(no subject)

Mar. 22nd, 2017 09:21 pm
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (cosmia)
[personal profile] skygiants
After reading Peter Beagle's Summerlong and being Tragically Unimpressed, I made my book club read Tamsin just so I could remember the Beagles I have loved before.

Tamsin is very much a Beagle I have loved before. As a teenager it was probably my favorite Beagle, even moreso than The Last Unicorn, just because I identified so hard with sulky, obstreperous Jenny Gluckstein, a Jewish New York teenager who moves to Dorset and promptly falls head-over-heels for a beautiful eighteenth-century ghost named Tamsin Willoughby.

I described the book this way in book club. "But I don't want to oversell you on how gay it is," I added, worriedly. "I mean I haven't reread it since I was a teenager. It definitely might not be as gay as I remember. Maybe it isn't gay at all, and I was just projecting!"

...rest assured, this book is very gay. We're not entirely sure if Beagle knows just how gay it is? There are numerous moments where Jenny describes in great detail the tingly feelings that Tamsin's quirky smile and vanilla smell and tiny ghost freckles make her feel, and then adds something like "I guess I'll probably feel that way about a boy someday!" Will you, Jenny? WILL YOU?

(I mean, maybe she will, bisexuality definitely an option, I'm just saying. The book is first-person, with the device of being an explanation of Everything That Went Down from the perspective of several years later for Jenny's friend Meena to read; the structure makes a whole lot more sense if one just assumes Jenny and Menna are by this point dating. Meena is in the book plenty! Thematically paralleled with Tamsin, even! Meena's jealousy of the time Jenny spends mysteriously disappearing to hang out with a ghost and Jenny's jealousy of Meena's tragic crush on The Boy She Pines For Across The Choir Benches is a whole thing!)

So yes, in retrospect, it turns out I still love Tamsin - even though, in retrospect, reading it now, it's a super weirdly-structured book. The first solid third of the book is all Jenny's SULKY OBSTREPEROUS AGONIZING TEENAGE FEELINGS about leaving New York, which is fine, I guess, except it introduces half a dozen characters that are super important to Jenny in New York and will never be important again. Then another character who's incredibly important to the finale of the book shows up maybe three chapters before the end, and Jenny's like "oh yeah, I forgot to mention her? But she's been here the whole time, having weird interactions with me the whole time, let's just pretend I've been talking about it, OK? OK."

Still, Jenny's amused-embarrassed voice looking back at all the time she spent as a hideously embarrassing teenager continues to ring about as true for me as it did when I myself was a hideously embarrassing teenager. I think I'm always going to love Tamsin for that.

(Also the tragic feline love story of between Jenny's actual factual cat and Tamsin's imperturbable ghost cat continues to delight.)

Resist Days Organizing Call

Mar. 22nd, 2017 08:52 pm
executrix: (Default)
[personal profile] executrix posting in [community profile] thisfinecrew
C&Pd because it's easier than explaining:

A message from #Resist:
Hey there,

Let’s try something new.

#RESIST DAYS
March 31st-April 2nd
Every group, everywhere #resist together.

The goal: at least 1,000 #Resist events around the world in one weekend.

Want to make it happen?
RSVP to join the coordinating call on Monday, March 27 at 8:30 PM ET.

Talk to you soon,

Ashley Kroetsch
#Resist Organizer

PS Don’t worry if you can’t make it -- reach out to your local Co-Organizer to fill in the blanks.

virtual blanket fort

Mar. 22nd, 2017 05:35 pm
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
[personal profile] alatefeline
This evening I am building a virtual blanket fort for anyone who wants to drop in. Be kind, and bring cozy things.

I'll start by piling up a huge supply of couch cushions in stacks to make the soft but firm walls of our fort, and draping rainbow fabric from high up so that people can enter the soft space at any height.

Big Wheelchair is Watching You

Mar. 22nd, 2017 11:45 pm
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
[personal profile] davidgillon


The other day I received a letter letting me know that Kent and Medway Wheelchair Services is being privatised (they were worried about this happening when I went through the system last summer). Now in theory it shouldn't make any difference to the service I receive, but, as I noted on Twitter, it does mean someone now expects to make a profit out of my needs/my wheels.

