We Resist: Day 410

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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: Oh My Aching Sides and "They're trying to take down the whole intelligence community! And they're using me as the battering ram to do it."

It kind of feels like that tweet could just serve as the entirety of the contents for this thread today — and every day — but here is some of today's kindling...

Nicole Lafond at TPM: State Dept. Hasn't Spent $120 Million Designated for Blocking Russia Meddling.
The State Department has not yet spent any of the $120 million that was to be allocated toward combating foreign interference in elections, the New York Times reported Sunday.

Toward the end of former President Barack Obama's administration, Congress voted to direct the Pentagon to give the State Department $60 million for combatting Russian and Chinese "anti-democratic propaganda," according to the Times. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took nearly seven months to decide what to do with the funding and the Pentagon ultimately decided to keep it. The Department had another $60 million available for the next fiscal year, but decided last week to only take $40 million, the Times reported.

That money will reportedly be transferred to the State Department and its Global Engagement Center in April, which will counter Russian meddling efforts with anti-propaganda counter-attacks. Currently, the Global Engagement Center doesn't have someone who speaks Russian on the team and it is primarily focused on countering jihadist and other forms of extreme propaganda, according to the Times.
Emphases mine. So, just to recap: The State Department has $120 million earmarked to address foreign election meddling but has spent $0 on it, and no one on the team speaks Russian. Cool.

Richard C. Paddock at the New York Times: Escort Says Audio Recordings Prove Russian Meddling in U.S. Election. "A Belarusian escort with close ties to a powerful Russian oligarch said from behind bars in Bangkok on Monday that she had more than 16 hours of audio recordings that could help shed light on Russian meddling in United States elections. The escort, Anastasia Vashukevich, said she would hand over the recordings if the United States granted her asylum. She faces criminal charges and deportation to Belarus after coming under suspicion of working in Thailand without a visa at a sex-training seminar in the city of Pattaya. Ms. Vashukevich, who described herself as close to the Russian aluminum tycoon Oleg V. Deripaska [who has close ties to Vladimir Putin and Paul Manafort], said that audio recordings she made in August 2016 included discussions he had about the United States presidential election with people she declined to identify."

She wants asylum, but who is going to give it to her with the Republicans in charge? Not only is it not going to happen because the information she asserts to have would be damaging to Donald Trump, but no Republican is going to want to grant asylum to anyone in the midst of their nativist campaign.

In other Mueller news...

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Katherine Sullivan at ProPublica: The Trump Organization Ordered Golf Course Markers with the Presidential Seal; That May Be Illegal. "In recent weeks, the Trump Organization has ordered the manufacture of new tee markers for golf courses that are emblazoned with the seal of the President of the United States. Under federal law, the seal's use is permitted only for official government business. Misuse can be a crime. ...A law governs the manufacture or use of the seal, its likeness, 'or any facsimile thereof' for anything other than official U.S. government business. It can be a criminal offense punishable by up to six months in prison. ...The 'law is an expression of the idea that the government and government authority should not be used for private purpose,' said Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University specializing in government and legal ethics said. 'It would be a misuse of government authority.'"

Judd Legum and Addy Baird at ThinkProgress: This Is What an Insider Trading Expert Thinks About Carl Icahn's Stock Dump. "One of the nation's leading experts in insider trading, James D. Cox, believes that Carl Icahn's sale of more than 1 million shares of a steel-related stock just days before [Donald] Trump announced plans to impose steep tariffs on steel imports was 'awfully suspicious' and 'unquestionably' warrants a federal investigation. ...Cox told ThinkProgress that Icahn could have violated insider trading law if he had a conversation with Trump or someone else at the White House, even if that conversation stopped short of revealing a definite plan or intention to impose steel tariffs."

After Ichan dumped nearly 1 million shares of Manitowoc Company Inc., "Manitowoc stock, along with other steel-dependent companies, plunged. The stock is down nearly 9 percent in the two trading days since Trump's announcement." So this fuckery has cost other investors money. Which is precisely why insider trading is illegal.

[Content Note: Racism] Anne Branigin at the Root: Trump, the Walking Internet Comments Section, Taps Racist Blogger for Federal Job. "William Otis, a former special counsel to President George H.W. Bush and a current professor at Georgetown University Law Center, was nominated by [Donald] Trump this week to sit on a federal commission that sets policy on how to punish criminals. It would come as no surprise that Otis is a staunch supporter of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' hard-line approach of imposing mandatory minimum sentences and resurrecting the war on drugs. But Otis, thanks to his popular legal blog, Crime and Consequences, has also made his racist beliefs both explicit and easily searchable. As the Washington Post reports, Otis once defended a federal judge who was called out for saying that black and Latinx people were more violent than white people."

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[CN: Police brutality, sexual assault, and other misconduct] Kendall Taggart and Mike Hayes at BuzzFeed: Secret NYPD Files: Officers Can Lie and Brutally Beat People — and Still Keep Their Jobs. "Secret files obtained by BuzzFeed News reveal that from 2011 to 2015 at least 319 New York Police Department employees who committed offenses serious enough to merit firing were allowed to keep their jobs. Many of the officers lied, cheated, stole, or assaulted New York City residents. At least fifty employees lied on official reports, under oath, or during an internal affairs investigation. Thirty-eight were found guilty by a police tribunal of excessive force, getting into a fight, or firing their gun unnecessarily. Fifty-seven were guilty of driving under the influence. Seventy-one were guilty of ticket-fixing. One officer, Jarrett Dill, threatened to kill someone. Another, Roberson Tunis, sexually harassed and inappropriately touched a fellow officer. Some were guilty of lesser offenses, like mouthing off to a supervisor. ...In every instance, the police commissioner, who has final authority in disciplinary decisions, assigned these officers to 'dismissal probation,' a penalty with few practical consequences."

[CN: Rape culture; child abuse] Esther Yu Hsi Ye at ThinkProgress: Kentucky Senate Pulls Bill to Outlaw Child Marriage Following Opposition by Conservative Group. "Senate Republicans in the state legislature pulled a bill to outlaw child marriage in Kentucky, Insider Louisville reported this week, following opposition from the conservative group Family Foundation of Kentucky on claims that it takes away parental rights. Introduced by State Sen. Julie Raque Adams (R) to the State Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Bill 48 would set the minimum age of marriage to 17 years old, and establish a process for 17-year-olds to marry with a court approval. ...State Sen. John Schickel (R) had issues with the bill, stating, 'Decisions involving a minor child should be made by a parent, not the court.'"

[CN: Rape culture; child abuse] Adi Robertson at the Verge: Facebook Says Asking Users About Condoning Pedophilia 'Was a Mistake'. "Facebook has apologized for a survey that asked users for their opinion on allowing pedophiles to solicit sexual pictures from children on the platform. ...Alongside questions about topics like violent extremism, it asked how users would handle 'a private message in which an adult man asks a 14-year-old girl for sexual pictures.' One possible answer was 'this content should be allowed on Facebook, and I would not mind seeing it.' Facebook VP of product Guy Rosen tweeted an apology for the question, saying it 'shouldn't have been part of this survey.'" Oh.

*gazes at dumpster fire with tears in eyes*

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

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