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Current location: Scotland
Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
Number of posts: 5,973

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Black women fueled a grassroots movement in Alabama - and may remake state politics

SELMA, Ala. — The door of the Dodge Charger could not be closed. Jarvis, the 36-year-old black man wearing a red hoodie in the passenger seat was a potential voter. He’d praised Ainka Jackson’s efforts moments earlier.

“I love what y’all are doing!” Jarvis yelled. Jackson had squeezed between the Charger and a pickup truck to keep Jarvis from closing the door and driving off.

Jarvis said he understood that voting in Tuesday’s special election for Alabama’s open Senate seat mattered, but he hadn’t cast his ballot as of that afternoon. Speaking with Jackson, he expressed sympathy for Alabama’s homeless population. He wants to help, he said.

“MLK, [he] died doing this stuff,” Jarvis said to Jackson. Civil rights leaders in the 1960s were beaten for demanding a right to vote two miles from where he stood. “It’s time for us to step up.”



Will Drabold @WillDrabold

I drove 500 miles around Alabama in three days to report this. I hope you'll check it out: https://mic.com/articles/186790/black-women-fueled-a-grassroots-movement-in-alabama-and-may-remake-state-politics#.4XiHnRkY6

Watch Roy Moore's victory party turn sour (Tweet)


Apologies to those who don't do Twitter - no way to un-embed the video.

(Note: If anyone's having problems getting the video to play on DU, click on the time and date at the bottom of the tweet, and it should play OK on Twitter.)

Facebook version, if anyone can't get the above to work: https://www.facebook.com/NowThisPolitics/videos/1826018474096301/

Favourite Brexit Memes Part 2

The original "Favourite Brexit Memes" thread's gotten so big that I've been reluctant to add more to it as it takes so long to load. It's here: https://www.democraticunderground.com/108810538

With yesterday's vote, I figured it might be time to start cataloguing them again. Join in if you want.

I think this'll do as the header graphic:

I have no idea why the non-dom tax-dodging multi-millionaire Rothermere family's so keen on a hard Brexit with no transition period. Maybe it's because they love the UK so much, maybe it's because the EU Anti Tax Avoidance Directive will come into force on 1 January 2019 and the EU's planning to clamp down on fat cats ripping us all off. Who can tell?

Anyway, judging by the front page of their daily rag, they're a bit miffed at yesterday's events in parliament, and it's time for a stiff dose of "Oh noes MARXISM!!!1!"

And yes, multi-millionaire-owned Daily Express, how dare these treacherous oafs disturb the flawlessly smooth progress towards Brexit chaos we've enjoyed so far?

To catch up a little, here's how Camley marked the "clinching" of Phase One:

And here's one entry in Scottish daily The National's competition when it published a blank front page under the headline "UK finally releases details of secret Brexit impact reports" and asked readers to fill it themselves:

Euston Station to become massive homeless shelter on Christmas Day

Euston station will open its doors to 200 homeless people on Christmas Day to offer them dinner and a place to sleep.

The concourse will be filled with decorations and tables will be laid out to serve guests a full Christmas dinner for the first time.

Around 30 volunteers from Network Rail will team up with homelessness charity St Mungo’s and Streets Kitchen to help run the event.

The station was set to be empty, with no trains running across the network until after Boxing Day.


Where to start?

A worthy charitable effort - but is 200 just the tip of the iceberg in that area of London?

What the hell sort of country have we become where this is normal?

David Davis has damaged trust in UK, says Verhofstadt

David Davis’s claim that the UK’s concessions in an agreement to move on the Brexit negotiations were merely a statement of intent has damaged trust and will see a hardening of positions in Brussels, the European parliament’s coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, has said.

The former Belgian prime minister claimed the Brexit secretary’s comments over the weekend were “unacceptable”, and undermined confidence in the British government’s trustworthiness.

The member states will now agree a tougher wording in their guidelines about the next stage of the talks, due to be signed off at a summit of leaders on Friday, Verhofstadt said.


“As someone said, it’s an own goal,” Verhofstadt said. “It is clear that the European council will be more strict now. It is saying: ‘Yeah, OK, these are our intentions, our commitments, we want these commitments translated into legal text before we make progress in the second stage.’ That is now the position of the council. I have seen a hardening of the position of the council and there will be a hardening of the position of the parliament.”


The Spectator: Can you distinguish between a bot and a human?

We’ve all gone a bit bot-mad in the past few weeks. Automated accounts have invaded our civic life – especially pesky Russian ones – and politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have woken up to the fact that a new propaganda war is taking place online.

