Solarbird (solarbird) wrote,

  • Mood:

good morning, it's 18 march 2017

LET'S GO. Right out the gate I'm starting with my own shit, a couple of tweetstorms that got like 20,000 viewers: FASCISTS RUIN EVERYTHING. Because they DO.

Moving on:

"Unspeakable Realities Block Universal Health Coverage In The US." That's called racism. The neofascists, a lot of them? A lot of them outright want a whites-only welfare state, the key phrase being "whites-only."

Lies, lies, and more lies: "Sean Spicer’s angry, lonely defense of Trump’s wiretapping claim, annotated" talks about some. "Senate Intel leaders were 'fully briefed' on wiretapping allegations: report" should be pretty neat if we ever get to hear about it. "How Big Tobacco invented Donald Trump and Brexit (and what to do about it)" is a bit misleading, but there is a connection - specifically, how to tell stories that override science, which the tobacco companies perfected. "Debunking a Myth: The Irish Were Not Slaves, Too" gets to a white supremacist talking point that they use to downgrade actual chattel slavery. And it's kind of a budget story, but "White House says Meals on Wheels is “not showing any results.” Research says otherwise" is about lies too, so let's have that up here.

Relatedly, "White House Tries to Soothe British Officials Over Trump Wiretap Claim" - at least for three and a half hours, between the apology and Trump going back to the 'the UK helped Obama bug my campaign' again less than four hours later.

Aaaand then there's the budget. "Trump’s Budget Would Break American Science, Today and Tomorrow." "Scientists Brace for a Lost Generation in American Research." "Tom Cole: Trump's Proposed Cuts To NIH, CDC Are 'Short-Sighted'" - that's one way to describe them, sure. But pulling back to the larger picture, let's talk about how this is a WAR WAR WAR 5EVA budget, which is what it is - nothing fucking matters if it's not about killing somebody, which is how you get articles like "Trump’s Budget Blueprint: Pulling Up the Diplomatic Drawbridge" and "Now America knows what a tinhorn dictator budget looks like."

And hey, let's talk about war, shall we? "US says 'strategic patience' on NK is over." and "Rex Tillerson Rejects Talks With North Korea on Nuclear Program." Remember how Marmalade Hitler kept going on about 'why can't you use nukes' during the campaign? We might be about to find out why.

Oh, and Republicans can shut the fuck up about the UN's human rights bodies now - if you're going to send rabid anti-queer/anti-women's-quality groups to the UN Women's Commission, you've got nothing to stand on. (See: US Sends Group Rejecting Rights to UN Women’s Commission)

Remember GamerGate? Remember how the FBI had videotaped confessions from GamerGaters sending out death and rape threats and refused to act against them? Well, once it's a man targeted, suddenly, it matters. "Twitter User Accused of Sending Journalist Seizure-Inducing GIF: 'Let's See If He Dies'" and "The FBI, Which Still Won't Address Online Threats Against Women, Arrested Someone For Tweeting a GIF at a Male Journalist" both talk about that. Don't get me wrong: I hope they lock this motherfucker up. But still.

A few last stories don't really group into anything else: "Mayo to give preference to privately insured patients over Medicaid patients," which is part of a trend just being made more explicit; "White Nationalist Richard Spencer Gets His Money From Louisiana Cotton Fields—and the US Government" (via farm subsidies); "The Lesson of Trump’s 1040," and finally, "Fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara Said to Have Been Investigating HHS Secretary Tom Price." I'd rank that last one higher but it's all unnamed sources, so... yeah. May be true, but we don't really know. Get somebody on the record, goddammit.

----- 1 -----
Unspeakable Realities Block Universal Health Coverage In The US
Chris Ladd | Forbes | Mar 13, 2017

Election 2016 has prompted a wave of head-scratching on the left. Counties Trump won by staggering margins will be among the hardest hit by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Millions of white voters who supported Donald Trump stand to lose their access to health coverage because of their vote.

Individual profiles of Trump voters feed this baffling narrative. A Washington Post story described the experience of Clyde Graham, a long-unemployed coal worker who depends on the ACA for access to health care. He voted for Trump knowing it might cost him his health insurance out of his hope of capturing the great white unicorn – a new job in the mines. His stance is not unusual.