Today the new franchise holder followed my twitter account. Now admittedly it's a new account, but they're following a grand total of 7 accounts, only two of which are individuals, and the other one is Tanni, aka Baroness Tanni Grey-Thomson, parliamentarian, multiple paralympian and the most famous wheelie in the country.

The scary thing is I didn't mention where I lived. They must have pulled it out of the #wheelchair stream from a week ago, figured out I was talking about them and made a note to follow me once their account was up.

Of course that's not remotely likely to intimidate someone from freely discussing the service they depend on.

Nope, not one bit.

(Well, not if you know me, but other people...)

(no subject)

Mar. 22nd, 2017 07:36 pm
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
Melania, are you ok? Other people seeing what I am seeing: an abused and mistreated woman in a marriage with an egomaniac (to be polite), and whose son may also have been abused by her husband.

The real bombshell of the House Intelligence/Trump/Russia hearing happened in the hallway. AKA someone's either ignorant as an upstream rock, or else lying in front of cameras.

Yes, the FBI did wiretap Trump Tower -- to keep track of the Russian mobsters.

Trumpery fired Preet Bharara as a prosecuting US attorney -- so now he'll teach kids at NYU how to be as tough and critical and prosecutorial as he is.

Farewell, David Rockefeller.

Gorsuch, abortion and the concept of personhood.

White Pride and prejudice. I am not entirely in agreement with their version of what liberal thnking entails.

Trump's exaggerated new border rules keep all the Africans from the African Summit in LA. This is *ridiculous*.

An actual war criminal may become the US's second leading diplomat. Pass me the vomit bowl; I cannot stand this man.

***

These cities are divesting from the banks that support the Dakota pipeline.

The NY state attorney general has hired an attorney to go after Trump full time -- and he knows the territory.

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Ivanka Trump's company over unfair competition.

The country is a mess. Meet the fixers. 50 people with ideas, guts and ability who are making change.

Apologies for typos; my eyes are very tired today.

Reading Wednesday 22/03

Mar. 22nd, 2017 10:26 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
Recently acquired:
  • Can neuroscience change our minds? by Hilary and Steven Rose. Steven Rose was a big influence on getting me into bioscience, so I excited to learn that he's written a new book about debunking neurobollocks, a subject close to my heart. And that he's written it in collaboration with his wife, a sociologist of science.

  • Three non-fiction books to give as belated bar mitzvah presents: I went with A history of God by Karen Armstrong, 1491 by Charles Mann, and The undercover economist by Tim Harford in the end. I reckon that gives a reasonable spread of perspectives, periods and cultures to get a curious teenager started.

  • A whole bunch of mostly novels for a not-very-sekrit plot.

Recently read:
  • This is a letter to my son by KJ Kabza, as recommended, and edited by [personal profile] rushthatspeaks. It's a near-future story about a trans girl, which has minimal overt transphobia but quite a lot of cis people being clueless, and also it's about parent death among other themes.

  • Why Lemonade is for Black women by Dominique Matti, via [personal profile] sonia. Very powerful essay about intersectionality between gender and race. I've not actually seen Lemonade yet, because everything I've read about it suggests it's a large, complex work of art which I need to set aside time to concentrate on, I can't just listen to the songs in the background. And I'm a bit intimidated by the medium of a "visual album".
Currently reading: A Journey to the end of the Millennium by AB Yehoshua. Not much progress.

Up next: I am thinking to pick up How to be both by Ali Smith, which has been on my to-read pile for a while. We'll see.
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

As you may recall my saying once or twice or three zillion times, Congressional investigations into the Trump administration's ties to Russia are insufficient. We need an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate, because otherwise the Republican majority on any investigating committee will control the process.

Proving the most troubling case in point, today Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, who ran interference for Trump during his committee's hearing this week, held an impromptu press conference at which he asserted "that the intelligence community 'incidentally collected' information about members of [Mr.] Trump's transition team outside of its investigation into Russia's interference in the U.S. election." Further:
Nunes claimed that the information was "widely disseminated" among intelligence agencies and that the identities of Trump staffers were "unmasked."