Bots – which is of course short for robot – are essentially accounts which can be programmed to automatically post, share, re-tweet, or do whatever the programmer chooses. Creating a bot is extremely easy, and huge amounts of cheap bots are available on dark net markets for next to nothing. There are millions of harmless bots out there doing all sorts of helpful and funny things, including breaking news stories. But Russia twigged early that bots can also be usefully deployed to influence public opinion. It has been using them for years. During the Senate investigation into Russian meddling in the US election, Twitter revealed the handles of some 36,746 Russian-linked bots. They had tweeted a total of 1.4 million times in the two months before the election, and the accounts had been viewed almost 300 million times.

This new world of pseudonyms, virals, and digital public opinion is becoming murky. It’s not always easy to tell humans and bots apart, because some bots behave like humans; and some humans behave like bots. One academic report earlier this year tried to measure Labour bots during the election. It estimated that any account which tweets over 50 times a day on a single hashtag is a bot. Myself and colleagues at Demos took a closer look at this – and it turned out that many of these ‘bots’ were in fact fanatic Labour supports who were tweeting so frenetically they looked machines. Equally, improvements in machine learning mean bots are looking more and more human. Soon, it will be very difficult to tell them apart.

Far more worrying than bots though are the paid content producers. A decent amount of the Russian interference appears to emanate from the Russian ‘troll factory’ based in St Petersburg where hundreds of people work 12-hour shifts spreading information that supports the Kremlin’s line. (Salaries of around between £575 – £830pcm). My guess is that a lot of the accounts they run are cyborg – which are half bot, half human. A human operator runs thousands of accounts, adding the odd bit of human content to bots in order to evade standard spam filters.


Let me entertain this for just a moment, since you're so serious and political and all.

How can voters choose to demand it in a constitutional monarchy?

All our MPs have to swear allegiance to the Queen:

I, (Insert full name), do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.

They can't take their seats at Westminster to vote in parliament unless they do (e.g. Sinn Fein).

Holding an election (please don't suggest a referendum ... we don't do those very well) has to be OK'd by the Queen, so it would be a little bit awkward for the prime minister of the day to go to the palace and say to Her Majesty: "We want to hold an election, ma'am. Oh, by the way, part of our platform is we're going to get rid of you."

If she even agrees and the party promising to set the wheels in motion to do that wins (if you think Brexit's complicated, you ain't seen nothing yet, as the monarchy's embedded in our legal system, armed forces etc.), it's back to:

All our MPs have to swear allegiance to the Queen:

I, (Insert full name), do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.

They can't take their seats at Westminster to vote in parliament unless they do (e.g. Sinn Fein).

Then there's the House of Lords, which has to pass any legislation. We can't vote them in or out (there have been some noises at various times about moving to some sort of senate system, but nothing serious, as it benefits the parties in power to be able to nominate non-hereditary peers).

Tell me about democracy again?

I saw a few, I think relatively early on. Other than that, it's a strawman.

Here's a sad aspect to the story:

Al Franken wrote a bill to help rape survivors like me. He can’t lead on it now.

In November 2014, I was raped.

I’m certainly not the only one something this awful has happened to, but afterward, I felt as though I was. I was a 19-year-old college student. My life changed overnight. I faced an incredibly long fight to bring my attacker to justice: Daniel Drill-Mellum was wealthy, well-connected, and willing to throw me and my reputation under the bus. The #MeToo culture I’ve seen develop publicly over the last month wasn’t around to help me then. I was nearly harassed off the University of Minnesota campus for reporting. I was turned away by the Minneapolis Police Department despite the mountain of evidence in my case.

Over the next two years, I learned how to hold my frustration in, because I had an end goal in mind. I knew that my attacker belonged in prison, and I was determined to get the justice system on my side. I made mental notes about everything that was going wrong. I tried to have patience that someday I could make a different world. When my rapist was sentenced in August 2016 to six years in prison, I finally had my chance.

I sought help from Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). He took up my cause without hesitation, and he worked with his aides to draft legislation to pay for training to help police departments treat assault survivors with more concern for what we’ve been through. But now that allegations have come out that Franken himself assaulted a woman years ago, I want another lawmaker to sponsor the bill we worked so hard on. This work deserves to be led by those without a history of sexual harassment or assault.

The news this week was especially disappointing for me because of how effective an advocate Franken has been for my cause. I felt my heart sink when I saw the news, but I was prepared to support the woman involved. I remember what it was like to be shamed and not believed.


