We Resist: Day 313

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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: On That NYT Profile of a Nazi, The President Prominently Reminds Us He Is a White Supremacist, and This Is Class Warfare.

Elana Schor at Politico: Schumer, Pelosi Cancel Meeting with Trump. "Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi said they will not attend a meeting at the White House Tuesday after [Donald] Trump slammed them in a tweet. 'Given that the President doesn't see a deal between Democrats and the White House, we believe the best path forward is to continue negotiating with our Republican counterparts in Congress instead,' the Senate and House minority leaders said in a statement." So everything is going great, as usual.

Caitlin MacNeal at TPM: Top State Department Staffer Leaves Post After 3 Months. "A senior official at the State Department tasked with reorganizing the agency has left the position just three months after she was appointed to the position. Bloomberg News was first to report Maliz Beams' departure from her role as counselor on Monday night, and several outlets later confirmed that she has resigned. Deputy chief of staff Christine Ciccone will take over Beams' efforts to restructure the agency, per Bloomberg News. Beams' resignation follows acknowledgement from the State Department that the plans to restructure the agency have caused morale to plummet." Well, it's not like we need a functioning State Department, anyway, right?

Oh. Speaking of Russia...

Sarah Kendzior with Lindsay Beyerstein at Rewire: On the 'Oligarch Envy' Haunting [Donald] Trump. An excerpt from the podcast (the transcript for which is available in PDF):
I think that, especially in the second half of the Obama administration, they were not on the ball in terms of how they dealt with Russia generally. …I think they underestimated the capacity of Russia to intervene in foreign countries to the degree that they have. And the other thing, of course, that they did was to not go public with all of this earlier. Like the intelligence agencies were aware of the situation by mid-2016. Harry Reid had written about it publicly and asked people like Comey to go public, and I think that some of the skepticism that's been expressed towards this is that it was talked about much more after the election than before. So that made it seem partisan, like 'oh, people are just angry and they want to blame Russia, and they're upset that Trump is in, and this is a way to get it out.' It's like, no, this is a nonpartisan, national security problem. And the sooner people grasp that, the better, because it really does affect everybody. And so I do wish that the Obama administration had handled things differently.

…And I mean, in one sense I understand, because of course the Republicans would have attacked Obama, and of course they would have framed it as partisan, and of course the media would've framed it as partisan. But just because they're going to do that doesn't make it true. And there would have been no good time. They should've just gone forward, because it's their obligation as elected officials who serve the public to inform the public of a national security threat. That's the reason. And they would've had to fend off people like Mitch McConnell, who has expressed out loud that that was his intent, was to try to reframe this as some sort of partisan plot, and that itself is very disturbing. That's not really the way he should be thinking about a threat like this. But, you know, it's what they needed to do, and they didn't do it.

Katie Zavadski at the Daily Beast: Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn? "Reza Zarrab, a Turkish businessman accused of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, pleaded guilty and will testify against his co-defendant, a federal court heard Tuesday. Zarrab's cooperation with federal prosecutors could have implications for Michael Flynn, who allegedly plotted on behalf of Turkish interests to help free Zarrab. Zarrab, a 34-year-old Turkish-Iranian gold trader, is at the center of an Iran sanctions-busting case in which he used his companies and Turkish state-run banks to trade cash for gold in order to secretly buy oil from Iran. A former deputy general manager of one of those banks, Mehmet Atilla, is charged as part of that same conspiracy. ...Zarrab's apparent cooperation with federal prosecutors raised speculation that he was also cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry into Flynn, because it seemed unlikely prosecutors would offer a plea deal to Zarrab in exchange for his cooperation for the comparatively lower-profile trial of Atilla."

Steve Dorsey at CBS News: Uzbekistan Incident Raises Suspicions of Russian Involvement in Cuba Attacks. "A newly revealed incident reported by a USAID officer who is based at the American embassy in Uzbekistan is raising suspicions Russia may have been involved and could have had a hand in bizarre attacks targeting U.S. diplomats in Cuba, according to American sources. In September, the officer and his wife reported, according to one source familiar with the incident, what may have been at least one acoustic attack similar to those experienced by the diplomats in Havana. ...The State Department declined to describe in detail the incident in Tashkent." Um.