Why are economically struggling blue collar voters rejecting a party that offers to expand public safety net programs? The reality is that the bulk of needy white voters are not interested in the public safety net. They want to restore their access to an older safety net, one much more generous, dignified, and stable than the public system – the one most well-employed voters still enjoy.

When it seems like people are voting against their interests, I have probably failed to understand their interests. We cannot begin to understand Election 2016 until we acknowledge the power and reach of socialism for white people.

----- 2 -----
Sean Spicer’s angry, lonely defense of Trump’s wiretapping claim, annotated
Arron Blake | The Washington Post | March 16, 2017

Things got very contentious in the White House briefing room Thursday afternoon, as press secretary Sean Spicer was confronted with the bipartisan doubts of congressional leaders about Trump's claims that President Barack Obama wiretapped him.

At one point, Spicer spent several minutes reading through a list of reports that he felt bolstered Trump's claim. Journalists, meanwhile, pushed back on the evidence Spicer provided, none of which addressed Trump's central claim that Obama was behind the alleged surveillance of Trump Tower, and some of which came from dubious and/or ideologically tinged sources such as Sean Hannity.

Below is the transcript, with our annotations. To see an annotation, click on the yellow, highlighted text.

----- 3 -----
Senate Intel leaders were 'fully briefed' on wiretapping allegations: report
By Max Greenwood - 03/16/17 - The Hill

A spokesperson for the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee is pushing back against the White House's claim that the panel has not yet been briefed on information regarding alleged wiretapping of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

Press secretary Sean Spicer's comments came hours after Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-Va.) released a joint statement on Thursday saying they had seen no evidence suggesting that the Obama administration ordered surveillance of Trump Tower during Trump's campaign.

"The bipartisan leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee would not have made the statement they made without having been fully briefed by the appropriate authorities," a spokesperson for Warner said, according to NBC News.

----- 4 -----
Trump’s Budget Would Break American Science, Today and Tomorrow
Adam Rogers | Wired | 17 March 2017

You can go ahead and assume President Trump’s proposed federal budget will never be the actual federal budget. Members of Congress from every political persuasion will find a lot to hate about it, and they’re the ones who have to approve it—assuming they can sort out the arcane, procrustean rules for getting any budget passed in Washington.

It’s still worth looking at the budget, though—not as a blueprint for governing but as a map of a government, a philosophy of a state. From that angle it’s a singularly terrifying document, fundamentally nihilistic, that assumes a violent present instead of attempting to build a future of peace, security, and absence of want. By eviscerating federal funding of science, this budget pays for a world where the only infrastructure is megacities connected by Fury Roads.

The basics are a litany of red. Defense spending goes up 9 percent. Homeland Security goes up 7 percent. Everything else gets ground into dust, from the environment to arts and humanities to the State Department. But the really scary parts, the stuff that you really can’t come back from, are the cuts to scientific research. Even the National Institutes of Health, with its historically untouchable budget, stands to lose $6 billion in funding, the majority of which goes toward basic and applied research grants.

It’s like we’ve forgotten we went through a scientific revolution. Facts can be shown with experiments. There’s a systematic way you can learn about the world. Robbert Dijkgraaf, Institute for Advanced Study

By radically reducing the amount of scientific research US scientists can do, the president’s budget willfully ignores 400 years of thinking about innovation and knowledge—and seven decades of the US’ advantage in the world. “It’s like we’ve forgotten we went through a scientific revolution,” says Robbert Dijkgraaf, director of the Institute for Advanced Study. “Facts can be shown with experiments. There’s a systematic way you can learn about the world.”

----- 5 -----
Scientists Brace for a Lost Generation in American Research
Private funding isn't enough to offset the president's proposed budget cuts, they say.
Adrienne LaFrance | The Atlantic | Mar 16, 2017

The work of a scientist is often unglamorous. Behind every headline-making, cork-popping, blockbuster discovery, there are many lifetimes of work. And that work is often mundane. We’re talking drips-of-solution-into-a-Petri-dish mundane, maintaining-a-database mundane. Usually, nothing happens.

Scientific discovery costs money—quite a lot of it over time—and requires dogged commitment from the people devoted to advancing their fields. Now, the funding uncertainty that has chipped away at the nation’s scientific efforts for more than a decade is poised to get worse.

