We Resist: Day 96

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One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures 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.

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Here are some things in the news today:

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Peter Martin and Kanga Kong at Bloomberg News: U.S., North Korea Flex Military Muscles as Tensions Simmer.
The U.S. and North Korea both showed off their military prowess on Tuesday as nations in the region stepped up diplomatic talks to defuse a brewing crisis over Kim Jong Un's nuclear program.

The nuclear-powered USS Michigan, one of four Ohio-class guided-missile submarines capable of launching cruise missiles, arrived at the South Korean port of Busan, U.S. Naval Forces Korea said in a statement. South Korea's navy said it had no plans for a joint military drill with the submarine.

Yonhap News reported that Kim attended North Korea's largest-ever live-fire artillery exercise east of Pyongyang, prompting South Korea's defense ministry to monitor developments in the area. The report came amid expectations that North Korea might seek to mark the anniversary of the Korean People's Army with its sixth nuclear test.
Meanwhile, in Japan...

ICYMI, further updates on the concerning goings-on here: Everything Is Fine. (Everything Is Not Fine.)

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Allegra Kirkland at TPM: Report: Flynn Lobbied for Turkish Businessman with Business Ties to Russia. "The Turkish businessman who paid Michael Flynn's consulting firm almost $600,000 while he was serving as a top adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign has extensive business ties to Russia, Politico reported Tuesday. Ekim Alptekin, who runs Dutch firm Inovo BV, has since 2015 worked closely with Ukraine-born businessman Dmitri 'David' Zaikan to coordinate Turkish lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C., according to the report. Both Alptekin and Zaikan have negotiated business deals with Vladimir Putin's government, according to court records obtained by the news site."

Michael C. Bender, Richard Rubin, and Nick Timiraos at the Wall Street Journal: Trump Wants Tax Plan to Cut Corporate Rate to 15%. "Donald Trump has ordered White House aides to draft a tax plan that slashes the corporate tax rate to 15%, even if that means a loss of revenue, according to people familiar with the directive. During a meeting in the Oval Office last week, Mr. Trump told staff he wants a massive tax cut to sell to the American public, these people said. He told aides it was less important to him that such a plan could add to the federal budget deficit, though that might make it difficult to sell to GOP lawmakers..." POPULISM!

Aaron Rupar at ThinkProgress: State Department Uses Government Website to Promote Trump's Private Country Club. "An official State Department website is promoting [Donald] Trump's private club in Florida, with help from a number of State Department Facebook accounts. An April 4 post on U.S. Department of State: Economic & Business Affairs' Facebook page characterizes Mar-a-Lago as the 'winter White House' and links to an article on the State Department's Share America site. That article—entitled, 'Mar-a-Lago: The winter White House'—explains that the club 'has become well known as the president frequently travels there to work or host foreign leaders' and provides some history about the property." That is straight-up illegal. As many people pointed out. Which is probably why the article has now been removed.

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Christina Wilkie at the Huffington Post: Trump Inauguration Admits Errors, Vows to Correct Numerous Faulty Donor Records. "Donald Trump's Presidential Inaugural Committee acknowledged late Monday that a final report it filed with the Federal Election Commission this month was riddled with errors, many of which were first identified through a crowdsourced data project at HuffPost. ...The inaugural committee raised more than $100 million for Trump's Jan. 20 festivities, which included two inaugural balls that drew a combined total of about 30,000 guests. The fundraising set new records. But according to Brendan Fischer, counsel to the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, 'it doesn't seem that any real effort was made to collect the information that is very clearly required by law.'"

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Ana Swanson and Damian Paletta at the Washington Post: 'Another Bad Act on the Part of the Canadians': Trump Administration Launches Punitive Tariffs on Canadian Lumber. "The Trump administration announced on Monday that it is planning to impose a roughly 20 percent tariff on softwood lumber imported from Canada, a new escalation of trade tensions with America's northern neighbor. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in an interview that his department had reached a preliminary decision to impose the tax, the administration's first major trade action against Canada. Ross portrayed the action as a tough measure to punish Canada after [Donald] Trump declared last week that 'we can't let Canada or anybody else take advantage and do what they did to our workers and to our farmers.' ...The tension between the United States and Canada is only expected to worsen."

JFC. Let's just alienate every one of our allies as quickly as possible. Listen, I don't want U.S. workers harmed by unfair trade practices, but there are multiple ways of doing this, and Trump is, naturally, going with the way that stands to cause maximum offense.

Further, remember what I was just saying yesterday about the retail crash? "We're careening headlong into a major retail crash, which is going to send the economy into a tailspin, and there is no discussion or preparation for the fallout. Fast food is being automated. Service jobs are being automated. Manufacturing jobs are being automated. And retail is being automated via the internet. Also: Construction collapses with no retail spaces to build and no one able to afford new homes. Retail construction is what saved the industry during bad housing markets."

