Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Does anyone want to stay at Trump’s Manhattan hotel anymore?

Business at Trump's hotel in the trendy neighborhood of SoHo is suffering — and layoffs are looming

Go to Original

Trump SoHo is in trouble. Five months into President Donald Trump’s polarizing presidency, the lower Manhattan hotel is experiencing a decline in corporate events, and hotel layoffs are coming. At least in New York City, the Trump marquee is turning people away.
At its peak, one could spend $700 a night to stay at the five-star hotel, but now rooms have dropped to nearly half that—well below surrounding five-star hotels in the area, and even bordering the four-star hotel price range. Koi, the restaurant that was located on the ground floor of Trump SoHo has closed, citing a decline in business, and the election of Trump as the turning point.
“Before Trump won we were doing great. There were a lot of people we had, our regulars, who’d go to the hotel but are not affiliated with Trump,” former Koi busser and host Jonathan Grullon told GrubStreet. “And they were saying if he wins, we are not coming here anymore.” The lobby space where the restaurant had previously occupied is now locked and empty.
Business throughout the hotel is also suffering. Out of a staff of 80, 12 room attendants are to be laid off, turn-down service will be slashed, and a mere 11 corporate events were booked in the hotel since January, according to WNYC.
“I have to believe that a lot of organizations would not want to have meetings at a Trump Hotel just to not have to deal with it,” Jan de Roos, professor at the Cornell Hotel School, told WNYC. And this includes potential hotel guests. Players of the Cleveland Cavaliers made news back in December, when Lebron James and others refused to stay in the Trump hotel that was booked for them on a trip to New York.
This isn’t the first time Trump’s hotels have been in jeopardy, nonetheless, The Trump International Hotel in Washington is thriving, and CNBC reported that Mar-A-Lago membership fees have doubled. For the locations where Trump is known to frequent, access is priceless.

Arkansas Inmate Who Died in Private Jail Had Civil Rights Violated, Family Claims

Go to Original

When he was alive, Michael Sabbie was a doting stay-at-home dad, who cooked every meal for his children before and after shuffling them to practices and school, his widow Teresa said.
Now, his 13-year-old son has had to take on many of the day-to-day chores his father once managed while Teresa works at a juvenile detention center to provide for her family.
"Without his help, I don't think I could've made it through this," Teresa Sabbie, Michael Sabbie's widow, told NBC News.
Teresa Sabbie said in the two years that have passed since Michael's death, their son has been catapulted into adulthood.
The Sabbie family's life was upended when Michael died inside the Bi-State jail, located on the Texas-Arkansas border, in July 2015. He repeated the same phrase nearly two dozen times to correction officers.
"I can't breathe."
Sabbie had been arrested after getting into an argument with Teresa where he allegedly threatened her. They had been arguing about money, the family's lawyer, Erik Heipt, said. He was charged with a Class C misdemeanor.
During his approximately 48 hours of pre-trial detention, Michael Sabbie had gone at least twice to the medical office at the Texarkana Bi-State jail, complaining he was short of breath and needed help, according to documents and reports made by the jail employees.
It is the way in which he died that has shaken the Sabbie family, and it is why they are now suing in hopes that those responsible for his death will be held accountable, the family said.
"The senselessness of his death has affected me deeply. It was totally preventable. It sickens me to know he needed to go to the hospital and was denied. They treated him as if his life did not matter," his widow said in a statement.

No criminal or federal charges were brought stemming from Sabbie's death. The day after Sabbie died, Texarkana Police Chief Robert Harrison turned the case over to the Little Rock Federal Bureau of Investigation, CNN reported. In August 2016, Teresa was told by the Department of Justice that no charges would be brought forward in relation to Sabbie's death.
His family filed on Wednesday a federal civil rights complaint. It alleges that a series of failures inside the jail "forc[ed Sabbie] to endure extreme and needless pain and suffering, and causing death."
Heipt and law partner Edwin Budge filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Texarkana Division.
"The medical neglect in this case went way beyond negligence," Heipt said. "It's a textbook example of deliberate indifference."
The complaint lists Sabbie's relatives as representatives of his estate and alleges that jail employees, the Bowie County, Texas, Texarkana, Arkansas and the private prison company in charge of the Bi-State Jail all had a hand in his "unnecessary death."

