Clashes between police and protesters have brought Hong Kong to a standstill!

CNN posted an episode of Go There. 
Clashes ripple across Hong Kong as student-led protests defy government 

August 13, 2019

“They’re calling for a revolution.” Clashes between police and protesters have brought Hong Kong to a standstill, with thousands of citizens continuing to peacefully march despite tear gas and forceful removal by police. Here’s what protesters are demanding, and how the standoff is bringing the city of more than 7 million to the brink. Warning: The following video contains graphic content. Viewer discretion is advised.

Clashes ripple across Hong Kong as student-led protests defy government

“They’re calling for a revolution.” Clashes between police and protesters have brought Hong Kong to a standstill, with thousands of citizens continuing to peacefully march despite tear gas and forceful removal by police. Here's what protesters are demanding, and how the standoff is bringing the city of more than 7 million to the brink. Warning: The following video contains graphic content. Viewer discretion is advised.

Posted by CNN on Tuesday, August 13, 2019

trump’s just an unhinged conspiracy theorist!

Late Night With Seth Meyers

August 12, 2019

Trump reminded everyone this weekend that, at heart, he’s just an unhinged conspiracy theorist. Seth takes A Closer Look.

Donald Trump Is the Conspiracy-Theorist-in-Chief: A Closer Look

Trump reminded everyone this weekend that, at heart, he’s just an unhinged conspiracy theorist. Seth takes A Closer Look.

Posted by Late Night with Seth Meyers on Monday, August 12, 2019

How Trump Forced Reversal on Mining Project EPA Scientists Warn Could Destroy Alaskan Salmon Ecosystem

Common Dreams

‘Gold Over Life, Literally’: How Trump Forced Reversal on Mining Project EPA Scientists Warn Could Destroy Alaskan Salmon Ecosystem

“This is one of the world’s most beautiful places, with a thriving salmon run, and now we’ll get some…gold.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer      August 10, 2019
A salmon leaping rapids in Alaska. (Photo: arctic-tern/Getty Images)

A salmon leaping rapids in Alaska. “I was dumbfounded,” said one EPA insider after Trump officials reversed the agency’s opposition to the copper and gold mining project in Bristol Bay that scientists warn will devastate the salmon and the overall ecosystem. “We were basically told we weren’t going to examine anything. We were told to get out of the way and just make it happen.” (Photo: arctic-tern/Getty Images)

“Gold over life, literally.”

“If that mine gets put in, it would … completely devastate our region. It would not only kill our resources, but it would kill us culturally.” —Gayla Hoseth, Curyung Tribal Council/Bristol Bay Native Association That was the succinct and critical reaction of Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein to reporting on Friday that President Donald Trump had personally intervened—after a meeting with Alaska’s Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy on Air Force One in June—to withdraw the Environmental Protection Agency’s opposition to a gold mining project in the state that the federal government’s own scientists have acknowledged would destroy native fisheries and undermine the state’s fragile ecosystems.

Based on reporting by CNN that only emerged Friday evening, the key developments happened weeks ago after Trump’s one-on-one meeting with Dunleavy—who has supported the copper and gold Pebble Mine project in Bristol Bay despite the opposition of conservationists, Indigenous groups, salmon fisheries experts, and others.

CNN reports:

In 2014, the project was halted because an EPA study found that it would cause “complete loss of fish habitat due to elimination, dewatering, and fragmentation of streams, wetlands, and other aquatic resources” in some areas of Bristol Bay. The agency invoked a rarely used provision of the Clean Water Act that works like a veto, effectively banning mining on the site.

“If that mine gets put in, it would … completely devastate our region,” Gayla Hoseth, second chief of the Curyung Tribal Council and a Bristol Bay Native Association director, told CNN. “It would not only kill our resources, but it would kill us culturally.”

When the internal announcement was made by Trump political appointees that the agency was dropping its opposition, which came one day after the Trump-Dunleavy meeting, sources told CNN it came as a “total shock” to some of the top EPA scientists who were planning to oppose the project on environmental grounds. Sources for the story, the news outlet noted, “asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.”

According to CNN:

Four EPA sources with knowledge of the decision told CNN that senior agency officials in Washington summoned scientists and other staffers to an internal videoconference on June 27, the day after the Trump-Dunleavy meeting, to inform them of the agency’s reversal. The details of that meeting are not on any official EPA calendar and have not previously been reported.

