Joanne pre-NYMHM: 2 May 17

5/2/17 #newsyoumayhavemissed – a shorter one this time:

(1) In case you somehow missed it, Hasan Minhaj (from the Daily Show) spoke at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. I hate the tradition of this dinner (journalists in this country are far too cozy with politicians) but it was pretty telling that Trump didn’t go, and Minhaj’s set was good.

(“In four hours, Donald Trump will be tweeting about how bad Nicki Minaj bombed at this dinner, and he’ll be doing it completely sober.”).


The journalists were stiffly unamused in a way that made me want to slap them, and which I thought must have made the stand-up more difficult. But mostly the slapping thing. 

(Also, as an immigrant, the whole “Only in America can a first-generation Indian-American Muslim kid get on this stage and make fun of the president” thing? Is so irritating. The First Amendment is great and everything, but I’ve never understood the American delusion that they’re the only country with free speech or where immigrants can succeed. I mean, the only reason that statement couldn’t ever be true for Canada or the UK is that we don’t have presidents or, I suppose, that particular stage.)

(Also also, can somebody for realsy make a movie about stripper cops solving a murder? Maybe starring, I dunno, the cast of New Girl?)

(2) The Great Barrier Reef is dying, from bleaching, with little chance to recover. [PopSci, Guardian]

(3) The Environmental Protection Agency’s website has had some information removed, including information that has been used to challenge their new administrator Scott Pruitt’s policy suggestions. [WaPo]

(4) 777 former EPA officials signed a letter urging Congress to reject the Trump administration’s climate denial policies. [BI]

(5) I’ve mentioned before the dire state of things in several African countries right now―particularly Somalia (which borders Kenya, who are chafing at having to absorb their refugees), South Sudan (which borders Uganda, who have an open border and want to help but are struggling for funding), Ethiopia, Yemen, and Nigeria. Drought, cholera, war. The migrant crisis is enormous and it’s only going to get worse, especially because we’re limiting aid. [WorldBank, ABCCTVIISDIndependent, ReliefWebWaPo]

(6) More from the Guardian on alleged contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia, including this: hackers used botnets and porn traffic to plant viruses and steal data from Democrats. They were under Putin’s control, but paid by the Trump organization. 

(7) I mentioned in the last news round-up that Trump is appointing former pro-forced-birth president of Americans United for Life Charmaine Yoest to assistant secretary of public affairs for Health and Human Services. Turns out her website had a list of tips for spotting women lying about being raped, including stuff like “Does the girl have problems or a desire for attention?” 

This no-kidding makes me want to cry. 

[NBC] (h/t)

(8) Fred Upton, who has led the vote to repeal Obamacare a number of times, is not comfortable with the AHCA because of the high costs for patients with pre-existing conditions. This is good. [Bloomberg]

(9) Vox has an article all about how Trump and his family are personally profiting from the presidency.

(10) A conservative terrorist attacked Democrats with a machete in Kentucky, asking their political affiliation first.

(11) Kansas needs to come up with millions of dollars for metal detectors and armed guards in order to keep guns out of state psychiatric facilities, because of a bloodyminded concealed weapons law they passed.

(12) Rex Tillerson proposes cutting 2,300 jobs from the State Department. [WSJ]


BuzzFeed News asked the USDA for records about its decision to remove a database on animal welfare from the web. The department responded on Friday, with 1,771 pages that are completely blacked out.”

(14) Republicans are pushing a bill to deregulate Wall Street. It throws out most of the banking oversight passed under Obama, including Dodd-Frank, because none of these shitstains can remember as far back as 2008, and/or because they didn’t feel any particular pain from it personally and have no empathy whatsoever for the rest of the country. [Vox]

[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.]

Joanne pre-NYMHM: 28 Apr 17

It looks like the House has passed a CR. Haven’t seen details yet, but it sounds like while it wasn’t totally clean, there was nothing about THE WALL, and no stiffing of health care subsidies. The Senate has also passed a one-week continuing resolution. It now goes to, I still can’t believe I’m typing this, President Trump for signature. Navy Federal, USAA, and First Command are offering government shutdown assistance for people on DoD payroll.

I’ve been reading a lot of those “first 100 days’ articles, and few mention Russia. It’s scary that a hostile foreign power can hijack our election and the media is so enmeshed in j-school “report card” habits that they don’t mention it. This isn’t a new thought. There’s a WaPo opinion piece that basically says the same thing. It’s just, once you notice it, you can’t stop noticing it. The state is more focused than the media, though: the Defense Department is investigating money Mike Flynn received from foreign groups.

Facebook has acknowledged that it was exploited by governments seeking to manipulate public opinion in other countries. [pdf, Guardian

We’re all – including foreign countries – getting used to the president saying one thing and then the vice president and everybody else saying, “oh, no, it’s totally cool, just ignore him.” [Lawfare]

The Trump administration is trying to pass another TrumpCare bill, now with even more cruelty, enough to satisfy the Freedom Caucus, except that now moderates are unhappy. Molina Healthcare will withdraw from the marketplace immediately if Congress doesn’t fund the cost sharing reductions in the spending bill. About 650k people would lose coverage.

