Posts tagged with "The New York Times"

Born to run? Michael Bloomberg files paperwork to enter 2020 presidential race

November 11, 2019

Another billionaire–this one with abundant political experience—having held three consecutive terms as mayor of New York City—is about to join the 2020 presidential race, running for the nomination on the Democratic ticket.

Michael Bloomberg, who will be 78 next February—and who currently is the CEO and owner of Bloomberg LP, a global financial services firm— is expected to file paperwork this week designating himself as a candidate in Alabama, a state with an early filing deadline, people briefed on Bloomberg’s plans told The New York Times for a November 7 report.

Bloomberg and his advisers called a number of prominent Democrats on Thursday, November 7, to tell them he was seriously considering the race—including former Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the retired majority leader who remains a dominant power broker in the early caucus state.

The Times said that aides to Bloomberg also reached out to Governor Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, the chair of the Democratic Governors Association.

Reid said in a brief interview with the news outlet that Bloomberg had not explicitly said he was running for president but that the implication of the call had been clear.

His entry into the race would cause a seismic disruption—but it might be welcomed by party leaders who are looking for a centrist politician with political seasoning who could stand up to Trump .

According to the Times report, with his immense personal wealth, centrist view, and close ties to the political establishment, Bloomberg would present an instantaneous threat to former Vice President Joe Biden, who has been struggling to raise money and is already defending his ideologically moderate base on multiple fronts.

Bloomberg initially bowed out of the 2020 race because of Biden’s apparent strength, but he has since grown skeptical that the top-polling Democrat is on track to win the nomination—and he does not see the two leading liberals in the race, Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, as strong candidates for the general election.

Howard Wolfson, a close adviser to. Bloomberg, said on Thursday that the former mayor has grown uneasy about the existing trajectory of the Democratic primary. He said Bloomberg viewed President Trump as an “unprecedented threat to our nation,” and noted the Democrat’s heavy spending in the 2018 midterm elections and this week’s off-year races in Virginia.

“We now need to finish the job and ensure that Trump is defeated—but Mike is increasingly concerned that the current field of candidates is not well positioned to do that,” Wolfson told The New York Times. “If Mike runs he would offer a new choice to Democrats built on a unique record running America’s biggest city, building a business from scratch, and taking on some of America’s toughest challenges as a high-impact philanthropist.”

Advisers to Mr. Bloomberg said he would likely make up his mind about the race within days, rather than weeks.

Research contact: @nytimes

Parallel universes: Dems raising $75 million to go head-to-head with GOP on social media

November 5, 2019

Two can play that game: A progressive organization called Acronym is plunging into the presidential campaign—revealing plans to spend $75 million on digital advertising that will be used to counterbalance and neutralize President Donald Trump’s early spending advantage in key 2020 battleground states, The New York Times reported on November 4.

And such a rampart may well be needed: Trump has spent more than $26 million so far nationally just on Facebook and Google, the news outlet says. That’s more than the four top-polling Democrats—Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg—have spent in total on those platforms.

Since its creation as a nonprofit group dedicated to building power and digital infrastructure for the progressive movement in March 2017, Acronym claims to have “run dozens of targeted media programs to educate, inspire, register, and mobilize voters,” as well as to have “worked with dozens of partners to accelerate their advocacy programs and investments.”

In the 2018 cycle, Acronym developed new digital tools and strategies to encourage voters to register to vote and show up at the polls on Election Day. Through these programs, Acronym and its affiliated political action committee, Pacronym, claim to have helped elect 65 progressive candidates across the country.

Photo source: AcronymAnd in January 2019, the group launched Shadow, a technology company focused on building accessible, user-centered products to enable progressive organizers to run smarter campaigns

Political organizers and pundits agree that such an effort is necessary. “The gun on this general election does not start when we have a nominee; it started months ago,” said David Plouffe, who managed Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and was a key adviser to him in 2012, and who recently joined Acronym’s board. ”If the things that need to happen don’t happen in these battleground states between now and May or June, our nominee will never have time to catch up.“

In an interview with the Times, Plouffe and Tara McGowan, the founder and chief executive of Acronym, said their digital campaign would kick off immediately, with a heavy focus on shaping how the public views Trump and the Democratic Party during the primary season, well before a nominee emerges.

“Our nominee is going to be broke, tired, have to pull together the party; and turn around on a dime and run a completely different race for a completely different audience,” Plouffe said.

