4/5/17 news-you-may-have-missed (the I Survived Bronchitis edition):
(1) First, some good news! Researchers have found 90% fewer Scottish women have HPV since the vaccine was made available in 2008. The human papilloma virus accounts for many cervical, vulvovaginal, penile, anal, and head and neck cancers. The vaccine is turning out to be more effective than predicted. The story (linked in the comments) talks about girls, but boys should also be vaccinated (to protect both them and any potential partners). Make sure you or your kids get the HPV vaccine if it’s age-appropriate. [BBC, CDC]
(2) NYPD accessed Black Lives Matter activists’ texts during mass protests over the death of Eric Garner in 2014 and 2015. It appears some undercover officers infiltrated BLM planning groups for months, potentially in defiance of their own rules regarding intelligence-gathering on first amendment activities. [Guardian]
(3) Bannon bumped from National Security Council (NSC). Yeah, really. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and intelligence director are restored to their posts on the council, and the energy secretary, CIA director, and United Nations ambassador have been added. The Homeland Security Council is also put under Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster. (Gen. McMaster is behind all this. Haven’t seen any mcmastermind jokes yet so let me be the first to make them. Hashtag dad jokes.) [BBC, NYT]
(4) I missed it at the time, but Trump signed an executive order in January reducing funding to the UN. With the drought in Nigeria, Yemen, south Sudan, and Somalia, and the supplies crisis in the refugee camps Bidi Bidi (Uganda) and Dadaab (Kenya), cutting this funding will kill thousands.
Maybe having the UN ambassador on the NSC will help. [HRW, NYT, Guardian, UNHCR]
(5) At the end of March, House Rep Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) released an update to the Whip Watch app, which provides live updates and news on what’s happening on the House floor, including live vote totals, party breakdowns, and time remaining. The app is available to the public.
(6) Facebook is planning to block from re-posting any post identified (through the Report tool) as an intimate picture posted without the subject’s permission, in an attempt to combat revenge porn. [BBC]
(7) Neonicotinoid pesticides have been found in US drinking water, and in 48 different rivers and streams. These are the insecticides that may be causing bee populations so much trouble, though we don’t know for sure what the toxicity might be in humans. Activated carbon filtration systems may help. [BBC, ACS]
(8) Trump’s EPA greenlighting chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to neurological damage. Countdown to when that’s in the drinking water, too. [Mother Jones]
(9) North Carolina repealed their transphobic bathroom bill. The repeal is being criticized by civil rights groups since the preemption of municipal-level nondiscrimination and living wage ordinances is still there. Weirdly, this is all to appease the NCAA so they won’t pull championships from the state. People’s civil rights are being decided based on what a college athletics association wants. That’s effing bizarre, America. Get your shit together. [CNN, Guardian, IndyWk, WaPo]
(10) Student loan debt collectors are nicer people than our Republican administration: guaranty agencies are declining to charge the higher fees reinstated by the government. [Consumer Reports]
(11) Trump is donating his first quarter’s salary ($78,333.32) to the National Park Service. Instead of, you know, just not cutting their budget to begin with. His salary isn’t even in the same order of magnitude as the cuts ($1.5 billion or 12%, not all of which is parks, but still). [NPR, NYT]
(12) During the 2016 election, Russia hired 1,000 people as part of a massive anti-Clinton disinformation propaganda campaign in key states. (Related: fifth graders can be taught to spot fake news in a few minutes.) [BBC, Independent]
(13) Marco Rubio was also targeted by Russian propagandists because he was hostile to Russian interests, according to ex-FBI counterterrorism consultant Clint Watts. [Daily Beast]
(14) Last week, Raw Story published an exhaustive timeline of Trump-Russia connections, starting in 1979. O.o
“I tried to represent an undocumented man rounded up by ICE. I couldn’t even find him.”
Even if you do become a US Citizen, even if you were born a citizen, if you’re not white, you can be swept up by ICE. This is not a new thing, but is getting worse. Deportation numbers are falling, though, which is weird until you realize that the point of rounding people up is to make money for private prisons, and you don’t make money off people who’ve been deported. Additionally, ICE is targeting sanctuary cities, punishing people not according to what they’ve done – but by the politics of their municipality. [CNN, Denver Post, Guardian, Slate, Splinter]
(16) Last month, State Department officers were complaining about being left in the dark while Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner runs the things they’re supposed to, like we’re a goddamn banana republic. China is reportedly working through Kushner instead of the State Dept.
Our negotiating position with China is we’ll endorse their One Belt, One Road initiative and ignore domestic human rights abuses, not to mention Taiwan and Tibet, and in exchange we’ll go further into debt to them.
“the Chinese are prepared to offer as-yet-unspecified investment proposals”WaPo
This makes Trump’s people look poo-flingingly stupid, but they’re just venal: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have a lot of business interests in China. [Atlantic, The Hill, NYMag]
(17) Jared & Ivanka are still benefiting from their business empire, including the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Ethics experts worry people will curry favor with the administration by staying there. [NYT]
(18) 2017 Hugo Awards have been announced. On a personal note, I’m excited to see Ken Liu (who was in my anthologies How to Live on Other Planets and The Museum of All Things Awesome And That Go Boom) and Likhain (who did the beautiful cover art for Sunvault) in the finalists for novel and fan art respectively.
(19) Sea levels are rising around the world. In the US, the Miami area is likely to see a roughly 8-inch rise from 1992 levels by 2030 and 31 to 61 inches by 2100. That’s at least 2 1/2 ft to a little over 5 ft. Most of Miami Beach’s buildings sit at an elevation of 2 to 6 feet. [NWF, NOAA]
In-depth discussion at the BBC, including this worrying bit:
“Former employees [of the Florida governor] have said they even were told not to utter the phrase ‘climate change’.”
(20) In a bonkers move, the Trump administration is considering requiring tourists/travelers (including travelers from countries currently in the visa waiver program, like Australia, Canada, France, Japan, and the UK) to provide passwords, financial data, and mobile phone contacts. Also, spouses of immigrants on H-1B visas could lose their right to work (which would be particularly devastating to academic institutions and science research), because why not. And, DHS is working on an ideological test, asking questions about “sanctity of human life,” how they view the treatment of women, and if they believe in honor killings. [Guardian]
I’m sure terrorists will be totally honest and we’ll finally have a foolproof way to catch them.
(21) The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that December to February, spending by foreigners on travel in the U.S. is down 10.2%. [Bloomberg]
[Note from the future: NYMHM grew out of these public posts from Joanne Merriam’s Facebook account. We retain them here in archives to provide a record going back to the beginning of Trump’s presidency.]