Meet the 19 Republicans who flipped their votes in favor of the ACHA, the bill that effectively repeals Obamacare and allows insurance companies to hike premiums and refuse to sell insurance to people on the basis of "pre-existing conditions" such as being the victim of domestic violence. There's something odd about them. Can't quite put my finger on it.
Not even remotely adequate.
In Canada's hyper-concentrated and vertically integrated telcoms sector, data caps are a normal part of life; and where there are data-caps, there is cable company fuckery in the form of ""zero rating" -- when your telcom sells you to online service providers, taking bribes not to count their service against your cap. (more…)
In 1999, the Beastie Boys privately recorded a gag country and western album called "Country Mike's Greatest Hits": as C&W albums go, it's pretty good!
Country Mike's Greatest Hits is the legendary full-length country album recorded by the Beastie Boys. Never officially released, it was originally only given out to family and friends of the Beasties as a Christmas gift back in 1999, and bootlegs started showing up a few years later. It has proven to be a very hot collectible, supposedly fetching as much as $400 on eBay.
The only official reference to the album appears on the Beastie Boys compilation The Sounds of Science, which also includes two songs, "Railroad Blues" and "Country Mike's Theme". In the liner notes, Adam Yauch explains:
"At some point after Ill Communication came out, Mike got hit in the head by a large foreign object and lost all of his memory. As it started coming back he believed that he was a country singer named Country Mike. The psychologists told us that if we didn't play along with Mike's fantasy, he could be in grave danger. Finally he came back to his senses. This song ("Railroad Blues") is one of the many that we made during that tragic period of time."
The Minnesotan left-wing economic miracle continues, while neighboring Republican states slowly collapse
Last fall, I wrote about the strange case of Minnesota governor Mark Dayton, a left-wing billionaire heir to the Target fortune who came to power and reversed his Republican predecessors' Reagonomic idiocy, instead raising taxes on rich people, increasing public spending, and creating shared prosperity for the people of Minnesota. (more…)
Vox has a new video series called Strikethrough. Its purpose is to look at the "challenges in journalism and news media under the Trump presidency."
New York Daily News
Harley-Davidson factory cancels Trump visit, fearing protests
New York Daily News
The Harley-Davidson factory in Milwaukee has canceled a scheduled visit from President Trump — for fear of planning protests, according to a report. Trump planned to visit the motorcycle factory on Thursday, and to sign unspecified executive orders ...
How Harley Davidson caved to the SJW on a Trump visitHot Air
Trump's visit to Harley-Davidson canceled because of protestsNew York Post
Trump cancels Harley-Davidson factory visit over planned protests: reportThe Hill
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He's fine. Fine and damnned lucky: "Turns out I am afraid of heights."
Skier Devin Stratton managed to ski himself off of an unmarked 150-foot cliff last week in the backcountry of the Wasatch Range in Utah, and escaped without so much as a bruise.
Stratton was capturing his run using a GoPro attached to his helmet, giving the world a first person POV of what it looks like when you accidentally find yourself skiing off a cliff. According to an interview with the Washington Post, he rarely wears the camera, but for some reason he flipped it on for this run.
In the clip, Stratton can be seen hitting fresh powder with some nearby runs. A few ski trails in the snow lead to a small hill, but Stratton doesn't notice that they stop before it's too late and he's going over.
Stratton turns his body as he's falling and manages to land on his back. According to the Post, Stratton credits the two feet of fresh powder and his packed backpack for cushioning his fall.
Donald Trump Has Ushered in a Government of Men, Not of Laws
In a terrifying speech, the new president made clear that freedom and justice are not his concern. By Dahlia Lithwick. President Donald Trump raises a fist after his inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. President Donald Trump raises a fist after ...
Trump's inauguration speech makes it clear: He meant every word he said during the campaignLos Angeles Times
Trump just set a very high bar for himselfBusiness Insider
President Trump channeled villainous Bane in his inauguration speechUSA TODAY
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Rep. John Lewis will not be attending Trump's inaugural, nor does he believe Trump is a legitimately-elected president.
Rep. John Lewis, a Democratic congressman from Georgia and civil-rights icon, told NBC's Chuck Todd in an interview for Sunday's "Meet the Press" that he believes Russia's alleged hacking aimed at helping Trump in the 2016 race makes Trump an illegitimate president.