The budget proposal President Donald Trump released on Thursday calls for major cuts to funding for medical and science research; he wants to slash funding to the National Institutes of Health by $6 billion, which represents about one-fifth of its budget. Given that the NIH says it uses more than 80 percent of its budget on grant money to universities and other research centers, thousands of institutions and many more scientists would suffer from the proposed cuts.

“One of our most valuable natural resources is our science infrastructure and culture of discovery,” said Joy Hirsch, a professor of psychiatry and neurobiology at the Yale School of Medicine. “It takes only one savage blow to halt our dreams of curing diseases such as cancer, dementia, heart failure, developmental disorders, blindness, deafness, addictions—this list goes on and on.”

----- 6 -----
Volumes 1 and 2
me | march 2017

[I wrote these rants on Twitter that got some traction. More the first than the second as I write this, but it's the second that made people request a storify]

----- 7 -----
How Big Tobacco invented Donald Trump and Brexit (and what to do about it)
Boing Boing / Cory Doctorow / 8:58 am Fri Mar 17, 2017

Economist Tim Harford (previously) traces the history of denialism and "fake news" back to Big Tobacco's cancer denial playbook, which invented the tactics used by both the Brexit and Trump campaigns to ride to victory -- a playbook that dismisses individual harms as "anaecdotal" and wide-ranging evidence as "statistical," and works in concert with peoples' biases (smokers don't want cigarettes to cause cancer, Brexiteers want the UK to be viable without the EU, Trump supporters want simple, cruel policies to punish others and help them) to make emprically wrong things feel right.

This "motivated reasoning" is incredibly hard to undo. Studies of whether presenting refutation to people who've bought into a belief system that serves their personal agendas shows that counterpoints can actually strengthen their beliefs (the "rebound effect").

But one promising approach is to cultivate "scientific curiosity," which is not the same as being a scientist: people who habitually engage in scientific curiosity are less prone to the rebound effect and more able to overcome motivated reasoning. This is a powerful refutation to critics of "scientific storytelling" (like Radiolab) as trivializing science by always reducing it to a human drama -- it's precisely that connection to science and identifying with the heroes of those stories that seemingly immunize us from harmful delusions, especially those that are weaponized by people with a financial interest in them.

----- 8 -----
Debunking a Myth: The Irish Were Not Slaves, Too
By LIAM STACK | The New York Times | MARCH 17, 2017

It has shown up on Irish trivia Facebook pages, in Scientific American magazine, and on white nationalist message boards: the little-known story of the Irish slaves who built America, who are sometimes said to have outnumbered and been treated worse than slaves from Africa.

But it’s not true.

Historians say the idea of Irish slaves is based on a misreading of history and that the distortion is often politically motivated. Far-right memes have taken off online and are used as racist barbs against African-Americans. “The Irish were slaves, too,” the memes often say. “We got over it, so why can’t you?”

A small group of Irish and American scholars has spent years pushing back on the false history. Last year, 82 Irish scholars and writers signed an open letter denouncing the Irish slave myth and asking publications to stop mentioning it. Some complied, removing or revising articles that referenced the false claims, but the letter’s impact was limited.

----- 9 -----
White House says Meals on Wheels is “not showing any results.” Research says otherwise.
Shockingly, delivering meals to seniors leads to healthier, better-fed seniors.
Updated by Matthew Yglesias | Vox | Mar 17, 2017

Briefing journalists today, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney cited the Meals on Wheels program as an example of spending money on something that “sounds great” but is “not showing any results.” The basic result of delivering meals to home-bound seniors is, of course, food being consumed. But as it happens, Mulvaney is mistaken, and the program shows a range of broader results than that.

There is even a convenient review study of published studies, which finds “home-delivered meal programs to significantly improve diet quality, increase nutrient intakes, and reduce food insecurity and nutritional risk among participants.” A later study conducted by the Brown School of Public Health with AARP Foundation funding finds substantial gains in mental health as well.

As Quentin Fottrell of MarketWatch notes, a further benefit of these programs is that by allowing seniors to continue living independently in their own homes, they tend to reduce the need for nursing home care, which is very expensive.

----- 10 -----
Now America knows what a tinhorn dictator budget looks like
The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News | March 17, 2017
by Will Bunch

My grandfather A.B. Bunch always used to tell me, "Never trust the federal budget when it comes with a Nazi-sympathizer slogan on the front cover." OK, actually he said no such thing. But a man who pulled himself up into the middle class during FDR's New Deal and helped Caterpillar Tractor manufacture the arsenal that defeated Hitler in World War II surely would have been appalled if he'd lived to see "America First" -- the slogan of those who pressed to stay neutral while the Nazis were running wild in Europe -- stamped on such an important federal document. I'm here today to be disgusted on his behalf.

Appalling as it is, "America First" is actually a fitting moniker for President Trump's $1.1 trillion spending blueprint that was dumped on the nation early Thursday morning, since it seems to be ripped from headlines of 1935. A massive and uncalled for military buildup, an exorbitantly expensive border wall and an revved-up police state of ICE agents knocking on doors in the middle of the night will be paid for by wrecking all of the things that would have made the United States worth defending with that wall and with the world's largest military in the first place.

Art, culture and the flow of information will be placed on a starvation diet -- their very purpose in American society delegitimized by the Trump regime. Our air and water will grow dirtier and dirtier until the land looks as polluted as it did when my generation was growing up in the 1960s. Coal miners' daughters from West Virginia won't be going to college, because the money that funded their student loans will go to charter school grifters. The so-called "inner cities" that were taunted by Trump in the 2016 campaign with the phrase "What do you have to lose" now know the answer: Heating oil.

And that's not all. The budget takes money from popular programs for the poor and the elderly such as Meals on Wheels, much as a bully swipes lunch money from the outstretched hand of a disabled child. And Trump's billion-dollar boondoggle on the border with Mexico gets paid for by ignoring the real threat to our way of life: Climate change.

----- 11 -----
Trump’s Budget Blueprint: Pulling Up the Diplomatic Drawbridge
The White House budget plan embodies the administration’s “America First” nationalism, hiking spending on defense and border security while slashing everything else.
Colum Lynch, Dan De Luce | March 16, 2017 | Foreign Policy

President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal crystallizes the administration’s ideological priorities, calling for bolstering spending on the military and border security while gutting funding for diplomacy and foreign aid, scientific research, and most of the federal government.

The budget blueprint unveiled Thursday is short on details, and faces long odds in Congress, where Trump’s fellow Republicans expressed serious reservations about numerous funding cuts.

But as a political document, it reflects the White House’s preference for a narrow definition of U.S. interests not seen since before World War II. Titled “America First,” the Trump budget also reflects a deep skepticism of government programs meant to defuse conflicts, fight poverty abroad, or battle transnational challenges like climate change.


“If enacted this budget would only make the world more dangerous for America and Americans, and make it harder to safeguard our interests, promote our values and further expand our prosperity,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

----- 12 -----
Tom Cole: Trump's Proposed Cuts To NIH, CDC Are 'Short-Sighted'
By Caitlin MacNeal | March 17, 2017 | Talking Points Memo

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a top Republican who sits on the House Appropriations and Budget Committees, on Friday morning signaled he was not on board with all of President Donald Trump's proposed cuts in his budget blueprint.

The blueprint would slash funding for the National Institutes of Health and shift funding for the Centers for Disease Control to states, which Cole said would be a mistake.

"I don't favor cutting NIH or Centers for Disease Control. You're much more likely to die in a pandemic than a terrorist attack, and so that’s part of the defense of the country as well," Cole said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

----- 13 -----
US says 'strategic patience' on NK is over
Tillerson says military option is on the table, calls China’s THAAD retaliation ‘inappropriate, troubling’
By Shin Hyon-hee | 2017-03-17 | The Korea Herald

With Washington taking a North Korea policy overhaul, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday declared that the existing “strategic patience” approach is over, saying all options including military action are on the table.

At a joint news conference with Seoul’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, Tillerson also urged China to cease its economic retaliation against South Korea over its plan to host a US missile shield here, calling it “unnecessary, inappropriate and troubling.”

“Efforts for North Korea to achieve a peaceful stability for the last two decades have failed to make us safe,” the secretary said.

“Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended. We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security, economic measures. All options are on the table.”


A joint news conference aside, Tillerson spent almost 2 1/2 hours with Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida including a dinner, and another hour with Prime Minister Abe. But his meetings with Yun and Hwang were each confined to about an hour, without a lunch or dinner gathering. Seoul officials said the US side opted not to have a meal together, citing the secretary’s “fatigue.”

