Nel's New Day

February 2, 2019

How Facebook Damages Our Future

Love it or hate it, Facebook is ubiquitous around the world—making Mark Zuckerberg a multi-billionaire and helping elect Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to the highest office in the United States. On Monday, February 4, it celebrates its 15th anniversary. With over 2.2 billion active users, Facebook has devastated people through the ability to “defriend” others and been the cause of millions of cyberattacks, especially among teenagers. A prevalence of violence, hate speech, and fake news has caused concerned people to look for solutions, but no one, not even creator Zuckerberg, knows how to counteract the negative aspects of Facebook.

Zuckerberg’s early use of social media was well known when he attended Harvard University, according to a piece by Claire Hoffman published ten years ago in Rolling Stone. In 2002, sophomore Zuckerberg got drunk after his girlfriend dumped him and hacked into the university websites. He downloaded female classmates’ photographs and put them next to ones of farm animals for people to rate which ones were more desirable. Pleased with himself, he blogged the process along the way. More than 450 people signed up before Harvard tracked the source and shut off Zuckerberg’s web access. In a hearing, he was accused of violating student privacy and downloading school property without permission. The praise he gained from his peers taught him a lesson that he recorded in a deposition:

“People are more voyeuristic than what I would have thought.”

After Zuckerberg launched Facebook, three classmates sued him, arguing that he stole their invention of a social-networking site after they hired him to code their creation. Zuckerberg liked the idea but dragged his heels in completing his agreement, finally telling them that they should get another programmer. He claimed that he probably didn’t start his own Facebook until after that, but he used his classmates prototype for Facebook. Zuckerberg also failed to tell his former employers that he officially registered the original Facebook site with his web provider before he told the three employers that he couldn’t finish the project. A fourth classmate said that he had already invented an online facebook. On his launch of his Facebook on February 4, 2004, he described himself as “Founder, Master and Commander [and] Enemy of the State.”

In Silicon Valley, Zuckerberg continued to take advantage of people. Former suite-mate Eduardo Saverin gave him $20,000 as a co-investor in Facebook but stayed in New York while Zuckerberg played and worked in Palo Alto. When they had a falling out, Zuckerberg sued Saverin, claiming that he froze Facebook’s bank accounts. Saverin sued, claiming that Zuckerberg never matched his $20,000 and that he used Saverin’s money for personal expenses. Zuckerberg transferred all intellectual-property rights and membership interests to a new version of the company in Delaware, unhinged Saverin’s stock from any further Facebook growth, and fired Saverin as an employee. Then, as now, Zuckerberg let no one stand in his way.

In 2007, Zuckerberg did lose one round—with his users. He sold advertisers Beacon, a program allowing them to put information about users’ purchasers on their Facebook identity. The ensuing revolt made him back off. At the same time, those close to him started to leave him. Lawyers accused Zuckerberg of hiding the code to create Facebook, and key data was missing when the hard drives were final found.

In 2015, a DDT-supporting data company, Cambridge Analytica, took personal data from tens of millions of Facebook profiles without their consent to collect voting patterns, supposedly at the request of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and for support of DDT during the 2016 presidential campaigns. Once again, Zuckerberg apologized for the “leak” that occurred when Facebook allowed a Cambridge University researcher to persuade users to share both their own and their friends’ user data. He said that Facebook stopped letting app creators access data about “friends” without their authorization, but the damage was done, damage that wasn’t discovered until after the 2016 election.

As users burgeoned, Zuckerberg used his “social media” to promote conspiracy theories and pass along misinformation, some of which greatly influenced voters. A Russian company bought Facebook ads for the 2016 presidential election. Zuckerberg enabled hate groups to proselytize, for example his selling ads targeting Facebook users self-identified as “Jew Haters.” Zuckerberg excused himself by claiming that users are self-reporting the data, seemingly ignoring his claim that his algorithms can detect and eliminate hate speech.

