From the world pool: January 27, 2017

My gosh, what a week. Long list of links to put up.

Socio-political commentary

US politics

Harper’s Weekly Review, January 25th

In demonstrations across Washington, groups of protesters lit a limousine on fire and broke the windows of a Bank of America, a white supremacist who said “sure” when asked whether he liked black people was punched in the face, a man marched with two alpacas and a llama to demand better trade policies, and at least 10 journalists simultaneously photographed a trash-can fire.

Meanwhile, Trump doubled down on his voter fraud story: Trump’s Voter Fraud Example? A Troubled Tale With Bernhard Langer

Mr. Trump kicked off the meeting, participants said, by retelling his debunked claim that he would have won the popular vote if not for the three million to five million ballots cast by “illegals.” He followed it up with a Twitter post early Wednesday calling for a major investigation into voter fraud.

When one of the Democrats protested, Mr. Trump said he was told a story by “the very famous golfer, Bernhard Langer,” whom he described as a friend, according to three staff members who were in the room for the meeting.

The witnesses described the story this way: Mr. Langer, a 59-year-old native of Bavaria, Germany — a winner of the Masters twice and of more than 100 events on major professional golf tours around the world — was standing in line at a polling place near his home in Florida on Election Day, the president explained, when an official informed Mr. Langer he would not be able to vote.

Ahead of and behind Mr. Langer were voters who did not look as if they should be allowed to vote, Mr. Trump said, according to the staff members — but they were nonetheless permitted to cast provisional ballots. The president threw out the names of Latin American countries that the voters might have come from.

One of the ideas behind Trump’s conviction that people voted illegally is that some people are registered to vote in two states. This is not illegal—it’s very common, as people who move generally don’t take themselves off voter rolls—but Trump has claimed it is evidence of voter fraud.

However, it turns out that people who are registered in two states include Jared Kushner (Trump’s son in law), Sean Spicer (Press Secretary), Steve Bannon (chief White House strategist), Steve Mnuchin (Treasury Secretary nominee), and Tiffany Trump.

One photo twists the knife on Trump’s anti-abortion executive order 

Under the global gag rule, women have the most to lose — so naturally, Trump implemented it without a single woman in the room. 

Say Good-bye to the Last Pillar of the Free, Open Internet 

The Quiet GOP Campaign Against Government Regulation

…If enacted, no agency could issue a new regulation unless it amended or repealed some other rule or rules “to completely offset any annual costs of the new rule to the American economy.” In other words, if implementing a new safety rule imposes costs on the economy of $10 million per year, then the agency would have to rescind enough existing rules to offset those costs fully. But—and this is significant—it must do so even if the social benefits of the new regulation, say, $50 million in annual savings from reduced health-care costs, far outweigh the costs of rule compliance.

…Finally, and most radically, the law envisions that, every year, each agency that makes rules would designate 10 percent of its existing regulations to be treated under the REINS Act as if they were newly promulgated. Within 10 years, Congress would have to approve every major regulation currently on the books, and any rule not so approved would no longer be in effect. Even assuming a Congress intent on evaluating all existing regulations in good faith, there is not even a remote possibility that Congress would complete this work on time. Under its current procedures, Congress, for example, is supposed to enact just 12 appropriations bills by October 1 of each year. In the last four decades, it has managed to meet that deadline exactly four times.  It’s highly unlikely that Congress could or would conscientiously review all the major regulations of over 100 federal agencies on a timely basis.

If you are puzzled by the bizarre “press conference”

Beyond Lying: Donald Trump’s Authoritarian Reality

The goal of totalitarian propaganda is to sketch out a consistent system that is simple to grasp, one that both constructs and simultaneously provides an explanation for grievances against various out-groups. It is openly intended to distort reality, partly as an expression of the leader’s power. Its open distortion of reality is both its greatest strength and greatest weakness.

Donald Trump is trying to define a simple reality as a means to express his power. The goal is to define a reality that justifies his value system, thereby changing the value systems of his audience. Two questions remain: What is the simple reality that Trump is trying to convey? And what is the value system to which this simple story is intended to shift voters to adopt?

Naomi Klein: Get ready for the first shocks of trump’s disaster capitalism

In the Katrina aftermath, the attacks on vulnerable people, carried out in the name of reconstruction and relief, did not stop there. In order to offset the tens of billions going to private companies in contracts and tax breaks, in November 2005 the Republican-controlled Congress announced that it needed to cut $40 billion from the federal budget. Among the programs that were slashed were student loans, Medicaid, and food stamps. In other words, the poorest people in the United States subsidized the contractor bonanza twice: first, when Katrina relief morphed into unregulated corporate handouts, providing neither decent jobs nor functional public services; and, second, when the few programs that directly assist the unemployed and working poor nationwide were gutted to pay those bloated bills.

