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After Another Year of Trump Attacks, ‘Ominous Signs’ for the American Press

Westlake Legal Group 29trumpmedia01-facebookJumbo After Another Year of Trump Attacks, ‘Ominous Signs’ for the American Press Trump, Donald J Television Smith, Shepard Sanders, Sarah Huckabee Presidential Election of 2020 Newspapers News and News Media MSNBC Hannity, Sean Grisham, Stephanie Freedom of the Press Fox News Channel CNN Cable Television

On Twitter, President Trump deployed the phrase “fake news” 273 times this year — 50 percent more often than he did in 2018. He demanded “retribution” over a “Saturday Night Live” sketch, declared that Washington Post reporters “shouldn’t even be allowed on the grounds of the White House,” and accused The New York Times of “Treason.”

Four American journalists were barred from covering the president’s dinner with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. The administration argued in court that it had the right to ban a reporter from the White House. The daily White House briefing ceased to exist. And a new press secretary rarely spoke in public outside of Fox News.

Mr. Trump’s vilification of the news media is a hallmark of his tenure and a jagged break from the norms of his predecessors: Once a global champion for the free press, the presidency has become an inspiration to autocrats and dictators who ape Mr. Trump’s cry of “fake news.”

For those who wondered if Mr. Trump might heed the concerns of historians and First Amendment advocates — who say his actions have eroded public trust in journalism, and perhaps the very concept of empirical facts — 2019 provided a grim answer.

“Intimidation and vilification of the press is now a global phenomenon,” the former Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, who quit the network this year after disagreements about its Trump coverage, said at a gala last month. “We don’t have to look far for evidence of that.”

Few presidents have affected the perception of journalism like this one. A Pew survey this month found that Americans’ confidence in news coverage is closely correlated to their opinion of Mr. Trump. Forty percent of Republicans who strongly approve of the president’s job performance said that journalists have “very low” ethical standards, versus only 5 percent of Democrats.

Mr. Trump has long oscillated between taunting, cajoling, criticizing, and manipulating the journalists who cover him. Asked by The Times in January about his views of the free press, Mr. Trump replied in contradictory ways, deeming the news media “important,” “beautiful,” “so bad,” and “unfair.”

And when he was confronted by the publisher of The Times, A.G. Sulzberger, about a rise in threats against reporters since he took office, Mr. Trump declared, “I don’t like that,” before quickly returning to his grievances. “When you get really bad stories, where it’s not true, then you sort of say, ‘That’s unfair.’”

By year’s end, Mr. Trump had referred to the press on Twitter as “the enemy of the people” in 21 tweets, up from 16 tweets in 2018.

To Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, these rhetorical attacks have rippled outward. Globally, Mr. Simon said in an interview, at least 30 journalists were jailed in 2019 under charges of reporting false news in 2019.

“We view that as governments around the world taking advantage of the Trump ‘fake news’ framing and using that as a pretext of imprisoning journalists,” Mr. Simon said. “The dissemination of that rhetoric has only increased in the last 12 months. It’s having a very negative effect.”

Domestically, journalists in Washington say Mr. Trump’s behavior this year has only deepened their unease.

Jonathan Karl, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, cited the attempt by the administration to ban a journalist — Brian Karem of Playboy magazine — from the White House grounds. The episode mirrored an incident in 2018 where Trump aides revoked the credentials of a CNN correspondent, Jim Acosta, and falsely accused him of “placing his hands” on an intern. (Both journalists’ passes were restored by the courts.)

For Mr. Karl, who reports for ABC News, the year’s “most chilling moment” came when a video that depicted Mr. Trump as a mass murderer, shooting and stabbing members of the press, was screened at a retreat for the president’s supporters at the Trump National Doral Miami resort.

“There are ominous signs,” Mr. Karl said.

The violent video, concocted by right-wing provocateurs, was later disavowed by the White House. But the administration has presided over more subtle rebukes of the press.

The daily White House press briefing was once a ritual of Washington life and, viewed abroad, a potent symbol of accountability in government. In 2017, the Trump administration held about 100 formal briefings; in 2018, that number dropped by roughly half.

Two briefings took place in 2019.

The first, on Jan. 28, began with a barbed greeting from the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders — “Missed you guys,” she said dryly — and the second, on March 11, ended with shouted questions about Mr. Trump’s involvement with payoffs to a pornographic film star who had alleged an extramarital affair. Ms. Sanders referred to outside counsel and cut the queries short.

“Thanks so much, guys,” she said. No more questions.

In reality, Mr. Trump remained more directly accessible to journalists than several of his recent predecessors. He routinely fields questions during photo-ops and has made a habit of jousting with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House while the presidential helicopter whirs in the background.

But the arrangement is stacked in Mr. Trump’s favor. The noise lets him ignore questions he dislikes. And the events are entirely at Mr. Trump’s discretion, as opposed to a regular briefing where officials must answer for the news of the day.

Ms. Sanders departed the White House in June, signing on as a commentator at Fox News. Her successor, Stephanie Grisham, has yet to hold a White House briefing. For the first five and a half months of her tenure, she granted interviews only to Fox News, Fox Business and the Sinclair Broadcast Group, a regional network that had required its affiliates to broadcast pro-Trump editorials. Ms. Grisham appeared on ABC and CBS for the first time in December, after Mr. Trump was impeached.

Fox News remained Mr. Trump’s news venue of choice, despite the president’s occasional carping about the channel’s insufficient loyalty. Of Mr. Trump’s roughly 70 interviews in 2019, 23 took place on Fox News, according to Mark Knoller, a CBS News reporter and the unofficial statistician of the White House press corps. (Fox Business interviewed Mr. Trump an additional four times.)

Sean Hannity, the Fox News star, interviewed the president on seven occasions. ABC, CBS, and NBC each had one interview; CNN was shut out. The Times had one formal interview with Mr. Trump, and he spoke with The Post twice. Mr. Trump’s bookings ranged widely, from C-Span to Telemundo to right-wing stalwarts like Breitbart News and The Daily Caller. He also spoke with Bill O’Reilly, the former Fox News host who was fired after numerous revelations of workplace harassment.

In the ratings, Fox News ended 2019 far ahead of its competition. Not only did the channel beat its cable rivals, MSNBC and CNN — it was also the highest-rated network on television outside of the traditional Big 4 broadcasters (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox). Mr. Hannity’s show drew an average of 3.3 million viewers a night, making it the No. 1 program in cable news.

Mr. Smith’s abrupt exit in October shocked his colleagues and offered a glimpse at strains inside the network, where pro-Trump morning and evening programming often clashed with the sometimes critical reporting included as part of its daytime news coverage. The impeachment hearings underscored the divide, with anchors like Chris Wallace acknowledging the damaging testimony against Mr. Trump, even as Mr. Hannity dismissed the process as a “revolting charade.”

Impeachment offered some answers to a question media executives are asking themselves as a new year begins: Will a news-saturated public continue to tune into the Trump Show?

