Lazy Caturday Reads

Happy Caturday!!

Country Girl and her Kitten by Charles Landelle

Country Girl and her Kitten by Charles Landelle

Today is the day that Elon Musk said he would remove the blue checkmarks from “legacy” verified accounts on Twitter unless the users paid $8 per month. For businesses and government entities, the cost is much higher. The blue checks identify notable people who provide most of the engagement on the social media site. But so far today, the blue checks are still in place. Over the past few days, news organizations and the White House have said they will not pay, and a number of celebrities have also declined to pay. It doesn’t look like Musk will get much income from this stupid policy.

CNN Business: News organizations reject Elon Musk’s demand of paying to keep checkmarks on Twitter.

The New York Times, Los Angeles Times,the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, POLITICO, and Vox all scoffed at the notion on Thursday that they would pay Twitter for the feature, which has been free since it was introduced years ago but will soon be phased out.

CNN said it has no intention of paying for Twitter’s subscription service for its accounts but would make a few exceptions for some key staff.

“As of right now, we do not plan to pay for Twitter Blue subscriptions for either our brand or individual accounts, except for a small number of select teams who need this verification as an essential part of newsgathering and reporting,” said Athan Stephanopoulos, CNN’s chief digital officer, in a staff memo Friday.

Twitter announced last week that it will begin “removing legacy verified checkmarks” starting April 1. Musk has aimed to charge organizations that want to retain a checkmark adjacent to their account name $1,000 a month, plus an additional $50 a month for each affiliated account.

Historically, a blue checkmark placed next to the name of an account has indicated that the social media company has confirmed the identity of the person or business operating it. The feature has been helpful to Twitter’s entire community, giving the public an easy way of distinguishing between authentic and inauthentic users.

But Musk, who has sought to change Twitter’s business model and make it less reliant on advertisers — many of which have fled the company since he took over last year — wants to charge for the coveted check.

Musk earlier this year launched Twitter Blue, a subscription service that costs $8 a month. The main benefit? A blue checkmark.

Axios: Scoop: White House won’t pay for Twitter verification.

The White House will not pay to have its staff’s official Twitter profiles continue to be verified, according to guidance issued to staffers via an email obtained by Axios….

Official White House staffers rely on their verified accounts to inform the public on behalf of the administration. Verification, combined with the designated Twitter profiles, helped to ensure the public could trust those messages….

“It is our understanding that Twitter Blue does not provide person-level verification as a service. Thus, a blue check mark will now simply serve as a verification that the account is a paid user,” White House director of digital strategy Rob Flaherty told staffers in an email sent Friday afternoon.

The guidance, which was sent internally to White House staffers, doesn’t necessarily apply to government agencies, but a source familiar with White House plans said it may send guidance to some agencies and departments in the future.

This thread by a former Twitter employee provides a great deal of information about the past policies on Twitter verification and why making people who provide most of the content on the site pay for the privilege is really stupid.

It’s a long thread, but very interesting. Read the rest on Twitter.

Zeeshan Aleem at MSNBC: It looks like Elon Musk played himself with Twitter Blue. Elon Musk wanted to monetize blue checkmarks. It’s blowing up in his face.

Beginning April 1, Twitter will start removing “legacy verified checkmarks” from the profiles of celebrities, journalists, civil servants and other public figures. Twitter is making the move in an attempt to force more users to pay for “verified” check marks, as part of its agenda to monetize a service that was previously handled by the company for free.

But so far, the plan isn’t going well. As CNN reports, many media organizations, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, POLITICO and Vox, are already saying they have no plans to dish out money for Twitter Blue, the fee-based service that includes those blue check marks. The White House will also not be paying staffers for verified accounts, according to Axios. And Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James promises that he “ain’t paying.”

This was an entirely predictable case of Twitter CEO Elon Musk playing himself. Why would media outlets — or anyone else — rush to pay for verified badges when he’s systematically destroyed their meaning? [….]

Williard, by Emma Hesse

Williard, by Emma Hesse

Musk believed he could turn verified badges into a key source of new revenue for making Twitter profitable, a goal that’s surely growing more difficult as advertisers have fled Twitter en masse after Musk took over the company last year. But now key demographics that he would’ve hoped to have secured for paying for the service — journalists, famous celebrities, and government workers — might be checking out altogether. And that’s because Musk unraveled the purpose of the very thing he wanted to make money off.

As I’ve explained before, Musk fundamentally misunderstood or disregarded the true value of verified badges to most people who had them. Their original purpose was for Twitter to confirm that public figures were who they actually said they were in order to combat impersonation and misinformation. It was the key feature of what made Twitter a reliable source of news: verified accounts helped separate trustworthy statements and reporting from rumors and false claims.

