We Resist: Day 326

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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.

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Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: Explosion at the Port Authority in NYC; Bernie Sanders, What Are You Even Doing?; and Celebrity Chef Mario Batali "Stepping Away" Following Sexual Harassment Allegations.

[Content Note: Sexual harassment and/or assault. Covers entire section.]

Addy Baird at ThinkProgress: 'What a Pervert He Is': Trump's Accusers Provide New Details of Sexual Harassment. "Trump called Jessica Leeds a 'cunt' after allegedly groping her on an airplane in the late 1970's, Leeds said on Megyn Kelly Today Monday morning. ...Leeds joined Kelly Monday morning along with two other women, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks, who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct. Crooks says Trump forcibly kissed her in Trump Tower in 2005, and Holvey says Trump 'inspected' her and other Miss USA pageant contestants, calling the interaction 'the dirtiest I felt in my entire life.' In total, 16 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct. The president has denied all accusations."

Mark Berman at the Washington Post: Trump Accusers Say It Was 'Heartbreaking' to See Him Elected Despite Sexual Misconduct Allegations. "At a news conference with the other two women later Monday morning, Crooks called for Congress to investigate the allegations of sexual misconduct against the president. Leeds said that none of the women were speaking publicly for fame, but instead were doing it because they felt it was the right thing to do. 'None of us want this attention,' Leeds said at the news conference. 'None of us are comfortable with it... But this is important, so when asked, we speak out.' ...Holvey suggested it made sense for Trump's accusers to speak to the public again given the way the country's atmosphere — and response to alleged sexual misconduct — has shifted over the last year. 'Let's try round two,' she said. 'The environment's different; let's try again.'"

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Aileen Graef at CNN: Two Senators Call for Trump's Resignation over Sexual Assault, Harassment Allegations.
Sens. Cory Booker and Jeff Merkley both voiced the sentiment.

In an interview with Vice after a campaign rally for Democratic Alabama Senate candidate Doug Jones, Booker said, "I just watched Sen. Al Franken do the honorable thing and resign from his office. My question is, why isn't Donald Trump doing the same thing — who has more serious allegations against him, with more women who have come forward. The fact pattern on him is far more damning than the fact pattern on Al Franken."

...Merkley joined the call in an email fundraising pitch.

"I want to be absolutely clear. Donald Trump should resign the presidency. At least 17 women have accused Donald Trump of horrific sexual misconduct, and I believe them. Moreover, he's bragged on tape about that behavior. This is not about politics. This is not about policy. I disagree with him on many things, but this is not about that," he said in the email.
I really don't appreciate Booker engaging in abuse ranking between Franken and Trump, and I don't think it's "honorable" to resign from a position of power because you've abused it. But he's right that Trump should resign. For this and many other reasons.

Kathryn Rossetter at the Hollywood Reporter: New Dustin Hoffman Accuser Claims Harassment and Physical Violation on Broadway. "I considered reporting him to Actors Equity. But I was cautioned by some respected theatre professionals that if I did, I would probably lose my job and, because he was such a powerful star, any hope of a career. It was Dustin's playpen." This account is absolutely harrowing. Rossetter suffered daily sexual abuse and humiliation. And Hoffman had the fucking temerity to whine about being confronted by John Oliver. What a sick asshole.

David Ng at Towleroad: CAA Agent Accused of Offering Sex in Exchange for Access to Directors and a Hollywood Star. "The agent, Cade Hudson, made the offers in 2013, according to text messages reviewed by The Times, as well as interviews with the recipient of the messages, actor Sean Rose. The texts show that Hudson offered to perform oral sex on Rose and solicited the actor for as much as $1,000, even though he was told the actor was heterosexual. Rose said he declined the offers and was 'embarrassed and humiliated.' But he said he felt powerless to speak out and feared that doing so would result in professional reprisals. 'Because he knew so many people in the industry, I felt there wasn't anything I could do about it,' the actor said."

Kaiser at Celebitchy: Paz de la Huerta's Therapy Sessions Are Being Used Against Her in Her Rape Case.
In the middle of the Predator Storm, Paz de la Huerta shared her story. Paz told Vanity Fair that Harvey Weinstein had raped her twice in her own apartment in 2010 — the acts of rape were months apart, but in the same calendar year. Paz's story garnered a lot of sympathy and interest for many reasons, one of which is that her story was one of the most recent chronologically in the decades of Harvey Weinstein's predations.

Paz went to the New York police to give a statement, and it was said the NYPD were investigating her story. It was said that the cops were hopeful that Paz's case would be the most prosecutable, because 2010 doesn't fall outside of the statute of limitations on sex crimes. But because this is Peak 2017 and every woman has to go through a mountain of bullsh-t, sources now tell TMZ that cops are no longer hopeful that charges will ever be brought against Weinstein in Paz's case.

