11:58 AM 10/18/2017 – The Digital Footprints of the Russian Troll Factory

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The Digital Footprints of the Russian Troll Factory

Racial issues | Political issues | Religion and minorities issues | Other issues including anti-Police

The main topics covered by the groups run from Russia were race relations, Texan independence and gun rights. RBC counted 16 groups relating to the Black Lives Matter campaign and other race issues that had a total of 1.2 million subscribers. The biggest group was entitled Blacktivist and reportedly had more than 350,000 likes at its peak.

Расследование РБК: как «фабрика троллей» поработала на выборах в США :: Технологии и медиа :: РБК

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Между тем «американский отдел» продолжает работать, рассказали действующий и бывший сотрудники. Из здания на Савушкина, 55 по-прежнему управляются англоязычные сообщества с совокупной аудиторией около 1 млн человек, утверждает сотрудник организации. Собеседник, близкий к руководству «фабрики», настаивает: «Могли ли мы повлиять на исход выборов?.. Нет, конечно. Могли ли склонить сомневающиеся штаты на сторону Трампа?.. Возможно, но мы сами обалдели от результатов. Зачем нам все это?.. Чистой воды фан».

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Dzeihun Aslan – Google Search

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Story image for Dzeihun Aslan from Mother Jones

Russian Journalists Just Published a Bombshell Investigation About …

Mother Jones1 hour ago
Three former employees of the IRA told RBC that the head of the American Department is a 27-year-old Azerbaijani man named Dzeihun Aslan …

Russian Journalists Just Published a Bombshell Investigation About a Kremlin-Linked “Troll Factory” – Mother Jones

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The four-story building in St. Petersburg believed to house the Internet Research AgencyDmitry Lovetsky/AP

A notorious Russian internet “troll factory” spent about $2.3 million during the 2016 election cycle to meddle in US politics, paying the salaries of 90 “US desk” employees who helped wage disinformation campaigns via social media that reached millions of Americans. The operation also contacted US activists directly and offered them thousands of dollars to organize protests on divisive issues, including race relations.

These revelations and many more came out in an investigation published on Tuesday by the Russian newspaper RBC about the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a tech firm based in St. Petersburg, Russia, that has developed a specialty in spreading pro-Kremlin messages in the West.

The IRA has been written about before by a number of news outlets, and by RBC itself. But this latest piece from RBC—a respected business newspaper in Russia known for angering the Kremlin with its reporting on Putin’s associates—is the first to home in on the IRA’s operations during the 2016 US election.

RBC’s investigation reveals an unprecedented level of detail about the money and staffing that went into IRA’s US-influence operation. Here are some of the key data points:

  • By the middle of 2015, as the US election was ramping up, the IRA’s staffing had increased to between 800 and 900 people. The organization had also shored up its arsenal of media tools to include “videos, infographics, memes, reporting, news, analytical materials,” and more.
  • In spring 2015, a number of IRA staffers held an experiment to see if they could successfully organize a live event in the US from behind their computer screens in St. Petersburg. They did this by targeting New Yorkers on Facebook and attempting to lure them to a specific event where they would receive a free hot dog. There were no actual hot dogs, but enough people showed up at the specified location to make the agency deem the experiment a success. “From this day, almost a year and a half before the election of the US President,” writes RBC, “the ‘trolls’ began full-fledged work in American society.”
  • Within the next year, the staff of the IRA’s “American Department” grew threefold, increasing to between 80 and 90 people—about one-tenth of the entire agency.
  • Three former employees of the IRA told RBC that the head of the American Department is a 27-year-old Azerbaijani man named Dzeihun Aslan, a point also corroborated by an internal Telegram chat obtained by RBC. (Aslan denied any such involvement in conversation with RBC.)
  • By RBC’s calculations, the American Department spent about $1 million annually on salaries. The lowest-level employees were paid about 55,000 rubles ($960) per month, but also received bonuses based on “the reactions of participants in communities” they were targeting.
  • RBC identified 118 Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts linked to the IRA’s meddling in US politics.
  • In September 2016, at the height of the US election season, the American Department posted more than 1,000 pieces of content per week, reaching between 20 and 30 million people that month.
  • A source close to the leaders of the IRA told RBC that most of the agency’s American content had less to do with supporting a specific candidate than with promoting volatile social issues that happened to dovetail with Trump’s rhetoric. “There was no directive to ‘support Trump,’” one source told RBC. “Direct connections were drawn between societal problems and the actions of the ruling party at that time [the Democrats]. Hillary [Clinton] is the party’s representative, which means she’s also to blame.”
  • RBC analyzed hundreds of IRA posts and found that Clinton was mentioned in the posts much more often than Trump.
  • The total budget for promoting political ads to American audiences came to about $5,000 a month, or about $120,000 from June 2015 to May 2017. About half of that was spent on content aimed at sowing racial divisions.
  • The IRA spent about $80,000 to support 100 US activists who organized 40 different protests across the United States.
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Russian Journalists Just Published a Bombshell Investigation About a Kremlin-Linked “Troll Factory” – Mother Jones – The World-Wide Times

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They uncovered incredible details about a secretive firm’s meddling in the 2016 election.

Source: Russian Journalists Just Published a Bombshell Investigation About a Kremlin-Linked “Troll Factory” – Mother Jones

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10:48 AM 10/18/2017 – Russian Journalists Just Published a Bombshell Investigation About a Kremlin-Linked Troll Factory – Mother Jones – Trump Investigations Report

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mikenova shared this story from Elections 2016 Investigation – Google News.


Mother Jones
Russian Journalists Just Published a Bombshell Investigation About a Kremlin-Linked Troll Factory
Mother Jones
A notorious Russian internet troll factory spent about $2.3 million during the 2016 election cycle to meddle in US politics, paying the salaries of 90 US desk employees who helped wage disinformation campaigns via social media that reached millions 
Newest Wrinkle In Russia Election Meddling: Troll Farm Reportedly Sent Employees To USBuzzFeed News
‘Our task was to set Americans against their own government’: New details emerge about Russia’s trolling operationBusiness Insider UK
Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during electionThe Guardianall 27 news articles »

1:27 PM 10/17/2017 – Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during election The Guardian – Link | 1:07 PM 10/17/2017 – Как работает “американский отдел” троллей – Link 

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Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during election The Guardian Tue, 17 Oct 2017 18:21:48 +0200 Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during election The Guardian Trump from Huffington Post Trump – from Huffington Post from mikenova (2 sites) Donald Trump: Trump Invokes John Kelly’s Late Son … Continue reading “1:27 PM 10/17/2017 – Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during election The Guardian – Link | 1:07 PM 10/17/2017 – Как работает “американский отдел” троллей – Link”
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Russian Journalists Just Published a Bombshell Investigation About a Kremlin-Linked Troll Factory – Mother Jones
9:41 AM 10/18/2017: In Italian Schools, Reading, Writing and Recognizing Fake News NYT
In Italian Schools, Reading, Writing and Recognizing Fake News
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1:27 PM 10/17/2017 – Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during election The Guardian – Link | 1:07 PM 10/17/2017 – Как работает “американский отдел” троллей – Link 

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Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during election The Guardian Tue, 17 Oct 2017 18:21:48 +0200 Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during election The Guardian Trump from Huffington Post Trump – from Huffington Post from mikenova (2 sites) Donald Trump: Trump Invokes John Kelly’s Late Son … Continue reading “1:27 PM 10/17/2017 – Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during election The Guardian – Link | 1:07 PM 10/17/2017 – Как работает “американский отдел” троллей – Link”
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Russian Journalists Just Published a Bombshell Investigation About a Kremlin-Linked “Troll Factory” – Mother Jones

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Mother Jones
Russian Journalists Just Published a Bombshell Investigation About a Kremlin-Linked “Troll Factory”
Mother Jones
A notorious Russian internet “troll factory” spent about $2.3 million during the 2016 election cycle to meddle in US politics, paying the salaries of 90 “US desk” employees who helped wage disinformation campaigns via social media that reached millions 
Newest Wrinkle In Russia Election Meddling: Troll Farm Reportedly Sent Employees To USBuzzFeed News
‘Our task was to set Americans against their own government’: New details emerge about Russia’s trolling operationBusiness Insider UK
Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during electionThe Guardianall 27 news articles »

9:41 AM 10/18/2017: In Italian Schools, Reading, Writing and Recognizing Fake News – NYT 

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In Italian Schools, Reading, Writing and Recognizing Fake News Wednesday October 18th, 2017 at 9:42 AM 1 Share Italy, of course, is not alone in trying to find a way to grapple with the global proliferation of propaganda that has sown public confusion and undermined the credibility of powerful institutions. Pope Francis recently announced that he would … Continue reading “9:41 AM 10/18/2017: In Italian Schools, Reading, Writing and Recognizing Fake News – NYT”

In Italian Schools, Reading, Writing and Recognizing Fake News

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Italy, of course, is not alone in trying to find a way to grapple with the global proliferation of propaganda that has sown public confusion and undermined the credibility of powerful institutions.

Pope Francis recently announced that he would dedicate his 2018 World Communications Day address to the topic of fake news, and the United States Congress is investigating how Russian agents manipulated Facebook and Twitter to spread false stories and stoke conspiracy theories to sway the 2016 presidential election.

But ahead of crucial Italian elections early next year, the country has become an especially fertile ground for digital deceit. Frustrated by economic woes, upset by a migrant crisis and fed a steady diet of partisan media, many Italians subscribe to all kinds of conspiracy theories. It is what they call dietrologia, the belief that there is also always something dietro, or behind, the surface.

The Italian passion for seeing intrigue — whether or not it exists — around every corner runs deep, said Alessandro Campi, a professor of political science at Perugia University. “All of this is part of the Italian cultural heritage,” he said.

A history of scheming Borgia cardinals, waves of foreign domination, papal crackdowns and corrupt governments had imbued Italians with an abiding distrust in authority, Mr. Campi said.

In recent years, this background has helped erode the standing of traditional political parties while being expertly exploited by political upstarts, insurgents and outsiders, none more so than the surging Five Star Movement and its founder, Beppe Grillo.

“I’d say that the Five Star Movement believes more than any other political party in conspiracy theories,” said Mr. Campi, an editor of “Conspiracies and Plots — From Machiavelli to Beppe Grillo.”

“It’s not only a tactic,” Mr. Campi said of the movement, which has succeeded in attracting votes from the left and the right with an ideologically ambiguous form of populism. “It’s their political worldview.”

Nicola Biondo, a former chief of communications for the Five Star Movement, said that for the party, spreading conspiracies was akin to a policy.

“They use the term Great Powers, never specifying who those powers are,” said Mr. Biondo, who has recently written a book, “Supernova: How Five Star Was Killed,” with another party defector. “It is a mantra.”

Ms. Boldrini, sponsor of the new student curriculum, asserts that the web cannot be forfeited to the fringes, and that the government must teach the next generation of Italian voters how to defend themselves against falsehoods and conspiracy theories designed to play on their fears.

She said she had included Google and Facebook in the project in an acknowledgment that virtual space is where many young Italians live.

Nevertheless, she expressed skepticism in particular about Facebook’s commitment to reining in fake news and hate speech, and recognized the possibility that the Italian school project provided the embattled giant with a much-needed public relations boon.

Facebook was quick to applaud the program. Laura Bononcini, chief of public policy for Facebook in Italy, Greece and Malta, said on Tuesday that “the program is part of an international effort. Education and media literacy are a crucial part of our effort to curb the spread of false news, and collaboration with schools is pivotal.”

Ms. Boldrini also noted that Facebook was contributing by promoting the initiative through targeted ads to high-school-age users, and she said she hoped that the program, which aimed to show students how their “likes” were monetized and politicized, could become a “pilot program” for Facebook throughout Europe.

But some of the Italian course load seems unrealistic. While some tips are useful, such as keeping an eye out for parody URLs, students are also called upon to reach out to experts to verify news stories, essentially asking the students to re-report articles.

The program seeks to deputize students as fake-news hunters, showing them how to create their own blogs or social accounts to expose false stories and “showing how you uncovered it.”

In Italy, that gives them a lot of ground to cover.

For months here, conspiracy theorists who reject scientific consensus have connected vaccinations to medical conditions including autism in children, often blaming pharmaceutical companies as a dark force behind the medical practice. It was an issue that struck a nerve in Italy and played right into the wheelhouse of the Five Star Movement’s distrust of expertise and authority.

In May, amid a measles outbreak, Italy strengthened its vaccination requirements for school-age children, prompting so-called No-Vax activists to protest outside the Italian Parliament for the right to choose.

The vaccination opponents were especially strong in the Five Star Movement, whose leader, Mr. Grillo, once attacked vaccines as a scam by pharmaceutical companies with the intention of “weakening children’s immune systems.”

His wildly popular blog has alleged that some vaccines “can kill,” and websites, such as La Fucina, run by another party leader, Davide Casaleggio, have published anti-vaccine reports.

(In the past, other sites associated with Mr. Casaleggio or Mr. Grillo have also carried sensational reports by Russian-backed news outlets that were deemed false and damaging to the movement’s political enemies.)

“It’s what the pharmaceutical companies do, and it’s questionable,” said Paola Barile, 65, as she stood with a Five Star Movement flag wrapped around her shoulders at a protest last week in front of Parliament. “The spell has been broken for us also on vaccines.”

At the same rally, Five Star activists screamed “shame” and railed against the political parties, right and left, for joining forces to draft a new electoral law they considered (maybe correctly this time) designed to keep the movement out of power.

But the Five Star Movement is not the only political force to have profited from fake news, and students are not the only ones who can be deceived by it.

Last weekend, Gian Marco Centinaio, a senator from the Northern League, a right-leaning party, acknowledged that he had put on Facebook a post, subsequently shared 18,000 times, of a picture of a man identified as Ms. Boldrini’s brother, and complained how the news programs “don’t cover” the man’s no-show job that paid 47,000 euros, or more than $55,000, a month. The man in the image was not her brother and none of the allegations were true.

Mr. Centinaio called the post a joke and said, “People should be less credulous.”

A healthy dose of skepticism is exactly what the new Italian program hopes students will adopt.

“If people are prepared, educated on digital,” Ms. Boldrini said, “maybe they don’t fall for it.”