Republican Lawmakers in Five States Propose Bills to Criminalize Peaceful Protest

In North Dakota, for instance, Republicans introduced a bill last week that would allow motorists to run over and kill any protester obstructing a highway as long as a driver does so accidentally. In Minnesota, a bill introduced by Republicans last week seeks to dramatically stiffen fines for freeway protests and would allow prosecutors to seek a full year of jail time for protesters blocking a highway. Republicans in Washington state have proposed a plan to reclassify as a felony civil disobedience protests that are deemed “economic terrorism.” Republicans in Michigan introduced and then last month shelved an anti-picketing law that would increase penalties against protestors and would make it easier for businesses to sue individual protestors for their actions. And in Iowa a Republican lawmaker has pledged to introduce legislation to crack down on highway protests.

Donald Trump’s appeal is not just about ‘anger’ and ‘resentment’ These books look interesting.

“This is the core claim of populism,” Müller writes. “Only some of the people are really the people.”

I Was Trained for the Culture Wars in Home School, Awaiting Someone Like Mike Pence as a Messiah

I grew up in the far-right evangelical conservative (Christofascist) movement; specifically, I was homeschooled and my parents were part of a subculture called Quiverfull, whose aim is to outbreed everyone for Jesus. I spent my teen years being a political activist. I was taught by every pastor I encountered that it was our job as Christians to outbreed the secularists (anyone not a far-right evangelical Protestant) and take over the government through sheer numbers.

Trump signs executive order stripping non-citizens of privacy rights. Another order that hasn’t actually been thought out.

Enforcing privacy policies that specifically “exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents,” while aimed at enhancing domestic immigration laws, effectively invalidates America’s part of the Privacy Shield agreement, opens the current administration up to sanctions by the EU and could lead our allies across the Atlantic to suspend the agreement outright. If that happens, things are going to get really uncomfortable for US companies trying to do digital business in the EU. 

Trump’s flashy executive actions could run aground: The White House failed to consult with many of the agencies and lawmakers who will be critical for their success.

Inside the West Wing, it is almost impossible for some aides to know what is in the executive orders, staffers say. They have been written by Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior White House adviser for policy, and Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, according to people familiar with the matter. Ideas for some of the Trump executive orders came from transition officials and so-called “landing teams,” sources say, who weren’t working in the White House. …“If you don’t run these kinds of initiatives through the affected agencies, you’re going to get something wrong,” Vladeck said. “A government by edict is not a sustainable idea.”

This is why I follow Sarah Kendzior.

Women’s March

The marches were wonderful and empowering for many, but there have been critiques as well, and those are important to listen to.

Iljeoma Oluo: When You Brag That The Women’s Marches Were Nonviolent

…Or is it the thought that you could march a million white women down the street without fear — and high five the same cops who wouldn’t hesitate to pepper spray black and brown faces begging for nothing less than their lives — and then call it progress?

How ‘Pussy Hats’ Made Me Feel Excluded — And Then Welcomed — At The Women’s March

Wearing pussyhats, or chanting about vaginas, lays out a hierarchy based on genitals that is exclusionary and painful. …I understand the overwhelming offensiveness of Trump’s pussy-grabbing brag. But trans women are also groped, and for them, sometimes a grope from a strange man can turn deadly in an instant. I’d like to see more acknowledgement of the gendered violence faced by trans women of color alongside the intense imagery of pink vaginas and uteruses. I’d like to see more of the inclusiveness and compassion I experienced first-hand that day in Portland.

Some Inconvenient Truths About The Women’s March On Washington

Here is one indigenous woman’s take on the #WomensMarch.

They took pictures of us and then refused to take our fliers on pipelines, fracking, and #MMIW in Oklahumma. …The whole time I am treated by non-Natives and especially WW like a marching spectacle while they refuse my fliers. Like a real life museum.

Woman in Viral Photo From Women’s March to White Female Allies: ‘Listen to a Black Woman’

TR: After this march, are you hopeful that white women will show up for black women and the issues of people of color?

AP: I definitely have hope. But I don’t think it’s a matter of white women becoming interested in our issues; I need them to recognize they are implicit or complicit benefactors of systems like white supremacy and patriarchy—and that’s a problem. Because issues of reproductive justice, wage issues, those are our issues, too. We don’t need them to take on a new set of issues; we need them to understand the impact of these particular issues when it comes to race and gender and different experiences. They need to make adjustments to how they’re organizing, what they’re advocating for and how they show up to these systems based on that understanding.

Milck: Quiet Watch the video of the flashmob anthem.

Doomsday Clock

Well, this is depressing.

It is two and a half minutes to midnight. It is 30 seconds closer to midnight.

Mikhail Gorbachev: ‘It All Looks as if the World Is Preparing for War’ 

Today… the nuclear threat once again seems real. Relations between the great powers have been going from bad to worse for several years now. The advocates for arms build-up and the military-industrial complex are rubbing their hands. We must break out of this situation. We need to resume political dialogue aiming at joint decisions and joint action.

Privacy

The Snooper’s Charter passed into law this week – say goodbye to your privacy.  Expect pressure in your country for the same.

Technology and Marketing

Trump Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself. This is fascinating and scary, and knowing what I already do about marketing technology, I tend to believe it. It’s really, really important.

AntiNote: The following is an unauthorized translation of a December 2016 article that caused quite a stir in the German-language press. Das Magazin (Zurich) occupies a respected position within the German-language cultural and literary media landscape, functionally similar to (though perhaps not quite as prominent as) The New Yorker, and this work by investigative reporters Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus got a lot of attention—and generated some controversy, for apparently having scooped the English-language media with sensational observations about 2016’s most sensational story, the campaign and electoral victory of a fascist dictator in the United States.

The methodology looks quite similar to the models that Michal Kosinski once developed. Cambridge Analytica also uses according to Nix “surveys on Social Media” and Facebook data. And Cambridge Analytica does exactly what Kosinski warned of: “We have profiled the personality of every adult in the United States of America – 220 million people,” Nix boasts. He opens the screenshot. “This is a data dashboard that we prepared for the Cruz Campaign.” A digital control center appears. On the left are diagrams; on the right, a map of Iowa, where Cruz won a surprisingly large number of votes in the primary. And on the map, there are hundreds of thousands of small red and blue dots. Nix narrows down the criteria: “Republicans” – the blue dots disappear; “not yet convinced” – more dots disappear; “male”, and so on. Finally, only one name remains, including age, address, interests, personality and political inclination. How does Cambridge Analytica now target this person with an appropriate political message?

Nix shows how psychographically categorised voters can be differently addressed, based on the example of gun rights, the 2nd Amendment: “For a highly neurotic and conscientious audience the threat of a burglary – and the insurance policy of a gun.” An image on the left shows the hand of an intruder smashing a window. The right side shows a man and a child standing in a field at sunset, both holding guns, clearly shooting ducks: “Conversely, for a closed and agreeable audience. People who care about tradition, and habits, and family.”

Fuck you, Gameloft

So fuck you, Gameloft. Fuck you for taking my autistic child’s amazing day of school, and turning into a day of frustration. Fuck you for choosing a business model that is almost perfectly designed to drive anxious, autistic or challenged kids totally nuts

Racism

White Genocide? Really? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. 

When others are victims of genocide, they’re rounded up and slaughtered. They’re spit at and degraded. They’re shamed, murdered, and then are either largely stricken from the history books, continuously mistrusted for the same reasons they were killed in the first place, blatantly ignored by the rest of the world, or all of the above.

On the other hand, when white American Christians experience genocide, it’s in the form of the comforting, loving, consensual embrace of a person so dedicated to their pleasure and fairytale whimsy that they bought them a diamond ring, which was ironically foraged where actual genocides take place.

Women, Race and Wealth (PDF)

Environment

Europe faces droughts, floods and storms as climate change accelerates. Europe and northern hemisphere are warming at faster pace than the global average and ‘multiple climatic hazards’ are expected, says study

Economics

A friend sent a link to two excellent videos this week, a great demonstration of how visual data can make things very, very clear. Watch and weep.

Resistance

The Rebellion Has Started!

Well, it’s been going on for a while (the Merriam-Webster dictionary has been sub-tweeting delightfully for quite some time) but a lot happened, especially on Twitter, this week.

First of all the Trump administration started issuing orders to muzzle government departments and agencies.

Agencies Told to Halt Communications as Trump Administration Moves In

Some of these orders have since been rescinded, or partially so, but a lot of people remain suspicious—and that has resulted in some activism.

One of the agencies told to halt all communications was the National Park Service, which had retweeted photos showing the relative size of crowds at the presidential inaugurations in 2009 and 2017.

This upset Trump a lot, and he ordered his Press Secretary to say something about it.

(By the way, note that, “The CNN television network made a choice not to broadcast the Spicer statement live. Instead, the statement was monitored and then reported on after the fact.” If only more news agencies would do the same.)

After the retweet began to get attention, a career staffer at the Interior Department instructed employees that the “new administration has said that the department and all bureau are not supposed to tweet this weekend and wait for guidance until Monday.”

After news about the Environmental Protection Agency being gagged came out, a National Parks Service account, @NPSBadlands, went rogue.

(You have NO IDEA how happy it makes me to type that, and to see the word used in news articles. But… it shows the state of our world when a government agency is called “rogue” for DOING ITS JOB.)

A Rogue National Park Is Tweeting Out Climate Change Facts in Defiance of Donald Trump

Other parks and agencies also tweeted—in solidarity?

