We Resist: Day 445

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

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: One Dead After Fire in Trump Tower, Where Trump Lobbied Against Installing Sprinklers and National Security Council Spokesperson Flies the Coop and Striking Oklahoma Teachers Are Awesome; Betsy DeVos Is Still Very Terrible.

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

[Content Note: War; chemical attack; death. Covers entire section. Images of survivors at first two links.]

After a horrendous chemical attack on the Syrian town of Douma in eastern Ghouta near Damascus, British Prime Minister Theresa May said that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and his Russian backers "must be held to account if found responsible" for the attack. Syria and Russia have tried to deflect responsibility for the attack, by blaming Israel for an airstrike on a Syrian airbase.

Until May's position was published, Trump just tweeted some vague crap: "Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia, and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big Price to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!" He then went on to blame President Obama.

But after May behaved like we expect Western leaders to behave, Trump decided to offer some Big Talk during a press appearance:


This is not going to go well. Especially since the last decision Trump reportedly made about Syria was "to remove U.S. troops from Syria within six months," despite his advisors' warnings "of regional chaos benefiting Russia and Iran, and the potential resurgence of the Islamic State group."

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Also at the same press appearance:

Which is to say nothing of the fact that destroying the agriculture sector of the economy isn't good for "the country" no matter how much Trump's conjured patriotic farmers are supposedly totes cool with it.

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Clint Watts at the Daily Beast: How Every Campaign Will Have a Troll Farm of Its Own. "Great reward will come to the entrepreneur with enough startup capital to harvest and correlate large amounts of personal data on distinguishable voting blocs and then mine those details rapidly and incisively by employing machine learning. From there, rented troll farms will deploy sophisticated computational propaganda to alter the information environment and employ humans to act as for-hire propagandists advancing their client's message and tackling their client's adversaries."

The subhead of that piece reads: "Russia started it, but politicians will proliferate it. Online trolling could become a service for campaigns everywhere..." Russia started it but politicians will proliferate it...with money they have thanks to the Supreme Court's trash decision in Citizens United.

Meanwhile... Stefan Wojcik, Solomon Messing, Aaron Smith, Lee Rainie, and Paul Hitlin at the Pew Research Center: Bots in the Twittersphere. "In the context of these ongoing arguments over the role and nature of bots, Pew Research Center set out to better understand how many of the links being shared on Twitter — most of which refer to a site outside the platform itself — are being promoted by bots rather than humans. ...Among the key findings of this research: Of all tweeted links to popular websites, 66% are shared by accounts with characteristics common among automated 'bots,' rather than human users. ...A relatively small number of highly active bots are responsible for a significant share of links to prominent news and media sites. This analysis finds that the 500 most-active suspected bot accounts are responsible for 22% of the tweeted links to popular news and current events sites over the period in which this study was conducted. By comparison, the 500 most-active human users are responsible for a much smaller share (an estimated 6%) of tweeted links to these outlets."

Automation is going to be the death of us one way or another, whether it's taking all our jobs or taking our democracy.

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Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed: Sessions Has Asked a Federal Prosecutor to Oversee Document Production from the Clinton Email Investigation After Trump Criticism. OMFG. "Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Chris Wray have asked the U.S. attorney in Chicago to oversee the Justice Department's document production to a House committee looking into the department's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server. ...The request in question comes from the House Judiciary Committee, which has asked for 'all documents reviewed by the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General' related to the Clinton investigation. The move from Sessions and Wray comes after [Donald] Trump openly criticized the department on Twitter Saturday for failing to produce the documents requested."

So desperate to keep their jobs as sycophants for an authoritarian, they'll make themselves laughingstocks among all decent people. Fucking hell.

image of nuclear explosion to which text has been added reading: BUT HER EMAILS

Matt Shuham at TPM: Top Government Ethics Official Calls out Questionable Moves by EPA Chief Pruitt. "In a letter to the EPA's designated ethics official Friday, the acting director of the Office of Government Ethics said several of EPA chief Scott Pruitt's actions 'raise concerns' and may have violated [Donald] Trump's ethics pledge for administration officials." Hahahahaha ya think?! Do you even know how corrupt someone has to be, to be corrupt by Donald Trump's standards? Yikes. Not that Trump thinks so, of course. He's still defending Pruitt. Obvs.

Judd Legum at ThinkProgress: Jared Kushner's $1.2 Billion Miracle.
The 41-story skyscraper at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan was supposed to be Jared Kushner's signature investment. A 27-year-old Kushner bought the property in 2007 for a record $1.8 billion — the most ever paid for an office tower. The move was supposed to catapult the family real estate firm, previously known for mid-priced apartments in New Jersey, into the big leagues.

It has been an unmitigated disaster.

Shortly after the sale, the recession hit, depressing the commercial real estate market in Manhattan. To keep things afloat, Kushner was first forced to sell the building's lucrative retail space and nearly half of the office space to Vornado Realty Trust, a firm with much more experience in real estate.

But even that was not enough. The building is aging, and therefore is saddled with high vacancies and low rents. That means that instead of rent payments covering the mortgage, Kushner's firm and Vornado are having to pour in millions every year to stay current on the debt.

On the horizon is an even bigger problem. The full mortgage for the office space of about $1.2 billion becomes due in February 2019. Many real estate experts believe that the mortgage balance exceeds the value of the portion of the property still owned by Kushner, making refinancing a challenge.

Upon entering the White House, Jared Kushner divested the property only in the most technical sense. He 'sold' the assets to his brother and a trust controlled by his mother. A lawyer described the transaction to the New York Times as a 'shell game.'

Now, with Kushner ensconced as a senior adviser in the White House, someone has emerged to bail him and his family out of this mess. The identity of Kushner's white knight is a mystery.

In a filing with the SEC on Friday, Vornado revealed the existence of an extraordinary 'handshake' agreement that would not only refinance the $1.2 billion but allow the Kushners to buy out Vornado's portion of the debt. This means the Kushners would once again own the entire office tower and Vornado would own only the retail space.
Wow! How extraordinarily lucky for all of them! Seethe.

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[CN: Class warfare; racism] Ayana Byrd at Colorlines: Michigan to Stop Distributing Free Bottled Water in Flint. "This past weekend, carloads of Flint, Michigan, residents waited in long lines to get the last of the free bottled water at distribution centers that will soon be closed by the state — despite the fact that the city still lacks drinkable tap water. The free bottled water program began in January 2016 as part of a $450 million state and federal aid package, reports CNN. It costs the state $22,000 per day. On Friday (April 6), the governor announced that after the current supply runs out, it will not be replenished." Utterly intolerable. Goddammit.

Melanie Schmitz at ThinkProgress: Right-Wing Sinclair Accepts Ad from Watchdog Group, Then Accuses It of 'Liberal Bias'. "Conservative-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group agreed to air an ad critical of the media company and its notorious must-run segments this week, but bookended it with messages criticizing the ad as misleading hysteria from a biased group." Good grief. Conservatives can never win on the merits; they always have to abuse power.

And finally, let us end on an amusing note... Andy Towle at Towleroad: Oops: FOX News Accidentally Displays Graphic Showing It's the Least Trusted Network. "Howard Kurtz and GOP pollster Frank Luntz were having a discussion about fake news on the Sunday FOX News program Media Buzz when Kurtz pulled up a graphic to show a comparison of cable news networks. Unfortunately for Kurtz, the graphic featured a Monmouth poll revealing that FOX News was the least trusted network compared to MSNBC and CNN. Said Kurtz: 'That is not the graphic we are looking for… Take that down, please.'" LOL!

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

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