Tax reform is still struggling.

Apparently if we stay in NAFTA, we’ll have new Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue to thank, because he brought a map to the White House with highlighted areas on who’d be hardest hit by pulling out of NAFTA, showing Trump they coincide with areas with lots of Trump voters. Oh yeah, we finally got an Agriculture Secretary (Sonny Perdue – amazingly, not associated with Perdue Farms). It’s super weird, because he doesn’t appear to be the worst possible person for the job. New Labor secretary too (Acosta).

Trump has one success (by his metrics, not mine): a big reduction in Mexican immigration. Because if you were Mexican, would you come here right now? Jesus Murphy.

Interior Secretary and former oil pipeline technologies company board member Ryan Zinke (who I know of only because he’s the dude who went to work on his first day on a horse, in downtown Washington, DC, which I have to admit I thought was a baller move) wants to bring logging, mining, and drilling to the lands of national monuments. Sierra Club, Patagonia, and the NRDC all of course oppose this.

Senators were summoned to the White House to hear about North Korea. Apparently it was a mess. North Korea is pretty unhappy with us right now. (Personally I could give a shit, except that Seoul is *right there* and I’m really worried that South Korea will suffer because we elected a no-nothing.)

The Atlantic has provided a rundown of Trump’s conflicts of interest.

Roy Moore is running for Jeff Session’s seat in the upcoming special election. He is, if you can imagine this, even worse of a human being than Jeff Sessions.

Homeland Security’s immigrant database of alleged criminals includes babies and children.

The Trump administration maintains that you can lose your citizenship for lying about or omitting *anything* on their forms, no matter how trivial. Chief Justice Roberts points out that this position allows prosecutors to denaturalize anybody they want to.

Ephrat Livni, Quartz: An astrophysicist used NASA data to make an insanely detailed map of US racial diversity.

WTF. Senator Rand Paul will teach a course on “dystopian visions” at Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. Is it wrong that I kind of want to enroll just so I could take this course? What does Rand Paul think is dystopian, functioning social safety nets?

[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.]

Joanne pre-NYMHM: 5 Apr 17

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, IndyWkWaPo]

(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, GuardianSlate, 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”


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.]

Joanne pre-NYMHM: 14 Feb 2017

2/14/17: With the nonstop whirligig of outrage, you may have missed a few things happening. In no particular order, and assuming you heard about Flynn:

(1) White House comments line re-opened: 202-456-1111 [NYT]

(2) Confirming my sense that this administration is either not hiring administrative staff or not allowing them to do their jobs (a basic competency test that goes beyond partisan issues), the White House has been posting the wrong versions of many of the president’s executive orders to its website. That is, the version we see online doesn’t match the official version sent to the Federal Register. [USA Today]

(3) Trump handled the news of North Korea’s latest missile launch in front of many uncleared civilians at dinner at Mar-a-Lago. House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz has asked the White House for an explanation. [WaPo,]

(4) Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and notably a Republican who was just re-elected and doesn’t have to worry about being primaried from the right for six years, has called for a thorough investigation into Trump-Russia and Flynn-Russia connections, but the House (under House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, both currently keeping their fingers in their ears) is responsible for investigations, so who knows if this will come to anything. Sens. Cornyn and Graham now joining Blunt. [CNN (1, 2)]

(5) Divisions are brewing in the Catholic church between Pope Francis and American Cardinal Burke, who is basically a member of the alt-right. [Guardian, NYT, WaPo]

(6) The Secret Service director will step down, giving Trump a chance to select his own security chief. [WaPo]

(7) The NSA may be withholding information from the President because they don’t trust him. Which is simultaneously comforting, and setting a terrifying precedent. [Observer]

(8) By a vote of 23-15, Republicans voted not to request President Trump’s tax returns from the Treasury Department. [WaysMeans]

(9) Russian spy ship apparently patrolling off the East coast of Delaware. [Fox]

(10) North Korea leader’s brother, Kim Jong Nam, killed at airport in Malaysia. Current NK regime had previously tried to have him killed, and it seems likely that they are behind his death. [AP, BBC]

(11) White House staff so fearful of being accused of talking to the media that some are using chat app Confide to erase messages as soon as they’re read, violating the Federal Records Act. [WaPo]

(12) The very first piece of legislation passed by Republicans and signed by Trump? Weakening Dodd Frank by repealing anti-corruption rule that requires oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments in exchange for access to natural resources. That was their top priority. I wonder if Russia wants to sell us some gas or something. [USA Today]

[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.]

