We Resist: Day 819

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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: Barr to Release Redacted Muller Report Today and Primarily Speaking and The Mueller Report Is Out, and Trump's Brazenness Continues to Protect Him — as Does AG Barr.

Obviously, the political news is dominated by the Mueller report, but below are a few other important items of note in the news that shouldn't get lost today (but inevitably will)...

Paul Farhi at the Washington Post: Report: U.S. Declines Again in Press-Freedom Index, Falls to 'Problematic' Status.
For the third time in three years, the United States' standing in an annual index of press freedom declined, a result the report's authors attributed to [Donald] Trump's anti-press rhetoric and continuing threats to journalists.

Reporters Without Borders, the international group that compiles the World Press Freedom Index, ranked the United States 48th among 180 nations and territories it surveyed. The U.S. ranking fell three spots from 2018, continuing a downward trend that began in 2016.

The United States finished just above Senegal and just below Romania on this year's list.

It also fell into the ranks of countries whose treatment of journalists is considered "problematic," the first time the United States has been so classified since the organization began the index in 2002.

...The group cited both Trump's rhetorical hostility toward the American news media and a possibly related phenomenon — increasing threats of harm against reporters — for the nation's declining status.

Among other signs of poor press health, it cited the Trump administration's curtailment of White House briefings; the revocation of CNN reporter Jim Acosta's White House press pass; the banning of a second CNN reporter, Kaitlan Collins, from an open-media event; and the harassment of journalists at Trump's reelection rallies. Beyond this, there were bomb threats made to newsrooms; an alleged murder plot aimed at prominent media figures and Democratic politicians by a Coast Guard lieutenant; and increased security measures in newsrooms nationwide.

It noted that "hatred of the media" reached the point where a gunman killed four journalists and another employee at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis last June.

"Amid one of the American journalism community's darkest moments, [Donald] Trump continued to spout his notorious anti-press rhetoric, disparaging and attacking the media at a national level," it said. "Simultaneously, journalists across the country reported terrifying harassment and death threats, online, and in person, that were particularly abusive toward women and journalists of color."

...The greatest regional deterioration worldwide, it said, was in the Americas, led by the decline of the United States, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Mexico, and Brazil.
Trump's war on the press is absolutely chilling — and he was waging it throughout the entirety of his campaign, long before he won the election and long before he was inaugurated. It was one of the key indicators of his authoritarian bent, and yet the very political press he targets chose instead to focus on how many days it had been since Hillary Clinton had held a press conference. Bad decision. Authoritarianism gets ratings, but some things, like defending our democracy against authoritarians, are more important than ratings. Or should be.

Foster Klug and Kim Tong-Hyung at the AP: North Korea Says It Tested New Weapon, Wants Pompeo out of Talks. "North Korea said Thursday that it had test-fired a new type of 'tactical guided weapon,' its first such test in nearly half a year, and demanded that Washington remove Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from nuclear negotiations." Everything is fine.

Daniel Estrin at NPR: U.S. Aid Agency Is Preparing to Lay Off Most Local Staff for Palestinian Projects. "Under orders from the Trump administration, the U.S. Agency for International Development is preparing to lay off most of its Palestinian aid workers in its West Bank and Gaza mission, according to U.S. government communications reviewed by NPR. It's the latest step toward shrinking a decades-long U.S. aid mission to build the capacity for a future Palestinian state. In response to NPR's request for comment, a USAID official emailed a statement saying that the agency has 'begun to take steps to reduce our staffing footprint.' He did not want his name used."

Mark Di Stefano at BuzzFeed: Australia Says It's "Ready to Confirm" a Key Meeting That Led to the Investigation into Trump's Russia Links. "A senior Australian diplomat has said the government is 'now ready to confirm' a series of events in 2016 between the country's high commissioner to the UK and a Trump campaign adviser, which led to U.S. authorities investigating Donald Trump's links with Russia. ...Until now, the Australian government and Downer have refused to confirm or give any details about the meeting central to the beginning of the Trump-Russia investigation, repeatedly citing the need to preserve national security. But in a letter sent to Australia's Information Commissioner after a 15 month-long FOI battle with BuzzFeed News, a senior foreign official said his department was ready to confirm the meeting and release redacted documents, because Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation was now finished."

