We Resist: Day 812

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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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Late yesterday and earlier today by me: Texas Republicans Hold Hearing on Legislation That Would Make Abortion Punishable by Death and Assange Arrested After Ecuador Withdraws Asylum and Primarily Speaking.

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

[Content Note: Arson; white supremacy.] On Monday, I noted that three historically Black baptist churches in one Louisiana parish had burned in ten days, and arson was suspected. Now a suspect has been arrested, and it's pretty much exactly who you'd expect. Katie Gagliano at the Acadiana Advocate: Son of St. Landry Deputy Arrested in Connection with 3 Church Fires. "Multiple media outlets, citing sources close to the investigation, identified the suspect as Holden Matthews, 21. He is the son of St. Landry Parish sheriff's deputy, according to reports. A statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office confirmed the arrest: 'A suspect has been identified in connection with the three church burnings in Opelousas, Louisiana, and is in state custody,' United States Attorney David C. Joseph said. 'The U.S. Attorney's Office, ATF, and FBI are working with state and local law enforcement and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the victims and those St. Landry Parish residents affected by these despicable acts.'"

[CN: Nativism] Rebekah Entralgo at ThinkProgress: The Department of Homeland Security Is in Shambles.
Ronald Vitiello, acting director of U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), announced Wednesday that he will leave his post effective Friday, becoming the latest in a string of top-level officials to resign from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The recent departures leave DHS in a state of disrepair just months before apprehensions on the southern border are expected to reach their yearly peak. According to CBP data, apprehensions historically reach their apex in May.

Vitiello's resignation comes one week after [Donald] Trump pulled his consideration for ICE director, reportedly because senior adviser Stephen Miller believed Vitiello was not tough enough on immigration enforcement.
This as there are (unconfirmed) reports of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) engaging in shooting drills on the border. I am really frightened about what the next escalation in Trump's vile nativist agenda will bring.

Not unrelatedly, Aphra_Behn is live-tweeting her reading of Benjamin Carter Hett's The Death of Democracy: Hitler's Rise of Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic, and it is a thread you should definitely read.

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Aaron Blake at the Washington Post: William Barr's Highly Questionable Use of Trump's 'Spying' Talking Point. "At a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday morning, Barr confirmed that he is looking into what he called 'spying' on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. 'I am going to be reviewing both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign during 2016,' Barr said. 'I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal.' When pressed by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) on whether he indeed viewed it as 'spying' on Trump's campaign, Barr said, 'I think spying did occur.' ...That is a highly disputed term when it comes to what the FBI did relative to the Trump campaign in 2016." To put it mildly!

Barbara McQuade at the Daily Beast: Barr Sounds More and More Like Trump's Roy Cohn. "Although the FBI's conduct should not be immune from scrutiny, government officials typically refer to intelligence activities as 'surveillance' or 'collection.' The use of the loaded term 'spying' raises skepticism of his impartiality. In addition, Barr stated, 'I think there was probably failure among a group of leaders there at the upper echelon.' He has reached this conclusion even though he hasn't 'set up a team yet' to investigate. Barr's testimony revealed a mindset that is consistent with the Trump narrative of an FBI that is out to get him. This is the attorney general appointed by Trump after Trump criticized Barr's fired predecessor, Jeff Sessions, for failing to protect him. Does Trump finally have his Roy Cohn?"

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Caroline Kelly at CNN: Ex-DNI: 'Stunning and Scary' that Barr Would Raise Spying Allegation. "Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Wednesday it was 'both stunning and scary' that Attorney General William Barr would tell lawmakers that Donald Trump's 2016 campaign was spied on. 'I thought it was both stunning and scary,' Clapper, who served under President Barack Obama, told CNN's Anderson Cooper. 'I was amazed at that and rather disappointed that the attorney general would say such a thing. The term 'spying' has all kinds of negative connotations and I have to believe he chose that term deliberately.'"

I have been writing about Trump's war on the intelligence community since (GOOD GOD) December of 2016, before he was even inaugurated, and in May of 2017, I shared a piece by Michael J. Glennon, a professor of international law at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a former counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who outlined a scenario in which Trump emerges victorious in his battle with the intelligence community, and "a revamped security directorate could emerge more menacing than ever, with him its devoted new ally." And here we are, with Trump emerging not just as an ally of a malicious security directorate, but as its unchecked and unaccountable leader.