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1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): 2016 elections anxiety – Google News: In Italian Schools, Reading, Writing and Recognizing Fake News – New York Times

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In Italian Schools, Reading, Writing and Recognizing Fake News
New York Times
“Fake news drips drops of poison into our daily web diet and we end up infected without even realizing it,” said Laura Boldrini, the president of the Italian lower house of Parliament, who has spearheaded the project with the Italian Ministry of 

 2016 elections anxiety – Google News

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Russia tables turn, roping Clinton, Obama, Holder, not Trump
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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, center, accompanied by long time aide Cheryl Mills, right, arrives at Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. FBI Director James Comey tells Congress in a Nov. 6 letter 
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1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): trump criminal investigation – Google News: Top Republicans are starting to question when the Russia investigation will finally end – Business Insider

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Top Republicans are starting to question when the Russia investigation will finally end
Business Insider
… do criminal investigations and difficulty in getting some witnesses to appear, the panels could leave some of the more controversial assessments to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is also investigating the meddling and the question of whether 

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6:40 AM 10/18/2017 – Trump Investigations: Facebook and Google Helped Anti-Refugee Campaign in Swing States – Bloomberg 

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Donald Trumps own people are now finishing him off We’ve never seen anything like this Saved Stories – Trump Investigations Saved Stories – Trump Investigations Trump Declares War On Halloween With Another Weird Christmas Rant 1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): trump criminal investigation – Google News: Democratic senators to press Sessions on talks with … Continue reading “6:40 AM 10/18/2017 – Trump Investigations: Facebook and Google Helped Anti-Refugee Campaign in Swing States – Bloomberg”

1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): Donald Trump: Mnuchin: US stocks to face ‘significant’ fall without tax reforms

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 Donald Trump

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elections 2016 russian ads on social media – Google News: Ending fake news means changing how Wall Street values Facebook and Twitter – Quartz

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Ending fake news means changing how Wall Street values Facebook and Twitter
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Security researchers agree that coordinated social media attacks, with Russian backing, have targeted the French and US presidential elections over the last year, while domestic hate groups in the US and Europe are harassing journalists, activists, and 
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1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): Donald Trump | The Guardian: Iran’s supreme leader dismisses Trump’s ‘rants and whoppers’ 

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Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responds to US president decertifying nuclear deal saying Tehran will not violate agreement first

Iran’s supreme leader has said his country will not take heed of “rants and whoppers of a foul-throated US president”, in a speech that also made clear that Tehran will not be the first to violate the nuclear deal.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in his first reaction since Donald Trump decertified the Iran deal, said on Wednesday that “we will not tear up the nuclear deal so long as the other side has not torn it up, but if they do, we will cut it in pieces”.

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 Donald Trump | The Guardian

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7:34 AM 10/18/2017 – Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks: Trump and Russia: Sex, Spies and Scandal – The Guardian

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A timeline of the 3 Trump-Russia scandals – YouTube Wednesday October 18th, 2017 at 7:48 AM 1 Share  Trump and Russia: Sex, Spies and Scandal – YT Search Wednesday’s best TV – Army: Behind the New Frontlines; Trump and Russia: Sex, Spies and Scandal – The Guardian Wednesday October 18th, 2017 at 7:22 AM Trump And Russia – Google … Continue reading “7:34 AM 10/18/2017 – Mike Nova’s Shared NewsLinks: Trump and Russia: Sex, Spies and Scandal – The Guardian”

8:10 AM 10/18/2017 – Video: GOP CALLS GROW TO END TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATIONS IN CONGRESS THIS YEAR

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BREAKING NEWS 10/18/17 GOP CALLS GROW TO END TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATIONS IN CONGRESS THIS YEAR 129 views YouTube Searches: Trump | Trump News | Trump Investigations YouTube Playlists: Trump | News | Politics and History | Russia News’s YouTube Videos Trump’s YouTube Videos: Former CIA station chief warns of ‘authoritarian internet’ From: Trump Duration: 03:12 Daniel Hoffman speaks out about his … Continue reading “8:10 AM 10/18/2017 – Video: GOP CALLS GROW TO END TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATIONS IN CONGRESS THIS YEAR”
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ALERT: Top Anti-Trump Republican Under Investigation

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BREAKING NEWS 10/18/17 GOP CALLS GROW TO END TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATIONS IN CONGRESS THIS YEAR – YouTube

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Wednesday’s best TV – Army: Behind the New Frontlines; Trump and Russia: Sex, Spies and Scandal – The Guardian

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Wednesday’s best TV – Army: Behind the New Frontlines; Trump and Russia: Sex, Spies and Scandal
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… wonder whether special counsel Robert Mueller will get the goods on Trump before the latter’s trigger finger gets unbearably itchy. Matt Frei’s documentary offers a progress report on the investigation into Trump’s Russian dealings. It could be a 

LGBT-pro nonprofit accuses former FBI agent of stealing more tha – Hawaii News Now

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -A former high-ranking FBI official in Honolulu is under fire after a local nonprofit accused him of stealing more than $33,000.

In a police statement filed last month, the nonprofit Hawaii LGBT Legacy Foundation said that between November 2016 and August 2017, 56-year-old Robert Kauffman wrote improper checks and made several unauthorized withdrawals from the foundation’s bank account.

Kauffman is a former assistant special agent-in-charge of the FBI’s Honolulu field office, and served with the bureau for more than 20 years where he investigated organized crime and espionage cases. He also served as the foundation’s treasurer.

“Several of these checks and bank account withdrawals were in excess of $3,000, which requires the approval of two board members,” attorney and foundation director David Brustein wrote.

“Robert did not have signatures or board approval,” Brustein added.

But Kauffman’s attorney, Myles Breiner, said his client is “innocent of any embezzlement,” and was safeguarding the money from being misspent.

He said Kauffman returned the money with a cashier’s check even before the foundation went to the police.

“Mr. Kauffman is innocent of any embezzlement. We believe that there was a disagreement over the handling of funds by the Legacy Foundation,” said Breiner.

“(He) was concerned about some of the decision being made about the costs and financing of various projects the foundation was endorsing.”

Kauffman is currently chief investigator for the state Judiciary’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which oversees attorney conduct.

He’s also listed as the CEO of The Wellness Group LLC, which unsuccessfully applied for a medical marijuana dispensary license. Among the Wellness Groups’ investors included foundation board members Brustein and Dr. David McEwan.

Brustein said Kauffman’s role at the two organizations are unrelated.

The Hawaii LGBT Legacy Foundation is a tax-exempt organization that supports causes for the gay, lesbian and transgendered people and is a big organizer of the Honolulu Pride festival happened throughout October.

The $33,000 is nearly half of the foundation’s annual revenues. Legal experts said allegations of theft or mismanagement can be financially exhausting for a nonprofit.

“It is more damaging, not only to the organization but the people who the organization was set up to assist,” said Hawaii Pacific University assistant professor Randal Lee, a retired Circuit Judge who has investigated hundreds of white-collar crime cases as a Honolulu deputy prosecutor.

Honolulu police are investigating and have turned over the case to its white-collar division. Kauffman plans to fight the allegations.

Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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Data Firm Says ‘Secret Sauce’ Aided Trump; Many Scoff

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But a dozen Republican consultants and former Trump campaign aides, along with current and former Cambridge employees, say the company’s ability to exploit personality profiles — “our secret sauce,” Mr. Nix once called it — is exaggerated.

Cambridge executives now concede that the company never used psychographics in the Trump campaign. The technology — prominently featured in the firm’s sales materials and in media reportsthat cast Cambridge as a master of the dark campaign arts — remains unproved, according to former employees and Republicans familiar with the firm’s work.

“They’ve got a lot of really smart people,” said Brent Seaborn, managing partner of TargetPoint, a rival business that also provided voter data to the Trump campaign. “But it’s not as easy as it looks to transition from being excellent at one thing and bringing it into politics. I think there’s a big question about whether we think psychographic profiling even works.”

At stake are not merely bragging rights, but also an emerging science that many believe could reshape American politics and commerce. Big data companies already know your age, income, favorite cereal and when you last voted. But the company that can perfect psychological targeting could offer far more potent tools: the ability to manipulate behavior by understanding how someone thinks and what he or she fears.

A voter deemed neurotic might be shown a gun-rights commercial featuring burglars breaking into a home, rather than a defense of the Second Amendment; political ads warning of the dangers posed by the Islamic State could be targeted directly at voters prone to anxiety, rather than wasted on those identified as optimistic.

“You can do things that you would not have dreamt of before,” said Alexander Polonsky, chief data scientist at Bloom, a consulting firm that offers “emotion analysis” of social networks and has worked with the center-right Republican Party in France.

“It goes beyond sharing information,” he added. “It’s sharing the thinking and the feeling behind this information, and that’s extremely powerful.”

Both conservatives and liberals are eager to harness that power. In Washington, some Democratic operatives are scrambling to develop personality-profiling capabilities of their own. But even as Cambridge seeks to expand its business among conservative groups, questions about its performance have soured many Republicans in Mr. Trump’s orbit.

Cambridge is no longer in contention to work for Mr. Trump at the Republican National Committee, a company spokesman confirmed, nor is it working for America First Policies, a new nonprofit formed to help advance the president’s agenda.

In recent months, the value of Cambridge’s technology has been debated by technology experts and in some media accounts. But Cambridge officials, in recent interviews, defended the company’s record during the 2016 election, saying its data analysis helped Mr. Trump energize critical support in the Rust Belt. Mr. Nix said the firm had conducted tens of thousands of polls for Mr. Trump, helping guide his message and identify issues that mattered to voters.

But when asked to name a single race where the firm’s flagship product had been critical to victory, Mr. Nix declined.

“We bake a cake, it’s got 10 ingredients in it. Psychographics is one of them,” he said. “It’s very difficult to isolate exactly what the impact of that ingredient is.”

Drawn to America

Cambridge’s parent company, the London-based Strategic Communication Laboratories Group, has a long record of trying to understand and influence behavior. Founded in 1993 by a former British adman, the firm has worked for companies and candidates around the world, as well as for government and military clients. SCL has studied Pakistani jihadists for the British government and provided intelligence assessments for American defense contractors in Iran, Libya and Syria, according to company documents obtained by The New York Times.

“Their approach was seen as serious and focused,” said Mark Laity, chief of strategic communications at NATO’s military headquarters in Europe, who has taken part in NATO-affiliated conferences where SCL has made presentations.

In recent years, the company has moved to exploit the revolution in big data to predict human behavior more precisely, working with scientists from the Cambridge University Psychometrics Center. The United States represented a critical new market. Europe has strict privacy protections that limit the use of personal information, but America is more lightly regulated, allowing the sale of huge troves of consumer data to any company or candidate who can afford them.

In 2013, Cambridge Analytica was created as SCL’s American operation, and the two companies today share many of their roughly 200 employees, several top executives, and offices in New York and Washington.

To develop its profiling system, Cambridge conducts detailed psychological surveys — by phone and online — of tens of thousands of people, differentiating them by five traits, a model widely used by behavioral researchers.

Uniquely, the company claims to be able to extrapolate those findings to millions of other people it has not surveyed, assigning them one of 32 distinct personality types. Cambridge then blends those profiles with commercial data and voting histories, revealing “hidden voter trends and behavioral triggers,” according to a 2016 company brochure.

Those profiles, in turn, would allow campaigns to customize advertising, direct-mail slogans and door-knocking scripts, each calibrated to prod the targeted voter toward — or away from — a candidate.

The promise of psychometrics appealed to Mr. Mercer, a computer scientist who made a fortune helping to lead Renaissance Technologies, a Long Island-based hedge fund. Mr. Mercer and his daughter Rebekah presided over a growing political empire that included millions of dollars in contributions to conservative groups and a stake in Breitbart, whose nationalist and racially antagonistic content prefigured Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

Mr. Mercer became Cambridge’s principal investor, according to two former employees. (Like several others interviewed for this article, they spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing nondisclosure agreements and the threat of lawsuits.) Mr. Bannon, the family’s political guru, also advised the company and served as vice president of its board, according to Delaware public records.

Mr. Mercer has never spoken publicly about his policy views in depth, but his giving is eclectic: He has financed anti-Clinton documentaries, right-wing media watchdogs, libertarian think tanks and both Senator Ted Cruz, a religious conservative, and Mr. Trump, a thrice-married nationalist.

“The genius here is Bob, and the billionaire in this is Bob, and the person with the extreme views of how the world should be is Bob,” said David Magerman, a Renaissance research scientist who was recently suspended after criticizing his boss’s support for Mr. Trump.

In the run-up to the 2014 elections, Breitbart, under Mr. Bannon, set up a London office and made common cause with populist conservatives in Europe. But back in the United States, Cambridge was at first slow to land big accounts. It was rebuffed by the political network overseen by the billionaire conservative brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch, to which the Mercers were major donors. Federal Election Commission records show that the firm had nine clients in House and Senate races that year, among them three “super PACs” partly financed by Mr. Mercer.

As the 2016 presidential campaign began, however, Cambridge landed a marquee political client: Mr. Cruz, the Texas senator. Mr. Mercer seeded a super PAC with $11 million to support him.

Cambridge had a talented salesman in Mr. Nix, an Eton-educated SCL director chosen to lead the American effort. Among colleagues, his skills at cajoling clients are legendary. At an office party at a London dog track in the summer of 2015, one young employee offered an affectionate toast.

“He is so smooth he’ll rub shoulders with politicians and their campaigns,” the employee joked, according to a video of the event posted on YouTube, “and, in their face, tell them he’s going to rip them off.”

‘Not About Tricking People’

But Cambridge’s psychographic models proved unreliable in the Cruz presidential campaign, according to Rick Tyler, a former Cruz aide, and another consultant involved in the campaign. In one early test, more than half the Oklahoma voters whom Cambridge had identified as Cruz supporters actually favored other candidates. The campaign stopped using Cambridge’s data entirely after the South Carolina primary.

“When they were hired, from the outset it didn’t strike me that they had a wide breadth of experience in the American political landscape,” Mr. Tyler said.

Ms. Mercer and Mr. Bannon were aggressive advocates for Cambridge. When the campaign disputed a $2.5 million invoice, they lit into Mr. Cruz’s senior campaign team during a conference call, according to the consultant. Cambridge Analytica, Ms. Mercer and Mr. Bannon claimed, was the only thing keeping Mr. Cruz afloat. (The company declined to comment on the exchange, as did a personal spokeswoman for Mr. Bannon and the Mercers.)

After the Cruz campaign flamed out, Mr. Nix persuaded Mr. Trump’s digital director, Brad Parscale, to try out the firm. Its data products were considered for Mr. Trump’s critical get-out-the-vote operation. But tests showed Cambridge’s data and models were slightly less effective than the existing Republican National Committee system, according to three former Trump campaign aides.

Mr. Bannon at one point agreed to expand the company’s role, according to the aides, authorizing Cambridge to oversee a $5 million purchase of television ads. But after some of them appeared on cable channels in Washington, D.C. — hardly an election battleground — Cambridge’s involvement in television targeting ended.

In postelection conversations with potential clients, Cambridge has promoted itself as the brains behind Mr. Trump’s upset victory. One brochure circulated to clients this year, which details Cambridge’s expertise in behavioral targeting, also calls the company’s “pivotal role” in electing Mr. Trump its “biggest success politically in the United States.”

Trump aides, though, said Cambridge had played a relatively modest role, providing personnel who worked alongside other analytics vendors on some early digital advertising and using conventional microtargeting techniques. Later in the campaign, Cambridge also helped set up Mr. Trump’s polling operation and build turnout models used to guide the candidate’s spending and travel schedule. None of those efforts involved psychographics.

In some recent public settings, Cambridge executives have acknowledged that. “I don’t want to break your heart; we actually didn’t do any psychographics with the Trump campaign,” Matt Oczkowski, Cambridge’s head of product, said at a postelection panel hosted by Google in December.

The firm’s claims about its client base have also shifted. As recently as October, the firm said it had 50 clients in the 2016 elections. But a company spokesman said federal elections records showing just a dozen were correct.

The spokesman also said neither Cambridge nor SCL had done any work, paid or unpaid, with the pro-“Brexit” Leave.eu campaign last year, although Mr. Nix once claimed that Cambridge had helped “supercharge” Leave.eu’s social media campaign. British authorities are now investigating the company’s exact role with Leave.eu and whether Cambridge’s techniques violated British and European privacy laws.