'He Advised That He Couldn't Breathe'

Before he was found dead in his cell, a corrections officer wrote in an infraction report that Sabbie had caused a disturbance by "feining [sic] illness and difficulty breathing."
Earlier that day, Tiffany Venable, a licensed vocational nurse at Bi-State, examined Sabbie. She wrote that he was brought to her in a wheelchair, and that he was complaining he was "SOB" — shortness of breath.
"Asked inmate what was going on with him and he advised that he couldn't breathe and had pneumonia before coming to jail," Venable wrote in progress notes taken on July 21, 2015. She wrote that Sabbie's vitals were good, his lungs were clear and he was able to carry on a conversation. She advised him to go back to his pod, she wrote.

"Inmate jumped up out of wheel chair and said, 'stupid b----' after he exited medical walking without difficulty," Venable wrote. Sabbie later collapsed on the floor of his cell, according to the complaint.
Sabbie, who suffered from a range of illnesses, disclosed each ailment on a medical questionnaire form.
Heart trouble? Yes.
Diabetes? Yes.
Mental Illness? Yes.
Communicable Disease? Yes.
Asthma? Yes.
Hypertension? Yes.
In a blank space near the bottom, two additional items were hand-written.
"Fluid around heart. Scitophrnic [sic]."
On progress notes taken the day of Sabbie's intake, a Bi-State nurse wrote that Sabbie was to be on daily blood pressure tests and insulin checks. The nurse also noted that Sabbie was complaining of shortness of breath and that he was to be placed on medical observation.
"Typically the jail knows nothing about this person's mental or physical medical history," David Fathi, Director of the ACLU National Prison Project told NBC News. "It's critical to know, do they have medication that they need to take to stay alive."

A Jail Split by the Border

The Bi-State Jail is located inside an unassuming municipal building, on the Texas-Arkansas border.
Both states have access to Bi-State because of its unusual location on the border. The Texarkana Arkansas Police Department, and Bowie County, Texas, Sheriff's Department both house inmates at the facility. The Texarkana Texas Police Department also uses the jail.
Sabbie was arrested by the Texarkana Arkansas Police on the Arkansas side of the border.
The 164-bed jail, which opened in 1985, is a private prison, run by LaSalle Corrections. Although the Obama administration sought to phase out private prisons in the federal system, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed course.

In a February memo, Sessions said the previous directive "impaired" the U.S. Bureau of Prison's "ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system." Currently, 21,366 inmates are kept in private prisons.
Southwestern Correctional LLC, doing business as LaSalle Corrections, Bowie County, and the city of Texarkana, Arkansas, are all named as defendants in the civil complaint. The city of Texarkana, Arkansas, declined to comment. LaSalle Corrections and Bowie County did not immediately return a request for comment. Previously, LaSalle has said that they operate the jail under standards set by the Texas Jail Commission.
Sabbie's arraignment took place inside the same municipal building where the private jail is located on July 21, 2015.
As he pleaded "not guilty," an Arkansas City District Court judge noted he sounded short of breath. He asked if Sabbie wanted to sit.
Sabbie told the judge he needed to go to the hospital. He'd been spitting up blood, according to the complaint.

