Showing posts with label Lies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lies. Show all posts

March 3, 2017

Fake News, Propaganda and Lies Can Destroy a Democracy

Who was the first black president of America? It’s a fairly simple question with a straightforward answer. Or so you would think. But plug the query into a search engine and the facts get a little fuzzy.
 When I checked Google, the first result – given special prominence in a box at the top of the page – informed me that the first black president was a man called John Hanson in 1781. Apparently, the US has had seven black presidents, including Thomas Jefferson and Dwight Eisenhower. Other search engines do little better. The top results on Yahoo and Bing pointed me to articles about Hanson as well.
Welcome to the world of “alternative facts”. It is a bewildering maze of claim and counterclaim, where hoaxes spread with frightening speed on social media and spark angry backlashes from people who take what they read at face value. Controversial, fringe views about US presidents can be thrown centre stage by the power of search engines. It is an environment where the mainstream media is accused of peddling “fake news” by the most powerful man in the world. Voters are seemingly misled by the very politicians they elected and even scientific research - long considered a reliable basis for decisions - is dismissed as having little value.
For a special series launching this week, BBC Future Now asked a panel of experts about the grand challenges we face in the 21st Century – and many named the breakdown of trusted sources of information as one of the most pressing problems today. In some ways, it’s a challenge that trumps all others. Without a common starting point – a set of facts that people with otherwise different viewpoints can agree on – it will be hard to address any of the problems that the world now faces.
Having a large number of people in a society who are misinformed is absolutely devastating and extremely difficult to cope with – Stephan Lewandowsky, University of Bristol 
The example at the start of this article may seem a minor, frothy controversy, but there is something greater at stake here. Leading researchers, tech companies and fact-checkers we contacted say the threat posed by the spread of misinformation should not be underestimated.
Take another example. In the run-up to the US presidential elections last year, a made-up story spread on social media claimed a paedophile ring involving high-profile members of the Democratic Party was operating out of the basement of a pizza restaurant in Washington DC. In early December a man walked into the restaurant - which does not have a basement - and fired an assault rifle. Remarkably, no one was hurt.
(Credit: Alamy)
After a malicious rumour spread online about a pizza restaurant in Washington DC, a man walked into the restaurant and fired an assault rifle (Credit: Alamy)
Some warn that “fake news” threatens the democratic process itself. “On page one of any political science textbook it will say that democracy relies on people being informed about the issues so they can have a debate and make a decision,” says Stephan Lewandowsky, a cognitive scientist at the University of Bristol in the UK, who studies the persistence and spread of misinformation. “Having a large number of people in a society who are misinformed and have their own set of facts is absolutely devastating and extremely difficult to cope with.”
A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center towards the end of last year found that 64% of American adults said made-up news stories were causing confusion about the basic facts of current issues and events.
Alternative histories
Working out who to trust and who not to believe has been a facet of human life since our ancestors began living in complex societies. Politics has always bred those who will mislead to get ahead.
But the difference today is how we get our information. “The internet has made it possible for many voices to be heard that could not make it through the bottleneck that controlled what would be distributed before,” says Paul Resnick, professor of information at the University of Michigan. “Initially, when they saw the prospect of this, many people were excited about this opening up to multiple voices. Now we are seeing some of those voices are saying things we don’t like and there is great concern about how we control the dissemination of things that seem to be untrue.”
There is great concern about how we control the dissemination of things that seem to be untrue – Paul Resnick, University of Michigan 
We need a new way to decide what is trustworthy. “I think it is going to be not figuring out what to believe but who to believe,” says Resnick. “It is going to come down to the reputations of the sources of the information. They don’t have to be the ones we had in the past.”
We’re seeing that shift already. The UK’s Daily Mail newspaper has been a trusted source of news for many people for decades. But last month editors of Wikipedia voted to stop using the Daily Mail as a source for information on the basis that it was “generally unreliable”.
Yet Wikipedia itself - which can be edited by anyone but uses teams of volunteer editors to weed out inaccuracies - is far from perfect. Inaccurate information is a regular feature on the website and requires careful checking for anyone wanting to use it.