In one example of dangerous conspiracies promoted on Facebook, “Pizzagate” made up a story before the 2016 election that Hillary Clinton was running a child trafficking operation out of a Washington, D.C. pizza place. One believer showed up at the restaurant, waving a gun and demanding the children. The ridiculous and thoroughly debunked claim recently reemerged with an act of arson in the restaurant. Facebook’s mechanisms can radicalize users to support these conspiracy groups. Like gravitates to like, as Renée DiResta, a researcher of disinformation online, explains:

“Facebook’s recommendation engine says, ‘If you like pseudoscience, I’ll show you chemtrails and flat earth.’ Because of the increase of ominous conspiracies, you’re seeing groups around these conspiracy theories like QAnon or pizzagate being referred to people who would never search for them in the first place.”

Facebook’s “Suggested Groups” includes “Pizzagate Reports,” with this vivid photo-shopped image. From there, people are encouraged to move to groups such as “Real UFO Sightings & Strange Phenomenon,” “Official Flat Earth & Globe Discussion,” and “Q Angels.” While condemning misinformation and “fake news,” Zuckerman defends these groups, as well as Infowars, on his powerful social media. He said he would not ban Infowars although it shares “conspiracy theories or false news” and said that “there are things that different people get wrong—I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.” He plans to leave up offensive or deliberately inaccurate posts but downgrade them so that algorithms show them to fewer people. Although Zuckerberg claims that he’ll take down misinformation that incites violence, Pizzagate is still up, and the restaurant is still being threatened with posts on Facebook bragging about frightening the owner to readers’ praise.

Last year, investigators discovered that Facebook uses “ethnic affinity” (aka race) that then permitted advertisers to target or exclude users based on this category. This Facebook characteristic allowed advertisers to deny opportunities for housing and employment. Zuckerberg claimed that he couldn’t see the impact of this category, and backlash caused Facebook to stop using this category—supposedly. Facebook’s abetting racism is profitable because every user is a possible source of revenue for the corporation. The more users, the more ads, and the more user insight to generate money for Facebook.

As Zuckerberg promises to fix one Facebook scam, he creates another. Facebook is secretly paying people to install a “Facebook Research” VPN allowing the company to obtain all the user’s phone and web activity, like Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that Apple banned in June. That one was removed in August. The new Facebook approach may violate Apple policy because the social network can decrypt and analyze the users’ phone activity. Since 2016, Facebook paid users ages 13 to 35 up to $20 per month and more in referral fees to install this iOS or Android app. To hide its involvement with “Facebook Research,” Facebook documented the app as “Project Atlas” and administers the program through beta testing services Applause, BetaBound and uTest. Instagram and Snapchat ads for VPN run by uTest targeted teens 13-17 years old for a “paid social media research study” and promise compensation.

Apple blocked the app the day before Facebook promised to voluntarily pull it from Apple but continue to run the Android version. Collected data includes private messages in social media apps, chats from in instant messaging apps, photos/videos sent to others, emails, web searches, web browsing activity, and ongoing location information from tracking apps. It works whether users’ screens and the VPN are on or off. Facebook claimed that the program is to learn how people use their phones and other services. The spokesperson said, “We don’t share this information with anyone.”

Zuckerberg plans to integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger, originally independent companies. The result may be more privacy issues because WhatsApp currently doesn’t require a person’s identity, just a telephone number. It also doesn’t store messages and keeps minimal user data. Disturbed by the change, employees at all these companies are leaving. Facebook will also have additional problems in finding and stopping illicit activity and disinformation. WhatsApp blocked disinformation before the Brazilian presidential election by limiting the number of times a message could be forwarded.

In the past, I’ve worried about negative effects of Facebook usage, especially on teens. Studies show problems with self-esteem, feelings of envy, dissatisfaction, narcissism, antisocial behavior, and aggressiveness. Those concerns have moved to fears about radicalization of the far-right and control of elected officials. And Zuckerman just keeps apologizing and raking in the billions with new scams.

