We Resist: Day 802

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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: Mitch McConnell Is a National Nightmare and House Judiciary Committee Will Subpoena Mueller Report and Primarily Speaking.

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

Rachael Bade at the Washington Post: White House Whistleblower Says 25 Security Clearance Denials Were Reversed During Trump Administration.
A White House whistleblower told lawmakers that more than two dozen denials for security clearances have been overturned during the Trump administration, calling Congress her "last hope" for addressing what she considers improper conduct that has left the nation's secrets exposed.

Tricia Newbold, a longtime White House security adviser, told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that she and her colleagues issued "dozens" of denials for security clearance applications that were later approved despite their concerns about blackmail, foreign influence, or other red flags, according to panel documents released Monday.

Newbold, an 18-year veteran of the security clearance process who has served under both Republican and Democratic presidents, said she warned her superiors that clearances "were not always adjudicated in the best interest of national security" — and was retaliated against for doing so.

"I would not be doing a service to myself, my country, or my children if I sat back knowing that the issues that we have could impact national security," Newbold told the committee, according to a panel document summarizing her allegations.
Newbold is a very brave women, and I am grateful she's speaking out about this, especially knowing as well as she does the uphill battle she'll face to make sure it matters.

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[Content Note: Nativism. Covers entire section.]

Greg Clary at CNN: State Department Says U.S. Cutting Off Aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. "The United States is cutting off aid to the Northern Triangle, otherwise known as the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, the State Department told CNN Saturday, one day after [Donald] Trump said they had 'set up' migrant caravans for entry into the United States. 'We were paying them tremendous amounts of money. And we're not paying them anymore. Because they haven't done a thing for us. They set up these caravans,' Trump said Friday." Fucking hell.

Kate Duguid at Reuters: U.S. Would Run Out of Avocados in Three Weeks If Trump Shuts Down Border.
From the avocados on avocado toast, to the limes and tequila in margaritas, the United States is heavily reliant on Mexican imports of fruit, vegetables, and alcohol to meet consumer demand. Nearly half of all imported U.S. vegetables and 40 percent of imported fruit are grown in Mexico, according to the latest data from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Americans would run out of avocados in three weeks if imports from Mexico were stopped, said Steve Barnard, president and chief executive of Mission Produce, the largest distributor and grower of avocados in the world.

"You couldn't pick a worse time of year because Mexico supplies virtually 100 percent of the avocados in the U.S. right now. California is just starting and they have a very small crop, but they're not relevant right now and won't be for another month or so," said Barnard.

Trump said on Friday that there was a "very good likelihood" he would close the border this week if Mexico did not stop immigrants from reaching the United States.
The agricultural aspect is, of course, just one of many terrible consequences if Trump "closes" the southern border.

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[CN: Assassinations] Michael Schwirtz at the New York Times: Russia Ordered a Killing That Made No Sense; Then the Assassin Started Talking. "In 2006, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin signed a law legalizing targeted killings abroad, and Ukrainian officials say teams of Russian hit men operate freely inside the country. 'For the intelligence services, as bad as this sounds, murdering people is just part of the workflow,' said Oleksiy Arestovych, a retired officer in Ukraine's military intelligence service. 'They go to work, it's their job. You have a workflow, you write articles. They have a workflow, they murder people.' ...I had assumed the people on the list were somehow tied to Russia's continuing conflict in Ukraine, that the Kremlin was seeking revenge against individuals tied to the fighting. And as I investigated the names, I learned that they did all share a military background. But there was a surprise. What tied them together wasn't the Ukraine conflict. Instead, it was a different Russian war."

Katya Adler at the BBC: Brexit: EU Nervous over UK's 11th-Hour Rethink.
EU leaders would, of course, welcome a softer Brexit. It would ease friction in post-Brexit EU-UK trade relations — but at the same time, they believe MPs are out of touch with reality.

However many Brexit options are voted on today in the House of Commons, EU law stipulates that there are only three on the table: no deal, no Brexit, or Theresa May's negotiated deal.

Any other form of Brexit requires the much-disliked Withdrawal Agreement — rejected once again by MPs on Friday — to be passed first.

The EU is prevented by law from negotiating future trade relations with an existing member state. That is why the UK needs to leave first in order to start these negotiations.

EU leaders understand the reluctance of MPs to enter into a so-called "blind Brexit," where you don't know what the future holds. The political declaration document, accompanying the Withdrawal Agreement, is there to give an idea of what might come next.