For example, the Wikipedia page for the comedian Ronnie Corbett once stated that during his long career he played a Teletubby in the children’s TV series. This is false but when he died the statement cropped up in some of his obituaries when writers resorted to Wikipedia for help.
(Credit: Getty Images)
Several obituaries for the comedian Ronnie Corbett falsely claimed he had once played a Teletubby because this statement appeared in his Wikipedia entry 
(Credit: Getty Images)
Other than causing offense or embarrassment – and ultimately eroding a news organisation’s standing - these sorts of errors do little long-term harm. There are some who care little for reputation, however. They are simply in it for the money. Last year, links to websites masquerading as reputable sources started appearing on social media sites like Facebook. Stories about the Pope endorsing Donald Trump’s candidacy and Hillary Clinton being indicted for crimes related to her email scandal were shared widely despite being completely made up.
“The major new challenge in reporting news is the new shape of truth,” says Kevin Kelly, a technology author and co-founder of Wired magazine. “Truth is no longer dictated by authorities, but is networked by peers. For every fact there is a counterfact. All those counterfacts and facts look identical online, which is confusing to most people.”
For every fact there is a counterfact and all those counterfacts and facts look identical online – Kevin Kelly, co-founder Wired magazine 
For those behind the made-up stories, the ability to share them widely on social media means a slice of the advertising revenue that comes from clicks as people follow the links to their webpages. It was found that many of the stories were coming from a small town in Macedonia where young people were using it as a get-rich scheme, paying Facebook to promote their posts and reaping the rewards of the huge number visits to their websites.
“The difference that social media has made is the scale and the ability to find others who share your world view,” says Will Moy, director of Full Fact, an independent fact-checking organisation based in the UK. “In the past it was harder for relatively fringe opinions to get their views reinforced. If we were chatting around the kitchen table or in the pub, often there would be a debate.”
But such debates are happening less and less. Information spreads around the world in seconds, with the potential to reach billions of people. But it can also be dismissed with a flick of the finger. What we choose to engage with is self-reinforcing and we get shown more of the same. It results in an exaggerated “echo chamber” effect.
People are quicker to assume they are being lied to but less quick to assume people they agree with are lying, which is a dangerous tendency – Will Moy, director of Full Fact 
“What is noticeable about the two recent referendums in the UK - Scottish independence and EU membership - is that people seem to be clubbing together with people they agreed with and all making one another angrier,” says Moy. “The debate becomes more partisan, more angry and people are quicker to assume they are being lied to but less quick to assume people they agree with are lying. That is a dangerous tendency.”
The challenge here is how to burst these bubbles. One approach that has been tried is to challenge facts and claims when they appear on social media. Organisations like Full Fact, for example, look at persistent claims made by politicians or in the media, and try to correct them. (The BBC also has its own fact-checking unit, called Reality Check.)
Research by Resnick suggests this approach may not be working on social media, however. He has been building software that can automatically track rumours on Twitter, dividing people into those that spread misinformation and those that correct it. “For the rumours we looked at, the number of followers of people who tweeted the rumour was much larger than the number of followers of those who corrected it,” he says. “The audiences were also largely disjointed. Even when a correction reached a lot of people and a rumour reached a lot of people, they were usually not the same people. The problem is, corrections do not spread very well.”
The problem is that corrections do not spread very well – Paul Resnick, University of Michigan 
One example of this that Resnick and his team found was a mistake that appeared in a leaked draft of a World Health Organisation report that stated many people in Greece who had HIV had infected themselves in an attempt to get welfare benefits. The WHO put out a correction, but even so, the initial mistake reached far more people than the correction did. Another rumour suggested the rapper Jay Z had died and reached 900,000 people on Twitter. Around half that number were exposed to the correction. But only a tiny proportion were exposed to both the rumour and correction.
This lack of overlap is a specific challenge when it comes to political issues. Moy fears the traditional watchdogs and safeguards put in place to ensure those in power are honest are being circumvented by social media.
