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N.C. man told police he went to D.C. pizzeria with assault rifle to ‘self-investigate’ election-related conspiracy theory

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A North Carolina man was arrested Sunday after he walked into a popular pizza restaurant in Northwest Washington carrying an assault rifle and fired one or more shots, D.C. police said. The man told police he had come to the restaurant to “self-investigate” an election-related conspiracy theory involving Hillary Clinton that spread online during her presidential campaign.

The incident caused panic, with several businesses going into lockdown as police swarmed the neighborhood after receiving the call shortly before 3 p.m.

Police said 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch, of Salisbury, N.C., walked in the front door of Comet Ping Pong and pointed a firearm in the direction of a restaurant employee. The employee was able to flee and notify police. Police said Welch proceeded to discharge the rifle inside the restaurant.

Welch has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.

Interim D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said police arrived on the scene minutes after the first call, set up a perimeter and safely arrested Welch about 45 minutes after he entered the restaurant.

Police said in addition to the assault rifle, they also recovered two firearms inside the restaurant; an additional weapon was recovered in Welch’s car.

Vivek Jain, of Potomac, Md., was eating lunch inside Banana Leaf, a nearby Indian restaurant, when Comet patrons came rushing inside. He said Banana Leaf was locked down for about 90 minutes.

“A bunch of people ran in from Comet and said a man walked in with a gun,” Jain said.

About 45 minutes later, he said, he saw a man walking backward out into the street with his hands in the air.

“He laid down on Connecticut Avenue and he was immediately picked up by the police and taken away,” he said.

[Fake news makes Comet Ping Pong a target for conspiracy theories]

The popular family restaurant, near Connecticut and Nebraska avenues NW in the Chevy Chase neighborhood, was swept up in the onslaught of fake news and conspiracy theories that were prevalent during the presidential campaign. The restaurant, its owner, staff and nearby businesses have been attacked on social media and received death threats.

While police initially said it did not appear the incident was related to the threats, businesses and residents immediately surmised it might be connected to “pizzagate.”

James Alefantis, the owner of Comet Ping Pong, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment Sunday.

The restaurant’s owner and employees were threatened on social media in the days before the election after fake news stories circulated claiming that then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her campaign chief were running a child sex ring from the restaurant’s backrooms. Even Michael Flynn, a retired general whom President-elect Trump has tapped to advise him on national security, shared stories about another anti-Clinton conspiracy theory involving pedophilia. None of them were true. But the fake stories and threats persisted, some even aimed at children of Comet Ping Pong employees and patrons. The restaurant’s owner was forced to contact the FBI, local police, Facebook and other social-media platforms in an effort to remove the articles.

Last month, citing its policy against posting the personal information of others, Reddit banned the “pizzagate” topic.

[Fearing yet another witch hunt, Reddit bans “pizzagate"]

But it didn’t stop the harassment, and nearby businesses have received threats as well, according to police. On Sunday, Washington Post reporters involved in this article were the target of online threats shortly after it posted.

Matt Carr, the owner of the Little Red Fox market and coffee shop, said his business started getting threats last weekend. They got 30 to 40 calls before they stopped answering calls from blocked numbers, he said. “One person said he wanted to line us up in front of a firing squad,” said Carr, who spent more than an hour in lockdown with his employees Sunday.

The threats were all tied to the Comet Ping Pong accusations online, he said. “There’s some old painted-over symbol on the marquee that they claim is an international symbol of pedophilia and that there are underground tunnels. . . . There’s some video on YouTube that has almost 100,000 views and talks about me, the owner of the Little Red Fox, by name.

“This was our worst fear,” he said, “that someone would read all this and come to the block with a gun. And today it happened.”

Politics and Prose, the bookstore that has been a Washington institution and neighborhood fixture for more than 30 years, was in the middle of a book event when attendees and staff saw police converging on the block, said Bradley Graham, a store co-owner.

