By Mary Papenfuss : huffingtonpost – excerpt

“Hundreds of Kushner Cos. tenants were protected by city law from being hit with major rent hikes or forced out by a new owner…

However, the company ‘routinely’ filed false paperwork saying buildings had ‘no-rent regulated tenants,’ AP reported.”…

According to city documents — obtained by the tenant watchdog group Housing Right Initiative — at least 80 fraudulent applications were filed for construction permits in 34 buildings from 2013 to 2016. They all stated the buildings had no rent-regulated tenants, when in fact they included 300 rent-regulated units, according to tax documents, AP reported. Kushner was CEO of the company during that time.

In one case, Kushner Cos. filed false statements about tenants in three buildings with 94 rent-regulated units that it purchased in Queens in 2015, reports AP.  After the company displaced most of the residents, it sold the buildings two years later for $60 million, nearly 50 percent more than their purchase price, according to AP…

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly looking into Jared Kushner’s efforts to secure financing for family real estate operations from foreign investors during the presidential transition that may have impacted his work in the White House…. (more)

You can’t write this stuff. The report on the fraud explains the affordable housing crisis. This story describes how many rent-protected residents have been evicted by creative landlords and ended up on the street.


Rick Scott Scrambles To Save Senate Bid: Drops Headlining 2018 NRA Leadership Forum

By SemDem : dailykos – excerpt

Rick Scott was to be a headline speaker at this year’s NRA’s 2018 Leadership Forum in Dallas. As of 2/19, days after the deadly Parkland shooting, Rick’s ugly mug was still featured on the site as a speaker. I suppose he had a sudden realization that being pro-school-shooter/terrorist isn’t exactly a winning electoral strategy in today’s climate, because his mug is no longer there.  (The forum is now so toxic that even the Dallas mayor doesn’t want it.)  It might have had something to do with this viral tweet from Wesley Jordan:…

My pure speculation: the NRA KNOWS they are toxic, and gave him permission to drop out to help his chances in November. They know he will do their bidding as always… (more)


Los Angeles Times owner sells paper to local billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, ending a long-troubled relationship

: washingtonpost – excerpt

The Chicago-based owner of the Los Angeles Times completed its sale of the newspaper on Wednesday in a surprise move that probably spells the end of its long-troubled relationship with Southern California’s leading news outlet.

The buyer is Patrick Soon-Shiong, a Los Angeles-area physician and a major shareholder of the paper’s former parent company, Tronc. Soon-Shiong is the billionaire founder and chief executive of NantHealth, based in Culver City. As part of the $500 million deal, he will also buy its sister newspaper, the San Diego Union-Tribune

Soon-Shiong, 64, made his fortune — estimated at around $9 billion by Bloomberg — by starting and selling biotech companies and by operating an empire of interlocking enterprises. A surgeon by training, he has no background in newspapers, except as an investor in Tronc. Among his investments is a small stake in the Los Angeles Lakers…

He has vowed to “solve health care” and to “win the war on cancer,” two grandiloquent claims that have made him controversial within health-care circles..

Soon-Shiong advised Donald Trump on health-care issues during the presidential transition last year, and also consulted with former vice president Joe Biden on Biden’s cancer initiative. Soon-Shiong has directed his political contributions primarily to Democrats, including Hillary Clinton in 2016… (more)

The media moguls never quit. This article details the history of the recent turmoil at a major US Newspaper that had a reputation for excellence in journalism.

New California Bill Aims to Revive Net Neutrality

By Ida Mojadad : sfweekly – excerpt

State Sen. Scott Wiener seeks to use the state’s regulatory power to require net neutrality after the FCC voted to repeal it nationwide.

On its first day back to work after the holidays, the California Legislature is taking up the fight to resurrect net neutrality.

State Sen. Scott Wiener is introducing a bill Wednesday afternoon — co-authored by 10 other mostly-Bay Area state representatives — that would add net neutrality to state regulations. The move fulfills the promise Wiener made immediately after the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality regulation on party lines in December

The FCC proposal preemptively banned state and local net neutrality rules but Wiener believes it was an overreach of power based on a previous court ruling.

