The Virtual Pub Is Open

image of the exterior of a pub which has been photoshopped to be named 'The Beloved Community Pub'
[Explanations: lol your fat. pathetic anger bread. hey your gay.]

Belly up to the bar,
and be in this space together.

(And please don't forget to tip your bartender!)

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Friday Links!

This list o' links brought to you by a warm blanket.

Recommended Reading:

Tina Vasquez with Samuel Oliver-Bruno at Rewire.News: [Content Note: Nativism; abuse; carcerality] Samuel Oliver-Bruno, Deported After an Immigration Appointment, in His Own Words

Michele Lent Hirsch at Cosmopolitan: [CN: Misogyny; medical malfeasance] 9 Rounds of Electroshock Therapy; 6 Years Lost — All Because Her Doctors Got It Horribly Wrong

Kimberly Truong at the Cut: Congress to Make Members Actually Pay for Their Own Harassment Settlements

Ariel Levy at the New Yorker: Julia Louis-Dreyfus Acts Out

Sameer Rao at Colorlines: Issa Rae Inks Production Deal to Uplift Marginalized Screenwriters

Yessenia Funes at Earther: Behold the Amazing Sea Life Argentina's New Marine Reserves Will Protect

Leave your links and recommendations in comments. Self-promotion welcome and encouraged!

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World of Shakescraft

image of colorful yarn
[Via Shirsty Cat Designs. You can buy their beautiful yarn here.]

As you know, I am not a crafty person. I am terrible at crafts! And I'm only slightly better with DIY home projects, with the occasional modest success.

But lots of Shakers are very talented crafters and DIY-ers, and I am happy to read about all of your terrific projects! So here is a thread to talk about your current crafting and/or DIY project(s), completed projects, or future projects; to share ideas; to brag about your successes or lament your setbacks; and to solicit advice from fellow creators!

(As always, make sure you don't offer advice unless it's solicited.)

Have at it in comments!

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound asleep on the sofa on his back, with his legs in the air
Another perfectly normal sleeping position.

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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We Resist: Day 694

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures (plus the occasional non-Republican who obliges us to resist their nonsense, too, like we don't have enough to worry about) is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Earlier today by me: Trump Considering Jared Kushner for Chief of Staff Because Of Course He Is and 7-Year-Old Girl Dies in Border Patrol Custody and This F#@king Guy. And ICYMI late yesterday: Pelosi Is Coming for Your Taxes, Trump.

Here are some more things in the news today...

Gordon Lubold and Dustin Volz at the Wall Street Journal: Chinese Hackers Breach U.S. Navy Contractors.
Chinese hackers are breaching Navy contractors to steal everything from ship-maintenance data to missile plans, officials and experts said, triggering a top-to-bottom review of cyber vulnerabilities.

A series of incidents in the past 18 months has pointed out the service's weaknesses, highlighting what some officials have described as some of the most debilitating cyber campaigns linked to Beijing.

Cyberattacks affect all branches of the armed forces but contractors for the Navy and the Air Force are viewed as choice targets for hackers seeking advanced military technology, officials said.

Navy contractors have suffered especially troubling breaches over the past year, one U.S. official said.

The data allegedly stolen from Navy contractors and subcontractors often is highly sensitive, classified information about advanced military technology, according to U.S. officials and security researchers. The victims have included large contractors as well as small ones, some of which are seen as lacking the resources to invest in securing their networks.

One major breach of a Navy contractor, reported in June, involved the theft of secret plans to build a supersonic anti-ship missile planned for use by American submarines, according to officials. The hackers targeted an unidentified company under contract with the Navy's Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I.

The hackers have also targeted universities with military research labs that develop advanced technology for use by the Navy or other service branches, according to analysis conducted by cyber firms as well as people familiar with the matter.
This should be far bigger news today than it is. Holy shit.

And what the fuck is even going on here?! "The victims have included large contractors as well as small ones, some of which are seen as lacking the resources to invest in securing their networks." If contractors lack the resources to secure their networks, then the contracts should be pulled. And if being able to provide secure networks wasn't required by the contract, that is a failure of genuinely epic proportions. Fuck.