Those sources said the decision disregards the standard assessment process under the Clean Water Act, cutting scientists out of the process.

The EPA’s new position on the project is the latest development in a decade-long battle that has pitted environmentalists, Alaskan Natives and the fishing industry against pro-mining interests in Alaska.

Responding to Klein’s tweet, fellow author and activist Bill McKibben—long a colleague of hers at 350.org—expressed similar contempt.

“This is one of the world’s most beautiful places, with a thriving salmon run, and now we’ll get some…gold,” McKibben tweeted. Trump, he added, is “President Midas.”

After being told that the decision was made, one EPA inside told CNN, “I was dumbfounded. We were basically told we weren’t going to examine anything. We were told to get out of the way and just make it happen.”

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Washington couple dies in a murder-suicide over angst about medical expenses

USA Today

Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY       August 11, 2019

Trump Is Making The Same Trade Mistake That Started The Great Depression

Forbes

Trump Is Making The Same Trade Mistake That Started The Great Depression

John Mauldin, Senior Contributor – Markets       June 2019

GETTY

We all wonder if Trump’s trade actions are as random as they appear or if there is a broader strategy.

Some of my contacts argue that the relatively strong U.S. economy allows the administration to take a harder line than would normally be advisable.

The thinking is that we can ride out a trade war better than China can.

This only works if the U.S. economy keeps growing long enough for the tariffs to make China bend. We can postpone a recession for another year or two if the trade war doesn’t intensify and Europe holds together.

Since it is intensifying, we may not get that time. In other words, tariffs could end the conditions that justified them.

Something similar happened before, during the most famous trade mistake in U.S. and global history.

The 1930’s Smoot-Hawley Tariffs

Similar to today, the Roaring 1920’s saw rapid technological change, namely automobiles and electricity.

This created a farm surplus as fewer horses consumed less feed. Prices fell and farmers complained of foreign competition.

Herbert Hoover promised higher tariffs in his 1928 presidential campaign. He won, and the House passed a tariff bill in May 1929.

The Senate was still debating its version of the bill when the stock market crashed in October 1929. Today, we use that event to mark the Great Depression’s beginning.

But at the time, people didn’t know they were in a depression or even a recession. Most economists expected a quick recovery. Stocks did recover quite a bit in the following months, though not back to their prior highs.

So, when the Senate finally passed a tariff bill in March 1930, the thinking was not that different from what we see today. They thought they could preserve and even extend the good times.

But conditions worsened quickly, and by 1931, unemployed men were standing in soup lines.

In 1932, both Smoot and Hawley lost their seats as Franklin Roosevelt beat Hoover in a landslide—57% of the popular vote.

That history won’t necessarily repeat this time, but it’s not a good sign.

Throwing Caution to the Wind

Last year, I wrote about a sandpile experiment conducted by physicists back in the 1980’s. I described how a sandpile can slowly grow in size, apparently stable. At any moment, however, something could trigger an avalanche.

The global trade system is something like that. Of course, it’s not perfect or even optimal. Countries erect barriers to their advantage.

I can point to several countries whose economic policies are mercantilistic, but at least everyone knows about them. We see the the dangers and back off to avoid an avalanche whose victims are impossible to predict.

It is a kind of equilibrium.

Everyone’s incentive is to avoid catastrophe and make incremental improvements. That makes trade talks extraordinarily difficult.

The Trump administration doesn’t seem to care about equilibrium. Whether it’s coming from the president himself or those around him, the strategy appears to be “kick apart the sandpile and make everybody rebuild it.”

And whether we like it or not, many of Trump’s supporters actually like the concept of throwing a wrench into the system.

So, it is not the case that the U.S. has no choices. We have many choices. Tariffs are the wrong one. But then, that is just me, and I am one lone voice and vote.

John Mauldin is President of Mauldin Economics and a financial writer, publisher, and New York Times bestselling-author. Each week, nearly a million readers around the world receive my Thoughts From the Frontline free investment newsletter.

Teenage girl reads constitution in front of Putin’s riot police during Moscow protests

The Independent

Olga Misik: Teenage girl reads constitution in front of Putin’s riot police during Moscow protests

‘I just wanted to remind them that we are here with peaceful purposes and without weapons – but they are not’

Colin Drury        July 31, 2019

She is a lone teenage girl sat cross-legged and armed with nothing more than the Russian constitution.