19 Times

Corrections officer Clint Brown began to lead Sabbie and 10 inmates back to their cells — sometimes referred to as "pods" in jail documents — after the court appearance. In surveillance video, Sabbie appears to say something and makes a frustrated gesture before putting his hands on his knees.
It appears he's struggling to breathe.
It's unclear what prompted Brown, but he approached Sabbie, grabbed him by the shoulder of his orange jump suit and pulled him until he became momentarily airborne, and landed on his chest, according to the video.
A corrections officer began filming on a handheld camera because of the use of force.
With his orange pants around his thighs, which revealed his buttocks, and officers on his back, Sabbie wailed through huffing, strangled gasps of air: "I can't breathe."
While posing no threat to the officers, the complaint says, Sabbie was pepper sprayed by Lieutenant Nathaniel Johnson. A custodial death report said this was because Sabbie hadn't complied with orders.
Officers then pulled Sabbie to his feet — his pants still hung off his thighs and his shirt twisted up his chest, the video showed. He was led to Venable, who had been working for nearly 12 hours.
It is unclear what medical check Venable, who did not respond to a request for comment, performed on Sabbie, but in the video it appears she is holding a stop watch to take his pulse.
As he sat, still gasping, Sabbie interchanged between begging, "Please. Please, I need water," and "I can't breathe." Almost every second of the more than nine-minute clip is punctuated by Sabbie gasping for breath.
The video shows that after leaving the medical area, Sabbie was led to a shower for "decontamination" from the pepper spray. There he continued gasping before an officer threatens him with pepper spray again.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry," Sabbie said as a stream of water hit his face.
He then crumpled to the ground as he momentarily appeared lost consciousness. The custodial death report described this moment by saying, "Sabbie sat down in the shower."
The officers led a soaking-wet Sabbie, who had regained consciousness, back to his cell, according to the video. He continued to moan as he tried to breathe.
The officers placed him back in his cell, and Sabbie tried to stand. He was only able to lean between his concrete bed and a metal stool. The complaint says at least 19 times, Sabbie audibly said, "I can't breathe." NBC News counted 23 times Sabbie spoke those words.
Venable said that in her five years of experience with LaSalle Correction, Sabbie's symptoms had been consistent with someone who had been pepper sprayed, according to a Texarkana police report.
The following morning, corrections officers became concerned when Sabbie didn't respond to their requests that he pull up his pants, according to the custodial death report. Officer Simone Nash said in a witness document that she conducted regular checks of Sabbie and observed his chest moving through the night.
NBC News was unable to reach Nash, Brown, Johnson or Dr. Gregory Montoya — a physician who was allegedly in the room during Sabbie's intake — for comment. Phone calls placed to numbers listed under their respective names were not answered.
After review by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards two months after Sabbie's death, an inspector found that the regular face-to-face 30-minute checks in areas "where inmates are known to be ... potentially suicidal, mentally ill," were not being done as required by the minimum jail standard.
It's unclear how long he had been dead, but the complaint says his body was "stiff" and "cold to the touch," according to a critical incident report taken by the jail.
Sabbie's death was listed as "natural" in the custodial death report.

A Lethal 'Demographic Mismatch'

The events leading up to the death of Sabbie, who was black, are reminiscent of recent highly-polarizing cases of Black Americans who died while being detained by law enforcement.
Despite differing cases, the words Sabbie spoke so many times to the corrections officers — "I can't breathe — echo the final words of Eric Garner.
Garner, who was allegedly selling loose cigarettes on a New York City street, was placed in an unauthorized chokehold by a NYPD officer in July 2014.
Unlike Sabbie, Garner was not an inmate and did not die in jail.
Bi-State jail did not provide the racial demographics of its corrections officers, but Fathi said jails that have a "demographic mismatch" have the potential to be lethal. In the video, the majority of officers who piled onto Sabbie appear to be white.
It's unclear if race played a part in Sabbie's death, Heipt said, but as the case progresses that aspect will be examined.

'A Common Problem'

Ultimately, the complaint filed on Sabbie's behalf alleges that his civil rights were violated due to cost-cutting behaviors on the part of Bi-State.
"The failure to secure needed medical care for Mr. Sabbie was motivated by constitutionally impermissible profit-driven reasons," the complaint alleges.
The complaint alleges Montoya was in the room during Sabbie' intake, but it is unclear if he played any role in his medical care.
Heipt, Budge and Sabbie's family hope with the filing of their suit, the policy around medical care in jails and prisons will begin to improve.
"Michael Sabbie was a human being, who deserves humane treatment," Heipt said. "He was treated as if his life did not matter."