* * *

Sharon LaFraniere, Maggie Haberman, and Adam Goldman at the New York Times: Trump Inaugural Fund and Super PAC Said to Be Scrutinized for Illegal Foreign Donations. "Federal prosecutors are examining whether foreigners illegally funneled donations to [Donald] Trump's inaugural committee and a pro-Trump super PAC in hopes of buying influence over American policy, according to people familiar with the inquiry. The inquiry focuses on whether people from Middle Eastern nations — including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates — used straw donors to disguise their donations to the two funds. Federal law prohibits foreign contributions to federal campaigns, political action committees and inaugural funds." It's amazing to me that this is only happening now.

Asawin Suebsaeng, Maxwell Tani, and Lloyd Grove at the Daily Beast: Jared Kushner Replaced Michael Cohen as Trump's National Enquirer Connection. "Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner was handed a task considered critical to the president's operations. In addition to serving as a senior adviser in the White House, he would also be playing the role of the main conduit between Trump and his friend David Pecker, the National Enquirer publisher and chief executive of AMI, which prosecutors said on Wednesday admitted to making a $150,000 hush-money payment 'in concert with' the Trump campaign." Good lord.

Amanda Michelle Gomez at ThinkProgress: Scientists Tell Lawmakers Fetal Tissue Research Is 'Essential' but House GOP Refuses to Listen. "During a congressional hearing on 'exploring alternatives to fetal tissue research' on Thursday, Dr. Sally Temple tried to set lawmakers straight: there are no comparable alternatives. But Republican lawmakers, who espoused 'pro-life' beliefs throughout the hearing, ignored her. 'I offer my perspective as a representative of nearly 4,000 research colleagues around the world,' said Temple, who spoke on behalf of the International Society for Stem Cell Research and, separately, has earned a MacArthur Foundation 'genius grant' for her research findings." Seethe.

Josh Constine at Techcrunch: Facebook Bug Exposed up to 6.8M Users' Unposted Photos to Apps. "Reset the 'days since the last Facebook privacy scandal' counter, as a Facebook has just revealed a Photo API bug gave app developers too much access to the photos of up to 5.6 million users. The bug allowed apps users had approved to pull their timeline photos to also receive their Facebook Stories, Marketplace photos, and most worryingly, photos they'd uploaded to Facebook but never shared. Facebook says the bug ran for 12 days from September 13th to September 25th. Facebook provided merely a glib 'We're sorry this happened' in terms of an apology. ...It's recommending users log into apps to check if they have wrongful photo access." JFC.

Lisa Girion at Reuters: Johnson & Johnson Knew for Decades That Asbestos Lurked in Its Baby Powder. "Facing thousands of lawsuits alleging that its talc caused cancer, J&J insists on the safety and purity of its iconic product. But internal documents examined by Reuters show that the company's powder was sometimes tainted with carcinogenic asbestos and that J&J kept that information from regulators and the public. ...In 1976, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was weighing limits on asbestos in cosmetic talc products, J&J assured the regulator that no asbestos was 'detected in any sample' of talc produced between December 1972 and October 1973. It didn't tell the agency that at least three tests by three different labs from 1972 to 1975 had found asbestos in its talc — in one case at levels reported as 'rather high.'" My god.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

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This F#@king Guy

Michael Cohen sat down for an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, and it was, to be frank, such a pathetically softball exchange that it would hardly even warrant mention, except for the fact that Cohen actually said these actual words during the interview:

One of the hopes that I have out of the punishment that I've received, as well as the cooperation that I have given, I will be remembered in history as helping to bring this country back together.
You will not be remembered that way, my dude.

It's really something that this traitorous drip imagines for a single nanosecond that he might be remembered in a positive way, because he got caught breaking the law while he was helping steal an election for a sadistic crook, then lied to investigators about it, then got caught in that lie, then ratted out all the felonious clowns in his orbit in exchange for leniency because he is every bit as craven as he is corrupt.

