Jared and Ivanka Kushner – slumlords

Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner ooze with the kind of upscale celebrity lifestyle as her father. But like so many wealthy people, their luxurious lifestyle is squeezing money out of poor people. Alec MacGillis of the investigative journalism outfit ProPublica has an expose of the practices of Donald Trump’s son-in-law’s real estate business and it is not pretty. It says that the company, through another agency, hounded the poor people who live in the units that qualify for Section 8 vouchers to help pay the rent, taking them to court to squeeze money out of them over the smallest infraction.
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The games heads of state play

People in the west place a lot of significance on the handshake and what it says about power relationships. Political observers of body language have been discussing for some time Donald Trump’s alpha-male dominance tactic of, when shaking hands, pulling the other person sharply towards him so that s/he is off balance and then shaking the hand vigorously and hard. It appears that word has got around about the Trump maneuver and we saw French president Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and now French president Emmanuel Macron doing counter moves.
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Trump’s budget is what the oligarchs hoped for

The White House budget director Mick Mulvaney is a rabid tea partier and so it should be no surprise that the budget proposals that he unveiled this week consist of everything desired in the fevered dreams of the US oligarchs: massive tax cuts for the wealthy, deep and wide cuts in programs that benefit the poor and middle class, and increases in defense spending.
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Playing into the hands of ISIS

Mehdi Hasan argues that the way we react to the atrocities like the Manchester bombing is exactly the goal of ISIS.

IF YOU WANT to defeat ISIS, listen to former ISIS hostage Nicolas Henin. The group is “heartened by every sign of overreaction, of division, of fear, of racism, of xenophobia … [and] drawn to any examples of ugliness on social media,” the French journalist wrote in November 2015 in the wake of the Paris attacks. “Central to their world view is the belief that communities cannot live together with Muslims, and every day their antennae will be tuned towards finding supporting evidence.”
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This is how heads of state converse?

Ever wondered what phone calls are like between heads of state? The Intercept has obtained the transcript of the phone conversation between Donald Trump and Philippine’s president Rodrigo Duterte. It is quite fascinating to read because it shatters the idea that conversations between heads of state are staid and serious exchanges. While they talked about serious affairs (drugs and North Korea), the tone of the discussion sounded like the low-level chatting of two slightly drunk fraternity guys just shooting the breeze about international affairs.
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The phony ‘Middle East peace process’ gets a new lease of life

Like every new president before him, Barack Obama hoped to make some headway in resolving the bitter dispute between Israel and the Palestinians. But he and his secretary of state John Kerry eventually realized that Israeli intransigence was too strong especially since, thanks to the Israel lobby in the US has a lock on the US congress, they could not use as a bargaining chip the only real leverage they have, the massive amount of aid that the US gives that country. So they essentially gave up.
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The right-shifted spectrum of US politics

Here’s Ben Smith writing about what he sees as a major shift in Democratic party policies.

Donald Trump has already changed the Democratic Party more than his own Republican Party.

While the president has merely reduced his own party into a panicked mess, the Democrats’ trajectory seems to have moved subtly and decisively away from the center-left Clinton liberalism toward a politics whose planks make Barack Obama look like Al Gore.
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Trump, Saudi Arabia, and Iran

Yesterday I posted the weird photo of Donald Trump, the Saudi King, and Egyptian dictator al Sisi placing their hands on a glowing orb, something that has sparked plenty of mockery and internet memes. Some have said that touching the orb was what caused a sinkhole to suddenly open up in front of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida at roughly the same time.
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