But Musk decided that the reason verified badges were important was not because they verified identity, but because of the way they signaled social clout — and that he could cash in on this by trying to get a bigger network of people to pay for them. So now under his paid verification service, users’ identities are not confirmed, but blue checks can be distributed to anyone willing to open up their wallet. In other words, he’s hollowed out their meaning but kept the trappings intact.

Yesterday, an interesting court case involving Twitter was decided. The case demonstrates how Twitter has been used to promote disinformation.

The Washington Post: Trump supporter found guilty in 2016 Twitter scheme to undermine Hillary Clinton.

Douglass Mackey, a supporter of former president Donald Trump who used Twitter to disseminate false information to redirect would-be voters of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, was convicted Friday on a charge of conspiracy against rights, the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn announced.

A federal jury issued the verdict after a week-long trial in New York. Mackey, 33, faces 10 years in prison.

“Today’s verdict proves that the defendant’s fraudulent actions crossed a line into criminality and flatly rejects his cynical attempt to use the constitutional right of free speech as a shield for his scheme to subvert the ballot box and suppress the vote,” Breon Peace, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.

By Belinda Del Pesco

By Belinda Del Pesco

In the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election, prosecutors said Mackey used a Twitter alias with about 58,000 followers — @Ricky_Vaughn99, reportedly derived from actor Charlie Sheen’s character Ricky Vaughn in the 1989 film “Major League” — to circulate messages on Twitter that encouraged Clinton’s supporters to “vote” via text message or social media, methods that were not valid.

“For example, on November 1, 2016, in or around the same time that Mackey was sending tweets suggesting the importance of limiting ‘black turnout,’ the defendant tweeted an image depicting an African American woman standing in front of an ‘African Americans for Hillary’ sign,” the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The deceptive ad stated: “Avoid the Line. Vote from Home,” “Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925” and “Vote for Hillary and be a part of history.” It also included fine print at the bottom that mimicked a real ad, stating: “Must be 18 or older to vote. One vote per person. Must be a legal citizen of the United States. Voting by text not available in Guam, Puerto Rico, Alaska or Hawaii. Paid for by Hillary For President 2016.”

Prosecutors said Mackey also used his Ricky Vaughn persona to tweet a similar deceptive ad in Spanish, which included a copy of Clinton’s campaign logo and her campaign’s oft-used “ImWithHer” hashtag.

Leading up to Election Day, at least 4,900 unique telephone numbers texted “Hillary” or something similar to the 59925 text number, the U.S. attorney’s office said. At the time, Mackey’s fake Twitter profile was rated the 107th most influential with respect to that year’s election, according to an analysis done by the MIT Media Lab, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Read more at the WaPo.

We are all waiting with bated breath to find out what will happen on Tuesday when Trump is expected to voluntarily surrender and face charges recommended by the grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Trump has been using his social media platform Truth Social to threaten both the DA and the Judge in the case. I hope the judge will issue a gag order to shut him up. So far Trump’s followers haven’t shown signs of organizing as they did for January 6, but New York is preparing for possible violence. Here’s the latest:

The New York Times: How Alvin Bragg Resurrected the Case Against Donald Trump.

One year ago this week, the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into Donald J. Trump appeared to be dead in the water.

The two leaders of the investigation had recently resigned after the new district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, decided not to charge Mr. Trump at that point. Amid a fierce backlash to his decision — and a brutal start to his tenure — Mr. Bragg insisted that the investigation was not over. But a disbelieving media questioned why, if the effort was still moving forward, there were few signs of it.

“Unless y’all are great poker players,” Mr. Bragg told The New York Times in an early April 2022 interview, “you don’t know what we’re doing.”

What they were doing, new interviews show, was going back to square one, poring over the reams of evidence that had already been collected by his predecessor.

For a time, their efforts were haphazard as they examined a wide range of Mr. Trump’s business practices, including whether he had lied about his net worth, which was the focus of the investigation when Mr. Bragg had declined to seek an indictment. But by July, Mr. Bragg had decided to assign several additional prosecutors to pursue one particular strand that struck him as promising: a hush-money payment made on Mr. Trump’s behalf to a porn star during the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump was indicted on that strand. He is expected to surrender to the authorities in Manhattan on Tuesday and face arraignment on more than two dozen charges, which will be unveiled at that time.

Read how it happened at the NYT link. It’s a long, interesting read.

Steve Hanks

By Steve Hanks

This is another fairly long read about what will happen on Tuesday. HuffPost: Trump Faces At Least 1 Felony Charge In Manhattan Case: Report.

Former President Donald Trump is facing multiple charges of falsifying business records, including at least one felony offense, in the indictment handed down by a Manhattan grand jury, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Friday.

He will be formally arrested and arraigned Tuesday in his hush money case, setting the scene for the historic, shocking moment when a former president is forced to stand before a judge to hear the criminal charges against him.

