We Resist: Day 428

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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: McMaster Is Out and John Bolton Is In as National Security Advisor and Rosenstein's Presser on Iran Hacking Is Extremely Concerning and An Observation.

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

Colin Kahl and Jon Wolfsthal at Foreign Policy: John Bolton Is a National Security Threat. "McMaster was no dove. But Bolton falls into an entirely different category of dangerous uber-hawk. Fifteen years ago, Bolton championed the Iraq war and, to this day, he continues to believe the most disastrous foreign policy decision in a generation was a good idea. Bolton's position on Iraq was no anomaly. Shortly before the 2003 invasion, he reportedly told Israeli officials that once Saddam Hussein was deposed, it would be necessary to deal with Syria, Iran, and North Korea. He has essentially maintained this position ever since. Put plainly: For Bolton, there are few international problems where war is not the answer."

Aaron Rupar at ThinkProgress: GOP Senator Celebrates Bolton's Appointment Because It Might Mean Preemptive War. "During a Fox & Friends interview on Friday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) celebrated the appointment of John Bolton as [Donald] Trump's national security adviser... 'He has a worldview that I think will help the president make us safer,' Graham said. 'He's believed stronger than anybody that North Korea having an ICBM nuclear-tipped missile is a non-starter; he believes the Iranian agreement is a terrible deal for the world, the United States, and Israel; he believes in a strong military, going after the terrorists, taking the gloves off.'"

Matthew Rosenberg at the New York Times: Bolton Was Early Beneficiary of Cambridge Analytica's Facebook Data. Of course he was.
The political action committee founded by John R. Bolton, [Donald] Trump's incoming national security adviser, was one of the earliest customers of Cambridge Analytica, which it hired specifically to develop psychological profiles of voters with data harvested from tens of millions of Facebook profiles, according to former Cambridge employees and company documents.

Mr. Bolton's political committee, known as The John Bolton Super PAC, first hired Cambridge in August 2014, months after the political data firm was founded and while it was still harvesting the Facebook data.

In the two years that followed, Mr. Bolton's super PAC spent nearly $1.2 million primarily for "survey research," which is a term that campaigns use for polling, according to campaign finance records.

But the contract between the political action committee and Cambridge, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, offers more detail on just what Mr. Bolton was buying. The contract broadly describes the services to be delivered by Cambridge as "behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging."
As I said, Bolton wasn't just sitting on his ass in between working for George W. Bush and getting hired by Trump. He has been working diligently to ensure the election of a president who would be amenable to his pro-war advocacy. He didn't end up in this administration by coincidence.

In other Cambridge Analytica news...

Paul Lewis and Paul Hilder at the Guardian: Leaked: Cambridge Analytica's Blueprint for Trump Victory. This piece is really worth your time to read in full, but I want to highlight this section, for reasons I'll explain afterwards:
A former employee explained to the Guardian how it details the techniques used by the Trump campaign to micro-target US voters with carefully tailored messages about the Republican nominee across digital channels.

Intensive survey research, data modelling, and performance-optimizing algorithms were used to target 10,000 different ads to different audiences in the months leading up to the election. The ads were viewed billions of times, according to the presentation.

...One of the most effective ads, according to Kaiser, was a piece of native advertising, which was also profiled in the presentation. The interactive graphic, which looked like a piece of journalism and purported to list "10 inconvenient truths about the Clinton Foundation," appeared for several weeks to people from a list of key swing states when they visited the site. It was produced by the in-house Politico team that creates sponsored content.

The Cambridge Analytica presentation dedicates an entire slide to the ad, which is described as having achieved "an average engagement time of four minutes." Kaiser described the ad as "the most successful thing we pushed out."
Eastsidekate went and found that "sponsor-generated content," which is still available online. Right below the headline, it reads: "PAID ADVERTISEMENT FOR AND CREATED BY DONALD J. TRUMP." Which is pretty interesting, considering Trump's attempted disavowal's of Cambridge Analytica. I wonder if any Politico articles on Trump's attempts to distance himself note that Cambridge Analytica placed sponsored content with them that was credited to his campaign. I'm guessing not! Once upon a time, that would have been considered a profoundly unethical journalistic failure, but, luckily for Politico, nothing matters anymore.

In related news...

Kashmir Hill at Gizmodo: The Other Cambridge Personality Test Has Its Own Database with Millions of Facebook Profiles.
[I]t's a good time to look more closely at the project that inspired Kogan and Cambridge Analytica. This whole thing wasn't their idea, after all; they copied it from the University of Cambridge, where Kogan had been a lecturer. The U.K. university's psychometrics department had its own personality test which had been hoovering up Facebook users' data since 2007, but, as the New York Times reported, and Kogan recently confirmed in an email, it refused to sell the dataset to the entity that became Cambridge Analytica (inspiring them to replicate the experiment).

The University of Cambridge's personality test is still around, though, along with a database with profile information for over 6 million Facebook users. It has those users' psychological profiles, their likes, their music listening, their religious and political views, and their locations, among other information. It says it can predict users' leadership potential, personality, and "satisfaction with life." You are supposed to be an academic to get access to all this, but the project's page says the database has also been used to personalize Hilton's apps; to recommend jobs to people; to target ads; and to create an interactive promo for the video game Watch Dogs 2. (Ironically, that video game is about being surveilled by companies and Big Brother.)