Nunes said he was "alarmed" by these reports from the intelligence community, though he repeatedly noted that staffers' communications appeared to be collected "legally" in the course of "normal, foreign surveillance." He said they took place in November, December and January, following the election.

Nunes left many other details hazy, citing the classified nature of the reports he said were brought to his attention "by sources who thought we should know it" following Monday's open hearing on Russia's involvement in the 2016 election.

Most notably, he first affirmed and then hedged his answers to questions about whether Trump's personal communications were caught up in the incidental collection.

Asked by CNN's Manu Raju if the President was "also part of that incidental collection," Nunes said yes and nodded.

He was cagier when MSNBC's Kasie Hunt followed up, asking whether Trump's "personal communication" were part of the incidental collection.

"It's possible," Nunes said. "We won't know until we get the information on Friday."

The California Republican said that the White House had not been briefed on any of that information, to his knowledge. He said he planned to speak to Trump about it Wednesday afternoon, arguing "they need to see it."
And then, in an extraordinary move, he briefed the White House about his claims, in a desperate bid to give Trump cover on his totally unjustified and unsubstantiable claim that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.

Which, naturally resulted in Trump saying he felt somewhat vindicated: "I somewhat do [feel vindicated]. I must tell you, I somewhat do. I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found, but I somewhat do."

Meanwhile, Trump is already fundraising off of Nunes' wildly inappropriate mischaracterization.

Nunes then held a second press conference, during which he doubled-down on this extraordinary bullshit:
Reporters asked him if it was "appropriate" for him to discuss details of classified surveillance reports with Trump and the press, particularly without first consulting his committee's ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), about the content of these reports.

Nunes defended his conduct, claiming the intelligence reports he has seen have "nothing to do with the Russian investigation" and that he had a "duty" to tell the President about "possible surveillance activities."

The California lawmaker left the door wide open when asked if the surveillance he was referring to was politically motivated.

"What I have read bothers me and I think it should bother the President himself and his team because I think some of it seems to be inappropriate," he said.

He also said the President "is concerned, and he should be."

Asked if he could "rule out" that former President Barack Obama or officials in his administration were involved, he replied, "No, I cannot."
This is genuinely unprecedented behavior. The Chair of a Congressional committee tasked with investigating the White House publicly did an end-run around his committee members, debriefed the president they're investigating, and then made a public statement about the president's right to know and right to be concerned.

What. The. Fuck.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking Democratic member on the committee, released a statement excoriating Nunes:
This afternoon, Chairman Devin Nunes announced he had some form of intercepts revealing that lawfully gathered intelligence on foreign officials included information on U.S. Persons, potentially including those associated with President Trump or the President himself. If accurate, this information should have been shared with members of the committee, but it has not been. Indeed, it appears that committee members only learned about this when the Chairman discussed the matter this afternoon with the press. The Chairman also shared this information with the White House before providing it to the committee, another profound irregularity, given that the matter is currently under investigation. I have expressed my grave concerns with the Chairman that a credible investigation cannot be conducted this way.

As to the substance of what the Chairman has alleged, if the information was lawfully gathered intelligence on foreign officials, that would mean that U.S. Persons would not have been the subject of surveillance. In my conversation late this afternoon, the Chairman informed me that most of the names in the intercepted communications were in fact masked, but that he could still figure out the probable identity of the parties. Again, this does not indicate that there was any flaw in the procedures followed by the intelligence agencies. Moreover, the unmasking of a U.S. Person's name is fully appropriate when is it necessary to understand the context of collected foreign intelligence information.

Because the committee has still not been provided the intercepts in the possession of the Chairman, it is impossible to evaluate the Chairman's claims. It certainly does not suggest—in any way—that the President was wiretapped by his predecessor.
Nunes, who was a member of Trump's executive transition committee, should have recused himself from this investigation in the first place. His very involvement is inappropriate, for the exact reasons that such recusals are standard procedure: Because often people who have a conflict of interest cannot remain partial.

Nunes isn't even pretending to be impartial.

He is Exhibit A in why we need a special investigation, and Reason #1 why we'll never get it.
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
... Because of various travails within LGBT+LDs we lost our chair.

