Opinion | Russians Meddling in the Midterms? Here’s the Data – The New York Times

By Jonathon Morgan and Ryan Fox
Mr. Morgan and Mr. Fox run a cybersecurity company.

Nov. 6, 2018

Image
CreditCreditIllustration by Jeffrey Henson Scales, photographs by Matt Anderson Photography/Moment and Blend Images-Hill Street Studios/Brand X Pictures, via Getty Images

“Since the 2016 United States presidential election, which Russian operatives influenced through a coordinated campaign of disinformation on social media, platforms like Twitter and Facebook have taken steps to address the problem. Thousands of “sock puppet” personas with hundreds of thousands of followers have been taken down on Facebook, for example, and cannot easily be rebuilt. Twitter has reduced the risk that propaganda is spread through automated accounts, or bots.

Such efforts may be helping. The consensus among researchers monitoring the 2018 midterm elections is that there has been less of the specific sort of interference the Russians engaged in two years ago, when they attempted to aggravate social tensions in the United States and foster distrust of our democratic institutions.

But an analysis by Kris Shaffer, a senior analyst for our cybersecurity company, suggests that while these measures may have rendered some of the Russian tactics of 2016 less effective, they haven’t fully stopped Russian influence operations. In many instances, they seem to have merely caused Russia to shift or develop new tactics.

Indeed, our company is currently detecting more overall activity in real time from continuing Russian online influence operations targeting the midterm elections than has been disclosed by social media platforms or detected by researchers during the same period before the election in 2016.”

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We Asked for Examples of Election Misinformation. You Delivered. – The New York Times

“But the ad transparency push has not always gone smoothly. Investigations by The Times and other news organizations have found numerous problems with social networks’ ad transparency policies. These include a loophole in Facebook’s ad policy that allows advertisers, once they have verified their identities and are approved to run political ads, to fill the “paid for by” field in their ads with whatever text they want, essentially letting them disguise their identity.

The extent of this loophole was explored by news organizations reporting on the policy, such as Vice News, which bought ads “paid for by” all 100 United States senators, as well as fictitious groups like “Ninja Turtles PAC.” “

Opinion | Voters- You’re Being Manipulated – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“. . . . . HIAS, the Jewish agency whose assistance for refugees infuriated the synagogue attacker (he blamed Jews for bringing in brown people in the caravan from Central America), has been flooded with donations, many from non-Jews. As my own feeble way to challenge hatred, I donated to HIAS on Saturday and suggested to my newsletter readers that they might as well. If we all find our own ways to light a candle, we can drive out the enveloping darkness.

These expressions of our shared humanity are important in and of themselves, but also as a way of fighting back at the fear and loathing that are being weaponized in this election cycle. One example: the breathless fear-mongering about the caravan still almost 1,000 miles away in Mexico.

Let’s be blunt: Voters, you are being manipulated.

President Trump has described the caravan as an “invasion of our country,” and Fox News referred to it as an invasion more than 60 times in October, along with 75 times on Fox Business Network, according to CNN.

This should be a nonstory. As I’ve written, most in the shrinking caravan will never enter the United States and they would amount to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of immigrants this year. In just the period of the caravan’s journey, another 16,800 Americans may die from drugs — a real threat!”

Opinion | The Republican Strategy? Fear and Lies – by Frank Bruni – NYT

“If I listened only to Donald Trump and those Republican candidates who follow his example, I would be petrified. I would be living in a bunker. I would have cyanide capsules at hand.

I would be convinced that the scattered protesters disrupting some Republicans’ meals were the advance guard of a violent liberal mob about to wrest control of the country. I would worry that the Democratic Party was secretly trying to elect terrorists and traitors to the House and the Senate.

And that caravan of migrants — I would see that, too, as some nefarious Democratic plot, or as a Trojan horse with jihadists in its belly. Either way, I would recognize it as the end of the world: Armageddon in the hunched form of a pregnant Honduran woman limping toward the only hope that she has.

To prevent a blue wave on Nov. 6, the president and his puppets are traveling audaciously far from the truth and shockingly deep into the gutter. I’ve seen bad before, but not this. The midterms aren’t just a referendum on which direction the country will go. They’re also a test of where the limits of decency and shamelessness are drawn.”

Apple- Facebook and YouTube Remove Content From Alex Jones and Infowars – The New York Times

“Facebook, Spotify and Google’s YouTube site, which removed some Infowars content last week, followed with stronger measures on Monday. Facebook removed four pages belonging to Mr. Jones, including one with nearly 1.7 million followers as of last month, for violating its policies by “glorifying violence” and “using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants.” Facebook said the violations did not relate to “false news.”

