Quick Takes

3-26-2021

New York Becomes First City to Eliminate Qualified Immunity Protections for Police Officers (Law & Crime)

The richest 1 percent dodge taxes on more than one-fifth of their income, study shows (WaPo)

Democrats introduce ‘DeJoy Act’ in opening salvo against USPS leader’s mail-slowing plan (WaPo)

Dominion Voting sues Fox for $1.6B over 2020 election claims (AP)

3-25-2021

Georgia bans giving water to voters in line under sweeping restrictions (Reuters)

Facebook and Amazon are now the two biggest corporate lobbying spenders in the country (Public Citizen)

Documents Show Amazon Is Aware Drivers Pee in Bottles and Even Defecate En Route, Despite Company Denial (The Intercept)

[What happens when a narcissistic madman occupies the Oval Office:] House chamber hardened with bulletproof doors (Axios)

Carrying Guns in Public Is Not a Constitutional Right, Ninth Circuit Rules (Courthouse News)

Parler is sued by co-founder Matze over ouster following U.S. Capitol riot (Reuters)

Duped by Duffel Blo g, a congressman claims that the VFW and American Legion were labeled hate groups (Task & Purpose)

Trump aide concealed work for PR firm and misled court to dodge child support (The Guardian)

Aides Warned Trump About Anti-Vax MAGA Fans. He Did Nothing (Daily Beast)

U.S. COVID response could have avoided hundreds of thousand of deaths (Reuters)

Texas AG Ken Paxton refuses to release texts, emails sent during pro-Trump rally and Capitol riot (Houston Chronicle)

The border crisis is about human pain and desperation. Why can’t the media grasp this? (WaPo)

Half a Billion Facebook Users’ Personal Info Hacked and Made Available

There’s a reason why Zuckerberg called people who entrusted their personal information to facebook “dumb fucks“:

a dataset containing 553 million Facebook users’ data—including phone numbers, full names, locations, email addresses, and biographical informationwas published for free online. (It appears this is the same dataset Motherboard reported on in January). More than half a billion current and former Facebook users are now at high risk of various kinds of fraud.

Read more

What Do You Do When Hate Knocks on Your Door?

This is my personal story of being targeted by the alt-right. It details the events but mainly my thought processes, the information I found on mainstream media and the internet about the organization that targeted me, and how I responded. I have received a lot of positive feedback and I’m treating this as a living document. Apparently these folks engage in a lot of intimidation tactics and do this kind of thing frequently.

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Republicans Screwed Up on Biden’s Relief Bill

Numerous Republican politicians have been denouncing the relief bill recently passed by Democrats. It’s part of a planned, coordinated, strategy by Republicans to turn public opinion against the bill (75% of the public likes the bill).

“The [Republican National Committee] circulated rapid response emails and put together research documents on the legislation that they blasted out to reporters.”

“Republicans lost credibility on that issue during the Trump years, especially the first couple years when we had the power to do something about it,” said Brendan Steinhauser, a Republican consultant and former campaign manager to Texas Sen. John Cornyn. “There was no interest in doing anything about it. It was just, ‘let’s not even talk about spending or the debt or deficit or anything like that.’”

Politico

Facebook: Promoting Hate and Division

MIT Technology Review offers a look inside Facebook.

Facebook uses algorithms and machine learning programs to maximize user engagement (keep users hooked). It seems people are most interested in the divisive stuff and rumors. So Facebook promotes that sort of socially-damaging stuff.

In 2017, Chris Cox, Facebook’s longtime chief product officer, formed a new task force to understand whether maximizing user engagement on Facebook was contributing to political polarization. It found that there was indeed a correlation, and that reducing polarization would mean taking a hit on engagement. In a mid-2018 document reviewed by the Journal, the task force proposed several potential fixes, such as tweaking the recommendation algorithms to suggest a more diverse range of groups for people to join. But it acknowledged that some of the ideas were “antigrowth.” Most of the proposals didn’t move forward, and the task force disbanded.

[A] former employee…no longer lets his daughter use Facebook.

The Flood of Misinformation – Coming from Right-Wing Websites and Media

This country really needs a modern-day version of the Fairness Doctrine.

From NPR:

While delusional conspiracy theories go way back, experts say right-wing disinformation, in particular, is now spinning out on an unprecedented scale.

Experts see this spread of disinformation as a public health emergency that’s threatening democracy, increasing the risk of further violence, and straining family relationships. It’s also taxing a bevy of “deprogrammers” who are trying to help. More commonly referred to as “exit counselors” or “de-radicalizers,” they help people caught up in cultic ideologies to reconnect with reality.

…those buying into fallacies are far more likely to get most of their news from social media, friends and family, or conservative news outlets. Or they were likely to have recently used social media platforms like Parler and Telegram, which experts say have become disinformation super-spreaders.

Related:

Trump Is No Longer Tweeting, But Online Disinformation Isn’t Going Away

Documented: Republicans Stirring the Insurrection Pot. Social Media Comments Documented

Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren has quietly posted a nearly 2,000-page report documenting social media posts by her Republican colleagues who voted against certifying results of the presidential election on January 6.

The report chronicles the social media activity of members on public forums immediately before the November election and right after the January 6 riot.

View the report here, compiled with a state-by-state listing.

Movie at the Ellipse: A Study in Fascist Propaganda

On January 6, Trump supporters gathered at a rally at Washington DC’s Ellipse Park, regaled by various figures from Trump world, including Donald Trump Jr. and Rudy Giuliani. Directly following Giuliani’s speech, the organizers played a video. To a scholar of fascist propaganda, well-versed in the history of the National Socialist’s pioneering use of videos in political propaganda, it was clear, watching it, what dangers it portended. In it, we see themes and tactics that history warns pose a violent threat to liberal democracy. Given the aims of fascist propaganda – to incite and mobilize – the events that followed were predictable.

Read more at JustSecurity.org (it’s a chilling read)