What a fucking hero.

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7-Year-Old Girl Dies in Border Patrol Custody

[Content Note: Child neglect; death; exposure; dehydration.]

Once, twice, three times previously, writing about the detention of children at the southern border, I have noted: Children are "more susceptible to heat illness than adults for many reasons, including a greater surface area to body mass ratio, lower rate of sweating, and slower rate of acclimatization. The prevention of heat illness is based on recognizing and modifying risk factors," like, presumably, not detaining children in inadequate facilities in the desert.

I have been worried sick about children (and adults, like Roxsana Hernandez) dying in Customs and Border Protection custody, and now it has happened. Nick Miroff and Robert Moore at the Washington Post report:

A 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died of dehydration and shock after she was taken into Border Patrol custody last week for crossing from Mexico into the United States illegally with her father and a large group of migrants along a remote span of New Mexico desert, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Thursday.

...According to CBP records, the girl and her father were taken into custody about 10 p.m. Dec. 6 south of Lordsburg, N.M., as part of a group of 163 people who approached U.S. agents to turn themselves in.

More than eight hours later, the child began having seizures at 6:25 a.m., CBP records show. Emergency responders, who arrived soon after, measured her body temperature at 105.7 degrees, and according to a statement from CBP, she "reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days."

After a helicopter flight to Providence Hospital in El Paso, the child went into cardiac arrest and "was revived," according to the agency. "However, the child did not recover and died at the hospital less than 24 hours after being transported," CBP said.

The agency did not release the name of the girl or her father, but the father remains in El Paso awaiting a meeting with Guatemalan consular officials, according to CBP. The agency is investigating the incident to ensure appropriate policies were followed, it said.

Food and water are typically provided to migrants in Border Patrol custody, and it wasn't immediately clear Thursday if the girl received provisions and a medical exam before the onset of seizures.
I am heartbroken and enraged by this girl's death.

I also don't understand how this sentence — "Emergency responders, who arrived soon after, measured her body temperature at 105.7 degrees, and according to a statement from CBP, she 'reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days.'" — and this sentence — "Food and water are typically provided to migrants in Border Patrol custody, and it wasn't immediately clear Thursday if the girl received provisions and a medical exam before the onset of seizures." — exist in the same article.

It seems as though CBP is trying to imply that she was already hungry and dehydrated when she arrived in their custody (so it's not their fault), yet simultaneously claim that they aren't sure whether they gave her any food or water during the "more than eight hours" that she was in their custody.

They want us to infer, of course, that her being hungry and dehydrated and overheated (105.7 degrees!) is solely the fault of her father, who dragged her to the border.

But we all know damn well that if that child hadn't been held in CBP custody for 8 hours with no food or water — which CBP has, and her father may not have had, even at home, which is possibly why he left — she'd almost certainly still be alive.

Perhaps even more critically, if she hadn't had a 105.7-degree body temperature, she would almost certainly still be alive. That doesn't happen instantly. No one was paying attention for a very long time if a child, dangerously susceptible to the heat, was literally roasting to her death without intervention.

That she was an immigrant is frankly irrelevant, except insofar as it explains why she was in Customs and Border Protection's custody specifically. What matters is that she was a seven-year-old child in U.S. federal custody and now she is dead.

They took her away from her father, out of his care. In doing so, they assumed responsibility for her well-being. And then she died.

My sincerest condolences to her family. I am so sorry. I am so angry. I am so sad.

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Trump Considering Jared Kushner for Chief of Staff Because Of Course He Is

S.V. Date at the Huffington Post: "Jared Kushner, the husband of Trump's daughter Ivanka and already an official White House adviser, met with Trump Wednesday about the job, a top Republican close to the White House told HuffPost. He and two others close to Trump or the White House who confirmed Kushner's interest in the position did so on condition of anonymity to discuss the president's staffing considerations freely."

LOL fucking of course Trump is considering Kushner for the job.