The indictment remained sealed and the specific charges were not immediately known, but details were confirmed by people who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss information that isn’t yet public….

When Trump turns himself in, he’ll be booked mostly like anyone else facing charges, mug shot, fingerprinting and all. But he isn’t expected to be put in handcuffs; he’ll have Secret Service protection and will almost certainly be released that same day….

In the meantime, Trump’s legal team prepared his defense while the prosecutor’s office defended the grand jury investigation that propelled the matter toward trial. Congressional Republicans, as well as Trump himself, contend the whole matter is politically motivated.

“We urge you to refrain from these inflammatory accusations, withdraw your demand for information, and let the criminal justice process proceed without unlawful political interference,” Leslie Dubeck, general counsel in the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, wrote in a letter sent Friday to three Republican House committee chairs that was obtained by The Associated Press.

New York City is making plans for security and to deal with any possible violence next week.

Since Trump’s March 18 post claiming his arrest was imminent, authorities have ratcheted up security, deploying additional police officers, lining the streets around the courthouse with barricades and dispatching bomb-sniffing dogs. They’ve had to respond to bomb and death threats, a suspicious powder scare and a pro-Trump protester who was arrested Tuesday after witnesses say she pulled a knife on passersby.

Since no former president had ever been charged with a crime, there’s no rulebook for booking the defendant. He will be fingerprinted and have a mug shot taken, and investigators will complete arrest paperwork and check to see if he has any outstanding criminal charges or warrants, according to a person familiar who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive security operations.

Cat on a counter, Joanelle Summerfield

Cat on a counter, Joanelle Summerfield

From The New York Daily News: Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg inundated with racist emails, death threats amid Trump indictment; ‘We are everywhere and we have guns.’

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has been inundated with racist death threats amid his office’s historic indictment of former President Donald Trump, the Daily News has learned.

Included in a litany of profane, typo-laden emails sent to Bragg on the heels of Trump’s Thursday indictment were overtly racist and anti-Semitic insults and threats on the DA’s life.

“Hay George Soros a** hole puppet If you want President Trump come and get me to,” read one email. “Remember we are everywhere and we have guns.” [….]

People apparently unhappy about Bragg’s still-sealed indictment against Trump targeted multiple email addresses associated with Bragg’s website. The correspondence was shared exclusively with the Daily News by a senior adviser to Bragg, who asked to remain anonymous.

“How do we a a [n—-r] like you removed feom office?” read another email.

On a section of Bragg’s campaign website, where people can sign up to receive updates about Bragg’s work, scores of people entered fake names using racial epithets targeting the DA. The majority included despicable language like “bl*** trash [f—-r]” and “Aids Infested…” [….]

The largely anonymous onslaught comes as Trump’s incendiary rhetoric directed at Bragg, widely condemned as both violent and racist, escalates to a fever pitch following his indictment. Bragg is Manhattan’s first Black district attorney.

Read more at the Daily News link.

At NBC News, extremism reporter Ben Collins writes: Online threats of violence but few signs of far-right organizing around Trump indictment.

Minutes after news broke of former President Donald Trump’s indictment, a comment on the pro-Trump internet forum, also known as TheDonald, skyrocketed to the top of the message board.

“****ACCELERATE,” the comment, written by a user named TheSpeakerfortheDead, reads in its entirety.

Below that user, others quickly piled on, saying the grand jury that indicted Trump is “guilty of treason” and that their personal information should be made public.

The word “accelerate” is a reference to the far-right term accelerationism, the idea that the state must be abolished, usually violently, and replaced with a new one.

It’s one of a variety of comments posted online in far-right forums in the aftermath of Trump’s indictment. Many of those  forums commonly host violent rhetoric, and some were integral in planning around the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Sueellen Ross

By Sueellen Ross

While there is little evidence of similar planning for real-world unrest just yet, extremism researchers are keeping a close eye on the varied calls for everything from targeted attacks on the district attorney who brought the case to a new civil war.

“Accelerationism is a concept on the far right that’s defined by a cynicism and disbelief in the legitimacy of the democratic process or in functions of government,” said Jared Holt, a researcher at the extremism studies nonprofit Institute for Strategic Dialogue. 
“Subscribers to it suggest as a solution a series of actions that are often violent, and meant to compromise or hasten what they believe to be unavoidable collapse of that system.”

Holt said the term was used earlier in the decade to describe white supremacist extremist groups like Atomwaffen, who frequently agitate for and commit acts of violence. Some users on pro-Trump forums have begun to embrace the nomenclature as more and more radical and violent rhetoric has seeded into their space.

“The hope is that by advocating for the destruction of those systems or for the destabilizing of society — whether it’s through mass violence or purposeful misinformation — by playing a role in the collapse that they would also cement a position for themselves when they’re rebuilding it in their own image,” Holt he said.