And now a whole lot of new “alternative” agency Twitter accounts have joined the fray. We can’t verify that they’re who they say they are, of course, so approach with some caution.

I think there are going to be a lot of these accounts showing up, and I think there are both good and bad things about it.

On the positive side, the fact of their existence makes a point about the nonsense being committed by the Trump administration.

Furthermore, it may seem like nothing to shoot out a few tweets, but if these are people who are posting despite gag orders, they are risking their jobs. In some cases (AltNatParkSer for example) they have explicitly said that the accounts were started by actively serving employees, but have now been turned over to others (in the case of ANPS journalists and scientists) because of legal concerns for themselves and others.

And as I saw someone mention, small actions are important, because they normalize taking action instead of passive acceptance, and make others feel like they too can do something.

The negative of this activity is that this can reinforce the idea that “alternative facts” are real and cause confusion. When the US Government lies openly, why would anything be more true than anything else? Which is why I think effective whistleblowing and leaking to reputable agencies is particularly important right now—they can fact check (whether they do is a different question, of course). And look, a whole lot of news agencies want you to be able to contact them anonymously and securely.

Whistleblowing

Ways to share info anonymously with media:

AND by the way, Now they’ve pissed off the scientists…

Professor Smith Goes to Washington: In response to the new president’s stances on a range of issues, more scientists are preparing to run for political office.

Now scientists are planning a March on Washington.

Although this will start with a march, we hope to use this as a starting point to take a stand for science in politics. Slashing funding and restricting scientists from communicating their findings (from tax-funded research!) with the public is absurd and cannot be allowed to stand as policy. This is a non-partisan issue that reaches far beyond people in the STEM fields and should concern anyone who values empirical research and science.

Preserving information

It may be that some of the gag orders result from the mechanics of the transition of power, but many people are scared, and are advocating that people download documents while they are still available, just in case. A few sources of information and data:

And in other areas…

Resistance Manual (open source and constantly updated)

Action begins with information.

There are more of us who believe in equity and justice than those who support Donald Trump’s ideology of fear and hate.

Together, we can harness the collective power of the people to resist the impact of a Trump presidency and to continue to make progress in our communities.

Get educated. Get organized. Take action. 

And this one is really important for all activists. How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind: Self-Care Lessons for the Resistance

In Canada

Nearly half of national park ecosystems rate as ‘fair’ or ‘poor’ in Parks Canada report: Rating an improvement from 2011, but impact of more visitors on parks a concern.

First Nations family takes Ottawa to court over denied dental coverage.

Art + Design

Brick x Brick

Writing

Claudia Rankine’s Home For the Racial Imaginary

“These systemic problems have infiltrated the mind so that when someone asks the white policeman who shoots someone, ‘Why did you shoot him in the back?’ his answer is ‘I don’t know.’ Many of them say, ‘I don’t know,’ and it’s because they’re being propelled forward by some imaginary conception of being under attack when they’re not under attack,” Rankine said recently. “I think sometimes we’re dealing with racists who go out to murder and I think sometimes we’re dealing with people who have in their consciousness a built-up idea of who they are and who the ‘other’ is, and are inside a fight that doesn’t exist except in their imagination, and because their imagination is armed, the person on the other side ends up dead.” 

…Last year, Rankine announced that she would use the money from her recently bestowed MacArthur “Genius” Grant to help establish the Racial Imaginary Institute in Manhattan, a brick-and-mortar extension of the original project where artists will present talks, read essays, host podcasts, and exhibit work focussed on race and the creative imagination. 

Frantz Fanon: A Dying Colonialism (PDF)

Just cool

Climbing Wind Turbines for a Living

Farewell – ETAOIN SHRDLU. I began working as a designer in the mid 70s, and the pasteup techniques used here are exactly what I did. Ah, the nostalgia for the days of slicing off the ends of fingers with an x-acto knife and losing the tiny correction that had to be stuck on your layout…

A film created by Carl Schlesinger and David Loeb Weiss documenting the last day of hot metal typesetting at The New York Times. This film shows the entire newspaper production process from hot-metal typesetting to creating stereo moulds to high-speed press operation. At the end of the film, the new typesetting and photographic production process is shown in contrast to the old ways. There are interviews with workers at NYT that are for and against the new technology. In fact, one typesetter is retiring on this final day as he does not want to learn the new process and technology. 

Terraced farms in China

Just for fun

Determined Two-Legged Rescue Cat Learns to Walk, Run, and Jump

Relative turnouts

Instead of cats

I don’t guarantee I won’t post cat things, but here are some other feel-good links. I think we need them right about now.

Transitory beauty

And yes, this link is posted under Women’s March, but I’m going to put up the Samantha Bee performance by the choir as well, just because.

And some pure, brilliant happiness.

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