----- 14 -----
Rex Tillerson Rejects Talks With North Korea on Nuclear Program
By DAVID E. SANGER | The New York Times | March 17, 2017

SEOUL, South Korea — Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson ruled out on Friday opening any negotiation with North Korea to freeze its nuclear and missile programs and said for the first time that the Trump administration might be forced to take pre-emptive action “if they elevate the threat of their weapons program” to an unacceptable level.

Mr. Tillerson’s comments in Seoul, a day before he travels to Beijing to meet Chinese leaders, explicitly rejected any return to the bargaining table in an effort to buy time by halting North Korea’s accelerating testing program. The country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, said on New Year’s Day that North Korea was in the “final stage” of preparation for the first launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States.

The secretary of state’s comments were the Trump administration’s first public hint at the options being considered, and they made clear that none involved a negotiated settlement or waiting for the North Korean government to collapse.

“The policy of strategic patience has ended,” Mr. Tillerson said, a reference to the term used by the Obama administration to describe a policy of waiting out the North Koreans, while gradually ratcheting up sanctions and covert action.

Negotiations “can only be achieved by denuclearizing, giving up their weapons of mass destruction,” he said — a step to which the North committed in 1992, and again in subsequent accords, but has always violated. “Only then will we be prepared to engage them in talks.”

----- 15 -----
Mayo to give preference to privately insured patients over Medicaid patients
Pushback on Medicaid, Medicare part of a trend.
By Jeremy Olson | Minneapolis Star Tribune | March 15, 2017

Mayo Clinic’s chief executive made a startling announcement in a recent speech to employees: The Rochester-based health system will give preference to patients with private insurance over those with lower-paying Medicaid or Medicare coverage, if they seek care at the same time and have comparable conditions.

The number of patients affected would probably be small, but the selective strategy reveals the financial pressures that Mayo is facing in part due to federal health reforms. For while the Affordable Care Act has reduced the number of uninsured patients, it has increased the share covered by Medicaid, which pays around 50 to 85 cents on the dollar of the actual cost of medical care.

Mayo will always take patients, regardless of payer source, when it has medical expertise that they can’t find elsewhere, said Dr. John Noseworthy, Mayo’s CEO. But when two patients are referred with equivalent conditions, he said the health system should “prioritize” those with private insurance.

----- 16 -----
White House Tries to Soothe British Officials Over Trump Wiretap Claim
By PETER BAKER and STEVEN ERLANGER | The New York Times | MARCH 17, 2017

WASHINGTON — The White House has tried to soothe an angry Britain after suggesting that President Barack Obama used London’s spy agency to conduct secret surveillance on President Trump while he was a candidate last year but offered no public apology on Friday.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday that the White House had backed off the allegation. “We’ve made clear to the administration that these claims are ridiculous and should be ignored,” the spokesman said on condition of anonymity in keeping with British protocol. “We’ve received assurances these allegations won’t be repeated.”

The reassurances came after British officials complained to Trump administration officials. Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to Washington, spoke with Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, at a St. Patrick’s Day reception in Washington on Thursday night just hours after Mr. Spicer aired the assertion at his daily briefing. Mark Lyall Grant, the prime minister’s national security adviser, spoke separately with his American counterpart, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.

“Ambassador Kim Darroch and Sir Mark Lyall expressed their concerns to Sean Spicer and General McMaster,” a White House official said on condition of anonymity to confirm private conversations. “Mr. Spicer and General McMaster explained that Mr. Spicer was simply pointing to public reports, not endorsing any specific story.”

Other White House officials, who also would not be named, said Mr. Spicer offered no regret to the ambassador. “He didn’t apologize, no way, no how,” said a senior West Wing official. The officials said they did not know whether General McMaster had apologized.

----- 17 -----
White Nationalist Richard Spencer Gets His Money From Louisiana Cotton Fields—and the US Government
White people built America, insists Spencer, who has benefited from $2 million in farm subsidies.
Lance Williams, Reveal | Mother Jones | Mar. 17, 2017

Two weeks after the presidential election, white nationalist Richard Spencer held forth on a cable news show about how white people built America. "White people ultimately don't need other races in order to succeed," he told the audience of the black-oriented program, NewsOne Now.

