Solarbird (solarbird) wrote,

  • Mood:

good morning, it's 25 march 2017

I thought it would be a good day to checkout the channers. 4pol is full of interracial porn and it's driving the nazis crazy and they want to know where the hell the mods are. It's hilarious. Also, (probably) fake Christians are mocking the fascist atheists particularly hard. There are also a couple of old-fashioned women-hate posts, and they still very much believe in the child-molestation-ring-run-out-of-a-pizza-restaurant conspiracy theory. Insofar as they have a discussion on the ACA, it's that TRUMP IS STILL A GENIUS and this is genius at work. There's some dissent on that, but it appears to be the majority.

A set of them are scared about ISPs selling browser histories. Specifically about being outed as white supremacists and neofascists.

8pol is more organised and coherent. They hated the GOP bill, and like 4pol, they're in camp GOD EMPEROR TRUMP IS A GENIUS and it's part of a plan to force out Ryan. Though there is _some_ whistling past the graveyard in it. There is also some out-and-out pushback ("Muh 4D trans-dimensional chess!"), but not a lot.

Now, to the non-obvious news. (If you missed it: the GOP/Trumpcare bill was withdrawn when it was clear it would not pass. I'm skipping that; we all know.)

Let's start with Russia: "The plot to sell America's foreign policy for foreign oil _and_ steal an election in the bargain began at the Mayflower Hotel." This is _incredibly_ explosive. But it's also a bunch of connected dots. Worth looking at, but be careful. "Nunes gives away the game: The GOP will never exercise real oversight on Trump" is an opinion piece, but probably a good one. "Trump’s Terrifying Comey Tweet" is a little clickbaity but the article's okay.

"Partisan split at House intel committee over canceled open hearing" is a bigger deal. Why is this meeting suddenly closed-door? See previously: Nunes. And, off to the side, we have "Paul Manafort’s Business Partner Left Pro-Trump Group Because of Russia Ties, Sources Say" and "Marine Le Pen of France Meets With Vladimir Putin in Moscow."

"Ex-CIA Director: Mike Flynn and Turkish Officials Discussed Removal of Erdogan Foe From U.S." should cause the government to fall. In a normal circumstance - if the contents are confirmed, anyway. But that was also true of a torture programme, and that didn't happen. Regardless, it's bad. And we have "Bannon Tells Trump: ‘Keep a Shit List’ of Republicans Who Opposed You."

I'm not going to completely ignore heathcare: "‘Hello, Bob’: President Trump called my cellphone to say that the health-care bill was dead" is something I watched unfold live on twitter; it was pretty bizarre. "How disastrous for Trump is healthcare collapse?" asks the BBC - very.

In neofascists, we have the world's tiniest violin: "Neo-Nazi fears stabbing of black man may lead to ‘unfair’ discrimination against white supremacists." Nice and appropriate use of quotes there. "Donald Trump’s Rise Has Coincided With an Explosion of Hate Groups" - no kidding. Also, YouTube is in trouble due to ad placement beside all this fascist content on their service, with "More brands, Starbucks included, pull ads from YouTube in widening boycott."

Civil rights my shiny metal ass: "Trump’s civil rights division will be headed by staffer who railed against civil rights for trans people." Yeah. And locally, "Aerospace firm Electroimpact agrees to pay $485K after AG finds ‘shocking’ discrimination against Muslims."

Also locally, "Was KOMO just bullied into airing right-wing rhetoric?" Looks like it. Sinclair is terrible and leans on local stations for things like this a lot.

"Lamar Smith, unbound, lays out political strategy at climate doubters’ conference" talks about how they intend to discredit climate change research.

Our last two are tales of two billionaires: "The Billionaire on a Mission to Save the Planet From Trump" and "The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind the Trump Presidency." Because yeah, that's how it works, whether you like it or not.

Good luck out there.

----- 1 -----
The plot to sell America's foreign policy for foreign oil _and_ steal an election in the bargain began at the Mayflower Hotel.
Seth Abramson | on Twitter | 23 March 2017

[This is long but well-documented and should be considered.]