Guess what happens to the lumber industry when construction declines? Yeah. So trade imbalance is the least of lumber's long-term worries. This is an awful lot of bluster, with a potentially serious diplomatic cost, with zero recognition of a quickly-moving major economic crisis the solution to which isn't tariffs.

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Speaking of struggling industries... Molly Walsh at Seven Days: Border Hassles Keep Would-Be Tourists—and Loonies—in Canada. "A federal proposal to implement biometric screening such as fingerprinting and eye scans could bring longer lines and wait times when merchants are already worried about losing Canadian shoppers. It's important for border crossings to flow smoothly, said Homeport co-owner Frank Bouchett, who doesn't see the need for biometric screening. 'Anything they do like that,' he said, 'doesn't help our business.' The new layer of screening is a little-discussed side provision of [Donald] Trump's controversial revised executive order on immigration. The same order that would restrict travel from six Muslim-majority countries also calls for border security using biometric checks."

See also Annie Sciacca at the Mercury News: Under Trump, Bay Area Tourism Could See a Decline, Travel Leaders Say. "[S]earch traffic for booking travel to the U.S. from other countries has already taken a hit, according to Hopper, which analyzes billions of flights to help people find the best deals and times to buy. ...Hopper's data shows that 103 of 122 countries showed a drop. China, which is one of the biggest sources of Bay Area tourism, is among the largest decreases, with searches to the U.S. down more than 40 percent. San Francisco International Airport is the most impacted airport, with flight searches from international origins to SFO dropping 45.6 percent following the travel ban announcement."

That first story is from a Vermont outlet. So, from literally one side of the country to the other, people are concerned about how Trump's policies are going to affect the tourism sector of the economy.

If tourism continues to decline, that is inevitably going to cost people their jobs.

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[CN: Homophobia; video may autoplay at link] Eliza Collins at USA Today: Republicans in Congress Push for Religious Liberty Executive Order.
Dozens of Republican lawmakers are asking [Donald] Trump to scale back Obama-era protections for gays and lesbians in order to make good on a campaign promise to protect religious liberty.

In early February, Trump was reportedly considering an executive order that would reverse former president Barack Obama's orders prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians in the federal workforce or by federal contractors. But the order was never signed.

A group of 51 members of the House wrote to Trump this month to "request that you sign the draft executive order on religious liberty, as reported by numerous outlets on February 2, 2017, in order to protect millions of Americans whose religious freedom has been attacked or threatened over the last eight years." The letter has not been publicly released but was obtained by USA TODAY.

In February, the White House said Trump had no plans to sign such an order: "The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump.”

But on Monday, a senior White House official told USA TODAY that some sort of policy to protect religious liberty is still in the works, but that the president is trying to find middle ground. The official did not want to publicly discuss a policy that is still under development.
Absolutely vile. Republicans don't care about Russian interference in the election, but they do care that Trump isn't hating queer people hard enough. (Which is a particularly disgusting irony, given the violent eliminationism being directed against queer people in Chechnya.)

And Trump won't stand his ground on keeping protections intact. Instead, he's "trying to find middle ground." FUCK THAT. This whole administration is such despicable garbage.

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Catherine Rampell at the Washington Post: Workers Who Really Do 'Support Our Troops' Are Getting Their Wages Slashed. "For at least the third time in two years, the National Guard Bureau has awarded a contract for military family services to a lowball bidder. For the third time, that bid was based on plans to cut workers' pay by about a third on average, and in some cases by half. These pay levels are so low that they may not be legal, according to a complaint filed Monday with the Labor Department. And for the third time, these sudden wage cuts have led to mass resignations, leaving few workers available to help prepare military families for deployment, reintegration into civilian life, and the financial and psychological stresses that can come with both."

Dan Carden at the Times of Northwest Indiana: Indiana to Take DNA Sample from Every Person Arrested for Felony. "Indiana law enforcement is entering a brave new world where police can obtain and test any Hoosier's DNA profile against crime scene evidence, so long as a prosecutor can show the person probably committed a felony. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb on Friday signed into law Senate Enrolled Act 322 requiring police to take a cheek swab DNA sample from every person arrested for a felony, starting in 2018. Currently, only individuals convicted of felonies have their DNA records permanently entered into a state police database. State Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, the sponsor of the new law, said she expects police will catch more criminals once they have a bigger pool of DNA records to check against blood, fluids and other detritus gathered at crime scenes. She also refused to rule out someday expanding the DNA collection mandate to include those arrested for misdemeanors or traffic infractions."

Emphases mine. Bad news for Indiana, and bad news for everyone else, since Indiana is the Conservative Legislation Lab. If this shit, which will certainly be challenged in court, passes constitutional muster, get ready to see laws like this passed across the entire country.

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

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