The exchange grew heated as host Roland Martin questioned Spencer's rhetoric: Didn't slaves help build America? Wasn't the nation's 19th-century economic boom propelled by the slave labor that produced the world's cotton on Southern plantations?

America's rise was "not through black people" and "has nothing to do with slavery," Spencer retorted. "White people could have figured out another way to pick cotton," he said. "We do it now."

He is in a position to know. Spencer, along with his mother and sister, are absentee landlords of 5,200 acres of cotton and corn fields in an impoverished, largely African American region of Louisiana, according to records examined by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. The farms, controlled by multiple family-owned businesses, are worth millions: A 1,600-acre parcel sold for $4.3 million in 2012.

The Spencer family's farms are also subsidized by the federal government. From 2008 through 2015, the Spencers received $2 million in US farm subsidy payments, according to federal data.

----- 18 -----
US Sends Group Rejecting Rights to UN Women’s Commission
C-Fam Vehemently Opposed to LGBT and Women’s Rights, Equality
Graeme Reid | March 16, 2017 | Human Rights Watch

In recent years, the United States has played a significant role protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, both domestically and internationally, consistent with the universality of human rights as inclusive and indivisible.

And yet, the US has included the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam), a group that supports the criminalization of homosexuality, in the US delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). Strange bedfellows? Apparently not.

What does C-Fam stand for? Remember the outrage in the US over Russia’s “gay propaganda law” that gave permission to discriminate against LGBT people and led to a surge in violence with impunity? C-Fam is an ardent supporter of Russia’s propaganda law.

C-Fam’s director and most visible spokesperson, Austin Ruse, has called “‘the homosexual lifestyle’ harmful to public health and morals.” C-Fam regularly publishes articles attacking the fundamental human rights of LGBT people and is vehemently opposed to women’s rights, including reproductive rights. C-Fam does not accept the need for gender equality and actually aims to undermine international agreements to end discrimination, in particular the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which the US has signed but not ratified.

----- 19 -----
The Lesson of Trump’s 1040
Teresa Tritch | The New York Times Opinion | MARCH 15, 2017

Donald Trump’s Form 1040 for 2005, disclosed by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC on Tuesday night, left political questions unanswered about the president’s Russian ties and business conflicts. But it clarified an important policy question: Should the alternative minimum tax be repealed? Answer: No.

In a world of honest policymaking, that clarification alone would be enough to change the trajectory of the tax debate now unfolding. Instead, it highlights how dishonest the debate has become.

If not for the alternative minimum tax, a part of the code that applies to wealthy taxpayers, Donald Trump would have paid just 4 percent of his reported $150 million income in federal taxes in 2005.

But thanks to the AMT — which disallows excessive deductions so that the very rich pay something closer to a fair share — Mr. Trump paid tax equal to 25 percent of his income. That’s still too low; the merely affluent, who earn six and seven-figure incomes, are subject to similar rates and rules. But it’s better than it would be if there were no AMT.

So, of course, a linchpin of the tax reform plans by Mr. Trump and congressional Republicans is to get rid of the AMT.

----- 20 -----
Fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara Said to Have Been Investigating HHS Secretary Tom Price
Trump’s head of the Department of Health and Human Services traded stocks of health-related companies while working on legislation affecting the firms. A source says Bharara was overseeing an investigation. The White House didn’t immediately comment.
by Robert Faturechi | ProPublica, March 17, 2017, 2:13 p.m.

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was removed from his post by the Trump administration last week, was overseeing an investigation into stock trades made by the president’s health secretary, according to a person familiar with the office.

Tom Price, head of the Department of Health and Human Services, came under scrutiny during his confirmation hearings for investments he made while serving in Congress. The Georgia lawmaker traded hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of shares in health-related companies, even as he voted on and sponsored legislation affecting the industry.

Price testified at the time that his trades were lawful and transparent. Democrats accused him of potentially using his office to enrich himself. One lawmaker called for an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, citing concerns Price could have violated the STOCK Act, a 2012 law signed by President Obama that clarified that members of Congress cannot use nonpublic information for profit and requires them to promptly disclose their trades.

The investigation of Price’s trades by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which hasn’t been previously disclosed, was underway at the time of Bharara’s dismissal, said the person.


