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This is the result of “gamblers” buying into an established business and not knowing the workings of the business. That lack of knowledge allows for the fatal mistakes made in the business model and opening the door for failure. This debacle leads to the “gambler” going after whatever assets that are available on the backs of the workers and gutting the business for whatever assets that can be gleaned after the business is no longer viable. Those assets include real estate that is often more valuable than the business after being gutted.  We should hope that the courts find for the plaintiffs to create a precedent for the future “Gamblers” MA.

By Jonathan Stempel and Jessica DiNapoli 18 hrs ago

Sears Holdings Corp sued longtime former chairman Eddie Lampert, his hedge fund ESL Investments and others like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, claiming they illegally siphoned billions of dollars of assets from the retailer before it went bankrupt.
The lawsuit, made public on Thursday, was filed by the restructuring team winding down Sears’ bankruptcy estate and suing on behalf of creditors, many of whom blame Lampert for the retailer’s downfall.
It followed the billionaire’s $5.2 billion purchase in February of most Sears assets, including the DieHard and Kenmore brands, after a bankruptcy auction.
The complaint seeks the repayment of “billions of dollars of value looted from Sears,” including while it was in what Lampert would later call a “death spiral” where it sold core assets to meet daily expenses with no real plan for becoming profitable.
“Had defendants not taken these improper and illegal actions, Sears would have had billions of dollars more to pay its third-party creditors today and would not have endured the amount of disruption, expense, and job losses resulting from its recent bankruptcy filing,” the complaint said.
Sears filed for Chapter 11 protection in October after a prolonged decline under Lampert marked by large losses, scant investment and lost market share to retailers such as Walmart Inc, Home Depot Inc and Amazon.com Inc.
Others sued include ESL President Kunal Kamlani; Bruce Berkowitz and his Fairholme Capital Management, which was a large Sears shareholder; and Seritage Growth Properties, which took over 266 of Sears’ best stores in a 2015 spinoff.
Mnuchin, a college roommate of Lampert’s at Yale University, had been a director at Sears and ESL, and previously worked with Lampert at Goldman Sachs.
In a statement on behalf of ESL, Lampert and Kalmani, ESL said it vigorously disputed the lawsuit, calling the allegations “misleading or just flat wrong,” and saying all transactions were done in good faith and for shareholders’ benefit.
Fairholme said it was reviewing the complaint. Seritage and the Treasury Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
‘DEATH SPIRAL’
Lampert created Sears Holdings through the 2005 merger of Sears, Roebuck & Co and Kmart Holdings Corp.
According to the complaint, Lampert and other insiders had by 2011 begun hatching a plan to “strip” Sears of assets, as the Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based retailer’s performance fell short and more ESL investors were demanding their money back.
The complaint said Lampert ordered the creation of bogus financial plans projecting a Sears turnaround, and used them to help transfer five major assets worth more than $2 billion, including Land’s End and Sears Hometown Outlet.
Sears’ bankruptcy estate in particular faulted the conduct of Lampert and others in the $2.58 billion Seritage spinoff.
It said that transaction undervalued the real estate by at least $649 million, stuck Sears with hundreds of millions of dollars of rent and fees from leasing most of the 266 stores back, and was structured to benefit favored shareholders like Lampert, in part through Seritage’s payment of dividends.
Seritage reported $24.1 million of funds from operations in 2018, a measure of cash flow, and last July obtained a $2 billion loan package from Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Berkshire is not a defendant.
Thursday’s lawsuit was filed with the U.S. bankruptcy court in White Plains, New York.
It seeks a declaration that the alleged looting constituted “fraudulent transfers” that should be undone or, more likely, justified damages.
The reorganized Sears was expected to have about 425 Sears and Kmart stores, down from roughly 3,500 at the time of the 2005 merger.
The case is Sears Holdings Corp et al v Lampert et al, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-ap-08250. The main bankruptcy case is In re Sears Holdings Corp in the same court, No. 18-bk-23538.