March 24, 2018

DDT: Week Sixty-one – Tweeting, Hiding from Protests

Late Friday evening has become the time for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to drop bombs, usually in order to steer the media away from news that he doesn’t like. DDT’s news last night before the massive March for Our Lives gatherings today was to once again ban transgender military members in the military. His ban of several months ago has been overturned in court, but DDT executed an order supporting the new memo from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that disqualifies U.S. troops who have had gender confirmation surgery because “military service requires sacrifice.” Transgender troops without surgery can stay if they have been medically stable for 36 consecutive months before joining the military or if they were diagnosed with gender dysphoria after President Obama’s end of the ban in 2016. Four lawsuits are already opposing DDT’s earlier ruling.

Facebook’s providing Cambridge Analytica with data consumed much of the news during the past week. Clips of C.A.’s officials were caught on a hidden camera explaining their blackmail to put conservative candidates into office. Last Sunday, CBS reported that DDT’s campaign never used any data from Cambridge Analytica, but suspended C.A. CEO president Alexander Nix disagreed, saying that C.A. put DDT the winner in the presidential election. Brad Parscale, DDT’s current campaign director, worked with C.A. to turn women and black voters against Hillary Clinton with fake stories.

Worse news from C.A.: key players have a new company, Emerdata, with C.A. primary funder Robert Mercer’s daughters, C.A.’s suspended CEO Alexander Nix as director, C.A.’s chief data officer Alexander Tayler, and Julian Wheatland, chairman of Cambridge Analytica parent firm SCL Group. Connected to Emerdata is Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater and now chairing the private security firm operating mostly in Africa. Prince is the brother of Secretary of State Betsy DeVos. George Nadar, who organized a meeting in the Seychelles between Erik Prince and a high-level Russian banker to set up a secret DDT-Russia back channel, has been granted immunity and is now singing to Mueller. Before he became FBI Director, discovered that Prince had probably broken the law by trying to sell secretly modified paramilitary attack aircraft to Azerbaijan’s military.

DDT’s keeps tweeting continual denial that “there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), minority leader of the House Intelligence Committee, responded:

“Mr. President, the Committee reached no such conclusion — only Republicans. In fact, we did find evidence of collusion, despite GOP members being more interested in protecting you than learning the truth. When accusing others of lying, best not to misrepresent facts yourself.”

DDT’s increasingly frantic tweets about Mueller indicates that he is closing in on the truth about DDT’s corruption, fraud, and Russian collusion. The messages from DDT, stuck in the White House for last weekend, hit a new high for him, and desperate aides took him to a golf course after the Sunday morning tweet storm. DDT came back with more vituperative tweets by Wednesday.

Excited about Vladimir Putin’s being “re-elected” for another six years, DDT called the dictator to congratulate him, ignoring warnings from his national security advisers. Briefing materials stated “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” and condemn the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) tweeted:

“An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections. And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election.”

DDT took pride in being on good terms with the Russian president and not bringing up anything negative such as the Kremlin’s murders and meddling in the U.S. elections. Republicans such as retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) treated DDT’s turning his belly up to Russia as the new normal. Videos showed ballot-stuffing at polling stations; earlier, viable candidates were either arrested on sham charges or killed. The story escalated when DDT became furious about his actions becoming public, and he is again determined to discover who did the leaking, calling it criminal.

Although the White House staff does not work for him personally, DDT has required them to sign “non-disclosure” agreements with threats if they reveal anything about him. Earlier DDT failed to force reporters to sign NDAs when they traveled with VP Mike Pence. As rumors run rampant, some people think that Chief of Staff John Kelly is behind the leaking because of past inappropriate statements to the press. DDT took pride in being on good terms with the Russian president and not bringing up anything negative such as the Kremlin’s murders and meddling in the U.S. elections.

