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Kislyak, recently amended his public financial filing to disclose a brief advisory role with SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company.

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Scrutiny mounts for Trump digital operation

The Hill5 hours ago
… Kislyak, recently amended his public financial filing to disclose a brief advisory role with SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company.
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Donald Trump on social media – Wikipedia
 

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The presence of Donald Trump on social media has attracted attention worldwide since he joined Twitter in March 2009. He has frequently used Twitter to comment on politicians and celebrities, and he relied on Twitter significantly to communicate during the 2016 United States presidential election. The attention on Trump’s Twitter activity has significantly increased since he was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States and continued to post controversial opinions and statements. Many of the assertions made by Trump on his Twitter account have been proven to be false.[1][2][3][4]

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Story image for Kislyak, SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica from The Hill

Scrutiny mounts for Trump digital operation

The Hill5 hours ago
The Trump campaign paid Cambridge Analytica millions during the 2016 … with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, recently amended … a brief advisory role with SCL GroupCambridge Analytica’s parent company.

Story image for Kislyak, SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica from The Inquisitr

Trump Impeachment: Trump Tower Server Holds Key To End Trump …

The InquisitrApr 1, 2017
“This information was fed back to (Trump Campaign Manager Paul) Manafort and Cambridge AnalyticaSCL via the means of the bank server …

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Investigations into Trump’s links with Russia raise more questions …

The CanaryMar 27, 2017
… adviser to Trump) met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in 2016. … Cambridge Analyticaspecialises in “behavioral change” technologies. … This is defined as “advanced data analytics, to identify groups of voters … [SCL] are using similar methodologies to those the intelligence agencies …

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A timeline: Mike Pence’s role in the White House’s Russia scandal

Raw StoryAug 15, 2017
… with SCL Group — the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, a data-mining … six contacts involving Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
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Scrutiny mounts for Trump digital operation

The Hill5 hours ago
… Kislyak, recently amended his public financial filing to disclose a brief advisory role with SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company.

Stepan Company (NYSE:SCL) Shares Bought by Vanguard Group Inc.

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Stepan logo Vanguard Group Inc. grew its position in shares of Stepan Company (NYSE:SCL) by 0.6% in the second quarter, according to its …

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House Intel looking at Cambridge Analytica in Russia probe

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… is now trying to raise money to sue Cambridge’s UK parent company, SCL Group Ltd, to learn how Cambridge profiled millions of Americans.

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One of the early pieces on it, published by Politico on July 7, 2015, reported the firm is connected to SCL Group, a company that provided …
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Scrutiny mounts for Trump digital operation

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Scrutiny on the digital side of President Trump’s 2016 campaign is … used data produced by the RNC for marketing on social media and other …
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Trump digital director, originally paid $1500 for Trump website …

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Parscale, who had done small freelance design projects for Trump’s … himself with running the best socialmedia political campaign ever.

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Trump Campaign Staffers Pushed Russian Propaganda Days …

Daily BeastOct 18, 2017
Some of the Trump campaign’s most prominent names and … the Trump campaign pushed covert Russian propaganda on social media in the …

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… spamming pro-Trump and anti-Clinton messages through US social media … We know that the Trump campaign employed several people, …
Trump Campaign Used Social Media Manipulation, Says The Guardian
 

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May 26th, 2017 by Carolyn Fortuna


Trump campaign data may be directly tied to social media manipulation, according to an investigation at The Guardian. If that is the case, then take a back seat, fake news, because what we could have is a deliberate right-wing propaganda machine that is altering the way that voters perceive candidates and issues. It could be much more detrimental to our democracy than any fake news.

The Guardian has revealed that extreme conservative ideology is cycled through popular social media sites through algorithms so it becomes pervasive, dominant, and constant.

Social media manipulation is trouble for democratic society everywhere.

Cambridge Analytica’s Data Mining and Trump’s Victory

One company that drives data, Cambridge Analytica, goes so far as to take credit for Trump’s election win through its ability to manipulate media messages targeted at persuadable voters. According to the homepage of its website, Cambridge Analytica (CA) uses data to change audience behavior. If you click on the “Political” tab, you can eventually find a description that says,

“CA Political’s industry-leading data services help you to find, understand, and engage with voters more effectively. Our services can be purchased individually and tailored to your needs, but combined they offer a fully end-to-end campaign package. CA Political provides clients with a truly quantifiable approach to campaigning.”

