post
It also makes sense to send a trusted associate who can essentially negotiate or accept things on your behalf while also providing you plausible deniability in the long run.

The bottom line is that every thing they do as a family or corporation looks shady as hell at this point. All the evidence across the board points to them simply being con men that are milking the system for as much as they can. Unless they want to release their financials or even just his tax returns, I'll continue to assume the very worst. Particularly given that any time anyone questions any of their contacts, they act guilty as hell with their denials, deflections and attempted redirections.
Yes but that Trump Tower Baku thing was before Trump was POTUS or even running.

The rest of it isn't shady. It's a straight up scam. Case in point - the manager of Mar-A-Lago has already admitted they've increased fees because now members get access to the President and senior cabinet officials. That goes straight into the Donald's pocket.
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Old 03-28-2017, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Ozymandias View Post
Yes but that Trump Tower Baku thing was before Trump was POTUS or even running.

The rest of it isn't shady. It's a straight up scam. Case in point - the manager of Mar-A-Lago has already admitted they've increased fees because now members get access to the President and senior cabinet officials. That goes straight into the Donald's pocket.
To be fair, there are plenty of indications that Trump has been involved in such shady dealings for decades and indications that the Russians groomed him for compromise for at least 5 years if not longer.

My favorite part of the Mar a Lago scam is forcing the Secret Service to pay for rooms as well as even golf carts (over $16,000 for golf cart rentals alone now) among other things. The entire exercise is a massive cash grab. Grifters gotta grift I guess.
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  #992  
Old 03-28-2017, 05:08 PM
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To be fair, there are plenty of indications that Trump has been involved in such shady dealings for decades and indications that the Russians groomed him for compromise for at least 5 years if not longer.

My favorite part of the Mar a Lago scam is forcing the Secret Service to pay for rooms as well as even golf carts (over $16,000 for golf cart rentals alone now) among other things. The entire exercise is a massive cash grab. Grifters gotta grift I guess.
In terms of long term damage, his embezzlement and the inevitable mountain of debt that he will leave us with still will look like a molehill next to the damage done by Gorsuch, and even Gorsuch is less dangerous than something else that Trump did today...

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39415631

I'll be blunt. The EU should consider hitting us with economic sanctions. What we are doing here is in many ways far more dangerous and far more damaging than anything that we and the Europeans could point to in imposing sanctions on Russia or Iran. Arguably even more serious than the raison d'etre for sanctions on North Korea. And I'm not sure that anything short of economic ramifications is capable of forcing republicans to finally do the right thing.
  #993  
Old 03-28-2017, 05:16 PM
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Sometimes, I wonder if he's deliberately doing his best to drag us down and destroy our alliances.

Sometimes...
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"We caught them in an alley on skid row in downtown Philly and brought them down with Uzi's and dogs. I beat the shit out of one of the guys for resisting arrest. After that, I went home, fried up some tofu with strawberry preserves and melon sticky rice, laid down on the couch with my snuggie and ate rose petals in sweet daisy wine sauce and watched Mamma Mia on DVD and then cried myself to sleep."

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  #994  
Old 03-28-2017, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Davian93 View Post
My favorite part of the Mar a Lago scam is forcing the Secret Service to pay for rooms as well as even golf carts (over $16,000 for golf cart rentals alone now) among other things. The entire exercise is a massive cash grab. Grifters gotta grift I guess.
Why shouldn't he? Wouldn't they have to pay if they went to a non-Trump-related hotel? I mean, again, the whole thing is a giant scam, but once you accept the ridiculousness of the pay-to-play nature of him paying himself to go on vacation (literally double dipping into public coffers), the security expense involved just seems like part of the new normal, ya know?
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Old 03-28-2017, 10:10 PM
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This change has happened relatively quietly considering all the far more noisy recent events.

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-39427026

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US internet service providers will soon no longer need consent from users to share browsing history with marketers and other third parties.
On Tuesday the House of Representatives voted to repeal an Obama-era law that demanded ISPs have permission to share personal information - including location data.
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The law, passed last October days before President Trump was elected, and due to take effect by the end of this year, would have forced ISPs to get clear permission from users to share personal data such as "precise geo-location, financial information, health information, children’s information, social security numbers, web browsing history, app usage history and the content of communications”.
Furthermore, ISPs would have been ordered to allow their customers the ability to opt out of the sharing of less sensitive information, like an email address.
They've also been killing net neutrality.

http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/27/tech...trality-fight/

But hey, as long as Verizon's and AT&T's stock goes up, right?
  #996  
Old 03-29-2017, 08:59 AM
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This change has happened relatively quietly considering all the far more noisy recent events.

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-39427026





They've also been killing net neutrality.

http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/27/tech...trality-fight/

But hey, as long as Verizon's and AT&T's stock goes up, right?
Time to set up a VPN I guess.
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  #997  
Old 03-29-2017, 09:15 AM
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Time to set up a VPN I guess.
Trump will probably outlaw those soon.
Or maybe Putin will. What US court would have the right to challenge that?
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Old 03-29-2017, 09:23 AM
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Trump will probably outlaw those soon.
Or maybe Putin will. What US court would have the right to challenge that?
The saddest part to me about Trump is he is basically accelerating the process I (along with millions of others most likely) predicted right after 9/11. That was the final blow to Pax Americana and the American century was coming to a close. People always think that their society will break the mold and it'll be different but just like the 19th century was the British century, the 20th was America's...and that's all over now. The descent should have taken a lot longer but Dubya did his best to start dragging us down and now Trump is landing a bunch of really good head shots to what's left of American dominance over world affairs.

All this idiotic posturing will do is accelerate China's rise to the top.

It was a long time coming and the massive faults of the US have been evident for a couple decades now but its all downhill from here for the United States.
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Bonded to Brita

"We caught them in an alley on skid row in downtown Philly and brought them down with Uzi's and dogs. I beat the shit out of one of the guys for resisting arrest. After that, I went home, fried up some tofu with strawberry preserves and melon sticky rice, laid down on the couch with my snuggie and ate rose petals in sweet daisy wine sauce and watched Mamma Mia on DVD and then cried myself to sleep."

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Old 03-29-2017, 10:47 AM
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Actually, it seems more likely that now there will come a period without one obvious hyperpower. But you are right that Bin Laden has won a very significant victory over the USA, almost entirely because of American stupidity.
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Old 03-29-2017, 11:06 AM
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Actually, it seems more likely that now there will come a period without one obvious hyperpower. But you are right that Bin Laden has won a very significant victory over the USA, almost entirely because of American stupidity.
It was quite brilliant really...aided heavily by the oh so predictable response by Dubya. I have to imagine that it would have been different under Gore but we'll never know.

A shame that we ended up shooting ourselves in the face like that.
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Bonded to Brita

"We caught them in an alley on skid row in downtown Philly and brought them down with Uzi's and dogs. I beat the shit out of one of the guys for resisting arrest. After that, I went home, fried up some tofu with strawberry preserves and melon sticky rice, laid down on the couch with my snuggie and ate rose petals in sweet daisy wine sauce and watched Mamma Mia on DVD and then cried myself to sleep."

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