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[Content Note: Rape culture; sexual harassment and assault. Covers entire section.]

Shawn Boburg, Aaron C. Davis, and Alice Crites at the Washington Post: A Woman Approached The Post with Dramatic — and False — Tale about Roy Moore: She Appears to Be Part of Undercover Sting Operation.
A woman who falsely claimed to The Washington Post that Roy Moore, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama, impregnated her as a teenager appears to work with an organization that uses deceptive tactics to secretly record conversations in an effort to embarrass its targets.

In a series of interviews over two weeks, the woman shared a dramatic story about an alleged sexual relationship with Moore in 1992 that led to an abortion when she was 15. During the interviews, she repeatedly pressed Post reporters to give their opinions on the effects that her claims could have on Moore's candidacy if she went public.

The Post did not publish an article based on her unsubstantiated account. When Post reporters confronted her with inconsistencies in her story and an Internet posting that raised doubts about her motivations, she insisted that she was not working with any organization that targets journalists.

But on Monday morning, Post reporters saw her walking into the New York offices of Project Veritas, an organization that targets the mainstream news media and left-leaning groups. The organization sets up undercover "stings" that involve using false cover stories and covert video recordings meant to expose what the group says is media bias.
One of the most important takeaways from this incident is that false stories are, contrary to popular opinion, not widely believed and reported. Here is a perfect example of how a false story did not pass even cursory scrutiny and was thus not published.

And Trump, of course, has endorsed Roy Moore. Cough.

Nicole Lafond at TPM: Top Minnesota Newspaper: Franken Apology Falls Short on Sincerity. "Saying it may not be possible to 'regain Minnesotans' trust,' the editorial staff at the Minneapolis Star Tribune said Sen. Al Franken's (D-MN) apology for the allegations of sexual misconduct that have come out against him in recent weeks doesn't go far enough. ...'With a Senate ethics investigation looming, Franken remains on politically shaky ground,' they wrote. 'It's debatable whether he is, as he said, 'holding myself accountable.' Without saying he didn't do it, he nevertheless has countered every allegation except the one that carries indisputable proof — the infamous photo of him appearing to grab at (Leeann) Tweeden while she slept. Under such circumstances, Franken's apology is less a statement of accountability and more akin to 'I'm sorry for what you think I did.''"

As Ana Mardoll has observed in an important thread, "the Senate ethics committee exists to protect senators." It's not to hold them accountable. Quite the opposite, unfortunately.

George Hunter at the Detroit News: Second Ex-Staffer Accuses Conyers of Sexual Harassment. "A former staffer of U.S. Rep. John Conyers said the veteran lawmaker made unwanted sexual advances toward her, including inappropriate touching, adding to allegations by other unnamed former employees that have prompted a congressional investigation. Deanna Maher, who worked for him from 1997 to 2005, told The Detroit News that the Detroit Democrat made unwanted advances toward her three times. Maher is the second former Conyers staffer to go public with accusations about the veteran lawmaker. Conyers on Sunday stepped aside as the the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee amid a congressional ethics probe of sexual harassment allegations involving former staffers."

And in case you hadn't had yet enough rape apologia lately...

Maude save me. I just about can't take any more.

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[CN: War on agency] Jessica Mason Pieklo at Rewire: Second-Trimester Abortion Ban Could Hit the Supreme Court. "Last week a federal district court ruled unconstitutional a Texas provision that bans the most common form of second-trimester abortions. The decision was an important win in what is emerging as the next big fight over abortion rights: criminalizing abortion procedures and providers in the name of promoting 'fetal life.' But it's not the end of the road. With the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals sitting in the middle of this fight, there is a good chance it will make its way all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. If and when that happens, abortion rights advocates have to hope Justice Anthony Kennedy is on their side — and it's not so clear he will be." Goddammit.

[CN: Homophobia; bullying; self-harm] Andy Towle at Towleroad: San Diego Teen Was Taunted with Anti-Gay Slurs on Social Media Before Killing Himself. "A San Diego teen was bullied with homophobic slurs on Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook and his mother went to the school to complain. Hours after an 'incident' at school which his mother was told about, 14-year-old German Aramburo-Guzman killed himself. ...If you are a young person in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, call the TrevorLifeline now at 866-488-7386." My condolences to German's family, friends, kind classmates, and community.

