ICYMI News – Did You Know…

Canary. Photo by 4028mdk09.

Did you know that Ivanka Trump got a Chinese trademark for voting machines?

According to a November 6, 2018 Reuters report – China grants more trademark approvals for Ivanka Trump firm – including voting machines – it was one of 16 she received from the Chinese government.

BEIJING (Reuters) – China last month granted initial approval for 16 new trademarks for the fashion brand of U.S. President Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser Ivanka, including voting machines, a search of official records on Tuesday showed.

The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington made the findings about the new China trademarks in a Monday statement, and said it was the largest number of new Chinese trademarks her company has received in a single month since her father took office.

The latest China trademarks cover things like shoes and jewelry, but also more offbeat items like voting machines and nursing homes, according to a search of records on the Chinese State Administration for Industry and Commerce’s Trademark office.

The trademarks were applied for in 2016.


Did you know…

The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) refused to certify Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s financial disclosure report covering 2017. Secretary Mnuchin is the third member of President Trump’s cabinet whose financial disclosure OGE declined to certify due to ethical concerns.

According to a letter from OGE Director Emory Rounds to the Senate Finance Committee, OGE refused to certify the report due to Secretary Mnuchin’s imputed interest in the film production company Stormchaser Partners LLC.

Secretary Mnuchin pledged in his ethics agreement to divest his interest in Stormchaser Partners LLC within 90 days of his confirmation. He subsequently filed a periodic transaction report showing that he did. According to his most recent financial disclosure report, however, Secretary Mnuchin’s wife Louise Linton maintains an interest in the company. Ms. Linton is the Chief Executive Officer of Stormchaser Partners and earned at least $1,158 from the company in 2017.

The criminal conflict of interest statute, 18 U.S.C. § 208, imputes the financial interests of a federal employee’s spouse to the federal employee. As a result, Secretary Mnuchin continues to have an interest in Stormchaser Partners.

OGE Director Emory Rounds noted that the Treasury Department’s then-Designated Agency Ethics Official (DAEO) advised Secretary Mnuchin that he could retain his imputed interest in Stormchaser Partners. Yesterday, Secretary Mnuchin amended his ethics agreement to reflect that advice. Treasury ethics officials, however, “did not inform OGE of this advice [at the time], which had the effect of letting the Secretary reacquire, without prior approval from OGE, a financial interest in an asset he agreed to divest.”


Mnchin makes the third cabinet-level person in Trump’s administration that the OGE has refused to certify.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s 2017 financial disclosure report failed to get certification from the OGE due to an ethics violation when he failed to divest of stocks he held in BankUnited after the 90-day period past his agreement to divest his interests.

And Scott Pruitt, former EPA Administrator, failed to get his 2017 financial disclosure report certified due to “a sweetheart condo deal with an energy industry lobbyist.”

Did you know that data from the U.S. Census shows that 74% of Texans are crammed into 4% of the state’s land?

In April, mayor across Texas joined with the group Texas Municipal League to criticize “a handful of bills before the Legislature they [said] are harmful to cities and would limit what actions they could take on local issues like property restrictions,” the Statesman reported.

Bennett Sandlin, executive director of the Texas Municipal League, said local governments know their communities better than anyone and promote “sensible regulation.”

“Seventy-four percent of the population lives in Texas’ cities,” he said. “The surface area of Texas cities is only 4%. So you’ve got 74% of the folks in Texas crammed into 4% of the land. Having reasonable restrictions on what you can do with your property is something that cities have done for thousands of years.”

The Statesman decided to fact check Sandlin’s assertions.

They calculated the percentage of people living in Texas cities by using their data to find people living in cities and the overall estimate of the state’s population.

To find the area, they used census data to find the area of the state and the area within cities — while keeping an eye out for erroneous data.

“We’ve found over the years that the census is not always completely sensitive to what it means to be an incorporated Texas city, and they sometimes include non-city metropolitan regions or districts,” Sandlin said in an email.

The cities in his calculation include all incorporated areas in Texas, from Houston, with more than 2.3 million people, to Toco in North Texas, with an estimated 75 residents.

Sandlin said he has not completed a new calculation since 2015, but it’s unlikely things have changed.

“There’s been a handful of new very small cities formed and maybe some annexation and dis-annexation, but I doubt it has changed the percentage in any appreciable way,” he said.

What do the numbers say?

Lila Valencia, the senior demographer at the Texas Demographic Center, said Sandlin’s calculations are exactly right.

Population estimates from the census for 2017 show that the state’s population was about 28.3 million. Of those, about 20.8 million people lived in incorporated areas — or 73.63% of Texans.

Valencia also pulled numbers from the census related to geography of the state and incorporated places. Texas has a land area of more than 676.6 billion square meters. As of 2017, more than 28.7 billion square meters (or 4.25%) are in incorporated areas.

Nationwide, a similar trend exists.

A report produced by the Census Bureau in 2015 showed that a majority of the country’s population lives in incorporated places — 62.7 percent, as of 2013. Incorporated lands made up just 3.5 percent of the country’s land area at that time.

The Statesman’s ruling on Sandlin’s claim, yes, “74% of people in Texas are “crammed into 4% of the land.””

“The latest census data supports Sandlin’s claim. About 20 million Texans, or 74% of the state’s population, live in incorporated areas, which make up about 4% of the state’s land.”

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