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The calls for SHS to be fired are just talk as a consummate liar will not fire another consummate liar especially when that liar covers his butt and forwards his lies with impunity. We have known that any spokespeople for the current administration are not reliable except for the fact that they will lie for and with TOTUS.MA

Lauren Tyler
April 19, 2019
Sarah Huckabee Sanders was on Hannity Thursday night after the Mueller report revealed that Sanders lied about the FBI’s reaction to the James Comey firing. During the interview, she admitted to Sean Hannity that she wasn’t fully truthful in her press conference after Comey was fired.
“Look, I acknowledged that I had a slip of the tongue when I used the word ‘countless,’ but it’s not untrue.”
Sanders formerly stated that “countless” FBI executives were thankful Trump fired Comey. On May 10, 2017, the day after Comey was fired, Sanders told reporters, “I think most of America had decided on their own that Director Comey was not the person that should be leading the FBI, as evidenced by the numerous comments that we’ve seen from Democrat members in the House and Senate, Republican members, members of the FBI, and people across the board.”
However, in a redacted report presented by Attorney General William Barr to Congress and the public Thursday morning, it was revealed that Sanders admitted that her statements regarding FBI reaction to Comey’s firing were not true.
“Sanders told this Office [of the special counsel] that her reference to hearing from ‘countless members of the FBI’ was a ‘slip of the tongue.’
It was also revealed that her statements that FBI agents had “lost confidence” in Comey were made in “the heat of the moment” and “not founded on anything.”
On Hannity, Sanders maintained that Comey should have been fired.
“James Comey was a disgraced leaker who tried to politicize and undermine the agency he was supposed to run,” she explained.
Twitter has exploded with reactions from journalists calling for Sanders to be fired.

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Again “Botch” McConnell falls to the occasion, it is clear that “Botch” is not a leader but a follower of the GOP and by extension TOTUS. If this is serving the people then what is ignoring them called? This also begs the question Is TOTUS President of The United States or the co-leader of Saudi Arabia? MA.
POLITICS 04/16/2019 07:56 pm ET Updated 11 hours ago

By Nick Visser
President Donald Trump on Tuesday vetoed a resolution to end U.S. support of Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen, which has been blamed for tens of thousands of deaths in the region.
“This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future,” Trump said in a statement accompanying his veto.
The Senate passed the resolution by a slim majority in March, and the House did the same earlier this month. It was a rare use of the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which gives Congress the power to remove military forces from a conflict for which there’s been no formal declaration of war.
The measure was passed by a bipartisan group of senators, including seven Republican senators who broke ranks with their party leaders. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had urged lawmakers to reject the resolution at the time, saying it was “inappropriate and counterproductive.”
The veto was Trump’s second of his administration. He issued his first last month, blocking Congress’ attempt to end a “national emergency” declaration meant to obtain funds to build a wall along the southern border.
The move on Tuesday drew a quick backlash of rebukes, including from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has long been critical of the Yemeni conflict.
“I am disappointed, but not surprised, that Trump has rejected the bi-partisan resolution to end U.S. involvement in the horrific war in Yemen,” Sanders, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, said in a statement. “The people of Yemen desperately need humanitarian help, not more bombs.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) lambasted the president, saying he had “cynically chosen to contravene a bipartisan, bicameral vote of the Congress.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who sits on the chamber’s Foreign Relations Committee, also condemned the move as a “huge mistake.”
“The civil war in Yemen is a humanitarian crisis, and we have no business still being a part of it,” he said in a statement. “I’ve been calling on the United States to get out of the civil war in Yemen for the last four years, and this veto won’t stop me.”
Trump’s apparent fondness for Saudi Arabia has drawn the ire of many lawmakers, particularly after last year’s killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post. American intelligence agencies determined that the order to murder Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul came directly from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. But the president has refused to condemn the crown prince for his role, instead saying that he stood by the Saudis.

“It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t,” Trump said in November. “In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
America supplies billions in arms sales to Riyadh, and the U.S. military has helped train the Saudi air force while advising the country on its war effort, according to a December report in The New York Times. In Washington, lawmakers have grown increasingly concerned about the deaths of civilians during airstrikes in Yemen, a toll that has continued to rise.
The war in Yemen has caused the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The United Nations estimated in February that 24 million people ― about 80% of Yemen’s population ― were in need of assistance and that hundreds of thousands were at risk of starvation due to a famine.
“We remain keenly aware that a sustainable peace … would be the most effective remedy for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen,” Mark Lowcock, the U.N. humanitarian chief, said this week. “Without peace, we will simply go on treating the symptoms of this crisis, instead of addressing the cause. Let me summarize: Violence has again increased. The relief operation is running out of money. Barring changes, the end is nigh.”
This article has been updated with responses from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chris Murphy.