“There is an enormous amount of danger between now and then,” he added. “If the hole is too steep to dig out of, they’re not going to win.”

The campaign, which the organization is calling “Four is Enough,” will focus initially on key swing states: Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. One state that is historically a battleground was notably missing from the initial list: Florida.

The effort will feature advertisements across multiple digital platforms, including Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Hulu, and Pandora. There will be original content, such as videos and animations, as well as boosting local news coverage that portrays Trump, his administration,and his agenda in a harsh light.

McGowan told the news outlet that for months her group had been raising the alarm about the president’s early online spending advantage.

“It started to feel as though we were really screaming into the abyss,” she said. So

McGowan told the Times that the group had already raised approximately 40% of the planned $75 million budget. She noted that Plouffe has joined as both a political adviser and to help raise funds. The spending will be made across two groups, Acronym, which is a nonprofit that does not disclose its donors, and Pacronym, a political action committee, which does. (The group’s winking moniker is a poke at the frequent practice of settling on a meaningful series of words to form an acronym for a nonprofit; they have skipped that alphabet-soup step entirely.)

“We’re absolutely, as a party, not doing enough and I don’t know that $75 million is enough,” McGowan said. “We can’t afford to not do this work right now.” Of the fact that some of her group’s donors would remain undisclosed, she said, “We have to play on the field that exists,” noting that Trump is aided by such funds, as well.

Research contact: @nytimes

Smoke and mirrors: Juul knowingly sold tainted nicotine pods, former executive says

October 31, 2019

The quality control initiative at Juul for the production of the e-liquid for JUULpods is all “smoke and mirrors,” according to allegations made by a former executive, The New York Times reports

In fact, the source asserts, the e-cigarette giant sold at least one million contaminated mint-flavored nicotine pods — and refused to recall them when told about the problem in March.

Now, he is suing, because, he says, Juul retaliated against him for speaking out.

In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Tuesday, October 29, Siddharth Breja, who was SVP for Global Finance at the company, claims he was fired on March 21 in retaliation for whistleblowing and objecting to the shipment of the contaminated and expired pods—as well as other illegal and unsafe conduct that “has jeopardized and continues to jeopardize public health and safety and the lives of millions of consumers, many of them children and teens.”

According to the Times report, Breja detailed a culture of indifference to safety and quality-control issues among top executives at the company and quoted the then-CEO Kevin Burns saying at a meeting in February: “Half our customers are drunk and vaping” and wouldn’t “notice the quality of our pods.”

A woman who answered Burns’ phone said he was not available to speak, the news outlet said. The former CEO left Juul in September.

However, in a conversation with the Times, Ted Kwong, a Juul spokesperson, dismissed Breja’s claims as baseless.

“He was terminated in March 2019 because he failed to demonstrate the leadership qualities needed in his role,” Kwong said. “The allegations concerning safety issues with Juul products are equally meritless, and we already investigated the underlying manufacturing issue and determined the product met all applicable specifications.”

Breja’s lawsuit did not specify what the contaminant in the nicotine pods was , the news outlet said. Breja said he urged Juul’s chief financial officer to issue either a recall or put out product safety warnings. A week later, the complaint says, the whistle-blower was fired.

This lawsuit is only the latest in a growing series of cases against Juul being filed around the country by school districts and individuals. The claims typically focus on personal injury for vaping-related illnesses or false marketing.

Research contact: @nytimes

Facebook gets grief for including Breitbart in News tab

October 29, 2019

Can Facebook do anything that doesn’t draw fire from users, regulators, legislators, and the media? After years of complaints from American news outlets that the social media site has The Washington Post reports that Facebook has agreed to compensate at least some news organizations as part of a specialized “News” tab meant to steer users toward curated national and local news stories.

But the project immediately raised new controversy when it became known that Breitbart News—a Web outlet linked to right-wing causes that was once run by former Trump adviser Steve Bannonhad been included among the 200 media outlets participating in the program.

“Given that Facebook is putting actual news outlets in the same category as Breitbart, actual news outlets should consider quickly withdrawing from the program,” Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Matters for America, a liberal nonprofit media watchdog, told the Post.

At an event in New York to launch the project, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended Breitbart’s inclusion. “You want to include a breadth of content to make sure all different topics can be covered,” Zuckerberg said.

Other outlets participating include The Washington Post, The New York Times, News Corp., BuzzFeed News, Business Insider, Bloomberg News, Fox News, NBCUniversal, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times.