It is a company that openly brags that the “expertise and intelligence” it provided to the Trump campaign spurred his election win. How did CA’s data analysis lead to what CA describes as the “most remarkable victory in modern U.S. political history?” Why is CA now suing The Guardian for a 2017 article titled, “Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media?

That article now has a subtitle, “This article is the subject of a legal complaint on behalf of Cambridge Analytica LLC and SCL Elections Limited.”

What exactly happened with the Trump campaign data, according to The Guardian‘s inquiry? And do the forces behind his win continue to use data manipulation to influence the US government today?

How Trump Campaign Data Links to Google Searches

How does a 21st century data-driven campaign for an unlikely candidate for President of the USA work? By designating three integrated teams — research, data science, and digital marketing — CA was able to move millions of data points into targeted messages directed at “the most persuadable voters and the issues they cared about.” The purpose? Hit them with messages at key times to get them to take action to vote for Donald Trump.

Doesn’t really sound like anything different than any other contemporary campaign, does it? Just wait.

Data mining to target voters is only one aspect of the controversy around CA and The Guardian. In December 2016, writer Carole Cadwalladr chronicled how some topics, when searched on Google, resulted in responses that “were being dominated by right wing and extremist sites.”

In an interview, Jonathan Albright, professor of communications at Elon University, North Carolina, says that his research reveals that right-wing news sites attempted to do what most commercial websites try to do: find tricks that elevate their placement on Google’s PageRank system. They try to “game” the algorithm. Albright’s mapping of the news ecosystem has divulged that millions of links between right-wing sites were “strangling” the mainstream media during the 2016 Presidential election.

CA was cited by Albright as a company that sites like Breitbart could use to track people as they surf the web, including their visits to Facebook. They wanted to direct specific ads to their advantage. According to Albright:

“They have created a web that is bleeding through on to our web. This isn’t a conspiracy. There isn’t one person who’s created this. It’s a vast system of hundreds of different sites that are using all the same tricks that all websites use. They’re sending out thousands of links to other sites and together this has created a vast satellite system of right wing news and propaganda that has completely surrounded the mainstream media system.”

Ordering of search results does influence people, says Martin Moore, director of the Centre for the Study of Media, Communication and Power at King’s College, London. He explains,

“There’s large-scale, statistically significant research into the impact of search results on political views. And the way in which you see the results and the types of results you see on the page necessarily has an impact on your perspective.”

The results of Albright’s research that a vast network of right-wing sites feeds Google searches make me a little sick to my stomach.

The Case Study of Donald Trump for President: “A Full-Scale Data-Driven Digital Campaign”

Let’s return to the case study of CA’s data collection and analysis for the Donald Trump presidential campaign. Let’s try to figure out what CA did that was different — and how The Guardian‘s expose was so controversial that it led to a lawsuit.

CA built 20 custom data models to forecast the voter behavior of 180,000 individuals. Their digital marketing efforts led to a large-scale operation with 8-figure ad budgets and an infrastructure that supported all aspects of the campaign, “influencing voters where and when it counted.”

The responses from each individual polled by phone or online were matched with existing data in CA’s database. They analyzed numerous topics — “from their voting history to the car they drive.” As they did so, CA correlated individual behaviors with voting decisions. These models allowed CA to predict the way individuals would vote, even without the backdrop of knowing their specific political beliefs.

In essence, consumer and personal behaviors led to data organization and predicted which candidates the polled individuals would most likely prefer when it came time to vote.

Then CA organized voters into different categories and determined the best way to influence them through marketing. With these audience segments identified, CA created and implemented a marketing strategy for Trump fundraising. Get Out the Vote programs, heavily laden with persuasive motifs, included targeted advertisements in key battleground states that were directed to the most persuadable voters.

Designing Algorithms for Social Media Manipulation

What’s essential to understand here is that CA collaborated with “30+ ad tech partners.” Cadwalladr at The Guardian wrote that “Google’s search results on certain subjects were being dominated by right wing and extremist sites.” CA’s marketing operation utilized a number of platforms, including social media, search engine advertising, and YouTube. By using the social media that polled individuals tended to frequent most often, CA was able to appeal to voters using language and imagery in ways very familiar to this audience — ways they would understand and to which they would respond strongly.

“We used our data infrastructure to target voters who could be influenced in the most meaningful way. For example, if they cared about healthcare, targeted adverts directed them to websites explaining Trump’s views on the matter.”