They are a line of Moscow’s notoriously brutal riot police, equipped with shields, batons and helmets.

But the image of a young pro-democracy demonstrator single-handedly defying Vladimir Putin’s security forces looks set to become one of the most powerful symbols of resistance to the president’s autocracy.

Olga Misik, 17, was photographed sitting in front of the officers reading out the country’s constitution – which affirms the right to peaceful gatherings – during protests on Saturday.

Apparently unsure how to handle such a show of calm audacity, the police hold back.

The image has gone viral across the world, being shared thousands of times, the peaceful defiance central to the photo faintly reminiscent of that present in the the iconic picture of Tiananmen Square’s Tank Man. It is now being used by Russian opposition to rally support in the face of continuing state oppression.

“I just wanted to remind them [the police] that we are here with peaceful purposes and without weapons, but they are not,” the high school graduate told the Riga-based Meduza website.

“It never even occurred to me that someone other than them would hear it … I sat on the ground and began to read out our constitutional rights, specifying that what is happening here [police arresting protesters] is illegal.”

The weekend’s demonstrations were ostensibly a protest against the banning of several leading opposition politicians from running in September’s Moscow City Duma elections.

But they also called more widely for greater political freedoms and transparency in Russia, where elections are widely viewed to be rigged.

Constitutions are often waved around at such protests as a reference to how Mr Putin continues to ignore article 31 – the right to free assembly – to ban such demonstrations.

“Injustice always concerns everyone,” Olga said. “Today the Moscow City Duma, tomorrow the governor of the region, a week later the head of the Resurrection District. It is only a matter of time.

“It is foolish to think that this is a rally only for free elections or the admission of candidates. This is a rally in defense of elementary constitutional rights that would not be questioned in a democratic state.”

The teenager herself, whose own father is a supporter of Mr Putin, was allowed to walk away after the reading, but was later arrested by police as she walked to a subway station.

“They did not introduce themselves, did not explain the reason and grounds for detention,” she said.

“There was not a rally or a crowd of people in this place. They grabbed my arms and legs and dragged me down the street and through the underpass … I screamed that they were hurting me, but they told me that they knew better.”

She was held until the next day and says she will now appear in court next month charged with attending a public event which was held without filing a notice.

She was one of more than 1,000 people arrested. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested at an earlier demonstration last week.

McConnell Greeted at Home by Protests, Pressure Over Gun Laws

McConnell Greeted at Home by Protests, Pressure Over Gun Laws

Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is starting his summer break under siege. Democrats are intensifying pressure on him to take up gun legislation, expletive-hurling protesters have shown up at his front door and his campaign generated social media outrage over a tweet.

It’s been a rough stretch for the Kentucky Republican, and the aftermath of two mass shootings in 24 hours last weekend guarantees he’ll remain under the spotlight. McConnell, who is up for re-election in 2020, must decide whether to step away from his rigid defense of gun-owner rights as he works with an unreliable partner in President Donald Trump, who is sending mixed signals about where he stands on the issue.

Senate Clears Two-Year Debt-Limit Extension For Trump To Sign

Mitch McConnell

The self-described “grim reaper” of liberal policy plans has stayed firmly in control in the GOP-led Senate by successfully shepherding a host of conservative judges through confirmation, staving off Democratic legislative initiatives and staying out of the line of fire from Trump. The gun issue, one of the most volatile in U.S. politics, will test his ability to maneuver between the Democrats and the president.

McConnell said Thursday that he and Trump spoke earlier in the day about the issue, and both agreed a bipartisan deal is needed and that “two items that for sure will be front and center” are background checks for gun buyers and encouraging state “red flag” laws intended to take firearms away from dangerous or mentally ill people.

“The urgency of this is not lost by any of us because we have seen entirely too many of these outrageous acts by deranged people,” he said in an interview on Louisville radio station WHAS. He added, though, that he won’t bring the Senate back early from an August recess to act.

The renewed emphasis on gun control comes as McConnell also is fending off Democratic attacks over his unwillingness to allow votes on legislation aimed at securing U.S. elections before 2020, in response to findings that Russia acted to swing the 2016 vote in Trump’s favor. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough tagged McConnell as “Moscow Mitch,” kicking off the social media trend that’s been picked up by chanting protesters.