They, too, had received threats recently, Graham said, and were planning to meet with police Monday “because we had feared that what, up to now, had been simply despicable menacing verbal attacks online or on the phone might escalate.”

Graham said he was told that the gunman walked into the kitchen at Comet Ping Pong on Sunday, “presumably looking for the alleged tunnels” where children were hidden and tortured. Graham believes that account of the gunman’s actions came from an employee at the restaurant.

He said the businesses are hoping to get more police protection, “and we would also hope that law enforcement authorities will be prompted to take additional measures to shut down the sites where this hateful material is being spread, and also measures to try to trace the menacing phone calls.

“ . . . We’re all rather shaken,” he said.

“Political figures have the means to deal with conspiratorial allegations and threats, but your neighborhood mom and pop shop does not,” Carr said later in an email. “I make coffee and breakfast burritos for a living. This is out of our league.”

D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) was getting gas down the street from Comet Ping Pong and saw what she described as intense police activity around the restaurant. Cheh said she spoke with Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), who had been briefed by police. At the time she spoke to reporters, Cheh didn’t know the gunman’s actions were connected to the false rumors surrounding Comet Ping Pong, but she was concerned.

“It’s very, very worrisome,” Cheh said. “I’m just very worried that [the rumors] may have unleashed people who are unstable to pursue violent action, as has happened before.”

She praised the speed of the police response, which she said may have prevented an attack. “It all looked so efficient and professional. I was very pleased it was locked down so quickly.”

Gareth Wade, 47, and Doug Clarke, 50, were sitting down for pizza and beer at Comet when they spotted a commotion. All of a sudden, said Wade, “the server said someone just walked in with a shotgun.

“A man had just walked into the building, passed us into the back of the building, he seemed to have a shotgun or a rifle-type of [gun] and said we ought to vacate the building,” Wade recalled the server saying.

They rushed out of the restaurant and had planned to head to Politics and Prose, where Clarke’s wife and 5-year-old took shelter, but they got separated. Clarke and Wade were met by a heavy police presence when they attempted to join up.

“Police said you can’t go to the bookstore,” Wade said. They ended up behind the police barricade at Connecticut Avenue and Fessenden Street. Clarke’s wife and son were forced to remain inside the bookstore. Meanwhile, Clarke was trying to reunite his son with a present he had received for his fifth birthday, a stuffed lion that they were forced to leave inside the restaurant.

“He’s kind of shaken up about the whole thing,” Clarke said. “We’ve been talking a lot about it and trying to help him understand. That he was a man with a weapon, weapons are bad — he was not a nice person.”



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Steve Hendrix and Valerie Strauss contributed to this report.

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53 minutes ago
Can we start talking about this kind of threat any time someone mentions “self-radicalization” now?
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Trump’s Taiwan phone call was long planned, say people who were involved - The Washington Post

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Donald Trump’s protocol-breaking telephone call with Taiwan’s leader was an intentionally provocative move that establishes the incoming president as a break with the past, according to interviews with people involved in the planning.

The historic communication — the first between leaders of the United States and Taiwan since 1979 — was the product of months of quiet preparations and deliberations among Trump’s advisers about a new strategy for engagement with Taiwan that began even before he became the Republican presidential nominee, according to people involved in or briefed on the talks.

The call also reflects the views of hard-line advisers urging Trump to take a tough opening line with China, said others familiar with the months of discussion about Taiwan and China.

Trump and his advisers have sought to publicly portray the call the president-elect took from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen ­on Friday as a routine congratulatory call. Trump noted on Twitter that she placed the call.

“He took the call, accepted her congratulations and good wishes and it was precisely that,” Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

That glosses over the extensive and turbulent history of U.S. relations with Taiwan and the political importance the island and its democracy hold for many Republican foreign policy specialists.

Some critics portrayed the move as the thoughtless blundering of a foreign policy novice, but other experts said it appeared calculated to signal a new, robust approach to relations with China.