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The best reason for not giving TOTUS’S tax returns to Congress is the specter of a REAL audit plus fines and Jail?. This is the same reason TOTUS’s lawyers do not want him to testify- his inability to tell the truth. MA.
David Jackson, USA TODAY Published 2:02 p.m. ET April 15, 2019, | Updated 2:27 p.m. ET April 15, 2019

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer sent the Treasury Department a second letter Monday echoing his initial request: Don’t give Trump’s tax returns to Congress.
“Congress has no constitutional authority to act like a junior-varsity IRS, rerunning individual examinations or flyspecking the agency’s calculations,” said the letter from Trump attorney William S. Consovoy.
The letter comes two days after Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, gave the Internal Revenue Service a new deadline of April 23 to produce Trump tax documents or perhaps face a subpoena.
Saying Congress had a right to review returns, Neal said that “it is not the proper function of the IRS, Treasury, or Justice to question or second guess the motivations of the Committee.”
Neal made the same request this month and had set a deadline of Wednesday of last week. The Treasury Department, however, said it needed an extension because it was still reviewing the legal issues involved.
Unlike previous presidents, and many White House hopefuls, Trump refused to make his tax returns public after he became a presidential candidate in 2015.
In his letter on Monday, Trump’s lawyer accused Democratic House members of engaging in a fishing expedition designed to embarrass Trump politically.
“I wrote you on April 5 to explain why Chairman Neal’s request for my clients’
confidential tax information is illegal,” Consovoy said.

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The  “IAGO” (Stephen Miller) of the Whitehouse is upset and possibly a prime mover on the selection and removal of administration members. It is quite possible that the “TOTUS” train is nearing a derailment. MA. 

EILEEN SULLIVAN and MICHAEL D. SHEAR 24 mins ago

WASHINGTON — Stephen Miller was furious — again.