McConnell on Defensive

Days before lawmakers left Washington for a month-long recess, McConnell took to the Senate floor to angrily defend his record on Russia and to take on his detractors in an unusually impassioned extended address. He accused his critics of engaging in “modern-day McCarthyism.”

National scorn and Democratic attacks have followed him back home to Kentucky, where he is campaigning for a seventh term. At a political picnic in Fancy Farm, Kentucky, on Saturday, protesters chanted “Moscow Mitch” as he spoke. Other protesters appeared outside his home in Louisville this week, shouting expletives while he was inside recovering from a shoulder injury on Sunday.

His campaign also was derided by critics over a photo posted on McConnell’s Senate re-election twitter account shortly after the Saturday shootings at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that left 22 people dead. The photo showed cardboard replicas of tombstones that depicted the Democrats’ “Green New Deal” on climate change, his Democratic opponent in 2020, Amy McGrath, and socialism.

McConnell’s remarks on Thursday provided the first hints of what he might consider. He told the Louisville radio station that restoring a lapsed ban on assault-style weapons probably would be discussed but that he questions how effective that would be. On background checks, he pointed to an earlier proposal by GOP Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia as a possible model. Their measure, blocked in the Senate in 2013 in part because McConnell’s opposed it, would eliminate loopholes for making background checks part of firearms transactions.

“McConnell is a cool customer and he’ll let the Senate work its will without taking up Democratic House-passed legislation,” said Ron Bonjean, a Republican strategist who was a top aide to past GOP leaders of both the House and Senate.

Trump has been inconsistent about where he is on the matter, hinting at a tough challenge this fall for McConnell when senators return to work.

Trump on Monday gave support to a proposal intended to take firearms away from the mentally ill as he called for bipartisan action following the shootings in Ohio and Texas that killed 31 people and wounded dozens of others. He has proposed nothing that would curtail the availability of firearms.

While the president has threatened to veto House-passed legislation on background checks, on Wednesday he told reporters on the White House lawn that he is in favor of some form of bolstered vetting for gun buyers.

Background Checks

“I’m looking to do background checks,” Trump said. “I think background checks are important.”

Trump has a track record of backing away from proposed new gun laws. Two weeks after last year’s massacre at a Parkland, Florida, high school, Trump convened an extraordinary meeting of top Democrats and Republicans. He indicated he would push through universal background checks and other measures that Democrats long have supported. He ended up backing away from universal checks in the face of opposition from the National Rifle Association.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer this week repeated his call for McConnell to bring the Senate back for an emergency session and take up legislation approved in February by the Democrat-led House that would require background checks on all gun purchases — including at gun shows and online.

Senate Leadership Hold News Conferences After Weekly Policy Luncheon

Chuck Schumer

“We’re saying to Leader McConnell, do the right thing,” Schumer said at a news conference where he was joined by GOP Representative Peter King of New York, who co-sponsored the measure.

Modest Changes

Last year a number of modest policy changes were enacted after the mass shootings in Florida and Las Vegas. The administration took action to ban so-called bump stocks that allow semi-automatic rifles to mimic fully automatic weapons. Congress also voted to improve background checks for gun purchases, spend more on school safety, and let the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study gun violence — ending what was in effect a 22-year ban that was supported by the NRA.

But they were small steps compared with the 1994 assault-weapons ban that lapsed in 2004.

The twin attacks in recent days seemed to renew momentum for action to address gun violence. Trump ally and Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said Monday that he and Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, a gun-control advocate, will draft legislation to help states adopt so-called red flag laws intended to take firearms away from dangerous or mentally ill people.

A number of leading Republicans also called for action. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, on Tuesday issued proposals including a “red flag” law, background checks for most firearm purchases, and tougher penalties for felons with guns and straw purchases.

In the Senate, some senior Republicans called for action on “red flag” legislation, including several members of McConnell’s leadership team. That includes Senator John Thune of South Dakota and Senator Todd Young of Indiana.

‘Multiple Problems’

“Clearly we have multiple problems in this country – problems of hate, social alienation, and the devaluing of human life – and we’re going to have to work together as a nation to address these challenges,” Young said in a statement.

But there were few calls for enhanced background checks, with the exception of two GOP senators: Toomey and Susan Collins of Maine.