Jennifer Jacobs, Jennifer A Dlouhy, and Ari Natter at Bloomberg: Rick Perry Planning His Exit as Trump's Energy Secretary, Sources Say. "Energy Secretary Rick Perry is planning to leave the Trump administration and is finalizing the terms and timing of his departure, according to two people familiar with his plans. While Perry’s exit isn't imminent and one person familiar with the matter said the former Texas governor still hasn't fully made up his mind, three people said he has been seriously considering his departure for weeks. All of the people spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations. An Energy Department spokeswoman, Shaylyn Hynes, rejected the idea that Perry would be leaving the administration any time soon. 'He is happy where he is serving [Donald] Trump and leading the Department of Energy,' she said in a statement."

So Rick Perry may or may not be leaving the Trump administration at some point? Cool story.

image of Rick Perry pouting pictured in the lower corner of a larger picture of an otter making a sour face while eating a watermelon

[Content Note: Sexual harassment] Kyla Mandel at ThinkProgress: Senators Under Pressure to Stop NOAA Nominee After Sexual Harassment Revelations. "A government employee group is urging Senate leadership to halt the nomination of former AccuWeather CEO Barry Lee Myers to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The call was prompted by the release of a federal investigation document detailing a pervasive culture of sexual harassment at the family-run company. A letter sent Wednesday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) by the executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) states that Myers repeatedly failed to disclose the Department of Labor's investigation into claims of harassment and discrimination at AccuWeather."

Alex Hern at the Guardian: Facebook Uploaded Email Contacts of 1.5m Users without Consent. "Facebook has admitted to 'unintentionally' uploading the address books of 1.5 million users without consent, and says it will delete the collected data and notify those affected. The discovery follows criticism of Facebook by security experts for a feature that asked new users for their email password as part of the sign-up process. As well as exposing users to potential security breaches, those who provided passwords found that, immediately after their email was verified, the site began 'importing' contacts without asking for permission. Facebook has now admitted it was wrong to do so, and said the upload was inadvertent." Sure.

[CN: Nazism; anti-Semitism; nativism] Karsten Schmehl at BuzzFeed: WhatsApp Has Become a Hotbed for Spreading Nazi Propaganda in Germany. "German WhatsApp users are spreading far-right propaganda through the use of stickers and chain letters but the company is doing little to nothing to stop it, despite local laws forbidding the use of Nazi imagery. In nine WhatsApp groups that BuzzFeed News has observed since October, tens of thousands of messages have been sent among its far-right participants. Among them have been symbols glorifying the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler, deeply anti-Semitic images created using WhatsApp's 'sticker' function, and messages seeking to incite violence and threats against leftists or refugees."

[CN: War on agency] Amanda Michelle Gomez at ThinkProgress: Attorneys General Pledge to Not Prosecute Abortions If Roe v. Wade Is Overturned.
Attorneys general in Michigan and New Mexico are pledging not to prosecute pregnant people or providers should Roe v. Wade be overturned. Both states would criminalize abortion in the event that the Supreme Court landmark decision is overturned — making these statements all the more powerful.

"I will never prosecute a woman, or her doctor, for making the difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy," said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) at a press conference on Tuesday.

Following her announcement, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas (D) told ThinkProgress he also would commit to not prosecuting abortion-related cases.

"Every New Mexican woman should have the ability, under the law, to seek the best medical care and family planning services for themselves," said Balderas in a statement. "I will always stand with New Mexican women, who should never be criminalized for seeking access to their own reproductive rights."
1. It makes me nauseated that we even have to start meaningfully contemplate the possibility of abortion-seeking people being prosecuted. 2. This is why the Republican Party has, for decades, been trying to gerrymander state districts and rig elections via voter suppression to take control of state governments in addition to seizing the federal government and the judiciary: The GOP doesn't want Democratic state officeholders and legislatures to be able to protect marginalized people's rights. They want us to be totally without advocates anywhere in the halls of power across the nation.

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

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