This evening I was elected Acting Chair, and will be so until the AGM at autumn conference in Bournemouth.

No flowers ;)

Rabbit chuppah!

Mar. 22nd, 2017 10:28 pm
lethargic_man: (beardy)
[personal profile] lethargic_man
Thanks to the talented Sarah Behrnd, the rabbits are now more prepared to get married than we are! —Thanks, Sarah!

View piccy )

[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

This is a long one, but it's important, so settle in...

The AP's Jeff Horowitz and Chad Day have reported on a major story regarding Donald Trump's former campaign chair Paul Manafort, who has long been at the center of questions about ties to Russia. I strongly encourage you to read the entire thing, as I'm just going to focus on a few pieces of the much more comprehensive article.

This is the central piece of the reporting:
Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, The Associated Press has learned. The work appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests.

Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings, and news coverage inside the United States, Europe, and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse. Manafort pitched the plans to Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort eventually signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006, according to interviews with several people familiar with payments to Manafort and business records obtained by the AP. Manafort and Deripaska maintained a business relationship until at least 2009, according to one person familiar with the work.

"We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success," Manafort wrote in the 2005 memo to Deripaska. The effort, Manafort wrote, "will be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government."
Okay. So, three important notes.

First, this is indeed a contradiction of Manafort's previous claims that he never worked for Russian interests. Manafort needs to be questioned about his ties to Russia, under oath, in Congressional hearings immediately.

Secondly, 2006, the year Manafort signed the $10 million annual contract, was also the year that Manafort started living in Trump Tower.

Third, Deripaska was a supporter and financial backer of Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Putin then-prime minister of Ukraine, for whom Manafort also worked for nearly a decade. Yesterday, as I mentioned, the Washington Post's Andrew Roth reported on new documents reportedly showing that Manafort "laundered payments from the party of a disgraced ex-leader of Ukraine using offshore accounts in Belize and Kyrgyzstan." That disgraced ex-leader is Viktor Yanukovych.

(I'll come back to that.)

Naturally, Manafort continues to deny that his work for Deripaska had to do with anything but some business and personal consulting.
In a statement to the AP, Manafort confirmed that he worked for Deripaska in various countries but said the work was being unfairly cast as "inappropriate or nefarious" as part of a "smear campaign."

"I worked with Oleg Deripaska almost a decade ago representing him on business and personal matters in countries where he had investments," Manafort said. "My work for Mr. Deripaska did not involve representing Russia's political interests."
Except. As the AP story also notes, "One strategy memo to Deripaska was written by Manafort and Rick Davis, his business partner at the time. In written responses to the AP, Davis said he did not know that his firm had proposed a plan to covertly promote the interests of the Russian government. ...He took a leave of absence from the firm in late 2006 to work on John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign."

Which brings us to something about which I wrote last July:
In April, Franklin Foer wrote an extensive profile of Manafort, in which Foer details Manafort's decades-long relationship with Trump, which has spanned the former's career of advising some of the most despicable tyrants around the globe. In the piece, he recalls the time that Manafort "snookered" John McCain into aiding him in "undermining American policy."

Manafort's business partner, lobbyist Rick Davis, was one of McCain's top advisers. Manafort's and Davis' work in Ukraine was so concerning that, in 2008, a staffer on the National Security Council called McCain to ask him to help "dial back" Manafort and Davis, because: "By promoting enemies of the Orange Revolution, they were undermining American policy." But McCain had already been taken in by them.
That year, the pair had consulted on behalf of pro-independence forces in the tiny principality of Montenegro, which wanted to exit Serbia and become its own sovereign republic. On the surface, this sounded noble enough, so noble that McCain called Montenegro's independence the "greatest European democracy project since the end of the Cold War."

A report in the Nation, however, showed that the Montenegrin campaign wasn't remotely what McCain described. The independence initiative was championed by a fantastically wealthy Russian mogul called Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska had parochial reasons for promoting independence. He had just purchased Montenegro's aluminum industry and intended to buy broader swaths of its economy. But he was also doing the bidding of Vladimir Putin, on whose good graces the fate of all Russian business ultimately hangs. The Nation quoted Deripaska boasting that "the Kremlin wanted an area of influence in the Mediterranean."
Got that? Manafort and Davis (who was running McCain's campaign) manipulated the Republican nominee to lend his support, under the auspices of "yay freedom," to a geopolitical event designed to enrich Putin and his allies.