Democrats are keeping the pressure on.

Representative Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat who’s among the crowded field of candidates seeking the party’s 2020 presidential nomination, said Thursday he’d start a caravan from Niles, Ohio, to McConnell’s home in Kentucky to demand action on gun-safety bills.

“People say ‘Why is it different now?’ I just think this has all accumulated,” Ryan said during an interview Thursday with CNN. “You go back: it’s Parkland; it’s Sandy Hook; it’s Columbine. It’s all of these things over the past 20 years.”

As McConnell navigates the matter, there is some prospect that the pressure to act will be reduced in the weeks before Congress returns to work, said Republican strategist Whit Ayres. Passage of a few weeks means advocates could “lose the momentum of the moment,” he said.

“I am hesitant to make any predictions in the aftermath of the latest tragedy, given the fact that past tragedies have raised the possibility of changes in our laws that have never come to fruition,” Ayres said. Demand for legislation is clearly growing, but he said it will take “an alignment of the planets to get something significant changed given the controversy over any sort of laws affecting guns.”

How a Trump construction crew has relied on immigrants without legal status

‘If you’re a good worker, papers don’t matter’: How a Trump construction crew has relied on immigrants without legal status

By Joshua Partlow and David Fahrenthold          August 9, 2019


A Trump-owned construction company that has employed undocumented immigrants did work at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post).

 For nearly two decades, the Trump Organization has relied on a roving crew of Latin American employees to build fountains and waterfalls, sidewalks and rock walls at the company’s winery and its golf courses from New York to Florida.

Other employees at Trump clubs were so impressed by the laborers — who did strenuous work with heavy stone — that they nicknamed them “Los Picapiedras,” Spanish for “the Flintstones.”

For years, their ranks have included workers who entered the United States illegally, according to two former members of the crew. Another employee, still with the company, said that remains true today.

President Trump “doesn’t want undocumented people in the country,” said one worker, Jorge Castro, a 55-year-old immigrant from Ecuador without legal status who left the company in April after nine years. “But at his properties, he still has them.”

Castro said he worked on seven Trump properties, most recently Trump’s golf club in Northern Virginia. He provided The Washington Post with several years of his pay stubs from Trump’s construction company, Mobile Payroll Construction LLC, as well as photos of him and his colleagues on Trump courses and text messages he exchanged with his boss, including one in January dispatching him to “Bedminster,” Trump’s New Jersey golf course.

 Another immigrant who worked for the Trump construction crew, Edmundo Morocho, said he was told by a Trump supervisor to buy fake identity documents on a New York street corner. He said he once hid in the woods of a Trump golf course to avoid being seen by visiting labor union officials.

Jorge Castro, an Ecuadoran immigrant, works at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., in October 2016. (Courtesy of Jorge Castro)

The hiring practices of the little-known Trump business unit are the latest example of the chasm between the president’s derisive rhetoric about immigrants and his company’s long-standing reliance on workers who cross the border illegally.

And it raises questions about how fully the Trump Organization has followed through on its pledge to more carefully scrutinize the legal status of its workers — even as the Trump administration launched a massive raid of undocumented immigrants, arresting about 680 people in Mississippi this week.

In January, Eric Trump, one of the president’s sons and a top Trump Organization executive, told The Post that the company was “making a broad effort to identify any employee who has given false and fraudulent documents to unlawfully gain employment,” saying any such individuals would be immediately fired.

He also said the company was instituting E-Verify, a voluntary federal program that allows employers to check the immigration status of new hires, “on all of our properties as soon as possible.” And the company began auditing the legal status of its existing employees at its golf courses, firing at least 18.

But nothing changed on the Trump construction crew, according to current and former employees.

A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization said Mobile Payroll Construction is enrolled in E-Verify for any new hires. The company is still not listed in the public E-Verify database, which was last updated July 1.

The company did not directly respond to requests for comment about the legal status of the Mobile Construction workers, but said in a statement that “since this issue was first brought to our attention, we have taken diligent steps, including the use of E-Verify at all of our properties and companies.”

“Those efforts continue and where an employee is found to have provided fake or fraudulent documentation to unlawfully gain employment, that individual will be terminated. Fortunately, among the thousands of individuals employed by our organization, we have encountered very few instances where this has occurred,” the statement said.

The White House declined to comment.