Joanne pre-NYMHM: 31 Jan 2017

(1) “The total cost, per American, of the following 17 programs said to be on the chopping block is $22.36 per year—of which more than a third comes from a single clean-energy program. By contrast, housing subsidies, like the mortgage interest deduction, which are disproportionately used by the wealthy, cost $296.29 per American.” [Time]

(2) Basically the title says it all. “Donald Trump Shuffles National Security Council: Executive measure adds Steve Bannon while removing Director of National Intelligence, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff” [WSJ]

(3) Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) will introduce two bills to end Trump’s immigration ban and prevent him from ordering it again. [The Hill]

(4) Good news! 

a. “The Department of Veterans Affairs intends to exempt anyone it deems necessary for public health and safety, including frontline caregivers,” acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Snyder said in a signed memorandum. [Disabled Veterans]

b. “A federal judge has granted a stay on deportations for people who arrived in the US with valid visas but were detained on entry, following President Donald Trump’s executive order to halt travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. . . . a partial block to the broader executive order, with the judge stopping short of a broader ruling on its constitutionality.” [Guardian]

c. “Senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security initially interpreted Trump’s order to not apply to green card holders from the seven banned countries. Trump White House overruled that reading. . . . But a federal judge in New York temporarily blocked part of Trump’s order late on Saturday night, ruling that citizens of the seven countries who hold valid visas and have already arrived in the United States cannot be removed from the United States.” [CNN]

d. Uber has pledged $3 million to a legal defense fund for its drivers affected by the immigration ban, after #DeleteUber trended on Twitter. [Verge]

e. The ACLU for $24 million in donations in reaction to the travel ban. That’s six times more than they generally make in a year. [CNN, NBC]

f. The HHS/EPA/USDA gag order was lifted. [NYT, Vox, Scientific American, The Hill]

[Note from the future: NYMHM grew out of thesepublic posts from Joanne Merriam’s Facebook account. We retain them here inarchives to provide a record going back to the beginning of Trump’spresidency.]

Joanne pre-NYMHM: 26 Jan 2017

(1) Putin has manipulated the UK and the US into electing people who are, shall we say, inclined to view Putin’s policies positively.

Now Buzzfeed reports that Trump supporters are organizing a massive campaign of fake Facebook and Twitter users with fake diversity (“ideally young, cute girl, gay, Jew, basically anyone who isn’t supposed to be pro-[FN]”) to attack current French presidential frontrunner François Fillon and to make right-wing Marine Le Pen and the National Front (FN) seem more popular.

They’re coordinating to make hashtags they choose trend, and providing support so trolls can participate without actually speaking French.

They quote one of the trolls as saying there’s no Russian influence, but how much do you trust the judgement of people who are pro-fascist because it’s funny? I mean they don’t even have the courage of their convictions. And it doesn’t even matter, in a sense. It’s not like the FN will be anti-Putin.

Now, who are the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council? China, the UK, the US, the Russian Federation, and France.


“Aetna made its decision at least partially in response to a federal antitrust lawsuit blocking its proposed $37-billion merger with Humana. Aetna threatened federal officials with the pullout before the lawsuit was filed, and followed through on its threat once it was filed.”

U.S. judge finds that Aetna deceived the public about its reasons for quitting Obamacare,” LA Times.

(3) I’m frightened. “Donald Trump Will Publish A Weekly List Of Crimes Committed By Immigrants & We Should Have Seen This Coming,” Bustle.

(4) The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has postponed the vote on Trump’s education pick Betsy DeVos. The hearing will now be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 31.

The Washington Post reports Ethics Director Walter M. Shaub Jr. says a full vetting of extremely wealthy individuals, such as DeVos, could take weeks, if not months, but her ethics information was only made available to Senators Friday.

[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.]

Joanne pre-NYMHM: 22 Jan 2017

A Guttmacher Institute study says that the U.S. rate of abortions is at its lowest level since 1973.

Let’s talk a little bit about anti-abortion politicians who want to limit access to contraceptives. If your actual political goal was to lower the rate of abortions, you should advocate on behalf of the ACA (which made contraceptives a lot more affordable) or a more-universal replacement (which would drive the rate even lower), and Planned Parenthood (a major contraceptive supplier, especially to low-income women, who are most likely to need abortions). The abortion rate has been going down in part because of the ACA (sources in comments).

But Republican politicians are against all of those things.

I believe that Republican politicians know that their policies – which are the main reason most anti-abortion voters vote for them – actually *increase* the rate of abortion, thereby worsening the very problem that gets them re-elected. It’s a long con, which creates a feedback loop that keeps them in power, not a sincere effort to prevent abortions.


  1. American Medical Association’s newsletter: “…a report from the Guttmacher Institute revealed that ‘the rate of abortions in the United States has fallen to its lowest level since the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.’ …study authors Rachel Jones and Jenna Jerman ‘said the latest phase of the decline was likely the result of two main factors: the increased availability of affordable, long-lasting contraceptives that have reduced unintended pregnancies, and the surge of abortion restrictions in many states that have forced some clinics to close and hindered many women’s access to the procedure.'” 
  2. AP: “Guttmacher’s state-by-state breakdown showed big declines in abortions in some liberal states, such as California, that protect abortion rights, and also in some conservative states, such as Texas, that have passed laws to restrict abortions. …progress in reducing unintended pregnancies could be derailed by efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, a major supplier of contraceptives, and to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which greatly expanded health-insurance coverage of contraceptives.” 
  3. WaPo: “Abortion falls to lowest level since Roe v. Wade”
  4. USA Today: “U.S. abortion rate drops to lowest level since Roe v. Wade”

[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.]