Daily Archives: February 2nd, 2017

On Same Day Rex Tillerson is Confirmed, House Votes to Kill a Transparency Rule for Oil Companies

Brad Plumer reports for Vox:

On the same day the Senate confirmed Rex Tillerson as Donald Trump’s secretary of state, the House voted to kill a transparency rule for oil companies that Tillerson once lobbied against while CEO of Exxon Mobil.

So all in all, a good day for America’s largest oil and gas firm.

Using the little-known Congressional Review Act, the House GOP voted on Wednesday to kill an Obama-era regulation that would require publicly traded oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose any payments that they made to foreign governments, including taxes and royalties.

The rule itself dates back to the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act — when senators from both parties included a provision requiring greater disclosure from mining and drilling companies working abroad. The hope was to cut down on corruption in resource-rich developing countries by increasing transparency.

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Rex Tillerson’s Vow to Keep Away From Exxon Runs Into a World of Oil

Nick Wadhams reports for Bloomberg:

Exxon Mobil Corp. boasts that it drills for oil and gas on six continents and sells fuel and chemicals in almost every country on the planet. That global reach will pose a wealth of conflict-of-interest questions for former CEO Rex Tillerson now that he’s the U.S. secretary of state.

Tillerson, who spent his entire 41-year career at Exxon, cut his financial ties under an ethics agreement after Donald Trump nominated him, giving up deferred stock rights in return for a $180 million cash payout to an independently managed trust. Tillerson also must recuse himself from decisions “directly and substantially related to” his former employer for two years under the president’s ethics order for his appointees.

“He has severed himself in a pretty final and conclusive way, and I just don’t see him being influenced given the structure of his disengagement,” Stan Brand, an ethics lawyer at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, said in an interview.

Yet the $350 billion company is so big, and so deeply entrenched in countries around the world, that Tillerson’s past will inevitably shadow him, critics say. They say that no ethics agreement can protect against Tillerson viewing the world through “oil-coated glasses,” as Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said this week.

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Iran Just Officially Ditched the Dollar in Major Blow to US

Alice Salles reports for Anti-Media:

Image result for Iran To Ditch The DollarFollowing President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the Iranian government announced it would stop using the U.S. dollar “as its currency of choice in its financial and foreign exchange reports,” the local Financial Tribune reported.

Iran governor Valiollah Seif’s central bank announced the decision in a television interview on January 29. The change will take effect on March 21, and it will impact all official financial and foreign exchange reports.

Iran’s difficulties [in dealing] with the dollar,” Seif said, “were in place from the time of the primary sanctions and this trend is continuing,” but when it comes to other currencies, he added, “we face no limitations.”

In a piece published by Forbes, Dominic Dudley contends that this move is significant “in the light of the recent ‘Muslim ban” announced by Trump. Iran nationals were added to the order issued by the current U.S. administration, which prompted the Iranian government to vow to stop issuing visas to U.S. citizens.

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Trump Administration ‘Officially Putting Iran on Notice’, says Michael Flynn

Julian Borger, David Smith, Spencer Ackerman and Saeed Kamali Dehghan report for The Guardian:

Image result for Trump Administration 'Officially Putting Iran on Notice'The Trump administration has said it was “officially putting Iran on notice” in reaction to an Iranian missile test and an attack on a Saudi warship by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen but gave no details about how Washington intended to respond.

The threat was made on Wednesday by the national security adviser, Michael Flynn, in his first public statement since taking office.

Speaking in the White House briefing room, Flynn said a missile launch on Sunday and a Houthi attack on a Saudi frigate on Monday underlined Iran’s “destabilizing behavior across the Middle East.”.

Flynn did not specify how the new administration would respond. Asked for clarification, the White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, said the president wanted to make sure the Iranians “understood we are not going to sit by and not act on their actions”.

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Steve Bannon: ‘We’re Going to War in the South China Sea… No Doubt’

Benjamin Haas reports for The Guardian:

Image result for Steve Bannon: 'We're Going to War in the South China Sea... No Doubt'The United States and China will fight a war within the next 10 years over islands in the South China Sea, and “there’s no doubt about that”. At the same time, the US will be in another “major” war in the Middle East.

Those are the views – nine months ago at least – of one of the most powerful men in Donald Trump’s administration, Steve Bannon, the former head of far-right news website Breitbart who is now chief strategist at the White House.

In the first weeks of Trump’s presidency, Bannon has emerged as a central figure. He was appointed to the “principals committee” of the National Security Council in a highly unusual move and was influential in the recent travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, overruling Department of Homeland Security officials who felt the order did not apply to green card holders.

While many in Trump’s team are outspoken critics of China, in radio shows Bannon hosted for Breitbart he makes plain the two largest threats to America: China and Islam.

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The Dark History of the White House Aides Who Crafted Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’

Josh Harkinson reports for Mother Jones:

The Trump administration has insisted since Sunday that the president’s executive order banning travel to the United States from seven predominately Islamic countries “is not a Muslim ban.” But as Mother Jones first reported in a series of investigations starting last summer, the two top Trump advisers who reportedly crafted the immigration crackdown—Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller—have a long history of promoting Islamophobia, courting anti-Muslim extremists, and boosting white nationalists.

For nearly a year before stepping down as the CEO of Breitbart News to lead the Trump campaign, Bannon hosted a SiriusXM radio show, Breitbart News Daily, where he conducted dozens of interviews with leading anti-Muslim extremists. Steeped in unfounded claims and conspiracy theories, the interviews paint a dark and paranoid picture of America’s 3.3 million Muslims and the world’s second-largest faith. Bannon often bookended the exchanges with full-throated praise for his guests, describing them as “top experts” and urging his listeners to click on their websites and support them.

One of Bannon’s guests on the show, Trump surrogate Roger Stone, warned of a future America “where hordes of Islamic madmen are raping, killing, pillaging, defecating in public fountains, harassing private citizens, elderly people—that’s what’s coming.”

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President Bannon? Racist, Islamophobic Breitbart Leader Consolidates Power in Trump White House

Amy Goodman speaks to Josh Harkinson, senior reporter at Mother Jones, on Steve Bannon emerging as one of the most powerful figures in the Trump White House. Harkinson’s recent article is headlined ‘The Dark History of the White House Aides Who Crafted Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban‘. (Democracy Now!)

Resist or Resign: Facing Grassroots Pressure, Democratic Lawmakers Intensify Fight Against Trump

Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh speak to Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for The Huffington Post, about Democrats beginning to push back Trump’s nominees after facing public pressure to do more. Grim recently wrote an article titled ‘After Trying Everything Else, Democrats Have Decided To Listen To Their Voters‘. (Democracy Now!)