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.]