More revelations about Russia’ interference in the U.S. elections:

The hacker that stole Democratic National Committee emails, Guccifer 2.0, was “an officer of Russia’s military intelligence directorate (GRU),” connecting the hack to the Kremlin.

Andrew McCabe, fired by the DOJ with the blessing of AG Jeff Sessions, had authorized a criminal investigation into Sessions last year because he “lacked candor when testifying before Congress about contacts with Russian operatives.” Sessions said under oath that he had no contacts with any Russian officials during the campaign until he began to remember that he talked to the Russian ambassador twice. After Mueller was appointed as special investigator, McCabe’s investigation moved on to him. Other Sessions’ “lack of candor” comes from his claim under oath to the House Judiciary Committee that he “pushed back against a suggestion to meet with Russians during DDT’s campaign. Three people have told investigator Robert Mueller that Sessions never objected to arranging a meeting with Russia. Emails show that DDT’s campaign urged George Papadopoulos to reach out for a “partnership with Russia.” Although Sessions recused himself from all things Russian, he fired McCabe to defend DDT from Mueller’s Russian investigation. Former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has written a thought-provoking description of Sessions’ “lack of candor.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has called for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about McCabe’s firing. Even Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that McCabe should have been allowed to finish his last 26 hours.

As GOP congressional leadership shy away from protecting the investigation into the Russian scandal, the conservative WashPo chides their refusal to declare Robert Mueller off-limits from DDT’s firing machine:

“The president treats government as purely a tribal battle between one side and the other and expects public servants to put loyalty to him before loyalty to country or the rule of law. Republican congressional leaders should not remain complicit in this debasement.”

Columnist Eugene Robinson wrote:

“If Trump does try to fire Mueller, [Ryan] and [McConnell] should get much of the blame. They have given Trump no reason to believe they will ever stand up to him.”

This past week, DDT hosted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), who gained his new position in a coup that involved torture and imprisonment of his family members. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster expressed concerns about the relation of Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law, with MBS who bragged about having Kushner “in his pocket.” MBS may also have used classified information from DDT’s daily briefings to determine who MBS imprisoned. Tillerson and McMaster are gone; Kushner remains in the White House, and the Senate failed to stop the U.S. part in a bloody, three-year war in Yemen. Despite a bipartisan effort, 45 GOP and 10 Democratic senators voted to continue its support for Saudi Arabia’s bombing missions.

With Jared Kushner head of his family business, it filed at least 80 false applications for construction permits in a three-year period ending in 2016 lying about the rent-regulated tenants in its buildings to make it easier to push them out and sell a building with higher rents.

The Dow Jones index dropped 1,460 points this past week after the Feds raised the prime rate a quarter of a percent, Facebook suffered from public knowledge that it provided information to Cambridge Analytica, and DDT escalated the trade war by placing tariffs on $60 billion of Chinese goods and limiting China’s freedom to invest in U.S. tech. China threatened tariffs on $3 billion in U.S. goods, most of them agricultural, hitting the states that voted for DDT. The 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act may be a harbinger of our future. Yet DDT caved on most of his steel and aluminum tariffs, exempting countries for two-thirds of steel and over half of aluminum imports.

Capping the week was March for Our Lives, a movement by young people protesting unlimited gun ownership with the message “Enough Is Enough.” Millions of people, almost one million just in Washington, D.C., marched around the world with 800 different protests in the United States alone. DDT escaped to Mar-a-Lago before the event this morning, detouring around any protesters on his way back from the golf course. Most legislators went home yesterday immediately after a $1.3 trillion spending bill passed Congress. [Above: the view from the Washington, D.C. stage.]

Two GOP congressional members gave lukewarm praise for the young people although Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) misrepresented their mission. Others idly commented about sports, farmers, and praise for the spending bill and tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. Democrats were seen attending the marches. For the first time in almost two decades, more people have a negative view of the NRA than positive, according to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. It found that 37 percent see the NRA in a positive light with 44 percent viewing it negatively. The greatest drop came from white married women.