Like all good anti-democratic authoritarians, he likes to keep it in the family. Also, it's another way for Trump to thumb his nose at anyone who still has respect for the rule of law, since Kushner repeatedly broke federal law by lying on disclosure forms and yet inexplicably retains his position in the White House.


I didn't include Kushner on my top 11 candidates list yesterday, but I did post at #8 "an Ivanka Trump handbag." Close enough.

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Open Thread

image of a pink couch

Hosted by a pink sofa. Have a seat and chat.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker AmeliaEve: "What do you wish you had known before you started your current job? Would you have chosen a different job if you had known?"

How hard it was going to be, in so many unexpected ways. I would still choose it again. I feel like I choose it again every day, when I sit down at my desk and set to work.

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Throwback Thursdays

image of me in a green dress and a speckled black and white coat with a perm at age 17

Me, with my date, whom I've cropped out of the photo, posing for pictures before we head off to the winter dance, known as "the Snowball" (har har), in 1991. I was 17; wearing my recycled gown from the junior prom the year before, which I'd just had chopped to tea length (cheap-ass 4eva); and, yes, sporting a winter coat that had pleather points on the padded shoulders. AND LOOK AT THAT BEAUTIFUL PERM!

[Please share your own throwback pix in comments. Just make sure the pix are just of you and/or you have consent to post from other living people in the pic. And please note that they don't have to be pictures from childhood, especially since childhood pix might be difficult for people who come from abusive backgrounds or have transitioned or lots of other reasons. It can be a picture from last week, if that's what works for you. And of course no one should feel obliged to share a picture at all! Only if it's fun!]

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Pelosi Is Coming for Your Taxes, Trump

Ginger Gibson at Reuters:

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that members of congress from her party will seek to obtain [Donald] Trump's tax returns when they take control of the U.S. House of Representatives in January — a move the White House is likely to strongly resist.

The House Ways and Means Committee will "take the first steps" toward obtaining the documents, said Pelosi, who has the backing of her members to become speaker of the House next month. As it is likely to be a challenging process, it will be up to the committee to figure out how to proceed, she said.

"There is popular demand for the Congress to request the president's tax returns," she told reporters in the Capitol. "I'm sure the White House will resist and so the question is where do we go from there."
I don't care how unlikely it is that we will ever get to see those tax returns; I want the Democrats to keep trying and trying and trying until they either get them or cause Trump to explode with frustration into a cloud of poop emojis.

You know those videos of people who picked up some horrendo parasite and now you can see the worms crawling under their skin? That's what I want Nancy Pelosi's entire vision board to look like for the next two years.

Get under his skin and stay there, wriggling.

I'm pretty sure we're on the same page.

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Discussion Thread: Self-Care

What are you doing to do to take care of yourself today, or in the near future, as soon as you can?

If you are someone who has a hard time engaging in self-care, or figuring out easy, fast, and/or inexpensive ways to treat yourself, and you would like to solicit suggestions, please feel welcome. And, as always, no one should offer advice unless it is solicited.

* * *

I am going to go to run around the backyard with the dogs and awe at Dudley's sprinting and melt at Zelda's grin and laugh at their silly antics, all of which brightens and lightens me. It is the easiest, most accessible, and cheapest self-care I do!

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat sitting in a stream of sunshine in the threshold between the dining room and living room, with her ears lit up from behind by the light
Sophie with glowing ears.

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

Open Wide...

We Resist: Day 693

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures (plus the occasional non-Republican who obliges us to resist their nonsense, too, like we don't have enough to worry about) is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Earlier today by me: Newt Gingrich on Shortlist for Trump's Chief of Staff and Trump Cancels White House Holiday Party for Press and Vietnamese Refugees Are the Next Target of Trump's War on Immigrants.

Here are some more things in the news today...

