We Resist: Day 134

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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:

Earlier today by me: Trump Is Making the United States a Global Pariah.

This is the major environmental news in a week when Donald Trump pulled the United States out of a global climate change agreement: Nicola Davis at the Guardian: Giant Antarctic Iceberg 'Hanging by a Thread,' Say Scientists. "A giant section of an Antarctic ice shelf is hanging by a thread and could break off at any moment, researchers have revealed. The split in the Larsen C ice shelf of the Antarctic peninsula will release a huge iceberg 5,000 sq km in size—an area about a quarter of the size of Wales. ...'It is a big event and it will change the landscape of the Antarctic peninsula—the Larsen ice shelf will be left 10% smaller,' said [Professor Adrian Luckman, a scientist at Swansea University and leader of the UK's Midas project—an endeavour that has been monitoring the situation at the Larsen C ice shelf].

Matt Shuham at TPM: White House Tells Agencies Not to Cooperate with Dems' Oversight Asks. "The White House is telling federal agencies not to cooperate with congressional Democrats' oversight requests, for fear the information would be used to attack the President, Politico reported Friday. Citing unnamed 'Republican sources inside and outside the administration,' Politico reported that Special Assistant to the President Uttam Dhillon had instructed various agencies not to cooperate with Democrats' requests in meetings this Spring. 'You have Republicans leading the House, the Senate, and the White House,' an unnamed White House official told Politico. 'I don't think you'd have the Democrats responding to every minority member request if they were in the same position.'" JFC.

[Content Note: Islamophobia] Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow at the Washington Post: Trump Turns to Supreme Court to Move Forward on Travel Ban. "The Trump administration late Thursday asked the Supreme Court to revive the president's plan to temporarily ban citizens from six mostly Muslim countries, elevating a divisive legal battle involving national security and religious discrimination to the nation's highest court. Justice Department lawyers asked the court to overturn a decision of the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit that kept in place a freeze on [Donald] Trump's revised ban. ...The government's filing late Thursday asks the justices to set aside the 4th Circuit ruling and accept the case for oral arguments. It also asks the high court to lift an even broader nationwide injunction issued by a federal judge in a separate Hawaii case."

Huh. I wonder how Merrick Garland would have ruled on that. Oh well.

So much winning with the jobs president.

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Yeganeh Torbati at Reuters: Trump Administration Approves Tougher Visa Vetting, Including Social Media Checks.
The Trump administration has rolled out a new questionnaire for U.S. visa applicants worldwide that asks for social media handles for the last five years and biographical information going back 15 years.

The new questions, part of an effort to tighten vetting of would-be visitors to the United States, was approved on May 23 by the Office of Management and Budget despite criticism from a range of education officials and academic groups during a public comment period.

Critics argued that the new questions would be overly burdensome, lead to long delays in processing, and discourage international students and scientists from coming to the United States.

Under the new procedures, consular officials can request all prior passport numbers, five years' worth of social media handles, email addresses and phone numbers, and 15 years of biographical information including addresses, employment, and travel history.
This is just an absurd breach of privacy. And will further damage tourism and business in the U.S.

I have previously written about the intense scrutiny that Iain and I went through during his visa application process. That was 16 years ago, and, even then, the first application we submitted was more than an inch thick. The idea that visa applicants don't already face a rigorous process is manifest garbage—a notion also expressed by BoingBoing's Cory Doctorow, who writes: "My first application for a US O-1 visa ran 600 pages. The first renewal ran 900 pages. The second renewal ran 1200 pages. This is the current level of scrutiny applied to visa-seekers. The idea that people just waltz into the USA to live or work is, frankly, absurd."

There is very little justification for this gross invasion of privacy above and beyond the current requirements for entry. I will, however, note that immigrants are the canary in the coal mine for the Trump administration. We all better start figuring out what they're going to use this for against citizens next. Applying for a passport? A driver's license? Any government job?

If you have an expired passport, or don't have one at all, I strongly urge you to get on that application now.

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Michael Isikoff at Yahoo News: How the Trump Administration's Secret Efforts to Ease Russia Sanctions Fell Short.
In the early weeks of the Trump administration, former Obama administration officials and State Department staffers fought an intense, behind-the-scenes battle to head off efforts by incoming officials to normalize relations with Russia, according to multiple sources familiar with the events.

Unknown to the public at the time, top Trump administration officials, almost as soon as they took office, tasked State Department staffers with developing proposals for the lifting of economic sanctions, the return of diplomatic compounds, and other steps to relieve tensions with Moscow.

These efforts to relax or remove punitive measures imposed by President Obama in retaliation for Russia's intervention in Ukraine and meddling in the 2016 election alarmed some State Department officials, who immediately began lobbying congressional leaders to quickly pass legislation to block the move, the sources said.

"There was serious consideration by the White House to unilaterally rescind the sanctions," said Dan Fried, a veteran State Department official who served as chief U.S. coordinator for sanctions policy until he retired in late February. He said in the first few weeks of the administration, he received several "panicky" calls from U.S. government officials who told him they had been directed to develop a sanctions-lifting package and imploring him, "Please, my God, can't you stop this?"
Like I said just yesterday: Fishy doesn't begin to describe it.

Clint Watts at the Daily Beast: Putin's Hidden Insurgency Tore up Ukraine; Now It's Coming for Your Inbox. "Today, Vladimir Putin, during an interview in St. Petersburg, changed his previous denials admitting Russians might have meddled in the U.S. election in 2016. Similar to obfuscation in Crimea, Putin said 'patriotically minded' Russians may have conducted the cyber attacks. Hackers, he contended, 'are like artists' who choose their targets depending on how they feel 'when they wake up in the morning.' He added that Russian hackers 'fight against those who say bad things about Russia.' This response reiterates a Russian pattern, tacit omission of Russian involvement with 'plausible deniability' with regards to Kremlin responsibility. Whether it's on the ground in Crimea or online in social media, Russia's dramaturgia seeks to mask overt government actions as grassroots nationalism."

Nathan Layne, Mark Hosenball, and Julia Edwards Ainsley at Reuters: Special Counsel Mueller to Probe Ex-Trump Aide Flynn's Turkey Ties. "Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible ties between the Trump election campaign and Russia, is expanding his probe to include a grand jury investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, three sources told Reuters. The move means Mueller's politically charged inquiry will now look into Flynn's paid work as a lobbyist for a Turkish businessman in 2016, in addition to contacts between Russian officials and Flynn and other Trump associates during and after the Nov. 8 presidential election. Federal prosecutors in Virginia are investigating a deal between Flynn and Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin as part of a grand jury criminal probe, according to a subpoena seen by Reuters."

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And finally, some resistance teaspooning opportunity this weekend, for those who are able.

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

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