March 19, 2018

Data Mining Elected DDT, ‘Corrected’ the Stock Market

Stock markets have been drastically dropping during the past six weeks although sometimes crawling upward only to drop again. Today, the closing Dow Jones as over 2,000 points below February 5 with “corrections by Facebook and tech investments. While investors try to guess why stocks lose ground, today’s loss in Facebook—as much as seven percent at times—was clearly from the problems in a company working to control the win of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the presidential election.

With the help of Russian oligarchs and officials, multi-billionaire Robert Mercer bought the presidency for DDT, and Mercer’s political-data firm Cambridge Analytica was instrumental in this success by targeting people’s emotional needs with information from social media. Last Friday night at the same time that AG Jeff Sessions fired Andrew McCabe, Facebook admitted that Cambridge lied about deleting Facebook user data obtained from Facebook in violation of the social network’s policies.

A detailed Facebook post stated that Russian-American psychology professor, Aleksandr Kogan, obtained 50 million Facebook users’ information in 2014 with his app “thisisyourdigitallife.” Kogan collected data from people and their friends who took that quiz. Only 270,000 people took the quiz, but Kogan gathered data on another 50 million people from network connections. He promised that the data was exclusively for research purposes and then sent the data to Cambridge Analytica for political purposes. The company funded his app for $800,000, and the Russian government also paid Kogan for his research into the psychology of specific Facebook users. Cambridge Analytica was also involved in the Leave.EU leading to the success of the Brexit vote for separating Britain from the European Union.

Cambridge’s control over voters comes from its “psychographic” targeting that creates psychological profiles to “effectively engage and persuade voters using specially tailored language and visual ad combinations” that appeal to each person on an emotional level. Kogan claimed that his data predicted individual neuroticism, political views, agreeableness, and interests in subjects such as militarism, horoscopes, and the environment that could be used for targeting voters. Cambridge built profiles by maximizing the use of “up to 5,000 data points on over 230 million American voters,” according to the company’s website.

In August 2016 when Cambridge was targeting voters without their knowledge for DDT’s campaign, Facebook said it was deleting the collected data but didn’t tell Facebook users that GOP operatives were in possession of their data. Kogan’s company Global Science Research had paid people $1 or $2 in 2014 to complete its quiz and required that they download an app and share data about themselves and their social network. Facebook let app developers access data, such as their friends’ names and personal information about both themselves and their network. In 2015, Facebook claimed to receive certification that Kogan, Cambridge Analytica, and founder of Cambridge Christopher Wylie had destroyed all data collected by the quiz. They didn’t.

Wylie, a data analyst for Cambridge, shared the company’s activities with The New York Times and London’s The Observer in addition with UK cybercrime investigators. Former employees and contractors of Cambridge maintain that the company still possesses all or most of the data. In an interview on Today this morning, Wylie said that Cambridge worked with Corey Lewandowski, DDT’s first campaign manager, and Steve Bannon in 2015. Wylie described the method that Cambridge used:

“This data was used to create profiling algorithms that would allow us to explore mental vulnerabilities of people and then map out ways to inject information into different streams or channels of content online so that people started to see things that may or may not be true. This is a company that took fake news to the next level.”

Facebook blocked Wylie, and he retorted:

“Suspended by Facebook. For blowing the whistle. On something they have known privately for two years.”

Tracking responses to social media messages in real time showed the locations where DDT should go and the words that his audience would want to hear. Bannon said just before DDT’s election:

“I wouldn’t have come aboard, even for Trump, if I hadn’t known they were building this massive Facebook and data engine. Facebook is what propelled Breitbart to a massive audience. We know its power.”