U.S. Fears New Threat From ISIS Drones

Go to Original

U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that ISIS may use drones in terrorist attacks, according to congressional testimony on Tuesday.
Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Vincent R. Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the terrorist group has begun using "unmanned aerial vehicles," aka drones, for both surveillance and attacks.
"In the past year, ISIS's use of unmanned aerial systems (drones) for surveillance and delivery of explosives has increased, posing a new threat to civilian infrastructure and military installations." Stewart testified.
Although the group has used drones on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, Stewart's comments came during a discussion of the worldwide threat posed by ISIS and how it may expand, and soon after the terror group released a video highlighting its use of drones.
Stewart did not disclose any technical details about ISIS drones, but another U.S. intelligence official said the group has been using off-the-shelf products and even hobbyist aircraft configured with cameras and makeshift bombs.
The official described the ISIS drones as "Frankenstein concoctions" tasked with "surveillance, dropping ordnance and interfering with adversary's aerial assets," like helicopters.
Just last week, ISIS released a 44-minute video largely focused on the battle for Mosul that includes copious drone footage. The theme of the video is ISIS innovation, with drones the most prominent example of how ISIS research and development continues to thrive despite admitted losses of territory in places like Mosul.
Drones watch from above as ISIS suicide bombers driving explosive-laden, heavily armored trucks carry out a dozen attacks on coalition armor. The drones follow the armored trucks, or suicide tanks, as they sidle up to moving tanks and detonate, or burst through security cordons at military depots and blow up multiple vehicles. In one snippet, a drone is also shown diving into a target.
Shawn Henry, co-founder of the cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike and a former FBI official, says the drone footage itself also serves a military purpose. Packaged in a slickly produced propaganda video, it dazzles would-be jihadis.
"It's helpful in recruiting, it's helpful in radicalizing, it's helpful in fund-raising," said Henry, an NBC News counterterrorism analyst. "Their attacks are all in part to do those sorts of things."

The Senate Loves These Undocumented Aliens

Senators Use Coast Guard Budget Bill to Gut Tough ‘Invasive Species’ Water Regulation

Go to Original
By Sarah Okeson

Senate Republicans are trying to circumvent a federal court decision that requires the Environmental Protection Agency to get tougher on invasive species that have decimated our country’s waters such as the Great Lakes and San Francisco Bay.
Republicans and some Democrats on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee amended a budget bill for the Coast Guard to take away EPA authority to regulate ships that can bring hitchhikers such as the zebra mussel to our country.
“Republicans are giving foreign shipping interests the green light to cause irreparable harm to some of our most beautiful waters,” said Brett Hartl, the government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)
ACTION BOX/ What you can do about it
You can contact the Senate’s Commerce, Science & Transportation committee here. Before S.1129 comes up for a full vote in the Senate, contact your senator. Call or write, don’t email.
Organizations that oppose the bill include the Center for Biological Diversity which can be reached at 520-623-5252 or  The National Wildlife Federation also opposes efforts to weaken EPA enforcement and can be reached at 1-800-822-9919.
Invasive species cause an estimated $137 billion a year in damage in our country, more than natural disasters. Zebra mussels, first seen in 1988 in a lake near Detroit, have spread throughout the Great Lakes and connecting rivers. The mussels, which grow in clusters that can plug pipes and may help cause algae blooms, are now in Oklahoma and Texas.
The chairman of the commerce committee, Sen. John Thune, from land-locked South Dakota, included provisions in the Coast Guard bill, S. 1129, that would give it most of the authority to regulate ballast water. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska.). The EPA and the Coast Guard currently jointly regulate where ships discharge ballast water, and some states have also passed laws.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, also supports taking power away from the EPA. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) oppose it. Baldwin called the measure a “step backward.”
How alien species stow away in ballast water
As committee members move to strip the EPA of authority, they want to base enforcement on weaker 2012 regulations. The proposed Commercial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, S. 168, sponsored by Thune, Nelson and others, would also water down EPA authority.
A 2015 federal appeals court decision requires the EPA to strengthen pollution controls on ballast water. Ships for decades could dump water at will. Many ships are now required to treat it with onboard systems or dump the water in the ocean, but the onboard systems can’t eliminate invasive species.
“Simply exchanging the water or flushing with salt water does not kill all the critters that could be in a ballast tank,” said Marc Smith of the National Wildlife Federation.
The EPA has opposed piping the water to shore to be treated much like sewage and drinking water are treated. The judge in the case wrote that the EPA “acted arbitrarily and capriciously” in failing to consider treating the water onshore. “EPA turned a blind eye to significant information about onshore treatment,” wrote Denny Chin of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
As Republicans try to make it easier for ships to dump contaminated water in our country’s lakes and rivers, scientists are studying a species of zooplankton about the size of a grain of rice in Lake Erie.
The plankton, Thermocyclops crassus, is similar to the plankton in the lake that fish feed on. Scientists aren’t yet sure what harm, if any, this newest invader could cause.