(MEGA-THREAD) The plot to sell America's foreign policy for foreign oil _and_ steal an election in the bargain began at the Mayflower Hotel.

----- 2 -----
‘Hello, Bob’: President Trump called my cellphone to say that the health-care bill was dead
By Robert Costa | March 24 | The Washington Post

President Trump called me on my cellphone Friday afternoon at 3:31 p.m.
At first I thought it was a reader with a complaint since it was a
blocked number.

Instead, it was the president calling from the Oval Office. His voice
was even, his tone muted. He did not bury the lede.

“Hello, Bob,” Trump began. “So, we just pulled it.”

Trump was speaking, of course, of the Republican plan to overhaul the
Affordable Care Act, a plan that had been languishing for days amid
unrest throughout the party as the president and his allies courted
members and pushed for a vote.


My question for the president: Are you really willing to wait to
reengage on health care until the Democrats come and ask for your help?

“Sure,” Trump said. “I never said I was going to repeal and replace in
the first 61 days” — contradicting his own statements and that of his
own adviser, Kellyanne Conway, who told CNN in November that the
then-president-elect was contemplating convening a special session on
Inauguration Day to begin the process of repealing the Affordable Care


Trump returned to the theme of blaming the Democrats.

“Hey, we could have done this,” he said. “But we couldn’t get one
Democrat vote, not one. So that means they own Obamacare and when that
explodes, they will come to us wanting to save whatever is left, and
we’ll make a real deal.”

There was little evidence that either Trump or House Republicans made a
serious effort to reach out to Democrats.

----- 3 -----
Nunes gives away the game: The GOP will never exercise real oversight on Trump
By Sarah Posner | March 23, 2017 | The Washington Post

Rep. Devin Nunes, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has
reportedly apologized to Committee members after his highly unorthodox
visit to the White House yesterday to share with President Trump his
unsubstantiated charge that U.S. intelligence agencies spied on the
Trump team and possibly even the president-elect himself during the
transition period. Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democratic member of the
Committee, told CNN this morning that it was not clear, precisely, what
Nunes was sorry for, saying that Nunes apologized only “in a generic

Apology or not, though, Nunes already has showed his hand: he is
playing the role of White House defender rather than Congressional
investigator, even as he purports to chairs an investigation into the
administration’s possible collusion with Kremlin-led efforts to
interfere in the 2016 election. Nunes’ “apology” is simply another move
in the games he’s been playing all along, and another sign of just how
much he has compromised his oversight role.


Nunes’ inability to properly carry out his oversight role was first
made apparent in his reaction to Trump’s baseless accusation, made in a
March 4 tweet, that Obama ordered Trump Tower “wires tapped.” Nunes
told Fox News that there was no evidence to support Trump’s claim, but
added that perhaps Trump was merely posing a question (he wasn’t). It
could be, Nunes went on, “a valid question.” In essence, the lawmaker
declined to shoot down Trump conspiracy theories by shrugging and
implying, “well, maybe he has a point. Who’s to know?”


In fairness, Nunes did admit last weekend that Trump’s claim was
false, saying, “Was there a physical wiretap of Trump Tower? No there
never was.” But yesterday he inexplicably reopened this can of worms by
suggesting there was unspecified surveillance of another kind.

If there was any apparent purpose to Nunes’ foray yesterday, it was to
give Trump further ammunition to claim that he is the victim of spying.

----- 4 -----
Trump’s Terrifying Comey Tweet
The president is using his office as a platform to contest the very nature of truth.
By Jamelle Bouie | Slate | March 21 2017

It’s difficult to describe the feeling of seeing the president of the United States lie, in the moment, about ongoing events and testimony. To watch the White House declare that you should believe it over your lying eyes, even as you witness reality unfold in real time. It’s not the usual spin or political dishonesty; it feels transgressive, like some critical line has been crossed, and a new world entered where Donald Trump and his allies contest the nature of truth itself, with the presidency as their platform for action.

That’s exactly what happened, on Monday, during a hearing of the House Intelligence Committee. Testifying on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, FBI Director James Comey confirmed the existence of an investigation into that interference and the Trump campaign itself. “I have been authorized by the Department of Justice,” Comey said, “to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.” Comey also affirmed the view that Russia favored Trump with this interference. “I think that was a fairly easy judgment for the community,” he said. “Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much that the flip side of that coin was he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much.”

