We Resist: Day 305

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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: I Can Also Walk and Chew Gum and Mueller Is Still Investigating.

David Nakamura at the Washington Post: Trump Puts North Korea Back on State Sponsors of Terrorism List to Escalate Pressure over nuclear Weapons. "Trump on Monday announced that his administration has re-designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terror, a move aimed at increasing pressure on Pyongyang a decade after the George W. Bush administration removed the rogue nation from the list. Trump made his decision public during a brief photo op at a Cabinet meeting, calling it 'a very critical step' that 'should've happened a long time ago.' ...Trump vowed that Pyongyang will face further sanctions in the near future and that this will be the 'highest level of sanctions by the time it's finished.'"

Cool. Everything is fine.

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[Content Note: Environmental contamination; environmental racism and classism — covers entire section]

Oliver Milman at the Guardian: A Civil Rights Emergency: Justice, Clean Air, and Water in the Age of Trump. "The Trump administration's dismantling of environmental regulations has intensified a growing civil rights battle over the deadly burden of pollution on minorities and low-income people. Black, Latin[x], and disadvantaged people have long been disproportionately afflicted by toxins from industrial plants, cars, hazardous housing conditions, and other sources. But political leaders, academics and activists spoke of a growing urgency around the struggle for environmental justice as the Trump administration peels away rules designed to protect clean air and water. 'What we are seeing is the institutionalization of discrimination again, the thing we've fought for 40 years,' said Robert Bullard, an academic widely considered the father of the environmental justice movement."

Michael Hawthorne at the Chicago Tribune: U.S. Steel Dumps More Toxic Chromium Near Lake Michigan, Faces Lawsuit. "A review of online press releases shows neither state officials nor the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency informed the public about [the malfunction of a wastewater treatment system] at the plant, part of a complex of steel mills that divides the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Portage. An EPA spokeswoman said Indiana officials didn't tell the agency about the spill until Tuesday morning, following inquiries from the Tribune. ...Unlike the previous spill, which occurred in April, U.S. Steel did not report the latest incident to the National Response Center, a warning system overseen by the U.S. Coast Guard to alert local authorities about oil spills and chemical releases, records show."

Ellee Achten at Rewire: The Fire Is out in West Virginia's 'Chemical Valley,' But Health Fears Remain. "The warehouse in south Parkersburg — owned by Intercontinental Import Export, Inc., also known as IEI Plastics — was full of plastic recycling, had been quickly engulfed in flames. Multiple explosions were reported. Residents from miles around watched the dark skies and smelled the acrid air. Many streets around the warehouse were closed. But two weeks later, the cause of the fire still remains unknown. What's most concerning for Way, and thousands of other residents in the affected area, is: What exactly burned? What fell from the sky and coated yards and roofs and cars? And what may have found its way into the water? ...An official report has yet to be released."

Sarah Sax at Vice News: Keystone Pipeline Oil Spill Could Be Worse Than We Thought. "TransCanada shut down a portion of its highly contested Keystone Pipeline, which transports oil from the Canadian tar sands to refineries in the U.S., at 6 a.m. on Thursday after 210,000 gallons, or around 5,000 barrels, of oil spilled across South Dakota farmland. The type of oil in the pipeline, however, makes pinpointing the size of the spill more difficult than usual, worrying local environmental groups and landowners about its environmental effects. ...Kent Moeckly, a nearby landowner and member of the Dakota Rural Action Group, told VICE News he's concerned that the spill could be much larger though, in large part because the computers used to detect oil pressure drops don't always detect small leaks. 'TransCanada thought it was 200,000 gallons. What we found out working with TransCanada, it could very well be 600,000 gallons,' Moeckly said."

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[CN: Sexual assault and harassment; descriptions of sex abuse; rape apologia — covers entire section. Video may autoplay at first link.]

MJ Lee at CNN: Woman Says Franken Inappropriately Touched Her in 2010. "A woman says Sen. Al Franken inappropriately touched her in 2010, telling CNN that he grabbed her buttocks while taking a photo at the Minnesota State Fair. It is the first allegation of improper touching by Franken, who is a Democrat, while he was in office. ...In a statement to CNN Sunday, Franken said he did not remember taking the photo with Menz and that he felt 'badly' that she felt disrespected. 'I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don't remember taking this picture,' Franken said. 'I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.'"