And that was hardly the end of it.
Manafort and Davis didn't just snooker McCain into trumpeting their client's cause; they endangered him politically, by arranging a series of meetings with Deripaska, who the U.S. had barred from entering the country because of his ties to organized crime. In 2006, they steered McCain to attend a dinner with the oligarch at a chalet near Davos, where Deripaska speechified for the 40 or so guests. (The Washington Post reported that the oligarch sent Davis and Manafort a thank-you note for arranging to see the senator in "such an intimate setting.") Seven months later, Manafort and Davis took McCain to celebrate his 70th birthday with Deripaska on a yacht moored in the Adriatic.
And now, two presidential cycles later, Manafort is running Donald Trump's campaign.
The first point in recounting this history is to underline that Manafort's claim his "work for Mr. Deripaska did not involve representing Russia's political interests" is utterly false.

The second point is to note that the 2016 cycle was not even the first time Manafort has tried to entangle a U.S. presidential candidate in pro-Russian policy. He tried it before, with John McCain, way back in 2006.

When, I will note, it was presumed that the Democratic nominee that year would be—you guessed it—Hillary Clinton.

Vladimir Putin's hatred of Hillary Clinton is well-known. As I've previously observed:
Russia's meddling wasn't just intended to try to install Trump as a puppet, but also to seek vengeance on Hillary Clinton:
When mass protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin erupted in Moscow in December 2011, Putin made clear who he thought was really behind them: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

With the protesters accusing Putin of having rigged recent elections, the Russian leader pointed an angry finger at Clinton, who had issued a statement sharply critical of the voting results. "She said they were dishonest and unfair," Putin fumed in public remarks, saying that Clinton gave "a signal" to demonstrators working "with the support of the U.S. State Department" to undermine his power. "We need to safeguard ourselves from this interference in our internal affairs," Putin declared.
That history is important—because it explains why Putin orchestrated election interference on behalf of Clinton's opponent, even if Trump himself wasn't aware of it. (He was aware of it.)
Much of Putin's animosity toward Clinton stems from her time as Secretary of State—but his animus extends back beyond her tenure at State, for the same reasons Obama wanted her as his Secretary of State. By that time, she was already well-established as a diplomatic powerhouse, having, for example, played a crucial role in the Irish peace process.

Putin had good reason not to want Hillary Clinton as the United States president, because she was a clear threat to his empiric aspirations. Further, Putin believes the Bill Clinton administration exploited the political weakness that resulted from the fall of the Soviet Union. That grudge is as old as Kosovo. As a result, he almost certainly wanted to prevent a second Clinton presidency.

That is not to suggest that Putin wasn't motivated by the oft-cited subversion of U.S. democracy to destabilize a key player on the global stage, keen to keep him in check. To the absolute contrary, Putin's campaign against Hillary Clinton was a central part of that.

After all, Putin knows she's the most qualified candidate ever to run for the U.S. presidency, too.

Earlier this week, FBI James Comey and Admiral Mike Rogers both confirmed during Congressional testimony that Putin's goal was not just to undermine faith in our democracy, and not just to help Trump win, but to hurt Clinton. Here is Comey explicitly confirming that:
REP. MIKE CONAWAY: The conclusion that active measures were taken specifically to help [Donald] Trump's campaign—you had that by early December? You already had that conclusion?

COMEY: Correct. That they wanted to hurt our democracy, hurt her, help him. I think all three we were confident in, at least as early as December.
One of their chief strategies was hacking. According to the assessment of U.S. intelligence, Russians were responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee, and for dissimating hacked DNC emails via WikiLeaks. U.S. intelligence agencies and cybersecurity experts also believe that Russian intelligence was behind the hacking and release of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta's emails.

A second primary strategy was propaganda: "Russia's increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery—including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human 'trolls,' and networks of websites and social-media accounts—echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers."