...[TMZ reports in part:] "De la Huerta has said she told her therapist about the rapes, but our law enforcement sources say it's not as clear as that. Law enforcement is aware of a correspondence in which the therapist recollects the 2010 session this way: 'I recall you reporting to me a sexual encounter with Harvey Weinstein involving intercourse in your apartment in 2010 that resulted in you feeling victimized. I recall you telling me that it felt coercive to you and that you didn't want to have sex with him, but felt you had to as he was a man of power and rank and you couldn't say no to his sexual advances.'"
I have so many questions about this. Like, since when does believing one cannot say no not constitute coercion? And like, who the fuck in law enforcement is giving TMZ de la Huerta's therapist's notes so that they can be published?! Fucking hell, this is infuriating. Goddammit.

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Carol E. Lee and Julia Ainsley at NBC News: Focus on Flynn, Trump Timeline Suggests Obstruction Is on Mueller's Mind. "Special counsel Robert Mueller is trying to piece together what happened inside the White House over a critical 18-day period that began when senior officials were told that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was susceptible to blackmail by Russia, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. The questions about what happened between Jan. 26 and Flynn's firing on Feb. 13 appear to relate to possible obstruction of justice by [Donald] Trump, say two people familiar with Mueller's investigation into Russia's election meddling and potential collusion with the Trump campaign."

I'm officially announcing the title of a book I will never write: From 18 Minutes to 18 Days: A History of Presidential Corruption.

Darren Samuelsohn at Politico: As Russia Probes Progress, One Name Is Missing: Bannon's. "As special Russia counsel Robert Mueller wraps up interviews with senior current and former White House staff, one name has been conspicuously absent from public chatter surrounding the probe: Steve Bannon. ...Bannon was a key bystander when Trump decided to fire national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to federal investigators about his contacts with foreign officials. He was among those Trump consulted before firing FBI Director James Comey, whose dismissal prompted Mueller's appointment — a decision Bannon subsequently described to 60 Minutes as the biggest mistake 'in modern political history.' And during the campaign, Bannon was the one who offered the introduction to data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica, whose CEO has since acknowledged trying to coordinate with WikiLeaks on the release of emails from Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state."

Bannon hasn't faced much public scrutiny (yet), but his name isn't the only one we haven't been hearing much: We haven't been hearing the name Reince Priebus at all, either — and if there's one person who I could imagine keeping his head down because he's singing like a canary, it's that little shitweasel Priebus.

Julia Ioffe at the Atlantic: What Putin Really Wants. "Both Putin and his country are aging, declining — but the insecurities of decline present their own risks to America. The United States intelligence community is unanimous in its assessment not only that Russians interfered in the U.S. election but that, in the words of former FBI Director James Comey, 'they will be back.' It is a stunning escalation of hostilities for a troubled country whose elites still have only a tenuous grasp of American politics. And it is classically Putin, and classically Russian: using daring aggression to mask weakness, to avenge deep resentments, and, at all costs, to survive. I'd come to Russia to try to answer two key questions. The more immediate is how the Kremlin, despite its limitations, pulled off one of the greatest acts of political sabotage in modern history, turning American democracy against itself. And the more important — for Americans, anyway — is what might still be in store, and how far an emboldened Vladimir Putin is prepared to go in order to get what he wants."

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[CN: Disablist language] James Vincent at the Verge: Former Facebook Exec Says Social Media Is Ripping Apart Society.
Another former Facebook executive has spoken out about the harm the social network is doing to civil society around the world. Chamath Palihapitiya, who joined Facebook in 2007 and became its vice president for user growth, said he feels "tremendous guilt" about the company he helped make. "I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works," he told an audience at Stanford Graduate School of Business, before recommending people take a "hard break" from social media.

Palihapitiya's criticisms were aimed not only at Facebook, but the wider online ecosystem. "The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we've created are destroying how society works," he said, referring to online interactions driven by "hearts, likes, thumbs-up." "No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it's not an American problem — this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem."

...In his talk, Palihapitiya criticized not only Facebook, but Silicon Valley's entire system of venture capital funding. He said that investors pump money into "shitty, useless, idiotic companies," rather than addressing real problems like climate change and disease. Palihapitiya currently runs his own VC firm, Social Capital, which focuses on funding companies in sectors like healthcare and education.
I mean, yes. But also: There are lots of people who use social media to engage in productive discourse while centering cooperation, information, and truth; who use social media to address "real problems" like climate change and disease. It's not the tool. It's the way people are using it. And I mean both end users as well as the corporate profiteers who use it to exploit people for wealth accumulation. Just because some people use hammers for murder doesn't mean they're not useful to carpenters.

Anyway. It continues to be fascinating to me how the engineers of this particular destruction now want to blame the tools themselves, instead of their creators and the people who currently maintain them. Ahem.