Trump’s views on healthcare, according to a October 9, 2016, Business Insider article, were criticisms about the Affordable Care Act as having “resulted in runaway costs, websites that don’t work, greater rationing of care, higher premiums, less competition, and fewer choices.” Words like “runaway,” “don’t work,” “rationing,” “higher,” “less,” and “fewer” worked to demoralize persuadable voters who may have already been struggling with health care costs in addition to other living expenses.

If, as Albright’s research indicates, millions of links between right-wing sites were responsible for “strangling” the media, CA’s data mining and categorization during the Trump campaign may have worked as triggers to persuade undecided voters that the Trump Republican narrative was normal, sensible, and fiscally responsible.

CA kept polling and assessing the Trump campaign progress in an real-time basis, with 17 states pinpointed as essential battleground states and 1500 people polled weekly in those key areas. More important than any other element, CA could also identify which voters were likely to support Donald Trump. Through social media portals that rerouted right-wing messages in deeply complex cycles, potential voters viewed right-wing rhetoric so frequently that it became a familiar message.

Dr. Jonathan Rust, director of Cambridge University’s Psychometric Centre, says,

“The danger of not having regulation around the sort of data you can get from Facebook and elsewhere is clear. With this, a computer can actually do psychology, it can predict and potentially control human behavior. It’s what the scientologists try to do but much more powerful. It’s how you brainwash someone. It’s incredibly dangerous.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that minds can be changed. Behavior can be predicted and controlled. I find it incredibly scary. I really do. Because nobody has really followed through on the possible consequences of all this. People don’t know it’s happening to them. Their attitudes are being changed behind their backs.”

So, CA influenced voter intention, and it also inspired people to take specific actions. What were the results? “Donations increased, event turnouts grew, and inactive voters who favored Trump were motivated to get out and vote on election day.”

In the final months, reports based on the new data that emerged from polling were sent daily to the Trump campaign. Those reports demonstrated how voters might be shifting their perceptions of issues and candidates. What might that have looked like? Well, with CA’s ability to assess state-by-state reactions to any political event, they were able to understand any unexpected shifts in voting intention. The constant FBI Director Comey announcements about Secretary Clinton’s emails come to mind.

Trump campaign data

With great pride, CA argues that its “work informed the campaign strategy and meant key voters, who might otherwise have stayed home, were reached in their own backyards. This ultimately contributed to the extraordinary victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.” CA’s efforts toward the Trump campaign, with data-driven marketing techniques, changed behavior in target populations. In other words, CA assisted the Trump campaign to use technology platforms to give voice to racists and xenophobes, according to Cadwalladr in another story in The Guardian.

And the results continue to snowball. Trump boasted that Apple CEO Tim Cook called to congratulate him soon after his election victory. “And there will undoubtedly be pressure on them to collaborate,” says Moore at the Centre for the Study of Media, Communication, and Power.

There are other reasons to be really concerned over and above Google right-wing search domination and CA’s 30+ media technology partners that have contributed to social media manipulation.

What if one person has donated $45 million to different Republican political campaigns and another $50 million to right-wing, ultra-conservative nonprofits? Is he, as Cadwalladr suggests, “trying to reshape the world according to his personal beliefs?”

Hedge Fund Billionaire Robert Mercer: The Man behind the Trump Data Mining & Manipulation

He’s a brilliant but reclusive computer scientist. He made his fortune in language processing science that fed into today’s AI. Afterward, as joint CEO of Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund that makes its money by using algorithms to model and trade on the financial markets, he became a billionaire.

What has Mercer done to single-handedly promote right-wing agendas? He:

  • funded the Heartland Institute, renowned for its climate denial and across-the-board fight against regulation;
  • donated to the Media Research Center, which has a mission of “correcting liberal bias;”
  • propped up Steve Bannon with $10 million for Breitbart; and,
  • reportedly holds a $10 million stake in Cambridge Analytica (CA), which was spun out of a bigger British company called SCL Group.

The Guardian claims that, “with links to Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, and Nigel Farage, the right wing U.S. computer scientist is at the heart of a multi-million dollar propaganda network.” And we are its tools: our social media conversations and interests are being redirected to win votes through ideological mechanisms that are invisible to us. Maybe it’s a coincidence that Greg Gianforte, a Republican technology executive who was charged with assault, defeated Rob Quist, the Democratic candidate, in a special election for Montana’s at-large House of Representatives seat. Or maybe not.