YouTube terminated Mr. Jones’s channel, which had more than 2.4 million subscribers and billions of views on its videos, for repeatedly violating its policies, including its prohibition on hate speech. Spotify cited its own prohibition on hate speech as the reason for removing a podcast by Mr. Jones.

Mr. Jones and Infowars are leaders in using the internet to spread right-wing conspiracy theories, an effort that was aided after Donald J. Trump appeared on Mr. Jones’s show during the 2016 presidential campaign and praised Mr. Jones’s reputation as “amazing.” Mr. Jones has repeatedly claimed that the government staged the Oklahoma City bombing, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and numerous other mass shootings and tragedies.”

Energy & Environment Legal Institute – SourceWatch

Energy & Environment Legal Institute
“Energy & Environment Legal Institute
The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) (formerly the American Tradition Institute (ATI)) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit headquartered in Washington, DC; and formerly also headquartered in Colorado. According to its website, “In September 2013, E&E Legal’s Board of Directors voted to to refine its focus primarily to the area of strategic litigation, and to change its name in order to reflect more accurately its work in the legal arena.”[1] The name “American Tradition Institute” and that of its 501(c)(4) partner organization “American Tradition Partnership”/”Western Tradition Partnership” (ATP/WTP) are prominently associated with a controversy over campaign finance during the 2010 elections. According to the Huffington Post, “During the 2010 elections, the Montana Commission of Political Practices found that the organization broke state campaign laws by failing to register as a political committee or report its donors and spending. The state suggested WTP/ATP was involved in corruption and money laundering.”[2] Energy & Environment Legal Institute is an “associate” member of the State Policy Network, a web of right-wing “think tanks” in every state across the country.[3]

“According to its mission statement, E&E Legal is “engaged in strategic litigation, policy research, and public education on important energy and environmental issues” and “seeks to address and correct onerous federal and state governmental actions that negatively impact energy and the environment. E&E Legal advocates responsible resource development, sound science, respect for property rights, and a commitment to markets as it holds accountable those who seek excessive and destructive government regulation that’s based on agenda-driven policy making, junk science, and hysteria.”[1]

The group’s website at one time stated that it “is part of a broader network of groups with close ties to energy interests that have long fought greenhouse gas regulation.” The group has “connections with the Koch brothers, Art Pope and other conservative donors seeking to expand their political influence,” reported the Institute for Southern Studies in October 2011.[4]

In 2011, E&E Legal (then ATI) sued the University of Virginia to get access to the emails of climatologist Michael Mann.”

Source: Energy & Environment Legal Institute – SourceWatch

He Sues to Discredit Climate Scientists. Now He’s Being Sued by His Allies. – By John Schwartz – NYT

David Schnare’s conservative legal group seeks to expose science fraud. But it appears to be imploding amid allegations of financial mismanagement, attempted extortion and faked documents.By John Schwartz

“FAIRFAX, Va. — The Free Market Environmental Law Clinic has long sought to inject doubt into the public conversation about global warming. Now, the future of the group itself is in doubt.

Its founders are battling in court over control of the group, as well as some $900,000 in its bank account. One of them, David Schnare, has been accused by his former allies of botching the group’s tax-exempt status and of attempting to extort a quarter-million dollars from its coffers.

It all comes at a time when Free Market — which made a name for itself using the legal system to obtain climate scientists’ emails — should be ascendant. The Trump administration shares its views on environmental regulation and its dismissal of climate science. And Mr. Schnare, 70, was part of the Trump “beachhead team” at the Environmental Protection Agency during the transition between presidential administrations, though he did not last long there.”

David Lindsay:  Excellent piece and good comments, including:

Socrates
Downtown Verona. NJJuly 12
“Free Market Environmental Law Clinic” is a front for coal industry billionaires hellbent on raping the environment and vigorously opposed to green energy.

It repeatedly changes its organization name after its name gets publicized for the evil it commits against society.

Its organization has advertised its mission in the past as “part of a broader network of groups with close ties to energy interests that have long fought greenhouse gas regulation.”

One of its predecessor organizations, the American Tradition Institute issued a memo by one of its fellows that advises how to build a national movement of wind farm protesters. Among its main recommendations, the proposal calls for a national PR campaign aimed at causing “subversion in message of [wind] industry so that it effectively becomes so bad that no one wants to admit in public they are for it.” It suggests setting up “dummy businesses” to buy anti-wind billboards, and creating a “counter-intelligence branch” to track the wind energy industry. It also calls for spending $750,000 to create an organization with paid staff and tax-exempt status dedicated to building public opposition to state and federal government policies encouraging the wind energy industry.

https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Energy_%26_Environment_Legal_Insti…

The organization represents Grand Old Pollution, Grand Old Profits and Gas Oil Petroleum.