Erin Banco at the Daily Beast: Get Ready for Mueller's Phase Two: The Middle East Connection. "Over the past year, the indictments, convictions, and guilty pleas have largely been connected, in one way or another, to Russia. But now, special counsel Robert Mueller's office is preparing to reveal to the public a different side of his investigation. In court filings that are set to drop in early 2019, prosecutors will begin to unveil Middle Eastern countries' attempts to influence American politics, three sources familiar with this side of the probe told The Daily Beast. In other words, the 'Russia investigation' is set to go global." Coooooooool I hope this investigation lasts forever while Donald Trump destroys the entire planet.

Shannon Pettypiece and Kevin Cirilli at Bloomberg: Cohen Will Talk After Mueller Probe Is Complete, Lawyer Says. "Michael Cohen, the former lawyer and fixer for [Donald] Trump, is willing to reveal publicly what he knows about his former client once Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is complete and findings are released, Cohen's lawyer said Wednesday. 'There will come a time after Mr. Mueller is done with his work that Michael Cohen will be sitting in front of a microphone before a congressional committee and what he has to say about the truth will be judged by the members of Congress listening and then will be up to people to decide whether he has got the facts or not,' Cohen attorney and spokesman Lanny Davis said in an interview on Bloomberg Radio's Sound On."

That part of the story is getting a lot of attention, and deservedly so, but this part deserves equal notice, at least: "Cohen has admitted to lying to Congress and Mueller's investigators about the timing of a proposed Trump tower in Moscow and Trump's involvement in the project. Davis said that false testimony was shared with the White House before Cohen submitted it to Congress and it is possible Trump was aware at the time that Cohen would make false statements. 'Mr. Trump and the White House knew that Michael Cohen would be testifying falsely to Congress and did not tell him not to,' Davis said."

As my friend Leah McElrath noted on Twitter: "This implicates EVERYONE who participated in vetting the perjurious material." It sure does.

Katelyn Polantz and Marshall Cohen at CNN: Alleged Russian Spy Maria Butina Admits to Engaging in Conspiracy Against U.S. "Maria Butina admitted in federal court Thursday morning to engaging in a conspiracy against the United States. Butina, 30, was accused of working to infiltrate Republican political circles through groups such as the National Rifle Association to bolster Russian interests. Butina said she acted 'under direction of' a Russian official whom CNN has identified as Alexander Torshin." I think we can 86 the "alleged" modifier now, folks.

David Corn and Dan Friedman at Mother Jones: Did Michael Flynn Try to Strike a Grand Bargain With Moscow as It Attacked the 2016 Election? I was particularly interested to read this bit:
There has been no public information, via the Mueller investigation or other sources, regarding Flynn's interactions with Kislyak during the 2016 campaign when he was Trump's top adviser on national security matters.

Yet two Flynn associates tell Mother Jones that Flynn has informed friends and colleagues that prior to Election Day he spoke with Kislyak about how Trump could work productively with Russia if he won the presidency.

One of these Flynn associates, who each asked not to be identified, notes that Flynn said he discussed with Kislyak a grand bargain in which Moscow would cooperate with the Trump administration to resolve the Syrian conflict and Washington would end or ease up on the sanctions imposed on Russia for its annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Ukraine.

The other Flynn associate says Flynn said he had been talking to Kislyak about Syria, Iran, and other foreign policy matters that Russia and the United States could tackle together were Trump to be elected. A third Flynn associate recalls that shortly after the election, Flynn told him he had been in contact with Kislyak about Syria — but without stating whether that was before or after Election Day.
We've known since June of 2017 that Flynn had proposed a shared military communications channel with Russia, justifying it by suggesting a joint fight against the Islamic State. It was at that time that I first observed the curious emergence of the "work with Russia to defeat IS in Syria" foreign policy position during the 2016 election.

Before the 2016 election, joining forces with Russia to defeat ISIS was not a mainstream position, on either side of the aisle, because, as Hillary Clinton explained during the second presidential debate, Putin "isn't interested in ISIS" and Russia's assault on Aleppo was instead intended to destroy Syrian rebels opposed to Bashar al-Assad's regime. Then, during the election in which Russia intervened with the express purpose of defeating Clinton, every one of her opponents from across the political spectrum — her Democratic primary opponent, and her general election Republican, Libertarian, and Green Party opponents — each offered a policy of aligning with Russia, with the rationale of defeating ISIS.

