Realtor Pays Million$ to get Trump’s Name off Toronto Hotel


George Pimentel/WireImage

❝ JCF Capital ULC, the closely held U.S. firm that now owns the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Toronto’s downtown business district, reached a buyout deal to exit the contracts with the Trump Organization’s hotel unit…While no breakup fee was disclosed, the amount was at least $6 million…Signage may be removed from the 65-story tower as soon as Aug. 1…

❝ The agreement to remove the the U.S. president’s brand marks the first step toward revamping the property, which has faced a history of construction delays and lawsuits. Most recently, it’s been a site for protests against the Trump’s comments disparaging women, Mexicans and Muslims, even though his company has no ownership stake in the property.

❝ JCF Capital acquired the tower with the Trump brand and agreements in place last year from former owner Talon International, the developer run by Russian-Canadian billionaire Alex Shnaider. Since then, JCF has been in talks with hotel chains and the Trump Organization to complete an operating plan.

The tower was a tough sell under its Trump name: Talon struggled to sell the building after defaulting on its 2007 loan, and when JCF Capital acquired the loan on the property from lender Raiffeisen Bank International AG and launched a sale process for the building, it garnered no bids aside from its own.

Trump’s name is worth about as much to real estate as his so-called presidency will be to the history of the United States. Nada, zilch, nuttin-honey!

“Clean Coal” Plant Billion$ Over Budget Should Just Give Up And Burn Natural Gas


Click to enlargeWilliam Widmer/Politico

Round and round the money goes and where it comes out nobody knows

❝ A coal gasification plant in development in Mississippi is more than $4 billion over budget and years past deadline — and now it may have to rethink plans to burn gasified coal in favor of cheaper natural gas after a recommendation from state regulators.

The recommendation was made to prevent potential rate increases as the Kemper County plant continues to face cost overruns. Kemper was supposed to be up and running by 2014, for less than $3 billion. But the plant has now run up a $7.5 billion tab and may need redesigns on a critical part, a process that could take up to two years to complete, according to E&E News. No official decision has been made yet, but the Mississippi Public Service Commission made it clear last week that burning cheaper natural gas instead of gasified coal may be a long-term solution for the facility…

❝ According to a carbon capture and storage project database maintained by MIT, plans for Kemper started in 2004 but “costs began increasing almost immediately, especially once construction began in 2010 and the company discovered that many of the original designs needed major changes.” Specifically, pipe thickness and metallurgy appeared to have been miscalculated, and, after those changes were made, the support structures for the pipes had to be changed…

Fossil fuel pimps rant and rave against subsidizing any projects for alternative energy. At the same time, it’s business as usual for coal-based plants getting billion$ in subsidies and forgivable loans to keep on cranking out projects that don’t do a damned thing other than suck up taxpayer money and spew out pollution.

A Kansas Farmer’s Message to Trump — “I need more Mexicans!”


Click to enlarge

❝ Undocumented immigrants make up about half the workforce in U.S. agriculture, according to various estimates. But that pool of labor is shrinking, which could spell trouble for farms, feedlots, dairies, and meatpacking plants—particularly in a state such as Kansas, where unemployment in many counties is barely half the already tight national rate. “Two weeks ago, my boss told me, ‘I need more Mexicans like you,’” says a 25-year-old immigrant employed at a farm in the southwest part of the state, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he’s trying to get his paperwork in order. “I said, ‘Well, they’re kind of hard to find.’”

❝ Arrests of suspected undocumented workers have jumped 38 percent since President Donald Trump signed a pair of executive orders targeting immigration in January…Michael Feltman, an immigration lawyer in Cimarron, Kan., says his firm has seen more people coming in with naturalization questions over the past six months than over the previous four years combined. “I’m really worried every little traffic ticket’s going to turn into detention,” he says.

Others feel the same way. “The threat of deportation and the potential loss of our workforce has been very terrifying for all of us businesses here,” says Trista Priest in Satanta, Kan. She’s the chief strategy officer at Cattle Empire, the country’s fifth-largest feed yard, whose workforce is about 86 percent Latino…

❝ The American Farm Bureau Federation…has proposed that, to “minimize the impact on current economic activity,” unauthorized agricultural workers already in the country should be granted permanent legal status once they prove they have worked in the industry for a set period of time. The AFBF has warned that an enforcement-only approach could slash industry output by as much as $60 billion annually.

Like any good litle proto-fascists, Trump and his followers believe the quickest and easiest means to solving any problem is someone carrying a gun and a badge.

The Big Lie That Republicans Call Healthcare Reform

❝ The Senate health-care bill is a blatantly cynical and political plan to reward the rich, squeeze the poor and give Republicans the chance to claim they protected the middle class — or at least those in the middle class who aren’t too sick.

❝ The Republican campaign to repeal Obamacare was always based on a false promise (okay, a lie): that it was possible for all Americans to have better, cheaper medical care without raising taxes or reducing the incomes of doctors and the profits of hospitals and drug companies.

The reality, as the Senate’s Republican caucus came to understand, is something quite different: You can’t lower health-care costs or extend coverage for some people without raising the taxes or premiums of everyone else. It’s a zero-sum game.

❝ Actually, that statement is not exactly true. In a country that spends roughly twice as much as other advanced countries for mediocre results, it would be possible to restructure the system to give most people more for less. But, alas, the Senate bill does almost nothing to restructure the way medical care is delivered, how much is consumed and how it is priced, because to do so would have meant taking on the business interests that the Republicans are counting on to finance their reelection.