Asked whether he would forge a relationship with President-elect Trump, Lewis said, "It's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president."
He added: "I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected, and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton." Lewis called it a "conspiracy" and added: "That's not right. That's not fair. That's not the open democratic process."
Lewis added that he won't attend Trump's inauguration, which he said is unprecedented in his 30-year congressional career.
Meanwhile, after a briefing with James Comey this morning, Democrats came out shaking with anger.
Last fall, a week before the election, I broke the story that a former Western counterintelligence official had sent memos to the FBI with troubling allegations related to Donald Trump. The memos noted that this spy's sources had provided him with information indicating that Russian intelligence had mounted a yearslong operation to co-opt or cultivate Trump and had gathered secret compromising material on Trump. They also alleged that Trump and his inner circle had accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin. These memos caused a media and political firestorm this week when CNN reported that President Barack Obama and Trump had been told about their existence, as part of briefings on the intelligence community's assessment that Russia hacked political targets during the 2016 campaign to help Trump become president. For my story in October, I spoke with the former spy who wrote these memos, under the condition that I not name him or reveal his nationality or the spy service where he had worked for nearly two decades, mostly on Russian matters.
The former spy told me that he had been retained in early June by a private research firm in the United States to look into Trump's activity in Europe and Russia. "It started off as a fairly general inquiry," he recalled. One question for him, he said, was, "Are there business ties in Russia?" The American firm was conducting a Trump opposition research project that was first financed by a Republican source until the funding switched to a Democratic one. The former spy said he was never told the identity of the client.
The former intelligence official went to work and contacted his network of sources in Russia and elsewhere. He soon received what he called "hair-raising" information. His sources told him, he said, that Trump had been "sexually compromised" by Russian intelligence in 2013 (when Trump was in Moscow for the Miss Universe contest) or earlier and that there was an "established exchange of information between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin of mutual benefit." He noted he was "shocked" by these allegations. By the end of June, he was sending reports of what he was finding to the American firm.
The former spy said he soon decided the information he was receiving was "sufficiently serious" for him to forward it to contacts he had at the FBI. He did this, he said, without permission from the American firm that had hired him. "This was an extraordinary situation," he remarked.
The response to the information from the FBI, he recalled, was "shock and horror." After a few weeks, the bureau asked him for information on his sources and their reliability and on how he had obtained his reports. He was also asked to continue to send copies of his subsequent reports to the bureau. These reports were not written, he noted, as finished work products; they were updates on what he was learning from his various sources. But he said, "My track record as a professional is second to no one."
The former spy told me that he was reluctant to be talking with a reporter. He pointed out this was not his common practice. "Someone like me stays in the shadows," he said. But he indicated that he believed this material was important, and he was unsure how the FBI was handling it. Certainly, there had been no public signs that the FBI was investigating these allegations. (The FBI at the time refused to tell me if it had received the memos or if it was examining the allegations.)
"This was something of huge significance, way above party politics," the former spy told me. "I think [Trump's] own party should be aware of this stuff as well." He noted that he believed Russian intelligence's efforts aimed at Trump were part of Vladimir Putin's campaign to "disrupt and divide and discredit the system in Western democracies."
After speaking with the former counterintelligence official, I was able to confirm his identity and expertise. A senior US administration official told me that he had worked with the onetime spook and that the former spy had an established and respected track record of providing US government agencies with accurate and valuable information about sensitive national security matters. "He is a credible source who has provided information to the US government for a long time, which senior officials have found to be highly credible," this US official said.
I also was able to review the memos the former spy had written, and I quoted a few key portions in my article. I did not report the specific allegations—especially the lurid allegations about Trump's personal behavior—because they could not be confirmed. The newsworthy story at this point was that a credible intelligence official had provided information to the FBI alleging Moscow had tried to cultivate and compromise a presidential candidate. And the issue at hand—at a time when the FBI was publicly disclosing information about its investigation of Hillary Clinton's handling of her email at the State Department—was whether the FBI had thoroughly investigated these allegations related to Russia and Trump. I also didn't post the memos, as BuzzFeed did this week, because the documents contained information about the former spy's sources that could place these people at risk.
When I spoke with the former spy, he appeared confident about his material—acknowledging these memos were works in progress—and genuinely concerned about the implications of the allegations. He came across as a serious and somber professional who was not eager to talk to a journalist or cause a public splash. He realized he was taking a risk, but he seemed duty bound to share information he deemed crucial. He noted that these allegations deserved a "substantial inquiry" within the FBI. Yet so far, the FBI has not yet said whether such an investigation has been conducted. As the former spy said to me, "The story has to come out."