At a conference in Munich last month, Alexander Tayler, Cambridge’s chief data officer, dodged a question about whether Cambridge would work with far-right parties in European elections this year. He also played down the role of psychological profiling in the company’s work, much of which, Mr. Tayler suggested, is still based on traditional data analytics and marketing.

“It’s not about being sinister,” Mr. Tayler said. “It’s not about tricking people into voting for a candidate who they wouldn’t otherwise support. It’s just about making marketing more efficient.”

Looking to Expand

Even before the election, according to one former employee, Cambridge employees attended sessions about soliciting government business in the United States — where Mr. Trump now oversees the federal bureaucracy and Mr. Bannon is arguably the White House’s most powerful staff member. According to documents obtained by The Times, SCL is pursuing work for at least a dozen federal agencies, including the Commerce Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Mr. Bannon’s spokeswoman said he stepped down from the Cambridge board in August, when he joined the Trump campaign, and “has no financial involvement” with the firm currently. She declined to say whether Mr. Bannon previously held equity in the firm.

Late last month, SCL executives met with Pentagon officials who advise the Joint Chiefs of Staff on information warfare. A reference document submitted in advance of that meeting indicates that the company has worked as a subcontractor on roughly a dozen Pentagon projects, many of them “counter-radicalization” assessments in Pakistan and Yemen.

Such intelligence work is the bread and butter of SCL’s government contracting in other countries. And the firm’s experience in trying to influence Muslim sentiment abroad dovetails with Mr. Trump and Mr. Bannon’s focus on combating the Islamic State.

The Washington Post reported last month that SCL had secured a contract for a similar program at the State Department and was seeking military and Homeland Security work.

In an email, a Joint Chiefs spokesman confirmed that the Pentagon meeting, first reported by BuzzFeed, had occurred, but said he could not elaborate on the discussions “in order to avoid any undue influence or unintended consequences.”

The New York Times would like to hear from readers who want to share messages and materials with our journalists.

At the moment, according to former employees, Cambridge has relatively few well-known corporate clients in the United States. Among them are ECI New York, a clothing company, and Goldline, which sells gold coins and markets heavily to listeners of conservative talk radio.

A spokesman for MasterCard declined to say if it would do business with Cambridge. The Yankees did not sign on.

But Mr. Nix appears to have bigger ambitions. “I think were are on the cusp of something enormous,” he said.

Data science is about to reshape marketing, Mr. Nix maintained, and the big advertising conglomerates would survive only by developing their own targeting technology — or acquiring companies like Cambridge.

“Those agencies that don’t adapt will die,” Mr. Nix said.

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Minnesota researchers create mass shooting database – News – Crookston Times – Crookston, MN

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manipulation of voters psychology – Google Search

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Cambridge Analytica, the shady data firm that might be a key Trump …

Vox7 hours ago
Cambridge Analytica specializes in what’s called “psychographic” profiling, meaning they use data collected online to create personality …

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An intern at the Trump campaign data firm, Cambridge Analytica …

Business InsiderOct 14, 2017
An intern at the Trump campaign data firm, Cambridge Analytica, appears to have left sensitive voter targeting tools online for nearly a year.

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Russia Probe Now Investigating Cambridge Analytica, Trump’s …

Daily BeastOct 11, 2017
They were once Steve Bannon’s favorite analytics shop. Now investigators want to know if the Kremlin had a thing for Cambridge Analytica, too.

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Potential Lawsuit Could Reveal How Trump Targeted Voters on …

Slate Magazine (blog)Oct 6, 2017
And Trump’s campaign was masterful at it, in large part thanks to Cambridge Analytica, the data-targeting team that worked to make sure Trump …
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Trump addresses strategy on Iran nuclear deal (full speech)

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From: Trump
Duration: 18:34

President Trump unveils the United States’ new strategy on the Iran nuclear deal.

Tillerson responds to Corker’s ‘castration’ remark 

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Duration: 01:05

After Sen. Bob Corker criticized President Donald Trump for his “castration” of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the secretary responded by saying he is “fully intact.”

12:36 PM 10/16/2017 – Surveillance Reform: The Fourth Amendments Long, Slow, Goodbye 

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Trump Investigations Report | Latest Posts Trump Investigations Report from mikenova (18 sites) FBI News Review: 12:12 PM 10/16/2017 FBI: Oh, by the way, we just found 30 pages of information about the Clinton/Lynch tarmac meeting Canada Free Press (blog) FBI: Oh, by the way, we just found 30 pages of information about the Clinton/Lynch tarmac meeting Canada Free … Continue reading “12:36 PM 10/16/2017 – Surveillance Reform: The Fourth Amendments Long, Slow, Goodbye”
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Donald Trump and WikiLeaks aren’t even trying to hide their collusion anymore 

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Investigators are still piecing together how the Donald Trump campaign and international cyberterrorist group WikiLeaks were communicating and coordinating their efforts during the course of the 2016 election. Although Trump’s longtime friend Roger Stone bragged that he was using backchannels to coordinate with WikiLeaks, the rest of the effort was a secret one. However, at this point, Trump and WikiLeaks are no longer even trying to hide it.

Last night Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks and a wanted fugitive who’s spent years hiding out in a basement closet, had an unhinged meltdown about Hillary Clinton. Assange posted a series of deranged tweets about Clinton’s “menacing glares” and far worse. It raised the question of whether perhaps Assange should be taken to a mental institution instead of a prison once he’s eventually apprehended. It was also one more reminder that WikiLeaks, the Russian government, and the Donald Trump campaign treasonously conspired to rig the election in in favor of Trump and against Clinton.

So how did Donald Trump handle Assange’s meltdown about Clinton? By joining in. Trump hadn’t tweeted about her in quite some time. Yet this morning he couldn’t wait to tweet “I was recently asked if Crooked Hillary Clinton is going to run in 2020? My answer was, ‘I hope so!’” It’s not a coincidence that Assange and Trump suddenly have the same message: they’re colluding as we speak to create a media distraction. They must know that a bombshell story is about to surface which helps expose their election rigging scheme, and they’re trying to force that bombshell to share some headline space with the Hillary controversy they’re manufacturing.

During the course of the 2016 election, Russian government hackers stole personal information from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party. It then gave that information to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, which often altered that information to appear scandalous. WikiLeaks coordinated with the Donald Trump campaign to release that (dis)information at the most opportune time for Trump. Everyone knows this. All that’s left is to prove it, so everyone involved can face charges.

The post Donald Trump and WikiLeaks aren’t even trying to hide their collusion anymore appeared first on Palmer Report.

12:28 PM 10/16/2017 – Timeline of Trump and Obstruction of Justice: Key Dates and Events 

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Trump Investigations Report | Latest Posts Trump Investigations Report from mikenova (18 sites) FBI News Review: 12:12 PM 10/16/2017 FBI: Oh, by the way, we just found 30 pages of information about the Clinton/Lynch tarmac meeting Canada Free Press (blog) FBI: Oh, by the way, we just found 30 pages of information about the Clinton/Lynch tarmac meeting Canada Free … Continue reading “12:28 PM 10/16/2017 – Timeline of Trump and Obstruction of Justice: Key Dates and Events”

Today’s Headlines and Commentary 

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Iraqi forces seized key positions in the disputed city of Kirkuk, pushing out Kurdish forces, Reuters reported. The U.S.-trained counterterrorism force took up positions outside the provincial government headquarters on Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after Iraqi forces moved in to the city area. Kurdish fighters largely withdrew peacefully, the New York Times reported. One faction within the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) agreed to not contest the city’s seizure while fighters aligned with the KRG’s president continued to fight. The U.S. embassy called for an end to the fighting.

The Supreme Court will hear a case on government access to email data stored overseas, the Washington Post reported. The justices agreed to consider the Justice Department’s appeal in U.S. v. Microsoft. The case asks whether the Justice Department could use a warrant to access emails that Microsoft stored on a server in Ireland.

Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier who endured five years of Taliban captivity, plead guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, according to the Times. Army prosecutors argued that Bergdahl’s sudden departure from his base in Afghanistan endangered the troops that then searched for him.

A grand jury found Ahmad Khan Rahimi guilty of carrying out a plot to set off explosives in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood and New Jersey last year, the Times reported. In the case, the FBI presented evidence that Rahimi set up nine different bombs in and around New York City, only two of which exploded.

The death toll from a pair of truck bombings in Mogadishu, Somalia rose past 300 on Monday, the Post reported. The bombings nearly totally destroyed a city block. Somalia’s government blamed the attacks on al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda linked extremist group. Al Shabab has not yet issued any statement, according to the Times. Counterterrorism experts suggested that the militant organization may have received help from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has expertise in bomb-making.

European foreign ministers condemned President Trump’s decision to decertify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, the Wall Street Journal reported. At a European Union meeting in Luxembourg, they pledged to honor the agreement and urged U.S. lawmakers not to reimpose sanctions that would effectively terminate the deal. Also at the meeting, the EU adopted new sanctions to put a blanket ban on business with North Korea and to totally ban oil exports to Pyongyang, Reuters reported.

Spain’s prime minister demanded that Catalonia’s leader cease his move to declare independence by Thursday, the Journal reported. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Catalan President Carlos Puigdemont had not clarified whether he had declared independence from Spain in an address last week. Rajoy threatened to invoke a provision of the Spanish constitution that would strip away some of Catalonia’s autonomy if Puigdemont does not withdraw his bid for independence by Thursday.

Philippine forces killed a terrorist on the FBI’s most wanted terrorists list in an operation to retake the city of Marawi from militant control, the Journal reported. The Philippine military said it found the body of Isnilon Hapilon, a Justice Department-wanted terrorist who was involved in several kidnappings in the early 2000s, in a city block captured by advancing military units.

Israeli warplanes attacked a Syrian missile launcher site after being fired on while patrolling in Lebanese airspace, the Guardian reported. The Israeli military said the battery fired a surface-to-air missile at Israeli jets flying close to the Syrian border.

Researchers discovered a flaw in the WPA2 security protocol, making Wi-Fi vulnerable to hacking, Reuters reported. The Department of Homeland Security issued a security warning after researchers at KU Leuven in Belgium found a bug in WPA2 that could allow hackers to read transmitted information or infect devices with malware.

British intelligence blamed Iran for a hack that targeted 9,000 email accounts associated with the British parliament this summer, the Guardian reported. The attackers used a “brute-force” technique to try to gain access to members of parliament’s emails, including the accounts of Prime Minister Theresa May and other cabinet members.

Hillary Clinton called Julian Assange a “tool of Russian intelligence,” Politico reported. Clinton spoke out against Assange’s Wikileaks organization, which played a key role in spreading leaked information about her 2016 campaign, in an interview on Monday.

NATO began its annual nuclear exercises in Germany, demonstrating its nuclear deterrent capabilities, according to the Journal. The drill will take place at U.S. bases in Belgium and Germany, where the U.S. stores its Europe-based nuclear arsenal.

Writing for the Post, Philip Carter argued that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster should implement the lessons he drew from his past writing on the failures of national security policymaking at the White House.

The Times’ David Sanger, David Kirkpatrick and Nicole Perlroth detailed how North Korea has turned its hacking operations into a global threat.

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation published a new report on reforming counterintelligence outreach to industry.

 

ICYMI: This weekend, on Lawfare

In the Foreign Policy Essay, Katerina Papatheodorou argued that the U.S. should implement better online countering violent extremism efforts by learning from guerilla marketing techniques.

Vanessa Sauter shared the Lawfare Podcast, featuring an interview with Shadi Hamid and William McCants on their new book Rethinking Political Islam.

Eliot Kim posted this week’s Water Wars, covering the U.S.’s latest freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) and Britain’s FONOP policy revisions.

Elena Chachko analyzed the limited scope of the actual action items from President Trump’s much-hyped Iran strategy announcement.

 

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

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Surveillance “Reform”: The Fourth Amendment’s Long, Slow, Goodbye 

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Over 16 years after the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent repeated passage or renewal of draconian “temporary” but “emergency” domestic surveillance laws in response, it’s fair to ask: Have we officially abandoned the Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights?

With the expiration of Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) less than three months away, now is a good time to review the effects of these surveillance laws in the seemingly endless “War on Terror.” But first, a quick recap of America’s embrace of mass surveillance in the post-9/11 era.

Within six weeks of the terrorist attacks in 2001, and with virtually no serious debate, Congress passed the behemoth PATRIOT Act. The law created vast new government surveillance powers that abandoned the Fourth Amendment’s across-the-board probable cause warrant requirement. In an October 11, 2001 speech discussing the Senate version of the legislation, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) assured terrified civil libertarians that the PATRIOT Act’s five-year “sunset” clause governing 15 of the bill’s provisions would serve “as a valuable check on the potential abuse of the new powers granted in the bill.”

Unbeknownst to the public and most members of Congress, the Bush administration allowed key authorities of the PATRIOT Act to be abused, a fact only brought to light in 2013 by Edward Snowden’s revelations of mass telephone surveillance conducted under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act.

Section 215 is one of the 15 “temporary” provisions that has been renewed repeatedly since 2001, making a mockery of Feinstein’s assurance that the “sunset” provision would act as a “check” on any abuse of the law. Today, 12 of those 15 “temporary” and “emergency” surveillance measures are permanent law.

Thanks to another document made public by Snowden, we know that three days after the 9/11 attacks, then-NSA Director Michael Hayden initiated a secret warrantless surveillance program encompassing Americans in contact with anyone in Afghanistan. Over the ensuing weeks, it would become a multi-pronged warrantless spying effort code-named STELLAR WIND. After the New York Times revealedthis unconstitutional surveillance in December 2005,  thanks to the help of a whistleblower at the Justice Department, the Congress and the Bush administration spent the next two years trying to make the illegal surveillance legal. Their final product, passed in 2008, was the FAA—renewed with little debate in 2012 and now, because of a “sunset” provision, is set to expire on December 31.

The key provision of the FAA that is the primary focus of debate is Section 702, which allows the government to target the communications of foreign entities even if the government knows it will likely sweep up the emails, text messages, and phone calls of innocent Americans in the process.

Have FAA’s authorities been used to subvert the Fourth Amendment and the constitutional rights of Americans, just as the PATRIOT Act has? Yes. Repeatedly.

In September, the politically progressive group Demand Progress issued a scathing report on documented abuses of the FAA, drawing directly from partially declassified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) records. The findings showed that aspects of the government’s Section 702 information collection, revealed in 2011, acquired “non-targeted, entirely domestic communications,” violating the Fourth Amendment. Indeed, the FISC found that the NSA engaged for 12 years in types of surveillance that FISC would eventually deem unlawful, with NSA only ceasing the violations under repeated—but ultimately empty—threats of criminal sanctions.

This report was preceded earlier this year by the publication of Stanford law professor (and Just Security editor) Jennifer Granick’s excellent book American Spies, which chronicles in detail the rights violations and false claims of effectiveness of the PATRIOT Act and the FAA by NSA and FBI officials.

Sixteen years after creating the biggest unconstitutional mass surveillance dragnet in American history, we have documentary evidence—from the federal government’s own records—of repeated, systemic abuses of these authorities. We also know they’re costing taxpayers, whose digital communications are swept up by these programs, tens of millions of dollars annually. What we don’t have is any public evidence that these surveillance practices have made us safer.

What’s the response of Congress? It’s proposing to reauthorize the same Section 702 program, which has led to these abuses.