Clinton was also the only candidate who did not have someone with ties to Putin working on her campaign, or a previous campaign. Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort and Sanders' chief strategist Tad Devine had previously worked in collaboration for pro-Putin former Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych. Roger Stone was an advisor on Johnson's 2012 campaign, and continued to speak enthuiastically about Johnson in 2016. And Stein rather famously had dinner with Putin herself.

Also at that dinner? Michael Flynn — who then used that curiously shared rationale of defeating ISIS to argue for allying with Russia when his candidate won the White House. And who has now pleaded guilty as part of Bob Mueller's investigation into Russian collusion, and is providing "substantial assistance" with "several ongoing investigations," including the Russia probe and at least one secret criminal investigation.

Probably one (Trump) and possibly two (Trump and Sanders) of those former opponents of Clinton are going to be running again in 2020. It's time to revisit those positions on Russia and Syria, which I identified a year and a half ago as a possible tell about Russian influence within campaigns. Some hard questions need to be asked.

And we should expect serious answers from Bernie Sanders if he intends to run again.

* * *

One of the stranger foreign policy stories I've been following has been the Trump Regime's disposition toward Venezuela. Specifically, Mike Pence's fixation on Venezuela.

Pence has had a hate-boner for Venezuela ever since President Barack Obama shook Hugo Chavez's hand (which, by the way, led to one of the most satisfying humiliations of Pence, care of Hillary Clinton, naturally — back when Pence was a shitty congressman from Indiana before he was its shitty governor before he was the shitty vice-president). And he brought this hostility to the White House with him: Back in August of 2017, for example, I noted Pence was obsessively tweeting about Venezuela.

At the time, I asserted that Pence appeared to be war-shopping in Venezuela on behalf of the Trump Regime, and it turned out I was right. In July of this year, the AP reported that Trump wanted to know why the U.S. couldn't or shouldn't just invade Venezuela.

In May, I noted an NBC News report about the U.S. canceling Venezulans' tourist visas at an unsual rate, "for no apparent reason," suggesting it was related to Trump's and Pence's continued hostility toward Venezuela — which, I predicted, would probably remain a target for the Trump Regime as long as they continue to pursue foreign policy objectives that have a high risk of causing a conflagration that cuts off the U.S. from major oil resources in the Middle East.

Then in September, I mentioned Pence having issued a strong warning to Venezuela during a speech at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, after Venezuela positioned troops along the border of Colombia. Pence said: "Let me be clear: The United States of America will always stand with our allies for their security. The Maduro regime would do well not to test the resolve of the President of the United States or the American people in this regard."

In November, National Security Advisor John Bolton referred to Venezuela, along with Cuba and Nicaragua, as "the Troika of Tyranny," as he announced a new, more aggressive policy toward Latin America.

This week, Russia sent two nuclear-capable strategic bombers to Venezuela: "Russia's Defense Ministry said a pair of Tu-160 bombers landed at Maiquetia airport outside Caracas on Monday following a 6,200-mile flight. It didn't say whether the bombers were carrying any weapons and didn't say how long they would stay in Venezuela."

(See Olga Lautman for more on Venezuela's involvement with Russia, facilitated by the Trump Regime. Olga notes that Nelson Martinez, former oil minister of Venezuela and former head of the state oil and gas company PDVSA, which was involved in the scheme described in the aforelinked thread, was just found dead in prison.)

Yesterday, in comments, I linked this piece by Tom Phillips at the Guardian: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Accuses White House of Direct Role in Assassination Attempt. "At a press conference in the presidential Miraflores palace in Caracas, Maduro said he had 'no doubt' that the U.S. government had ordered and authorized the botched strike against him last August with explosive-laden drones and continued to plot against him. He offered no evidence to support the allegations."

