Wednesday's Mini-Report, 3.15.17

Today's edition of quick hits:* Russian espionage: "The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against two Russian spies and two hackers behind the 2014 theft of data connected to half a billion Yahoo accounts, which officials called one of the largest known data breaches in American history."* The Federal Reserve "delivered the widely expected increase in its benchmark interest rate on Wednesday, and said the domestic economy remained on a path of slow and steady growth. The decision raises the Fed's benchmark rate to a range between 0.75 percent and 1 percent."* Much of the world is keeping an eye on the Dutch election: "The first exit polls are coming out and voter turnout is high in the Netherlands as European populism faces its first big electoral test since last year's 'Brexit' referendum and Donald J. Trump's election."* Syria: "The U.S. military has drawn up early plans that would deploy up to 1,000 more troops into northern Syria in the coming weeks, expanding the American presence in the country ahead of the offensive on the Islamic State's de facto capital of Raqqa, according to U.S. defense officials familiar with the matter."* Roger Stone raises eyebrows again: "Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone says he believes his contacts with a Russian-linked hacker who took credit for breaching the Democratic National Committee may have been obtained through a special warrant that allows the government to collect the communications of people suspected of being agents of a foreign nation."* Gorsuch: "The publicity-shy billionaire Philip F. Anschutz inherited an oil and gas firm and built it into an empire that has sprawled into telecommunications, railroads, real estate, resorts, sports teams, stadiums, movies and conservative publications.... Anschutz's influence is especially felt in his home state of Colorado, where years ago Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, a Denver native, the son of a well-known Colorado Republican and now President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, was drawn into his orbit."* Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) said today he expects the House Republican health care bill to fail in the Senate, so he hopes it doesn't come to the floor for a vote. Lance already voted for it in committee, so I think it's a little late for him to come to this realization.* Seriously? "State safety inspectors wouldn't inspect West Virginia's coal mines anymore. They would conduct 'compliance visits and education.' Violations of health and safety standards wouldn't produce state citations and fines, either. Mine operators would receive 'compliance assistance visit notices.' And West Virginia regulators wouldn't have authority to write safety and health regulations. Instead, they could only 'adopt policies ... [for] improving compliance assistance' in the state's mines."* The final vote was 85 to 12: "Dan Coats won Senate confirmation Wednesday to oversee 17 agencies as the U.S. director of national intelligence, a role that will challenge him to build ties in place of tensions between the spy agencies and the Trump administration.""A White House gimmick "to drum up support for the Republican Obamacare replacement plan may have backfired, bigly.... According to social media share metrics from CrowdTangle, a web application that tracks the source of web traffic, the vast majority of clicks to the survey on social media have come from links shared by the accounts of liberal politicians or activists."Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.