When the Trump administration instead asked for Bharara’s resignation, the prosecutor refused, and he said he was then fired. Trump has not explained the reversal, but Bharara fanned suspicions that his dismissal was politically motivated via his personal Twitter account.

“I did not resign,” he wrote in one tweet over the weekend. “Moments ago I was fired.”

“By the way,” Bharara said in a second tweet, “now I know what the Moreland Commission must have felt like."

Bharara was referring to a commission that was launched by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2013 to investigate state government corruption, only to be disbanded by the governor the next year as its work grew close to his office. In that case, Bharara vowed to continue the commission’s work, and eventually charged Cuomo associates and won convictions of several prominent lawmakers.

----- 21 -----
Twitter User Accused of Sending Journalist Seizure-Inducing GIF: 'Let's See If He Dies'
William Turton | Gizmodo | 17 March 2017

Friday evening, disturbing new details emerged in the case of a Maryland man accused of sending a seizure-inducing GIF to Newsweek journalist Kurt Eichenwald, including private Twitter messages where the suspect allegedly wrote “I hope this sends him into a seizure” and “let’s see if he dies.”

According to the Department of Justice, 29-year-old John Rayne Rivello of Salisbury, Maryland, was arrested for cyberstalking on Friday. Prosecutors say Rivello’s Twitter account sent Eichenwald an “animated strobe image” attached to the message “You deserve a seizure for your post.” Rivello’s account allegedly sent private messages saying “Spammed this at [Eichenwald] let’s see if he dies,” and “I know he has epilepsy.” From the Justice Department:


While Eichenwald was able to get the FBI to swoop in on this case, online threats against women continue to go unanswered.

----- 22 -----
The FBI, Which Still Won't Address Online Threats Against Women, Arrested Someone For Tweeting a GIF at a Male Journalist
Anna Merlan | Gizmodo | 17 March 2017

In December, Newsweek reporter Kurt Eichenwald was tweeted at by someone who sent him an image of the words “You deserve a seizure for your posts,” over a flashing, strobing image. Eichenwald, who has epilepsy, says the image caused him to have a seizure. On Friday morning, the FBI announced they’ve arrested the person responsible for the tweet. The FBI (and local law enforcement agencies) can’t seem to address violent threats against women online, but this investigation was opened and shut within three months.

Twitter user “Jew Goldstein” tweeted at Eichenwald on December 16 with the strobing image; a short while later, someone claiming to be Eichenwald’s wife responded from his account.


The investigation into Eichenwald’s alleged harasser, then, took just three months from start to finish. But women game developers, journalists, and others who have received death threats on Twitter and other forms of violent harassment—some of it spilling over into actions that threaten their physical safety—haven’t been afforded the same access to speedy justice.

Reporting death threats or violent harassment online frequently leads to absolutely no action from the police or the FBI. (In 2015, I wrote that violent threats against female journalists have become so common — and the police response so lackluster— that it’s spawning a new genre of journalism, which I dubbed “harassment lit.”) Zoe Quinn, the game developer viciously harassed and threatened since 2014 by a Gamergate-affiliated mob, has written at length about realizing that the court system wouldn’t protect her. She dropped harassment charges against her ex-boyfriend in February 2016 after concluding that continuing with the legal process wouldn’t stem the abuse. She’s also talked about how ignorant the police and court officer can be of the internet, making it even harder to get them to understand the problem, let alone address it:


In February, Business Insider UK reported that two men weren’t charged after they confessed to the FBI on video that they’d sent death threats to game developer Brianna Wu. The FBI let one man go after he said the threats were “a joke.” According to an FBI file, another suspect “was recorded on video and audio by the FBI confessing to making 40 to 50 threatening calls, and yet no charges were brought,” for reasons that remain opaque.

For some reason, Eichenwald’s case spurred a different response: His attorney Steve Lierberman told Newsweek the man was arrested in Salisbury, Maryland shortly before 7 a.m., and will be arraigned in Baltimore later today. Lieberman added, “What [this person] did with his Twitter message was no different from someone sending a bomb in the mail or sending an envelope filled with Anthrax spores. It wasn’t the content of the communication that was intended to persuade somebody or make them feel badly about themselves; This was an electronic communication that was designed to have a physical effect.”

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Tags: fascism watch, political
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