Trump refuses to drop business ties
Donald Trump will not sell his business nor place his assets in a blind trust while serving as president, lawyers involved in the negotiations said Wednesday ahead of a long-awaited news conference. Instead, his company will not enter into new foreign ...
Donald Trump's News Conference: Full Transcript and VideoNew York Times
Donald Trump Hands Business To Two Sons, Falling Short of Full DivestmentHuffington Post
Trump to hand over businesses to sonsThe Hill
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Former employees of Carl's Jr., the company run by Andrew Puzder, Donald Trump's choice to head the Department of Labor, got to testify on Capitol Hill today—but not in his confirmation hearing. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had scheduled the meeting to showcase how Democrats might grill Puzder. Dems had asked for former employees who would testify when Puzder appears before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), but HELP chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) shot down that request.
It's easy to see why. "Mr. Pudzer took a company that I loved and turned it into a business that makes money by stealing from its workers," Laura McDonald, a former 20-year employee at Carl's Jr., told the hearing. "I honestly can't think of anyone less qualified to enforce laws that are supposed to protect employees."
McDonald and two other Carl's Jr. employees offered emotional testimonies about their poor working conditions and struggles to get by on a Carl's Jr. salary. Lupe Guzman, a 47-year-old single mother of six who runs the graveyard shift at a Carl's Jr. in Las Vegas, told the senators about surviving on $8.75 per hour in a job she's held for seven years. She said employees don't take breaks mandated by state law and alleged that paychecks excluded hours she'd worked. She also said she's been held up at gunpoint twice, and the company never inquired about her well-being, just whether anything had been stolen. "I mean nothing to them," she said through tears. "I'm just somebody who covers a shift that nobody wants. All they care about is protecting their money."
Guzman said she is barely scraping by—unable to fix her car, with rent and bills eating up her paycheck. "I work almost every day and am still considered poor," she said. "I live on housing assistance, food stamps, and Medicaid just to survive. If I didn't survive on these things, I would be homeless with my kids."
"I also want to say loud and clear about what this means," Warren said in the hearing. "That a giant corporation would build its entire business model around squeezing workers like you…and then count on the taxpayers to come up with food stamps, to come up with housing assistance, to come up with Medicaid. To come up with all the help that you need just barely to hold it together, so they can maximize their profits. This is just not right in America. I believe in capitalism, but I believe that these companies need to pay the full cost of keeping their workers working."
Puzder is CEO of the company that owns Hardee's and Carl's Jr., franchises that the current Labor Department has found to have violated wage laws in about 60 percent of its investigations of locations. Puzder himself has often been dismissive of his company's workers and has been skeptical of raising the minimum wage. (He's been vague on his exact views but was not a fan of President Barack Obama's calls to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10.) "Mr. Puzder also has a long record of cheating workers out of overtime," Warren said Tuesday. "And he has paid out millions of dollars to settle claims when he was caught cheating." (My colleague Tom Philpott wrote last month about a $9 million agreement the company reached in 2004 to settle overtime complaints.)
Midway through the Democrats' trial of Puzder, CNBC reported that Trump's man wouldn't be getting a hearing next week as initially scheduled. Instead, Puzder might not face congressional confirmation until February.
McDonald emphasized that the company had changed under Puzder's leadership. "When Carl Karcher was alive and in charge, we felt like someone in the company at least cared about the workers," she said. "Since Mr. Karcher passed away, CKE has tightened its budgets in a way that makes it impossible to do the job without working off the clock. Worse, the company just seemed not to care about the employees anymore."
A 1958 episode of the television western Trackdown features a con artist named Trump who wants to build a wall to protect a town from destruction. From the Classic TV Archive:
Walter Trump, a confidence man, puts on a long robe and holds a tent meeting in the town of Talpa. He tells the townspeople that a cosmic explosion will rain fire on the town and that he is the only one that can save them from death. Ranger Hoby Gilman attempts to prove Trump is a fraud.
And a bit of dialog from the episode:
Narrator: Hoby had checked the town. The people were ready to believe. Like sheep they ran to the slaughterhouse. And waiting for them was the high priest of fraud.