“On Facebook political bodies can put something out, pay for advertising, put it in front of millions of people, yet it is hard for those not being targeted to know they have done that,” says Moy. “They can target people based on how old they are, where they live, what skin colour they have, what gender they are. We shouldn’t think of social media as just peer-to-peer communication - it is also the most powerful advertising platform there has ever been.”
We shouldn’t think of social media as just peer-to-peer communication, it is also the most powerful advertising platform there has ever been – Will Moy, director of Full Fact 
But it may count for little. “We have never had a time when it has been so easy to advertise to millions of people and not have the other millions of us notice,” he says.
Twitter and Facebook both insist they have strict rules on what can be advertised and particularly on political advertising. Regardless, the use of social media adverts in politics can have a major impact. During the run up to the EU referendum, the Vote Leave campaign paid for nearly a billion targeted digital adverts, mostly on Facebook, according to one of its campaign managers. One of those was the claim that the UK pays £350m a week to the EU - a figure Sir Andrew Dilnot, the chair of the UK Statistics Authority, described as misleading. In fact the UK pays around £276m a week to the EU because of a rebate.
“We need some transparency about who is using social media advertising when they are in election campaigns and referendum campaigns,” says Moy. “We need to be more equipped to deal with this - we need watchdogs that will go around and say, ‘Hang on, this doesn’t stack up’ and ask for the record to be corrected.”
(Credit: Getty Images)
Many people are worried that fundamental disagreement over basic facts is damaging the democratic process (Credit: Getty Images)
Social media sites themselves are already taking steps. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, recently spelled out his concerns about the spread of hoaxes, misinformation and polarisation on social media in a 6,000-word letter he posted online. In it he said Facebook would work to reduce sensationalism in its news feed on its site by looking at whether people have read content before sharing it. It has also updated its advertising policiesto reduce spam sites that profit off fake stories, and added tools to let users flag fake articles.
Other tech giants also claim to be taking the problem seriously. Apple’s Tim Cook recently raised concerns about fake news, and Google says it is working on ways to improve its algorithms so they take accuracy into account when displaying search results. “Judging which pages on the web best answer a query is a challenging problem and we don’t always get it right,” says Peter Barron, vice president of communications for Europe, Middle East and Asia at Google.
When non-authoritative information ranks too high in our search results, we develop scalable, automated approaches to fix the problems, rather than manually removing these one by one. We recently made improvements to our algorithm that will help surface more high quality, credible content on the web. We’ll continue to change our algorithms over time in order to tackle these challenges.”
Judging which pages on the web best answer a query is a challenging problem and we don’t always get it right – Peter Barron, Google 
For Rohit Chandra, vice president of engineering at Yahoo, more humans in the loop would help. “I see a need in the market to develop standards,” he says. "We can’t fact-check every story, but there must be enough eyes on the content that we know the quality bar stays high.” 
Google is also working with fact-checking organisations like Full Fact to develop new technologies that can identify and even correct false claims. Together they are creating an automated fact-checker that will monitor claims made on TV, in newspapers, in parliament or on the internet.
Initially it will be targeting claims that have already been fact-checked by humans and send out corrections automatically in an attempt to shut down rumours before they get started. As artificial intelligence gets smarter, the system will also do some fact-checking of its own.
“For a claim like ‘crime is rising’, it is relatively easy for a computer to check,” says Moy. “We know where to get the crime figures and we can write an algorithm that can make a judgement about whether crime is rising. We did a demonstration project last summer to prove we can automate the checking of claims like that. The challenge is going to be writing tools that can check specific types of claims, but over time it will become more powerful.”
What would Watson do?
It is an approach being attempted by a number of different groups around the world. Researchers at the University of Mississippi and Indiana University are both working on an automated fact-checking system. One of the world’s most advanced AIs has also had a crack at tackling this problem. IBM has spent several years working on ways that its Watson AI could help internet users distinguish fact from fiction. They built a fact-checker app that could sit in a browser and use Watson’s language skills to scan the page and give a percentage likelihood of whether it was true. But according to Ben Fletcher, senior software engineer at IBM Watson Research who built the system, it was unsuccessful in tests - but not because it couldn’t spot a lie.