On Oct. 6, on a bipartisan basis, the House Judiciary Committee introduced the ill-named USA Liberty Act (HR 3989). In my initial analysis of the bill, I noted that the proposed legislation ignored every major problem highlighted in the Demand Progress report. The bill’s authors also ignored an even longer list of Section 702 reform proposals put forward by nearly 60 civil society groups.

Meanwhile, the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers, and FBI Director Christopher Wray have mounted a public campaign to renew Section 702 unchanged. At a meeting with reporters on Sept. 25, Coats and his colleagues argued that 702 is a vital surveillance authority that has helped thwart numerous terrorist plots. On background, I asked one of the reporters who attended that meeting whether Coats, Rogers, or Wray offered a single example of 702 stopping an attack on the United States. They did not—which tracks with Granick’s findings in American Spies.

Despite the lack of public, independently confirmed evidence that 702 has prevented terrorist attacks on America, Coats, Rogers, and Wray are winning the argument that 702 should remain the law of the land.

If you think about it, the indifference of the House Judiciary Committee leadership to these proposals is not terribly surprising. The overwhelming majority of the groups calling for changes to a surveillance law that should never have existed have no political power.

Unlike the National Rifle Association, they operate no political action committee or similar electoral vehicle that could be used to strike fear into House or Senate members who dare to put forward such proposals. Thus, House and Senate members know that they can safely ignore these groups, no matter how many press releases, Facebook posts, or completely fact-based reports about surveillance abuses they churn out–just as they have ignored these same groups for nearly 20 years as Congress has passed or reauthorized laws that, bit by bit, have eviscerated the Fourth Amendment.

My prediction: Absent another Snowden-like revelation, Section 702 of the FAA will be reauthorized largely without change, and any changes will be cosmetic, and almost certainly abused. Whether it has a “sunset” provision or not is now politically and practically meaningless.

After this latest assault on the Bill of Rights has been signed into law by President Donald Trump later this year or early next, opponents will have one more—and probably final—chance to roll back the damage already done when the three remaining PATRIOT Act provisions subject to “sunset” come due at the end of 2019. Unless the privacy and civil liberties community revamps its entire approach and structure for advocacy on these issues, the long, slow goodbye to the Fourth Amendment will come to an end just before Christmas in 2019.

Image: The NSA’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland/Getty Read on Just Security »

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Russia tried to use Pokemon Go to stoke racial tensions in the US – Fox News

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Fox News
Russia tried to use Pokemon Go to stoke racial tensions in the US
Fox News
Russia’s meddling in U.S. politics and society ahead of the 2016 presidential election keeps getting weirder. The Kremlin-backed campaign of so-called fake news employed … The Don’t Shoot Us YouTube page, which is simply titled “Don’t Shoot 

Timeline of Trump and Obstruction of Justice: Key Dates and Events 

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Did President Donald Trump or other U.S. officials engage in an obstruction of justice with respect to the Russia investigation? There are three scenarios which raise that question. It’s important to keep each of them in mind as one thinks about incriminating and exculpatory information, and patterns of related behavior.

Before setting out each scenario and then the Timeline, it may bear reminding that under U.S. federal criminal law, the definition of obstruction of justice includes anyone who “corruptly … or by any threatening letter or communication … endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede” a criminal investigation. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Manual, even a mere attempt to pursue those ends is enough for obstruction, regardless of whether the attempt succeeds. The criminal standard matters if prosecutors were ever to consider pressing charges while Trump is President (a period in which he may be immune from indictment) or after he leaves office. The federal definition could also serve as a background for impeachment proceedings, although Congress would not be tied to the strict definitions of existing criminal law. Finally, there is always the court of public opinion.

What are the three scenarios that prosecutors, members of Congress, and the public could consider under the heading of obstruction of justice?

First, any attempts to unlawfully have FBI Director James Comey drop the investigation of Michael Flynn Second, any attempts to unlawfully interfere with FBI or congressional investigations into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 election Third, any attempts to unlawfully interfere with the FBI or congressional investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election (having nothing to do with any alleged collusion)It is also important to keep in mind that one form of obstruction may be in getting officials to drop an investigation (which is very difficult to ever pick back up) and another form may be in firing officials with authority over the investigation.

The following is a Timeline of events that could be relevant to considerations of the obstruction of justice. It adheres as much as possible to the most directly relevant information, but also includes some other evidence that may be relevant to investigators who are looking for patterns of behavior (for example, Trump’s treatment of Preet Bharara).

Timeline

Late July 2016 – According to the New York Times and later confirmed by former FBI Director James Comey, the FBI begins investigating the Russian government’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election. The investigation includes examining whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was connected to those efforts. The catalyst for the FBI investigation includes Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page’s trip to Moscow to deliver a pro-Russia foreign policy speech at a prestigious Russian institute that same month.

Dec. 29, 2016 – In retaliation for Russian interference in the election, the Obama administration ordersthe expulsion of Russian intelligence agents and imposes new sanctions on Russian state agencies and individuals suspected of hacking U.S. computer systems. The CIA and FBI had previously concluded that Russia had interfered in the election multiple times including leaking damaging information to assist the Trump campaign.

Jan. 6, 2017 – According to Senate testimony by James Comey, he first meets Trump at Trump Tower on this date as part of an Intelligence Community assessment briefing on Russian election interference. After the meeting ends, Comey meets with Trump privately and assures Trump he is not beingpersonally investigated. He writes a memo about the meeting after he returns to his car. Later testifying to Congress Comey says, “I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I thought it really important to document.”

Jan. 6, 2017 – The New York Times reports that the IC concluded in its assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 election, initially seeking to weaken Hillary Clinton, but later developing a “clear preference” for Trump. The Timesreports that at the IC assessment meeting earlier that morning, Trump “responded by acknowledging, for the first time, that Russia had sought to hack into the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems,” but asserted that these activities did not influence the election’s outcome, and he did not address the IC conclusion that Putin had favored his campaign.

Jan. 19, 2017 – The New York Times first reports that U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies are conducting a counterintelligence investigation into links between Russian officials and Trump associates. The investigation centers partly on past business dealings between Trump advisers and Russia. The FBI is leading the investigation, alongside the CIA, NSA, and the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit. The associates under investigation include former campaign manager Paul Manafort and advisers Carter Page and Roger Stone.

Jan. 27, 2017 – According to Comey’s testimony, Trump invites Comey to what he believes will be a group dinner at the White House, but which turns out to be a private dinner meeting with the then-FBI Director. Trump asks whether Comey wants to remain FBI Director, and Comey responds affirmatively. During the dinner, Trump repeatedly tells Comey that he “needs loyalty,” and Comey responds, “You will always get honesty from me.” Trump responds, “That’s what I want, honest loyalty.” Comey responds, “You will get that from me,” hoping to end the conversation. Comey later testifies to Congress that, given the one-on-one nature of the meeting and the substance of their talk, Comey believed the dinner was in part an effort to create a “patronage relationship.”

Feb. 13, 2017 – National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigns after revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials about a conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December 2017 about U.S. sanctions against Russia.

Feb. 14, 2017 – According to Comey’s Senate testimony, Comey and other IC leaders deliver a counter-terrorism briefing at the Oval Office. Trump signals the end of the briefing by thanking everyone and saying he wanted to meet with Comey privately. Trump tells Comey, “I want to talk about Mike Flynn,” adding that Flynn had not done anything wrong, but had to resign because he misled Pence. Trump then tells Comey, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Comey later testifies that he “had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December.”

Immediately after the meeting, Comey prepared a memo of the communication and presented the issue to FBI senior leadership. Comey interpreted Trump’s communication as “a direction” to drop the FBI investigation as it related to Flynn’s alleged false statements about his meetings with the Russian Ambassador in December 2016.

The FBI leadership team and Comey believed that it was important not to “infect the investigative team with Trump’s request,” and decided to refuse the directive. The team concluded it would not have made sense to disclose Trump’s request to Sessions, who had recused himself from the Russia investigation, or the Deputy AG, who was soon to be replaced. They believed it was best to keep the communication “closely held,” although they might decide to disclose it to other officials as the investigation progressed.

Shortly thereafter, Comey also met with Sessions and told him “that what had just happened –  him being asked to leave while the FBI Director, who reports to the AG, remained behind – was inappropriate and should never happen.” He said he “implored” Sessions to ensure that no further private communications occur between Trump and himself. Nevertheless, he did not disclose the content of Trump’s request regarding dropping the Flynn investigation.

In his written statement for the Senate, Comey said the Attorney General “did not reply” and then told Senators in open session that Sessions was “just kind of looking at me” and “his body language gave me a sense like, ‘What am I going to do?’”

In his own testimony before the Senate, Sessions said Comey’s account was “incorrect” and said, “I did affirm the long-standing written policies of the Department of Justice concerning communications with the White House.”

Mar. 2, 2017 – Sessions announces that he is recusing himself from any investigations into charges that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. Acting Deputy AG Dana Boente takes over the Russia investigation following Sessions’ recusal.

Mar. 9, 2017 – Trump’s assistant calls U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara’s office and leaves a message asking Bharara to call Trump back. Trump’s direct communication request violates protocols governing presidential contact with federal prosecutors. Bharara notifies an adviser to AG Sessions of the presidential contact, and tells him he will not respond because of the protocol violation. Bharara then calls Trump’s assistant to say that he cannot speak with the president directly because of the protocol violation.

Mar. 10, 2017 – Trump orders Bharara and 46 other U.S. Attorneys appointed by Barack Obama to resign. The request surprises Bharara’s office because in November, he had met with Trump and advisers including Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner at Trump Tower, and Trump had personally asked him to stay in the position. Bharara publicly refuses to resign.

Mar. 11, 2017 – Acting Deputy AG Dana Boente calls Bharara and tells him that he is one of the 46 U.S. Attorneys being asked to resign. Bharara tells him that he is interpreting that as being fired, and Boente repeats that he is being asked to resign.

Bharara tweets that afternoon that he has just been fired by Trump:

I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life.

— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) March 11, 2017

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Because Bharara served as U.S. attorney of the S.D.N.Y., his jurisdiction included Trump Tower, and he would likely have known whether Trump Tower had been wiretapped by federal investigators as Trump claimed, as well as other Tower-related information potentially relevant to the Russia investigation, or to any other investigations involving the finances or other activities of Trump and his companies.

Mar. 20, 2017 – In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Comey confirms that the FBI is investigating whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. He also dismisses Trump’s claims that President Obama wiretapped him during the presidential campaign.

Mar. 22, 2017 – The Washington Post reports that Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and other senior officials participate in an Oval Office briefing, after which Trump asks Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo to stay for a private meeting. Trump complains to them about Comey’s handling of the Russia investigation and asks them to intervene with Comey to get the FBI to stop investigating Flynn.

After the meeting, Coats discusses Trump’s request with other officials and decides that against Trump’s requests to issue a public statement and to intervene with Comey regarding Flynn, believing both would be inappropriate.

A day or two after Mar. 22, 2017 – Shortly after the Mar. 22 meeting, Trump reportedly makes separate telephone calls to both Coats and NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers and requests that they issue public statements denying the existence of any evidence of collusion between Trump officials and the Russian government. Both officials view the requests as inappropriate and refuse.

Then Deputy Director of the NSA Richard Ledgett writes an internal NSA memo documenting Trump’s conversation with Rogers. During the call, Trump questions the accuracy of the IC Assessment that Russia had interfered with the election, in addition to trying to convince Rogers to issue a public statement.

In addition to Trump’s requests, senior White House officials separately requested that top intelligence officials consider the possibility of intervening with Comey directly to have the FBI withdraw its probe of Flynn. Their lines of questioning included: “Can we ask him to shut down the investigation? Are you able to assist in this matter?”

Mar. 30, 2017 – According to Comey’s Senate testimony, on this date, Trump calls Comey at his office and tells Comey that the Russia investigation is a “cloud” inhibiting his ability to act as President. Trump assures Comey that he has had nothing to do with Russia and asks Comey what he can do to “lift the cloud.” Comey responds that the FBI is investigating the matter as quickly as it can, and that a full investigation is in Trump’s best interests.

Trump then asks about why Comey had confirmed the FBI investigation into coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign at a Congressional hearing, and Comey explains that he was responding to Congressional leaders’ demands. Comey explains that he has briefed those leaders on who exactly the FBI is investigating and informed them that Trump is not personally under investigation. Trump repeatedly urges Comey to get the fact that he himself is not under investigation out to the public.

Comey later testifies to the Senate that the FBI and DOJ were reluctant to make a public statement that they did not have an open case on Trump “for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.”

Mar. 30, 2017 – The Wall Street Journal reports that Mike Flynn has informed the FBI and congressional officials of his willingness to be interviewed by House and Senate investigators as part of the investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia, in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Flynn’s lawyer released a statement confirming only that discussions with Congressional investigators were taking place, though it concluded: “no reasonable person, who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch-hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution.” The New York Times reports that congressional officials are unwilling to make a deal with Flynn until they are further along in their inquiries and have a better idea of the information Flynn might offer.

Mar. 31, 2017 – Trump applauds Flynn’s request for immunity, tweeting:

Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 31, 2017

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Apr. 11, 2017 – According to Comey’s testimonyTrump calls Comey again and asks what he has done about Trump’s request to publicize the fact that he is not personally under investigation. Comey tells Trump that he relayed Trump’s request to Acting Deputy AG Dana Boente but that he has not heard back. Trump reiterates that the “cloud” is interfering with his ability to act as President, and asks whether he should have his staff contact Boente. Comey advises Trump of the traditional channel, which is for White House Counsel to contact DOJ leadership to make such requests. Trump says he will do so and tells Comey, “Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.” Comey responds by reiterating that the proper channel for Trump’s request is for Trump to follow the DOJ chain of command. Trump agrees and ends the call.

Comey testifies that in light of Trump’s requests, “Our — our absolute primary concern was, we can’t infect the investigative team. We don’t want the agents and analysts working on this to know the president of the United States has — has asked — and when it comes from the president, I took it as a direction — to get rid of this investigation, because we’re not going to follow that — that request.

Apr. 25, 2017 – Rod Rosenstein is confirmed as Deputy AG by the Senate and will serve as the official overseeing the Russia investigation in light of Sessions’ recusal. Rosenstein told Senators he would handle it “the way I would handle any investigation,” adding: “I don’t know the details of what, if any, investigation is ongoing, but I can certainly assure you if it’s America against Russia, or America against any other country, I think everyone in this room knows which side I’m on.”

May 8, 2017 – According to the New York Times, Trump summons VP Pence, his chief of staff, top lawyers, and other senior advisors to the Oval Office and informs them that he plans to get rid of Comey, showing them an at least four-page letter, singe-spaced consisting of a long-running series of thoughts on why Comey should be fired that Trump dictated to aide Stephen Miller. The draft criticizes Comey for failing to publicly disclose that Trump was not personally under investigation and for his handling of both the Russia and Clinton email investigations.

White House Counsel Donald McGahn opposes the letter as “problematic” in multiple ways. His objections include the letter’s angry tone and its references to private conversations between Trump and Comey. He successfully convinces Trump not to use the draft. Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein then composes his own letter, which becomes a central part of the administration’s public rationale for the removal. The New York Times reports that “Mr. Sessions had been charged with coming up with reasons to fire him,” according to administration officials.

May 8, 2017 — Trump implicitly accuses former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates of leaking classified information in a tweet. Because Yates was scheduled to testify on the Flynn investigation before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee later in May, and because she had previously warned the White House that Flynn might have been compromised, this tweet could provide supporting evidence for an attempt to intimidate a witness in the Flynn investigation.

Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Counsel.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2017

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May 9, 2017 – Trump fires Comey from his post as FBI Director, removing the nation’s top law enforcement official while he was leading a criminal investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to influence the 2016 election as well as an investigation into former NSA Adviser Michael Flynn for potentially making a false statement to the FBI. The firing raised questions about political interference in an ongoing criminal investigation that could implicate Trump and his top advisers.

In the official announcement, Trump cites letters written by AG Sessions and DAG Rosenstein that “recommend [Comey’s] dismissal,” adding that he has accepted their recommendation and therefore is terminating Comey. The letters largely deal with the Clinton email investigation, and Trump also publicly cites Comey’s handling of the Clinton investigation in announcing the change. However, Trump’s letter also references the Russia investigation and Comey’s actions toward Trump personally: “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”

Of the two letters Trump cites, Sessions’ brief letter does recommend Comey’s dismissal, and cites the reasoning in Rosenstein’s letter. Rosenstein’s letter, however, does not explicitly recommend dismissal; instead, it only outlines Comey’s “serious mistakes” in handling the Clinton e-mail investigation. It concludes that the FBI will be unlikely to regain public trust until a new Director is put in place. White House officials say that Sessions and Rosenstein pushed for Comey’s removal, but observers in Washington, including veteran former FBI agents, view the letters as pretextual.

May 9, 2017 – ABC News reports that Rosenstein was so upset that he was on the verge of resigning because of Trump’s public statements, and statements by White House officials, that Trump was acting on Rosenstein’s recommendation in firing Comey. Rosenstein tells the Sinclair Broadcast Group: “No, I’m not quitting.”

May 9, 2017 – Late that night, the White House announces that Trump will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov in the Oval Office the next day.

May 10, 2017 –Trump meets with Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyak in the Oval Office and speaks to them about the Russia investigation and Comey’s firing. He reportedly tells the senior Russian officials: “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job…I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off…I’m not under investigation.”

According to the Times, Press Secretary Sean Spicer did not dispute the account. Instead, he claimed in a statement that: “By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia. Spicer adds, “The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.”

May 11, 2017 – In an interview with NBC News’s Lester Holt, Trump admits that even before he consulted Rosenstein, “I was going to fire Comey. There’s no good time to do it, by the way.” Holt mentions that in Trump’s letter outlining the reasons for Comey’s firing, he cited Rosenstein’s letter, and Trump responds, “Oh, I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.”

Then, while addressing how he would have fired Comey regardless, he adds: “And in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won…This was an excuse for having lost an election.”

When Holt asks him about whether he was angry with Comey because of the FBI’s Russia investigation, Trumps responds that he never tried to pressure Comey to drop it. He adds: “Maybe I’ll expand that, you know, lengthen the time (of the Russia probe) because it should be over with, in my opinion, should have been over with a long time ago. ‘Cause all it is, is an excuse but I said to myself, I might even lengthen out the investigation, but I have to do the right thing for the American people.” He added, “I want that to be so strong and so good. And I want it to happen.”

May 12, 2017 – Trump tweets, “James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations,” suggesting Trump may have recorded such tapes, and may decide to release them. The tweet follows a New York Times report the day prior describing the dinner between Trump and Comey at which Trump asked Comey for a pledge of loyalty.

James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017

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The Times reports that both the president and his spokesman refused to confirm or deny whether Trump tapes his conversations with visitors. When asked about whether such tapes existed by a Fox News host later that day, Trump reiterated: “That I can’t talk about. I won’t talk about it…All I want is for Comey to be honest.” Spokesman Sean Spicer, when asked, would not give a definitive response, saying only, “The president has nothing further to add on that.” Spicer further denied that Trump was threatening Comey, saying “That’s not a threat…He simply stated a fact. The tweet speaks for itself. I’m moving on.”

May 17, 2017 – Rosenstein appoints former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to serve as the DOJ’s Special Counsel to investigate Russian interference in the election and possible coordination between Trump associates and Russia.

Trump responds by saying, “a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly. In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country.”

However, Trump decries the decision on Twitter:

This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017

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With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special counsel appointed!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017

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“With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel appointed!;” “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”

May 2017 – The New York Times reports that Trump berated Sessions in an Oval Office meeting and told him he should resign, shortly after learning of the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate links between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump accuses Sessions of “disloyalty” and then launches into a series of insults against Sessions. Sessions became emotional and told Trump he would quit, and then drafted and sent a resignation letter to the White House. The Times reports that Sessions would later tell colleagues that Trump’s dressing down was the most humiliating experience he had ever had in public life.

Trump eventually rejects the resignation in May after senior administration officials argue that it would only create more problems for him. But the Times also reports that he wished to remove Sessions again in July, though he did not act on it at that time. The Times reports that Trump believes the moment Sessions recused himself is the moment Trump lost control over the Russia investigation.

This dressing down represents the low point in the relationship between Trump and Sessions, a Senator who broke ranks with fellow Senators to become one of Trump’s first supporters. The Timesreports that their relationship would marginally improve over time, partly because of Sessions’ taking a strong public stance against leakers later on.

May 18, 2017 – Rosenstein testifies before a closed-door Senate briefing that he knew Trump wanted to fire Comey before he wrote his letter justifying Comey’s removal.  Rosenstein adds that Trump asked him to write the letter. He tells Senators that on May 8 he knew that Trump was planning to fire Comey.

June 6, 2017 – Washington Post reporter Robert Costa reports on NBC News that “The President is expected to be Tweeting on Thursday in response to Comey — not to stay quiet during the testimony — because he himself wants to be the one driving the process.”

Costa later tweets:

I’m told by two WH sources that Pres. Trump does not plan to put down Twitter on Thursday. May live tweet if he feels the need to respond.

— Robert Costa (@costareports) June 6, 2017

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June 7, 2017 – DNI Coats and NSA Director Rogers both refuse to testify about their personal interactions with Trump and whether Trump asked them to intervene in the Russia investigation at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

Coats tells the Committee, “I don’t believe it’s appropriate for me to address that in a public session,” when asked about whether Trump requested he intervene in the Russia investigation. Coats adds, however: “But I am more than willing to sit before this committee during its investigative process in a closed session and answer your questions.” Roger says, “I am not going to discuss the specifics of interactions that I may or may have not had with the President.”

Both men deny being pressured to intervene. Coats says, “I have never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way and shape — with shaping intelligence, in a political way or in relationship to an ongoing investigation.” Rogers tells the Committee, “To the best of my recollection, I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate.

June 8, 2017 – Trump’s personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz responds to Comey’s testimony  claiming Comey “admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the President.”

However, legal experts say that the executive privilege could not have been implicated by Comey’s memos, because executive privilege functions as a shield against compelled rather than voluntary disclosure, and in any case, the leaks did not disclose any classified information or break any laws, since they dealt solely with private interactions with the President (the kind of internal communications of which many insider books are written).

June 16, 2017 – Trump attacks Deputy AG Rosenstein on Twitter:

I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017

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June 22, 2017 – The New York Times reports that Trump officially announces that he does not have taped recordings of his conversations with James Comey, citing Trump’s tweet:

With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea…

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017

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…whether there are “tapes” or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017

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The Times report notes that Trump’s tweet leaves open the possibility that others may have recorded their conversations, potentially without permission, such as the Intelligence Community generally or FBI in particular.

The Times report notes that legal experts have said Trump’s initial tweet threatening that tapes existed could serve as part of a potential obstruction of justice case, because the tweet could be construed as pressuring Comey not to reveal details about his and Trump’s conversations relating to the Russia investigation to federal investigators. Others say the threat of existence of tapes suggest Trump was trying to keep Comey honest.

June 16, 2017 – Trump attacks Rosenstein and the expanding Russia probe in a series of tweets:

I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017

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June 23, 2017 – In a Fox television interview, in response to a Fox interviewer suggesting that the possibility of recordings of Comey’s conversations with Trump may have ensured Comey’s honesty in his Senate testimony, Trump says: “Well, it wasn’t very stupid, I can tell you that.” He added that in response to the possibility of Comey’s conversations being recorded, “I think his story may have changed.”

July 8, 2017 – The New York Times reports that Donald Trump Jr. arranged a meeting at Trump Tower with a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer in June 2016, shortly after his father won the Republican nomination. Campaign manager Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner also attended. Though Trump Jr. initially releases a statement saying the meeting was primarily about an adoption program, emailsreleased later show meeting occurred because Trump Jr. was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton by the Russian lawyer.

Trump personally dictates a statement for Trump Jr., stating that he and the Russian lawyer “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children,” and that the subject of the meeting was “not a campaign issue at the time.” These claims are later proven to be false. Before the revelation of the president’s involvement in these deliberations, Trump’s lawyer repeatedly denied Trump was involved in drafting them. Eventually, the White House confirms that Trump “weighed in” on the drafting of the misleading statement.

July 10, 2017 – Trump tweets that Comey illegally leaked classified information to the media:

James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2017

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July 19, 2017 – In an interview with the New York Times, Trump says that had he known Sessions was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, he would not have nominated him to be Attorney General:

TRUMP: Look, Sessions gets the job. Right after he gets the job, he recuses himself.

BAKER: Was that a mistake?

TRUMP: Well, Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.

Trump repeats that he relied on the Rosenstein letter in deciding to fire Comey:

TRUMP: […] Rosenstein becomes extremely angry because of Comey’s Wednesday press conference, where he said that he would do the same thing he did a year ago with Hillary Clinton, and Rosenstein became extremely angry at that because, as a prosecutor, he knows that Comey did the wrong thing. Totally wrong thing. And he gives me a letter, O.K., he gives me a letter about Comey. And by the way, that was a tough letter, O.K. Now, perhaps I would have fired Comey anyway, and it certainly didn’t hurt to have the letter, O.K.

Trump asserts again that Comey leaked confidential information in his Senate testimony, and oddly suggests that, in their initial meeting, Comey told Trump to “treat Flynn good” (when Comey testified that Trump had asked him to let go of the Flynn investigation):

TRUMP: Comey also says that he did something in order to get the special prose— special counsel. He leaked. The reason he leaked. So, he illegally leaked.

TRUMP: So think of this. [NYT reporter] Mike [L. Schmidt]. He illegally leaks, and everyone thinks it is illegal, and by the way, it looks like it’s classified and all that stuff. So he got — not a smart guy — he got tricked into that, because they didn’t even ask him that question. They asked him another question, O.K.?

________

TRUMP: He said I said “hope” — “I hope you can treat Flynn good” or something like that. I didn’t say anything.

Later in the interview, Trump contends that Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe has a conflict of interest involving Hillary Clinton. Days later, he repeats his claim on Twitter:

Problem is that the acting head of the FBI & the person in charge of the Hillary investigation, Andrew McCabe, got $700,000 from H for wife!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017

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Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017

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…big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017

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Jill McCabe, McCabe’s wife, received nearly $500,000 in 2015 campaign donations from a political action committee associated with Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe during an unsuccessful Virginia Senate run. McAuliffe is close with both Bill and Hillary Clinton.

July 24, 2017 – The New York Times reports that Trump aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner meet with Senate investigators looking into the Russia investigation on the Senate Intelligence Committee. After meeting with investigators behind closed doors, Kushner released a statement to news media: “All of my actions were proper and occurred in the normal course of events of a very unique campaign…I did not collude with Russians, nor do I know of anyone in the campaign who did.” He is the first member of the Trump inner circle to confer with congressional investigators.

July 24–25, 2017 — In a series of early morning tweets, Trump renews his attacks against Sessions.

So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2017

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017

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Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump campaign – “quietly working to boost Clinton.” So where is the investigation A.G. @seanhannity

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017

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He also repeated his claims regarding McCabe having a conflict of interest with respect to the Clintons:

Problem is that the acting head of the FBI & the person in charge of the Hillary investigation, Andrew McCabe, got $700,000 from H for wife!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017

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Aug. 1, 2017 – In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump again berates Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation:

WSJ: He’s the Russian guy. So Sessions has recused himself, but is Bob Mueller’s job safe? There is speculation –

TRUMP: No, we’re going to see. I mean, I have no comment yet, because it’s too early. But we’ll see. We’re going to see. Here’s the good news: I was never involved with Russia. There was nobody in the campaign. I’ve got 200 people that will say that they’ve never seen anybody on the campaign. Here’s another – he was involved early. There’s nobody on the campaign that saw anybody from Russia. We had nothing to do with Russia. They lost an election and they came up with this as an excuse. And the only ones that are laughing are the Democrats and the Russians. They’re the only ones that are laughing. And if Jeff Sessions didn’t recuse himself, we wouldn’t even be talking about this subject.

And Trump further suggests that Sessions’ early campaign endorsement was not a sign of loyalty:

WSJ: Just on Sessions, just one thing. Would you like to see him step aside? Would you like to see him resign? Would it be in the country’s best interest just –

TRUMP: I’m just very disappointed in him. I’m disappointed in, you know, a number of categories. I told you, the leakers. He should have – he should be after them. So many people say to me: Why are they going after you on nothing and they leave Hillary Clinton alone on, you know, really major things? And it is – so I’m disappointed in him. And don’t forget, when they say he endorsed me, I went to Alabama. I had 40,000 people, you may have been there, remember, in Mobile?

WSJ: I remember.

TRUMP: I had 40,000 people. He was the senator from Alabama. I won the state by a lot, massive numbers. A lot of the states I won by massive numbers. But he was a senator. He looks at 40,000 people and he probably says, what do I have to lose, and he endorsed me. So it’s not like a great, loyal thing about the endorsement. But I’m very disappointed in Jeff Sessions.

Aug. 3, 2017 – Vox reports that, in late May, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told several people in high-level FBI management that they should consider themselves potential witnesses in any potential obstruction of justice investigation involving Trump. He told colleagues that he could also be a potential witness himself.

Aug. 26, 2017 – The Washington Post reports that sometime this past spring, Trump approached AG Sessions and asked whether the DOJ could possibly drop its case against former Maricopa County, Arizona Sherriff Joe Arpaio, whom Trump has long respected. Sessions advised him that it would have been inappropriate to drop the case, after which Trump decided to let the case go to trial and subsequently grant a pardon. Legal experts believe that Trump’s handling of the Arpaio case may be relevant to determining his intent in speaking to Comey about the FBI’s Michael Flynn investigation (“I hope you can let this go”) in an obstruction of justice probe.

Aug. 31, 2017 – The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump’s lawyers have met with Mueller several times in recent months and have submitted several memos to him contending that Trump didn’t obstruct justice by firing Comey and questioning Comey’s reliability as a potential witness.

Sept. 19, 2017 – The Wall Street Journal reports that Mueller’s office interviewed DAG Rosenstein in June or July 2017 about Trump’s removal of Comey. A source told CNN that Rosenstein has no current plans to recuse himself from the investigation, suggesting he does not view himself as a key witness in the obstruction of justice investigation. DOJ Spokesperson Ian Prior released a statement saying, “As the deputy attorney general has said numerous times, if there comes a time when he needs to recuse, he will. However, nothing has changed.”