Emma Briant, a propaganda specialist at the University of Sheffield, says that CA and other data mining sites like it have the technological tools to effect behavioral and psychological change. The social media sites where we go for leisure and relaxation are a new space where international geopolitics is being played out in real time, and we’re pawns in the game.

It’s a new age of persuasion and social media manipulation, and, if Cadwalladr’s research stands up in court, we need to be hypervigilant about the sources we believe and the inferences we make based on those sources.

Photo credits: NegativeSpace and KOMUnews via Foter.com / CC BY

 

 


Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

Tags: FacebookGooglepersuasionpropagandaRepublicansRobert MercerSocial Media

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carolyn Fortuna Carolyn Fortuna, Ph.D. is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. She’s won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavy Foundation. She’s molds scholarship into digital media literacy and learning to spread the word about sustainability issues. Please follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Google+

How Facebook, Google and Twitter ’embeds’ helped Trump in 2016 – POLITICO
 

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“The extent to which they were helping candidates online was a surprise to us,” said co-author Daniel Kreiss, from UNC Chapel Hill. He called the assistance “a form of subsidy from technology firms to political candidates.”

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The study was published Thursday in the journal Political Communication.

Kreiss and the University of Utah’s Shannon McGregor interviewed tech company liaisons to the Trump and Clinton operations as well as officials from a range of campaigns, including those of former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sens. Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

The researchers’ findings add to the many questions surrounding the part that the country’s biggest tech companies played in the 2016 election. Facebook, Google and Twitter already face heavy criticism for allowing the spread of disinformation, “fake news” and divisive advertising during the campaign — much of which targeted Clinton. All three companies are set to testify at congressional hearings beginning next week on Russian use of their platforms to interfere with the election.

The idea that the tech companies were so deeply enmeshed in the efforts to elect Trump in particular could also complicate the companies’ reputations as political actors. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is among those in liberal-leaning Silicon Valley who have roundly condemned Trump’s actions as president on topics like LGBT issues and immigration.

As Trump emerged as the likely Republican nominee, staffers from each of the three companies set up shop in a strip-mall office rented by the Trump campaign in San Antonio, Texas, home to the campaign’s lead digital strategist, Brad Parscale, the study reports. It attributes that information to Nu Wexler, a Twitter communications official at the time, who is explicit about the value of the arrangement for Trump.

“One, they found that they were getting solid advice, and two, it’s cheaper. It’s free labor,” Wexler said in the study.

While the paper does not detail the specific tasks Facebook carried out for Trump, it describes the sort of work the company did generally for 2016 candidates, including coordinating so-called dark posts that would appear only to selected users and identifying the kinds of photos that perform best on Facebook-owned Instagram. Twitter, meanwhile, would help candidates analyze the performances of their tweet-based fundraising pushes to recommend what moves the campaigns should make next. Google kept tabs on candidates’ travels to recommend geographically targeted advertisements.

Digital experts interviewed by the researchers concluded that the tech company employees, who would work in San Antonio for days at a time, helped Trump close his staffing gap with Clinton.

The White House referred questions to the Trump campaign, and Parscale did not respond to requests for comment. Parscale said in an Oct. 8 episode of “60 Minutes” that he actively solicited the companies’ support, saying that he told them: “I wanna know everything you would tell Hillary’s campaign plus some. And I want your people here to teach me how to use it.”

A source close to the Clinton campaign rejected the notion that her team failed to take advantage of a valuable resource, arguing that her operation was in regular contact with the tech companies to tap their expertise. The source, who would only speak anonymously because of the sensitivity around attributing causes of Clinton’s defeat, said there would have been no advantage to having tech company employees sitting at desks at Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters.

One unnamed tech company staffer is quoted in the study as saying, “Clinton viewed us as vendors rather than consultants.”

Story Continued Below

Asked about the arrangement with Trump, the tech companies were quick to point out that they make their services available to all political players regardless of party.

“Facebook offers identical levels of support to candidates and campaigns across the political spectrum, whether by Facebook’s politics and government or ad sales teams,” a spokesperson for the social network said in a statement.

That sentiment was echoed by Twitter, which said it offered help to both the Clinton and Trump campaigns, and by Google, which stressed that it is up to each candidate to determine how extensively to work with the company. During the primary season, Google made available to each candidate an eight-hour session with the company’s creative teams, but only Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s campaign took them up on it, according to the study.