[CN: Homophobia; abduction; rape; torture] Katharine Swindells at Pink News: Lesbian Couple Raped, Beaten, and Held Prisoner for Days Without Food or Water. "A married lesbian couple in Indiana have reported being held prisoner for days, being beaten, and denied food or water. Three men and one woman, aged in their 20s and 30s, face a swathe of charges for the crime, including kidnapping, criminal confinement, battery, and rape." Goddammit. They are so lucky to have survived, and thankfully it seems as though law enforcement are taking this very seriously.

[CN: Racism; violence] Auditi Guha at Rewire: Asian Americans See Spike in Hate-Based Violence in Trump Era. "[Numerous attacks have been] reported by Asians, as documented by Asian Americans Advancing Justice, a national group advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities. The stories collected via a new website, often anonymously, and the toll-free number 1-844-9-NOHATE, indicates that Asians in the United States have not been spared amid the documented rise in hate crime and anti-immigrant sentiment that defines the Trump era. 'It's been very intense. We've seen houses of worship denigrated, people attacked, even killed,' said Aarti Kohli, executive director of the Asian Law Caucus of Asian Americans Advancing Justice." Fucking hell.

[CN: Gun violence; revictimization] Sam Levin and Lois Beckett at the Guardian: U.S. Gun Violence Spawns a New Epidemic: Conspiracy Theorists Harassing Victims. "As record-breaking mass shootings have become a ritual of life in the US, survivors and victims' families across the country have increasingly faced an onslaught of social media abuse and viral slander. Bullying from the ugliest corners of the internet overwhelms the grief-stricken as they struggle to cope with the greatest horror they've ever experienced. The cycles of hoaxer harassment are now as predictable as mass shootings. And yet those with the most power to stop the spread of conspiracy theories have done little to address victims' cries for help." Seethe.

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Jennifer Jacobs and Justin Sink at Bloomberg: White House Weighs Personal Mobile Phone Ban for Staff. "The White House may ban its employees from using personal mobile phones while at work, raising concerns among some staffers including that they'll be cut off from family and friends, according to seven administration officials. ...The White House already takes precautions with personal wireless devices, including by requiring officials to leave phones in cubbies outside of meeting rooms where sensitive or classified information is discussed. Top officials haven't yet decided whether or when to impose the ban, and if it would apply to all staff in the executive office of the president. While some lower-level officials support a ban, others worry it could result in a series of disruptive unintended consequences."

Alex Hern at the Guardian: Three-Quarters of Android Apps Track Users with Third Party Tools. "More than three in four Android apps contain at least one third-party 'tracker,' according to a new analysis of hundreds of apps. The study by French research organisation Exodus Privacy and Yale University's Privacy Lab analysed the mobile apps for the signatures of 25 known trackers, which use various techniques to glean personal information about users to better target them for advertisements and services. Among the apps found to be using some sort of tracking plugin were some of the most popular apps on the Google Play Store, including Tinder, Spotify, Uber, and OKCupid. All four apps use a service owned by Google, called Crashlytics, that primarily tracks app crash reports, but can also provide the ability to 'get insight into your users, what they're doing, and inject live social content to delight them.'"

Craig Silverman at BuzzFeed: Social Platforms Promised a Level Playing Field for All; the Russian Trolls Showed That Was Never True.
The Russian effort exploited one of the great promises of social platforms — a level playing field — to blend in with other content being pushed out during and after the election. Russian propaganda mixed with an avalanche of hyperpartisan political content, which itself inspired fabricated news stories from fake news publishers, which were in turn copied and pushed out by hundreds of young Macedonian spammers. These messages, stories, and memes traveled in the very same containers and pathways as their legitimate counterparts, across platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

These platforms blur the lines between people, entities, and types of content. Accounts can be people or companies or governments. Multiple Facebook pages or Twitter accounts can be run by the same people, but you'd never know to look at them. A tweet or Facebook post can be turned into an ad, which can then accrue additional reach thanks to people engaging with it in a genuine way. Everyone is here and anyone can be anything!
Until nothing matters. Which is, perhaps, the most important thing we need to #resist.

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

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