The president, who still owns the Trump Organization but has turned over day-to-day operations to his eldest sons, said last month that he does not know if it employs workers who entered the country illegally.

“Well, that I don’t know. Because I don’t run it,” Trump told reporters. “But I would say this: Probably every club in the United States has that, because it seems to me, from what I understand, a way that people did business.”

Since January, The Post has interviewed  43 immigrants without legal status who were employed at Trump properties. They include waiters, maids and greens-keepers, as well as a caretaker at a personal hunting lodge that his two adult sons own in Upstate New York.

In all, at least eight Trump properties have employed immigrants who entered the United States illegally, some as far back as 19 years, The Post has found.

As president, Trump has launched a crusade against illegal immigration, describing Latino migrants as criminals who are part of an “invasion.” Such remarks drew renewed criticism after Saturday’s mass shooting in El Paso, which is under investigation as a hate crime targeting Mexicans and immigrants.

While poverty and violence have pushed thousands to leave Latin America, U.S. businesses that employ undocumented workers are also a major driver of illegal immigration, experts say.

By employing workers without legal status, the Trump Organization has an advantage over its competitors, particularly at a time when the economy is strong and the labor market tight, according to industry officials. Undocumented employees are less likely to risk changing jobs and less likely to complain if treated poorly.

 “Nobody’s going to go and complain and say, ‘He’s not providing me with health insurance. He’s not providing me with this or that,’ ” said Alan Seidman, who heads an association of construction contractors in New York’s Hudson Valley, where Trump has a golf course. “They stay below the radar.”

Members of Trump’s in-house construction crew work at Trump National Doral golf club in Miami in April 2013. (Jorge Castro)

Trump’s helicopter at Trump National Doral in February 2013. (Jorge Castro)

The laborers hired by the Trump construction unit — several of whom live in suburbs north of New York City — are typically dispatched by Trump construction supervisors to different jobs, driving sometimes hundreds of miles to a golf course or resort, according to the current and former employees. Over the years, some passed weeks or months away from home, bunking in buildings at Trump’s properties, they said.

Their supervisors have paid little attention to their immigration status, even after Trump launched a campaign built around the threat of immigrants and then used his presidency to crack down on border crossings, workers said.

“If you’re a good worker, papers don’t matter,” Castro said.

Trump interacted personally with some of the construction workers before he was president — greeting employees by name and commenting on minor details of their work, according to Luis Sigua, an immigrant from Ecuador who is still part of the crew. Sigua posted a photo in December 2014 on his Facebook page of himself standing on a golf course next to Trump, who is grinning and giving a thumbs-up.

Sigua declined to share his immigration status but confirmed that some members of the construction unit did not have proper documentation: “Some yes, some no.”

“Politics is nothing to me,” he added. “The work is everything.”

‘Nobody had papers’


A team of immigrant laborers helped renovate the Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., former workers said. (Seth Wenig/AP)

Trump’s itinerant construction crew evolved from an outfit that used to be run by Frank Sanzo, an Italian American stonemason from Yonkers who met Trump in the late 1990’s.

Sanzo was building a stone wall at the Westchester County home of former New York Knicks basketball coach Rick Pitino when Trump stopped by to talk to him one day, Sanzo recounted in an interview last month at his home in Yonkers, N.Y.

“I’m Donald Trump,” Sanzo recalled Trump telling him.

“I know who you are,” Sanzo said he replied.

Trump had purchased a country club out of foreclosure in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., in 1996 and began renovating the golf course and building dozens of homes and condominiums. The project required extensive masonry work to build the stone walls, chimneys and columns on the clubhouse and new homes. Sanzo said Trump hired him to oversee a crew of immigrants who worked on the project for several years.

Morocho said he was one of those laborers. He joined the crew of roughly 15 people in 2000. He said he earned $15 an hour, working Monday through Saturday.

“Nobody had papers,” Morocho said.

In fact, Morocho recalled, Sanzo instructed the crew to buy fake Social Security numbers and green cards in New York so they would have something to put in the Trump Organization files. Morocho said he bought his papers for $50 in 2002.

“Frank said, ‘You can go buy a social in Queens. They sell them in Queens. Then come back to work. It’s no problem,’ ” Morocho said. “He knew.”