Insofar that normal people watch congressional hearings, any casual viewer would have read this as confirmation of election “hacking” and undue influence from the Russian government. But President Trump, perhaps interested in shaping the narrative of this hearing and investigation, offered a different interpretation on Twitter, through the official POTUS account. “The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence the electoral process,” he said, adding a brief clip of the hearing for readers to watch.

This wasn’t true. In that clip, Rep. Devin Nunes, chair of the Intelligence Committee, asked Adm. Mike Rogers, the director the National Security Agency, if he had any evidence that Russia tampered with vote totals in the state of Michigan. Rogers answered no. Nunes then asked the same question for the states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio—all swing states in the presidential election. Rogers, again, answered in the negative. “I have nothing generated by the National Security Agency,” he said. Comey answers similarly, telling Nunes there’s no evidence from the FBI that the Russian government had tampered with actual votes.

----- 5 -----
Paul Manafort’s Business Partner Left Pro-Trump Group Because of Russia Ties, Sources Say
The president’s ex-campaign manager was bounced thanks to his alleged ties to Moscow, but his No. 2 never really left—until now.
Gideon Resnick | The Daily Beast | 03.24.17

The swirling maelstrom around President Donald Trump and his team’s alleged ties to Russia may have claimed another victim on Thursday.

Rick Gates, one of six former Trump campaign aides who joined the nonprofit group America First Policies to support Trump’s agenda, left the organization just two months into the president’s term. On Thursday night America First Policies announced on Twitter that Gates was leaving the group.

America First Policies spokesperson Katrina Pierson told The Daily Beast that Gates was done with his work for the nonprofit and simply moved on.


But according to three former Trump campaign officials familiar with the inner dealings of the organization, this was not exactly the case.

“Heat is on,” one person who requested anonymity said immediately after the announcement.

Gates’s departure, according to the sources, was due to a combination of the nonprofit’s troubled start and his proximity to Manafort, who is reportedly a target of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. FBI Director James Comey officially confirmed the investigation on Monday before a House panel.

----- 6 -----
How disastrous for Trump is healthcare collapse?
Anthony Zurcher | BBC News | 24 March 2017

How bad was Friday's defeat of the American Health Care Act in the House of Representatives? Bad. Very bad.

After a tumultuous week, it's worth stepping back for a bit of perspective.

For the first time in 11 years, Republicans control the presidency and both chambers of the Congress.

There are 44 more Republicans than Democrats in the House of Representatives.

Republicans have been vociferously calling for repeal of President Barack Obama's healthcare reforms for seven years.

The American Health Care Act was the first major piece of legislation pushed by the White House and the Republican-controlled Congress, a key political test early in the president's term, when he should be at the height of his power and party cohesion at its strongest.

In spite of all of this, Mr Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Republicans running Washington could not get the job done. The president tried to lay the blame at the feet at the Democratic House minority. Nobody will buy that.

For Republicans Friday wasn't just bad. It was a disaster. Here are three reasons why.

----- 7 -----
Ex-CIA Director: Mike Flynn and Turkish Officials Discussed Removal of Erdogan Foe From U.S.
James Woolsey says he attended a September meeting where other participants, including then-Trump adviser Mike Flynn, talked of moving Fethullah Gulen back to Turkey without going through U.S. extradition process
By James V. Grimaldi, Dion Nissenbaum and Margaret Coker
Updated March 24, 2017 2:35 p.m. ET | The Wall Street Journal

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, while serving as an adviser to the Trump campaign, met with top Turkish government ministers and discussed removing a Muslim cleric from the U.S. and taking him to Turkey, according to former Central Intelligence Agency Director James Woolsey, who attended, and others who were briefed on the meeting.

[More excerpts in the twitter thread here:

This is a super big deal - we are talking literally the _kidnapping of a legal US resident_ to hand over to a _foreign government_ by Mike Flynn - _while he was secretly receiving money from them_.]