The architect of President Trump’s immigration agenda, Mr. Miller was presiding last month over a meeting in the White House Situation Room when he demanded to know why the administration officials gathered there were taking so long to carry out his plans.
A regulation to deny welfare benefits to immigrants — a change Mr. Miller repeatedly predicted would be “transformative” — was still plodding through the approval process after more than two years, he complained. So were the new rules that would overturn court-ordered protections for migrant children. They were still not finished, he added, berating Ronald D. Vitiello, the acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“You ought to be working on this regulation all day every day,” he shouted, as recounted by two participants at the meeting. “It should be the first thought you have when you wake up. And it should be the last thought you have before you go to bed. And sometimes you shouldn’t go to bed.”
A few weeks after that meeting, the consequences of Mr. Miller’s frustration and the president he was channeling have played out in striking fashion.
Mr. Trump has withdrawn Mr. Vitiello’s nomination to permanently lead ICE and pushed out Kirstjen Nielsen, his homeland security secretary. The department’s acting deputy secretary, Claire Grady, and the Secret Service director, Randolph D. Alles, are departing as well. And the White House has made it clear that others, including L. Francis Cissna, the head of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and John Mitnick, the department’s general counsel, are likely to go soon.
Mr. Trump insisted in a tweet on Saturday that he was “not frustrated” by the situation at the border, where for months he has said there is a crisis that threatens the nation’s security. But unable to deliver on his central promise of the 2016 campaign, he has targeted his administration’s highest-ranking immigration officials.
And behind that purge is Mr. Miller, the 33-year-old White House senior adviser. While immigration is the issue that has dominated Mr. Trump’s time in office, the president has little interest or understanding about how to turn his gut instincts into reality. So it is Mr. Miller, a fierce ideologue who was a congressional spokesman before joining the Trump campaign, who has shaped policy, infuriated civil liberties groups and provoked a bitter struggle within the administration.
White House officials insisted to reporters last week that they had no choice but to move against administration officials unwilling or unable to make their agencies produce results. One senior administration official at the White House, who requested anonymity to discuss what he called a sensitive topic, said many of the administration’s core priorities have been “either moving too slowly or moving in the wrong direction.”
But current and former officials from those agencies, who also requested anonymity to discuss contentious relations with the White House, describe a different reality.
The purge, they said, was the culmination of months of clashes with Mr. Miller and others around the president who have repeatedly demanded implementation of policies that were legally questionable, impractical, unethical or unreasonable. And when officials explained why, it further infuriated a White House set on making quick, sweeping changes to decades-old laws.
In a twist, many of the officials who have clashed with the White House were the president’s own political appointees, who share his broad goal of limiting immigration into the United States. To that end, they have already succeeded in lowering the number of refugees allowed into the United States, imposing a travel ban on entry from mostly Muslim nations, speeding up denaturalization proceedings, slowing asylum processing at ports of entry and developing proposals to limit work permits for spouses of high-tech workers.
“I don’t think the president’s really cleaning house,” said Thomas D. Homan, a former acting ICE director and strong supporter of the president’s immigration agenda. “I think he’s setting the reset button.”
A White House spokesman declined a request for comment. But even several of the most right-wing, anti-immigration groups have had a mixed reaction to the treatment of the immigration officials Mr. Trump and Mr. Miller have targeted.
The Center for Immigration Studies tweeted that “Nielsen got tough at the end of her tenure, but it was largely too little, too late.” The Federation for American Immigration Reform wrote: “Under Francis Cissna’s leadership, USCIS has issued a steady stream of policy changes and regulations that are firmly in line with President Trump’s immigration agenda. Removing him would be a huge mistake.”
But it has not been enough for Mr. Miller and his allies in the White House feeling the constant pressure from Mr. Trump.
Perhaps the greatest point of contention within the administration has been the asylum laws that are the root cause of the most vivid manifestation of the immigration issue: the hundreds of thousands of migrant families from Central America who have surged toward the southwestern border, fleeing violence and poverty.
In a Tuesday afternoon “deputies” conference call last year with about 50 or 60 officials from across government, Mr. Miller demanded to know why nearly all of the families seeking asylum were passing the first hurdle — a screening interview to determine whether they have a “credible fear” of persecution if they were returned to their home countries.
Mr. Miller and others in the White House were outraged that 90 percent or more of the applicants passed the first screening, a concern during the Bush administration, as well. Immigration judges ultimately deny all but about 20 percent of the asylum requests, but because of a backlog of hundreds of thousands of cases, many asylum seekers wait years for their case to be heard for the second time, giving them the chance to gain work permits, build roots and disappear in the United States.