China reacted sternly to the Taiwan call, suggesting that it shows Trump’s inexperience.

Trump sent two Twitter messages Sunday that echoed his campaign-stump blasts against China.

“Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the U.S. doesn’t tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea?” he asked. “I don’t think so!”

The United States does impose a tax on Chinese goods — 2.9 percent for non-farm goods and 2.5 percent for agricultural products.

Some of the GOP’s most ardent Taiwan proponents are playing active roles in Trump’s transition team, and others in the conservative foreign policy community see a historic opportunity to reset relations with Taiwan and reposition it as a more strategic ally in East Asia.

Several leading members of Trump’s transition team are considered hawkish on China and friendly toward Taiwan, including incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus.

Indeed, advisers explicitly warned last month that relations with China were in for a shake-up.

In an article for Foreign Policy magazine titled “Donald Trump’s Peace Through Strength Vision for the Asia-Pacific,” Peter Navarro and Alexander Gray described Taiwan as a “beacon of democracy in Asia” and complained that its treatment by the Obama administration was “egregious.”

The article, flagged to China experts as a significant policy blueprint, described Taiwan as “the most militarily vulnerable U.S. partner anywhere in the world” and called for a comprehensive arms deal to help it defend itself against China.

Friday’s phone call does not necessarily mean that will happen, but it does look like the first sign of a recalibration by a future Trump administration, experts say.

It was planned weeks ahead by staffers and Taiwan specialists on both sides, according to people familiar with the plans.

Immediately after Trump won the Nov. 8 election, his staffers compiled a list of foreign leaders with whom to arrange calls. “Very early on, Taiwan was on that list,” said Stephen Yates, a national security official during the presidency of George W. Bush and an expert on China and Taiwan. “Once the call was scheduled, I was told that there was a briefing for President-elect Trump. They knew that there would be reaction and potential blowback.”

Alex Huang, a spokesman for Tsai, told the Reuters news agency, “Of course both sides agreed ahead of time before making contact.”

Tsai’s office said she had told Trump during the phone call that she hoped the United States “would continue to support more opportunities for Taiwan to participate in international issues.”

Tsai will have sympathetic ears in the White House. Priebus is reported to have visited Taiwan with a Republican delegation in 2011 and in October 2015, meeting Tsai before she was elected president. Taiwan Foreign Minister David Lee called him a friend of Taiwan and said his appointment as Trump’s chief of staff was “good news” for the island, according to local news media.

Edward J. Feulner, a longtime former president of the Heritage Foundation, has for decades cultivated extensive ties with Taiwan and is serving as an adviser to Trump’s transition team.

At the Republican National Convention in July, Trump’s allies inserted a little-noticed phrase into the party’s platform reaffirming support for six key assurances to Taiwan made by President Ronald Reagan in 1982 — a priority for the Taiwan government. Also written into the 2016 platform was tougher language about China than had been in the party’s platform in its previous iteration four years ago.

“We salute the people of Taiwan, with whom we share the values of democracy, human rights, a free market economy, and the rule of law,” the platform said, adding that the current documents governing U.S.-Taiwan relations should stand but adding, “China’s behavior has negated the optimistic language of our last platform concerning our future relations with China.”

Yates, who helped write that portion of the platform, said Trump made clear at the time that he wanted to recalibrate relationships around the world and that the U.S. posture toward China was “a personal priority.”

About the same time, Navarro, one of Trump’s top economic and Asia advisers, penned an op-ed saying that the United States must not “dump Taiwan” and needs a comprehensive strategy to bolster what he termed “a beacon of democracy.”

The president-elect’s advisers have said the communication does not signify any formal shift in long-standing U.S. relations with Taiwan or China, even as they acknowledge that the decision to break with nearly 40 years of U.S. diplomatic practice was a calculated choice.