“We got a lot of feedback that people did not want to be told what was true or not,” he says. “At the heart of what they want, was actually the ability to see all sides and make the decision for themselves. A major issue most people face without knowing it is the bubble they live in. If they were shown views outside that bubble they would be much more open to talking about them.”
We got a lot of feedback that people did not want to be told what was true or not – Ben Fletcher, IBM Watson Research 
This idea of helping break through the isolated information bubbles that many of us now live in comes up again and again. By presenting people with accurate facts it should be possible to at least get a debate going. But telling people what is true and what is not does not seem to work. For this reason, IBM shelved its plans for a fact-checker.
“There is a large proportion of the population in the US living in what we would regard as an alternative reality,” says Lewandowsky. “They share things with each other that are completely false. Any attempt to break through these bubbles is fraught with difficulty as you are being dismissed as being part of a conspiracy simply for trying to correct what people believe. It is why you have Republicans and Democrats disagreeing over something as fundamental as how many people appear in a photograph.”
One approach Lewandowsky suggests is to make search engines that offer up information that may subtly conflict with a user’s world view. Similarly, firms like Amazon could offer up films and books that provide an alternative viewpoint to the products a person normally buys.
There is a large proportion of the population living in what we would regard as an alternative reality – Stephan Lewandowsky, University of Bristol 
“By suggesting things to people that are outside their comfort zone but not so far outside they would never look at it you can keep people from self-radicalising in these bubbles,” says Lewandowsky. “That sort of technological solution is one good way forward. I think we have to work on that.”
Google is already doing this to some degree. It operates a little known grant scheme that allows certain NGOs to place high-ranking adverts in response to certain searches. It is used by groups like the Samaritans so their pages rank highly in a search by someone looking for information about suicide, for example. But Google says anti-radicalisation charities could also seek to promote their message on searches about so-called Islamic State, for example.
But there are understandable fears about powerful internet companies filtering what people see - even within these organisations themselves. For those leading the push to fact-check information, better tagging of accurate information online would be a better approach by allowing people to make up their own minds about the information.
Search algorithms are as flawed as the people who develop them – Alexios Mantzarlis, director of the International Fact-Checking Network 
“Search algorithms are as flawed as the people who develop them,” says Alexios Mantzarlis, director of the International Fact-Checking Network. “We should think about adding layers of credibility to sources. We need to tag and structure quality content in effective ways.”
Mantzarlis believes part of the solution will be providing people with the resources to fact-check information for themselves. He is planning to develop a database of sources that professional fact-checkers use and intends to make it freely available.
But what if people don’t agree with official sources of information at all? This is a problem that governments around the world are facing as the public views what they tell them with increasing scepticism.
Nesta, a UK-based charity that supports innovation, has been looking at some of the challenges that face democracy in the digital era and how the internet can be harnessed to get people more engaged. Eddie Copeland, director of government innovation at Nesta, points to an example in Taiwan where members of the public can propose ideas and help formulate them into legislation. “The first stage in that is crowdsourcing facts,” he says. “So before you have a debate, you come up with the commonly accepted facts that people can debate from.”
When people say they are worried about people being misled, what they are really worried about is other people being misled – Paul Resnick, University of Michigan 
But that means facing up to our own bad habits. “There is an unwillingness to bend one’s mind around facts that don’t agree with one’s own viewpoint,” says Victoria Rubin, director of the language and information technology research lab at Western University in Ontario, Canada. She and her team have been working to identify fake news on the internet since 2015. Will Moy agrees. He argues that by slipping into lazy cynicism about what we are being told, we allow those who lie to us to get away with it. Instead, he thinks we should be interrogating what they say and holding them to account.
Ultimately, however, there’s an uncomfortable truth we all need to address. “When people say they are worried about people being misled, what they are really worried about is other people being misled,” says Resnick. “Very rarely do they worry that fundamental things they believe themselves may be wrong.” Technology may help to solve this grand challenge of our age, but it is time for a little more self-awareness too.