[More here: ]

----- 8 -----
Lamar Smith, unbound, lays out political strategy at climate doubters’ conference
By Jeffrey Mervis | Science | Mar. 24, 2017

Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX) rarely expresses his true feelings in public. But speaking yesterday to a like-minded crowd of climate change doubters and skeptics, the chairman of the science committee in the U.S. House of Representatives acknowledged that the committee is now a tool to advance his political agenda rather than a forum to examine important issues facing the U.S. research community.

“Next week we’re going to have a hearing on our favorite subject of climate change and also on the scientific method, which has been repeatedly ignored by the so-called self-professed climate scientists,” Smith told the Heartland Institute’s 12th annual conference on climate change in Washington, D.C. The audience cheered loudly as Smith read the names of three witnesses—climate scientist Judith Curry, who recently retired from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta; policy specialist Roger Pielke, Jr. of the University of Colorado in Boulder; and John Christy, a professor of earth system science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville—he expects to support his view that climate change is a politically driven fabrication and that taking steps to mitigate its impact will harm the U.S. economy.


Emboldened by the election of President Donald Trump, Smith appears increasingly comfortable dismissing those who disagree with his stance on any number of issues under the purview of his science committee, from climate research to the use of peer review in assessing research results and grant proposals. And one key element in his strategy appears to be relabeling common terms in hopes of shaping public dialogue.

“I applaud you for saying you’ll be using the term climate studies, not climate science,” said one audience member. His reference was to Smith’s embrace of a distinction made by a previous speaker, climatologist Patrick Michaels of the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., who argues that most climate scientists don’t deserve to be called “scientists” because they have manipulated their data and ignored contrary results. “But I also urge you to use the term politically correct science.”

“Good point,” Smith replied. “And I’ll start using those words if you’ll start using two words for me. The first is never, ever use the word progressive. Instead, use the word liberal. The second is never use the word 'mainstream' media, because they aren’t. Use 'liberal' media. Is that a deal?”

----- 9 -----
Trump’s civil rights division will be headed by staffer who railed against civil rights for trans people
Charles Ornstein | Pro Publica | Posted on Raw Story with permission | 25 Mar 2017

The Trump administration has quietly appointed a Heritage Foundation staffer who has railed against civil rights protections for transgender patients as director of the federal agency charged with protecting the civil rights of all patients.

Though the administration did not issue a formal announcement, Roger Severino is now listed on the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as director of the Office for Civil Rights. His prior position was as director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, where he focused on “religious liberty, marriage and life issues.” (The DeVos Center is named for the in-laws of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.)


Based on his prior writings, Severino will likely take the agency in a different direction than it had under the Obama administration. Last year, the agency issued rules banning discrimination against transgender patients, carrying out provisions of the Affordable Care Act. (A federal judge put those rules on hold on Dec. 31, siding with a Catholic hospital system, other religious health providers and five states that challenged them. The Trump administration has not sought to overturn the injunction.)

When those rules were proposed, Severino and a Heritage colleague wrote a scathing critique, saying they jeopardized the religious liberty and freedom of conscience of health care providers.

“By prohibiting differential treatment on the basis of ‘gender identity’ in health services, these regulations propose to penalize medical professionals and health care organizations that, as a matter of faith, moral conviction, or professional medical judgment, believe that maleness and femaleness are biological realities to be respected and affirmed, not altered or treated as diseases,” Severino wrote with colleague Ryan Anderson.

----- 10 -----
Neo-Nazi fears stabbing of black man may lead to ‘unfair’ discrimination against white supremacists
Elizabeth Preza | 23 Mar 2017 | Raw Story

White supremacist Andrew Anglin, founder of the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer, condemned the racially-motivated murder of a black man in New York City, arguing it “does not represent White Supremacy” and warning the attack could lead to unfair discrimination against white supremacists.

Monday, James Jackson—a white Army veteran from Baltimore who authorities say visited New York City with the intent to stalk and kill black men—fatally stabbed Timothy Caughman (pictured below), a bottle collector who lived in transitional housing. The New York Daily News reports Jackson is a member of a well-known hate group in Maryland who espouse racist views for more than a decade.