There are early signs of news fatigue. Ratings for the televised impeachment hearings were solid, but they fell short of political spectacles like James B. Comey’s testimony in 2017. Television audiences for the Democratic primary debates dwindled over the course of the year. Over all, cable news viewership was down slightly in 2019, despite all the political drama.

At one point in 2019, even Mr. Trump suggested that he might tune out the news, too. After yet another perceived slight, he conspicuously canceled the White House subscriptions to The Post and The Times.

Like many Americans, though, the president could not bear to look away. Days later, he was back to complaining about the coverage in the papers that he had claimed he would not read.

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James Carafano: Top 5 world headlines to watch for in 2020 — some will surprise you

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6117438523001_6117439912001-vs James Carafano: Top 5 world headlines to watch for in 2020 — some will surprise you James Jay Carafano fox-news/world/world-regions/europe/brexit fox-news/world fox-news/topic/venezuelan-political-crisis fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/executive/national-security fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc da49f925-f4c9-5bd8-9c69-e6e834ca1999 article

Next year’s headlines will no doubt be dominated by American elections wilder than “Mad Max.” Still, the world won’t stop turning while we try to sort things out.

There aren’t easy answers for what will unfold on many of the big stories, including bargaining with North Korea, bumping heads with China and tussling with Tehran. There could also well be headlines some may not be expecting. Here is short list so you are not caught up short.

US and UK seal the deal on a free trade agreement 

Bank on Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivering Brexit. Trade deal negotiations will follow at a speed-dating clip. It’s not beyond the pale to believe that the deal will be done and Congress will pass enabling legislation by the end of the year.


More from Opinion

The Middle East gets its NATO

The security cooperation framework that the U.S. knits together in the region won’t look like the transatlantic alliance, but it will signal the end of the worst of the squabbling among the Gulf Cooperation Council; mark the end of Israel’s strategic isolation from the Arab world; and present a united front blocking Iran.


Three Cheers for the Three Seas

The Three Seas Initiative, a proposal for joint regional infrastructure projects in Central Europe, is an idea whose time may finally come. The next annual meeting of the 12 “three seas” member-states is in Tallin, Estonia. Don’t be surprised if the initiative takes off with major U.S. support and engagement. This will be bad news for Russia and for China, which has been trying to muscle into Europe with its Belt and Road Initiative. This would be an earned black eye to both enemies of freedom and capitalism.


In comparison, Benghazi wasn’t that bad a day

Rather than pulling together to stabilize the worm-torn country, external actors are taking sides and threatening to pull Libya apart. The violence could rapidly spill over into Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. A new refugee swarm could be headed for Europe. Islamist terrorists could have a new playground. The only headline that might forestall this news is if the U.S. picked up its diplomatic game and started pressing all sides to sort this thing out.

Adios, Maduro

There is plenty at stake in Latin America next year, from which way fall Chile and Argentina to how fare Colombia, Brazil and Mexico. Could this be the year, despite the flagging internal opposition, that Venezuelan strong man Nicolas Maduro finally gives up the ghost and flees the country? It could be. The U.S. continues to ratchet up the pressure and hold together an international coalition against the illegitimate regime. A new day in Venezuela could decisively swing the push away from socialism and authoritarian bootjacks in Latin America. Here’s to hoping.


Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6117438523001_6117439912001-vs James Carafano: Top 5 world headlines to watch for in 2020 — some will surprise you James Jay Carafano fox-news/world/world-regions/europe/brexit fox-news/world fox-news/topic/venezuelan-political-crisis fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/executive/national-security fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc da49f925-f4c9-5bd8-9c69-e6e834ca1999 article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6117438523001_6117439912001-vs James Carafano: Top 5 world headlines to watch for in 2020 — some will surprise you James Jay Carafano fox-news/world/world-regions/europe/brexit fox-news/world fox-news/topic/venezuelan-political-crisis fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox-news/politics/executive/national-security fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc da49f925-f4c9-5bd8-9c69-e6e834ca1999 article

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Buttigieg Slams Biden For Iraq War Vote: ‘Worst Foreign Policy Decision In My Lifetime’

Westlake Legal Group 5e09a20225000063a4d31619 Buttigieg Slams Biden For Iraq War Vote: ‘Worst Foreign Policy Decision In My Lifetime’

Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg lambasted rival Joe Biden on Sunday for voting to authorize the Iraq War in 2002.

Speaking to Iowa Public Television, the 37-year-old South Bend, Indiana, mayor described the conflict as “the worst foreign policy decision by the United States in my lifetime.”

“I certainly respect the vice president, but this is an example of why years in Washington is not always the same thing as judgment,” said Buttigieg, whose limited government experience has come under fire on the campaign trail.

“He supported the worst foreign policy decision made by the United States in my lifetime, which was the decision to invade Iraq,” the mayor continued, referring to Biden.

Biden’s history on Iraq has come under renewed scrutiny as the race for the presidency heats up. 

As a senator representing Delaware and the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden voted in 2002 to authorize the use of military force against Iraq if then-leader Saddam Hussein refused to relinquish what President George W. Bush’s administration erroneously characterized as the regime’s hidden cache of weapons of mass destruction.

The war resolution was passed with bilateral support and, in 2003, the military invasion into Iraq began. 

Challenged during a July presidential primary debate on his decision to approve the resolution, Biden acknowledged that he’d made a “bad judgment.” 

He said he’d cast his vote believing that Bush only intended to use the resolution to bolster U.S. diplomacy efforts ― and that he’d been opposed to the war from the very start. 

“From the moment ‘shock and awe’ started, from that moment, I was opposed to the effort, and I was outspoken as much as anyone at all in the Congress and the administration,” Biden said.

But fact-checkers with The Washington Post have challenged Biden’s recollection of that time.

As the Post noted, though Biden had been critical of how the Bush administration managed the war and had repeatedly urged the president to explore all diplomatic options before using military force, it wasn’t until November 2005 that he conceded his vote was “a mistake.”

“It was a mistake to assume the president would use the authority we gave him properly,” Biden told NBC’s “Meet The Press,” adding: “We went too soon. We went without sufficient force. And we went without a plan.”

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How Big Companies Won New Tax Breaks From the Trump Administration

The overhaul of the federal tax law in 2017 was the signature legislative achievement of Donald J. Trump’s presidency.

The biggest change to the tax code in three decades, the law slashed taxes for big companies, part of an effort to coax them to invest more in the United States and to discourage them from stashing profits in overseas tax havens.

Corporate executives, major investors and the wealthiest Americans hailed the tax cuts as a once-in-a-generation boon not only to their own fortunes but also to the United States economy.

But big companies wanted more — and, not long after the bill became law in December 2017, the Trump administration began transforming the tax package into a greater windfall for the world’s largest corporations and their shareholders. The tax bills of many big companies have ended up even smaller than what was anticipated when the president signed the bill.

One consequence is that the federal government may collect hundreds of billions of dollars less over the coming decade than previously projected. The budget deficit has jumped more than 50 percent since Mr. Trump took office and is expected to top $1 trillion in 2020, partly as a result of the tax law.