Read the rest at the link.

One more from Insider: A gag order for Donald Trump is ‘extremely likely’ once he’s before a judge, legal expert says.

Former President Donald Trump can’t seem to stop talking about his indictment. But once he’s arraigned, it’s “extremely likely” that he’ll have to, a former senior staffer with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office told Insider.

His freedom to rant on Truth Social and say what he wants about his case at rallies will likely change once he surrenders and appears in a Manhattan courthouse, according to Duncan Levin, who is also a former federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice.

Manhattan’s Acting Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, who is expected to arraign Trump on Tuesday, is likely to put conditions on his release, and that’s “most likely” when the judge will issue a gag order, restricting Trump from discussing the case, Levin said. If Trump violates it by speaking about the litigation outside the courtroom, he could face consequences.

Punishment for criminal contempt, under New York law, is a fine not exceeding $1,000, jail for up to 30 days or both.

“I think it’s not only a possibility, but it’s extremely likely that there will be a gag order in the case,” said Levin, known for representing clients including Harvey Weinstein and Anna Sorokin. “Gag orders are very common in criminal cases, particularly in cases where there is an enormous amount of pretrial publicity like this one.”

Irina Kalentieva - Gustave Francois Lasellaz French 1848-1910

Irina Kalentieva – Gustave Francois Lasellaz French 1848-1910

A bit more:

If there’s a gag order, Levin said Trump will be “very limited” in what he’s able to say, even if there may be proxies who speak for him. The court has the ability to set the rules for his conduct while he’s most likely to be out on bail, pending proceedings.

“This is a criminal case now, so the rules have changed, and the rules are no longer in his purview to make,” Levin said. “He is a criminal defendant and, you know, we see hundreds of thousands of criminal defendants across the country every day who have a lot of rights stripped away from them and he is now one of them. These proceedings are going to change his life.”

Former Indiana Attorney General Jeff Modisett said he also expected that a judge could narrowly craft a gag order that could survive an appeal. He added that Trump’s status as a presidential candidate certainly complicates the First Amendment questions that are always present when such an order is considered.

“I could see where in a case like this based upon statements like that a judge could … issue a gag order,” Modisett said after an Insider reporter read to him the former president’s attack on Merchan. “Given Donald Trump’s history in litigation there is likely to be an appeal, but a carefully defined, narrowly restricted gag order would be upheld by the courts on appeal.”

So that’s what’s happening today as I see it. What do you think? What other stories are you following?

17 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Have a nice weekend everyone!!

  2. bostonboomer says:

    • NW Luna says:

      I do hope he’s slapped with a gag order. He can blather on about unrelated stuff, although if he’s not supposed to pollute (what a fitting description!) the jury pool or incite violence that will quite limit him.

      • bostonboomer says:

        He will never manage to control himself. I hope he goes to jail for violating the order.

  3. Beata says:

    The power is out here for many people and the wind is howling. The sky has that green color.

    My sweet 13 year old kitty has been sick for more than a year. She is down to just a few pounds. She rallied a bit a few weeks ago but now her breathing is labored and I think she may go today. It is breaking my heart. I’ve had her since she was a kitten. She was with me as my mother was dying, and she has been with me through many other times of great sorrow, as well as happy times. She has been such a good little companion. Please pray or whatever you believe in that if it is her time to go that it will be peaceful. Because it is the weekend and there are so many power outages, I can’t reach a vet.

    • NW Luna says:

      Oh Beata, I’m so sad to hear this. May her passing be peaceful. What a kind and loving home she’s had with you. With my last kitty who died it was also over a weekend when he suddenly turned for the worse and was in bad pain when moving. We were fortunate to not have the extra barrier of power outages and were lucky to get a vet out in a day and a half though that was still too long. My kitty before him had cancer and after months of being weak but stable, she was down to 3-something lbs, then one night when she was on my pillow she gave a cry and then stopped breathing.

      Tears the heart to think about losing these loving creatures.

      • NW Luna says:

        Mean that the lovely cat who died on my pillow had a quick ending without the stress of a vet visit and a stranger; she was with her people in a comfortable and familiar place.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m so sorry about your cat. It’s so hard to lose a beloved pet. I hope the bad weather won’t affect you too much. Take care.

    • dakinikat says:

      May your kitty breathe easier!

    • quixote says:

      Oh no! {{{hugs}}}

    • Enheduanna says:

      I hope your precious kitty finds peace and comfort soon. It’s probably a blessing she isn’t being rushed and confused with an emergency vet visit.

  4. dakinikat says:

    Musk and Trump must be two of the biggest failures in business ever, and yet people do not pull their money and business for them as a general rule. They’re fascist tools now, and the public is more aware. Neither of them can get loans from normal banks anymore.

  5. dakinikat says: