Column: News, and something you can do

My piece on ReaderSupportedNews

http://readersupportednews.org//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=43807

Kushner/Kremlin

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/russian-ambassador-told-moscow-that-kushner-wanted-secret-communications-channel-with-kremlin/2017/05/26/520a14b4-422d-11e7-9869-bac8b446820a_story.html

Kushner/Bank

https://www.vox.com/2017/5/26/15703668/kushner-secret-russia-communication

Trump considering lifting sanctions

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/335244-official-trump-looking-at-future-of-us-sanctions-on-russia

Workplace injuries

https://www.forbes.com/sites/janetnovack/2017/03/20/congressional-rollback-of-injury-log-requirement-would-endanger-workers/#449278491319

Local input on public lands

https://thinkprogress.org/blm-cra-senate-11b9b1288b8c

Internet privacy

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-internet-idUSKBN16U2ER

Royalties loophole

https://thinkprogress.org/trumps-latest-gift-to-the-coal-industry-might-be-illegal-a53ae42ac4a0

Student loans

http://fortune.com/2017/04/12/betsy-devos-student-loans-obama/

Injury penalties cut

http://tucson.com/news/local/arizona-warned-over-improperly-slashing-workplace-safety-penalties/article_2e4472d5-d216-52e3-b8d7-6892f06a3603.html

Three quick topics:

First: I’ve posted a piece on ReaderSupportedNews which I hope rises to their “most popular” list. It’s about what Democratic leadership needs to do to recover, and further, ride the swinging pendulum back the other way. If you’re inclined, please view it and add to the hits. The link is with this column online. Thanks.

Second: A brief comment on the latest Trumpcapade, and then on to other things. The most important points in the mess by the son-in-law, Kushner, can get buried or spun. It might also connect to, by far, the most serious conflict of interest yet, which hasn’t been noted much.

Kushner wanted a “back channel” to the Kremlin by actually going to the Russian embassy to use their communications. “Back channel” has a normal meaning. This isn’t it. A “back channel” was when France was a go-between for us to talk to Iran when we had no direct contact. A “back channel” could be used to talk to North Korea in a way that is normal but quiet, until there’s some progress. Kushner wanted a “back channel” in the sense of hiding it from the rest of the U.S. government, and the U.S. public. That should be just as concerning as it sounds. If Trump and crew wanted a change regarding Russia and Syria or something, they could use normal, but discreet, channels. It’s important to know what Kushner needed to hide.

Perhaps connecting to this is that Kushner, having a hard time funding a project, met with the head of a Russian bank, with close ties to Putin, which was sanctioned after Russia invaded the Crimea. Trump has considered lifting those sanctions. That would constitute the biggest, most consequential conflict of U.S. interests yet. This may or may not hold up under investigation, but requires just that, thorough investigation. Links for this and all topics are with this column online.

Third: It’s not just Trump. The GOP in general is enacting change after change that directly harms people. I’m not just talking about cuts to “give aways” like food stamps.

Examples: * There was a rule requiring companies to keep a record of their workplace injuries, so we’d know which have a lot. The House ended it. * The Senate made it more difficult for communities near federal lands to have a say in how those lands are used. * The Senate blocked rules preventing internet companies from using your private data, like health concerns, without your consent. * For many years energy companies have used a loophole to rip off taxpayers for the royalties on extracting from public land. The loophole was recently closed. The Department of the Interior just reopened it, and even reached out to companies to let them know that. * Companies wanting government

contracts had to show they weren’t prone to wage theft. The Senate undid that. * Student loan servicing companies get contracts from the government. Before their contracts are renewed they are examined for whether they seriously abuse the collection process. The rule was undone. * And the state GOP too. The agency that should be penalizing companies that have sloppy worker safety has been letting them off easy.

The facts make a clear message. The message could be taken as, the GOP doesn’t care about you, but that’s not it. It’s that Republicans care about some other people, an exclusive, small group of other people, more. Much more.

Tom Cantlon is a local business owner and writer and can be reached at comments@tomcantlon.com.