And today, Phillips reported on Twitter: "Venezuela's foreign minister has summoned diplomats to warn them of U.S.-backed plot to invade. 'This is the last thing the Bolivarian revolution seeks. But if any force enters Venezuela, Venezuelan men and women will wage the mother of all battles to resist it.'"

I don't know where this is all leading, but I feel that, if something does happen between the United States and Venezuela, it's going to feel to the vast majority of Americans like it's coming out of nowhere. And it isn't.

I'm going to keep you informed, which is the least — and, frustratingly, also the most — that I can do on this topic.

* * *

[Content Note: Addiction disclosure; sexual harassment]

I've already seen a lot of people asking about these reports (the veracity of which I cannot establish): "Why now?"

Pence is pulling out all the stops, is my guess why now. He's the one with all the RNC connections, and they're the ones who probably cut the deals with people to keep quiet.

[CN: Gun violence] Jacqueline Howard at CNN: Gun Deaths in U.S. Reach Highest Level in Nearly 40 Years, CDC Data Reveal. "Gun deaths in America have reached a record high. Nearly 40,000 people in the United States died by guns last year, marking the highest number of gun deaths in decades, according to a new analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's WONDER database. ...CNN replicated that analysis and found that 39,773 people died by guns in 2017, which is an increase of more than 10,000 deaths from the 28,874 in 1999."

[CN: War on agency] Elham Khatami at ThinkProgress: Michigan's Lame-Duck GOP Legislature Passed a Ban Limiting Access to the Abortion Pill. "While most Michigan residents were sleeping Thursday morning, the state's lame-duck GOP legislature passed a measure that would ban doctors from prescribing the abortion-inducing pill via internet webcam. ...The middle-of-the-night vote is one of several steps the Republican-controlled state House has taken recently to roll back progressive policies or implement conservative measures before Michigan's new Democratic governor, attorney general, and secretary of state take office."

[CN: Nativism] Tina Vasquez at Rewire.News: Reproductive Justice Advocate to Request Political Asylum as Trump Administration Tries to Deport Her. "An undocumented reproductive justice and immigrant rights activist targeted by federal immigration agencies for her humanitarian work is set to attend court Tuesday, where she's seeking political asylum. Alejandra Pablos' hearing comes after years in immigration limbo. ...UPDATE: On Tuesday, the social justice organizing network Mijente announced that a federal immigration court ordered Alejandra Pablos to be deported. In a statement, Pablos said this is not the end of her fight." Another example of targeting activists in the war on immigrants.

[CN: Nativism] Joanna Walters at the Guardian: 'I Must Continue': Statue of Liberty Climber Patricia Okoumou Still Protesting Despite Facing Prison. "Patricia Okoumou, the protester who scaled the base of the Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July in an audacious protest against the Trump administration's separation of migrant families, faces the prospect of federal prison when she goes on trial in New York next week. ...But despite her impending trial, Okoumou has continued her protest. ...Okoumou [who is now a full-time activist] described the incident last month where migrants, including young children, were teargassed by the US at the border as 'an atrocity.' 'When they can do this and they get away with it, it makes me realize I must continue with acts of civil disobedience. It's cruel; it's reprehensible,' she said." RESIST.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

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Vietnamese Refugees Are the Next Target of Trump's War on Immigrants

[Content Note: Nativism.]

The Trump Regime's war on immigrants is a key plank in their vile agenda of wretched malice. The next target in this ever-expanding war are Vietnamese refugees, many of whom have lived in the United States for virtually their entire lives.

Charles Dunst and Krishnadev Calamur at the Atlantic report:

The Trump administration is resuming its efforts to deport certain protected Vietnamese immigrants who have lived in the United States for decades — many of them having fled the country during the Vietnam War.

...In essence, the administration has now decided that Vietnamese immigrants who arrived in the country before the establishment of diplomatic ties between the United States and Vietnam are subject to standard immigration law — meaning they are all eligible for deportation.