Boycott Trump

Can a Movement to Hurt the President Financially Change the Political Landscape? 

Go to Original
By Mattea Kramer

In normal times, Dee from New York would have ordered her copy of The Handmaid’s Tale from Amazon, but these are not normal times. Amazon is on the Grab Your Wallet list, a campaign to boycott retailers that sell Trump family products, which began as a response to the video revealing our now-president’s penchant for grabbing women "by the pussy." Dee bought her book from a smaller retailer instead.
Since Donald Trump’s election in November, and especially since his January inauguration, hundreds of small and not-so-small organizations have sprung up to oppose the president.  They joined the ranks of established left-leaning and liberal groups already revving up their engines to fight the administration. Among all the ways you can now voice your dissent, though, there’s one tactic that this president will surely understand: economic resistance aimed at his own businesses and those of his children. He may not be swayed by protesters filling the streets, but he does speak the language of money. Through a host of tactics -- including boycotting stores that carry Trump products, punishing corporations and advertisers that underwrite the administration’s agenda, and disrupting business-as-usual at Trump companies -- protesters are using the power of the purse to demonstrate their opposition and have planned a day of resistance against his brand on June 14th.

Such economic dissent may prove to be an especially apt path of resistance, especially for the millions of Americans who reside in blue states and have struggled with a sense of powerlessness following the election. After all, it’s not immediately obvious how to take effective political action in the usual American way when your legislators already agree with you. But what blue-state dwellers lack in political sway they make up for in economic clout, since blue states have, on average, greater household incomes and more purchasing power than their red-state compatriots. The impact of coordinated blue-state boycotts could be enormous. That’s why Grab Your Wallet, along with Color of Change, a racial-justice group, and numerous other organizations are encouraging individuals to see their purchasing power as political muscle.
“It was close at the polls, but it’s not close at the cash register,” Shannon Coulter, a founder of Grab Your Wallet, told me recently.
And yet, even as throngs of organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals throw their energy into economic tactics intended to weaken the president, it’s still an open question whether this type of resistance -- or, more specifically, its current implementation -- can precipitate anything in the way of meaningful change.
“A Sprawling Landscape of Resistance”
At first glance, Grab Your Wallet is a modest website: a Google spreadsheet that lists about 50 companies to boycott.  Included are the department stores Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Lord & Taylor, as well as online retailers like, Zappos, and Amazon, all of which sell some type of Trump swag. (The precise number of companies listed continues to decline, as retailers dump the Trump brand.) The site gets an impressive two million unique visitors every month, and when I spoke with Coulter, she told me that 22 retailers had dropped Trump products since the start of the boycott. She believes that this is just the beginning.
“I don’t think we’ll see the full impact of the boycott until summer, because of how the retail cycle works,” she explained. The department store Nordstrom, for instance, the biggest company to date to drop the Ivanka Trump brand, sold through its existing inventory before indicating that it would not reorder. That announcement even attracted attention from the president, who tweeted: “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person -- always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”
Color of Change has long deployed strategies of economic resistance, specifically by going after advertisers who underwrite hate. Now that Trump is in the White House, Rashad Robinson, the group’s executive director, told me that they’re focusing on the role of corporate enablers “who’ve made this administration possible.” He described a strategy in which his organization carefully selects a corporate target and then rallies its million-plus members to participate in a campaign designed to tarnish the company’s brand -- unless its executives make more ethical advertising choices. Color of Change played a role in the recent ouster of Bill O’Reilly from Fox News by helping to influence some of the more than 50 major advertisers who pulled their financial support from his top-rated program. After advertisers fled, Fox gave O’Reilly the boot.
Progressive groups are proving increasingly savvy when it comes to designing such consumer-driven tactics. The Center for Popular Democracy and the immigrant-rights group Make the Road New York recently co-launched a campaign called Corporate Backers of Hate, which targets Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, The Walt Disney Company, and a handful of other corporations that have provided various forms of support for Trump and his agenda. Wells Fargo, for instance, has lent millions of dollars to the president’s companies, is an investor in immigrant detention centers run by private, for-profit contractors, and has loaned money to developers for the Dakota Access Pipeline, the 1,172-mile oil pipe that would cross Standing Rock Sioux Tribe lands in North Dakota. (Trump signed a memo authorizing that pipeline within days of taking office.) The Corporate Backers of Hate website allows protesters to bypass customer service staff at these corporations and send messages directly to top executives and board members to express their disapproval.