Theresa Hong, an IT member of DDT’s campaign, told BBC in an interview last year, “Without Facebook, we wouldn’t have won.” She explained how a working mother could be targeted with information about child care instead of war with a more “warm and fuzzy” ad without DDT’s voice. She said, “It wasn’t uncommon to have about 35 to 45 thousand iterations of these types of ads everyday.”

Cambridge emerged in Robert Mueller’s investigation last December through its employee emails that revealed the FEC violations about non-U.S. people working on political campaigns. Cambridge’s CEO, Nix, is British, and many of the company’s employees are European or Canadian. In its Russian connections, Cambridge contacted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in June 2016, and the DDT campaign started paying Cambridge in July–almost $9 million by the end of the campaign.

In now-deleted tweets, Facebook’s head of security, Alex Stamos, tried to justify Kogan’s actions by stating that he “didn’t break into any systems, bypass technical controls, or use a flaw in our system to gather more data than allowed.” Yet Facebook did not permit Kogan to give data to a voter-targeting operation.

An undercover reporter has video of  Cambridge CEO Nix who suggested that his company could use honey traps and bribery to discredit politicians. In defining “deep digging,” Nix said that a way to target someone is to “offer them a deal that’s too good to be true and make sure that’s video recorded” and “send some girls around to the candidate’s house…” He added that Ukrainian girls “are very beautiful, I find that works very well.” Nix said, “I’m just giving you examples of what can be done and what has been done.”

Mercer has largely stayed out of the limelight while he funds Cambridge Analytica, which keeps a shell company in the United States, and he pours his money into electing nationalist candidates. Former CEO of the investment firm Renaissance Technologies, Mercer was also a main funder of Breitbart News and the biggest donor to DDT-supporting Super PACs. Steve Bannon was VP of Cambridge Analytica while he chaired Breitbart News but quit to join DDT’s campaign. Bannon is gone from the White House, but Kellyanne Conway, close friend of Mercer’s daughter Rebecca and creator of the term “alternative news,” stayed.

Some of Mercer’s beliefs:

  • During the 1990s, Hillary Clinton used the CIA for drug trafficking.
  • Blacks were better off economically before the civil rights movement.
  • The only racists in the U.S. now are black, not white.
  • The U.S. should have stripped Iraq of oil.
  • Radiation outside the immediate blast zones of Hiroshima and Nagasaki made Japanese people healthier.
  • Nuclear accidents aren’t any big deal.
  • Climate change would cause future generations to “enjoy an Earth with far more plant and animal life,” as Art Robinson wrote.
  • The U.S. should return to the gold standard.
  • (And many more wacky, radially far-right conspiracy theories.)

Mercer used Breitbart.com as a weapon to promote negative stories about Hillary Clinton that got the most clicks and likes. He put his daughter, Rebekah, on DDT’s transition team where she picked people for top government jobs including Cabinet positions. Her push for John Bolton as Secretary of State failed, but now he’s being considered for national security adviser. She was also behind Michael Flynn’s selection for that job. On the board of Cambridge, Rebekah Mercer plans to stay there.

Elizabeth Denham, Britain’s information commissioner, plans to apply for a warrant to access Cambridge’s servers because the company has not cooperated with her investigation into its illegal activities. The EU and Democrat officials in the U.S. have joined her in demands for further investigation. Republicans, some of whom used Cambridge in their elections such as Sens. Ted Cruz (TX) and Thom Tillis (NC), are mostly staying quiet about the problem.

Cambridge Analytica wasn’t totally responsible for the loss in investment value today: under a new chairman, Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates with another two increases planned before the midterm elections. Rational influences on DDT from former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and economic adviser Gary Cohn are gone, replaced by Mike Pompeo who wants to go to war and Larry Kudlow who is usually wrong about economics. Add to that DDT’s rabid tweets against special investigator Robert Mueller last weekend, and the nation has plunged into an uncertainty that frightens investors.

As for data mining, the future may bring regulations.