The anti-Clinton propaganda that proliferated social media during the campaign was not just pro-Trump, but also pro-Bernie Sanders.

Just 11 days ago, Ryan Grim and Jason Cherkis at the Huffington Post detailed the "fake news tsunami" that infected pro-Sanders Facebook groups.
Bev Cowling, 64, saw a sudden deluge of requests to join the Sanders Facebook groups she administered from her home in Toney, Alabama. All of a sudden, they were getting 80 to 100 requests to join each day. She and the other administrators couldn't vet everyone, and the posts started getting bizarre. "It came in like a wave, like a tsunami," she said. "It was like a flood of misinformation."

Cowling, a retired postal worker, said some of her Facebook group members were ready to believe the bogus news links. "People were so anti-Hillary that no matter what you said, they were willing to share it and spread it," she said. "At first I would just laugh about it. I would say, 'C'mon, this is beyond ridiculous.' I created a word called 'ridiculosity.' I would say, 'This reeks of ridiculosity.'"

But Cowling got pushback. She was called a "Hillbot" and a Trump supporter. She ended up removing dozens of members who refused to stop pushing conspiracy theories. "I lost quite a few friends," she said.
There were countless people who were primed by three decades of right-wing attacks on Clinton (and of course the all-too familiar misogyny incessantly wielded against her) to hate her, and they ate up every crumb of the avalanche of mendacious garbage being served up by Russian ratfuckers.

Now, this is where things get even more complicated, and I want to just state plainly that I am not trying to insinuate anything. If I intend to say something, I will state it plainly. The information that follows are facts, about which I have questions, but not conclusions.

Donald Trump was not Clinton's only 2016 opponent whose campaign was being run by a former adviser to the pro-Putin former Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych.

At the same time Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort was working for Yanukovych, so was Sanders chief strategist Tad Devine. In fact, Devine and Manafort were collaborating, including during the period were Manafort's aforementioned money-laundering for Yanukovych took place. (To be abundantly clear: Devine is not implicated in that at all.)

Devine, who convinced Sanders to run as a Democrat, reached out to Manafort at least once that we know of during the 2016 U.S. presidential election: To try to arrange the ill-fated debate proposed between Trump and Sanders.
Devine knows campaign chairman Paul Manafort from, among other things, their collaboration on the campaign of ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. According to campaign aides, the morning after Trump was on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Weaver asked Devine to give Manafort a call to see if they could actually make the debate happen. They were already fielding offers from most of the networks—including a producer for Stephen Colbert, who wanted to host the debate on his own late night show.

Manafort laughed, said it was a joke, but then again, Trump was on his plane, and he had no idea what the candidate would do. The answer turned out to be a statement killing the speculation. Manafort left a voicemail for Devine saying he'd won over Trump. Devine never called him back.
To be clear, as I noted at the time, the entire charade was an exercise in trying to make Hillary Clinton look bad, because she refused to agree to a debate with Sanders in California. So, the one time we know that Devine and Manafort communicated, it was to orchestrate something that was explicitly to harm Clinton.

At this point, I expect some people are wondering if I'm going to acknowledge that the Podesta Group, a lobbying and public affairs firm founded by brothers Anthony Podesta and John Podesta—the latter of whom was, as mentioned above, Clinton's campaign chair—also did work for Yanukovych. They did indeed. But: John Podesta was working for the Obama administration at that time, not as a consultant.

Notably, there was another member of the Clinton campaign who did consulting in Ukraine: Chief strategist Joel Benenson. Except he did not work for Yanukovych, but Yanukovych's rival, former Parliament speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who became Prime Minister of Ukraine after Yanukovych was ousted in 2014.

To recap: Both Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign chair, and Tad Devine, Sanders' chief strategist, worked for the pro-Putin Viktor Yanukovych. Joel Benenson, Clinton's chief strategist, worked for Yanukovych's anti-Putin rival Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Yanukovych was ousted in 2014, at which time Yatsenyuk became Prime Minister, the same year that Devine goes to work for Sanders. (Manafort onboarded with the Trump campaign later.)

