Government shutdown news, anti-vaxxers, Medicaid, & blackface

Settle in for another shutdown, kids. It looks like they’re gearing up for it in Congress.

Settle in for another shutdown, kids. It looks like they’re gearing up for it in Congress.

5 Things to Read Today

🤬 New York Times: Talks Over Border Security Break Down, Imperiling Effort to Prevent Shutdown

Negotiations over the spending bill crapped out on Sunday. If Congress doesn’t get it together by this Friday at midnight, we’re shutting down again. And hell, even if they do get it together, there’s a fair chance Trump just won’t sign the damn thing, because it doesn’t have his wall money.

🛫 The Hill: Flight attendant union calls for general strike if government shuts down again

Meanwhile, Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, a huge flight attendant union, is calling for a general strike if they shut the government down again. Reminder: it’s usually flight problems that gets the government open again once they shut down, because it turns out senators and representatives don’t like being trapped in DC.

😲 Pew Research Center: About a third of Americans say blackface in a Halloween costume is acceptable at least sometimes

I cannot believe that this still needs saying in 2019. Blackface is never, under any circumstances, for any reason, acceptable. Never ever, not even one time, no matter how “funny” or “clever” or “topical” or whatever you think you are. Do not. Just don’t.

⚕️ Vox: Utah Republicans have officially blocked their state’s voter-approved Medicaid expansion

Back in November Utah voters voted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The Republican legislature in Utah decided, Naaaah, and instead passed a bill that only allowed a partial expansion. The bill’s on the way to the Utah governor to be signed.

💉 The Oregonian: Proposal would eliminate personal vaccine exemption for Oregon school kids

In Oregon you can get a personal exemption from vaccinations and still send your kids to school. This is how anti-vaxxers get their kids into classes, and anti-vaxxers are the reason why we have a measles outbreak in Oregon. State rep Mitch Greenlick (D) has a bill proposed that would eliminate non-medical exemptions for kids, meaning you’d have to have an actual reason for not vaccinating your kids to get them into school.

The National Enquirer apparently tried to blackmail Jeff Bezos & others

Back on Jan. 9, Jeff Bezos and his soon-to-be former wife announced they were divorcing.

Jeff Bezos, By Steve Jurvetson
Photo Credit: Jeff Bezos, by Steve Jurvetson. (Source and licensing.)

Back on Jan. 9, Jeff Bezos and his soon-to-be former wife announced they were divorcing. Shortly after that, the National Enquirer published “reports” of Bezos’ affair, complete with text messages and claims of dirty photos.

Bezos apparently got to wondering how the National Enquirer got his texts and photos, so he hired all-star security consultant and author Gavin de Becker and his firm to investigate. And once the investigation started turning up dirt, the National Enquirer’s parent company, AMI, owned by David Pecker, apparently tried to blackmail Bezos by threatening to publish his dick pics.

But of course, publishing photos of Jeff Bezos’ wiener is only embarrassing – it’s not going to actually hurt him. He’s a powerful, ridiculously rich straight white dude involved in a pretty tame affair. The National Enquirer can’t actually hurt him with dirty pics, so yesterday Bezos published a blog post to Medium basically telling the National Enquirer, “🖕🖕🖕,” and published their emails to boot.

Once that happened, journalist Ronan Farrow announced, “Hey, the National Enquirer tried to blackmail me, too, along with some other prominent journalists.” Those journalists included folks at the Daily Beast and the AP.

Some links:

So, yeah, turns out, the National Enquirer? Hella shady. But of course, we already knew that.

Some more links:

The National Enquirer, for their part, says, “Nuh-uh!” and promises to investigate the situation, for whatever that’s worth. 🙄

One last quick thing. This morning Paul Krugman tweeted, “I never expected to see Jeff Bezos emerge as a hero of democracy. But he has. A profile in moral courage.”

I saw a few other folks tweeting similar sentiments last night and this morning, so I don’t mean to pick on Krugman in particular, here, but let’s tone this kind of “moral hero, profile in courage” bullshit down a bit, eh?

Bezos has umpteen gazillion dollars and more power than god. A few dick pics being made public were never going to hurt him. Also, he’s in charge of Amazon, a company that is a mass-consumerist hellscape that treats its employees like garbage.

I mean, good on Bezos for not buckling to blackmail and bringing it to light and all, but let’s not pretend that he’s some saint or anything.

Reuters: ‘Inside the UAE’s Secret Hacking Team of American Mercenaries’

This one’s a long read detailing how the United Arab Emirates launched a cyber intelligence team made up of American contractors. It’s a fascinating read.

Read this: Inside the UAE’s Secret Hacking Team of American Mercenaries.

[Lori Stroud] had joined Project Raven, a clandestine team that included more than a dozen former U.S. intelligence operatives recruited to help the United Arab Emirates engage in surveillance of other governments, militants and human rights activists critical of the monarchy.

Reuters

This one’s a long read detailing how the United Arab Emirates launched a cyber intelligence team made up of American contractors. It’s a fascinating read.

Whitaker says the Mueller investigation is almost done.

Matthew Whitaker, former big dick toilet salesman and current acting attorney general, says the Mueller investigation is nearing its finish.

Matthew Whitaker, former big dick toilet salesman and current acting attorney general, says the Mueller investigation is nearing its finish.

Whitaker did a press conference today over the US’ indictments of China’s Huawei and CFO Meng Wanzhou. During the course of the press conference, he was asked about the Mueller investigation and said, according to the Washington Post, “I have been fully briefed on the investigation and I look forward to Director Mueller delivering the final report. I am comfortable that the decisions that were made are going to be reviewed. . . . Right now, you know, the investigation is, I think, close to being completed.”

Roger Stone got indicted last Friday.

Roger Stone won’t rule out cooperating with the Mueller investigation.

This past Friday Roger Stone got indicted. Stone’s the guy who’s been pledging loyalty and swearing he’d never flip on Trump, ever.

Except, now that he’s been indicted, he won’t rule out flipping on Trump.

Because of course he won’t. Stone’s like 112 or something and doesn’t want to die in jail for a schmuck like Trump.

Photo: Roger Stone, by DonkeyHotey. (Source, License.)