To Mr. Miller, the asylum process was a giant loophole that needed to be plugged. And he faulted the asylum officers at Citizenship and Immigration Services who were conducting the screenings for having a cultural bias that made them overly sympathetic to the asylum seekers. “You need to tighten up,” Miller insisted.
Immigration officials on the conference call did not disagree that too many migrants were granted asylum in the initial “credible fear” screening. But the rules for conducting the screenings were written into law by Congress and designed to be generous so that persecuted people had a real opportunity to seek asylum. It was unclear, the officials said, what else the agency could do.
Listening to Mr. Miller continue to hammer the issue, two people on the call recalled, it was almost as if Mr. Miller wanted asylum officers to ignore the law. At one point during the call, Mr. Cissna erupted in frustration.
“Enough. Enough. Stand down!” he said.
But such pressure from the White House was hardly unique, according to officials from multiple agencies.
For instance, a federal judge last week ruled that the White House early in the administration had improperly pressured officials at Citizenship and Immigration Services to terminate an immigration program for Haiti called Temporary Protected Status.
The judge said the decision in 2017 to end the program was contrary to the statute and indicated that the White House had strongly influenced the department.
More recently, White House officials pushed during one of the Tuesday afternoon conference calls to have Border Patrol agents, instead of asylum officers, conduct “credible fear” interviews. The notion, they said, was that the Border Patrol agents could process interviews quickly and cut out the several-day wait to schedule a meeting with an asylum officer.
Many of the immigration officials recoiled at the idea. Assigning agents to interview duty would pull them from their primary roles at the ports and along the border. Even worse, asylum laws require interviewers to undergo up to two months of training that would strain the already understaffed Border Patrol stations.
But even if they could be trained, officials told the White House, the logistics would be a nightmare. Cramped Border Patrol stations — many of which look like small, rural police stations — were not set up to conduct scores of two-hour interviews with hundreds of migrants flooding into border communities each day.
When the idea leaked out in early April, immigrant rights advocates accused the Trump administration of trying to prevent migrants from have a real chance at asylum.
“Border Patrol officers are simply not qualified to do this,” said Eleanor Acer, the director of the refugee program at Human Rights First. “This will put unfit, untrained and unqualified agents in charge of determining who warrants potentially lifesaving protection in the United States.”
To Mr. Miller and other White House officials, it was another instance in which the law and machinations of government were getting in the way of needed changes. And they think there are many others.
In November, as Mr. Trump railed publicly about the dangers of migrant caravans from Central America, a top White House domestic policy adviser floated the idea of taking migrants who had been apprehended to so-called sanctuary cities represented by Democrats. Homeland security officials, who saw the idea as political retribution, resisted.
In an email, Matthew Albence, the acting deputy director of ICE, said that it would create “an unnecessary operational burden” and that transporting the migrants to a different location was not “a justified expenditure.” Lawyers at the Department of Homeland Security, including Mr. Mitnick, also questioned the idea’s legality.
The idea was dropped until last week when news stories about the rejected proposal prompted Mr. Trump to say his administration was still considering the option.
Mr. Trump has also not given up on the idea of shutting down the southern border, a move economists have said would be catastrophic and halt nearly $1.7 billion of goods and services that flow across the border each day.
Even as Mr. Trump retreated publicly and said he would give Mexico a year to do more to prevent migrants from reaching the southern border of the United States, he has made it clear to his advisers privately that the closing was still on the table.
His insistence increased the friction with his top immigration officials, especially Ms. Nielsen, who tried to talk him out of closing the ports of entry and refusing to grant asylum. Ms. Nielsen explained why she could not do that, citing economic and legal issues — banning migrants from seeking asylum would be against the law.
When Ms. Nielsen did not give the president the answer he sought, he turned to Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, and asked him to stop migrants from entering the country. Mr. Trump told Mr. McAleenan that he would pardon him if he ran into any legal problems, according to officials familiar with the conversation — though he denied it in a tweet Saturday night.
Ms. Nielsen’s refusal to shut down the southern border appeared to be the final straw for Mr. Trump. After forcing her resignation, he named Mr. McAleenan the acting secretary of the department.
But Mr. Miller remains unsatisfied. Lately, he has made clear to immigration officials and others in the White House that he remains frustrated with the still-pending regulation on welfare benefits for immigrants. After nearly two years of painstaking work and more than 200,000 public comments, the 447-page rule is on track to eventually be published.
And it is not clear that the political bloodletting is over. Mr. Cissna and Mr. Mitnick remain in bureaucratic limbo, having received neither their walking papers nor an explicit stay of execution. While Mr. McAleenan is now the acting secretary of homeland security, rumors persist that Mr. Trump may want someone else to be the permanent head of the department.
Inside the immigration agencies, there is a persistent rumor that Mr. Trump may yet name an immigration czar to better coordinate — or, some believe, control — the sprawling immigration bureaucracy.
Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reporting.