“Of course all head-of-state calls are well planned,” said Richard Grenell, a former State Department official who has advised the Trump transition effort.

Grenell and others noted that the call came about two weeks after Trump had spoken with Chinese President Xi Jinping and that it was not substantive.

“There was no policy discussion, and everyone involved is well aware of the ‘One China’ policy,” Grenell said, referring to the Nixon-era shift that established formal direct ties between Washington and Beijing.

The United States maintains a military relationship with Taiwan, which Beijing considers a province, but closed its embassy there in 1979. Republican administrations since then have emphasized Taiwan’s democracy and flirted with the idea of a shift in policy, but none have held public discussions with a Taiwanese leader.

“There are a lot of things that previous Republican presidents, and Democratic presidents, would do that Donald Trump won’t do,” Grenell said. “He’s a man that understands that typical Washington rules are not always best for our foreign policy.”

During the campaign, Trump’s fiery rhetoric against China resonated with his supporters, especially those in the economically beleaguered Rust Belt states where he registered unexpected wins. Trump accused China of “raping” the United States by stealing trade secrets, manipulating its currency and subsidizing its industries. He vowed to institute tough new policies designed to crack down on the Chinese and extract concessions, such as by imposing higher tariffs on goods manufactured there.

By irritating if not angering the Chinese government with his talk with Tsai, Trump showed his core supporters in the United States that he would follow through with his promise to get tough on China, some observers said.

“He campaigned on an ‘America first’ platform,” GOP pollster Frank Luntz said. “Calls like this may upset the diplomats, but they communicate to Americans that he’s not going to play by the same rules and isn’t just talking differently but will act differently.”

Walter Lohman, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center, said the call with Tsai “was deliberate. It was not an accident. Obviously he made a conscious decision to have the call arranged. She called him, but there was an agreement for it.”

Gordon Chang, an Asia expert and author of “ The Coming Collapse of China ,” said Trump’s tweet Friday night that he had just accepted a call from Tsai was “not credible.”

“This has all the hallmarks of a prearranged phone call,” Chang said. “It doesn’t make sense that Tsai out of the blue would call Donald Trump. She is not known for taking big leaps into the unknown, and it would be politically embarrassing when it was learned that she called Trump and he would not take her call.”

Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to Trump’s transition team, brushed aside questions about what the call signals about the incoming administration’s priorities and policy on China.

“All he did was receive a phone call,” Conway told reporters Sunday at Trump Tower in New York. “Everybody should just calm down. He’s aware of what our nation’s policy is.”

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Academia is now incompatible with family life, thanks to casual contracts

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‘It is hard to forgo spending time with my partner or catching up on sleep after our baby was awake half the night, but I have to work on that grant…
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Lawyers: New court software is so awful it’s getting people wrongly arrested

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Cyrus Farivar

OAKLAND, Calif.—Most pieces of software don’t have the power to get someone arrested—but Tyler Technologies’ Odyssey Case Manager does. This is the case management software that runs on the computers of hundreds and perhaps even thousands of court clerks and judges in county courthouses across the US. (Federal courts use an entirely different system.)

Typically, when a judge makes a ruling—for example, issuing or rescinding a warrant—those words said by a judge in court are entered into Odyssey. That information is then relied upon by law enforcement officers to coordinate arrests and releases and to issue court summons. (Most other courts, even if they don’t use Odyssey, use a similar software system from another vendor.)

But, just across the bay from San Francisco, one of Alameda County's deputy public defenders, Jeff Chorney, says that since the county switched from a decades-old computer system to Odyssey in August, dozens of defendants have been wrongly arrested or jailed. Others have even been forced to register as sex offenders unnecessarily. “I understand that with every piece of technology, bugs have to be worked out,” he said, practically exasperated. “But we're not talking about whether people are getting their paychecks on time. We're talking about people being locked in cages, that's what jail is. It's taking a person and locking them in a cage.”