 This strategy of going after the funding underlying Trump’s network has won some early victories. Several groups have been trying to cut off the flow of advertising dollars to Breitbart, the xenophobic pseudo-news site formerly run by White House strategist Steve Bannon. Leading the charge in this work is a Twitter-based group, Sleeping Giants, with a relatively simple proposition: it asks followers to take screenshots of ads on Breitbart -- preferably next to an offensive headline -- and then tweet that screenshot to the company in the ad along with a polite message asking it to stop underwriting hate. This approach has been wildly successful; according to Sleeping Giants, thousands of advertisers have pulled out of Breitbart.
Nicholas Reville is a seasoned online organizer who has become a leading figure in the campaign to, as he says, make “hate unprofitable.” He believes that the Sleeping Giants model of digital resistance represents a new and important type of political action. “It’s very, very rare that you have an activism campaign where people are doing something other than signing a petition, showing up to a rally, [or] donating money,” he told me. Instead, he pointed out, an individual can now take a discrete action on his or her personal device and actually help win a victory when an advertiser pulls out of Breitbart.
Some activists are going beyond screenshots and tweets. Journalist Naomi Klein recently released a video highlighting the fact that Trump’s brand is one of his most important sources of revenue and suggesting that “jamming” the brand -- by turning it from a money-maker into a money-loser -- would be a powerful form of resistance. She mentions tactics like clogging phone lines at Trump companies or making, and then canceling, reservations at his hotels.
One activist who has been working on jamming those Trump phone lines, and who spoke with me on condition of anonymity, said that resisters like her had discovered that it was surprisingly easy to disrupt the president’s businesses. “The phone lines do not have the capacity to handle even medium-volume call traffic,” she said, and assured me that there was more phone jamming planned for the future. When I asked what she hoped to achieve through this tactic, she responded that the goal was to weaken President Trump financially, politically, and in every way imaginable.
“These strategies are complements to other kinds of organizing,” she went on. “None of these tactics alone are going to bring down the Trump administration... that’s not how it works. This is part of a sprawling landscape of resistance.”
Easy to Resist, Hard to Win
The multitude of groups, campaigns, and individuals going after Donald Trump, Trump businesses, and companies supporting him or his political agenda do indeed form a sprawling, often chaotic landscape of resistance. I receive a dozen different, mostly uncoordinated action-alert messages in my inbox daily. In the weeks immediately following the inauguration, I found all that frenetic energy strangely appealing. After a couple of months of diffuse efforts, however, I began to wonder whether such efforts would be better spent on fewer, more coordinated campaigns. While Trump oppositionists undoubtedly feel a thrill of satisfaction when Nordstrom drops Ivanka’s product line and legions of advertisers pull out of Breitbart, it’s unclear whether these are steps on the path to a revised political landscape, or whether they are just feel-good wins leading nowhere in particular.
This dilemma is perhaps best exemplified by the Boycott Trump app, which has been downloaded 350,000 times. The concept behind it is similar to the one that animates Grab Your Wallet. The app is essentially a list of companies to boycott, though it includes more than 250 of them, rather than the dozens on Grab Your Wallet, many because they sponsored Trump’s NBC show The Apprentice back in 2011. I asked Nathan Lerner, who heads an organization called the Democratic Coalition Against Trump, which is responsible for the app, what qualifies a company to be listed, and he said that any company connected to the president was worth listing. I then asked if his group was collaborating with other boycott efforts.
“We’ve been a little frustrated with partnering,” Lerner told me. “Right now we’re seeing a ton of enthusiasm around boycotting Trump, but it’s fragmented. Folks are popping up doing great work, but they’re doing it on their own.” That seemed like a remarkably on-target summary of the situation, and Lerner’s group seemed to be an example of those working “on their own.”
In search of answers, I called up Marshall Ganz, who would surely be in the hall of fame of community organizing if there were one. He worked with Cesar Chavez in the 1960s to organize California farmworkers and was an architect of Barack Obama’s organizing strategy for his presidential run in 2007. A professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School (and, full disclosure, once my professor), Ganz defines “strategy” as “how we turn what we have into what we need to get what we want.” That applies nicely to the Trump boycott concept, in which activists are trying to turn their discrete consumer power into collective influence great enough to change where our country is headed.