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Kevin Kallaugher Comic Strip for April 15, 2019

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Tom Toles Comic Strip for April 15, 2019


At Last someone within the GOP has admitted what is really going on. TOTUS is using the Presidency as a reality show to get his agenda passed. Thus does not take away from the fact that Congress is barely functioning and has for some time. There is barely unity within each party aside from the space between the House and Senate. Informed voters need to get the facts on their choice before elections and understand that Government is not entertainment but a life-altering system which requires smart, serious and “honest” people to manage it.MA

By Devan Cole, CNN 3 hrs ago

Republican Florida Sen. Rick Scott said Sunday that President Donald Trump’s threat to place immigrants into so-called sanctuary cities might just be the President trying to “make everybody crazy.”
“I don’t know whether it’s legal or illegal. I mean, maybe he’s just saying this to make everybody crazy. Make everybody talk about it on their shows,” Scott, who represents Florida, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
Scott added: “But what I do know is I’ve been up there — I’ve been in the Senate for 90 days, we’re not securing our border. We’re not enforcing our laws.”

On Friday, Trump said that his administration is “strongly looking at” the possibility of releasing immigrants into sanctuary cities, undercutting earlier denials from his own administration officials.

“In California, the governor wants to have a lot of people coming in, refugees coming in, a lot of sanctuary cities, so we’ll give them to the sanctuary cities maybe to take care of if it’s that the way we want it,” he said during an event at the White House.
Earlier in the day, he said on Twitter that because Democrats “are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only,” adding that “The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy — so this should make them very happy!”
Trump’s remarks came after the White House and Department of Homeland Security said they were no longer pursuing the suggestion to have DHS release immigrants detained at the southern border into sanctuary cities in part to retaliate against Democrats who oppose Trump’s plans for a border wall.
Scott also told Tapper that “sanctuary cities are illegal” and that Democrats cannot “pick and choose what laws you do.”
“What I don’t get is why don’t we try to solve the problem. We don’t want illegal immigration, we don’t want people coming illegally across the border, ” Scott said. “We want legal immigration. I’m from a state that we love immigrants, but we want legal immigration. So it’s frustrating to me we’re not getting anything done.”