In a letter Thursday, Anglin said “white supremacists are under no obligation to apologize for this attack.”


Anglin also warned fellow white supremacists will “be subject to unfair scrutiny and prejudice” as a result of this attack, arguing people who dress or look like neo-Nazis “will be unfairly discriminated against.”

----- 11 -----
More brands, Starbucks included, pull ads from YouTube in widening boycott
Originally published March 24, 2017 | By Mark Bergen and Lucas Shaw | Seattle Times

Four years ago, Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s business lead, confessed a mistake. “I thought that YouTube was like TV. But it isn’t,” he said at Google’s annual advertising show. “YouTube talks back. It’s interactive. And YouTube is everywhere.”

Kyncl’s message resonated with advertisers. Gross ad revenue at YouTube soared from roughly $4 billion in 2013 to $11 billion last year, brokerage firm Monness Crespi Hardt estimates. At the same event in 2016, Chief Executive Officer Susan Wojcicki boasted about taking ad dollars from traditional TV networks.

Yet now the same traits Kyncl said made YouTube better than TV have plunged the video service into crisis. Some of the world’s largest advertisers, from Verizon Communications to Johnson & Johnson, stopped spending on YouTube because of concern their ads could appear next to offensive videos.

More big companies pulled back on Friday, including PepsiCo, Starbucks and Wal-Mart Stores, after The Wall Street Journal reported their ads had been automatically placed by Google next to racist content on YouTube.

“We were shocked to learn about our brand being depicted in an inappropriate way,” a Starbucks spokesman said Friday, noting its advertising had been removed. “We are currently in discussions with Google/YouTube to determine the best way to prevent this moving forward and have pulled our ads until we are confident that measures will be in place to adhere to our brand guidelines.”

----- 12 -----
Donald Trump’s Rise Has Coincided With an Explosion of Hate Groups
The president’s rhetoric should sound familiar to anyone who lived through the 1990s paramilitary-style “Patriot” movements.
By Michelle Chen | The Nation | 24 March 2017

Two Indian immigrants in Kansas shot by a man hurling anti-Muslim insults. Bomb threats and vandalism menacing Jewish community centers. Children bullying classmates of color with pro-Trump taunts. With reports like these erupting across the country, you wouldn’t be alone in suspecting that America was becoming a more hateful place, or that our current administration might have something to do with it. But now we also have some statistics to illuminate the apparent feedback loop between Pennsylvania Avenue policies and Main Street violence.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) annual census of “extremist” groups, “The number of hate groups in the United States rose for a second year in a row in 2016 as the radical right was energized by the candidacy of Donald Trump.” The number of explicitly anti-Muslim groups has nearly tripled since 2015 alone, to over 100 nationwide. There has also been a spike in reported incidents of “hate” violence, including harassment and physical assault, alongside rising anti-Muslim hostile behavior and bullying in schools. Of nearly 1,100 “bias incidents,” SPLC reports, “37 percent of them directly referenced either President-elect Trump, his campaign slogans, or his infamous remarks about sexual assault.”

Trump’s words have in some cases directly triggered hate-driven attacks. According to the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, state data on anti-Muslim hate crimes indicate a spate of crimes across North America, including physical assaults, vandalism, and phone threats, in the five days that followed in the wake of Trump’s December 7, 2015, speech calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” in response to the San Bernardino terrorist attack.

But is the rage-fueled racial invective Trump stokes on stage actually driving violence on the ground? Or is it just a symptom of years of intensifying hostility? And what should Muslim and immigrant communities do when the political establishment stakes its claim to power on a culture of hate?

----- 13 -----
Was KOMO just bullied into airing right-wing rhetoric?
by David Kroman | Crosscut | 23 March 2017

Here’s something you don’t see every day on local TV news: An attack on mainstream media delivered by someone running the largest TV broadcast company in the country.

At 3:45 p.m. Thursday, Scott Livingston, the Vice President of News with Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner of 154 local news stations across the country, delivered this warning on air on KOMO-TV, one of its subsidiaries:

“I’m sure you know about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country,” he said. “The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media. More alarming, national media outlets are publishing these same fake stories without fact checking first. Unfortunately, some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think.”