[Editor’s Note: For more analysis, readers may be interested in: “A Round-Up of Just Security’s Obstruction of Justice Coverage”]

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Opinion: We must stop politicizing tragedy – The Ledger

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Opinion: We must stop politicizing tragedy
The Ledger
Perhaps the most famous case in the past two decades is the Patriot Act. Shortly after 9/11, congress implemented and passed the Patriot Act. This act allowed three-letter agencies — such as the NSA or the FBI — to expand their power and ability to 

11:55 AM 10/16/2017 – TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION – from The Early Edition: October 16, 2017 

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SYRIA The U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (S.D.F.) began their final push to oust Islamic State militants from Raqqa yesterday, marking the last phase to combat the militants in their de facto capital in Syria and after a significant number of militants surrendered as part of a locally brokered deal. John Davison and Ellen Francis report … Continue reading “11:55 AM 10/16/2017 – TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION – from The Early Edition: October 16, 2017”

12:03 PM 10/16/2017 – How history readied Putin to disrupt the US election – Axios 

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Trump Investigations Report | Latest Posts Trump Investigations Report from mikenova (18 sites) Trump – Google News: Trump dares ‘crooked’ Hillary to run again after she blames loss on Comey ‘shiv’ – Fox News Fox News Trump dares ‘crooked’ Hillary to run again after she blames loss on Comey ‘shiv’ Fox News President Trump tweeted Monday that he hopes Crooked … Continue reading“12:03 PM 10/16/2017 – How history readied Putin to disrupt the US election – Axios”

Trump allies worry that losing the House means impeachment – CNN

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CNN
Trump allies worry that losing the House means impeachment
CNN
If Republicans forfeit the House, Democrats will almost certainly create a spectacle that will derail conservatives’ agenda and the remainder of Trump’s first term — a spectacle complete with a raft of new subpoenas, a spotlight on the Russia 
The Daily 202: Trump’s attacks on Senate Republicans are paying political dividendsWashington Postall 85 news articles »

Russia Funding Taliban in War Against NATO Troops – TOLOnews

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TOLOnews
Russia Funding Taliban in War Against NATO Troops
TOLOnews
The report said that Russia’s intelligence services are sending fleets of fuel tankers into Afghanistan through the Hairatan border crossing with Uzbekistan to companies operating on behalf of the Taliban. The Times reported that about $2.5 million USD and more »

How history readied Putin to disrupt the US election – Axios

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Axios
How history readied Putin to disrupt the US election
Axios
U.S. investigators are probing whether Russia relied on clandestine American help to identify political soft spots and pressure points in its campaign to disrupt the 2016 election. But experts say that, even without local assistance, Russia’s own 
Why are Russian media outlets hyping the Mueller investigation?San Francisco Chronicle
Inside Russia’s alliance with white nationalists across the globeThinkProgressall 12 news articles »
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How history readied Putin to disrupt the US election – Axios

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Axios
How history readied Putin to disrupt the US election
Axios
U.S. investigators are probing whether Russia relied on clandestine American help to identify political soft spots and pressure points in its campaign to disrupt the 2016 election. But experts say that, even without local assistance, Russia’s own 
Why are Russian media outlets hyping the Mueller investigation?Midland Daily News
Inside Russia’s alliance with white nationalists across the globeThinkProgressall 31 news articles »

Manafort Got $60 Million from Russian Oligarch – Patheos (blog)

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Patheos (blog)
Manafort Got $60 Million from Russian Oligarch
Patheos (blog)
It’s the place where Russian oligarchs and organized crime (but I repeat myself), including Putinhimself, launder their money through banks. And guess who was vice chairman of … Trump’sCommerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. While he was on the board of and more »

7:22 AM 10/16/2017 The Method To The Moron’s Madness » Donald Trump: Further reading – FT | » Donald Trump | The Guardian: How Fallon fell: why is the late-night host floundering in Trump’s America? 

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Donald Trump “reelection campaign” funds may be going to Trump’s personal secretary Trump’s supposed 2020 reelection effort may be even more fraudulent than previously known  » 10:59 AM 10/15/2017 – The Method To The Moron’s Madness » Palmer Report » Donald Trump: Further reading 16/10/17 01:12 from 1. Trump from mikenova (5 sites) Donald Trump Donald Trump – further … Continue reading “7:22 AM 10/16/2017 The Method To The Moron’s Madness » Donald Trump: Further reading – FT | » Donald Trump | The Guardian: How Fallon fell: why is the late-night host floundering in Trump’s America?”

The Early Edition: October 16, 2017 

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Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.

SOMALIA

More than 300 have been killed in a double explosion in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu on Saturday and the death toll is likely to rise, marking one of the deadliest attacks in the country since the Islamist insurgency started in 2007. Nicholas Bariyo reports at the Wall Street Journal.

The attack came after President Trump renewed efforts to rid Somalia of al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militants, some analysts stating that the bombing may have been in retaliation for al-Shabab’s loss of territory and in response to the U.S.’ increased drone attacks. Hussein Mohamed, Eric Schmitt and Mohamed Ibrahim report at the New York Times.

The U.N. Secretary-General condemned the attack and urged all Somalis “to unite in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism,” in a statement by the Secretary-General’s spokesperson yesterday. The UN News Centre reports.

The Mogadishu attack may prompt the U.S. to step up its involvement in Somalia and to counter al-Shabab, who were almost certainly behind the attack. Jason Burke provides an analysis at the Guardian.

IRAN

“We stand committed to the J.C.P.O.A. and its full implementation by all sides,” a joint statement by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday, using the acronym for the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The leaders made the statement following President Trump’s decertification of Iran’s compliance with the accord and urged the Trump administration and Congress to “consider the implications to the security of the U.S. and its allies before taking any steps” to undermine the agreement. Laurence Norman reports at Wall Street Journal.

“We will continue to stick to the deal and to cooperate with the [International Atomic Energy Agency] within the framework of international law,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Friday in response to Trump’s decision to decertify Iran’s compliance, adding that the U.S. is “more isolated than ever” as a consequence of the president’s actions. Erin Cunningham reports at the Washington Post.

“What we’re saying now with Iran is don’t let it become the next North Korea,” the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said yesterday, defending Trump’s decision to decertify Iran’s compliance and arguing that the aim is to “improve the situation” and “see how” to make the nuclear agreement “better.” Eli Watkins reports at CNN.

“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russia’s TASS news agency yesterday, responding to the Trump’s decision to decertify Iran’s compliance, noting that the Trump administration has a habit of calling for improvements and amendments to already successful agreements. Olivia Beavers reports at the Hill.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman “praised President Trump for visionary new Iran strategy,” the White House said yesterday in a read out of Saturday’s call between Trump and King Salman. Mallory Shelbourne reports at the Hill.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Trump for his “brave decision” on the Iran deal in an interview yesterday, adding that “we cannot allow this rogue regime 30 times the size of North Korea’s economy to have a nuclear arsenal.” Mallory Shelbourne reports at the Hill.

“The U.S. is no longer not just unpredictable but unreliable,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said yesterday, stating that the strength of the agreement was that it was based on “mutual mistrust” but that Trump is “widening the mistrust” between Iran and the U.S. and between the U.S. and the international community. Rebecca Savransky reports at the Hill.

Syria’s Foreign Ministry condemned the Trump administration yesterday for its decision on the Iran deal, Reuters reports.

The various reactions of global leaders to Trump’s Iran strategy is provided by the BBC.

The Iran deal cannot be “fixed” because it is “intrinsically misconceived,” Iran cannot be trusted to comply with the agreement and the deal “will breathe its last shortly.” The former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton writes at the Wall Street Journal.

Trump’s Iran strategy foreshadows “yet another crisis over the deal and perhaps a U.S. withdrawal in just three months’ time” as the president’s decision to decertify Iran’s compliance has left Congress to deal with the mess he has created. Josh Rogin writes at the Washington Post 

The president has sent mixed messages to Congress about his intentions, which does not bode well for the future of the deal as Congress lacks the tools to make effective foreign policy decisions. Daniel B. Shapiro writes at POLITICO Magazine.

Iran carried out a cyberattack on the U.K. parliament and hacked 9,000 email accounts in June, including the account of Prime Minister Theresa May, according to a secret intelligence assessment. Francis Elliot and Fiona Hamilton report at the Times.

IRAQ

Iraqi forces and Kurdish troops have clashed in the northern oil-rich Iraqi province of Kirkuk today, amid a three-day standoff when Iraqi forces advanced into the disputed province which was included in last month’s controversial Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum, where the Kurds voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence. Loveday Morris and Mustafa Salim report at the Washington Post.

The Iraqi forces were sent by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to impose security in the area and marks the first use of military force since the referendum vote, undermining the U.S.-backed efforts of the Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces to combat Islamic State militants. David Zucchino reports at the New York Times.

The Iraqi central government accused the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (K.R.G.) of bringing Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) fighters to Kirkuk, labeling the move a “declaration of war” – a K.R.G. official denying the claim as “false” and that there are only Peshmerga in Kirkuk. Reutersreports.

The Pentagon urged dialogue as “the best option to defuse ongoing tensions” and warned against “destabilizing actions that distract” from the fight against Islamic State militants and that would “further undermine Iraq’s stability.” Reuters reports.

The Iraqi forces’ operation has allegedly caused “lots of casualties,” according to a Peshmerga commander, adding that the Iraqi forces “burnt lots of houses and killed many people,” the claims could not be independently verified. Al Jazeera reports.  

Iraqi forces have captured territory in Kirkuk today, including key several positions, the Iraqi military saying in a statement that they are “continuing to advance.” Reuters reports.

Iran shut its border crossings with Iraqi Kurdistan yesterday at the request of the Iraqi government, the Iraqi foreign ministry said in a statement. Reuters reports.

NORTH KOREA

Diplomatic efforts with North Korea “will continue until the first bomb drops,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in an interview yesterday, adding that the “President has also made clear to me that he wants this solved diplomatically.” Eli Watkins reports at CNN.

The U.S. and South Korea will begin five-day joint military exercises off the Korean Peninsula today, an exercise that was described by North Korea on Saturday as “a reckless act of war” and there has been speculation that the drills would prompt North Korea to launch a provocation, with one South Korean government source saying that Pyongyang is preparing to launch a missile. Eun-Young Jeong reports at the Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. military will conduct noncombatant evacuation exercises next week to prepare U.S. service members and their families in the event of war and other emergencies. Choe Sang-Hun reports at the New York Times.

North Korea and South Korea will not hold direct talks in Russia today, despite attending the same event and despite encouragement by Moscow to use the opportunity to talk. Reuters reports.

North Korea’s ability to carry out cyberattacks poses a serious threat to the West and has achieved much more than many analysts expected, including targeting key state infrastructure, stealing hundreds of millions of dollars, and hacking into South Korea’s military networks. David E. Sanger, David D. Kirkpatrick and Nicole Perlroth explain at the New York Times.

SYRIA

The U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (S.D.F.) began their final push to oust Islamic State militants from Raqqa yesterday, marking the last phase to combat the militants in their de facto capital in Syria and after a significant number of militants surrendered as part of a locally brokered deal. John Davison and Ellen Francis report at Reuters.

The locally brokered deal was arranged to “minimize civilian casualties” and “purportedly excludes” foreign Islamic State fighters, the U.S.-led coalition said in a statement, emphasizing that the coalition was not involved in the discussions for the deal. Louisa Loveluck reports at the Washington Post.

A senior Turkish official rejected Syria’s call for Turkish troops to withdraw from the rebel-held Idlib province at the weekend, emphasizing that the Turkish forces are there in close cooperation with Russian forces and in order to establish a de-escalation zone. Umut Uras reports at Al Jazeera.

TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has around $60m worth of business dealings with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties to the Kremlin. Aggelos Petropoulos and Richard Engel report at NBC News.

Democrats and Republicans are stepping up efforts to secure the integrity of voting systems ahead of next year’s mid-term elections and in response to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. Michael Wines reports at the New York Times.

The America public deserve to know about the connections between the Democrats, opposition research firm Fusion GPS, former British Intelligence officer Christopher Steele and the F.B.I., and the media’s focus on Trump-Russia has meant they have failed to pick up on stories that reveal wider Russian influence. The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes.

The PHILIPPINES

Two leaders of Islamic State-linked militants in the southern Philippine city of Marawi were killed by Philippine forces, a government spokesperson saying in a statement today that the bodies of the leaders – one of whom was on the U.S. Department of Justice list of most-wanted terrorists world-wide – were recovered today. Jake Maxwell Watts reports at the Wall Street Journal.

Around 30 militants remain in Marawi, the Philippine’s military chief said today, as the forces stage an operation to retake the city. The AP reports.

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson defended his role in the Trump administration yesterday amid reports that he has a poor relationship with the president, Julia Manchester reports at the Hill.

The reports of a poor relationship between U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley and Tillerson are “so ridiculous,” Haley said in an interview yesterday, stating that she shares a “great relationship” with the Secretary of State. Jacqueline Klimas reports at POLITICO.

White House chief of staff John Kelly has been taking action to fill positions in the administration. Nancy Cook explains his efforts at POLITICO.

GUANTÁNAMO

The entire civilian legal team defending the alleged mastermind of the 2000 U.S.S. Cole bombing has quit due to a secret ethical conflict, throwing into doubt the future of the case. Carol Rosenberg reports at the Miami Herald.

The Pentagon has not yet said if it would extend the duty of the chief war crimes prosecutor Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, who is set to retire next month but has said would extend his service if asked to. Carol Rosenberg reports at the Miami Herald.

An al-Qaeda terrorist turned government informant was sentenced to 13 years in prison on Friday. Carol Rosenberg provides an overview of Ahmed al Darbi’s circumstances at the Miami Herald.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The Islamic State today claimed responsibility for firing two rockets yesterday from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula into EgyptReuters reports.

The crisis in South Sudan has caused deep concern in the U.S., however the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has dismissed the Trump administration’s comments and shows no sign of changing his behavior. Kevin Sieff reports at the Washington Post.

Islamist militants carried out a daytime attack today in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula today, killing seven according to officials. Ashraf Sweilam reports at the AP, also providing the context for the recent increased violence perpetrated by militants in Egypt.

