We Resist: Day 749

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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: The 2020 Election Is Going to Be So Ugly and The Trump Regime Beats the Drums on Venezuela. And ICYMI late yesterday: Virginia Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General Must All Resign.

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

Betsy Woodruff and Erin Banco at the Daily Beast: Paul Erickson, Russian Agent Maria Butina's Boyfriend, Indicted for Fraud. "Paul Erickson, the American political operative and boyfriend of admitted Russian agent Maria Butina, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in South Dakota on charges of wire fraud and money laundering. The U.S. attorney for the district of South Dakota is handling the prosecution, which is separate from the case that was lodged against Butina in Washington, D.C. Erickson, 56, was arrested on Tuesday and entered a plea of not guilty at an arraignment, according to the court filings." The charges stem from various schemes in which Erickson engaged to defraud elderly and disabled people.

[Content Note: Nativism; border militarization; video may autoplay at link] Courtney Kube and Carol E. Lee at NBC News: Pentagon Moving 250 Active-Duty Troops to Eagle Pass, Texas, Citing Migrant Caravan. "The Pentagon is moving 250 active duty troops to the border town of Eagle Pass, Texas, in advance of the arrival of a new caravan of migrants, according to a statement Wednesday by Defense Department spokesperson Capt. Bill Speaks. The move reflects [Donald] Trump's mention of a 'human wall,' but comes amid increasing frustration among Pentagon leaders with the continued border requests from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Under the new directive, the troops will be moved from Arizona to Texas and — in a sign of the Pentagon's frustrations — will not represent an increase in the overall number of U.S. troops assigned to the border mission." Yikes.

Joshua Eaton at ThinkProgress: Trump Forges Ahead with Plans for North Korea Summit, Defying His Security Advisers. "Donald Trump announced plans for a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, as experts — including his own military and security advisers — warned that the upcoming meeting is likely to yield as few tangible results as the first one. ...'Kim Jong-un has to be extremely pleased that he's been able to get legitimacy on an international front, and has done virtually nothing to change his behavior within his own country,' Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN on Wednesday. 'It is baffling, again, as to what the president expects to achieve by a second summit.'" Regional destabilization and the ability to keep making absurd claims like how he averted war with North Korea, which he said in his SOTU and his dipshit cultists actually believe.

[CN: Sexual violence] Julie K. Brown at the Miami Herald: Justice Department Opens Probe into Jeffrey Epstein Plea Deal. "The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta's role in negotiating a controversial plea deal with a wealthy New York investor accused of molesting more than 100 underage girls in Palm Beach. The probe is in response to a request by Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who was critical of the case following a series of stories in the Miami Herald. The Herald articles detailed how Acosta, then the U.S. attorney for Southern Florida, and other DOJ attorneys worked hand-in-hand with defense lawyers to cut a lenient plea deal with multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein in 2008."

[CN: Guns] Josh Lederman at NBC News: New Trump Rules Make It Easier for U.S. Gun Makers to Sell Overseas. "Semi-automatic weapons, flamethrowers, and even some grenades will become easier for U.S. weapons manufacturers to export overseas under new rules being put in place by the Trump administration and obtained by NBC News. Under the new rules, set to take effect in just under a month, gun makers will no longer need licenses from the State Department to sell dozens of types of weapons to other countries, including the popular AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle that's been employed in many of America's worst mass shootings. Instead, sellers will need only a no-fee license from the Commerce Department, which has a less onerous licensing process and a smaller global footprint, making it harder to track how the weapons are ultimately used overseas."

[CN: Worker exploitation] Casey Quinlan at ThinkProgress: Trump's Administration Considers Rule That Would Make It Easier for Businesses to Exploit Workers. "Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which the Labor Department administers and enforces, there is an economic realities test that asks how dependent someone is on the employer in question. The more dependent the person is, the more likely that person is an employee and not an independent contractor. In January, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that the transportation service SuperShuttle was correct to call its airport van drivers contractors instead of employees. The NLRB said it was considered entrepreneurial opportunity since workers set their own schedules and have their own work vans. [Paul Secunda, professor of law at Marquette University] said the ruling was a 'radical departure' from the common law definition of employee that has been used under the NLRA for decades."

[CN: Authoritarianism]

So, presumably, they're giving this authoritarian shit a tryout in Tennessee to force a SCOTUS ruling, in the hopes of getting it through on the federal level. JFC.

[CN: Predatory lending] Ken Sweet at the AP/Star Tribune: Financial Watchdog to Gut Most of Its Payday Lending Rules. "The nation's federal financial watchdog said Wednesday that it plans to abolish most of its critical consumer protections governing payday lenders. The move is a major win for the payday lending industry, which argued the government's regulations could kill off a large chunk of its business. It's also a big loss for consumer groups, who say payday lenders exploit the poor and disadvantaged with loans that have annual interest rates as much as 400 percent."

