Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for July 13th, 2018

How to Betray Your Country in Ten Short Steps

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Kevin Drum gives an extract from a complete timeline:

A timeline of the entire Russia election hacking affair would be several yards long, so how about if we just do a short, focused one? Here you go:

  1. Summer 2014: The Dutch intelligence service, AIVD, breaks into the network of the Russian hacker group Cozy Bear. AIVD can see everything the Russians do.
  2. Summer 2015: AIVD watches as the Russians begin their efforts to hack into DNC servers and the email accounts of Democratic Party leaders.
  3. April 2016: Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Putin confidant and one of the most active Russian advocates for repealing sanctions imposed by the Magnitsky Act, meets with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R–Calif.) in Moscow. Veselnitskaya gives Rohrabacher a memo alleging that major Clinton campaign donors have evaded taxes on some of their Russian investments. Rep. French Hill (R–Arkansas) gets a copy of the same memo.
  4. June 3: Donald Trump Jr. receives an email from Rob Goldstone, a promoter who helped Donald Trump bring the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant to Moscow. Goldstone writes that a mutual friend has been given access to “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”
  5. 17 minutes later: Trump Jr. replies that “if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
  6. June 9: Natalia Veselnitskaya meets at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and other members of the Trump team. Later they all tell various lies about what was discussed until evidence leaks that contradicts them.
  7. June 22: Wikileaks sends an email to the Russian hackers, who are publicly posing as Guccifer 2.0, asking them to “[s]end any new material [stolen from the DNC] here for us to review and it will have a much higher impact than what you are doing.” A few days later Wikileaks makes another request: “if you have anything hillary related we want it in the next tvveo [sic] days prefable [sic] because the DNC [Democratic National Convention] is approaching and she will solidify bernie supporters behind her after…we think trump has only a 25% chance of winning against hillary . . . so conflict between bemie and hillary is interesting.” A month later, shortly before the Democratic convention starts, Wikileaks releases the Russian trove of DNC emails.
  8. July 27: While the Democratic convention is in progress, Donald Trump suggests he’s open to recognizing Russian control of Crimea and then says, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find” Hillary Clinton’s missing 30,000 emails.
  9. Later the same day:  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

13 July 2018 at 4:45 pm

Mueller’s New Indictment Points to Collusion With Russia

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Jonathan Chait writes in New York:

On July 27, 2016, Donald Trump denied Russia was the likely culprit in the email hacks, but also announced, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think that you’ll be rewarded mightily by our press.”

In what is possibly an astonishing coincidence, but probably not, that very night, according to the new indictments from the Department of Justice, Russian hackers “attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office. At or about the same time, they also targeted seventy-six email addresses at the domain for the Clinton campaign.” Trump asked Russia to hack his opponent, and Russia did “[f]or the first time,” as the indictment says.

Today’s latest, and almost certainly not last, indictments in the Russia scandal concern 12 Russian intelligence figures. The charge that Russians carried out the email theft is not a terribly surprising one, nor does it by itself suggest serious legal jeopardy for President Trump or his associates. Robert Mueller can’t arrest people in Russia, after all. The danger for Trump is the implication of collusion scattered throughout the indictments.

The indictment charges that the conspirators “received a request for stolen materials from a candidate for the U.S. Congress,” and “sent the candidate stolen documents.” The Wall Street Journal reported a year ago that “Guccifer 2.0,” one of the Russian hackers, communicated with Florida-based Republican operative Aaron Nevins. Nevins is not named in this indictment, but the revelation that a candidate also communicated with Russian hackers indicates yet another point of contact in a conspiracy that went beyond Trump’s campaign.

The most direct path to the Trump campaign indicated in this indictment runs through Roger Stone. The Republican dirty trickster officially left the Trump campaign in 2015, but remained in regular contact with Trump throughout the campaign.

Stone admittedly engaged in direct communication with one of the indicted Russian agents. The indictment cites Stone’s contact with Guccifer 2.0: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

13 July 2018 at 2:26 pm

Republicans Finally Kill Off Valuable Medical Database Their Donors Hate

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Republicans are amazingly destructive whenever they are given the opportunity. Kevin Drum notes:

What in the everlasting fuck?

The Trump Administration is planning to eliminate a vast trove of medical guidelines that for nearly 20 years has been a critical resource for doctors, researchers and others in the medical community. Maintained by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [AHRQ], part of the Department of Health and Human Services, the database is known as the National Guideline Clearinghouse [NGC], and it’s scheduled to “go dark,” in the words of an official there, on July 16.

….“ was our go-to source, and there is nothing else like it in the world,” [Valerie] King said, referring to the URL at which the database is hosted, which the agency says receives about 200,000 visitors per month. “It is a singular resource,” King added.

AHRQ said it’s looking for a partner that can carry on the work of NGC, but that effort hasn’t panned out yet….The operating budget for the NGC last year was $1.2 million, Hunt said, and reductions in funding forced the agency’s hand.

“Reductions in funding.” The federal government—2018 budget: $4.09 trillion—can’t manage to find $0.000000000012 trillion to keep this going. Sure. Alternatively, a lot of powerful players in the health care industry hate this database and have been trying to shut it down for years because sometimes it demonstrates that their pricey treatments don’t work. Here is Kevin M.D. a few months ago on the agency that maintains this database:

In 1994, the agency (then known as the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research) dared to publish a back pain guideline that suggested that there was little role for surgery in most patients. As later documented in Health Affairs, this act raised the hackles of back surgeons with powerful allies in Congress who were already annoyed by the agency’s association with the failed Clinton health-reform plan. The agency’s budget was zeroed out by the House of Representatives and narrowly restored by the Senate in 1995, after a 21% cut and a name change to emphasize that its mission would be to produce evidence to inform policy, rather than attempt to actively shape policy.

