Confluence | Oct 4, 2019 | 0
Rick Gates, Trump, Violence Against Women Act: 3 Stories You Should Read 8/8/2018
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In the category of: In case you wanted to be a billionaire jailbird.
The importance of these phenomena goes well beyond this trial, and also beyond the special counsel Robert Mueller’s broader inquiry into Russia’s activities during the 2016 election. (Among other things, Mueller is widely believed to be looking into whether Donald Trump and his Presidential campaign had any surreptitious financial ties to Russian interests.) The ability of rich people such as Manafort and his oligarchic clients to shuffle money across borders, beyond the purview of tax collectors and law-enforcement authorities, is a huge and intractable problem. In many places, these practices are denuding tax bases, corrupting a large class of professional enablers, and undermining public confidence in the political and financial systems.
According to Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, as recently as 2014 roughly $7.6 trillion, or eight percent of the world’s financial wealth, was held in offshore tax havens. In some countries, the proportion is much higher; in the case of Russia, it is more than half. This money can’t be taxed. Zucman calculates the loss to taxpayers is about two hundred billion dollars a year. In the United States, he has estimated, the annual tax loss is about thirty-five billion dollars.
In the category of: A war on multiple fronts.
Already, the Trump Department of Homeland Security is working on a program to list and track hundreds of thousands of news outlets, journalists, bloggers, and “influencers” in traditional and new media alike. The plan is to analyze targets’ “sentiment,” monitor “any and all” coverage of select news stories, and possibly share data with “federal, state, local, tribal, and private partners.”
As I wrote of the plan in April, the potential for abuse is enormous. We should be worried about the uses Trump — or any future administration with a petty executive and a loose commitment to civil liberties — might find for a list like this. No good can come of it.
It’s this program — a quiet and incredibly dangerous little project that has already slipped off everyone’s radar — that represents a real threat to the free press for which we ought to muster our outrage. Trump’s tweeted rhetoric is not innocuous, but his most effectual attacks on the media will not be this sort of dramatic frontal assault. They will be a dull knife to the back.
In the category of: Not holding my breath…
Congress has until September to renew the landmark legislation.
The Violence Against Women Act — which directs the national response to crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking — will expire at the end of September if lawmakers don’t act fast.
In late July, House Democrats introduced a measure to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA. Then House lawmakers went on recess. When they return on Sept. 4, they will have only a few weeks before the law expires.
VAWA has “ushered in a seismic transformation on how society perceives violence against women,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), who introduced the bill, said in a statement. “Nonetheless, much work remains to address unmet needs and to enhance access to protections and services for all victims.”
While VAWA was reauthorized in 2000, 2005 and 2013 with bipartisan support, the current House bill does not have a single Republican co-sponsor to date. As time runs low, advocates are growing increasingly anxious.
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