Odyssey is used not only in Alameda County and additionally in 25 of California’s 58 county courts, but also in counties nationwide, from Miami-Dade County, Florida, to Kane County, Illinois. Lawyers in at least three counties in as many states have reported problems nearly identical to Alameda's and have begun formal legal proceedings as a result. Earlier this month, an activist group in Shelby County, Tennessee, alleged similar issues in a recently filed federal civil rights lawsuit. According to the Memphis Daily News, Shelby County Commissioners discussed on Wednesday possible legal action against Tyler Technologies.

Due to the same glitches, inmates in Marion County, Indiana, sued the county sheriff nearly two years ago in federal court over a related issue—that case is still ongoing.

Tyler Technologies did not respond to Ars’ requests for comment.

“How do you blame software?”

Seated in a windowless interview room at his office, Chorney told Ars on Wednesday afternoon that he and his colleagues would soon be filing a formal appeal to the 1st District Court of Appeal of California. His office remains frustrated that after months of letters to Alameda County’s supervising judges outlining the situation, nothing has changed.

Earlier this week, the San Francisco Chronicle detailed an account of a 24-year-old college student and teacher’s assistant from nearby Fremont who was wrongly arrested in September for an earlier drug possession warrant that had already been dismissed.

“A warrant was recalled by a judge and the warrant was recalled a second time and his entire case was dismissed; nevertheless, three days later he was arrested on that warrant,” Chorney continued, referring to the Fremont case. “I don't know whether that was an input error or a mistake between computer systems, but I do know that with the old system those types of mistakes were not happening as often. With this new computer system it seems to be magnified.”

Since mid-November, the Alameda County public defender has filed an identical motion in hundreds of criminal cases, demanding that the court keep accurate records or abandon the Odyssey system entirely. That filing includes detailed descriptions of several other similar situations, including one where a person spent an additional 20 days in jail.

"If this is the computer system, and it's not working and people's rights are being violated, then you need to stop using it," Chorney said. "If there's a way to go back to the old one, then do that; if there's a way to switch to something else—anything else has to be better than what's happening right now."

Elizabeth Joh, a criminal law professor at the University of California, Davis, told Ars that this situation was alarming. “Errors do occur in the criminal justice system, but in the past only people were to blame,” she e-mailed. “How do you blame software, and who is responsible? These kinds of systemic technology problems pose a real challenge to individual criminal defendants, who may sometimes not be aware of the source of the error—and it looks like Tyler Technologies is rejecting any responsibility.”

Status quo ante bellum

So, how did Alameda County get to this point? Alameda County Court Executive Officer Chad Finke explained the saga to Ars from his second-floor corner office in the René Davidson Courthouse, overlooking Lake Merritt. According to Finke, the issue dates back to 2012, when California’s judicial council—the rulemaking entity for state courts—killed a homegrown $500 million project known as the Court Case Management System. Not long after that, the state’s county courts were given the choice as to how to upgrade their case management systems, and over half of California’s counties, including Alameda, selected Tyler Technologies.

Cyrus Farivar

Alameda spent some of 2014 and all of 2015 gearing up for the transition to their new system and pushed it back multiple times, until the June 2016 soft launch. The county finally cut ties with its 1970s-era system, known as CORPUS, in August. However, in addition to dealing with new cases—difficult enough for clerks—Odyssey also had to convert older cases into its own database, a process that is cumbersome and remains slow.

As Charles Denton, an Alameda County assistant public defender, wrote in a November filing:

Although one of Odyssey’s chief selling points was that entire files would be digitized and available online, the reality is that there is a backlog of more than 12,000 files that have not been uploaded into the system. That number grows by 200-300 files every day and with it the danger that filings and minute orders may be lost in the process. Because of this backlog, many files have not been updated for weeks or even months. A judge or court clerk who wants to check on a future court date has no better than a 50-50 chance of finding it in the system, and the lawyer who needs a minute order, a filing or a charging document for a motion or writ is as likely as not to find it missing from the “paperless” file.