If anybody wants to click through, they'll see the sort of work Franken's been involved in, and how sensitively he and his staff have handled the process of helping this woman frame the bill. She now wants to find a female congressperson to sponsor it instead.

I hope it's an overreaction to the early forms of this story, and she may revise her decision. Or perhaps it would be better if she can find a female senator to sponsor it, and Franken can offer whatever support is necessary, behind the scenes or from the floor. The problem with his involvement is Republican whataboutery. You'd hope a bill like this could find bipartisan agreement, but I doubt it.

It may shed some light on why Franken reacted like he did. The larger picture than his own career is the legislation he wants to pass and the changes he wants to come about - exactly as set out in his long statement. That's integrity.

I don't think any number of videos or pics of Tweeden cavorting onstage are likely to make Abby Honold feel differently, certainly not if Franken were ever to have a hand in relying on them as some sort of "defense" - especially in view of her own experience of the attempts to "throw me and my reputation under the bus". Or maybe she'll realize that this is more or less what's happened to Franken as her ally and change her mind.

What probably won't help change her mind is targeting somebody who comes forward with an allegation for her past behavior, however raunchy, given what she says above. Or maybe she'll join some here in resenting Tweeden for making false allegations, but that could be a slippery slope and she may not be able or willing to go there.

These are the stakes. This whole operation hasn't just targeted Franken, it's targeted the current wave of revulsion at revelations about how (especially powerful) men sometimes conduct themselves.

That's why I think Franken's reacted as he has, and why he's right to do so.

I might have made the above an OP, but I think we've had quite enough OPs about all this recently.

"Russian troll" accusations

I'm seeing this a lot over the past few days, in various more or less heated threads, usually about the Franken issue.

It's an easy way to try to shut down an argument.

It's also exactly the sort of tactic a true "Russian troll", on whatever side of an argument, would deploy to sow division! Beware when you point at someone, because your other fingers are pointing at you.

It would be really neat if those in the habit of throwing this accusation around would cut it out.

If you genuinely suspect somebody's up to no good, I believe MIRT would like to hear from you.

Trolls may well be among us - Russian or just plain old GOP or simple mischief-makers, as has long been the case.

If so, it's going to take a bit more subtlety to identify them.

If they have bad arguments or are spreading misinformation, that should be easy enough to challenge without resorting to a cheap jibe.

This is not a statement from the Franken plane "grope" photographer.

Posted because people keep citing it as if it's proven to be true. It's not.


Aiden Benjamin @Feisal_Hagi


Al Franken photo staged according to photographer who took the photo.

Photographer: [S]he was playing dead and SHE wanted him to ‘revive’ her. I took the picture it was a funny moment everyone was smiling having a good time

Leeann Tweeden is a trump supporter.

"Benjamin" has offered no source for this photographer's supposed statement, no name or other details (other Twitter accounts have posted similar, though "Benjamin" himself appears to be the original source for it).

The placing of the bikini shot next to the plane shot is something that should immediately ring alarm bells. It does nothing but attempt to slutshame Weeden. She may end up deserving to be shamed, but not because of any photos she's had taken in the past.

"Benjamin" has followed it up some hours later with another tweet:


Aiden Benjamin @Feisal_Hagi

Al Franken’s accuser Leean Tweeden is a Fox News regular and best friends with Sean Hannity. She also has donated THOUSANDS to the Trump/Roy Moore campaign.

This is politically convenient?

I think yes!#fakenews
Dozens of interviews with Sean here:

Politically convenient or not, there's that bikini pic again, this time on its own.

Do we know anything about "Aiden Benjamin"?

Well, for a start, there's this from Politifact:

An outdated photo wrongly suggests Barack Obama is at a food shelter in Houston

As Tropical Storm Harvey rocks Houston, Texas, a Twitter user decried President Donald Trump’s response in comparison to former President Barack Obama’s purported on-the-ground efforts using an outdated photo.

Twitter user Aiden Benjamin (@Feisal_Hagi) posted a picture of Obama and his family serving food at a shelter, which he captioned with the hashtags #HurricaneHarvery and #prayfortexas.

"Something youll never see trump do: Obama is in texas serving meals!" he wrote in the Aug. 26, 2017 tweet.

Here’s the thing. The picture isn’t from Houston nor from this year. It’s from a homeless shelter in Washington, D.C., where Obama and his family served Thanksgiving dinner to homeless veterans on Nov. 25, 2015. Both tweets have since been deleted.


Personal observation: I think Franken has handled this well so far. Let's not muddy his response by repeating unquestioningly the words of a dubious Twitter source with a track record of spreading fake news.
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