Laws like the 2017 tax cuts are carried out by federal agencies that first must formalize them via rules and regulations. The process of writing the rules, conducted largely out of public view, can determine who wins and who loses.

Starting in early 2018, senior officials in President Trump’s Treasury Department were swarmed by lobbyists seeking to insulate companies from the few parts of the tax law that would have required them to pay more. The crush of meetings was so intense that some top Treasury officials had little time to do their jobs, according to two people familiar with the process.

The lobbyists targeted a pair of major new taxes that were supposed to raise hundreds of billions of dollars from companies that had been avoiding taxes in part by claiming their profits were earned outside the United States.

The blitz was led by a cross section of the world’s largest companies, including Anheuser-Busch, Credit Suisse, General Electric, United Technologies, Barclays, Coca-Cola, Bank of America, UBS, IBM, Kraft Heinz, Kimberly-Clark, News Corporation, Chubb, ConocoPhillips, HSBC and the American International Group.

Thanks in part to the chaotic manner in which the bill was rushed through Congress — a situation that gave the Treasury Department extra latitude to interpret a law that was, by all accounts, sloppily written — the corporate lobbying campaign was a resounding success.

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A section of the Senate bill. Congress gave final approval to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Dec. 20, 2017.Credit…Jon Elswick/Associated Press

Through a series of obscure regulations, the Treasury carved out exceptions to the law that mean many leading American and foreign companies will owe little or nothing in new taxes on offshore profits, according to a review of the Treasury’s rules, government lobbying records, and interviews with federal policymakers and tax experts. Companies were effectively let off the hook for tens if not hundreds of billions of taxes that they would have been required to pay.

“Treasury is gutting the new law,” said Bret Wells, a tax law professor at the University of Houston. “It is largely the top 1 percent that will disproportionately benefit — the wealthiest people in the world.”

It is the latest example of the benefits of the Republican tax package flowing disproportionately to the richest of the rich. Even a tax break that was supposed to aid poor communities — an initiative called “opportunity zones” — is being used in part to finance high-end developments in affluent neighborhoods, at times benefiting those with ties to the Trump administration.

Of course, companies didn’t get everything they wanted, and Brian Morgenstern, a Treasury spokesman, defended the department’s handling of the tax rules. “No particular taxpayer or group had any undue influence at any time in the process,” he said.

Ever since the birth of the modern federal income tax in 1913, companies have been concocting ways to avoid it.

In the late 1990s, American companies accelerated their efforts to claim that trillions of dollars of profits they earned in high-tax places like the United States, Japan or Germany were actually earned in low- or no-tax places like Luxembourg, Bermuda or Ireland.

Google, Apple, Cisco, Pfizer, Merck, Coca-Cola, Facebook and many others have deployed elaborate techniques that let the companies pay taxes at far less than the 35 percent corporate tax rate in the United States that existed before the 2017 changes. Their playful nicknames — like Double Irish and Dutch Sandwich — made them sound benign.

The Obama administration and lawmakers from both parties have tried to combat this profit shifting, but their efforts mostly stalled.

When President Trump and congressional Republicans assembled an enormous tax-cut package in 2017, they pitched it in part as a grand bargain: Companies would get the deep tax cuts that they had spent years clamoring for, but the law would also represent a long-overdue effort to fight corporate tax avoidance and the shipment of jobs overseas.

“The situation where companies are actually encouraged to move overseas and keep their profits overseas makes no sense,” Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, said on the Senate floor in November 2017.

Republicans were racing to secure a legislative victory during Mr. Trump’s first year in office — a period marked by the administration’s failure to repeal Obamacare and an embarrassing procession of political blunders. Sweeping tax cuts could give Republicans a jolt of much-needed momentum heading into the 2018 midterm elections.

To speed things along, Republicans used a congressional process known as “budget reconciliation,” which blocked Democrats from filibustering and allowed Republicans to pass the bill with a simple majority. But to qualify for that parliamentary green light, the net cost of the bill — after accounting for different tax cuts and tax increases — had to be less than $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

The bill’s cuts totaled $5.5 trillion. The corporate income tax rate shrank to 21 percent from 35 percent, and companies also won a tax break on the trillions in profits brought home from offshore.

To close the gap between the $5.5 trillion in cuts and the maximum price tag of $1.5 trillion, the package sought to raise new revenue by eliminating deductions and introducing new taxes.

Two of the biggest new taxes were supposed to apply to multinational corporations, and lawmakers bestowed them with easy-to-pronounce acronyms — BEAT and GILTI — that belie their complexity.

BEAT stands for the base erosion and anti-abuse tax. It was aimed largely at foreign companies with major operations in the United States, some of which had for years minimized their United States tax bills by shifting money between American subsidiaries and their foreign parent companies.

Instead of paying taxes in the United States, companies send the profits to countries with lower tax rates.

The BEAT aimed to make that less lucrative. Some payments that companies sent to their foreign affiliates would face a new 10 percent tax.

The other big measure was called GILTI: global intangible low-taxed income.

To reduce the benefit companies reaped by claiming that their profits were earned in tax havens, the law imposed an additional tax of up to 10.5 percent on some offshore earnings.

The Joint Committee on Taxation, the congressional panel that estimates the impacts of tax changes, predicted that the BEAT and GILTI would bring in $262 billion over a decade — roughly enough to fund the Treasury Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Cancer Institute for 10 years.

Sitting in the Oval Office on Dec. 22, 2017, Mr. Trump signed the tax cuts into law. It was — and remains — the president’s most significant legislative achievement.

From the start, the new taxes were pocked with loopholes.

In the BEAT, for example, Senate Republicans hoped to avoid a revolt by large companies. They wrote the law so that any payments an American company made to a foreign affiliate for something that went into a product — as opposed to, say, interest payments on loans — were excluded from the tax.

Let’s say an American pharmaceutical company sells pills in the United States. The pills are manufactured by a subsidiary in Ireland, and the American parent pays the Irish unit for the pills before they are sold to the public. Those payments mean that the company’s profits in the United States, where taxes are relatively high, go down; profits in tax-friendly Ireland go up.

Because such payments to Ireland wouldn’t be taxed, some companies that had been the most aggressive at shifting profits into offshore havens were spared the full brunt of the BEAT.

Other companies, like General Electric, were surprised to be hit by the new tax, thinking it applied only to foreign multinationals, according to Pat Brown, who had been G.E.’s top tax expert.

Mr. Brown, now the head of international tax policy at the accounting and consulting firm PwC, said on a podcast this year that the Trump administration should bridge the gap between expectations about the tax law and how it was playing out in reality. He lobbied the Treasury on behalf of G.E.

“The question,” he said, “is how creative and how expansive is Treasury and the I.R.S. able to be.”

Almost immediately after Mr. Trump signed the bill, companies and their lobbyists — including G.E.’s Mr. Brown — began a full-court pressure campaign to try to shield themselves from the BEAT and GILTI.

