Posts tagged with "Mother Jones"

A Florida spa owner and ‘investment adviser’ has been selling access to the Trumps at Mar-a-Lago

March 12, 2019

Mother Jones published a skanky scoop on March 9 involving the president, his family—and a conniving Florida-based entrepreneur who set up a pay-to-play scheme that enabled Chinese executives to access the Trumps at Mar-a-Lago.

The entrepreneur, 45-year-old Li Yang, first came to light when law enforcement raided her chain of spas and massage parlors in South Florida—and busted New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft (among other customers) in late February for soliciting prostitution at one of the facilities.

She next made the news when the Miami Herald reported on March 8 that earlier in February, she had attended a Super Bowl viewing party at Donald Trump’s West Palm Beach golf club, Mar-a-Lago, and had snapped a selfie with the president during the event.

Although Yang no longer owns the spa that Kraft—a longtime Trump associate and pal—allegedly visited, the newspaper noted that other massage parlors her family runs have “gained a reputation for offering sexual services (best known as ‘happy endings’ in the massage business).”

What’s more, Yang runs an investment business through which, Mother Jones has documented, she has offered to sell Chinese clients access to Trump and his family. A website for the business—which features numerous photos of Yang and her purported clients hobnobbing at Mar-a-Lago—suggests she had some success in doing so.

Yang, who goes by Cindy, and her husband, Zubin Gong, started GY US Investments in 2017. The company describes itself on its website, which is mostly in Chinese, as an “international business consulting firm that provides public relations services to assist businesses in America to establish and expand their brand image in the modern Chinese marketplace,” Mother Jones reports.

But the firm notes that its services also attract clients looking to make high-level connections in the United States. On a page displaying a photo of Mar-a-Lago, Yang’s company says its “activities for clients” have included providing them with “the opportunity to interact with the president, the [American] Minister of Commerce, and other political figures.”

The company boasts it has “arranged taking photos with the President” and suggests it can set up a “White House and Capitol Hill Dinner.” (Mother Jones notes: The same day the Herald story about Yang broke, the website stopped functioning.)

The short bio of Yang on the website, identifying her as the founder and CEO of GY US Investments, shows her in a photo with Trump bearing his signature. It says she has been “settled in the United States for more than 20 years” and is a member of the “Presidential Fundraising Committee.”

According to the Herald, Yang is a registered Republican, and since 2017 she and her relatives have donated more than $42,000 to a Trump political action committee and more than $16,000 to Trump’s campaign.

Her Facebook page, which was taken offline on March 8, was loaded with photos of her posing with GOP notables, Mother Jones reports—among them, Donald Trump Jr., Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

A flier posted on GY US Investments’ website publicized an upcoming event at Mar-A-Lago featuring the president’s sister, Elizabeth Trump Grau.

Yang and her business partners listed on the GY US Investments’ website could not be reached for comment by Mother Jones.

Research contact: @DavidCornDC

Trump nominates pesticide pro to be USDA’s chief scientist

July 19, 2018

On July 16, President Donald Trump nominated a former Dow Chemical executive who had worked in the company’s pesticide division to be the next chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This would represent the POTUS’s third major hire of a Dow alumnus for his administration.

In recent history, Dow has been at odds with environmentalists and the USDA, not only over its pesticides, but over its genetically modified seeds.

Trump drafted Scott Hutchins for a position that has remained open since Sam Clovis’s’ nomination failed to clear the Senate, largely due to his lack of scientific background, Mother Jones reported this week.

Hutchins earned a doctoral degree in entomology—the study of insects and their relationship to humans, the environment and other organisms—from Iowa State University in 1987; so he has some knowledge of science. Since then, in addition to working in Dow’s pesticide division, Hutchins has served as global director for the company’s entire “crop protection” services division—which manufactures and markets pesticides, herbicides, and fungus killers.

In his role as chief scientist—formally known as undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics—Hutchins would set the agenda for the USDA’s $2.9 billion research budget.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue applauded Trump’s selection of Hutchins this week, saying, “I am very excited …. [Dr. Hutchins’] extensive background in research and commitment to sound science and data make him exceptionally qualified for this post, and I am eager to have Dr. Hutchins join the team.”

The nomination still must be confirmed by the Senate.

Research contact: press@oc.usda.gov

Trump policies create ‘abortion deserts’ across America

May 16, 2018

More than 60% of Americans think abortion should usually be legal—but it is getting harder to find a clinic that will supply such services since the Trump administration began to de-fund and delegitimize the procedure.

Indeed, according to a report by The Hill, Trump is scheduled to speak at the Susan B. Anthony List “Campaign for Life” gala on May 22—an anti-abortion event.

The POTUS already has taken steps targeting the right to abortion in American, including the so-called Mexico City policy, which prohibits federal funding of international organizations that discuss or offer referrals for abortion services.

In addition, about $300 million in Title X family planning money is in jeopardy in the United States right now, because Congressional Republicans are trying to ensure that the Department of Health and Human Services “has flexibility to change regulations governing how it is spent.”

Planned Parenthood, which annually receives about $60 million in Title X funds, may lose its second-largest financing stream as a result; and other programs also are going by the wayside.

It’s not just rural women who must travel long distances to get an abortion, Mother Jones reported on May 15. Researchers mapped out 780 abortion facilities across America in a new University of California  study out on May 14—and found that 27 major cities are 100 miles or more from the nearest abortion provider. The South and the Midwest have the largest “abortion deserts,” according to the study.

For instance, residents of Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and West Virginia all are limited to one in-state abortion facility, researchers from UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco found. The 27 “abortion deserts”—defined as major cities with populations over 50,000 where residents would have to travel 100 miles or more to get an abortion—include places like Chattanooga, Tennessee.; Green Bay, Wisconsin; and Springfield, Missouri.

The worst major city for abortion access, the UC researchers said, is Rapid City, South Dakota, where women must travel 318 miles to get an abortion.

“We were able to see what the average person sees when they set out to seek abortion care,” Ushma Upadhyay, an associate professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at UC San Francisco, and an author on the study, told Mother Jones in an email. “There are huge parts of the country where the distance to the closest provider poses a massive barrier to getting an abortion.”

In California, the team counted 152 abortion facilities, the largest number of any state. Maine had the greatest access per person, at one clinic for every 13,905 women. By contrast, Missouri, which already is known for its restrictive abortion laws, Mother Jones reports, has the worst abortion access of any continental state, at about 1.4 million women per facility.

“Access to transportation is a barrier for people seeking all types of health care, in both urban and rural settings,” the study’s authors write. “Lower-income women who are unable to access a car or money for gas may have to travel by bus, train, or other forms of transportation, which also becomes more difficult the farther they have to travel.”

There’s no clear solution on the horizon.

Research contact:  Ushma.Upadhyay@ucsf.edu