But at least one tech veteran said he can see how it would raise alarms that the bulk of Silicon Valley’s hands-on campaign support went to Trump rather than to Clinton.

“It can be confusing from the outside looking in when it appears one campaign or another is getting more support,” Adam Sharp, a former Twitter executive who led the company’s elections team from 2010 to 2016, said in an interview. But while the companies strive to be balanced, they cannot inform voters “when a candidate doesn’t heed the help,” he said.

An intimate relationship between tech companies and candidates has considerable upside for both. The campaign gets high-quality advice and advance notice on cutting-edge products. The company gets national exposure for its products and builds relationships with politicians who might be in a position to regulate it once they get to Washington.

Silicon Valley had additional considerations during the 2016 campaign. The big tech companies were eager to fight the perception they were unfair to conservatives — and few in the liberal-leaning industry expected Trump to win, with or without their assistance.

Kreiss and McGregor recount one interview in which a pair of Facebook reps struggled to come up with a shorthand way of describing the support they provide candidates. Katie Harbath, head of Facebook’s elections team, suggested “customer service plus.” Ali-Jae Henke, who as an account executive at Google worked with Republican campaigns, including Trump’s, described the role as “serving in an advisory capacity.”

The history of the tech companies’ campaign outreach dates back to the 2008 presidential contest. That year, Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook’s CEO, traveled to both the Democratic and Republican conventions to pitch the political utility of the then-4-year-old social network. Around that same time, the company began offering congressional offices one-on-one guidance on how to use Facebook.

The outreach didn’t always work at first. “I was, like, begging people to meet with us,” Randi Zuckerberg said of the GOP’s 2008 convention. But as political spending on Facebook’s ad products and elected leaders’ dependence on the platform skyrocketed over the years, so too did the company’s close work with politicians.

One constant in the dynamic: The companies break down their political outreach teams along party lines. Facebook’s point of contact to Clinton’s 2016 White House run, Crystal Patterson, was a veteran of Democratic politics, and Henke — Google’s liaison to the Trump operation and other 2016 Republican bids — was once the director of operations for the Western Republican Leadership Conference.

That partisan matching is needed, company representatives say, to allow all involved to speak freely when providing advice. Caroline McCain, social media manager for Rubio’s White House bid, is quoted in the paper saying that when tech company staffers have a similar political background as the campaign they’re assigned to, it raises the campaign’s comfort level in working with them.

“When you realize, ‘Oh yeah, the person I’m working with at Google, they actually worked on Romney back in 2012,’ like, ‘Oh, okay, they actually might have our best interest at heart,’” McCain said. After the campaign, McCain took a position at Facebook.

Kreiss, the paper’s co-author, said the symbiotic relationship between Silicon Valley and political campaigns demands further examination.

“It raises the larger question of what should be the transparency around this, given that it’s taking place in the context of a democratic election,” he said.

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Scrutiny mounts for Trump digital operation

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Scrutiny on the digital side of President Trump’s 2016 campaign is … and used data produced by the RNC for marketing on social media and other platforms. … Representatives from technology companies are slated to testify …
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What Could Be in the New Kennedy Assassination Records?<a href=”http://NBCNews.com” rel=”nofollow”>NBCNews.com</a>
The JFK Files: More Than 50 Years of Questions, ConspiraciesVoice of America
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette –The Guardian –Philly.com –New York Post
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Trump Administration To Declare Opioid Crisis A Public Health Emergency – NPR
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NPR
Trump Administration To Declare Opioid Crisis A Public Health Emergency
NPR
The Trump administration will declare a public health emergency to deal with the opioid epidemic Thursday, freeing up some resources for treatment. More than 140 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease …
Exclusive: Trump to declare public health emergency for opioids, a partial measure to fight drug epidemicUSA TODAY
Trump will stop short of declaring national emergency on opioids: reportsThe Hill
The Note: For conspiracy-loving Trump, JFK files are a big momentABC News
Bloomberg –Quartz –Politico –cleveland.com
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Hurricane Maria caused largest-ever US blackout – The Hill
mikenova shared this story from Top Stories – Google News.