When I mentioned to Ganz that so many different boycotts and related campaigns are happening without much coordination, he described the problem this way: “The mechanisms for starting my thing, my thing, my thing, they’re so easy in virtual space.” Bringing those initiatives together is the problem. As he pointed out, back in 2007 the San Francisco Bay Area alone had about 54 different pro-Obama groups registered online; the hard part was getting them to work together in a way that channeled their energy toward a shared goal. When it comes to fighting Donald Trump, Ganz suggested that it would be far more strategic for the many different boycott and pressure groups to pool their efforts. Were this to happen, he suggested, the anti-Trump movement could become more proactive, rather than reactive.
Not all experts agree with his assessment. L.A. Kaufman is the author of the recent bookDirect Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism. “I think that the decentralized character of the resistance gives it resilience,” she told me in a phone interview. In her view, the fact that all this activity is totally grassroots and happening outside the Democratic Party is a sign of political renewal in this country. She has a point. Yet it’s hard to see how economic resistance, surely a suitable weapon against a businessman-in-chief, can be effective without a critical mass coalescing around an agreed-upon set of actions and goals.
I asked Shannon Coulter whether she’s coordinating with other campaigns, and she pointed out that Grab Your Wallet is now aligned with the organizers of the Women’s March, the vast post-inauguration protest that swept the country. Those same organizers were also the driving force behind the formation of roughly 5,500 groups of local activists who convened after the march to consider the next steps for the emerging anti-Trump movement. This alliance seemed like a promising sign.
Recalling what Ganz had said about uniting groups that supported Obama in 2007, I asked Coulter whether she would ever consider merging Grab Your Wallet into a larger organization. To this, she responded in the negative. “I say that,” she explained, “because Grab Your Wallet is one of the only women-led ones in the movement.”
Coulter isn’t the only one to offer such reasoning. Since the anti-Trump movement is a heterogeneous collection of groups representing women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ folks, and lots of straight white people, there’s concern that combining efforts could result in a resistance dominated by white men who might compromise the priorities of specific groups and their constituents. In order to be effective, says Rashad Robinson of Color of Change, campaigns must carry the “moral authority of an impacted constituency.” He described situations in which white-led groups had tried to mimic campaigns led by Color of Change -- without realizing that they lacked the moral authority to do so effectively.
In 2014, Zeynep Tufekci, a professor at the University of North Carolina who studies social movements, gave a TED talk titled “Online social change: easy to organize, hard to win,” in which she described the March on Washington in 1963. That historic event, where Martin Luther King delivered his famed “I Have a Dream” speech, drew 250,000 people. Tufekci underscored the significance of attracting such a crowd in 1963, when organizers used landline phones, flyers, and word of mouth, in a landscape lacking today’s easy digital tools. Fifty years ago it was nothing short of awe-inspiring to draw a quarter million people to the National Mall. “If you’re in power,” said Tufekci, “you realize that you have to take the capacity signaled by that march, not just the march, but the capacity signaled by that march, seriously.”
The anti-Trump movement has yet to accomplish anything so awe-inspiring. Nearly half a million people gathered in Washington for the Women’s March -- a number that climbed to more than a million when all the protests around the country were added in -- but it’s not at all clear that such numbers carry the same weight today as smaller crowds did in previous eras. Though protesters filled the streets in Washington one day after the inauguration, anti-Trump activity remains fragmented several months into his term.
And when it comes to waging economic resistance against this billionaire president, the pressing question is whether innumerable people across the country, like Dee from New York, who are changing their spending habits, tweeting at advertisers, contacting chief executives, and jamming phones at Trump businesses, will do so in a way that converts their discrete actions into real influence and power.
It’s still too early to tell.

