Thur 4.5

< TODAY’S DOG AND PONY SHOWS >
# Trump to deploy National Guard to Mexican border
# Facebook preparing huge propaganda rollout
Okay then! On to the news …

Planned Parenthood exec:
Kushner, Ivanka offered “bribe” if we dropped abortions
Good Magazine
richards— In her new memoir, Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards said that she was approached by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump with a proposal to have the organization stop funding abortions.
— The offer, which Richards characterized as a “bribe,” was made during the transition prior to Donald Trump’s inauguration. Richards states that Jared told her that Planned Parenthood “had made a big mistake by becoming ‘political.’”

Billionaire Mercer backed a secretive group
that worked with Facebook, Google
to send Muslim-scare ads to swing voters
Open Secrets
eiffel— If it wasn’t already clear that the ad was meant to stoke viewers’ fears of imminent Muslim conquest, the video is interspersed with violent imagery. Three missiles are seen flying through the sky as the video opens. Blindfolded men are shown kneeling with guns pointed at their heads, and children are shown training with weapons “to defend the caliphate.”
… Mercer has become a household name not only for his political spending in recent years or his peculiar interests — such as part-timing as a New Mexico police officer or funding stockpiles of urine in the Oregon mountains — but also for bankrolling the alt-right and the data firm Cambridge Analytica, both of which helped Trump clutch victory in 2016.

 Two studies suggest opioid use drops where marijuana is legal
Snopes

— The researchers in both studies utilized records of opiate prescriptions reported by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, and analyzed how the prescription trends changed as a result of state-level changes in marijuana policy. Both studies reached the same conclusion: there are fewer prescriptions for opiates filled after a state legalizes medical or recreational marijuana.

Google says its Pentagon collaboration is meant to “save lives.”
… but 3,100 of its employees aren’t buying it
PC Magazine
— The staffers’ letter protesting Google’s involvement in Project Maven argues that the Pentagon could one day weaponize the company’s contributions into flying a drone or launching an attack. “We cannot outsource the moral responsibility of our technologies to third parties,” the letter said. 

EPA’s Pruitt throwing staffers overboard
In order to save his sinking ship
Raw Story
— EPA aparatchik Samantha Dravis has stepped down amid an ethics scandal involving her boss.
Scott Pruitt

California’s assault rifle ban may have saved lives at YouTube
Vice News
— Assault rifles, or AR-15’s, have been used to carry out some of the deadliest mass shootings in America, so when San Bruno police department got word of shots fired at a YouTube campus Tuesday, they feared the worst.

Something stinks in Alabama
It’s 10 million pounds of East Coast crap stuck in a rail yard
Newser
— The crap, shipped south from treatment plants in New York and New Jersey, is destined for a private landfill in Adamsville that has been accepting “biosolids” for more than a year. But nearby West Jefferson sued in January to prevent the foul-smelling waste from being handled at a local rail yard.

Speaking of stuff that stinks,
here’s the latest Russkie propaganda

pixel 8000Russia airs Yulia Skripal phone call;
she’s sounding (ahem) chipper

BBC
— Poisoned daughter of spy supposedly said: “Everything is fine, everything is solvable, everyone (she and her father) is recovering and is alive.”

Home buying market so brutal,
some buyers make offers sight unseen
USA Today
— For home buyers, this is shaping up to be one of the most difficult years in recent memory,” says Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist of Veritas Urbis Economics, which studies the housing market.
— Some of the hottest markets in recent years — such as Seattle, Las Vegas and San Jose — have continued to post double-digit annual price increases. Now, they’ve been joined by cities such as Nashville, Salt Lake City and Kansas City.
>>> San Francisco median home price: $1.6 million, a record Bloomberg

Corrupt FCC means Sinclair Broadcasting can keep growing
Motherboard
The trust-busting era is due for a comeback, but meantime…

— FCC boss Ajit Pai has been undaunted in his efforts to kill off media consolidation rules, which aids Sinclair’s expansion. Pai’s apparent coziness with Sinclair has been so blatant, it prompted a corruption investigation by Pai’s own bipartisan agency Inspector General.
— In December, Pai’s FCC voted to eliminate a cap that prevents any one broadcaster from reaching more than 39% of the nation.

Suddenly, electric aircraft being taken seriously
Flying Magazine via Popular Science
— German industrial  giant Siemens is betting that “the aviation industry is on the verge of a major shift in propulsion,” focused around three main drivers. “One is a reduction in [fossil] fuel consumption. Another is a significant reduction in emissions that can only be met by really disruptive technologies. Finally, there’s the needed reduction in aircraft noise.”The all electric aircraft E-Fan

At State Dep’t, Tillerson culled staff,
then paid $12 million to consultants

Politico
Some charged >$300 an hour. But hey, they put together some pretty cool Power Points.
“You had years of blueprints for reform developed internally … and thousands of career officers and civil servants who crave change and reform and would’ve been thrilled to work on this effort at no added taxpayer expense.”
— “Instead, they chose to lavish money on contractors and consultants who knew nothing about the organization.”

 

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