I tweeted this latest allegation against Franken this morning with two words of commentary: "So upsetting." The pushback was fast and furious. People howled at me that it was a Roger Stone hit job and demanded to know if I'd read the article. Yes, I did. Including the part where the accuser posted a Facebook comment in reply to her sister about how Franken molested her right after it happened. I guess I'm a big dum-dum because I don't believe that Stone colluded with this woman 7 years ago in preparation for this moment and instructed her to leave a Facebook comment viewable by friends only.

Here's the thing: It can simultaneously be true that Franken has done these things and that conservatives are making hay out of them. Just like it's simultaneously true that Roy Moore is a serial predator and that many progressives (some of whom don't otherwise give two shits about victims of sex abuse) are making hay out of them.

Politicizing assaults does not render null the veracity of the allegations. Period.

Ben Beaumont-Thomas at the Guardian: Russell Simmons Accused of Sexual Assault Alongside Brett Ratner. "Russell Simmons, the hip-hop mogul who co-founded Def Jam Recordings, has been accused of sexual assault amid new accusations against the Hollywood film producer and director Brett Ratner. Model Keri Claussen Khalighi alleges that in 1991, when she was 17, she was invited by Simmons and Ratner to Simmons' apartment to look at a music video the pair were working on. She says that Simmons tore off her clothes and attempted to [rape her]. 'I fought it wildly,' she told the LA Times, saying she eventually 'acquiesced.' She added: 'I looked over at Brett and said, 'Help me,' and I'll never forget the look on his face. In that moment, the realisation fell on me that they were in it together.' Ratner has been accused of sexual assault and harassment by actors including Olivia Munn and Ellen Page."

Sonaiya Kelley at the LA Times: Terry Crews Says Russell Simmons Asked Him to Give Target of Sexual Assault Allegations 'a Pass'. "Terry Crews on Sunday posted a screenshot of an email he said was from entrepreneur-producer Russell Simmons that urged the actor to give the target of his sexual-assault allegations a pass. ...A representative for Simmons could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday evening."

Sarah Jeong at the Verge: In Chatlogs, Celebrated Hacker and Activist Confesses Countless Sexual Assaults. "The Verge has corroborated six separate allegations of physical and sexual assault by Morgan Marquis-Boire, with four self-identified victims located in Marquis-Boire's home country of New Zealand. We also spoke to others in New Zealand, including former friends of Morgan Marquis-Boire, who say that this pattern of behavior was well-known in their community. ...Although Lila had explicitly asked him how many women he had raped, in all of their conversations, he never gave her a precise tally. 'I have drunkenly sexually assaulted or raped women — the exact number of which I am currently determining,' he admits in the chat log. In the PGP-encrypted email, he never uses the word 'rape,' but in referring to an 'inventory of my sins,' he writes, 'I don't have a number for you yet, but it's going to be worse than anything anyone has documented.'"

Mark Townsend at the Guardian: Harvey Weinstein Had Secret Hitlist of Names to Quash Sex Scandal. "The Observer has gained access to a secret hitlist of almost 100 prominent individuals targeted by Harvey Weinstein in an extraordinary attempt to discover what they knew about sexual misconduct claims against him and whether they were intending to go public. The previously undisclosed list contains a total of 91 actors, publicists, producers, financiers, and others working in the film industry, all of whom Weinstein allegedly identified as part of a strategy to prevent accusers from going public with sexual misconduct claims against him. The names, apparently drawn up by Weinstein himself, were distributed to a team hired by the film producer to suppress claims that he had sexually harassed or assaulted numerous women." I mean, that sounds an awful lot like a list of victims.

That former Oklahoma state senator was also Donald Trump's 2016 Oklahoma campaign chair.