April 13, 201910:21 AM ET

Karen Grigsby Bates , NPR Code Switch

Ebony magazine was more than a publication — to black America, it was a public trust. It held a place of prominence in millions of African-American households whose members did not otherwise see themselves in the mainstream media. So back in 2015, when Johnson Publishing Company announced it was spinning off its flagship magazine, Ebony, and also its news magazine sibling, Jet, people knew something was up.
“They were just waiting for the other shoe to drop,” the late Ken Smikle, a longtime observer of the Johnson Publishing Company’s evolution, told NPR’s, Michel Martin.
Smikle founded Target Market News, a Chicago-based service that tracks black consumer power and patterns for the business market. He felt JPC was in for a rough ride. This week, the other shoe finally dropped: JPC announced it was filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. The company says it’s selling the remainder of its assets, a comprehensive archive of photos from some of black America’s most pivotal 20th Century moments, and a beloved cosmetics line that, toward the end, accounted for more than 40 percent of JPC’s bottom line.

How did it get to this? Ebony has been around for so many decades, it saw the terminology for its target audience change from “Colored” to “Negro” to “Black” to “African-American.” People thumbed through its glossy pages for stories of black success and achievement. Founder John H. Johnson used to say his magazines “gave readers the feeling that there were black people in other cities and in other countries like themselves who were doing well,” he told NPR in a 2002 interview. “It inspired them to do better.”
So, there were doctors and lawyers, entertainers and sportsmen, pastors and politicians — including ones from black countries. Ebony covered Ivorian president Félix Houphouët-Boigny’s state visit to the White House in 1962, and put his glamorous new wife on the cover next to Jacqueline Kennedy. Mme. Houphouët-Boigny shone. Black America swooned. It was a high point.
Changing times … and the Internet
But times had begun to change. The civil rights movement gave way to the Black Power movement. The old assimilationist aesthetic became challenged by the new Afrocentric aesthetic. People’s reading habits changed. By the time the Internet became a thing, it was only a matter of time before online ads began to siphon dollars away from the one’s magazines had been commanding. Subscriptions of Johnson publications started to dwindle. (Eventually Jet, the magazine that shocked America with the gruesome lynching photos of Emmett Till, went digital in 2014 to cut costs.)
John H. Johnson died in 2005, and by prearrangement, the reins passed to daughter Linda Johnson Rice. Although she was literally raised by John and wife Eunice in the JPC offices, and was familiar with the magazine’s business and editorial practices, Rice was unprepared — as were many other publishers — for the rapid shifts in the publishing industry, the downsizing and mergers. And perhaps most of all, the loss of those critical advertising dollars to the dreaded Internet. In 2010, Rice sold the iconic JPC Tower on tony Michigan Avenue (designed by a black man, built for a black man, as locals proudly pointed out), to Columbia College, and moved the staff to smaller quarters. In 2016 she sold Ebony, Ebony.com and Jet.com to Clear View Ventures, a Texas-based, black-owned private equity firm that promised to “position the enterprise for long-term growth. Our team,” promised Clear View CEO Michael Gibson, “has a true understanding of the Ebony brand as well as its legacy.”
Clear View had a less-than-clear understanding of the need to pay its freelance writers, who, because of the staff cuts and downsizing before the magazine’s sale, had become Ebony’s lifeblood. After several entreaties, then demands for payment, a group of contributors went public with its complaint and sued for payment. Clear View settled before going to court, but not before an embarrassingly effective social media campaign made the new owners national news.
Not a good start.
Soon after, despite its intention to keep most of the staff, many were let go. The magazines remain in Clear View’s hands.
Selling the remains
It isn’t just the magazine people will miss. John Johnson’s wife, Eunice, created a traveling fashion show that drew tens of thousands of mostly black women for decades. Ebony Fashion Fair established a theme each year, and featured black models who strutted down the runways in clothes by Yves Saint Laurent, Bill Blass and up-and-coming black designers like Stephen Burroughs and Patrick Kelly. Money from the popular show went to black nonprofit organizations. Fashion Fair Cosmetics, the first high-end cosmetics line for women of color to be sold in department stores, was born when Eunice Johnson noticed her models mixing their own makeup shades before they walked the runway. She consulted with chemists to develop luxury makeup in deeper tones, and by 1973, had them introduced in department stores — not drug stores. Fashion Fair had sold fantastically well when white cosmetics companies were only selling foundations and powder that went the gamut from pale to paler. Then, some people began to realize there was a great, untapped market out there, and it had a brown face.
By the 1990s, former makeup artist Bobbi Brown introduced her own line of foundations that included deeper shades for women of color. And there was more competition: Canadian company MAC brought a line to U.S. stores that also became quickly popular with women of color for its rich palette. Fashion Fair no longer had the field all to itself. Then mega cosmetics chains like Sephora and Ulta arrived, marketing both in ubiquitous brick and mortar stores and … yes, the Internet. There were problems with distribution. And not much was put into social media campaigns.
Fashion Fair faltered. Its original pink compacts and lipstick tubes looked … dowdy. The line was refreshed and reintroduced in sleek bronze packaging to great enthusiasm several years ago, but either there wasn’t enough product being made or it wasn’t being distributed widely. (Explanations vary.) The end result was bare shelves, much to the consternation of worried customers and beauty bloggers. Some stores gave up — they couldn’t afford to hold a space for product they weren’t sure was coming.
Makeup artist Lashelle Farrington made what amounts to a video obituary for Fashion Fair. As she makes up her face and explains which Fashion Fair products she’s using and shows how to apply them, Farrington muses about the increasing difficulty of finding the product over the past year. “I know that at the counter in my city, the person that works at the counter doesn’t even know when they’re going to get items in stock,” she sighs.
JPC’s move this week to file Chapter 7 is the final chapter in its storied history. If the tendered offer for the company’s remaining assets is accepted, Fashion Fair and JPC’s vast photo archive will be bought. And with that sale, whenever it occurs, the last vestiges of a vision that John H. Johnson made a reality for 77 years will come to an end.

