Glenn Greenwald: Trump’s critics can do him no bigger favor than using dubious, discredited tactics to attack him.
“The legitimate and effective tactics for opposing Trump are being utterly drowned by these irrational, desperate, ad hoc crusades that have no cogent strategy and make his opponents appear increasingly devoid of reason and gravity. Right now, Trump’s opponents are behaving as media critic Adam Johnson described: as ideological jelly fish, floating around aimlessly and lost, desperately latching on to whatever barge randomly passes by…”
That was the ruling today out of a federal court in the Northern District of California authorizing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to serve a “John Doe” summons on Coinbase requesting the identities of United States Coinbase customers who transferred convertible virtual currency from 2013 to 2015. Coinbase, which is headquartered in San Francisco, California, is a company which facilitates transactions of digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) had made the request earlier this month (California Northern District Court, Case No. 3:16-cv-06658-JSC) on behalf of the IRS since a “John Doe” summons can only be served by the IRS with federal court approval. A “John Doe” summons is an order that does not specifically identify the person but rather identifies a person or ascertainable group or class by their activities. In the past, that’s included investors in a particular tax shelter or account holders at a defined financial institution: the IRS has made use of the procedure, for example, when seeking information about offshore accounts those related to the UBS investigation.
In granting the motion, Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley found that “[b]ased upon a review of the Petition and supporting documents, the Court has determined that the “John Doe” summons to Coinbase, Inc. relates to the investigation of an ascertainable group or class of persons, that there is a reasonable basis for believing that such group or class of persons has failed or may have failed to comply with any provision of any internal revenue laws, and that the information sought to be obtained from the examination of the records or testimony (and the identities of the persons with respect to whose liability the summons is issued) are not readily available from other sources.”
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo, head of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, said about the ruling, “As the use of virtual currencies has grown exponentially, some have raised questions about tax compliance. Tools like the John Doe summons authorized today send the clear message to U.S. taxpayers that whatever form of currency they use – bitcoin or traditional dollars and cents – we will work to ensure that they are fully reporting their income and paying their fair share of taxes.”
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen echoed that sentiment, saying, “Transactions in virtual currency are taxable just like those in any other property. The John Doe summons is a step designed to help the IRS ensure people doing business in the emerging economy are following the tax laws and meeting their responsibilities.”
The initial request was triggered, according to court documents, after the IRS found instances of tax evasion involving Coinbase customers. To clarify, it has not been alleged by authorities that Coinbase had any knowledge that any of its users might be involved in tax evasion.
Unlike other kinds of financial transactions, there is currently no third-party information which requires separate reporting for bitcoin (think of third-party reporting like the forms 1099 issued by your bank). This, says IRS, means that the “likelihood of underreporting is significant” which is why they are seeking information from Coinbase. Coinbase claims to be “the world’s most popular way to buy and sell bitcoin and ethereum” (Coinbase did not start accepting Ethereal, or ethers, until 2016, so it was not included in the summons).
The IRS is specifically seeking records for Coinbase users who transferred convertible virtual currency at any time between December 31, 2013, and December 31, 2015, with “any U.S. address, U.S. telephone number, U.S. e-mail domain, or U.S. bank account.” Requested records include but are not limited to user profiles, user preferences, user security settings and history, user payment methods, and other information related to the funding sources for the account/wallet/vault. And that’s just for starters. IRS is also seeking all records of account/wallet/vault activity including but not limited to records identifying the date, amount, and type of transaction, names or other identifiers of parties to the transaction; requests or instructions to send or receive bitcoin; and all related correspondences.
The request raised concerns in the tax and virtual currency communities about the scope of the information sought by authorities. Those concerns remain, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see mounting opposition to the government’s request.
For its part, Coinbase issued a statement in response to the ruling, saying:
We are aware of, and expected, the Court’s ex parte order today. We look forward to opposing the DOJ’s request in court after Coinbase is served with a subpoena. As we previously stated, we remain concerned with our U.S. customers’ legitimate privacy rights in the face of the government’s sweeping request.