The News tab marks the latest iteration of Facebook’s approach to online news, the Post reports. Before January 2018, the company had been a leading distributor of news, but that role was dogged by the presence in its feed of false and misleading information, as well as by allegations that its news feed and other features tilted toward liberal viewpoints

Zuckerberg did not go into specifics about how different publishers would be compensated, and media analysts expressed skepticism that the arrangement will help the small and medium local outlets that have been most seriously undercut by the rise of online news distribution.

“The vast majority of local news outlets are not included, and that is part of the news ecosystem that’s most at risk,” David Chavern, the president and chief executive of the News Media Alliance, a trade association of news publishers, told The Washington Post.

Chavern called Facebook’s agreement to pay at least some news outlets for their content a step in the right direction, noting that tech platforms have been “uniquely unwilling to pay for news and quality journalism.”

The News tab already is available to more than 200,000 Facebook users in the United States, with a broader rollout planned for early next year. The new service, Facebook executives say, should make it easier for users to locate the day’s major headlines, as well as stories geared toward particular topics or locales.

The initiative could reach 20 million to 30 million people over a few years, Zuckerberg said.

 Research contact: @washingtonpost

FDA proposes that manufacturers and doctors warn women about risks of breast implants

October 24, 2019

Women considering surgery to receive breast implants should be warned in advance of the risk of serious complications, including fatigue, joint pain and the possibility of a rare type of cancer, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on October 23, according to a report by The New York Times.

Agency officials are urging manufacturers to print a boxed warning on the packaging of the implants, the Times said, and to provide a checklist spelling out the risks for prospective patients to review before making a decision and putting down a deposit on the surgery.

The measures are not mandated by the agency; they are proposals now open to public comment and industry input.

Millions of women have implants—silicone sacks filled with either saltwater or silicone gel that are used to enlarge the breasts for cosmetic reasons or to rebuild them after a mastectomies for breast cancer.

Breast augmentation with implants is the most popular cosmetic surgical procedure, the news outlet notes: Some 313,000 augmentations were performed in 2018, a 4% increase over the number in 2017. Breast reconstruction after cancer surgery accounts for another 100,000 procedures.

In turn, thousands of women with implants have reported developing debilitating illnesses, such as severe muscle and joint pain, weakness, cognitive difficulties and fatigue, a constellation of symptoms some experts call “breast implant illness.”

Some of the ailments are forms of connective tissue disease, which includes lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other serious autoimmune diseases. Implants have also been linked to a rare cancer of the immune system called anaplastic large cell lymphoma, which can be fatal. Most of the cancer cases developed in women with textured implants.

The agency warned two implant manufacturers earlier this year that they had failed to carry out adequate long-term safety studies of implants, which had been mandated as a condition of their approval.

At an advisory panel meeting in March, women with breast implants testified about their illnesses and implored the agency to take action. More than 70,000 women signed a petition demanding the F.D.A. to require the checklist.

Advocates urged agency officials to require the long-term safety studies that were promised and to start patient registries to track outcomes. Some women asked the F.D.A. to ban breast implants altogether.

According to the Times report, agency officials said they had “heard loud and clear” that there was “a distinct opportunity to do more to protect women who are considering implants.”

The F.D.A. also wants implant manufacturers to list the ingredients in implants, in an easy-to-understand format for patients, so that women know about chemicals and heavy metals in the products.

The agency also is proposing new screening recommendations for women who already have silicone gel implants, saying they should undergo imaging scans to look for ruptures beginning five to six years after the surgery and every two years after that, the Times reported.

At the request of the F.D.A., Allergan in July recalled textured breast implants linked to the unusual cancer.

 Research contact: @nytimes

White House opens internal review of Ukraine call, as insiders run for cover

October 17, 2019

The cat is investigating who ate the canary. President Donald Trump has for weeks sought to unmask the whistle-blower who revealed his Ukraine dealings. Now, administration attorneys have begun a “fact-finding review” on the actions leading up to the current impeachment inquiry— and some White House denizens fear that it is really a hunt for a scapegoat, according to sources tapped by The New York Times.

Specifically, the news outlet reports, the legal investigators are seeking to understand White House officials’ actions around Trump’s July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, which is central to the whistle-blower’s allegation that the POTUS abused his power.

The lawyers are particularly interested in why one of their colleagues, National Security Council Legal Advisor John A. Eisenberg, placed a rough transcript of the call in a computer system typically reserved for the country’s most closely guarded secrets. The president later directed that a reconstructed transcript be released amid intensifying scrutiny from House Democrats.