The key word is "might."
Joel Schectman and Christopher Bing at Reuters: American Hackers Helped UAE Spy on Al Jazeera Chairman, BBC Host, and Others. "The American operatives worked for Project Raven, a secret Emirati intelligence program that spied on dissidents, militants, and political opponents of the UAE monarchy. A Reuters investigation in January revealed Project Raven's existence and inner workings, including the fact that it surveilled a British activist and several unnamed U.S. journalists. The Raven operatives — who included at least nine former employees of the U.S. National Security Agency and the U.S. military — found themselves thrust into the thick of a high-stakes dispute among America's Gulf allies. The Americans' role in the UAE-Qatar imbroglio highlights how former U.S. intelligence officials have become key players in the cyber wars of other nations, with little oversight from Washington."

Ronen Bergman at the New York Times: Twitter Network Uses Fake Accounts to Promote Netanyahu, Israel Watchdog Finds. "An Israeli watchdog group has found a network of hundreds of social media accounts, many of them fake, used to smear opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in next week's election and to amplify the messages of his Likud party, according to a report to be released Monday. The messages posted on the network's Twitter and Facebook accounts are frequently reposted by prominent Likud campaign officials and by the prime minister's son, Yair Netanyahu, the report says."

Sam Meredith at CNBC: Comedian Secures Comfortable First-Round Win in Ukraine's Presidential Elections. "A comedy actor with no political experience has thrashed the incumbent in the first round of Ukraine's presidential elections, according to exit polls. Volodymyr Zelensky, who plays a fictional president in a popular TV show, secured 30.4 percent of the vote on Sunday, early results showed. Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire magnate and Ukraine's current leader, received 17.8 percent. With no one expected to secure a majority when the final results are confirmed later on Monday, the two largely pro-EU candidates are set to go head-to-head in a run-off vote on April 21."

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Cristina Maza at Newsweek: Ukraine Presidential Election 2019.
[S]ome argue that [Zelenskiy] is too closely linked to oligarch Ihor Kolomoiskiy, who owns the television channel which broadcasts his series. He has also been criticized for speaking more frequently in Russian than in Ukrainian.

"Zelenskiy's show was launched by Kolomoyskyi, whose advisors are said to be working closely with Zelenskiy's campaign," Andrea Chalupa, a writer and filmmaker focused on Ukraine, told Newsweek. "Should the TV star be elected the next president, only time will tell if Kolomoyskyi was using him or if it was the other way around."

"We've seen in the U.S. what a politically untested TV star can do to a country, both domestically and internationally. Plus a recent investigation by Ukrainian investigative journalists uncovered that Zelenskiy failed to declare a 15-room Italian villa in a vacation locale popular with Russian oligarchs known as Italy's 'Moscow province.' That's far from the populist hero he plays on TV," Chalupa added.

..."The good news in Ukraine's elections is that there is no pro-Kremlin frontrunner. There's no Yanukovych in this race. The Kremlin's response to this has been to fill Russian state TV with accusations trying to delegitimize Ukraine's election," Chalupa told Newsweek. "The bad news is that the election has essentially turned into a war of revenge by Ihor Kolomoyskiy, a powerful oligarch busted for corruption, including massive bank fraud, against the current president, Petro Poroshenko."
You know how I keep saying that a massive problem we face in the United States regarding Donald Trump and the Republican Party's authoritarian takeover is that what's happening here is part of a global crisis? All of the above news speaks to exactly the dynamic to which I'm referring when I say that. The same problems, from reemerging fascism to compromised elections to social media campaigns that undermine the democratic process, are happening around the globe. We are not just fighting something here; we are fighting a scourge threatening the whole planet.

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[CN: Death penalty; torture] Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress: Gorsuch Just Handed Down the Most Bloodthirsty and Cruel Death Penalty Opinion of the Modern Era.
The Supreme Court's opinion in Bucklew v. Precythe, which it handed down Monday on a party-line vote, is at once the most significant Eighth Amendment decision of the last several decades and the cruelest in at least as much time.

Neil Gorsuch's majority opinion tosses out a basic assumption that animated the Court's understanding of what constitutes a "cruel and unusual" punishment for more than half a century. In the process, he writes that the state of Missouri may effectively torture a man to death — so long as it does not gratuitously inflict pain for the sheer purpose of inflicting pain.

And, on top of all of that, Gorsuch would conscript death penalty defense attorneys — men and women who often gave up lucrative legal careers to protect the lives of their clients — into the ghoulish task of laying out the method that will be used to kill those clients.

It's a breathtaking sign of just how much the Supreme Court's new majority is willing to change — and how quickly they are willing to impose that change on the rest of us.
Malice is the fucking agenda. Sob.

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

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