In 2002, Morocho recalled, New York labor union officials visited Trump’s Westchester golf club to see the construction site and Sanzo told the immigrant crew to hide for a couple of hours until they left. “We stayed behind some trees,” he said.

In a phone interview this week, Sanzo said he did not remember Morocho.

When asked whether he told employees to buy fake documents, Sanzo’s wife, Bernice, interrupted: “How would Frank know where to get that stuff?”

Sanzo added, “They can get them on the street, too.” He did not directly address the question.

During the interview at his home last month, when asked about the legal status of his workers, Sanzo replied: “Most of my guys were legal.”

He was interrupted by his wife. “Do not answer any questions, because it’s going to be misleading,” Bernice Sanzo admonished her husband. She told two Post reporters: “Trump was not involved in that, in the hiring. My husband was.”

“Most of them were legal,” Frank Sanzo said again.

He said he often hired immigrant workers who returned to their home countries and needed to be replaced and that he accepted the documents they gave him.

“They gave me a social and a license. I put them on the payroll,” Sanzo said. “I don’t know if they were legal or not.”

The longtime stonemason, who retired in 2014 and is now blind, spoke fondly about his work for Trump and their trips together to Mets and Yankees games.

 Sid Liebowitz, who was the Trump Organization’s director of purchasing from 2004 to 2013, said he worked closely with Sanzo on many of his jobs — supplying materials, but not dealing with hiring or payroll.

Although Trump often had very detailed input on Sanzo’s projects, Liebowitz said he believes Sanzo did not consult the real estate developer about his employees.

“If he was hiring people that were illegal . . . Donald certainly wouldn’t know,” Liebowitz said. “Because Donald was in New York and Frank was traveling around the country.”

As Trump expanded his golf course holdings, he tapped Sanzo’s team to assist with rock walls, fountains and cart path bridges, according to building permits and former workers. The construction crew sometimes stayed for months on a property, bunking in buildings on-site or in Trump’s hotels, former workers said.

“I used to take the crew state to state,” Sanzo said.

At the Trump golf course in Sterling, Va., Sanzo’s workers built a $35,000 man-made waterfall with an observation deck overlooking the Potomac River in 2011, according to Loudoun County building permits. Building permits with Sanzo’s name also show his laborers built a $35,000 retaining wall and a $165,000 pool house for the club in 2011.

Sanzo appears in a Trump Organization “before and after” video from 2015 that showed Trump’s son Eric discussing planned renovations for the Trump Winery near Charlottesville.

As part of that project, Sanzo’s team helped renovate the previous owner’s carriage house into a wedding venue and convert the estate’s main house into a boutique hotel, according former workers and winery employees. While on the job, the crew lived in a staff house inside the winery’s gated property, cooking their own meals, according to former workers.

To the English-speaking bosses, Sanzo’s workers were reliable but largely anonymous.

“I think they were Ecuadoran,” said one former manager at Trump’s Westchester club who recalled seeing them monthly and spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid retribution. “They were just known as ‘Sanzo’s crew.’ ”

In May 2015, as Trump began ramping up his presidential run, the construction crew got a new legal name: Mobile Payroll Construction, a new company that was registered by a Trump executive, according to corporate filings. The sole owner is Trump, according to his personal financial disclosures.

The workers said little changed except for their paychecks, which once came from other Trump entities and now came from Mobile Payroll Construction. A Trump Organization construction manager named John Gruber, who had taken over the team after Sanzo retired, continued as their boss. Gruber did not respond to requests for comment.

Early this year, amid news reports that Trump’s clubs employed workers without legal status, the Trump Organization began firing them from its golf courses.

Among those let go was Morocho, who by then had left the construction crew for a full-time maintenance job at Trump’s Westchester golf club.

But at Mobile Payroll Construction, there was no scrutiny of the workers’ immigration status, according to Castro. He said his bosses didn’t even mention it.

“It was like it didn’t happen,” he said.

What you should and should not flush down your toilets!

NowThis Politics

August 9, 2019

From fatbergs to microplastics, here’s why what you flush down the toilet matters — and why you should NEVER flush wet wipes 🚽(via NowThis Future)

What You Should & Should Not Flush Down the Toilet

From fatbergs to microplastics, here’s why what you flush down the toilet matters — and why you should NEVER flush wet wipes 🚽(via NowThis Future)

Posted by NowThis Politics on Thursday, August 8, 2019

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