According to two sources connected to the station, the Baltimore-based broadcast company demanded KOMO run the Livingston segment over a 48-hour period. That sent much of the newsroom up in arms, sources said. Sinclair, which purchased KOMO in 2013, is a famously conservative broadcast company and the segment read as an attack on mainstream media outlets such as The New York Times and CNN, echoing language Donald Trump has used.

----- 14 -----
Partisan split at House intel committee over canceled open hearing
By Tom LoBianco and Manu Raju, CNN
Updated 11:55 AM ET, Fri March 24, 2017

(CNN)The House Intelligence Committee chairman and the panel's top Democrat publicly disagreed Friday over the handling of their investigation into Russian meddling into the US election, coming after the announcement that President Donald Trump's campaign chairman agreed to testify before the committee.

"Yesterday, the counsel for Paul Manafort contacted the committee yesterday to offer the committee the opportunity to interview his client," committee chairman Devin Nunes announced during a news conference. "We thank Mr. Manafort for volunteering and encourage others with knowledge of these issues to voluntarily interview with the committee."

Nunes also announced that the committee is bringing in FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers for a second briefing, this time behind closed doors so that they can provide more information. The committee is also delaying its March 28 hearing, a decision infuriating Democrats on the committee.

"Chairman just cancelled open Intelligence Committee hearing with (former Director of National Intelligence James) Clapper, (former CIA Director John) Brennan and (former deputy Attorney General Sally) Yates in attempt to choke off public info," Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee tweeted moment before going to speak to the press Friday morning.

Schiff refused to say whether he thought Nunes should step down from his position, telling reporters, "What's really involved here is the cancellation of this open hearing and the rest is designed to distract."

----- 15 -----
Bannon Tells Trump: ‘Keep a Shit List’ of Republicans Who Opposed You
Trumpcare is in trouble and if it fails, Steve Bannon has pledged to remember who defied the White House.
Asawin Suebsaeng | The Daily Beast | 03.24.17 4:49 PM ET

[This was written before the Republicans withdrew their ACA repeal bill]

If TrumpCare dies, the White House won’t forget who killed it — and plans on keeping a “shit list” of Republicans who stood in their way.

According to multiple Trump administration officials speaking to The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity to talk freely, the president is angry that his first big legislative push is crumbling before his eyes—and his chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon is advising him to take names and keep a hit list of Republicans who worked for Trumpcare’s defeat.

“[Bannon] has told the president to keep a shit list on this,” one official told The Daily Beast. “He wants a running tally of [the Republicans] who want to sink this…Not sure if I’d call it an ‘enemies list,’ per se, but I wouldn’t want to be on it.”

One aide described it as a proposed “hit list” for Republicans not sufficiently loyal. Courses of action stemming from any related tally is yet to be determined, but the idea and message is that “we’ll remember you.”

Two senior Trump administration officials with direct knowledge of the process told The Daily Beast that Bannon and Trump have taken a “you’re either with us or against us” approach at this point, and that Bannon wants the tally of “against” versus “with us” mounted in his so-called West Wing “war room.”

“Burn the boats,” Bannon (in his typical, pugnacious style) advised Trump, according to one official involved. Burning one’s boats is a reference to when military commanders in hostile territories order his or her troops to destroy their own ships, so that they have to win or die trying.

----- 16 -----
The Billionaire on a Mission to Save the Planet From Trump
Nick Stockton | WIRED | Date of Publication: 03.23.17. 03.23.17

Tom Steyer isn’t your average California tree hugger. The former hedge fund manager—number 1,121 on Forbes’ wealthiest people list, with $1.61 billion—was once best known for turning $15 million into $30 billion in about two decades.

But then he went hiking. Steyer and environmental activist and author Bill McKibben spent a day trudging through the Adirondacks. Not long after, Steyer parted ways with the leadership of his company and his oil and gas investments, began to fight the Keystone XL pipeline, and then reinvented himself as a one-man superfund for climate causes. His organization, NextGen Climate, has spent $170 million over the past four years advocating for policies and politicians that help the environment and advance renewable energy.