“As the epicenter of technological innovation, California has a special responsibility to ensure that the internet remains free and open” says Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties policy director for the ACLU of California, in a statement…(more)

Former Google and Facebook executives are sounding the alarm about the pervasive power of tech. Will we listen?

By John Harris : theguardian – excerpt

Former Google and Facebook executives are sounding the alarm about the pervasive power of tech. Will we listen?

One source of angst came close to being 2017’s signature subject: how the internet and the tiny handful of companies that dominate it are affecting both individual minds and the present and future of the planet. The old idea of the online world as a burgeoning utopia looks to have peaked around the time of the Arab spring, and is in retreat.

If you want a sense of how much has changed, picture the president of the US tweeting his latest provocation in the small hours, and consider an array of words and phrases now freighted with meaning: Russia, bots, troll farms, online abuse, fake news, dark money.

Another sign of how much things have shifted is a volte-face by Silicon Valley’s most powerful man. Barely more than a year ago the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, seemed still to be rejoicing in his company’s imperial phase, blithely dismissing the idea that fabricated news carried by his platform had affected the outcome of the 2016 US election as a “pretty crazy idea”. Now scarcely a week goes by without some Facebook pronouncement or other, either updating the wider world about its latest quest to put its operations beyond criticism or assuring us that its belief in an eternally upbeat, fuzzily liberal ethos is as fervent as ever…(more)

Now that the traditional media has been replaced by online content, online entrepreneurs are the news gatekeepers, and they could be more dangerous than the traditional media lords were as they have a broader reach. All media follows the same stories. There is very little difference between the channels

Younger minds more impressionable minds are being targeted in the race to spread influence, as very young children are given smart phones and are encouraged to “start learning” by playing games. How young is too young for impressionable minds? Are humans at risk for developing strange maladies from over-dosing on wireless technology?

As we write the new history of our creative society will our voices be heard or are we pushing our thoughts into a mirror in order to content ourselves that we tried to warn the world? Can our creative efforts make a difference?

Recent developments and stories like this on “mainstream” media sources like the guardian give us hope, as do stories by youthful journalists as they uncover the truth about how governments manipulate them. Here is the latest from the SF Bay View News. You may recognize a similar plan in your city that needs to be exposed. Transportation gentrification:  How Bus Rapid Transit is displacing East-Oakland/

Four Quitters Walk Into a Bar…

Interview by Lydia Polgreen : huffpost – excerpt

To swap war stories from an administration they couldn’t serve for one more minute.

have met Trump haters before, lots of them, the kind who seize upon every conspiracy theory and refuse to give him any benefit of any doubt. The four people I recently spent the morning with at Solly’s Tavern in D.C. (sans booze, don’t worry) were not Trump haters. They were, however, Trump quitters.

All of them, at some point over the course of the last nine months, had left their posts within the current administration, having decided that they could better serve their country from outside the government than from within. They weren’t happy about quitting, either. They were civil servants who wanted to remain civil servants, who, except for one, had worked under presidents of both parties. They had disagreed with superiors over the years, they had been fearful of new regulations and wary of political appointees, but they stayed on because that’s the nature of career work in government. This was different…. (more)

The Atlantic Confirms It: We Are Living In A Kakistocracy

By Dartagnan : theatlantic – excerpt

I can speak from firsthand knowledge that living through 11 presidencies of varying degrees of competence (and the occasional scandal or criminality) gives you some perspective on what we are experiencing today. Norman Ornstein, political scientist and resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, has lived through 13 of them. What he sees with the Trump Administration is something so unique it needs a special word to describe it, a word that has been out of popular usage for nearly two centuries. The word is “kakistocracy.”
kakistocracy (English pronunciation: /kækɪsˈtɑkɹəsi/) is a system of government which is run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens. … It was also used by English author Thomas Love Peacock in 1829, but gained significant usage in the 21st century…(more)