October 14, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-eight – More Unraveling, Part 2

The attempts of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to unravel the benefits of the past two presidential terms includes limiting assistance for Puerto Rico after two hurricanes. Although the Pentagon has issued private emails explaining a positive spin on U.S. non-assistance to its territory, DDT foils the attempt with such statements as his threat to remove FEMA because of PR’s financial struggles in the past.

Over three weeks after the second hurricane hit PR, 91 percent of the island is without electricity after yesterday’s power plant failure in San Juan, and 36 percent of the population lacks potable water. People are dying from such waterborne diseases as leptospirosis, and Puerto Ricans are drinking contaminated water from superfund sites because no other water is available.

FEMA sends information about sources of help through non-operational media sources; only 37 percent of cell towers function. Only 392 miles of Puerto Rico’s 5,073 miles of roads are open. FEMA cannot stay there forever—as DDT said—but it did stay in New Orleans for six years after Hurricane Katrina.

Criticized for the lack of support for people in Puerto Rico, FEMA said that it is not their job to distribute food and water. Their officials are there only to help people fill out paperwork. Mayors, who lack trucks, gas, and satellite phones, are responsible for getting these supplies to people. This photo to the right was taken this week in downtown Santurce, population of almost 100,000).

One senior FEMA official admitted that the agency is about 1.8 million meals short per day to feed people on Puerto Rico. Chef José Andrés had managed to deliver about 90,000 meals a day through a network of local chefs. His contract ended earlier this week with no urgency from FEMA to renew it.

Meanwhile, government workers are hiring Puerto Ricans for pedicures and massages on their “spa day” during work hours. An experienced senior doctor working for the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) in coordination with DHS quit after the FEMA disaster relief employees “used the triage tents that are supposed to be for medical care.”

Members of the White House administration are still geographically challenged. DDT said that he spoke to the “president of the Virgin Island” who is technically Donald Trump. DDT described Puerto Rico as being in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean: it’s in the Caribbean Sea. Energy Secretary Rick Perry called Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, as a “country” during a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing.

Russian trolls are distributing false information on social media about “excellent” conditions on the island.

DDT has withdrawn from Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization known for its designation of World Heritage sites. Its missions include promoting sex education, literacy, clean water and equality for women with the largest literacy program in Afghanistan. The excuse is that the organization is “anti-Israel,” meaning that it accepts Palestine.

DDT is threatening NFL with increased taxes if they don’t stop athletes from kneeling during the national anthem. The NFL has no federal tax breaks, but it benefits from tax-exempt bonds used by governments to finance new stadiums, about $13 billion since 2000 for NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA. DDT could demand a ban on these tax-exempt bonds.

After Richard Nixon fought the seizure of his records, a court case, followed by the Presidential Records Act (PRA) of 1978, mandated that all records of presidents and vice-presidents are public and cannot be destroyed. DDT, his White House staff, and his family are being sued for the preservation of all presidential records. According to DDT’s DOJ, “courts cannot review the President’s compliance with the Presidential Records Act.” DOJ lawyers also argue that judicial review is wrong even if DDT deletes secret recordings or his staff purges phone records because they expected to be subpoenaed in connection with various investigations.

After DDT said he was overturning DACA, the law allowing work permits to young people brought involuntarily into the country, he said that Congress should reform the law to permit them to stay. This week he issued his conditions for DACA: money for his wall on the Mexican border, laws to send undocumented immigrants including unaccompanied children to their home countries, elimination of sanctuary cities and other areas, refusal to allow immigrants to sponsor extended family members, rejection of children fleeing violence in Central America, use of the E-Verify program by businesses to find undocumented immigrants, and a fifty-percent cut on entry of unskilled workers through a “merit”-based immigration system. DACA members would also not be allowed to apply for citizenship. The demands indicate the fine hand of Stephen Miller, a white supremacist White House member.