The Treasury Department had to figure out how to carry out the hastily written law, which lacked crucial details.

Chip Harter was the Treasury official in charge of writing the rules for the BEAT and GILTI. He had spent decades at PwC and the law firm Baker McKenzie, counseling companies on the same sorts of tax-avoidance arrangements that the new law was supposed to discourage.

Starting in January 2018, he and his colleagues found themselves in nonstop meetings — roughly 10 a week at times — with lobbyists for companies and industry groups.

The Organization for International Investment — a powerful trade group for foreign multinationals like the Swiss food company Nestlé and the Dutch chemical maker LyondellBasell — objected to a Treasury proposal that would have prevented companies from using a complex currency-accounting maneuver to avoid the BEAT.

The group’s lobbyists were from PwC and Baker McKenzie, Mr. Harter’s former firms, according to public lobbying disclosures. One of them, Pam Olson, was the top Treasury tax official in the George W. Bush administration. (Mr. Morgenstern, the Treasury spokesman, said Mr. Harter didn’t meet with PwC while the rules were being written.)

This month, the Treasury issued the final version of some of the BEAT regulations. The Organization for International Investment got what it wanted.

One of the most effective campaigns, with the greatest financial consequence, was led by a small group of large foreign banks, including Credit Suisse and Barclays.

American regulators require international banks to ensure that their United States divisions are financially equipped to absorb big losses in a crisis. To meet those requirements, foreign banks lend the money to their American outposts. Those loans accrue interest. Under the BEAT, the interest that the American units paid to their European parents would often be taxed.

“Foreign banks should not be penalized by the U.S. tax laws for complying” with regulations, said Briget Polichene, chief executive of the Institute of International Bankers, whose members include many of the world’s largest banks.

Banks flooded the Treasury Department with lobbyists and letters.

Late last year, Mr. Harter went to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and told him about the plan to give the banks a break. Mr. Mnuchin — a longtime banking executive before joining the Trump administration — signed off on the new exemptions, according to a person familiar with the matter.

A few months later, the tax-policy office handed another victory to the foreign banks, ruling that an even wider range of bank payments would be exempted.

Among the lobbyists who successfully pushed the banks’ case in private meetings with senior Treasury officials was Erika Nijenhuis of the law firm Cleary Gottlieb. Her client was the Institute of International Bankers.

In September 2019, Ms. Nijenhuis took off her lobbying hat and joined the Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy, which was still writing the rules governing the tax law.

Some tax experts said that the Treasury had no legal authority to exempt the bank payments from the BEAT; only Congress had that power. The Trump administration created the exception “out of whole cloth,” said Mr. Wells, the University of Houston professor.

Even inside the Treasury, the ruling was controversial. Some officials told Mr. Harter — the senior official in charge of the international rules — that the department lacked the power, according to people familiar with the discussions. Mr. Harter dismissed the objections.

Officials at the Joint Committee on Taxation have calculated that the exemptions for international banks could reduce by up to $50 billion the revenue raised by the BEAT.

Over all, the BEAT is likely to collect “a small fraction” of the $150 billion of new tax revenue that was originally projected by Congress, said Thomas Horst, who advises companies on their overseas tax arrangements. He came to that conclusion after reviewing the tax disclosures in more than 140 annual reports filed by multinationals.

Mr. Morgenstern, the Treasury spokesman, said: “We thoroughly reviewed these issues internally and are fully comfortable that we have the legal authority for the conclusions reached in these regulations.” He said Ms. Nijenhuis was not involved in crafting the BEAT rules.

He also said the Treasury decided that changing the rules for foreign banks was appropriate.

“We were responsive to job creators,” he said.

The lobbying surrounding the GILTI was equally intense — and, once again, large companies won valuable concessions.

Back in 2017, Republicans said the GILTI was meant to prevent companies from avoiding American taxes by moving their intellectual property overseas.

In the pharmaceutical and tech industries in particular, profits are often tied to patents. Companies had sold the rights to their patents to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens. The companies then imposed steep licensing fees on their American units. The sleight-of-hand transactions reduced profits in the United States and left them in places like Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands.

But after the law was enacted, large multinationals in industries like consumer products discovered that the GILTI tax applied to them, too. That threatened to cut into their windfalls from the corporate tax rate’s falling to 21 percent from 35 percent.

Lobbyists for Procter & Gamble and other companies turned to lawmakers for help. They asked members of the Senate Finance Committee to tell Treasury officials that they hadn’t intended the GILTI to affect their industries. It was a simple but powerful strategy: Because the Treasury was required to consider congressional intent when writing the tax rules, such explanations could sway the outcome.

Several senators then met with Mr. Mnuchin to discuss the rules.

One lobbyist, Michael Caballero, had been a senior Treasury official in the Obama administration. His clients included Credit Suisse and the industrial conglomerate United Technologies. He met repeatedly with Treasury and White House officials and pushed them to modify the rules so that big companies hit by the GILTI wouldn’t lose certain tax deductions.

In essence, the “high-tax exception” that Mr. Caballero was proposing would allow companies to deduct expenses that they incurred in their overseas operations from their American profits — lowering their United States tax bills.

Other companies jumped on the bandwagon. News Corporation, Liberty Mutual, Anheuser-Busch, Comcast and P.&G. wrote letters or dispatched lobbyists to argue for the high-tax exception.

After months of meetings with lobbyists, the Treasury announced in June 2019 that it was creating a version of the exception that the companies had sought.

Two years after the tax cuts became law, their impact is becoming clear.

Companies continue to shift hundreds of billions of dollars to overseas tax havens, ensuring that huge sums of corporate profits remain out of reach of the United States government.

The Internal Revenue Service is collecting tens of billions of dollars less in corporate taxes than Congress projected, inflating the tax law’s 13-figure price tag.

This month, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development calculated that the United States in 2018 experienced the largest drop in tax revenue of any of the group’s 36 member countries. The United States also had by far the largest budget deficit of any of those countries.

In the coming days, the Treasury is likely to complete its last round of rules carrying out the tax cuts. Big companies have spent this fall trying to win more.

In September, Chris D. Trunck, the vice president for tax at Owens Corning, the maker of insulation and roofing materials, wrote to the I.R.S. He pushed the Treasury to tinker with the GILTI rules in a way that would preserve hundreds of millions of dollars of tax benefits that Owens Corning had accumulated from settling claims that it poisoned employees and others with asbestos.

The same month, the underwear manufacturer Hanes sent its own letter to Mr. Mnuchin. The letter, from Bryant Purvis, Hanes’s vice president of global tax, urged Mr. Mnuchin to broaden the high-tax exception so that more companies could take advantage of it.

Otherwise, Mr. Purvis warned, “the GILTI regime will become an impediment to U.S. companies and their ability to not only compete globally as a general matter, but also their ability to remain U.S.-headquartered if they are to maintain the overall fiscal health of their business.”