Olivia Solon at the Guardian: Net Neutrality: 'Father of Internet' Joins Tech Leaders in Condemning Repeal Plan. "More than 20 internet pioneers and leaders including the 'father of the internet', Vint Cerf; the inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee; and the Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak have urged the FCC to cancel its vote to repeal net neutrality, describing the plan as 'based on a flawed and factually inaccurate' understanding of how the internet works. 'The FCC's rushed and technically incorrect proposed order to repeal net neutrality protections without any replacement is an imminent threat to the internet we worked so hard to create. It should be stopped,' said the technology luminaries in an open letter to lawmakers with oversight of the Federal Communications Commission on Monday."

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[CN: Wildfires. Covers entire section.]

AP/Guardian: Largest California Wildfire Expected to Grow as It Enters Second Week. "As southern California entered its second week engulfed in flames, fire officials said they anticipated more growth and danger due to continued strong wind gusts, no rain, and decades-old dry vegetation. A powerful flare-up on the western edge of the largest and most destructive wildfire sent residents fleeing on Sunday, as wind-fanned flames ripped down hillsides toward coastal towns north-west of Los Angeles. New evacuations were ordered as the fire sent up an enormous plume near Montecito and Carpinteria, seaside areas in Santa Barbara County."

Scott Wilson, Amy B Wang, Mark Berman, and Eli Rosenberg at the WaPo/Mercury News: After First Wildfire Fatality Confirmed, Officials Warn of More Danger in Southern California.
On Saturday, multiple wildfires continued to rage throughout Southern California, cloaking the area in nightmarish flame and towering plumes of smoke so thick they were visible from space.

On Friday, authorities reported the first fire-related death: The Ventura Medical Examiner Office identified a body found on Wednesday as Virginia Pesola, 70, from Santa Paula, the "only confirmed fire-related death in Ventura County to date." Pesola had died from "blunt force injuries with terminal smoke inhalation and thermal injuries" in a traffic incident during "active fire evacuation," according to the county medical examiner.

As the fires spread, much of the region also faces the threat posed by the dense smoke. Public health officials warned of dangerously bad air quality and said it was particularly threatening for the elderly, children, and people with respiratory or heart conditions. Los Angeles County issued smoke advisories, urging people to remain indoors when possible, while Santa Barbara County officials said they expected to distribute 50,000 masks to area residents.

Phil Moyal, an air quality specialist in Ventura County, said the smoke was causing hazardous conditions there, especially in the Ojai Valley, which is surrounded by mountains that have been trapping the smoke.

"When we say 'off the charts,' we mean off the charts," Moyal said Friday about air-quality measurements there.
[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Jeremy B White and Mythili Sampathkumar at the Independent: Year-Round Blazes Set to Become 'the New Normal' as Governor Blames Climate Change. "California Governor Jerry Brown has told the state's residents to get used to destructive wildfires in winter, declaring them 'the new normal.' ...Mr Brown said drought and climate change mean California faces a 'new reality' where lives and property are continually threatened by fire, at a cost of billions of dollars. He said it will take 'heroic' efforts in the US and abroad to stem climate change, and urged Congress to pay more attention to dealing with natural disasters such as fires, floods, and earthquakes. While California fire season was once largely confined to the hotter months when rain is scarce, officials are coming round to the idea that climate change has birthed a year-round threat. A [severe] drought helped pile up dead trees that are now fuelling the flames."

Alene Tchekmedyian at the LA Times: This Is the Fifth Largest Wildfire in Modern California History. "Since it started Monday, the Thomas fire has scorched 230,000 acres, making it the fifth-largest wildfire in modern California history."

Hayley Jones at the Daily Beast: Southern California Wildfires Are the Worst Firefighters Have Ever Seen. "It is expected Southern California will have a lengthy 'mop-up' period once the fires are contained. Mop-up is the process that occurs once a fire is out to ensure another fire does not begin from the embers of the previous, i.e. pouring water on tree stumps that may contain embers and re-creating fire roads. Mop-up for the current fires is estimated at one to two years."

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DeNeen L. Brown and Cleve R. Wootson Jr. at the Washington Post: Trump Ignores Backlash, Visits Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and Praises Civil Rights Leaders. "Amid backlash and boycotts, [Donald] Trump addressed an invitation-only gathering Saturday at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson — instead of attending the public opening ceremony. The change in plans came after Trump's plans to attend the opening of the museum, which honors civil rights martyrs, drew criticism from some who marched in the movement. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and was scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the opening, announced Thursday that he would boycott the stage at the public event if Trump were on it."

His speech was...something.

Meanwhile... [CN: Islamophobia] Auditi Guha at Rewire: Trump's Travel Ban Takes Effect as Muslim Americans Face Increased Attacks.

And meanwhile... [CN: Carcerality; torture] Alfonso Serrano at Colorlines: United Nations: Taser Use in Some U.S. Prisons May Amount to Torture.

And meanwhile... [CN: Voter suppression] Pema Levy at Mother Jones: The Republican Overseeing the Alabama Election Doesn't Think Voting Should Be Easy.

And meanwhile... [CN: Gerrymandering and voter suppression]

And so forth and so on. Fuck this entire white supremacist administration and any pretense a single member of it ever gives to caring about civil rights.

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

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