As a result, Finke now told Ars that there is a “protocol” between him and the public defender’s office, where he is to be notified of any problems so that they can be rectified in a timely manner.

“Was it a data conversion error, was it a human error?” he said. “Was it a case where the clerk didn't input anything?”

He explained that one aspect of CORPUS was that some clerks didn’t always use the precise same format for making notations. One might use “168” to refer to Penal Code 168, while another might put in PC168, or PC168(a), or PC168a. Odyssey, like most modern software, has built-in checks that require certain fields to be formatted in specific ways. “So that gave everybody a lot of fits because you had to convert this nonstandard data into a standard format,” Finke explained. “I think that there is a little bit of that going on still. I think it is a combination of human error. It has been diminishing, it's not gone. I don't want to shine anybody on. It's not an error-free process, but it's certainly gone down.”

He estimated that the public defender’s office has documented 26 cases, and then presented 12 more—but for a court that does about 1,000 criminal hearings a week, errors remain a very small percentage.

But these problems have cropped up to such a degree statewide that there is now a “California Tyler User Group” (CA-TUG), where officials and IT staff from the 26 courts that use Odyssey can meet and troubleshoot issues. It is also telling that Alameda County has also chosen not to expand Odyssey to the family, probate, or civil side of the court.

“The way I look at it is this: let's say that I knew I had to drive a car in a race. Tyler says: ‘We have a great car,’ and I bought the car,” Finke added. “But the car they sold me is a Prius—not the best car to race in. I say that the spin off that is often Odyssey isn't working—it's doing what its programmers designed it to do.”

The court executive said that he hopes the January 1, 2017 switch to another version of Odyssey, known as “Clerk Edition,” will help alleviate some of the problems.

On top of it all, Finke said, the court is operating as tightly as possible and cannot afford to hire more staff. Recently printed notices posted in the lobby of the courthouse announced reduced court hours for the rest of the year, including some days when the court will be totally closed during what would otherwise be normal business hours. “In our absolute best scenario we will end the year with $16,000 in the bank—we are right at the margin,” he concluded. “If we had bought Odyssey 15 years ago we probably wouldn't have been in this situation because we would have just thrown more bodies at it.”

Still, this issue doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, and for now the county doesn't seem to be interested in pulling the plug on its $4.5 million deal with Tyler Technologies.

Dennis Cuevas-Romero, a spokesman for the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, sent Ars a statement saying that the group was “very disturbed” by what was going on in Alameda County.

“Our criminal justice system is beset by racial and economic biases and ongoing examples of wrongful convictions, prosecutorial and police misconduct, all of which contribute to significant injustice, and often inappropriate incarcerations,” the organization said. “It is inconceivable that we would allow ‘technology’ to inadvertently put someone behind bars. We should all be outraged, and immediate action needs to be taken. All lives matter, especially those who are being wrongfully put behind bars due to computer problems. The local court is fully aware of this problem, and if it chooses not to take action it would not only be irresponsible but potentially require legal action.”

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Trump’s health pick, Tom Price, sparks bitter infighting among doctors

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President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of six-term Congress member Tom Price (R-Ga.) for secretary of health and human services has inflamed the medical community bigly this week, causing widespread and bitter infighting.

Price is not a particularly shocking pick by Trump—the Congressman is one of the fiercest Obamacare critics, and Trump vowed during his campaign to quickly repeal and replace the mammoth healthcare law. Beyond that, Price, a former orthopedic surgeon, has maintained strong conservative positions on healthcare policy. He opposes abortion rights and regulations on tobacco, for instance. But he also belongs to a small, fringe, ultra-conservative and conspiracy-laden group called the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). Among other things, this group decries evidence-based medicine, Medicare, and Medicaid, plus it has peddled discredited, dangerous notions including that vaccines cause autism.