Dominic Patten at Deadline: Jeffrey Tambor Exits Transparent After Sexual Harassment Allegations. "Facing two accusations of sexual harassment by members of the Transparent team that he has strongly denied, Jeffrey Tambor today has decided not to return to the Amazon series. ...While a stunner on one level, this move by Golden Globe winner Tambor comes as the show itself was seemingly gearing up to shuffle him off the show. As Deadline was first to report on November 14, since the first allegation against Tambor was made by his former assistant and transgender actress Van Barnes earlier this month, there have been discussions about writing the actor's transgender Maura character out of the show for the upcoming fifth season."

(That the show Transparent might carry on without the trans parent goes to show how much that show was about trans people in the first place!)

Dave Jamieson at the Huffington Post: What Housekeepers Endure to Clean Hotel Rooms. "Many of the stories that have hit front pages ― Weinstein, journalist Mark Halperin, comedian Louis C.K. ― center on powerful men who preyed on underlings or colleagues in hotel rooms ― a trend that would surprise no woman who's ever worked as a housekeeper. If famous A-list actresses must deal with unwanted advances in the privacy of a hotel suite, imagine the vulnerability of an immigrant woman cleaning the room alone, for close to minimum wage, plus tips. 'Frankly, I don't think much of the public understands what housekeepers go through just to clean these rooms and carry out the work,' said Maria Elena Durazo, a labor leader with the hospitality union Unite Here. For several years Durazo's union has advocated for housekeepers to be given handheld, wireless panic buttons that can alert hotel security when a worker feels threatened ― a sign of how dire it views the problem of sexual predation in the hotel industry."

Maura Judkis and Emily Heil at the Washington Post: Rape in the Storage Room; Groping at the Bar — Why Is the Restaurant Industry So Terrible for Women? "Women are vulnerable in just about every inch of a restaurant. Behind the bar. The hostess stands where patrons are greeted. Behind stoves and in front of dishwashers. From lewd comments to rape, sexual misconduct is, for many, simply part of the job. ...[I]ts perpetrators might just as easily be owners as lowly barbacks. The reasons are many, and they're complicated: Many kitchens are boys' clubs, dominated by machismo and flashing knives; many women rely on pleasing their male customers and managers for tips or good shifts; human resources departments might be nonexistent or toothless; and restaurant staffs are often hard-partying posses that blur professional lines."

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If you're wondering if that is what prompted my earlier spleen-venting, the answer is yes.

Rebekah Entralgo at ThinkProgress: White House Officials Just Called Losing Your Health Insurance a Tax Break. "Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told CNN's Jake Tapper Sunday that the president 'is not going to sign a bill that raises taxes on the middle class, period.' Unfortunately for Mulvaney, both the House and Senate tax bills would do just that, but he's now trying to spin millions of people losing their health insurance as them getting a tax break. ...[Mulvaney] said Sunday there is a 'benefit if the [individual mandate, a measure in the Affordable Care Act that requires individuals to be covered by health insurance] goes away' because it is a tax on middle class families. Marc Short, the White House Director of Legislative Affairs made the same argument on ABC's 'This Week' Sunday morning. Short says the mandate harms middle-income families most and applauds the Senate's decision to include it in their tax bill."

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Laura Koran at CNN: Tillerson Rejects Criticism over State Department Management.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson defended his management of the State Department Monday, following a host of recent criticisms from members of congress, a diplomatic union, and — most recently — The New York Times Editorial Board.

"This department is performing extraordinarily well," Tillerson insisted to reporters at a photo opportunity. "And I take exception to anyone who would characterize it otherwise. It's just not true."

He made the comments in response to a question about low morale within the agency — an issue his own spokeswoman acknowledged on Friday. "Sure, there is a morale issue in this building," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert acknowledged Friday. "And that's why I say, you know, 'Folks, hang in there. We have a lot of work to be done. Please don't give up. Don't give up on this building. Don't give up on what America is doing. Don't give up on the importance of this job and career.' "

Responding Monday, Tillerson expressed confidence that his ongoing reorganization of the agency will eventually allay any concerns, saying, "the redesign is going to address all of that."
Oh, okay. Meanwhile, in an interview with April Ryan, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton notes bluntly: "You cannot substitute tweeting for diplomacy." Indeed.

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

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