Trump: I am the only one. Trust me. I can build a wall around your homes that nothing can penetrate.
Townperson: What do we do? How can we save ourselves?
Trump: You ask how do you build that wall. You ask, and I'm here to tell you.
"Trackdown Shakedown" (Snopes, thanks David Steinberg!)
Cory Booker is about to make history. NBC News:
Booker's office said Monday that the Senate historian had been unable to find any previous instance of a sitting senator testifying against a fellow sitting senator nominated for a Cabinet position.
Noting that "I'm breaking a pretty long Senate tradition," the New Jersey Democrat said Monday on MSNBC's "All In": "We've seen Jeff Sessions — that's Senator Jeff Sessions — consistently voting against or speaking out against key ideals of the Voting Rights Act, taking measures to try to block criminal justice reform."
"He has a posture and a positioning that I think represent a real danger to our country," Booker said.
Congressmen John Lewis of Georgia and Cedric Richmond of Louisiana= (Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus) are also planning to testify against Sessions.
— The Marshall Project (@MarshallProj) January 9, 2017
On The Nib, Andy Warner posts a quick primer on the Voting Rights Act, which was weakened in a 2013 Supreme Court case that struck down the requirement for districts with a history of racist voter suppression to get federal oversight for changes to their voting procedures; of note is the section on Jeff Sessions, whose Attorney General confirmation hearing is underway right now. (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
Researchers discover that experimental Alzheimer's drug causes teeth to regrow tissue lost to cavities
“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”
- President Theodore Roosevelt
“The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.“
- George Orwell
“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and the government when it deserves it."
- Mark Twain
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Friday released its declassified report on Russia's efforts to influence the outcome of the 2016 election by hacking Democratic outfits during the campaign.
The report comes a day after top intelligence officials, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the issue. During the hearing, Clapper said the intelligence community has grown more "resolute" in its assessment that Russian intelligence was involved in the hacks aimed at the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. On Friday, Clapper, Rogers, FBI Director Jim Comey, and CIA Director John Brennan briefed President-elect Donald Trump on the classified evidence linking Russia to the hacks and the leaking of the swiped emails. After the briefing, Trump released a statement noting that Russia is one of many actors that try to hack US targets, but the statement did not acknowledge the US intelligence community conclusion that Moscow had mounted the cyberattack against the United States as part of an operation to help elect Trump president.
ICA 2017 01 (Text)
Those seventeen intelligence agencies that usually hate each other -- but in the case of Russian interference in our election -- agreed unanimously? James Clapper is the overseer for all of them. And that "unanimous" part impressed even him.
As he testified in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday morning, Clapper reaffirmed that Russia was involved in trying to disrupt the US Presidential election of 2016.
Senator Jack Redd asked, "Aspects of this Russian hacking was not just disseminating information they had exploited from computers, but also the allegations of fake news sites, fake news stories that were propagated. Is that an accurate -- or is that one aspect of this problem?"
Clapper replied, "This was a multifaceted campaign, so the hacking was only one part of it. And it also entailed classical propaganda, disinformation, fake news."
Reed followed up and asked, "Does that continue?"
Clapper said, "Yes."
Reed continued, "Do you believe that they made little attempts to cover up what they were doing as a way to make a point politically?"
James Clapper wouldn't get into detail during this hearing because his agencies are giving Congress a report next week. But Clapper did say, "Without pre-empting the report, that's classical trade-craft that the Russians have long, long used to -- particularly when they're promulgating so-called disinformation, they'll often try to hide the source of that, or mask it to deliberately mask the source."
I Killed Einstein, Gentlemen is a 1969 Czechoslovak science fiction comedy film directed by Oldřich Lipský. Wikipedia says "it became known for the scene showing the first selfie stick."
Here's the full movie. The opening seconds probably raised some eyebrows at the time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QFboY7MKx4
Malcolm Nance took to Twitter today to slam Donald Trump after the torrent of love from Trump to Julian Assange and Putin.
1. Held my suspicions but now convinced Trump is fully aware that both Russian intelligence & Assange elected him. Praise=Pay back.
— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) January 4, 2017
2. Trump was an unwitting Russian asset until July 27th when he asked for Clinton emails he acknowldgd they were working in his interest.
— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) January 4, 2017
We must finally admit Trump is openly giving aid & comfort to a foreign intelligence agency & a cybercriminal. He is 1 step away fm treason.
— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) January 4, 2017
This is a pretty stunning thing for an intelligence expert to say. I'm sure he didn't do so lightly at all.
Bernie Sanders took to the Senate floor today to challenge President-elect Trump to keep his campaign promises or admit he lied to those who voted for Trump.
After recounting all of the times Trump promised he wouldn't touch Medicare or Social Security, Sanders dropped the wedge.
I'll let the (rough) transcript speak for itself, or better yet, watch the video above.
Well, it seems to me that Mr. Trump right now has got to do one of two things.
Number one, if all that he was talking about was campaign rhetoric, then what he was obliged to do now is to tell the American people, "I was lying. Yeah, I said that I would not support cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, but I was lying. It was a campaign ruse. I just said what came to my mind to get votes. I have no intention of keeping my word."
And if that's what he believes, if that's what the case was, let him come forward and say that. But if that is not what the case is, if he was sincere, then I would hope that tomorrow or maybe today he could send out a tweet and tell his Republican colleagues to stop wasting their time and all of our time.
For Mr. Trump to tell the American people that he will veto any proposal that cuts Medicare, that cuts Medicaid and that cuts Social Security.
On this weekend's Meet the Press, WSJ editor in chief Gerard Baker said that even when he was clear that Trump had uttered a falsehood, his paper would not call that falsehood a lie, because to do so would ascribe "moral intent" to Trump; instead, the WSJ will call Trump's lies "challengeable" and "questionable." (more…)
One of the most compelling data visualization projects from this year was Wall Street Journal's Blue Feed, Red Feed, which lets readers see exactly how divergent social media feeds have become, depending on someone's media diet. By coincidence, I capped an example that puts Boing Boing in their blue feed column. (more…)
It's about time someone told the rest of the media to stop cowering to Fox News. They. Don't. Matter. And by the way? You are never going to get a job there, Mr. Reporter, so stop hedging your coverage of them.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC: Concerns for Donald Trump's conflicts of interest are grow growing by the day. According to the President-elect, it's not a big deal. The media and American public remain in the dark about Trump's financial entanglements all over the globe. We've never seen his tax returns and now he is saying a presser is scheduled for "sometime in January." Trump has not held a true press conference since July and tweets and brief impromptu question and answer sessions outside his Mar-a-Lago resort don't count. Amidst outright lies from the President-elect. that "millions of illegals voted for his opponent" means the media must be vigilant with accuracy, context and tireless questioning. How do we in the media arise to the occasion?
..Kurt [Eichenwald], I have to start with you. Rather than address the legal controversy, Trump defends it on Twitter and complains about his son being pressured out of doing a fund-raiser. Here's the tweet below,
My wonderful son, Eric, will no longer be allowed to raise money for children with cancer because of a possible conflict of interest with...
Thanks to an online platform overhauled and reopened last month, visitors can now view hundreds of thousands of images in the George Eastman Museum collection. Works include vintage materials like Eadweard J. Muybridge's famous photographic studies of animal movement and 450 works by Andy Warhol, including this self-portrait. (more…)
When Democrats staged a sit-in on the House floor in June over gun safety laws to protect children and innocent bystanders, Paul Ryan shut down the CSPAN cameras to deny the public access to their protest.
Undeterred, Democratic congressmen began using live-streaming services like Facebook Live to keep their message from being squelched.
Paul Ryan wasn't happy about that, and plans to put an end to live streams, according to Bloomberg News.
Under the proposed new rules package, which was seen by Bloomberg, members could face a $500 fine through deductions to their paychecks for a first offense of using electronic photography or audio or visual recording, as well as for broadcasting from the chamber’s floor. A $2,500 fine would be leveled for the next such offense and each subsequent violation.
The new rules also clarify which conduct is to be deemed disorderly or disruptive during floor proceedings, including blocking access by other members to microphones or what is known as “the well” -- the front of the chamber.
How is this not a violation of the First Amendment? Elected officials in a building paid for and maintained by taxpayers to conduct the public's business clearly have a First Amendment right to be heard, right?
After decades of allowing anti-competitive mergers in the TV, radio, phone and internet sectors, Canada's telcoms regulator, the CRTC, has taken an important step to address the underperformance of Canada's monopolistic, bumbling phone companies and cable operators, declaring internet access to be an "essential service" and thus something that operators must offer in all territories in which they operate. (more…)