In light of some or all of those facts, many in the medical community were left aghast and fuming by support of Price’s nomination from top medical associations, namely the powerful American Medical Association (AMA) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). In the past few days, thousands of doctors have signed letters and petitions, condemned the groups’ support, and publicly quit the AMA. The hashtag #NotMyAMA has gathered steam on Twitter.

An online protest letter, titled “The AMA Does Not Speak for Us,” was signed by more than 3,800 doctors as of Friday. In it, the doctors briefly pick apart Price’s clear record of supporting the dismantling of Medicare and Medicaid, not supporting the Children’s Health Insurance Program, as well as opposing the ACA, which provided coverage for 20 million Americans.

It concludes:

The AMA’s vision statement includes “improving health outcomes” and “better health for all,” and yet by supporting Dr. Price’s candidacy — and therefore, his views — the AMA has not aligned itself with the well-being of patients. As physicians, we challenge the AMA’s position by affirming our commitment to our patients above all else.

The National Physicians Alliance and the American Medical Student Association also opposed Price’s nomination. In the NPA’s opposition statement, it noted: “We are dismayed that other large physician organizations have endorsed Dr. Price without consideration of the harm his policies would inflict on our collective patients.”

Amid the backlash, the AMA, which lauded Price on Tuesday as “a leader in the development of health policies to advance patient choice and market-based solutions,” doubled down in its support. In a lengthier position statement released Thursday as a response to protests, the association explained that it valued Price’s nomination because he is a former physician and has been open to discussion with the AMA in the past.

“We must be realistic,” the AMA said in a Facebook post linking its second support statement. “The election is now over, and as happens in every election, one candidate won and now must choose his Cabinet. And as a non-partisan organization, the AMA has an obligation to work with the incoming administration and strive to find common ground.”

In its endorsement of Price’s nomination, the AAMC expressed similar sentiments, saying: “Rep. Price understands firsthand the work and challenges faced by our nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals… We are confident that Rep. Price will bring a thoughtful, measured approach to tackling the wide range of issues affecting the nation’s health…”

Executive director of the fringe AAPS Jane Orient—who was largely behind conspiracies about Hillary Clinton’s health during the election and has written for Breitbart news—told Ars that the organization also supports Price. “It is good to have a nominee who understands how Medicare rules are affecting patients and physicians and who supports free markets,” she said in an e-mail.

The Trump administration did not immediately respond to Ars’ comment request.

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2 days ago
Now I want a service to help you find doctors based on whether they voiced support for or against public medical care…
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Trump speaks with Taiwanese president, a major break with decades of U.S. policy on China - The Washington Post


President-elect Donald Trump spoke Friday with Taiwan’s president, a major departure from decades of U.S. policy in Asia and a breach of diplomatic protocol with ramifications for the incoming president’s relations with China.

Trump spoke by phone with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said. The conversation was first reported by the Financial Times and the Taipei Times.

The call is the first known contact between a U.S. president or president-elect with a Taiwanese leader since the United States broke diplomatic relations with the island in 1979. China considers Taiwan a province, and news of the official outreach by Trump is likely to infuriate the regional military and economic power.

A spokeswoman for Taiwan in the United States said she could not immediately confirm that the conversation took place, and said she was seeking guidance from Taiwan.

The Taipei Times reported ahead of the call Friday that it was arranged to congratulate Trump on his election victory last month and to express hopes for an expanded relationship with the United States.

The United States has pursued what it calls a “One China” policy since 1972, when then-President Richard Nixon visited China. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter recognized Beijing as the only government of both mainland China and Taiwan, and Washington closed its embassy in Taiwan a year later.

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2 days ago
Could be a new record: completely screwing up the world without even taking the oath first. Bets on him not having a world to be the leader of?
2 days ago
… was there even someone from the State Department present or did he just want to tell them how fantastic a country Taiwan was and request expedited hotel permits?
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