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Nicole Lafond at TPM: Dowd: Trump Approved of Statement Calling for Shutdown of Mueller Probe. "Donald Trump's outgoing lawyer John Dowd told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that Trump approved of a statement the lawyer released over the weekend, calling for an end to special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign. '(Trump) thought it was a good statement. And I still do,' Dowd told the Journal on Thursday, just after he resigned from Trump's personal legal team. ...Initially, Dowd told reporters that he made the statement on behalf of Trump, but later walked that back, saying he was speaking for himself. Later on Saturday, Trump mirrored Dowd's remarks, tweeting that the investigation 'should never have been started.'"

How very helpful to a traitorous president of them.

Zachary Mider and David Voreacos at Bloomberg: Trump Fundraiser Offered to Help Lift Sanctions on Russian Firms. "Elliott Broidy, a top fundraiser for [Donald] Trump, offered last year to help a Moscow-based lawyer get Russian companies removed from a U.S. sanctions list. Broidy made the offer after an inquiry from Andrei Baev, an energy lawyer at Chadbourne & Parke LLP, both men acknowledged in statements to Bloomberg News this week. In a proposal sent to Baev shortly before Trump's January 2017 inauguration, Broidy sketched out a potential campaign to influence top U.S. officials, according to a person with knowledge of the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity. The plan never went forward, Broidy and Baev said, and no such lobbying took place. But the discussions are a striking illustration of how Russians' efforts to escape sanctions led them to seek political allies close to Trump."

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Joe McDonald at the AP: China May Hike Tariffs on U.S. Pork, Aluminum, Other Goods. "China announced a $3 billion list of U.S. goods including pork, apples, and steel pipe on Friday that it said may be hit with higher tariffs in a spiraling trade dispute with [Donald] Trump that companies and investors worry could depress global commerce." So the first casualties of Trump's trade war will be farmers and steelworkers. MAGA Keep America Great, or whatever.

Ayana Byrd at Colorlines: FEMA Ignored Puerto Rico Supermarkets' Requests for Generator Fuel After Hurricane Maria. "For more than a week after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) did not respond to repeated texts and emails asking for generator fuel to refrigerate perishable food at supermarkets and chain stores. As a result, Walmart and other retailers had to throw away tens of thousands of dollars worth of meat, produce, and dairy, as residents of the island stood hungry in lines outside the markets." Goddammit.

[CN: Child trafficking] Annamarya Scaccia at Rewire: The Trump Administration Is Making It Harder to Stop Foster Children from Being Trafficked.
Statistics show that, every year, thousands of children in the U.S. foster care system are sexually exploited by traffickers who prey on their vulnerability. These kids are easily targeted, advocates say, in part because of a flawed child welfare system that often fails to provide them with proper support and protection.

Still, there exists a dearth of available government data tracking foster care youth who've been sexually exploited. That would have changed with the Obama-era Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, which reformed state reporting requirements regarding foster youth and sex trafficking. But the Trump administration has recently decided to delay key data collection provisions of the 2014 law for the next two years, meaning that advocates will have to wait even longer for a better sense of how many victims are in the system.

They fear that will only put foster care youth more at risk — especially when they age out of the system. "It blows my mind," Elizabeth Pitman Gretter, senior staff attorney at Children's Rights, a national watch group advocating on behalf of abused and neglected children, told Rewire. "It's such critical information and we are already well-past the time where the states should be able to do it and should be doing it."
[CN: Police brutality; racism] Monique Judge at the Root: Why 'He Should Have Just Complied' Does Not Apply to Stephon Clark. "As the videos show us, not only did the police not identify themselves, but as soon as they yelled out their command, they immediately began operating under the assumption that he had a gun. They began firing their weapons within three seconds of telling him to show his hands. Clark was never given the opportunity to comply." This is an important detail: He was never given the opportunity to comply. It's important to note, even though, as I've written many times before, compliance under duress is simply not always a reasonable expectation in the first place.

[CN: Terrorism; white supremacy; disablist language] Dustin Seibert at the Grio: Dear White Media, Call the Austin Bomber a Sadistic Terrorist Instead of Whitesplaining His Childhood Pain. "We've seen this countless times before: Politicians asked us not to 'politicize' the issue when Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock's pasty-white ass massacred a bunch of people and generally dodged the 'terrorist' label. Dylann Roof slaughtered Black people in a church in a clearly a racially-charged attack and we're told not to call him a terrorist. Some deeply disturbed white boy gets his hands on a semi-automatic rifle, enters a school, and shatters the hearts of dozens of parents in the course of a few minutes, and we hear suggestions that we should just be nicer to bullies to avoid this type of thing. Meanwhile, the goddamned FBI labeled 'Black Identity Extremists' (read: n-----s who are actively protest more than 400 years of the bullshit) as domestic terrorists who are a 'growing threat' to cops."

The media failure continues apace:

See also:

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

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