Meanwhile, as Trump and Barr lay the groundwork to have show trials of investigators who rightly viewed him as a security risk to the nation:

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Kathryn Kranhold at NBC News: Twice as Many Companies Paying Zero Taxes Under Trump Tax Plan. "At least 60 companies reported that their 2018 federal tax rates amounted to effectively zero, or even less than zero, on income earned on U.S. operations, according to an analysis released today by the Washington, D.C.-based think tank, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The number is more than twice as many as ITEP found roughly, per year, on average in an earlier, multi-year analysis before the new tax law went into effect. Among them are household names like technology giant Amazon.com Inc. and entertainment streaming service Netflix Inc., in addition to global oil giant Chevron Corp., pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lilly and Co., and farming and commercial equipment manufacturer Deere & Co."

As I noted in comments on today's Primarily Speaking thread, Senator Elizabeth Warren is not happy about this state of affairs and has announced a plan that would force these companies to start paying at least part of their fair share: The Real Corporate Profits Tax would apply "to the profits very large American companies report to their investors — with no loopholes or exemptions. ...This new tax only applies to companies that report more than $100 million in profits — about the 1200 most profitable firms in the country last year. That first $100 million is left alone, but for every dollar of profit above $100 million, the corporation will pay a 7% tax. ...That means Amazon would pay $698 million in taxes instead of paying zero."

Speaking of tax evasion... Kate Riga at TPM: Under Pressure from Tax Probe, Trump's Older Sister Steps Down from Judgeship. "Donald Trump's older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, has stepped down from her role as a federal appellate judge and thus ended the scrutiny into whether she and her siblings' fraudulent tax schemes constitute a breach of judicial conduct. According to a Wednesday New York Times report, the investigation was launched due to the Times reporting that Barry and her siblings financially benefited from chicanery and fraud committed in the 1990s."

And speaking of crooks...

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[CN: Christian Supremacy] Jessica Mason Pieklo at Rewire.News: The Supreme Court Considers Giving Conservative Christians a License to Discriminate…Again. "The Masterpiece Cakeshop decision most certainly did not grant the plaintiffs the broad-scale license to discriminate against LGBTQ people that they had asked for during oral arguments. That's why it took less than four months for evangelicals to return to the Court with another case involving a baker turning away a same-sex couple because of a religious objection to marriage equality. On Friday, the Supreme Court will consider whether to grant review. If it does, Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries could be one of the next term's most important cases."

[CN: War on agency] Laura Hancock at Cleveland.com: 'Heartbeat' Abortion Ban on Its Way to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. "The Ohio General Assembly sent a bill to Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday afternoon that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. The House passed the bill 56-40, mostly along party lines, as people on both sides of the abortion debate loudly protested outside the chamber. Shortly after, the Ohio Senate voted 18-13, also largely on party lines, to agree to changes made in the House to Senate Bill 23. DeWine has said he would sign a heartbeat bill."

[CN: Nativism] Amanda Holpuch at the Guardian: U.S. Immigration Police Broke Facebook Rules with Fake Profiles for College Sting. "U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) violated Facebook policy by creating fake social media profiles tied to the University of Farmington, a sham university it created to identify people committing immigration fraud. More than 600 students, nearly all Indian citizens, were caught up in the scheme, which the Guardian has found included fake Facebook profiles created by the nation's second largest federal investigative agency, ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division. 'Law enforcement authorities, like everyone else, are required to use their real names on Facebook and we make this policy clear on our public-facing Law Enforcement Guidelines page,' a Facebook representative told the Guardian."

[CN: Privacy violations; sexual assault] Matt Day, Giles Turner, and Natalia Drozdiak at Bloomberg: Amazon Workers Are Listening to What You Tell Alexa.
The work is mostly mundane. One worker in Boston said he mined accumulated voice data for specific utterances such as "Taylor Swift" and annotated them to indicate the searcher meant the musical artist. Occasionally the listeners pick up things Echo owners likely would rather stay private: a woman singing badly off key in the shower, say, or a child screaming for help. The teams use internal chat rooms to share files when they need help parsing a muddled word — or come across an amusing recording.

Sometimes they hear recordings they find upsetting, or possibly criminal. Two of the workers said they picked up what they believe was a sexual assault. When something like that happens, they may share the experience in the internal chat room as a way of relieving stress. Amazon says it has procedures in place for workers to follow when they hear something distressing, but two Romania-based employees said that, after requesting guidance for such cases, they were told it wasn't Amazon's job to interfere.
Holy shit.

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

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