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Paul Blumenthal
HuffPost• April 12, 2019
President Donald Trump doesn’t want to release his tax returns to Congress, but thanks to progressives, two of the biggest scandals in U.S. history and a fight between two millionaires, he doesn’t have a choice.
Congress has had the power to request individuals’ tax returns since 1924. Now, House Democrats are using that law to request Trump’s returns in order to provide oversight into the alleged audit the president said is keeping him from sharing the info ― which could reveal how much he evades paying his taxes ― with the public.
In a letter to Congress, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin asked for more time to fulfill the request for Trump’s tax returns as he consults with the Justice Department. Democrats view this maneuver as a stalling tactic. The law is clear that the Treasury Department “shall” provide anyone’s tax returns to the House Ways & Means Committee upon request.
The power of Congress to request those returns came about through a series of legislative compromises over the publicity of tax returns and congressional oversight of the executive branch and fueled by two of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history. Now, the scandal-plagued Trump administration finds itself in a fight with Congress over keeping those returns private.
Progressive Push For Publicity
For much of the early years of the United States, there was no income tax.
The government first implemented income taxes during and immediately after the Civil War. At the time, personal income tax returns were not treated as confidential documents. In fact, certain tax information was generally made available to the public by the government and printed in newspapers. After an outcry, the government banned republication of tax return information in newspapers in 1870. Then, the year after that, the income tax was abolished until 1913. But a provision making it illegal to disclose tax returns remains in place.
In the years after the end of the income tax, the United States underwent a radical change as the Industrial Revolution rampaged through the country and corporations came to dominate American life and politics, along with their wealthy owners and financiers. The complete upending of the American world in the late 19th century created a populist and progressive backlash. Progressives supported the establishment of corporate taxes, a progressive income tax and the full publicity of individual and corporate tax returns to level the political power of the people with the dominating monopolists.
The first fight over the publicity of tax returns occurred in 1909, when President William Taft backed legislation to implement new corporate taxes and demanded they be treated as open records. After the Commissioner of Internal Revenue tried to prevent disclosure by citing a lack of funds, Congress gave him the money but added the stipulation that returns could only be made public “upon order of the President.” The president was given the same authority after President Woodrow Wilson’s administration brought back income taxes.
After these legal changes, the executive branch found itself as the chokepoint for public disclosure of all tax returns. Congress had no legal right to the information. Efforts to mandate the executive branch hand over tax returns requested by Congress were scuttled in 1910 and 1921. But then Congress entered into “investigation hysteria” during the greatest corruption scandal up until that point in U.S. history.
Trading Oil Leases For Cows
Before every political scandal carried a -gate suffix, all political corruption was compared to Teapot Dome. Like Watergate, the Teapot Dome scandal was named after a physical place. It was a U.S. Navy-owned oil field in Wyoming named after a nearby rock formation that at one point resembled a teapot.
President Warren Harding’s Interior Secretary Albert Fall sold the rights to Teapot Dome’s oil, and other government-owned oil fields, in exchange for literal bags of money and some cows. Fall’s New Mexico neighbors raised their suspicions of the Interior secretary’s new cows and construction on his ranch with members of Congress. That launched a first-of-its-kind investigation that rewrote the terms of congressional oversight and scandal politics in Washington.
Congressional investigators pressed President Calvin Coolidge, who had taken over after Harding died, for tax return information for Fall, the oilmen who bribed him and the companies that stood to benefit. Coolidge and his Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, one of the three wealthiest Americans, opposed public disclosure of tax returns, but they acceded to the demands of congressional investigators and handed over the returns.
The Teapot Dome scandal spurred other investigations into the executive branch, including the attorney general and Treasury Secretary Mellon. It was this latter investigation into Mellon that finally pushed Congress to give itself the right to obtain anyone’s tax returns.
Two Millionaires Fight About Each Other’s Taxes
The investigation into Mellon began like many important historic events do: as a petty feud between two rich people. Sen. James Couzens, a Republican from Michigan, had recently been appointed to the Senate after Truman Newberry, another extremely wealthy Republican, was kicked out for receiving illegal campaign contributions in his race against Henry Ford, the wealthiest American at the time. Couzens allied himself with the Progressive Republican bloc in the Senate and opposed Mellon’s plan to cut taxes for corporations and the rich.
Couzens made an unflattering revelation in stating his opposition. He disclosed that he had a personal financial stake in the policy debate: a heavy investment in tax-exempt government securities, which Mellon was seeking to discourage.
Mellon immediately seized on Couzens’ error. In response, he implied that Couzens was not paying taxes (“Must a system of taxation which permits a man with an income of over $1,000,000 a year to pay not one cent to the support of his Government remain unaltered?” Mellon said.)
Couzens took the question to be an admission that Mellon, who as Treasury secretary was in charge of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, had spied on his tax returns and demanded to see Mellon’s. He then called for an investigation into the Bureau and Mellon’s oversight of tax collection. Couzens’ push for an investigation may have been ignored at other times, but it came just as Congress was furious over the Teapot Dome scandal.
This spat fueled progressive calls for Congress to finally enact a provision to give itself the right to tax returns. The most progressive lawmakers called for full publicity tax returns, as had been the case during the Civil War. The administration, as represented by Mellon, opposed any provision allowing congressional access. Others were more concerned with Congress obtaining the right to get tax returns for oversight purposes. The debates over Congress getting access to tax returns centered on which committees could get them and what they could do with them.
“I know the Ways and Means Committee is a great and a powerful committee, but even so the Ways and Means Committee ought not to try to hog the whole show,” Rep. Lamar Jeffers, an Alabama Democrat, argued.
Congress ultimately passed a provision giving access to the tax committees and special committees. The provision also allowed the committee to submit “any relevant or useful” information learned from the tax returns to the full House or Senate.
Two years later, Congress amended the provision limiting the special committees that could receive tax returns to those approved by resolution to investigate returns and to require committees to sit in a closed session to receive the returns. The president could still approve the transmission of tax returns to other committees.
And that was the way the disclosure of tax returns were handled for the next fifty years.
‘What’s he trying to do, say that we can’t play politics with IRS?’
Then Richard Nixon became president. As the Watergate investigation revealed, Nixon used the IRS as a tool to attack his political opponents.
Nixon ordered investigations into his 1972 presidential opponent George McGovern and suggested looking into income tax returns for donors to the Democratic National Committee. The president complained about Treasury Secretary George Schultz’s reluctance.
“What’s he trying to do, say that we can’t play politics with IRS?” Nixon complained about Treasury Secretary George Schultz’s reluctance. “Just tell George he should do it.”
After Nixon resigned, President Gerald Ford issued an executive order preventing the president from obtaining or ordering the disclosure of tax returns. And Congress decided to enshrine these restrictions into law.
In a 1976 tax reform law, Congress declared that tax returns and return information should be treated as confidential. This meant that only tax administrators and entities approved by Congress, which includes Congress, were allowed to obtain and review tax returns. The law also required presidents to inform the Joint Committee on Taxation if they sought to obtain a tax return. As for Congress’ ability to obtain the tax returns, the 1976 changes restricted how non-tax committees could receive tax returns, but did not change the rules for the tax committees.
In the end, Nixon’s abuses led to a restriction on executive branch access to tax returns, but not congressional access, which was much more limited to begin with.
Trump’s Returns
Mnuchin is not yet complying with the Democrats’ request for Trump’s tax return partially because he does not see “the legitimacy of the asserted legislative purpose.”
The history of the provision shows, however, that Congress enacted this measure to enable investigations into private individuals and the highest-ranking government officials to ensure that they are not getting favorable treatment or evading their taxes.
Maryanne Trump Barry, the president’s sister, resigned her seat as a federal appeals court judge on Thursday to avoid an investigation into her ― and her brother’s ― alleged tax fraud.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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“There was a crooked man,”
By Mother Goose
There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile;
He bought a crooked cat which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

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