So, two U.S. strategists worked for a pro-Putin Ukrainian, then each went to work for U.S. presidential campaigns whose chief opponent, in both cases, was Hillary Clinton, who is virulently hated by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Then both of those campaigns are given a huge assist by Russian hacking and a massive disinformation campaign orchestrated by Russian intelligence.

Now, just to be extremely clear that I'm not suggesting a straight-up equivalence between the two campaigns, let me point out a couple of major differences.

1. Tad Devine has not been accused of any illegal activities in association with his work for Yanukovych, unlike Paul Manafort.

2. Bernie Sanders, who has visited Russia, has not been, to my knowledge, suspected of being vulnerable by Russian kompromat cultivated on his visits, unlike Donald Trump.

But, as I said above, if I intend to say something, I will state it plainly, and here I am plainly stating that I do believe these connections warrant more scrutiny.

Manafort is one piece of a bigger puzzle. Maybe there is nothing more to find, but the only way to know that with certainty is to look.

I am concerned by the questions that are raised by a long-time target of Putin's ire facing two opponents whose key campaign staff both worked for a Putin ally, and whose campaigns were given a direct assist by Russian interference that intelligence agencies have concluded was, in part, explicitly to derail her.

I am concerned that both of those opponents ran on major-party tickets that were a departure from their previous party affiliations. Sanders was elected as an independent, and identified as an independent for 26 years in Congress, then ran as a Democrat at Devine's urging, and immediately returned to being an independent after the election. Trump used to be a Democrat, but switched to donating heavily to Republicans after Obama was elected—in that same election in which Manafort convinced McCain to sing the praises of Oleg Deripaska's independence initiative in Montenegro.

I am concerned that the facts compiled here make me suspicious that something much bigger than we've even begun to comprehend went on during the 2016 presidential election, and that I don't have enough insight into what happened to quell those suspicions, because the people ostensibly tasked with protecting the integrity of our elections and democratic institutions aren't interested in meaningful investigation of what happened. Or didn't.

I don't want to be suspicious. I don't want to sound or feel like a conspiracy theorist, just for compiling and reporting facts. What I want is answers.

[My thanks to the other contributors who offered valuable input on this piece.]

Attack at UK Houses of Parliament

Mar. 22nd, 2017 02:30 pm
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

[Content Note: Violence; death.]

The Guardian: Houses of Parliament Attack: Four Dead Including Police Officer.
Four people have died, including a police officer, and at least 20 people were injured in a major terror attack outside the Houses of Parliament, the Metropolitan police have confirmed.

Mark Rowley, the head of counter-terrorism at the Met, said a police officer had been killed after being stabbed by a lone attacker attempting to enter the House of Commons. The suspect was shot and killed.

Two other people died moments earlier, when the attacker drove a vehicle at speed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, near parliament, at about 2.40pm on Wednesday.

Rowley said at least 20 people, including three officers, were hurt in the attack on the bridge.

[A diplomatic source told Reuters:] "The attack started when a car was driven over Westminster Bridge hitting and injuring a number of members of the public, also including three police officers on their way back from a commendation ceremony. The car then crashed near to parliament and at least one man armed with a knife continued the attack and tried to enter parliament."

"Sadly, I can confirm that four people have died. That includes the police officer protecting parliament and one man we believe to be the attacker, who was shot by a police firearms officer. The officer's family have been made aware. At least 20 people have been injured."
My condolences to the families, friends, and colleagues of those who died. My thoughts are with the people who were injured; those who escaped without physical harm but have been traumatized by the attack; and with the whole community.

Although I have seen the attack described as a terrorist attack, there is no official information I've yet seen that details the nature of the terrorism. I've also, as of this writing, not seen any information about the attackers or their motives.

The Guardian has live updates here.

Please feel welcome to use this thread to share updates, and, as always, let's keep it an image-free thread. Thanks.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
[personal profile] mme_hardy
Our master bathroom always contains three bathtowels, one on the top of the double rail and two on the bottom. Whenever I change the towels, I hang three; so does my husband. This weekend we found out that each of us thought the other needed two towels, and occasionally wondered why. As far as we can determine, the third towel got used only as an emergency handtowel.

Or maybe it was for the prophet Elijah, who knows.

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Tim Chevalier

March 2017

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