The Hill
Hurricane Maria caused largest-ever US blackout
The Hill
The blackout caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is the United States’ largest in history, according to a new report. Economic consulting firm Rhodium Group determined in a Thursday report that Maria caused 1.25 billion …
Puerto Rico Faces Possible Court Battle Over Agency ControlBloomberg
Whitefish Energy regrets Twitter spat with San Juan mayorBBC News
Powerless Puerto RicoNew York Times
WTOP –BuzzFeed News –Vanity Fair
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puerto rico – Google Search
A Half-Century Later, Papers May Shed Light on JFK Assassination – New York Times
 

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New York Times
A Half-Century Later, Papers May Shed Light on JFK Assassination
New York Times
As a new trove of documents about the killing of President John F. Kennedy is released, the New York Times correspondent Peter Baker walks us through who’s who in this historic American tragedy. By NATALIE RENEAU and PETER BAKER on Publish Date …
JFK files: Trump teases release as deadline arrivesCNN
What Could Be in the New Kennedy Assassination Records?NBCNews.com
The JFK Files: More Than 50 Years of Questions, ConspiraciesVoice of America
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette –The Guardian –Philly.com –New York Post
all 138 news articles »
Trump Administration To Declare Opioid Crisis A Public Health Emergency – NPR
 

mikenova shared this story from Top Stories – Google News.


NPR
Trump Administration To Declare Opioid Crisis A Public Health Emergency
NPR
The Trump administration will declare a public health emergency to deal with the opioid epidemic Thursday, freeing up some resources for treatment. More than 140 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease …
Exclusive: Trump to declare public health emergency for opioids, a partial measure to fight drug epidemicUSA TODAY
Trump will stop short of declaring national emergency on opioids: reportsThe Hill
The Note: For conspiracy-loving Trump, JFK files are a big momentABC News
Bloomberg –Quartz –Politico –cleveland.com
all 116 news articles »
Hurricane Maria caused largest-ever US blackout – The Hill
 

mikenova shared this story from Top Stories – Google News.


The Hill
Hurricane Maria caused largest-ever US blackout
The Hill
The blackout caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is the United States’ largest in history, according to a new report. Economic consulting firm Rhodium Group determined in a Thursday report that Maria caused 1.25 billion …
Puerto Rico Faces Possible Court Battle Over Agency ControlBloomberg
Whitefish Energy regrets Twitter spat with San Juan mayorBBC News
Powerless Puerto RicoNew York Times
WTOP –BuzzFeed News –Vanity Fair
all 161 news articles »
puerto rico – Google Search
 

mikenova shared this story from puerto rico – Google News.

Story image for puerto rico from CNN

Puerto Rico residents fleeing to Florida after Hurricane Maria

CNN4 hours ago
(CNN) Tens of thousands of Puerto Rico residents are fleeing to Florida after Hurricane Maria, leaving behind an island that is still struggling to …
Powerless Puerto Rico
OpinionNew York Times17 hours ago
Puerto Rico’s Gov. Rosselló orders audit of Whitefish contract to fix power grid – USA TODAY
 

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USA TODAY
Puerto Rico’s Gov. Rosselló orders audit of Whitefish contract to fix power grid
USA TODAY
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló wants the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security to look into a contract awarded to a small Montana firm to rebuild portions of the island’s hurricane-ravaged electric grid. Montana-based Whitefish 
PR gov. threatens ‘hell to pay’ as probes of Whitefish contract beginABC News
Whitefish’s No-Bid Puerto Rico Contract Spotlights Troubled FEMA GrantsBloomberg
Whitefish Energy regrets Twitter spat with San Juan mayorBBC News
Vanity Fair –Washington Examiner –Seattle Times –U.S. News & World Report
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Stars and Stripes: From rage to peace: A SEALs view of Bergdahl
 

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Former Navy SEAL James Hatch, whose career as a commando ended when he was shot while searching for Bowe Bergdahl, said his feelings toward the Army sergeant have gone from “I would like to kill him” to thanking the soldier’s lead attorney for working so hard to defend him.

 Stars and Stripes

Infighting plagues Senate Judiciary Committee’s Russia investigation – ABC News
 

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Infighting plagues Senate Judiciary Committee’s Russia investigation
ABC News
The committee is investigating improper political influence or bias in Justice Department (DOJ) or FBI activities during either the previous or the current administration [and] the removal of James Comey from his position as director of the FBI, one and more »
Palmer Report: Expert: Robert Mueller to drop the hammer on Donald Trump within weeks
 

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This week Donald Trump and the Republican Party have gone into all out panic mode, inventing one absurd phony scandal about Hillary Clinton and President Obama after another, in an attempt to distract from what they seem to think is coming. Now one respected national security expert says that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is mere weeks away from dropping the hammer on Trump and his co-conspirators.

Juliette Kayyem is a national security expert who regularly appears on cable news. This time around she appeared on Boston public radio (link) to discuss the Trump Russia scandal. Here’s what she had to say: I think it is safe to say that before Thanksgiving … somethings going to drop with Mueller. The pace is too much right now. Every 12 hours were now dealing with a piece of this story at a pace we havent seen.

Thanksgiving is just four weeks away from today, so she’s talking about Mueller being weeks away from the kind of breakthrough that will turn the Trump Russia scandal on its head and shatter the Trump administration. Some have misinterpreted her words to mean that the Mueller investigation will be finished by Thanksgiving. But that’s not remotely possible, because Mueller’s plan is to bring indictments against nearly everyone involved in order to pressure them to flip on Trump.

So what we’re talking about by Thanksgiving is the kind of indictment or indictments, or deals cut with Trump co-conspirators, that will bust the scandal open and leave Donald Trump in an impossible position. It’s why Trump and the Republicans in Congress are suddenly scrambling in such buffoonish fashion to try to distract from what they know is coming. They know Trump will be taken down by this; they’re just trying to prop him up long enough try to ram through some toxic legislation in the meantime.

The post Expert: Robert Mueller to drop the hammer on Donald Trump within weeks appeared first on Palmer Report.

 Palmer Report

Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Russia probe, thinks Americans are too savvy for Russian ads to work
 

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trump and intelligence community – Google News: Deep State Intelligence Threatens Trump, Self-Government – The New American
 

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Deep State Intelligence Threatens Trump, Self-Government
The New American
Amid a high-profile showdown with the intelligence community early in his term, President Donald Trump was repeatedly and viciously threatened even with prison and death. What kind of people can threaten the democratically elected President of the …

 trump and intelligence community – Google News

Putin and American political process – Google News: Despite the conspiracies, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are going backwards fast – ABC Online
 

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ABC Online
Despite the conspiracies, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are going backwards fast
ABC Online
It is telling that his first official meeting with Putin did not occur until after he had been in the White House for six months, and then only as a bilateral in the margins of a multilateral summit. The delay was partly due to the political and more »

 Putin and American political process – Google News

trump and putin – Google News: Despite the conspiracies, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are going backwards fast – ABC Online
 

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ABC Online
Despite the conspiracies, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are going backwards fast
ABC Online
On the surface, Trump and Putin agree on much. They subscribe to a realist view of international relations, and reveal a certain authoritarian like-mindedness. They resent the establishment domestic in Trump’s case, international in Putin’s. The 
White House facing scrutiny for Russia sanctions delayCNN
Congress seeks answers as Trump drags his feet on Russian sanctionsMSNBC
Time’s up for Trump to implement new Russia sanctionsWashington Post
Shareblue Media
all 20 news articles »

 trump and putin – Google News

Trump declares opioid crisis a public health emergency
 

mikenova shared this story from BBC News – Home.

US President Donald Trump has declared the nation’s painkiller-addiction crisis a public health emergency.

Calling the epidemic “a national shame”, Mr Trump announced a plan to target the abuse of opioids, which kill more than 140 Americans each day.

The president has previously promised to declare a national emergency, which would have triggered federal funding to help states combat the drug scourge.

The move instead redirects grant money to be used in dealing with the crisis.

Mr Trump said on Thursday at the White House: “More people are dying from drug overdoses today than from gun homicides and motor vehicles combined.

“These overdoses are driven by a massive increase in addiction to prescription painkillers, heroin and other opioids.”

He added: “The United States is by far the largest consumer of these drugs using more opioid pills per person than any other country by far in the world.”

Mr Trump is signing a presidential memorandum directing his acting health secretary to declare a nationwide public health emergency and ordering all federal agencies to take measures to reduce the number of opioid deaths, according to senior White House officials.

The order will also ease some regulations to allow states more latitude in how they use federal funds to tackle the problem.

But the White House plans to fund the effort through the Public Health Emergency Fund, which reportedly only contains $57,000 (£43,000).

The Trump administration will then work with Congress to approve additional funding in a year-end spending package, senior officials said.