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The Health 202: Trump has badly undercut his own administration on Puerto Rico – Washington Post

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Washington Post
The Health 202: Trump has badly undercut his own administration on Puerto Rico
Washington Post
But Trump’s reassurances of support came only after several federal agencies scrambled Thursday to clarify that they’re as devoted to Puerto Rico’s relief effort as they were in Texas, Louisiana and Florida after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. FEMA and more »

In Puerto Rico, Tesla is Doing What Donald Trump Isn’t—Fixing it – Newsweek

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Newsweek
In Puerto Rico, Tesla is Doing What Donald Trump Isn’t—Fixing it
Newsweek
Almost one month after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, technology firms like Tesla are stepping in to fill the relief-effort void that many perceive President Donald Trump has created. Following through with a pledge by Elon Musk that his and more »
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Gay conservatives shocked that the Trump Administration is anti-LGBT – LGBTQ Nation

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LGBTQ Nation
Gay conservatives shocked that the Trump Administration is anti-LGBT
LGBTQ Nation
With his political pandering and posturing to endear himself to the intolerant wing of the GOP over the last few years, it doesn’t surprise me that this administration will go down as the most anti-LGBT in history.” Or maybe LaSalvia is just a terrible and more »

Cambridge Analytica, the shady data firm that might be a key Trump-Russia link, explained – Vox

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Vox
Cambridge Analytica, the shady data firm that might be a key Trump-Russia link, explained
Vox
The Daily Beast reported last week that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is looking into a data analytics company called Cambridge Analytica as part of its investigationinto possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and more »

9:02 AM 10/16/2017 – Cyber cold war is just getting started, claims Hillary Clinton – The Guardian 

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Saved Stories – Trump Investigations Report Saved Stories – Trump Investigations Report 1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): putin won US 2016 election – Google News: Cyber cold war is just getting started, claims Hillary Clinton – The Guardian “*Donald Trump unwittingly tips off that the New York Times is about to drop a major … Continue reading “9:02 AM 10/16/2017 – Cyber cold war is just getting started, claims Hillary Clinton – The Guardian”

9:17 AM 10/16/2017 – Donald Trump unwittingly tips off that the New York Times is about to drop a major Trump-Russia bombshell 

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Posts on G+ from mikenova (1 sites) Public RSS-Feed of Mike Nova. Created with the PIXELMECHANICS ‘GPlusRSS-Webtool’ at http://gplusrss.com: The Method To The Morons Madness » Donald Trump: Further reading The Method To The Morons Madness » Donald Trump: Further reading Donald Trump “reelection campaign” funds may be going to Trump’s personal secretary Trump’s supposed … Continue reading “9:17 AM 10/16/2017 – Donald Trump unwittingly tips off that the New York Times is about to drop a major Trump-Russia bombshell”

Trump reportedly mocks Mike Pence’s ultraconservative views, once joking that he ‘wants to hang’ all gay people – Business Insider

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Business Insider
Trump reportedly mocks Mike Pence’s ultraconservative views, once joking that he ‘wants to hang’ all gay people
Business Insider
Mayer cited a longtime Trump associate as saying the president liked to keep Pence in check. Mayer reported that Trump often mocked Pence’s conservative views, like his desire to see Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that established women’s …
Trump joked Pence ‘wants to hang’ all gay people, New Yorker reportsThe Hill
Even Trump Reportedly Thinks Mike Pence Is a Crazed Anti-LGBTQ ZealotSplinter (blog)all 109 news articles »

9:52 AM 10/16/2017 – Cambridge Analytica, the shady data firm that might be a key Trump-Russia link, explained 

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Cambridge Analytica, the shady data firm that might be a key Trump-Russia link, explained Monday October 16th, 2017 at 9:49 AM Vox – All 1 Share The Daily Beast reported last week that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is looking into a data analytics company called Cambridge Analytica as part of its investigation into possible collusion between … Continue reading“9:52 AM 10/16/2017 – Cambridge Analytica, the shady data firm that might be a key Trump-Russia link, explained”
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Trump On Gays: Pence Wants To ‘Hang Them All’

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A New Yorker article says Trump teases the socially conservative vice president about religion, abortion and gay rights.

Gay Republicans are shocked that the Trump Administration is anti-LGBT 

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Trump is doing something no one expects a Republican president to do: he’s governing like a Republican!

Gay conservatives shocked that the Trump Administration is anti-LGBT / LGBTQ Nation

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Jimmy LaSalvia and Chris Barron LGBTQ Nation

Some gay Republicans are expressing surprise that Donald Trump‘s positions on LGBT rights have been very Republican.

Chris Barron, who co-founded GOProud several years ago and “LGBT for Trump” last year, said before the election that “the left” was trying to “scare gay people” into voting for Clinton by saying that Trump would be bad on LGBT issues.

Just after the election, Barron wrote a column entitled “Donald Trump will be a friend, an ally and an advocate for the LGBT community.” Since he was so wrong, the Daily Beast asked Barron what he thinks now.

“My concern has always been what happens at the department and agency levels,” he said. “And I definitely have concerns with what is going on at Department of Justice. The attorney general [Jeff Sessions] has a very different position on LGBT issues than the president does. But his job is to carry forward the president’s agenda and not push his own… I’m certainly concerned he is [pushing his own].”

Because Donald “You’re fired!” Trump just can’t be held responsible for one of his most prominent appointee’s very public actions. Even when said employee tried to resign and Trump refused to accept his resignation.

And he’s also apparently not responsible for his own tweets and for the directives he signs. It’s all someone else’s fault (maybe Hillary’s!).

Jimmy LaSalvia, who co-founded GOProud and at least understands that “presidential appointees” are “appointed by the president,” sounds disappointed.

“I never thought that Donald Trump was an anti-gay homophobe,” LaSalvia, who left the Republican party in 2014 and endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2015, said. “I certainly didn’t think that when I met him back in 2011. But we’ve all learned a lot about who he really is since then. With his political pandering and posturing to endear himself to the intolerant wing of the GOP over the last few years, it doesn’t surprise me that this administration will go down as the most anti-LGBT in history.”

Or maybe LaSalvia is just a terrible judge of character. It’s not like Trump has any reason to pander to “the intolerant wing of the GOP”… a faction most people just call “the Republican base.”

I just don’t know what these people expected. They are a tiny minority in the GOP, not even powerful enough to be considered a “special interest.” Evangelicals and people who don’t go to church but don’t like queer people, though, define the party. And Trump is a con man who was never particularly pro-LGBT and who appointed a prominent Religious Right politician as his running mate.

But they’re still clinging to the very unlikely notion that, in his heart of hearts, Donald Trump loves LGBTQ people. I have no way of confirming or denying that, but I can say that if that’s true, then Trump has a really funny way of showing that love.

Note: This article was updated to make it clear that Jimmy LaSalvia no longer identifies as a Republican.

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Cambridge Analytica, the shady data firm that might be a key Trump-Russia link, explained

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The Daily Beast reported last week that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is looking into a data analytics company called Cambridge Analytica as part of its investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.

Cambridge Analytica specializes in what’s called “psychographic” profiling, meaning they use data collected online to create personality profiles for voters. They then take that information and target individuals with specifically tailored content (more on this below).

According to the Daily Beast report, congressional investigators believe that Russian hackers might have received help in their efforts to distribute “fake news” and other forms of misinformation during the 2016 campaign. Hence the focus on Cambridge Analytica.

So far there’s been a lot of speculation about the potential links between the Trump campaign and Russia, and most of the stories have orbited around the financial dealings of the Trump family and people like Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager. But this story is specifically about how team Trump might have facilitated Russia’s meddling in the US presidential election.

The stakes, in other words, are high.

So here’s what we know about Cambridge Analytica, its connections to the Trump campaign, and what sorts of things the House Intel probe is likely looking into.

Trump’s digital army

In June 2016, the Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytica to take over its data operations.

We know from the reporting of Nicholas Confessore and Danny Hakim at the New York Times that Jared Kushner, who was charged with overseeing Trump’s digital operations, is the reason Cambridge Analytica joined the Trump campaign.

Kushner hired a man named Brad Parscale, a Texas-based digital expert who had worked previously for team Trump. According to Confessore and Hakim, Cambridge Analytica convinced Parscale (who has since agreed to be interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee) to “try out the firm.” The decision was reinforced by Trump’s campaign manager, Steve Bannon, who is also a former vice president of Cambridge Analytica.

It’s not clear to what extent Cambridge Analytica helped (Parscale denied that Cambridge was of any use in a recent 60 Minutes interview), but we do know that Trump’s digital operation was shockingly effective. Samuel Woolley, who heads the Computational Propaganda project at Oxford’s Internet Institute, found that a disproportionate amount of pro-Trump messaging was spread via automated bots and anti-Hillary propaganda. Trump’s bots, they reported at the time of the election, outnumbered Clinton’s five to one.

Pro-Trump programmers “carefully adjusted the timing of content production during the debates, strategically colonized pro-Clinton hashtags, and then disabled activities after Election Day.”

Martin Moore, director of the Centre for the Study of Media, Communication and Power at King’s College, told the Guardian’s Carole Cadwalladr that Trump’s campaign “was using 40-50,000 variants of ads every day that were continuously measuring responses and then adapting and evolving based on that response.”

These online ads were spread primarily thought bots on social media platforms. The ads that got liked, shared, and retweeted the most were reproduced and redistributed based on where they were popular and who they appealed to.

The benefit of this kind of data is that it allows data companies like Cambridge Analytica to develop more sophisticated psychological profiles of internet users (more data points means more predictive power).

Cambridge Analytica was also able to use this real-time information to determine which messages were resonating where and then shape Trump’s travel schedule around it. So, if there was a spike in clicks on an article about immigration in a county in Pennsylvania or Wisconsin, Trump would go there and give an immigration-focused speech.

When you consider how a few thousands votes in a handful of swing states determined the election, this is no small thing.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Flynn and the Russians

In early July, Shane Harris of the Wall Street Journal released a series of reports that offered some of the most compelling evidence yet that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian hackers.

Harris interviewed a man named Peter Smith, a pro-Trump GOP operative who sought to acquire the 30,000 deleted emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server. Of the several hacker groups Smith reached out to, at least two had connections to Russia — that’s according to Smith.

Smith told Harris that he was in regular contact with Gen. Michael Flynn, who at the time was one of Trump’s closest confidants — and of course later became Trump’s national security adviser.

Here’s a key passage from the Harris report, which my Vox colleague Andrew Prokop highlighted at the time:

“He [Smith] said, ‘I’m talking to Michael Flynn about this — if you find anything, can you let me know?’” said Eric York, a computer-security expert from Atlanta who searched hacker forums on Mr. Smith’s behalf for people who might have access to the emails. …

…In phone conversations, Mr. Smith told a computer expert he was in direct contact with Mr. Flynn and his son, according to this expert. … The expert said that based on his conversations with Mr. Smith, he understood the elder Mr. Flynn to be coordinating with Mr. Smith’s group in his capacity as a Trump campaign adviser.

Harris examined intelligence reports that described the efforts of Russian hackers to retrieve emails from Clinton’s server and pass them along to Flynn, who would then share them with the Trump campaign.

By itself, Harris’s reporting makes no connection to Cambridge Analytica. But in August the Associated Press published a report that helped connect the dots. In an amended public financial filing, Flynn was forced to disclose “a brief advisory role with a firm related to a controversial data analysis company that aided the Trump campaign.”

The “data analysis company” is none other than Cambridge Analytica. The precise amount of money Cambridge paid to Flynn is unknown, as are the details of Flynn’s role.

But we know that congressional and DOJ investigators believe that Trump’s campaign might have helped guide Russia’s voter targeting scheme and that Flynn, who worked for Trump’s campaign and with Cambridge Analytica, is suspected of having extensive ties with Russian operatives.

A Cambridge Analytica spokesperson confirmed to Vox that the company is cooperating with the Russia investigation but flatly denied any wrongdoing.

“As one of the companies that played a prominent role in the election campaign, Cambridge Analytica has been asked by the House Intelligence Committee to provide it with information that might help its investigation,” the statement said. “We believe that other organizations that worked on the campaign have been asked to do the same. CA is not under investigation, and there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by the company.”

What does Cambridge Analytica actually do?

If you use the internet or social media, you leave behind a digital trail of crumbs. Every post you like, every tweet you retweet, every thread you participate in — it’s all data up for collection and input.

Cambridge Analytica, a company created by Robert Mercer, a billionaire patron of right-wing outlets like Breitbart News, has been swallowing up all the data they can get. They’re not the only company doing this, but they appear to be the most prominent — in part because of their high-profile clients.

In a 2016 speech, Alexander Nix, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica, unfurled the company’s methodology: “We’ve rolled out a long-form quantitative instrument to probe the underlying traits that inform personality,” he proclaimed. “If you know the personality of the people you’re targeting, you can nuance your messaging to resonate more effectively with those key groups.”

By “your message” he means whoever pays the company for its services. But so far the firm has only taken on Republican clients, with Ted Cruz and Ben Carson being the most visible. They also worked on behalf of 2016 pro-Brexit “Leave” campaign, mining online data and using it to target and persuade British voters.

So what are they doing with all that data?

Cambridge Analytica has built models that translate the data they harvest into personality profiles for every American adult — Nix claims to have “somewhere close to 4 or 5 thousand data points on every adult in the US.”

Their models are based on the psychometric research of Michal Kosinski, who in 2013 was still a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge (hence the name “Cambridge Analytica”). Kosinski and his colleagues developed a model that linked subjects’ Facebook likes with their OCEAN scores. OCEAN refers to a questionnaire used by psychologists that describes personalities along five dimensions — openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

Cambridge Analytica has combined this social psychology with data analytics. They collect data from Facebook and Twitter (which is perfectly legal) and have purchased an array of other data — about television preferences, airline travel, shopping habits, church attendance, what books you buy, what magazines you subscribe to — from third-party organizations and so-called data brokers.

They take all this information and use it for what Nix calls “behavioral microtargeting” — basically individualized advertising.

Instead of tailoring ads according to demographics, they use psychometrics. It’s a simple idea, really. Rather than assuming that all women or African Americans or working-class whites will respond to the same message, they target individual voters with emotionally charged content — in other words, ads designed to tug on emotional biases.

The success of this approach hinges on the accuracy of the company’s psychological profiles. But how much can they know about someone’s psyche on the basis of a few tweets or likes? Quite a lot, apparently. In a 2016 profile for Das Magazin, a Berlin-based culture magazine, Kosinski talked about the predictive power of his model.

Here’s how the authors summed it up:

The strength of their [Kosinski and his Cambridge colleagues] modeling was illustrated by how well it could predict a subject’s answers. Kosinski continued to work on the models incessantly: before long, he was able to evaluate a person better than the average work colleague, merely on the basis of ten Facebook “likes.” Seventy “likes” were enough to outdo what a person’s friends knew, 150 what their parents knew, and 300 “likes” what their partner knew. More “likes” could even surpass what a person thought they knew about themselves.

Combine this kind of predictive power with an army of bots and you’ve got a potent propaganda tool. As Woolley told me, “One person controlling a thousand bot accounts is able to not just affect the people in their immediate circle but also potentially the algorithm of the site on which their operating.”

Bots are even more effective, as they’re able to react instantly to trending topics on Twitter and Facebook, producing targeted posts, images, and even YouTube videos.

“The technologies can capture what people are thinking at a particular moment,” Albright told me, “and serve it back to them over and over again.” And with the benefit of psychographic profiling, he adds, they’re able to deliver “content on an individual basis on Twitter and Facebook feeds where people are being grabbed and pulled in certain directions through certain types of posts and stories.

“I’ve called it an emotional leash,” Woolley said.

Getty Images

There’s a lot we don’t know

We don’t know if Flynn actually passed any data to the Russians. Nor do we know if his numerous ties to Russia resulted in collusion.

We don’t know if the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russians to help their disinformation operation. We know only that there are many points of overlap. And if anyone in his campaign did coordinate with Russia, we don’t know if Trump himself was involved in any way.

We don’t know if the data produced by Cambridge Analytica ever found its way to Russians. And if it did, we don’t know for sure how it got there or how much it helped or if the company was aware of it.

We also don’t know how useful Cambridge Analytica’s work was to the Trump campaign. Researchers like Woolley told me that the company’s capabilities are a “bit overblown,” but we simply don’t know. We know only what they’ve admitted publicly about their methods and what they claim to be able to do.

