We Resist: Day 424

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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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Earlier today by me: It's All Happening Very Fast Now and The Media Is Failing Us and Fourth Bomb Injures Two More in Austin.

Here are some more things in the news today...

Carole Cadwalladr and Emma Graham-Harrison at the Guardian: Revealed: 50 Million Facebook Profiles Harvested for Cambridge Analytica in Major Data Breach.
The data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump's election team and the winning Brexit campaign harvested millions of Facebook profiles of US voters, in one of the tech giant's biggest ever data breaches, and used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.

A whistleblower has revealed to the Observer how Cambridge Analytica — a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump's key adviser Steve Bannon — used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements.

Christopher Wylie, who worked with a Cambridge University academic to obtain the data, told the Observer: "We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people's profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on."

Documents seen by the Observer, and confirmed by a Facebook statement, show that by late 2015 the company had found out that information had been harvested on an unprecedented scale. However, at the time it failed to alert users and took only limited steps to recover and secure the private information of more than 50 million individuals.

...On Friday, four days after the Observer sought comment for this story, but more than two years after the data breach was first reported, Facebook announced that it was suspending Cambridge Analytica and Kogan from the platform, pending further information over misuse of data.
Will Bunch at the Philly Inquirer: How Your Facebook 'Likes' Helped Trump Steal the 2016 Election.
The basics of the story are this: In 2013-14, the young firm called Cambridge Analytica had backing from the right-wing billionaire, Robert Mercer; a rising political force in its association with the Breitbart News impresario Steve Bannon; a bold mission to, in the words of one former employee, "fight a culture war in America" and a scheme to use state-of-the-art Big Data and psychological profiling to win elections with modern propaganda.

What CA lacked, however, was the data the pull this off. That's when what Facebook's top lawyer has now acknowledged was "a scam — and a fraud" came into play. Wylie — the young political data maven now turned whistleblower — and the team assembled by Mercer and Bannon turned to experts in "psychometrics" at Britain's Cambridge University; there, a Russian American (heh … a bit more on that later) professor named Aleksandr Kogan was hired for $800,000. Kogan reportedly then lied to Facebook about his real project — a personality quiz and an app that 270,000 people consented to but which allowed the firm to pull Facebook "likes" and other personal info from 50 million unsuspecting Americans. (The company also seems to have lied to Facebook about later destroying the data.)

According to the newspapers, Cambridge Analytica ultimately created about 30 million usable profiles for voters — who were then targeted in the 2016 election with the kind of psychological warfare that the Pentagon has honed for decades to use on our enemies.

In 2016, the enemy was us.
Craig Timberg and Tony Romm at the Washington Post: Facebook May Have Violated FTC Privacy Deal, Say Former Federal Officials, Triggering Risk of Massive Fines. "Two former federal officials who crafted the landmark consent decree governing how Facebook handles user privacy say the company may have violated that decree when it shared information from tens of millions of users with a data analysis firm that later worked for [Donald] Trump's 2016 campaign. ...On Sunday morning, [David Vladeck, who as the director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection oversaw the investigation of alleged privacy violations by Facebook and the subsequent consent decree resolving the case in 2011] said in an interview with The Washington Post that Facebook's sharing of data with Cambridge Analytica 'raises serious questions about compliance with the FTC consent decree.'"

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Matt Rosoff at CNBC: Facebook Is Facing Its Biggest Test Ever — and Its Lack of Leadership Could Sink the Company. "For more than a year now, Facebook has been deflecting stories about how its platform was used during the 2016 presidential election. Some of this activity — like Facebook embedding workers with the Trump campaign to tell them how to advertise more effectively — was perfectly legal... Other activity was against Facebook's policies, or outright illegal. Most notably, a U.S. grand jury recently indicted 13 Russian nationals for conducting a disinformation campaign on American soil intended to further political divisions in the country and sway the election toward Trump. Their tactics included using Facebook groups to organize divisive political protests and buying targeted ads. CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg has remained aloof throughout the whole sequence of events."