Despite this deliberately circumscribed mandate — I lost count of the number of times during my tenure as an AHRQ medical officer from 2006 to 2010 that I was told, “We don’t make guidelines, we make evidence that other groups use to make guidelines” — the passage of the Affordable Care Act made AHRQ a target again when in 2012 a House appropriations subcommittee voted to zero out its budget again. AHRQ survived that episode, only to be zeroed out by the House once again in 2015, when the danger to the agency’s survival seemed real enough that former Senate majority leader Bill Frist and former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services director Gail Wilensky both penned op-eds urging their Republican colleagues to reconsider — they eventually did.

There’s only one reason for such a sustained assault on an agency that’s literally a rounding error in the HHS budget: because people with money don’t want it around. And it looks like this time they finally won.

Written by Leisureguy

13 July 2018 at 12:05 pm

Panel suggests that dietary guidelines stop warning about cholesterol in food

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Patrick Skerrett has a report in Harvard Health, published by the Harvard Medical School that will be of particular interest to those who, like myself, follow a low-carb high-fat diet:

Warnings against eating foods high in cholesterol, like eggs or shrimp, have been a mainstay of dietary recommendations for decades. That could change if the scientific advisory panel for the 2015 iteration of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans has its say.

A summary of the committee’s December 2014 meeting says “Cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.” Translation: You don’t need to worry about cholesterol in your food.

Why not? There’s a growing consensus among nutrition scientists that cholesterol in food has little effect on the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream. And that’s the cholesterol that matters.

Nutrition experts like Dr. Walter C. Willett, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, called the plan a reasonable move. Dr. Steven Nissen, chair of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, told USA Today “It’s the right decision. We got the dietary guidelines wrong.”

Keep in mind that this isn’t a done deal. The panel, which is formally known as the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, makes recommendations for the next guidelines update, but these recommendations aren’t always followed.

The cholesterol connection

Cholesterol has a bad reputation, its name linked to heart attacks, strokes, and other types of cardiovascular disease. Yet cholesterol is as necessary for human health as water or air.

Cholesterol is a type of fat, or lipid. It is an essential building block for cell membranes and other crucial structures. It is needed to form the protective sheath that surrounds nerve fibers. The body uses cholesterol to make hormones such as testosterone and estrogen, the bile acids we need to digest and absorb fats, and vitamin D.

Cholesterol is so important that your liver and intestines make it day and night from fats, sugars, and proteins. In the average person, the body’s production of cholesterol far outstrips any contribution from cholesterol in food.

Why is blood cholesterol a concern? Too much of it, especially in the wrong kind of particle, can cause trouble inside blood vessels (see “From cholesterol to crisis” below). Harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles ferry cholesterol to artery walls. Protective high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles pull cholesterol out of circulation and deliver it to the liver for destruction.

Doing away with the beware-cholesterol-in-food warning would simplify the art of choosing healthy foods. And it would let people enjoy foods that contain higher amounts of cholesterol, such as eggs, shrimp, and lobster, without worrying about it. A better focus is on reducing saturated fat and trans fat in the diet, which play greater roles in damaging blood vessels than dietary cholesterol.

Science, including nutrition science, is a process of change. New findings emerge that nudge aside old thinking and prompt new recommendations. That’s easy for someone like me to say, since I closely follow nutrition science and research and understand how they work. But for folks who don’t, a change in the recommendations about cholesterol in food is likely to be seen as another dietary flip-flop and undermine confidence in what’s known about healthy eating. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

13 July 2018 at 12:02 pm

Simpson Emperor 3, Phoenix Artisan Organism 46-B, and the iKon open-comb

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Organism 46-B is a fantastical creature with a detailed description (for another example, consider the unicorn). In this context, Organism 46-B is a shaving soap and aftershave by Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements, with “Scent Notes of burnt sugar – bitter orange – brandy – Hedione – tobacco absolute – benzoin resin – ambergris.”

I really like how my skin feels when I use Phoenix Artisan soaps, and the ingredients tell the story:

Potassium Stearate, Glycerin, Potassium Cocoate, Aqua, Potassium Kokumate, Sodium Lactate, Potassium Shea Butterate, Potassium Castorate, Sodium Stearate, Potassium Cocoa Butterate, Potassium Avocadoate, Parfum [Fragrance]

Note that this is a vegan formula—but very rich and a great lather.

The iKon stainless steel open comb is a terrific razor, and the shave this morning was a delight.

A splash of Organism 46-B aftershave, and then out for my walk. A brief report: Normally my walk is 45 minutes now. With my new Nordic-walking poles, it was 47.5 minutes (learning curve issue, I imagine). I note that the poles do result in my having a noticeably more erect walking posture, and I also notice that my triceps and shoulders got a very good workout. (I did take a couple of aspirin on returning home.) The better workout for the upper body was expected and a benefit, but the main benefit I wanted was for the walk to be more enjoyable, and I think that will happen as I develop more upper-body strength: my stride is better, my posture is better, and I like the smooth pushback with the poles as I walk. My Canadian readers should note that the poles I have are now on sale, and I think it’s a clearance sale, so strike while the iron is hot.

Written by Leisureguy

13 July 2018 at 10:03 am

Posted in Nordic walking, Shaving

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