[CN: Descriptions of self-harm at link; institutional neglect of disabled people] Emily Wax-Thibodeaux at the Washington Post: The Parking Lot Suicides.
A federal investigation into Miller's death found that the Minneapolis VA made multiple errors: Not scheduling a follow-up appointment, failing to communicate with his family about the treatment plan, and inadequately assessing his access to firearms. Several days after his death, Miller's parents received a package from the Department of Veterans Affairs — bottles of antidepressants and sleep aids prescribed to Miller.

His death is among 19 suicides that occurred on VA campuses from October 2017 to November 2018, seven of them in parking lots, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. While studies show that every suicide is highly complex — influenced by genetics, financial uncertainty, relationship loss, and other factors — mental-health experts worry that veterans taking their lives on VA property has become a desperate form of protest against a system that some veterans feel hasn't helped them.

...Sixty-two percent of veterans, or 9 million people, depend on VA's vast hospital system, but accessing it can require navigating a frustrating bureaucracy. Veterans sometimes must prove that their injuries are connected to their service, which can require a lot of paperwork and appeals.

Veterans who take their own lives on VA grounds often intend to send a message, said Eric Caine, director of the Injury Control Research Center for Suicide Prevention at the University of Rochester.

"These suicides are sentinel events," Caine said. "It's very important for the VA to recognize that the place of a suicide can have great meaning. There is a real moral imperative and invitation here to take a close inspection of the quality of services at the facility level."
[CN: Anti-choicery; abortion stigma] T.S. Mendola at Rewire.News: When Your President Calls You a Murderer. "It's a hell of a thing to hear your president call you a murderer. That's not quite the whole picture, though, of what [Donald] Trump did to later abortion patients during the State of the Union speech Tuesday night. ...It wasn't an accident that his plea for the control — the security — of the nation's wombs got shoved up next to the legacy of the military-industrial complex. We are mere ciphers of mothers, of women, of humans to be secured in the fight for an 'America First' jingoism that has members of Congress chanting 'USA! USA! USA!' like deluded fascist schoolboys, stars in their eyes."

[CN: Police brutality; white supremacy] Shani Saxon at Colorlines: Protests Erupt After the Alabama Cop Who Fatally Shot Emantic Bradford Jr. Isn't Charged.
An unidentified police office in Hoover, Alabama, won't face charges in the shooting death of a 21-year-old Black man, according to a report released by State Attorney General Steve Marshall on Tuesday (February 5).

"The Hoover police officer who shot and killed Emantic 'E.J.' Bradford Jr. at the Riverchase Galleria mall on November 22, 2018, did not commit a crime under Alabama law and thus will not be criminally charged for his actions," the document reads.

As Colorlines previously reported, the incident started when two men began fighting inside Birmingham's Riverchase Galleria Mall last year on Thanksgiving night (November 22). One man shot the other twice, which caused chaos as shoppers ran for their lives. During the melee, an off-duty officer shot and killed 21-year-old Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. According to his family, Bradford stood outside the mall and pulled out his gun in an attempt to protect frightened customers when he was killed.

The attorney general's report says the officer "identified E.J. Bradford as an immediate deadly threat to innocent civilians and thus shot Bradford to eliminate the threat." It also states the officer "reasonably exercised his official powers, duties, or functions when he shot E. J. Bradford."

That conclusion did not sit well with protestors who burned two American flags outside Hoover City Hall, NBC news reports. According to the outlet, the words "BLACK LIVES DON'T MATTER" were spray painted in the flags.
[CN: Racism; nativism]

Lena H. Sun and Maureen O'Hagan at the Washington Post: 'It Will Take Off Like a Wildfire': The Unique Dangers of the Washington State Measles Outbreak. "Almost a quarter of kids in Clark County, Wash., a suburb of Portland, Ore., go to school without measles, mumps, and rubella immunizations, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) recently declared a state of emergency amid concern that things could rapidly spin out of control. Measles outbreaks have sprung up in nine other states this winter, but officials are particularly alarmed about the one in Clark County because of its potential to go very big, very quickly. ...'You know what keeps me up at night?' said Clark County Public Health Director Alan Melnick. 'Measles is exquisitely contagious. If you have an under-vaccinated population, and you introduce a measles case into that population, it will take off like a wildfire.' To date, at least 55 people in Washington and neighboring Oregon have gotten sick with the virus, with new cases tallied almost daily. All but five are in Clark County."

Leticia Miranda and Ryan Mac at BuzzFeed: Amazon Recorded Video of a Seller's Face for Identification Purposes. "An Amazon seller based in Vietnam told BuzzFeed News that he was prompted to take a five-second video of his face using his computer's webcam in January as he signed up for a seller profile. Amazon seller consultants told BuzzFeed News they believe the company may be testing video to verify seller identities to prevent the creation of multiple seller profiles, a major issue for Amazon and its ongoing battle with fake sellers and counterfeit goods. ...Reached for comment by BuzzFeed News, Amazon disputed neither the authenticity of the facial verification process it required of the seller, nor the screenshot. The company, however, refused to explain its collection of sellers' faces. 'Amazon is always innovating to improve the seller experience,' a company spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in response to a detailed list of questions."

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

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