Fucking hell.

As you may recall, Jared Kushner has previously bragged about working with Cambridge Analytica and he is potentially being investigated for leveraging the campaign's data operation to help select Facebook targets for the Russians.

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[Content Note: Death penalty] Amanda Holpuch and Jessica Glenza at the Guardian: Trump to Call for Death Penalties for Drug Dealers as Focus of Opioids Plan. "Donald Trump will formally call for death penalties for drug dealers on Monday, in an opioids policy rollout that will, however, not include proposals for new legislation. ...Some states already charge drug dealers with murder if customers overdose. ...Drug-induced homicide laws, which emerged in the 1980s, are being used more frequently because of the opioids crisis. According to a November 2017 report by the Drug Policy Alliance, however, there is no evidence that such laws reduce drug use." Which makes what Trump is proposing nothing more than state-sanctioned murder for its own sake.

Stephanie Griffith at ThinkProgress: Retired General Sounds Alarm on Trump, Says He's Being Controlled by Putin. (No shit, General Sherlock.) "Retired U.S. Army general Barry McCaffrey says he can't remain quiet any longer. Late Friday, the respected four-star general sounded an alarm about uncomfortably close relations between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, warning in a tweet that the U.S. president appears to be 'for some unknown reason under the sway of Mr. Putin.'"

Too little, far too late.

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Caitlin MacNeal at TPM: Mueller Team Sends Questions to Trump as Part of Interview Negotiations. "Special counsel Robert Mueller sent questions to [Donald] Trump recently, around the same time that Trump published angry tweets on Saturday aimed at Mueller and the Russia probe, according to the New York Times. Mueller's team sent the questions as a preliminary step in negotiations for an interview with the President, and the special counsel's office would ask Trump questions in the interview." That Trump is so reactive in these situations is why I keep saying that I hope we can safely get through whatever comes next.

Trump's reactivity is also why there are renewed calls for Congressional legislation to protect Mueller's investigation. [CN: Video may autoplay at link] Democratic Senator Mark Warner writes at USA Today, "Congress Must Draw 'Red Line' to Protect Mueller, Warn Trump Against Firing and Pardons," and law professor Steve Vladeck writes at Lawfare, "It's Time for Congress to Pass the Mueller Protection Bills."

Meanwhile, elsewhere in this unfathomably corrupt administration...

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Karen Freifeld, Sarah N. Lynch, and Mark Hosenball at Reuters: Sources Contradict Sessions' Testimony He Opposed Russia Outreach.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony that he opposed a proposal for [Donald] Trump's 2016 campaign team to meet with Russians has been contradicted by three people who told Reuters they have spoken about the matter to investigators with Special Counsel Robert Mueller or congressional committees.

Sessions testified before Congress in November 2017 that he "pushed back" against the proposal made by former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos at a March 31, 2016 campaign meeting. Then a senator from Alabama, Sessions chaired the meeting as head of the Trump campaign's foreign policy team.

"Yes, I pushed back," Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee on Nov. 14, when asked whether he shut down Papadopoulos' proposed outreach to Russia.

Sessions has since also been interviewed by Mueller.

Three people who attended the March campaign meeting told Reuters they gave their version of events to FBI agents or congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 election. Although the accounts they provided to Reuters differed in certain respects, all three, who declined to be identified, said Sessions had expressed no objections to Papadopoulos' idea.

One person said Sessions was courteous to Papadopoulos and said something to the effect of "okay, interesting."

The other two recalled a similar response.

...The three accounts, which have not [previously] been reported, raise new questions about Sessions' testimony regarding contacts with Russia during the campaign.

Sessions previously failed to disclose to Congress meetings he had with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and testified in October that he was not aware of any campaign representatives communicating with Russians.
In other words, this may be the second time that Sessions has perjured himself. Not a sterling record for Attorney General of the United States.