According to the Times, “The review shows how quickly the impeachment inquiry escalated tensions in a West Wing already divided over the publication of the transcript, and it appears to be the latest example of administration officials rushing to protect themselves in the Ukraine scandal.”

For his own part, Eisenberg has reacted angrily to suggestions that he is under scrutiny, according to two people told of his response. He has said he limited access to the transcript over concerns about leaks, according to a person familiar with his actions. He declined through a National Security Council spokesman to comment.

It was not clear who sought the review. The Acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, is said to have encouraged it, and his aides are helping the White House Counsel’s Office, led by Pat Cipollone, sources said. Aides in the two offices have otherwise been at odds since the transcript was released, according to administration officials.

The existence of the review could threaten the president’s narrative that his call with Zelensky was “perfect.” Instead, the review underscores the evidence that he bent foreign policy to his personal advantage by pressing Zelensky to open investigations that could damage his political opponents.

Research contact: @nytimes

Bolton resisted Ukraine pressure campaign, calling Giuliani ‘a hand grenade’

October 15, 2019

The effort to squeeze Ukraine for political help provoked a head-on battle inside the White House last summer, The New York Times reports.

Indeed, the under-the-radar strong-arm tactics being used by President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, as well as administration officials, so alarmed John Bolton—who was at that time the national security adviser—that he told aide Fiona Hill to alert White House lawyers, House investigators learned on October 14.

Specifically, the Times notes, Bolton got into a tense exchange on July 10 with Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who was working with Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, to press Ukraine to provide dirt on Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son Hunter, according to three people who heard the testimony.

The aide, Fiona Hill, testified on Monday that Bolton told her to notify the chief lawyer for the National Security Council about a rogue effort by Sondland, Giuliani, and Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, according to the sources to the Times.

“I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Mr. Bolton, a Yale-trained lawyer, told Hill to tell White House lawyers, according to two people at the deposition.

It was not the first time Bolton expressed grave concerns to Hill about the campaign being run by Giuliani, the news outlet said. “Giuliani’s a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up,” Hill quoted Bolton as saying during an earlier conversation.

According to the Times, “The testimony revealed in a powerful way just how divisive … Giuliani’s efforts to extract damaging information about Democrats from Ukraine on President Trump’s behalf were within the White House. … Hill, the senior director for European and Russian affairs, testified that … Giuliani and his allies circumvented the usual national security process to run their own foreign policy efforts, leaving the president’s official advisers aware of the rogue operation yet powerless to stop it.”

At one point, she confronted Sondland, who had inserted himself into dealings with Ukraine even though it was not part of his official portfolio, according to the Times’ sources

Hill was the first former White House official to testify in the House impeachment inquiry. While she left her post shortly before the now-infamous July 25 telephone call in which Trump pressed Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democrats, she helped House investigators understand the early months of the pressure campaign.

Research contact: @nytimes

Ominous video at #AMPFest19 shows Trump ‘offing’ reporters in ‘Church of Fake News’

October 15, 2019

A video depicting a macabre scene of a fake President Donald Trump shooting, stabbing, and brutally assaulting members of the news media and his political opponents inside a Church of Fake News was shown at a conference for his supporters at his Miami resort, the Trump National Doral, last week, according to footage obtained by The New York Times.

According to the Times’ report on October 13, the video combines a series of memes and shows the president’s head superimposed on a mass shooter’s body. The president in the video then goes on to slaughter his political and media critics.

The conference was organized by American Priority, a pro-Trump group, and it was attended by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was speaking at the event, and the President’s son, Donald Trump, Jr.—neither of whom would admit to seeing the video, which supposed “was shown in a side room at #AMPFest 19,” the organization said.

In its official statement, AMP describes the video as “unauthorized” and says that it was never “approved, seen, or sanction by the #AMPFest 19 organizers,” who were “not even aware of the video until they were contacted by the NYT.”

The extremely violent video can be seen in this embedded tweet.

After news of the video broke, many politicians took to Twitter to condemn the video, including Democratic presidential candidate @Beto O’Rourke, who said: “ At a conference of Trump supporters, they played a video of our president murdering journalists in a church. Last year, a Trump supporter sent bombs to CNN—and a shooter entered a church yesterday. This video isn’t funny. It will get people killed.”

Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) added his own outrage, tweeting: “Every mother and father in America should watch video. Play it all the way to end. Know that this is the re-election message of your President. And then ask yourself – how you sit your kids down and tell them you want this person to lead us. “

On Monday morning, the White House Press Secretary (@PressSec) Stephanie Grisham weighed in, trying to distance the president from the violent clip, which contained a Trump campaign logo. She tweeted, “Re: the video played over the weekend: The @POTUS @realDonaldTrump has not yet seen the video, he will see it shortly, but based upon everything he has heard, he strongly condemns this video.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Graham will ask Australia, Italy, and UK to aid and abet AG Barr’s probe into Russia investigation

October 2, 2019

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) obviously is “drinking the Kool-Aid,” along with the president, the attorney general, and the secretary of state.

On October 1, The Hill reports, Graham laid out plans to send a letter asking other nations to cooperate with the Justice Department’s probe into the origins of the Mueller investigation.

Graham, during an on-air interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Monday, knocked a report by The New York Times that alleged that President Donald Trump had asked the Australian government to assist Attorney General William Barr as part of the DOJ investigation.

“Barr should be talking to Australia. He should be talking to Italy. He should be talking to the U.K. to find out if their intelligence services worked with our intelligence services improperly to open up a counterintelligence investigation of Trump’s campaign. If he’s not doing that he’s not doing his job,” Graham said according to The Hill. 

“So I’m going to write a letter to all three countries … asking them to cooperate with Barr,” he added. 

Graham’s Fox News interview comes after The New York Times reported that Trump urged Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help Barr, according to two officials with knowledge of the call. The Justice Department subsequently confirmed that Trump had contacted foreign governments at Barr’s request.

Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and has emerged as a Trump crony, blasted the Times piece, The Hill said—characterizing it as “the beginning of an effort to shut down Barr’s investigation.”

“This New York Times article is an effort to stop Barr. … What are they afraid of? This really bothers me a lot that the left is going to try to say there’s something wrong with Barr talking to Australia, Italy and the United Kingdom,” he added.

In addition to the Times story, The Washington Post reported on Monday that Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham of the District of Connecticut, who is leading the DOJ’s inquiry, met with senior Italian officials.

Barr also has reportedly requested assistance from British intelligence officials in connection with the inquiry.

Research contact: @thehill

Out of sight, top of mind: Whistleblower complaint squelched by Trump or an associate, Schiff says

September 23, 2019

It’s an open secret inside the Beltway that President Donald Trump is intent on blocking every point of access to the “credible and urgent” whistleblower report received by Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire earlier this month.

And while the House Intelligence Committee refuses to be deterred, a closed-door meeting on September 19 with the intelligence community’s Inspector General, Michael Atkinson—who received the report in August and intended to act upon it—yielded little to nothing.

Indeed, according to a report by The Daily Beast members of Congress told reporters that they learned no substantive details about the whistleblower’s complaint during their hearing with Atkinson.

The only facts divulged to date are that the president made a “promise” during a phone call to an unknown foreign leader—and that the subject of the complaint “relates to one of the most significant and important of the DNI’s responsibilities to the American people.”

Only minutes after the conclusion of the closed-door session,  The New York Times reported that the IG told members of the House Intelligence Committee that the complaint related to “multiple acts”—far exceeding the scope of a single alleged conversation with a foreign leader.

But specifics of the complaint—and even public confirmation that it concerns actions by the president—are still being withheld from Congress, committee members said.

Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) told reporters after the briefing that he believes the details of the complaint—which would normally be shared with Congress—are being suppressed, either by President Trump himself, or by someone “close” to him and “above the pay grade” of Maguire.

“I don’t think this is a problem of the law,” Schiff said, according to The Daily Beast, adding, “The problem lies elsewhere. And we’re determined to do everything we can to determine what this urgent concern is, to make sure that the national security is protected and to make sure that this whistle-blower is protected.”

Fellow House Intelligence member Representative Jackie Speier (D-California) told reporters that “we’ve got a very grave situation on our hands. The standard that has to be met by the IG… urgent, is talking about fire, as he referred to it.”

“This whistleblower has done everything according to the book,” Speier said. “And the potential for reprisals for this whistleblower are great”

In the five weeks preceding the complaint’s filing, The Daily Beast said, Trump had conversations with at least five foreign leaders, including President Vladimir Putin of Russia, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar.

Legally, such a complaint must involve mismanagement, waste, abuse, or a danger to intelligence operations or public safety, or relate to an intelligence activity that violates U.S. law.

Research contact: @thedailybeast