Other elements of the directive include:

  • Allow patients further access to “telemedicine” so they can receive prescriptions without seeing a doctor
  • Make grants available to those who have had trouble finding work due to addiction
  • The Department of Health and Human Services will hire more people to address the crisis, particularly in rural areas
  • Allows states to shift federal funds from HIV treatments to opioids, since the two are linked as drug users often share infected needles

Proponents suggest Mr Trump’s announcement is a critical step in raising awareness about the nationwide epidemic, while some critics argue the move does not go far enough.

“The lack of resources is concerning to us since the opioid epidemic presenting lots of challenges for states’ budgets,” Michael Fraser, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told Politico.

“My hope is people will realise with no new money the ball is going to be in Congress’s court,” he added.


Taking the first step

Rajini Vaidyanathan, BBC News, Washington

Addiction to painkillers and heroin has blighted so many communities across the US – both urban and rural.

As I travelled the country reporting on last year’s election, I remember the hairdresser in Arkansas whose ex-husband died from medicines he’d been given for his bad back, the family in New Hampshire who’d lost a teenage daughter to an overdose and heard stories of doctors who’d become hooked on the very pills they’d prescribed.

President Trump has stopped short of declaring this crisis a national emergency, despite earlier indications he would.

Instead his public health emergency is more of a short-term measure which doesn’t allocate as much funding. Recovering addicts and charities I’ve talked to say more investment in round-the-clock rehab and treatment is what is needed to make a difference.

But while today’s announcement is welcome, many will now be looking to Congress to take more action and secure more money to deal with this crisis.


Since 1999, the number of deaths involving opioids have quadrupled, reaching 33,000 deaths in 2015, according to the Presidential Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, citing data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC first declared opioids, a class of pain medications as well as some street drugs, to be an “epidemic” in 2011.

Mr Trump first announced his intention to declare opioid abuse a “national emergency” in August.

“The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I’m saying officially right now: It is an emergency. It’s a national emergency,” he said at the time.

Experts had urged Mr Trump to use his presidential power under the Stafford Act to declare a national emergency, which would have given states access to money from the federal Disaster Relief Fund.

States would have had immediate access to funding, much like they would after a natural disaster.

But senior officials told reporters that declaring that sort of emergency was not a good fit for an ongoing crisis.

The announcement comes after Mr Trump’s pick for drug czar withdrew his nomination following a report that he helped neuter government attempts to tackle the opioid crisis.

Pennsylvania congressman Tom Marino pushed a bill that reportedly stripped a federal agency of the ability to freeze suspicious painkiller shipments.

Health Secretary Tom Price also resigned last month after it was revealed he was using expensive private planes for official business.

As a candidate, Mr Trump frequently pledged to tackle the drug crisis, and often campaigned in the hardest-hit states.


More on the US opioid crisis

Expert: Robert Mueller to drop the hammer on Donald Trump within weeks
 

mikenova shared this story from Palmer Report.

This week Donald Trump and the Republican Party have gone into all out panic mode, inventing one absurd phony scandal about Hillary Clinton and President Obama after another, in an attempt to distract from what they seem to think is coming. Now one respected national security expert says that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is mere weeks away from dropping the hammer on Trump and his co-conspirators.

Juliette Kayyem is a national security expert who regularly appears on cable news. This time around she appeared on Boston public radio (link) to discuss the Trump Russia scandal. Here’s what she had to say: “I think it is safe to say that before Thanksgiving … something’s going to drop with Mueller. The pace is too much right now. Every 12 hours we’re now dealing with a piece of this story at a pace we haven’t seen.”

Thanksgiving is just four weeks away from today, so she’s talking about Mueller being weeks away from the kind of breakthrough that will turn the Trump Russia scandal on its head and shatter the Trump administration. Some have misinterpreted her words to mean that the Mueller investigation will be finished by Thanksgiving. But that’s not remotely possible, because Mueller’s plan is to bring indictments against nearly everyone involved in order to pressure them to flip on Trump.

So what we’re talking about by Thanksgiving is the kind of indictment or indictments, or deals cut with Trump co-conspirators, that will bust the scandal open and leave Donald Trump in an impossible position. It’s why Trump and the Republicans in Congress are suddenly scrambling in such buffoonish fashion to try to distract from what they know is coming. They know Trump will be taken down by this; they’re just trying to prop him up long enough try to ram through some toxic legislation in the meantime.

 

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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report


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