It’s an uphill battle. Steyer was the largest single donor on either side of the 2016 election—$86 million of his own money. Yet climate change skeptics rule the federal government and many statehouses. Somehow, though, Steyer isn’t acting like a loser. Since November he’s become an even more vocal representative of the nearly two-thirds of Americans who do think human-caused climate change is a real problem. He talked to WIRED about California’s role in science, his own po­litical ambitions (“governor” has a better ring to it than “former hedge fund manager,” right?), and whether Donald Trump could ever possibly, conceivably help save the planet.

----- 17 -----
Senate votes to let ISPs sell your Web browsing history to advertisers
ISP now stands for "invading subscriber privacy," Democratic senator says.
Jon Brodkin - arsTechnica - Mar 23, 2017 5:07 pm UTC

The US Senate today voted to eliminate broadband privacy rules that would have required ISPs to get consumers' explicit consent before selling or sharing Web browsing data and other private information with advertisers and other companies.

The rules were approved in October 2016 by the Federal Communications Commission's then-Democratic leadership, but are opposed by the FCC's new Republican majority and Republicans in Congress. The Senate today used its power under the Congressional Review Act to ensure that the FCC rulemaking "shall have no force or effect" and to prevent the FCC from issuing similar regulations in the future.

The House, also controlled by Republicans, would need to vote on the measure before the privacy rules are officially eliminated. President Trump could also preserve the privacy rules by issuing a veto. If the House and Trump agree with the Senate's action, ISPs won't have to seek customer approval before sharing their browsing histories and other private information with advertisers.

The Senate vote was 50-48, with lawmakers voting entirely along party lines.

----- 18 -----
The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind the Trump Presidency
How Robert Mercer exploited America’s populist insurgency.
By Jane Mayer | The New Yorker | March 27, 2017

Last month, when President Donald Trump toured a Boeing aircraft plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, he saw a familiar face in the crowd that greeted him: Patrick Caddell, a former Democratic political operative and pollster who, for forty-five years, has been prodding insurgent Presidential candidates to attack the Washington establishment. Caddell, who lives in Charleston, is perhaps best known for helping Jimmy Carter win the 1976 Presidential race. He is also remembered for having collaborated with his friend Warren Beatty on the 1998 satire “Bulworth.” In that film, a kamikaze candidate abandons the usual talking points and excoriates both the major political parties and the media; voters love his unconventionality, and he becomes improbably popular. If the plot sounds familiar, there’s a reason: in recent years, Caddell has offered political advice to Trump. He has not worked directly for the President, but at least as far back as 2013 he has been a contractor for one of Trump’s biggest financial backers: Robert Mercer, a reclusive Long Island hedge-fund manager, who has become a major force behind the Trump Presidency.

During the past decade, Mercer, who is seventy, has funded an array of political projects that helped pave the way for Trump’s rise. Among these efforts was public-opinion research, conducted by Caddell, showing that political conditions in America were increasingly ripe for an outsider candidate to take the White House. Caddell told me that Mercer “is a libertarian—he despises the Republican establishment,” and added, “He thinks that the leaders are corrupt crooks, and that they’ve ruined the country.”

Trump greeted Caddell warmly in North Charleston, and after giving a speech he conferred privately with him, in an area reserved for V.I.P.s and for White House officials, including Stephen Bannon, the President’s top strategist, and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. Caddell is well known to this inner circle. He first met Trump in the eighties. (“People said he was just a clown,” Caddell said. “But I’ve learned that you should always pay attention to successful ‘clowns.’ ”) Caddell shared the research he did for Mercer with Trump and others in the campaign, including Bannon, with whom he has partnered on numerous projects.

The White House declined to divulge what Trump and Caddell discussed in North Charleston, as did Caddell. But that afternoon Trump issued perhaps the most incendiary statement of his Presidency: a tweet calling the news media “the enemy of the American people.” The proclamation alarmed liberals and conservatives alike. William McRaven, the retired Navy admiral who commanded the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, called Trump’s statement a “threat to democracy.” The President is known for tweeting impulsively, but in this case his words weren’t spontaneous: they clearly echoed the thinking of Caddell, Bannon, and Mercer. In 2012, Caddell gave a speech at a conference sponsored by Accuracy in Media, a conservative watchdog group, in which he called the media “the enemy of the American people.” That declaration was promoted by Breitbart News, a platform for the pro-Trump alt-right, of which Bannon was the executive chairman, before joining the Trump Administration. One of the main stakeholders in Breitbart News is Mercer.

