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Member since: Mon Nov 29, 2004, 10:18 PM
Number of posts: 9,430

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September Russian cyberattack campaign on state electoral systems intensified alarm at Obama W.H

"But what was going on in the meetings was unclear to the officials, and the intercepted communications did little to clarify matters — the Russians, it appeared, were arguing about how far to go in interfering in the presidential election. What intensified the alarm at the Obama White House was a campaign of cyberattacks on state electoral systems in September, which led the administration to deliver a public accusation against the Russians in October."

So does anyone really think the Russians didn't go so far as to manipulate the vote count if they attacked state election systems?


5 Trump Cabinet Members Who've Made False Statements to Congress

As most of the world knows by now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not tell the truth when he was asked during his confirmation hearings about contacts with Russian officials.

But Sessions isn’t the only one. At least four other cabinet members made statements during their nomination hearings that are contradicted by actual facts: EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

The statements were all made under oath, except those of DeVos. It is a crime to “knowingly” lie in testimony to Congress, but it’s rarely prosecuted.


Deputy AG Boente to take over campaign-related investigations, new Trump nominee confirm hearing 3-7

So what do we know about Rod Rosenstein? Does he also have hidden Russia connections?

"Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself on Thursday from any Justice Department investigations into Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, as well as any inquiries into ties between the Donald Trump campaign and Russian officials.

“I have now decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matter relating in any way to the campaign for president of the United States,” Sessions said at a press conference at the DOJ. “This announcement should not be interpreted as confirmation of the existence of any investigation or suggestive of the scope of any such investigation.”

Going forward, Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente will handle all campaign-related investigations. Trump’s permanent nominee for the post, Rod Rosenstein, has a confirmation hearing on March 7."



Defense Against the Dark Arts: Networked Propaganda and Counter-Propaganda

Defense Against the Dark Arts: Networked Propaganda and Counter-Propaganda

Jonathan Stray
Computer scientist and investigative journalist. Teaching at Columbia.

In honor of MisinfoCon this weekend, it’s time for a brain dump on propaganda — that is, getting large numbers of people to believe something for political gain. Many of my journalist and technologist colleagues have started to think about propaganda in the wake of the US election, and related issues like “fake news” and organized trolling. My goal here is to connect this new wave of enthusiasm to history and research.

This post is about persuasion. I’m not going to spend much time on the ethics of these techniques, and even less on the question of who is actually right on any particular point. That’s for another conversation. Instead, I want to talk about what works. All of these methods are just tools, and some are more just than others. Think of this as Defense Against the Dark Arts.

Let’s start with the nation states. Modern intelligence services have been involved in propaganda for a very long time and they have many names for it: information warfare, political influence operations, disinformation, psyops. Whatever you want to call it, it pays to study the masters.


But for me, the most surprising conclusion of this work is that a source can still be credible even if it repeatedly and blatantly contradicts itself:

Potential losses in credibility due to inconsistency are potentially offset by synergies with other characteristics of contemporary propaganda. As noted earlier in the discussion of multiple channels, the presentation of multiple arguments by multiple sources is more persuasive than either the presentation of multiple arguments by one source or the presentation of one argument by multiple sources. These losses can also be offset by peripheral cues that enforce perceptions of credibility, trustworthiness, or legitimacy. Even if a channel or individual propagandist changes accounts of events from one day to the next, viewers are likely to evaluate the credibility of the new account without giving too much weight to the prior, “mistaken” account, provided that there are peripheral cues suggesting the source is credible.


"There was no mention of Russia meddling": Shep Smith breaks with Fox News praise of Trumps speech

Shep Smith responded to President Donald Trump’s Tuesday night address in his segment on Wednesday, pointing out that there was no mention of Russia whatsoever, including “its meddling in our election or his team’s communications with Russian officials.”

Shep added that the speech came on the same day that “House Republicans killed a Democratic measure that would have pressured the Justice Department to turn over documents related to the Trump administration’s ties to Russia. There are currently multiple investigations into this issue.”

He noted that there are transcripts available of the conversations between former Gen. Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador he spoke with that could answer some of the questions that the president won’t answer, such as whether there was Russian interference in the election.

“Democrats want them published, now Republicans have blocked the first attempt to make them public.” He also noted the confusion on Russia’s side as President Vladimir Putin is reportedly “waiting for Trump to make clear the official Russian policy,” Shep said. “That’s the word from Putin’s own spokesperson after a lack of Russian mention at last night’s address to Congress.”

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Check out video. He even interviews a Politico reporter!

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