Instead, what we get is a financial shell game.

RTFA. Lots of detail about the finances and financial requirements of managing a reasonable healthcare system for all. Even a suggestion on how Democrats might fight for this as a right – not a privilege as Republicans would have it.

Yes, there are beaucoup Dems who remember where they came from. They’re just not in charge. I have as little confidence in the Democrat Establishment nationally as I have contempt for the Republicans. I think they’ve been dining on the same gravy train for too many years.

Nope. It’s up the Progressive grassroots types who supported Bernie to figure out how to join with honest Liberals still stuck into the Democratic Party – to register voters, register the disaffected who’ve given up after decades of being ignored – and fightback against the Republican Party, the greediest bastards in our narrow political system and the fools who support them.

Making America scared and stupid won’t make us safer


Sally YatesJim Watson/AFP

❝ In today’s polarized world, there aren’t many issues on which Democrats and Republicans agree. So when they do, we should seize the rare opportunity to move our country forward. One such issue is criminal-justice reform, and specifically the need for sentencing reform for drug offenses.

All across the political spectrum, in red states and blue states, from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and the Koch brothers to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and the American Civil Liberties Union, there is broad consensus that the “lock them all up and throw away the key” approach embodied in mandatory minimum drug sentences is counterproductive, negatively affecting our ability to assure the safety of our communities.

❝ But last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back the clock to the 1980s, reinstating the harsh, indiscriminate use of mandatory minimum drug sentences imposed at the height of the crack epidemic. Sessions attempted to justify his directive in a Post op-ed last weekend, stoking fear by claiming that as a result of then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s Smart on Crime policy, the United States is gripped by a rising epidemic of violent crime that can only be cured by putting more drug offenders in jail for more time.

❝ That argument just isn’t supported by the facts. Not only are violent crime rates still at historic lows — nearly half of what they were when I became a federal prosecutor in 1989 — but there is also no evidence that the increase in violent crime some cities have experienced is the result of drug offenders not serving enough time in prison. In fact, a recent study by the bipartisan U.S. Sentencing Commission found that drug defendants with shorter sentences were actually slightly less likely to commit crimes when released than those sentenced under older, more severe penalties.

Contrary to Sessions’s assertions, Smart on Crime focused our limited federal resources on cases that had the greatest impact on our communities — the most dangerous defendants and most complex cases. As a result, prosecutors charged more defendants with murder, assault, gun crimes and robbery than ever before. And a greater percentage of drug prosecutions targeted kingpins and drug dealers with guns.

Not that the Confederacy, today’s Republican Party and power pimps like Trump care a whole boatload about evidence-based reason and decision-making.

RTFA for clarity, historic sense and analysis. You ain’t finding it in the White House.

Throw Away The Key — Found Guilty for 96 Million Robocalls

A Miami man accused of flooding consumers with 96 million phone calls touting fake travel deals faces a record proposed $120 million fine from federal regulators, who said he operated the worst robocall spoofing effort they had seen.

Adrian Abramovich tried to trick consumers into answering and listening to his advertising messages, the Federal Communications Commission said in a news release Thursday. The pace of calls works out to an average of more than 1 million per day…

Calls appeared to come from local numbers, but those who answered were prompted to “Press 1” to hear about vacation deals, according to the FCC. If they did, consumers were connected to call centers not affiliated with companies mentioned in messages, such as Expedia Inc., TripAdvisor Inc., Marriott International Inc. and Hilton Worldwide Holdings…

Consumers who did “press 1″…ultimately connected Americans to call centers in Mexico that usually attempted to fleece innocent consumers out of their hard-earned money by promising too-good-to-be-true vacation deals,” Adam Medros, a senior vice president at TripAdvisor, said in an emailed statement. The company said it worked closely with the FCC to investigate after its customers called to complain.

Like the headline says, THROW AWAY THE KEY – after you take back all the money he stole plus penalties.

The World’s Largest Coal Company Is Shutting Down 37 Mines


Channi Anand

❝ Coal India — a government-backed coal company – is reportedly closing 37 of its “unviable” mines in the next year to cut back on losses.

India is primed for an energy revolution. The country’s ongoing economic growth has been powered by fossil fuels in the past, making it one of the top five largest energy consumers in the world. But it has also invested heavily in renewables, and the cost of solar power is now cheaper than ever. In some instances, villages in India have avoided coal-powered electricity altogether, and “leapfrogged” straight to solar power…

❝ India’s energy situation is changing so fast that even expert predictions about its switch to renewables are wildly off: A study from last year claimed India would be building more than 300 coal plants in the next 10 years, but experts said the data was already outdated by the time the report was published, and that India would be moving toward renewables instead.

The decline of Coal India, which produces 80 percent of the country’s domestic coal output, is more evidence that we are collectively moving away from fossil fuels as cleaner, renewable technologies become more widely available. This reality is important to grasp in every country where coal used to be king. Even as Donald Trump promises coal jobs, let’s remember that those jobs aren’t likely to come back.

❝ And for countries like India, where companies like Coal India employ more than 300,000 people, training people to work in more viable energy markets will be increasingly important to provide sustainable livelihoods. Luckily, it looks like the solar industry will have some job openings.

The same is true in the United States on a smaller scale. US mines are highly automated compared to India. Still, the possibilities for new jobs are at least as strong – if we only had state and federal governments in place that cared more about retraining workers for new jobs than guaranteeing profits for out-of-date lobbyists and corporate CEOs.