Mercer is the co-C.E.O. of Renaissance Technologies, which is among the most profitable hedge funds in the country. A brilliant computer scientist, he helped transform the financial industry through the innovative use of trading algorithms. But he has never given an interview explaining his political views. Although Mercer has recently become an object of media speculation, Trevor Potter, the president of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan watchdog group, who formerly served as the chairman of the Federal Election Commission, said, “I have no idea what his political views are—they’re unknown, not just to the public but also to most people who’ve been active in politics for the past thirty years.” Potter, a Republican, sees Mercer as emblematic of a major shift in American politics that has occurred since 2010, when the Supreme Court made a controversial ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That ruling, and several subsequent ones, removed virtually all limits on how much money corporations and nonprofit groups can spend on federal elections, and how much individuals can give to political-action committees. Since then, power has tilted away from the two main political parties and toward a tiny group of rich mega-donors.

----- 19 -----
Marine Le Pen of France Meets With Vladimir Putin in Moscow
By ADAM NOSSITER | The New York Times | MARCH 24, 2017

PARIS — Marine Le Pen, the French far right’s presidential candidate, has never hidden her admiration for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, and on Friday she met with him in the Kremlin.

Russian television broadcast images of Ms. Le Pen, gesticulating energetically across the table from a disengaged-looking Mr. Putin. Earlier, she called for “developing relations” with Russia and “cooperation” in antiterrorism. Both were nods to her presidential campaign platform, which advocates closer ties with Mr. Putin, friendliness toward President Trump and rejection of the European Union.

The meeting highlighted the potential for a general realignment of relations with Russia, even at a time when Moscow has been accused of meddling in Western elections through computer hacking and the promotion of fake news, sowing alarm on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Trump administration has shown itself sympathetic to Moscow, to the extent that pre-election contacts between the two sides are being investigated in the United States. In a crucial election year in Europe, campaigns are now peppered with parties and candidates that could sharply redirect relations with Moscow.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s election-year challengers in Germany, on the left and the far right, tilt more easily toward Russia. The Five Star Movement in Italy, which presents a rising challenge to the political establishment if elections are held there this year, does as well.

Then there is Ms. Le Pen, who Russian television reported had met earlier with parliamentary deputies in Moscow, while calling for the lifting of sanctions against Russia for its land grab in Ukraine.

Mr. Putin’s Russia has long been a source of aid for Ms. Le Pen’s National Front. In 2014, her party received a $9.7 million loan from a Russian bank; Ms. Le Pen said French banks were shunning her party. The loan nonetheless drew condemnation from the ruling Socialists as an unsavory example of foreign financing for a French political party.

----- 20 -----
Aerospace firm Electroimpact agrees to pay $485K after AG finds ‘shocking’ discrimination against Muslims
Originally published March 23, 2017 at 5:06 pm
By Nina Shapiro | The Seattle Times

Electroimpact, a prominent aerospace supplier whose president voiced hatred of Muslims and encouraged his mostly white engineers to marry and procreate, has entered into a consent decree with the state Attorney General’s Office that requires the company to pay $485,000 and takes its controversial leader out of direct hiring.

The court-monitored decree, in effect for 42 months, stems from a nearly yearlong investigation, which concluded that the Mukilteo-based company violated state law by discriminating on the basis of religion and marital status.

The attorney general’s civil-rights unit began investigating Electroimpact after a Seattle Times story last year revealed a workplace culture shaped by President Peter Zieve’s vehement views — expressed in emails to employees that referred to “terrorist savages” and allowing our “wonderful country to be backfilled with rubbish from the desperate and criminal populations of the third world.”

Zieve offered financial incentives to workers who married and had children. And he organized a campaign to stop construction of a Mukilteo mosque.

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Tags: fascism watch, political
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