Fake Ads in the Time of Trump

Go to Original
By Barbara Koeppel

We’ve heard a lot about fake news. What about fake ads? Surely they deserve the “Pinocchio” reality check.

Let’s start with the April 29 full-page Washington Post ad run by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) applauding the president for his first 100 days. The organization hailed the trumpeter in chief for his accomplishments and hoped for more of the same.

“Thank you President Trump, for 100 days of progress,” the ad cheered.

Whose progress? Obviously NAM’s, or it wouldn’t have forked out the Post’s fee—about $127,000.
The problem is, most of the triumphs the ad touts are dubious. For example, it opens with a whopper. “You’ve promoted investment and created jobs.”

Well, yes and no. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 93,000 fewer new jobs were created from February to April 2017 (522,000), under the Trump reign, than over the same months in 2016 (615,000).

As for new investment, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, gross private domestic investment in the first quarter of 2017 (adjusted for inflation and seasonal variations) was up 1.7 percent from the fourth quarter 2016—not much to brag about.

Next, NAM’s ad gushed about the two pipelines (Dakota Access and Keystone XL) the president okayed. While Trump claimed Keystone will create 28,000 jobs when completed, the State 

Department put the number a tad lower, at 35 or 50.
According to NAM, the job creator in chief will rescue American manufacturers by reducing “the job-crushing regulatory burden,” “the red tape,” “the overreaching EPA and unfair labor regulations,” “the oppressive rules that obstructed energy development and prevented American independence.” And if that wasn’t enough, he’ll roll back “harmful Obamacare mandates.” Wow!
So, which manufacturers have suffered under such ruinous rules?

Not Emerson Electric Co., of which NAM’s chairman, David Farr, is CEO: In fact, its 2016 global sales were $14.5 billion. Boasting about its numbers, Emerson’s online blurbs claim it’s “one of a handful of companies with 60 consecutive years or more of increasing dividends to its shareholders.”

Not FLUOR Corp., of which NAM’s vice-chair, David Seaton, is CEO: One of the world’s largest engineering corporations, FLUOR’s 2016 revenues rose to $19 billion, up from $18 billion in 2015.

Not the firms represented on NAM’s Executive Committee. For example, Pfizer earned $52.8 billion. Ingersoll Rand’s sales and revenues rose to $13.5 billion. Fresenius Medical Care Services 2016 revenues soared 7 percent over 2015, to $17.9 billion. And Cargill Inc.’s 2016 revenues were a whopping $107 billion.

Even ExxonMobil, whose 2016 earnings were down to $7.8 billion, reported this was due to “sharply lower commodity prices, upstream”—not ruthless regulations. We are relieved to note that with $7.8 billion in revenue, ExxonMobil is not yet out of business.

Interestingly, most of the rules or acts that NAM says Trump reversed are those which hadn’t yet taken effect (not “overturned” as the ad claims). But a few were already in motion and the Trump/congressional changes will be big. For example, this past February and March, Trump and Congress killed the 2016 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule that required firms applying for government contracts to report cases in which they violated federal laws in the past—say, on wages, safety, health, collective bargaining and civil rights.

According to Heidi Shierholz, senior economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute, the rule was designed to ensure that workers are protected and that billions of dollars in federal contracts are no longer awarded to companies with a record of violations.

Trump also overturned a 2015 Environmental Protection Agency rule designed to stop firms from dumping toxic waste into waterways. While it will take some time for the new order to take effect, it’s official. As a non-NAM member, it’s hard to see why polluting waterways is a plus, though industries have long resented any government intrusions. They might also be hit with the cleanup bill down the road—although to be fair, they might not, since the tab is often picked up by taxpayers. Score one for industry.

The ad ends with a rapturous crescendo: “And you’re just getting started. The 12 million men and women who make things in America stand with you to renew the American Spirit.”

Good job, Donald!

Is it possible that even a few of those who “make things” will not cheer? If they don’t, NAM might suggest these employees—whose salaries, benefits, work conditions, health and quality of life will surely deteriorate—eat some American pie. (Cake, after all, is for the French.)

Good job, NAM!