One thing we do know is that data companies like Cambridge Analytica have changed things. Facebook is already under fire for allowing Russia to manipulate its algorithms during the 2016 election. And we’ve likely just scratched the surface in terms of how state actors are able to weaponize information online. The role of companies like Cambridge Analytica in these efforts remains something of a mystery, however.

In any event, no definitive evidence has emerged that connects Cambridge Analytica and the Trump campaign to Russia’s efforts to influence our election. What we’re left with, ultimately, is a ton of smoke and no fire. But if the ongoing investigations conclude that the Trump campaign did help Russia target voters, expect to hear more about Cambridge Analytica.

It’s entirely possible that such collusion could have occurred and the work of Cambridge Analytica had nothing to do with it; however, that would be strange, since targeting voters is precisely what the company was hired to do.

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· · · · · · · · · ·

1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): putin won US 2016 election – Google News: Cyber cold war is just getting started, claims Hillary Clinton – The Guardian

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The Guardian
Cyber cold war is just getting started, claims Hillary Clinton
The Guardian
Hillary Clinton embarked on a speaking tour of Britain with a message that the Brexit referendum was won on the basis of a big lie and warning that Vladimir Putin has been conducting a “cyber cold war” against the west. She urged more women to enter 
‘I’m worried’ says Hillary Clinton as she attacks Trump and Putin in Cheltenham Literature Festival talkGloucestershire Live
‘State of Denial’: Hillary Clinton Blames Nigel Farage, Macedonian Fake News Factories, for Losing ElectionBreitbart News
Hillary Clinton interviewed by Fareed Zakaria for Sunday, Oct. 15 at 10:00am Eastern and PacificCNN (blog)
Savannah Morning News –BlueRidgeNow.com
all 242 news articles »

 putin won US 2016 election – Google News

 1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites)

‪Donald Trump unwittingly tips off that the New York Times is about to drop a major Trump-Russia bombshell ‬ 

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‪Donald Trump unwittingly tips off that the New York Times is about to drop a major Trump-Russia bombshell ‬

Donald Trump unwittingly tips off that the New York Times is about to drop a major Trump-Russia bombshell

Trump just keeps giving things away

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Page 11

Donald Trump has been served a subpoena to turn over his obscene Apprentice tapes 

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Donald Trump has been served a subpoena to turn over his obscene Apprentice tapes

Donald Trump has been served a subpoena to turn over his obscene Apprentice tapes

This is precisely what Donald Trump has been fearing

Why are Russian media outlets hyping the Mueller investigation? – San Francisco Chronicle

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The Daily Advertiser (blog)
Why are Russian media outlets hyping the Mueller investigation?
San Francisco Chronicle
Cybersecurity sleuths claim Russia used Pokemon Go to inflame racial tensions and accuse Twitter of deleting crucial data detailing Russian efforts to sow discord during the 2016presidential election. “Russia, Russia Everywhere,” read The New York 
Don’t make Russian election hack great againThe Daily Advertiser (blog)
Hillary Clinton Suggests Russian Interference In US Election Was A “Cyber 9/11”BuzzFeed Newsall 22 news articles »

Donald Trump – further reading

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The Donald Trump media feeding-frenzy is in full flow. But beyond all the fun stuff about the horse-race and the insults, have there been any really good articles explaining the Trump phenomenon? I have found two recent pieces particularly interesting. Thomas Edsall explains how – “The economic basis for voter anger has been building for over 40 years” – and has some interesting numbers on the stagnation of real wages, the shrinking of the middle-class, the disappearance of manufacturing jobs and the impact of Chinese accession to the WTO.

Another good analysis, this time on the Vox site, looks at the kinds of people who are attracted to Trump’s rhetoric – and in particular at political scientists’ work on the rise of authoritarian attitudes in America. Apparently, people’s attitudes to parenting are a good predictor of their attitudes to Trump. Those who value obedience in children, above all, are “authoritarian” types, who also like Trump. But there are also is a large group of people with “latent authoritarianism”, which is aroused when they feel under threat.

If you prefer full-throated condemnation to analysis, may I recommend this speech by Mitt Romney. It got covered a lot when it was made on Thursday, but it is worth reading in full. I suspect historians may judge that the speech was made several months too late. I also liked Robert Kagan’s eloquent condemnation of Trump in the Washington Post.

Donald Trump “reelection campaign” funds may be going to Trump’s personal secretary 

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Donald Trump “reelection campaign” funds may be going to Trump’s personal secretary

Donald Trump “reelection campaign” funds may be going to Trump’s personal secretary

Trump’s supposed 2020 reelection effort may be even more fraudulent than previously known

8:12 PM 10/15/2017 – CNN’s YouTube Videos: Leading Democrat calls for Puerto Rico water investigation after CNN report

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1. News in Photos from mikenova (4 sites) WSJ.com: World News: Freed Family Tries to Rebuild as Dark Details Emerge About Ordeal The couple rescued by Pakistani military forces is moving to rebuild their life in a small Canadian town after five years in captivity in which they say an infant daughter was killed and … Continue reading “8:12 PM 10/15/2017 – CNN’s YouTube Videos: Leading Democrat calls for Puerto Rico water investigation after CNN report”

Why are Russian media outlets hyping the Mueller investigation? – Westport News

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Why are Russian media outlets hyping the Mueller investigation?
Westport News
Cybersecurity sleuths claim Russia used Pokemon Go to inflame racial tensions and accuse Twitter of deleting crucial data detailing Russian efforts to sow discord during the 2016presidential election. “Russia, Russia Everywhere,” read The New York and more »
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1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites): Palmer Report: Here comes Donald Trump’s biggest meltdown about Rex Tillerson yet

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Donald Trump seems to desperately wish he could fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for having called him a “moron.” But by now it’s clear that Trump doesn’t have the guts to do it, either because he’s at his politically weakest point in general, or because Tillerson is a personal friend of Vladimir Putin. Regardless of the reason, Tillerson is now flaunting the fact that he apparently can’t be fired. Based on what Tillerson did on Sunday, we’re about to see Trump’s biggest meltdown about him to date.

For reasons known only to him, instead of laying low until “Morongate” blows over, Rex Tillerson decided to appear on CNN State of the Union on Sunday morning. He knew full well that he’d be asked yet again whether or not he really called Trump a moron. Sure enough, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked him the question. Tillerson once again refused to answer – which at this point is an absolute confirmation that he did call him a moron.

Trump has long had insecurities about his intellect. His poorly written and phonetically misspelled tweets suggest that he suffers from some sort of mild learning disability, which may drive his insecurities on the matter, even though learning disabilities are not counter-indicative to intellect. It’s not shocking that Trump responded to the “moron” insult by publicly calling for himself and Tillerson to take IQ tests.

Donald Trump watches the Sunday morning shows, at least when his own people are on, so he saw Rex Tillerson’s interview. He saw Tillerson once again refusing to deny that he called Trump a moron. That’ll be enough to set Trump off yet again, with a round of angry tweets about Tillerson on Monday – or perhaps not til Tuesday, if some other grievance distracts him. But we’re looking at the (supposed) President of the United States publicly attacking his own Secretary of State yet again.

The post Here comes Donald Trump’s biggest meltdown about Rex Tillerson yet appeared first on Palmer Report.

 Palmer Report

 1. Trump from mikenova (196 sites)

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I DO NOT LIKE YOU, FACEBOOK! 

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I DO NOT LIKE YOU, FACEBOOK!  You are cheap, pretentious, primitive, and mediocre, just like the majority of your customers. Like “faces”, like “books”, like “posts”, like the uniform mentality of your everywhere-nowhere “friends”. Somewhere between the kindergarten and the institution for the mentally challenged.  Not only its current COO, but the Facebook itself is … Continue reading “I DO NOT LIKE YOU, FACEBOOK! “

Sheryl Sandberg’s Russia talk was an insult to our intelligence – Google Search

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Story image for Sheryl Sandberg’s Russia talk was an insult to our intelligence from Markets Insider

Sheryl Sandberg’s Russia talk was an insult to our intelligence

Markets InsiderOct 12, 2017
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, says people were worried about hacking and not election interference before 2016.

Story image for Sheryl Sandberg’s Russia talk was an insult to our intelligence from Markets Insider

Facebook says fake accounts linked to Russia bought thousands of …

Markets InsiderSep 6, 2017
Our analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with … The “vast majority” of ads related to the fake Russian accounts didn’t …

Sheryl Sandberg’s Russia talk was an insult to our intelligence, Business Insider

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source
Axios

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, says people were worried about hacking and not election interference before 2016.

But that’s not true. Hillary Clinton and others were warning about Russia’s disinformation campaign as far back as 2011.

Facebook needs to stop talking about what it didn’t do for years and start talking about what it will do from today.In a live interview with the news website Axios on Thursday, Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, lamented that the company hadn’t found out about Russia’s use of the platform to spread disinformation and propaganda before the 2016 US elections.

“We were looking at this certainly not as early as we would have liked to, because we wish we had found it before it ever happened,” Sandberg said.

“If you think about 2015, 2016,” she later added, “the threats most people were worried about were hacking, taking down accounts, getting into your email account and sharing all of it.”

Oh.

Perhaps hacking is what users were worried about, but in national security and press circles, the idea of a Russian information war against the US had been gaining steam since 2011. TV channels like Russia Today and websites like Sputnik have long been unapologetic about towing the Kremlin line – about the fact that they are pushing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s will.

By 2015, Russian propaganda was all over Facebook in forms both formal and informal, and the platform had already helped Russia wreak havoc around the world, especially in Ukraine.

“There are those who claim the warnings are just the work of alarmist neo-conservatives,” Columbia professor Ann Cooper and I said in The Washington Post in 2015. “They’re not. The spread of ideas matters. If it didn’t, Russia wouldn’t be in the idea-spreading business.”

Connecting the dots that Russia may have a plan for the US presidential election would require one to pay attention. So let’s say Facebook wasn’t. That’s gross negligence. To ignore that the people purchasing space on Facebook were pushing lies and distortions, on the other hand, is beyond that – it’s willful ignorance and a stunning display of greed.

They’ll tell you

I know that we’re in an information war with Russia because I asked.

Back in 2015, as an adjunct professor at Columbia’s journalism school, I hosted staffers from RT, and they were very frank about their mission. They informed us that from 2008, when the US was critical of Russia’s annexation of a piece of Georgia, their aim was to show the world that the US was a flawed nation that’s inferior to Russia.

Take a quick look at the topics RT consistently used to prove its anti-American point and you might as well be at a buffet serving Facebook’s garbage media diet from the election. Going back as far as 2011, RT was playing on US racial tensions and shrilly accusing Hillary Clinton of warmongering and criminality.

I say 2011 because that’s when Clinton, then secretary of state, testified before Congress about Russia’s information war against the US. The Kremlin knew she was watching, and so the Kremlin went to war against her. No one who paid attention to this interaction was shocked that Putin favored Donald Trump in 2016.

But again, you had to be paying attention. Or you had to keep paying attention. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Congress again addressed the matter of Russian propaganda in testimony. The former RT journalist Liz Wahl explained how the Kremlin manipulated social media, and it might sound familiar to anyone in the US now.

From Wahl’s testimony (emphasis ours):

“Russian media provides a home for a spectrum of political beliefs as long as they are skeptical of the political establishment. While some of the theories peddled are outright absurd, there are a surprising amount of people prone to being manipulated that think it’s hip to believe in any alternative theory, feeling proud of perceiving themselves to be enlightened and even prouder when they amass sizable social media followers that hang on every misguided and outright false theory that is propagated. Russia is aware of this population of paranoid skeptics and plays them like a fiddle.

Sound familiar? Maybe it reminds you of a few arguments you had with Facebook-addicted family members over the holidays in 2016.

Another witness, Peter Pomeratsev, a journalist who spent years working in Russian television, was even more explicit mentioning Facebook by name.

“The Kremlin… funds ‘troll farms,’ regime-funded companies which hire people to spread messages on social media, using Facebook, Twitter, newspaper comment sections and many other spaces. Through these networks, Russia propagates conspiracy theories, disinformation and fake news…. Their aim was [is] not so much to persuade a potential viewer of any one version, but to trash the information space with so much disinformation so that a conversation based on actual facts would become impossible.”

Pomeratsev wrote a book about his time working in Russia called “Nothing is Real and Everything is Possible” – about how Russia became a fact-less nation. America now knows what he was talking about, but it’s something Facebook should’ve known before we had to find out.

No one wants to hear it, Sheryl

Facebook says it didn’t have an inkling of what was going on before the election, but we know that it knew the Kremlin’s agents were bullying Ukrainian activists, at the very least. Were Sandberg and Zuckerberg simply so naive they didn’t think that Putin would turn his eye on his most fearsome enemy?

Or were they just so greedy they didn’t care?

In the Axios interview, most of Sandberg’s comments were backward-looking and so, in a word, worthless. The 2018 elections are coming, and the far right has not tried to disguise its affinity for the Kremlin line. Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News is known for spreading its share of fact-melting misinformation that sounds as if it’s straight from the RT newsroom.

And – for so-called anti-globalists – Bannon has shown a willingness to collaborate with other international Putin-philes like the UK’s Nigel Farage and Hungary’s far right. Make no mistake: What they all have in common is not only “nationalism” but also a belief in Putin’s political system – fascism.

Opposing this and stamping it out shouldn’t be a question for Facebook. This isn’t a gray area. This an American value. We are not fascists. Millions of people around the world died not too long ago to reaffirm that. What Facebook (and Twitter and Google) has done – ignoring the spread of fascism, lies, and anti-American propaganda in the digital space – is a disgusting display of moral relativism and intellectual laziness that Silicon Valley has revealed it can wear as easily as a pair of Tevas and some cargo shorts.

We don’t want to hear about what Facebook missed. We want to hear that Facebook will not allow the agents of a fascist movement to continue to manipulate it as a distribution platform. We want to hear how attempts by these agents to engage the platform will be vetted and reported to the US government.

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PBSNewsHour’s YouTube Videos: Iraqi, Kurdish forces in standoff over Kurdish independence 

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From: PBSNewsHour
Duration: 02:59

Iraqi army and Kurdish troops are in a standoff in Kirkuk, a city located in the Kurdistan region, which voted for independence from Iraq last month. Kirkuk holds 10 percent of Iraq’s oil reserves. Washington Post reporter Loveday Morris, who is covering the standoff, joins Hari Sreenivasan via Skype from Baghdad.

 PBSNewsHour’s YouTube Videos

RussiaToday’s YouTube Videos: ‘Trump boldly confronted Iran terrorist regime’ – Netanyahu thanks US leader for ‘fixing bad deal’ 

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From: RussiaToday
Duration: 00:53

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu thanked US President Donald Trump for his decision to deny Iran certification that it is complying with the JCPOA nuclear deal, speaking in Jerusalem, Saturday. Speaking about the nuclear deal, Netanyahu termed it as ‘tremendous danger for our collective future’. READ MORE: https://on.rt.com/8pr8

COURTESY: RT’s RUPTLY video agency, NO RE-UPLOAD, NO REUSE – FOR LICENSING, PLEASE, CONTACT http://ruptly.tv

RT LIVE http://rt.com/on-air

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RT (Russia Today) is a global news network broadcasting from Moscow and Washington studios. RT is the first news channel to break the 1 billion YouTube views benchmark.

 RussiaToday’s YouTube Videos


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