...The administration last year began pursuing the deportation of many long-term immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia, and other countries who the administration alleges are "violent criminal aliens." But Washington and Hanoi have a unique 2008 agreement that specifically bars the deportation of Vietnamese people who arrived in the United States before July 12, 1995 — the date the two former foes reestablished diplomatic relations following the Vietnam War.

The White House unilaterally reinterpreted the agreement in the spring of 2017 to exempt people convicted of crimes from its protections, allowing the administration to send back a small number of pre-1995 Vietnamese immigrants, a policy it retreated from this past August. Last week, however, James Thrower, a spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Hanoi, said the American government was again reversing course.

...Many pre-1995 arrivals, all of whom were previously protected under the 2008 agreement by both the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, were refugees from the Vietnam War. Some are the children of those who once allied with American and South Vietnamese forces, an attribute that renders them undesirable to the current regime in Hanoi, which imputes anti-regime beliefs to the children of those who opposed North Vietnam. This anti-Communist constituency includes minorities such as the children of the American-allied Montagnards, who are persecuted in Vietnam for both their ethnicity and Christian religion.
Just to be clear: Many of these are people who fled Vietnam after working with U.S. troops during the war, and would be in danger of persecution if they were forced to return to Vietnam.

I oppose and resist this policy with fervor. And I take up space in solidarity with immigrant families across this nation, including the Vietnamese refugees and immigrants who have become the target of the Trump Regime's vicious nativist malice.

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Trump Cancels White House Holiday Party for Press

Grumpy Trumpy isn't in the holiday spirit: "Donald Trump has become the president who stole Christmas after canceling the annual festive party for the White House press. The decades-old tradition would see reporters and the president put aside their differences for one night for a lavish party that would see spouses and family invited to drink and be merry. ...One of the main events of the parties was picture-taking sessions in which the president and first lady would pose with guests in front of a Christmas tree, with the White House sending out the photos."

Last year, Trump begrudgingly held the party, but refused to pose for any pictures. This year, according to a Fox News report, it's canceled altogether.

To be frank, the White House holiday party for the press is one of a number of examples of the problematic coziness of the Beltway press with the politicians they are meant to be holding accountable. Pix with the prez at Crimbo is access journalism at its worst.

The president shouldn't even have the need to cancel the party, because journalists should be boycotting any social engagements with a regime that is waging war on the free press, undermining trust in public institutions, and inventing their own "alternative facts" to foment informational chaos.

However, irrespective of the fact that this event should never have existed in the first place and should find no self-respecting journalist wanting to attend anyway, the fact that Donald Trump is simply canceling it is evidence of his escalating hostility toward the free press, and that is deeply troubling.

He does not want to be held accountable, and he cannot bear to mingle with the people tasked with doing it. Further, he wants them to feel unwelcome, and that is nothing a president should ever be communicating to the press — nor to the public about the press.

This is the behavior of authoritarians, and it should not be dismissed with the increasingly common shrug because "that's just Trump."

I certainly hope this latest insult to the press will finally be the thing that makes them reconsider just how chummy they want to be with the Trump Regime.

But it probably won't.

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Newt Gingrich on Shortlist for Trump's Chief of Staff

Ugh this guy never fucking goes away: Newt Gingrich is reportedly on the shortlist of people being considered to be Donald Trump's next chief of staff.

Yesterday, Trump tweeted: "Many, over ten, are vying for and wanting the White House Chief of Staff position." Which, like every other sensible person on the planet, I find difficult to believe.

My guess is that the shortlist is very short indeed.

It's probably something like:

1. Newt Gingrich
2. John Barron
3. David Dennison
4. John Miller
5. Tronald Dump
6. A cheeseburger
7. A can of Diet Coke
8. An Ivanka Trump handbag
9. A gold toilet
10. Rudy Giuliani
11. A pile of garbage

There aren't a whole lot of things that could make the Trump Regime even worse, but "more Newt Gingrich" is definitely on that shortlist, too.

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Open Thread

image of a yellow couch

Hosted by a yellow sofa. Have a seat and chat.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Suzy: "If your life had a narrator, who would it be?"

Betty White.

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