They happily do the devil’s work for cash.

47 Recommended

DL:   Check out the hyperlink sourcwatch, at the CMD the center for media and democray.

Vote against the GOP this November – by George Will – The Washington Post

by George F. Will Opinion writer June 22 Email the author

Opinion writer June 22
“Amid the carnage of Republican misrule in Washington, there is this glimmer of good news: The family-shredding policy along the southern border, the most telegenic recent example of misrule, clarified something. Occurring less than 140 days before elections that can reshape Congress, the policy has given independents and temperate Republicans — these are probably expanding and contracting cohorts, respectively — fresh if redundant evidence for the principle by which they should vote.

The principle: The congressional Republican caucuses must be substantially reduced. So substantially that their remnants, reduced to minorities, will be stripped of the Constitution’s Article I powers that they have been too invertebrate to use against the current wielder of Article II powers. They will then have leisure time to wonder why they worked so hard to achieve membership in a legislature whose unexercised muscles have atrophied because of people like them.

Consider the melancholy example of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), who wagered his dignity on the patently false proposition that it is possible to have sustained transactions with today’s president, this Vesuvius of mendacities, without being degraded. In Robert Bolt’s play “A Man for All Seasons,” Thomas More, having angered Henry VIII, is on trial for his life. When Richard Rich, whom More had once mentored, commits perjury against More in exchange for the office of attorney general for Wales, More says: “Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world . . . But for Wales!” Ryan traded his political soul for . . . a tax cut. He who formerly spoke truths about the accelerating crisis of the entitlement system lost everything in the service of a president pledged to preserve the unsustainable status quo.

Ryan and many other Republicans have become the president’s poodles, not because James Madison’s system has failed but because today’s abject careerists have failed to be worthy of it. As explained in Federalist 51: “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place.” Congressional Republicans (congressional Democrats are equally supine toward Democratic presidents) have no higher ambition than to placate this president. By leaving dormant the powers inherent in their institution, they vitiate the Constitution’s vital principle: the separation of powers.”

Source: Vote against the GOP this November – The Washington Post

Opinion | Return of the Blood Libel – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“The speed of America’s moral descent under Donald Trump is breathtaking. In a matter of months we’ve gone from a nation that stood for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to a nation that tears children from their parents and puts them in cages.What’s almost equally remarkable about this plunge into barbarism is that it’s not a response to any actual problem. The mass influx of murderers and rapists that Trump talks about, the wave of crime committed by immigrants here (and, in his mind, refugees in Germany), are things that simply aren’t happening. They’re just sick fantasies being used to justify real atrocities.

And you know what this reminds me of? The history of anti-Semitism, a tale of prejudice fueled by myths and hoaxes that ended in genocide.

First, let’s talk about modern U.S. immigration and how it compares to those sick fantasies.”

David Lindsay: Here is my favorite comment, and it is important.

Randomonium
Far Out WestJune 21
Times Pick

These immigrants are being used as scapegoats to distract us from what is really happening. Trump brags about the health of our economy, yet he is doing all he can to disrupt it with tariffs and potential for trade wars with China and Europe. He is attacking our closest allies while snuggling up to the tyrants Putin and Kim. He is tearing down our intelligence community, Justice and FBI, military and other Federal institutions. These are much more serious issues than working to develop a humane and fair process for accepting asylum-seekers, who only want a chance to live in peace and work to support their families.

Facebook Tried to Rein In Fake Ads. It Fell Short in a California Race. – The New York Times

“SAN FRANCISCO — Regina Bateson had just finished an Easter egg hunt with her children on April 1 when her phone started buzzing. Take a look at Facebook, messages from her friends and colleagues urged.

Ms. Bateson, a Democrat running for Congress in the California primaryon Tuesday, quickly opened up the social network. There, she saw what appeared to be a news article that painted her as underhandedly trying to torpedo the campaign of a rival Democratic candidate. When Ms. Bateson clicked through the article, she was directed to a Facebook page run by Sierra Nevada Revolution, a local progressive group she had clashed with in the past.

The article was not a news story, she found, but a political ad paid for by Sierra Nevada Revolution. And while Facebook rolled out new rules on April 6 mandating that campaign ads be clearly labeled and say who had purchased them, Sierra Nevada Revolution’s ad about Ms. Bateson continued to be targeted to local voters throughout that month without any of those disclosures.”