The implied threat was clear: If the Treasury didn’t further chip away at the new tax, companies like Hanes, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., might have no choice but to move their headquarters overseas.

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Seattle Shelter Focuses On Native Peoples Experiencing Homelessness

Westlake Legal Group cm-eagle-village-3-3558e555f1105186c618ec6c11d4ba86d4c2c36c-s1100-c15 Seattle Shelter Focuses On Native Peoples Experiencing Homelessness

Eagle Village resident Jolene Neiss says it’s important to make each room feel like the resident’s home with decorations, knickknacks and family photos. Casey Martin/KUOW hide caption

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Casey Martin/KUOW

Westlake Legal Group  Seattle Shelter Focuses On Native Peoples Experiencing Homelessness

Eagle Village resident Jolene Neiss says it’s important to make each room feel like the resident’s home with decorations, knickknacks and family photos.

Casey Martin/KUOW

A new homeless shelter in Seattle is exclusively serving Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Pacific Islanders. It’s one of the first facilities of its kind in the country helping to house the more than 1,000 Native people in the city experiencing homelessness.

Eagle Village sits near Seattle’s industrial district south of downtown. It’s pressed up against railroad tracks and next to a large bus terminal. Gary Fisher has lived here about a month after bouncing around other shelters in the city for three years.

“A lot of times even sleeping outside in conditions like that might be a better, safer environment than some of the shelters that I’ve been in,” Fisher said in Eagle Village’s meeting room.

Fisher says other shelters he’s been to have too many people coming and going. “You don’t stay by the same person every night,” he said,” so it’s always new people you don’t know.”

But Eagle Village, he says, is nothing like that. This site is made up of modular trailers divided into small apartments, each with its own private bathroom and kitchenette.

Fisher says the rooms here are comfortable for two people. They’ve got plenty of closet space, and Fisher has his own bathroom.

Disproportionate homelessness

Thirty people live at Eagle Village full-time, which has capacity for 31 residents. Everybody here — residents, employees, case managers — are all Indigenous peoples, a group that housing advocates say have been largely undeserved by social services. Like in most of the country, Native people in King County, where Seattle is located, make up a disproportionate number of people experiencing homelessness.

“We make up less than one percent of the total population and make up over 10% of our homeless population,” says Colleen Echohawk, executive director of Chief Seattle Club, which runs Eagle Village.

Westlake Legal Group cm-eagle-village-9_wide-2a0edc2aca244e8345068238316c983c9257329b-s1100-c15 Seattle Shelter Focuses On Native Peoples Experiencing Homelessness
Westlake Legal Group  Seattle Shelter Focuses On Native Peoples Experiencing Homelessness

Residents are painting the exterior of each trailer in Eagle Village with Native imagery.

Casey Martin/KUOW

Echohawk says because of the history of mistreatment by the U.S. government a lot of Native people don’t trust traditional government-run shelters.

“If you had attended boarding school, for instance, or you were in the foster care system or you were one of those folks who have been forcibly sterilized,” she says, “the likelihood of you going into a shelter which has those same kind of systems, that same kind of feel, it’s unlikely because of how much it will trigger your trauma.”

Culturally sensitive

Echohawk describes Eagle Village as “culturally responsible housing,” and Chief Seattle Club intentionally chose to use the term village instead of shelter or camp. Eagle Village residents have community meetings, drum circles, and, come springtime, a new medicine garden.

“Before anyone ever got there,” Echohawk says, “we had traditional medicine people come through, and they prayed. They offered songs. They smudged and cleansed the entire place.”

Residents also come up with dinner ideas and cook for themselves. Eagle Village site manager, Donalda Lyons, says the food is one of the biggest differences here.

“Say they’re Lakota and they’re like, ‘Oh we like this. This is the type of soup we do.’ And if we can purchase this stuff here, OK, this is a traditional Lakota soup,” Lyons says, “or even from my own res, if there’s something that I would like to share with them.”

The cost to build Eagle Village was a little over $3 million, paid for in-part by the county and state. Colleen Echohawk says the government is long overdue to fund homeless services for Native people.

“I see this as sort of a way for government officials to fulfill those old obligations that have been forgotten by most part,” Echohawk says.

A few years ago she helped launch the Coalition to End Urban Native Homelessness. At the time, it was just based in Seattle. Now Echohawk hopes to partner with other cities to build similar shelters.

“Looking for best practices and looking for what other cities have done, so we’ll collaborate,” Echohawk says. “It’s going to just be this amazing time to to say, ‘Oh, what are you doing in Minneapolis? And they’re doing great things in Minneapolis. And what are you doing in Seattle and in New York?”

Eagle Village resident Gary Fisher says this is a model not just for Native shelters but for all shelters.

“Homeless shelters are filthy, rotten places for a human being,” Fisher says, gesturing around the tidy community room to point out how different Eagle Village is. “Look around you. There’s $3 million worth of brand new stuff all around you and I’m part of it. So I’m enjoying it. I’m loving it.”

Fisher thinks if Native homelessness can be solved, then all homelessness could be solved as well.

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China Sentences Christian Leader To 9 Years In Prison

Westlake Legal Group wang-yi-222879d1a71024a99c4449be612feec40661e842-s1100-c15 China Sentences Christian Leader To 9 Years In Prison

Wang Yi, second from right, and other human rights activists from China meet with former President George W. Bush at the White House in 2006. Wang Yi was arrested in Dec. 2018 by Chinese authorities and sentenced to nine years in prison. Eric Draper/White House hide caption

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Eric Draper/White House

Wang Yi, a leader in one of the most well-known Christian congregations in China, has been quietly sentenced to nine years in prison, according to a statement on the website of the Intermediate People’s Court of Chengdu Municipality.

The sentencing is the latest incident in an ongoing crackdown on organized religion in China. Early Rain Covenant Church, which Wang founded in 2008, attracted around 500 followers and was considered one of the most influential “underground churches” in China, operating independently of the state.

Wang was charged with “subverting state power.” He, his wife Jiang Rong and about 100 congregants were detained last December after police raided the church during a Sunday evening service. Authorities said the church violated religious regulations because it was not registered with the government. Another prominent Protestant congregation with nearly 1,500 followers, Zion Church in Beijing, was raided and shut down last September.

Most of Early Rain’s congregants were eventually released after a period of days or months. Several congregants have since escaped to Taiwan and are applying for asylum in the U.S.

Until last year, Early Rain was one of the most influential Protestant “underground” congregations, which are technically illegal because they remain unregistered and out of government control. Scholars estimate that of China’s 60 million or so Christians, about half attend unregistered churches rather than their state-sanctioned counterparts.

Last week, speculation that Wang was secretly being tried in the southwestern city of Chengdu swirled online after supporters published pictures on social media showing heightened security surrounding Chengdu’s courthouse.

China has previously sentenced prominent dissidents or activists in closed trials over holidays such as Christmas or announced multiple sentencings on the same day in an effort to minimize media attention.

A former human rights lawyer and blogger, Wang Yi converted to Christianity in 2005. His work as an activist earned him an invitation to the White House the following year, where Wang met President George W. Bush as part of a delegation of Chinese figures advocating for greater religious freedoms and civil liberties.

China nominally guarantees freedom of religion. But in the last six years, it has arrested believers, shut down several prominent Christian churches and detained or imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang.

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Liz Peek: Michael Moore’s right – Bernie would boost Democrats, for this reason

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6118566143001_6118568700001-vs Liz Peek: Michael Moore's right – Bernie would boost Democrats, for this reason Liz Peek fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 81351fa7-6d35-5d07-a85a-d0bc1faad86d

Progressive activist Michael Moore thinks President Trump will win again in 2020. He notes that Trump’s support in the important swing states hasn’t budged and that Republicans are fired up to support the president, especially in the wake of the impeachment vote.

He urges Democrats not to nominate another political moderate, like Hillary Clinton, because such a “Republican-lite” candidate is sure to lose. He calls front-runner Joe Biden “this year’s Hillary,” and has thrown his considerable weight behind Bernie Sanders instead.

Moore is right: nominating Sanders could be the best outcome for Democrats, and for the nation. But not for the reason he cites.


The grump Socialist senator from Vermont would almost certainly go down in flames, giving Trump a landslide victory. Only then might Democrats reconsider their support of policies (like reparations or full-term abortions) that play well to only a fragment of the population, and begin listening to mainstream America.

Only then will they understand that creating wealth is a good thing, critical to lifting up the entire country.


Only then will they recognize that nothing is more important than educating those stuck at the bottom of the income ladder, and nothing more valuable than providing jobs for those desperate to climb that ladder.

And next time, Democrats would maybe nominate someone who appeals to most Americans.

More from Opinion

Trump would clobber Sanders, just as Richard Nixon destroyed liberal George McGovern in 1972. In that year, Nixon won 520 Electoral College votes while McGovern picked up only 17. It was painful, like watching those lopsided Little League games ultimately called out of pity for the losers.

The election-year slaughter was a wake-up call to liberal Democrats. After three years in the wilderness, and aided by the worst political scandal in a generation, Democrats passed over left-wing candidates like Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown from California and instead nominated political moderate Jimmy Carter to run in 1976. Carter, the little-known former governor of Georgia, beat Republican President Gerald Ford, who suffered the taint of having served as vice president in the Nixon White House.

Carter turned out to be a dreadful president, wishy-washy and weak; consequently, he was booted from the presidency by Ronald Reagan after only one term. Four years later Democrats, beset with short memories, nominated uber-liberal Walter Mondale from Minnesota, who was squashed. He carried but one state – his own.

There is a pattern here, which progressive zealots like Michael Moore ignore and which longtime pols like Nancy Pelosi recognize. The United States is simply not a far-left country and has never welcomed radical change.

It wasn’t until 1992 that Democrats again found themselves occupying the Oval Office, and once again the victory was notched by a political moderate, Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton. Clinton was Gumby-like flexible on policy, veering to the middle on crime and the economy to win his second term.

There is a pattern here, which progressive zealots like Michael Moore ignore and which longtime pols like Nancy Pelosi recognize. The United States is simply not a far-left country and has never welcomed radical change. Though the number of Americans self-identifying as “liberal” has risen gradually over the past two decades, it is still the case that 70 percent consider themselves conservative or moderate.

It is true that the voting population is trending younger, which generally means more liberal. But Boomers and those older will still represent about 37 percent of the electorate; given the reliability of these voters, and that they tend to be more conservative than voters overall, they will still play an important role in the 2020 election.  In 2016, according to Pew Research, that cohort represented 43 percent of the electorate but cast 49 percent of the votes.

Over time, attitudes change, and legislation follows. The country has become more tolerant of same-sex marriage, for instance, but the social and political acceptance occurred over decades. The same could be said for abortion, looser immigration rules and a host of other issues.

The liberalizing of the country is a gradual process, and from time to time it faces setbacks, generally in response to overreach by those pressing a far-left agenda. That will happen again if Sanders, or for that matter Elizabeth Warren, is the nominee.

Moore concludes that Hillary Clinton lost because she didn’t push hard enough for change, offering the status quo to voters hungry for a revolution. He is wrong. Clinton’s loss had little to do with her policies and everything to do with her. After the Democrat convention, which should have improved her image, a CNN poll found 68 percent of respondents said Hillary was not honest and trustworthy. Only 31 percent viewed the former first lady positively. One analyst called the polling “brutal.”

Hillary Clinton was, from the start, a terrible candidate – mainly because voters simply didn’t like her.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump appealed to the common-sense core of the country. Like Bill Clinton, Trump is not an ideologue, but rather someone who looks at the issues of our day through a practical lens. For many years he railed about jobs going overseas because of badly struck trade deals with China, among others; he was right. The establishment elites who run both parties looked the other way, afraid to take on corporate America or confront the shortcomings of globalization.

Trump questioned why former U.S. presidents vowed to move our embassy to Jerusalem but none did. He saw the tens of thousands of people crossing our border illegally as U.S. officials stood helplessly by and vowed to fix a broken system. He was offended that U.S. military personnel had been charged with defeating ISIS but were not allowed to release the bombs they carried against terrorist enclaves, and changed the rules of engagement.


Most of all, he saw the world’s most productive workforce handicapped by smothering regulations and our companies having to compete while burdened by excessive taxes and moved to lighten the load on both.

Campaigning on a robust economy and growing income for middle-class Americans, Trump has an excellent opportunity to win another four years. If the Democrats nominate Sanders, the chances of a Trump victory rise, but so do the odds Dems will pick more wisely in 2024.


Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6118566143001_6118568700001-vs Liz Peek: Michael Moore's right – Bernie would boost Democrats, for this reason Liz Peek fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 81351fa7-6d35-5d07-a85a-d0bc1faad86d   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6118566143001_6118568700001-vs Liz Peek: Michael Moore's right – Bernie would boost Democrats, for this reason Liz Peek fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/donald-trump fox-news/person/bernie-sanders fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 81351fa7-6d35-5d07-a85a-d0bc1faad86d

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‘Rise Of Skywalker’ Writer Explains Why Kelly Marie Tran Lost So Much Screen Time

A screenwriter for “Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker” has provided an explanation about why Rose Tico, played by Vietnamese-American actor Kelly Marie Tran, got barely more than a minute of screen time.

Tran’s significantly reduced role in the new movie prompted the #RoseTicoDeservedBetter hashtag to trend on Twitter. Viewers felt that her limited screen time reflected acquiescence to the demands of the online bullies who had spewed abuse at Tran after the 2017 film. 

“Well, first of all, J.J. and I adore Kelly Marie Tran. One of the reasons that Rose has a few less scenes than we would like her to have has to do with the difficulty of using Carrie’s footage in the way we wanted to,” Chris Terrio, who co-wrote the film with director J.J. Abrams, told Awards Daily

Carrie Fisher, who played the crucial role of Princess Leia Organa, died in 2016, but still appeared in the latest film thanks to deleted scenes, recycled footage and CGI.

Westlake Legal Group 5e09928925000039a4d31603 ‘Rise Of Skywalker’ Writer Explains Why Kelly Marie Tran Lost So Much Screen Time

Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP Kelly Marie Tran at the “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” premiere in London.

Terrio said Rose’s character was kept at the rebel base because the writers wanted Leia to work with another principal character.

“As the process evolved, a few scenes we’d written with Rose and Leia turned out to not meet the standard of photorealism that we’d hoped for,” he said. “Those scenes unfortunately fell out of the film. The last thing we were doing was deliberately trying to sideline Rose. We adore the character, and we adore Kelly – so much so that we anchored her with our favorite person in this galaxy, General Leia.”

Westlake Legal Group 5e099425250000061198f59e ‘Rise Of Skywalker’ Writer Explains Why Kelly Marie Tran Lost So Much Screen Time

Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP Kelly Marie Tran faced online harassment over her role in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and was sidelined in the sequel.

Tran was introduced as a major character in the previous installment of the franchise, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” and was the first woman of color to land a major role in the series. Her character was not well-received by some fans, and she decided to leave social media after receiving relentless abuse, including racist comments.

The 30-year-old actor penned a moving op-ed for The New York Times following her departure from social media, detailing the humiliation and hardships she’d suffered throughout her life as a woman of color in America. She declared that she would not allow herself to be marginalized by online harassment. 

Fans were not satisfied with the writer’s explanation for Rose Tico’s absence in the new film and poked several holes in his reasoning:

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A 7-Eleven in Japan Might Close for a Day. Yes, That’s a Big Deal.

Westlake Legal Group 00SevenElevenJapan-1-facebookJumbo A 7-Eleven in Japan Might Close for a Day. Yes, That’s a Big Deal. Working Hours Population new year Mitoshi Matsumoto Labor and Jobs Japan Holidays and Special Occasions Franchises Convenience Stores 7-eleven

HIGASHI-OSAKA, Japan — Mitoshi Matsumoto, the most famous 7-Eleven convenience store owner in Japan, wants to do something unthinkable in his 24-hour, 7-day-a-week industry: Take a day off.

That’s why, he says, 7-Eleven is trying to put him out of business.

Mr. Matsumoto announced in November his plans to close up shop so he and his two full-time employees could take off New Year’s Day, Japan’s most important holiday, after years of working 14-hour days with few breaks. But on Dec. 20, 7-Eleven’s parent company told him that his store had received more customer complaints than any other in Japan. He had 10 days to address the issues, it said, or the location would be closed.

“They don’t want to let me take New Year’s off. That’s all there is to it,” said Mr. Matsumoto, 57, who has made a name for himself in Japan by publicly defying the company’s demands that franchisees stay open 24 hours. “If they allow me to do this, others will start rising up here and there.”

His decision in February to shorten store hours inspired other franchisees to demand that 7-Eleven allow them to do the same. But the company has been slow to change, he said, so he decided to take New Year’s off in protest.

The standoff has supercharged a national debate over the business practices of the country’s 24-hour convenience store industry. Japan’s declining population has made workers harder to find. Tales of punishing work schedules have struck a chord in a country that holds a sometimes lethal corporate devotion to working long hours.

Last year, the labor ministry approved 246 claims related to hospitalization or death from overwork, according to government statistics, which show the retail industry as one of the biggest sources of complaints. Another 568 workers took their own lives over job-related exhaustion.

But even as convenience store owners are suffering under increasingly long hours, the country’s three biggest convenience store chains — 7-Eleven, Lawson and FamilyMart — have been reluctant to change the 24-hour schedule that Japanese shoppers have come to expect.

In a letter to Mr. Matsumoto, 7-Eleven said it received 78 complaints about his store this year. In a statement, it said that the threat to sever the contract was based on the complaints and on the “destruction of the relationship of trust” caused by his criticisms on social media of 7-Eleven’s management.

Mr. Matsumoto and his supporters say 7-Eleven is trying to make an example of the man who has become the face of the resistance against a company that they say exploits their labor.

“Owners can’t organize, because the second you try, they home in on you and apply pressure,” said Reiji Kamakura, the leader of the Convenience Store Union, a small group that has struggled to gain members and change industry practices in the face of corporate opposition.

Though it got its start in Texas in the 1920s, 7-Eleven has been controlled by a Japanese company since 1991. Today, it operates nearly 40 percent of Japan’s more than 55,000 convenience stores.

That makes 7-Eleven an integral part of Japanese life. The government considers convenience stores part of the country’s infrastructure, like highways and sewers. They are expected to help promote regional tourism and to help with local policing by offering a safe place for people to flee to. Its stores can be called on to help distribute aid and supplies during a natural disaster.

The vast majority of Japanese 7-Elevens are owned by individuals like Mr. Matsumoto. The company provides them with a storefront and access to a logistics network that keeps its shelves full of rice balls, cigarettes and boxed lunches. It sets operating procedures with an eye toward protecting the brand and providing a uniform customer experience.

Among those demands, it tells franchisees to keep their stores open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

The model, pioneered by 7-Eleven, worked well enough for years. But about a decade ago, it began to break down.

Hungry for growth, 7-Eleven and its competitors began a war of attrition, flooding the country with more locations in an attempt to steal market share. Each new shop cut into its neighbors’ profits.

At the same time, Japan’s labor pool was shrinking, driving up hourly wages and making it difficult to find reliable workers. Many franchisees — who are responsible for paying their staff’s wages — were forced to work more of their own shifts.

For 7-Eleven, the cost of opening new stores was minimal. But for many franchisees, the numbers no longer added up.

Mr. Matsumoto, a former carpenter, opened his store in 2012, hoping to earn a more stable income. From the beginning, he said, he locked horns with the corporate management, refusing to follow suggestions from his regional manager about how much food to order or what items to stock.

In May 2018, his wife, who had also worked at the store, died. He began having trouble finding reliable staff. In desperation, he asked his son to come home from college to help.

Even so, Mr. Matsumoto was working 12-hour shifts. And sometimes much more.

Then, one day in February, he told 7-Eleven he was going to shorten his store’s hours from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.

The company said that would violate his contract. He would lose his store and the tens of thousands of dollars he had invested in it. On top of that, he was told, he would have to pay the company a penalty of about $155,000 for breach of contract.

Mr. Matsumoto did it anyway. When the company threatened to close his store, he went to the news media.

Activists had tried to draw national attention to the plight of convenience store owners for years. But something about Mr. Matsumoto’s story touched a nerve. Japanese reporters descended on the store. Letters of support and phone calls poured in from convenience store owners around the country, he said.

Mr. Matsumoto admits he has received his fair share of customer complaints. He has sparred with people who he says left their cars for too long in the store’s small parking lot. He closed the bathroom to the public — a move virtually unheard-of in service-friendly Japan — because customers were not keeping it clean and sometimes locked themselves inside for hours. But in the past, he said, 7-Eleven’s regional staff worked with him to resolve the issues.

That wasn’t the case this time, he said. When he asked to see the complaints against him, he said, the company showed him only a few, saying there were too many to give him a complete accounting.

In its statement, 7-Eleven said that it had “repeatedly explained to the owner the actions that were in violation of his contract,” adding that he had yet to take action to correct them.

He suspects his activism played a part in the complaints. After his story went viral, people began to attack him on Twitter, accusing him of smearing the company’s image. His store has 270 reviews on Google Maps, many attacking his character. Virtually all of them were written after he appeared in the news.

Speaking privately, some 7-Eleven owners and employees say they admire Mr. Matsumoto, but few are willing to put their own shops on the line.

Nevertheless, the public outcry has given them some hope that the industry will change. Major chains have pledged to introduce some reforms. 7-Eleven has said it will experiment with allowing a few shops to reduce their hours. It pledged to give this New Year’s Day off to employees at 50 locations it operates directly.

Mr. Matsumoto hopes that franchised stores will close, too, in an expression of solidarity.

He met with representatives from the company on Sunday, but the two sides were not able to come to a satisfactory agreement, he said. Mr. Matsumoto said that if 7-Eleven went through with its threat, he planned to go to court.

The current system cannot survive much longer, he said, but 7-Eleven will not change unless the owners force it to. So far, no one has come forward.

“If we don’t take a stand now,” he said, “there’s no future.”

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The Stock Market Is Booming, but Democrats Say, Look Who’s Been Left Out

Westlake Legal Group 29dems1-facebookJumbo The Stock Market Is Booming, but Democrats Say, Look Who’s Been Left Out Warren, Elizabeth Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 DES MOINES, Iowa Democratic Party Buttigieg, Pete (1982- ) Biden, Joseph R Jr

DES MOINES — On paper, Esther Mabior should be fine. She has a degree from Iowa State University, where she majored in economics, and lives in a city where her chosen profession, the insurance business, employs thousands of people.

But Ms. Mabior, 26, can’t find a job as an insurance adjuster. And she says her own experience is a lot like the stock market highs and the ever-expanding gross domestic product she keeps hearing about: It all looks good on the surface, but deeper down things aren’t so rosy.

“There may be people doing well,” Ms. Mabior said after attending an event for Pete Buttigieg’s campaign in Des Moines over the weekend, calling herself “living proof” that as far as the economy is concerned, “it’s not that great.”

The stock market is days away from closing out what is likely to be its best year in two decades. The unemployment rate, now at 3.5 percent, has been at 4 percent or lower for almost two years. Employers continue to add jobs in large numbers, with the country now in its 11th year of economic expansion.

But as President Trump makes his case to Americans that he deserves a second term — in part by taking credit for the economy’s continued resilience — the Democrats vying to replace him are making the case that a very different reality exists for many Americans who have not seen much improvement in their own bottom lines.

In Iowa and other early voting states, the Democratic presidential candidates have been underscoring those disparities with each new economic report, hoping to blunt a centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s re-election message. And as they sought to build momentum on the last weekend before the new year, they mixed empathetic stories about struggling working-class families with pointed attacks on Mr. Trump, whom they accused of pursuing policies that disproportionately help the wealthy and do nothing to close the yawning income inequality gap.

At an event in Knoxville on Sunday, for instance, Mr. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., said that top-line economic numbers increasingly failed to reflect the experience of many Americans. “It’s nice to see that the Dow Jones is doing well,” he told the crowd, who had packed into a roller skating rink to see him. “But more and more Americans find that we’re fighting like hell just to hold onto what we’ve got.”

During multiple events, in Iowa and New Hampshire, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. rejected the idea that the strong economy was lifting everyone. He took aim in particular at one of Mr. Trump’s greatest wells of support: white working-class Americans, who were once a bedrock of the Democratic Party but who are now helping Mr. Trump remain competitive in battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

“An awful lot of people — middle-class folks — are in real trouble, and they’re not at all certain about their future,” Mr. Biden said in Fairfield, Iowa, on Saturday. “So the idea that everybody’s doing well is just simply not true. The very, very wealthy are doing very, very well, but the rest are scraping along.”

At an event on Sunday in Peterborough, N.H., he acknowledged that the economy was “growing” and unemployment was “incredibly low.” But, he said, “There’s no rational distribution of the growth in terms of increases in income and other things.”

One consistent theme at campaign events is that wages are not rising enough to offset the increasing costs of living, including for health care and education. Another is that with a strong economy, workers should be sharing more of the gains.

“Are your wages going up?” a volunteer for Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign asked the audience as she introduced the candidate in Clarinda, a small town in southwestern Iowa.

When she took the stage herself, Ms. Warren of Massachusetts argued that the economic recovery had failed to touch the most marginalized communities or rural areas.

“Why is America’s middle class being hollowed out?” she asked. “And the answer is in who our government in Washington works for.”

The economic arguments are resonating, in Iowa and elsewhere, with voters like Max Goldman, a 53-year-old technology consultant from Kansas City, Iowa. Mr. Goldman, who traveled to Ms. Warren’s event in Clarinda, said he wished Democrats talked more about the federal deficit. But he said he did not credit Mr. Trump with the improving economy, and thinks other voters — even moderates — might feel the same way.

“Every president will take credit for the economy,” Mr. Goldman said. “But the stock market is not the economy, and the wages argument she’s making is a good one.”

Kyle Hunt, a 40-year-old loan officer from Clive, a Des Moines suburb, said at Mr. Buttigieg’s event on Sunday in Knoxville that the economy where he lived seemed to be “working fine” because there were job opportunities. But he said he had also noticed recently that more people, especially minorities and women, were borrowing more money, including to pay for rent.

“I definitely see people that it’s not working for,” he said.

Mike Rowold, 72, a crop insurance adjuster who attended a town hall-style event that Mr. Biden held at a high school in Tipton, Iowa, on Saturday, said most people there were “not concerned about the stock market in any way, shape or form.”

“That economy is a false bubble,” he said.

Mr. Rowold, who said he would support Mr. Biden in the caucuses, faulted the Trump administration’s trade policies for hurting farmers in Iowa.

“Very few of these guys are actually investing any of their money into the stock market,” he said of the farmers. “They’re hanging onto the farms that they have right now.”

Ms. Mabior, the out-of-work insurance adjuster, said she has not yet decided which if any of the Democratic candidates she would support. Asked whether Mr. Trump’s celebration of the booming stock market and G.D.P. growth meant anything to her, she said most economic indicators had become irrelevant: Iowa, she pointed out, has among the lowest unemployment rates in the nation: 2.6 percent.

And yet somehow, she finds herself included in that figure: “Can you believe it?” she said.

Jeremy W. Peters reported from Des Moines, and Sydney Ember from Knoxville, Iowa. Astead W. Herndon contributed reporting from Clarinda, Iowa, and Thomas Kaplan from Peterborough, N.H.

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