“Susan Sarandon endorsed Jill Stein in an open letter on the third-party candidate’s website on Tuesday, November 1, saying she doesn’t trust Hillary Clinton”
“I’ve been waiting for any indication that Hillary Clinton’s position on the issues that are most urgent to me, has changed,” the 70-year-old actress began the letter. Ultimately, though, she said she just can’t get behind a litany of stances that the Democratic presidential nominee has taken.
‘People trust the “unbiased” internet search giant Google so much it can actually influence up to 10 million undecided voters to choose Hillary Clinton for president, prominent US psychologist and author Robert Epstein told RT following years of research.’
‘Despite being a supporter of the Democratic presidential nominee, Dr. Epstein believes Google’s unchecked algorithm of placing one candidate over the other in search results constitutes a “threat to democracy”.’
“They’re doing so in ways that shortchange taxpayers.”
“Concerns about the inner workings of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been mounting in recent months amid disclosures of cozy corporate alliances. Now a group of more than a dozen senior scientists have reportedly lodged an ethics complaint alleging the federal agency is being influenced by corporate and political interests in ways that shortchange taxpayers…”
‘His people will think they’ve “won” something from the Party Establishment’
A newly released Wikileaks email from the Podesta hack reveals a plan by Clinton surrogates to fool “bitching” Bernie Sanders voters into supporting Hillary by offering them a largely meaningless change in rules that apply to superdelegates.
The email was sent by Hillary’s former chief on staff Tamera Luzzatto on March 20 of this year. The recipients included Podesta, the chairman of Clinton’s campaign, and Robby Mook, her campaign manager.
Luzzatto forwards “Sanders-related advice from Mark Siegel,” the former Palm Beach County Democratic Party Chairman.
In the email, Siegel explains how Bernie’s “sometimes self-righteous ideologues” could be fooled “to go home happy and enthusiastic in working their asses off for Hillary.”
“So here’s my idea. Bernie and his people have been bitching about super delegates and the huge percentage that have come out for Hillary,” wrote Siegel.
“Why not throw Bernie a bone and reduce the super delegates in the future to the original draft of members of the House and Senate, governors and big city mayors, eliminating the DNC members who are not State chairs or vice-Chairs. (Frankly, DNC members don’t really represent constituencies anyway. I should know. I served on the DNC first as Executive Director and then as an elected member for 10 years.)
So if we “give” Bernie this in the Convention’s rules committee, his people will think they’ve “won” something from the Party Establishment. And it functionally doesn’t make any difference anyway. They win. We don’t lose. Everyone is happy.”
In other words, Bernie supporters could be offered some symbolic ‘victory’ that actually means nothing at all in order to trick them into becoming Hillary supporters.
Luzzatto shared the email with Mook and Podesta “as a favor and cause of his role in the Dems’ delegate system.”
“According to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s emails, published Tuesday morning by Wikileaks, Hillary Clinton had a hard time using the phrase “everyday Americans” as she mixed with the proletariat in the flyover states….”
“Several human rights organizations will soon launch a campaign urging President Obama to pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, coinciding with the premiere of the Oliver Stone biopic based on his life…”
New revelations about child abuse prompt attorneys who specialize in federal employment law to question the agency’s willingness to hold agents accountable for such serious crimes. This comes at a time when the agency is struggling to overcome scandals, including one in which agents hired prostitutes during a presidential trip to Colombia.
“From a reading of what is publicly available to me, it appears that the U.S. Secret Service does not wish to be held accountable for how it treats its employees accused of serious crimes against children involving sexual misconduct and/or drugs,” stated Cheri Cannon, a partner at federal employment law firm Tully Rinckey
Hospitals across the United States are throwing away less-than-perfect organs and denying the sickest people lifesaving transplants out of fear that poor surgical outcomes will result in a federal crackdown…
…As a result, thousands of patients are losing the chance at surgeries that could significantly prolong their lives, and the altruism of organ donation is being wasted.
“It’s gut-wrenching and mind-boggling,” said Dr. Adel Bozorgzadeh, a transplant surgeon at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Mass.
“Criminal investigations into the Environmental Protection Agency’s disastrous handling of its Gold King Mine spill are under way. This is a laudable step toward accountability for the agency, which for one year has avoided accountability for conduct that would in all likelihood have resulted in criminal prosecution had the acts been performed by private parties.”