Bernard Condon at the AP: Kushner Cos. Filed False NYC Housing Paperwork. "When the Kushner Cos. bought three apartment buildings in a gentrifying neighborhood of Queens in 2015, most of the tenants were protected by special rules that prevent developers from pushing them out, raising rents, and turning a tidy profit. But that's exactly what the company then run by Jared Kushner did, and with remarkable speed. Two years later, it sold all three buildings for $60 million, nearly 50 percent more than it paid. Now a clue has emerged as to how [Donald] Trump's son-in-law's firm was able to move so fast: The Kushner Cos. routinely filed false paperwork with the city declaring it had zero rent-regulated tenants in dozens of buildings it owned across the city when, in fact, it had hundreds."

Michael Kranish and Karen DeYoung at the Washington Post: Kushner Companies Confirms Meeting with Qatar on Financing. "Jared Kushner's father met with Qatar's finance minister three months after [Donald] Trump's inauguration, a New York City session at which funding for a financially troubled real estate project was discussed, the company acknowledged Sunday. However, Charles Kushner said he turned down possible funding to avoid questions of a conflict of interest for his son, who had run the family company until he became Trump's senior adviser. ...The company said Kushner agreed to the meeting as a courtesy. A spokesman for the Qatari Embassy in Washington said his government had no comment."

Olivia Nuzzi at NYMag: What Hope Hicks Knows. "Hope Hicks wasn't a victim; on this both her allies and critics agreed. She didn't faint in a field of poppies and wake to find herself on Donald Trump's campaign, 35,000 feet up and strapped in aboard a Boeing 757. Over the course of three years, she'd spent more time with Trump than anyone, more than his own children and his wife, and she acknowledged his flaws and idiosyncrasies. She had made her choices knowingly, even if she couldn't know where they'd lead her. But she believed Trump was a good person, and she was angered that his critics didn't seem open to the parts of his personality that would lead them to believe the same. To Hicks, the president's policies were secondary considerations — the man himself came first. And at the end of the day, she really liked him. "Part of it is because of the proximity," a source close to her said, "part of it is human nature." She even sounded a little like him sometimes, uttering words like loser in her sugary voice."

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Jonathan Watts at the Guardian: Water Shortages Could Affect 5bn People by 2050, UN Report Warns. "More than 5 billion people could suffer water shortages by 2050 due to climate change, increased demand, and polluted supplies, according to a UN report on the state of the world's water. The comprehensive annual study warns of conflict and civilisational threats unless actions are taken to reduce the stress on rivers, lakes, aquifers, wetlands, and reservoirs. The World Water Development Report — released in drought-hit Brasília — says positive change is possible, particularly in the key agricultural sector, but only if there is a move towards nature-based solutions that rely more on soil and trees than steel and concrete."

[CN: War on agency] Teddy Wilson at Rewire: In Fight Against Abortion Rights, Fetuses Could Soon Have Legal Standing in Indiana. "The Republican-held Indiana legislature last week approved final passage of bill that would allow a anyone who causes the death of a pregnant person to be charged for the death of her fetus. Reproductive rights advocates charge this continues the trend of criminalizing pregnant people for negative pregnancy outcomes. SB 203, sponsored by state Sen. Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis), provides that the crimes of murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and feticide, may be committed against a fetus in any stage of development."

[CN: Guns; gun violence; image of gun; misogyny]

[CN: Misogyny] Lindsay Gibbs at ThinkProgress: Martina Navratilova Reveals Staggering Pay Gap Between Herself and Male Wimbledon Commentator. "In 2007, Wimbledon became the final of tennis's four major tournaments to offer equal prize money to its men's and women's champions. But more than a decade later, pay equality is still a long way off in the broadcast booth. In an interview for BBC Panorama: Britain's Equal Pay Scandal, Martina Navratilova — who won a combined 59 major titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles — revealed she is paid £15,000 by the BBC to provide commentary during broadcasts at Wimbledon, while her colleague John McEnroe (17 combined major titles) was paid between £150,000 and £199,999 for a similar role." JFC.

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

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