One of the first bills that DDT signed after his inauguration was to make it easier for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun. People on Social Security for mental illnesses and deemed unfit to handle their own financial affairs are again permitted to purchase weapons. Law enforcement officials are beginning to view the man who killed 58 people and injured over 500 people in one shooting as mentally ill.

In this week’s fourth set of talks for NAFTA negotiations with Mexico and Canada, DDT turned against businesses and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce an enemy. The Chamber called DDT’s proposals “unnecessary and unacceptable” and “highly dangerous.” Businesses know that withdrawal from NAFTA means higher tariffs, losses in jobs, higher consumer prices, failure to create new trade deals, and forfeiture of any leadership in exports. Congressional members of Congress are also expressing frustration with their lack of involvement in negotiations because are responsible for any changes, additions, and/or deletions to trade agreements.

New language in the Department of Health and Human Services’ 2018-2022 strategic plan: its mission is “serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception.” This guideline may lead to contraceptives becoming illegal because some religious groups think that they produce abortions.

The EPA has issued a 43-page document to replace the Clean Power Plan with the Dirty Power Plan without any information on how his plan impacts air pollution. The document justifying the Dirty plan discounts any global costs or danger to future generations. The public is invited to comment on alternatives for replacing it, without the EPA proposing any replacement of its own. Secretary Scott Pruitt seems to think that he would have trouble with actually repealing the Clean plan because he’s asking for public input—a delaying tactic that allows him to maintain the Dirty plan.

In the “perfect storm” that elected DDT, Cambridge Analytica, an “election management agency” partly owned by conservative hedge-fund manager Robert Mercer, crunched data for DDT’s campaign after Ted Cruz lost. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) is now investigating the company for possible collusion between DDT’s campaign and Russian operatives. Social media delivered Russian propaganda to white voters, but the information about voters may have come from Cambridge, an outgrowth of the British SCL Group which ran a campaign dividing Latvians and ethnic Russians in Latvia with false statements and fake social movements. DDT’s data team followed the same social, ethnic, and racial divides, pushing the idea of discrimination against the white middle class.

DDT’s new anti-science nominees are Kathleen Hartnett-White for White House Council on Environmental Quality and Barry Myers for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Hartnett-White, from a Koch-funded foundation, believes that carbon dioxide is “not a pollutant” and argues that developing fossil fuels is “moral.” Myers, CEO of AccuWeather, wants to privatize the National Weather Service to benefit his company and has no advanced degree in science.

DDT continues his goal to be “unique.” This week he was the first person inaugurated as president who spoke to the hate group Values Voters Summit with its collections of anti-LGBTQ white supremacists and religious zealots. Another speaker was white supremacist and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, now beloved because he was wounded in a mass shooting. He is still opposed to LGBTQ rights although a married lesbian police officer saved his life. In a panel discussion, Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) said that religious freedom laws would “unshackle the voices on the right,” admitting that these laws are about politics, not religion.

Ignorance or lying? DDT said that he has reduced the national debt by $5.2 trillion because the stock market has increased that much since he was inaugurated. News for DDT: national debt is what the nation has borrowed; stock market is how much more businesses are worth. No relationship! DDT has made 1,318 false or misleading claims over 263 days.

People who think that impeachment is a solution to the problems that DDT brought to the U.S. should consider this statement yesterday from VP Mike Pence:

“President Donald Trump has restored the credibility of American power. Today our nation once again stands, without apology, as leader of the free world. That’s what American leadership on the world stage looks like.”

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) hasn’t let up on DDT. Yesterday Corker talked about DDT’s forced choices between going to war with countries like North Korea and Iran or allowing those countries to obtain nuclear weapons. Corker said, “You cannot publicly castrate your own secretary of state without giving yourself that binary choice.” He continued by saying that DDT’s actions are causing all Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s “phenomenal” work to “fall apart.” Thus far DDT hasn’t tweeted back at Corker’s accusations; he’s busy bragging about healthcare stocks going down after his continued sabotage of the Affordable Care Act.

Our future?

 

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