  • By Richard Gray

February 27, 2017

True Trump Talent of Convincing the Acrophobic to Take The Plunge

Every Extreme dirtbag salesman has it TTT

President Trump has a unique talent: convincing people he won't rip them off.
There's just one problem. Whether you're talking about his bondholders or his shareholders or his contractors or the students at his university, it's fair to say that Trump has a long record of disappointing everyone who puts their trust in him. It's the same schtick every time. He promises to make "every dream you ever dreamed ... come true" — that's what he said during the campaign — but that is the case only if all your dreams involve getting less money than you thought you would or getting a degree that isn't worth a thing.
And now Wall Street is finding that out.
It started on election night. Trump's shocking win had sent markets into a tailspin — would he start a trade war or an actual war or who knows what else? — before they started to wonder whether he'd really be so bad for them. At which point he said the magic words: "We're going to rebuild our infrastructure." Of course, that was something he'd talked about quite a bit during the campaign, but a lot of things he'd talked about were, well, contradictory. It was hard to tell what Trump simply thought was a good tweet, and what he also thought was a good policy. So the fact that rebuilding our "highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals" was the first thing he mentioned in his victory speech seemed to suggest that it would be a major priority, which a few days later he said would run upward of $1 trillion in what Wall Street now hoped would be an administration filled with tax cuts, deregulation and stimulus (oh, my!).
Who could have guessed that it wouldn't? At least not anywhere near as much as markets were assuming a few short weeks ago. Indeed, the latest reports are that Trump's 13-figure infrastructure plan has been relegated to an election-year ruse. That Republicans will instead focus on repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting taxes, and then sometime next year try to use a plan to rebuild roads, bridges and all the rest to divide Democrats who supposedly would be torn between their hate for all things Trump and their love for public works. Which is to say that a building boom probably isn’t going to happen. 
Congressional Republicans don't really want to do it, and congressional Democrats don't want to do it the way Trump does with tax breaks rather than direct spending. And no, Trump isn’t going to bully them into it when they've already offered up their own plan. The point is that you shouldn’t take Trump seriously or literally.

He just says whatever his audience wants to hear. That works when you're running for president, but not when you're acting as president. Take Trump's support for a "border tax." That may sound like he's endorsing an controversial idea by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) to overhaul the corporate tax system so that domestic consumption — including what we buy overseas, but not what we sell — rather than global profits are taxed, but, well, it's not clear. Trump, you see, has used the words "border tax" to refer to outright tariffs, to a tax on companies that outsource jobs and, yes, to Ryan's "border-adjustment tax." Which one did he mean? Good question.
Wall Street is banking on something that’s no more real than a Trump University degree.

February 24, 2017

Trump Promised to Protect the LGBT then Forgets What the ’T' is for

 Ironic but now the LGBT community can see him as he is “An Emperor with no clothes”

In a total surprise after Trump said he will protect LGBT students he has turn around and forgotten what the “T” stands for. on LGBT which he promise he will protect.  No wonder people say his level of reading comprehension is very low. How can a man run and after winning, again doubles down on his supports and commitment for this LGBT community then turns around and sticks a knife in them.
We’ve learn that is his m.o. (modus operandi).

 Right after his election he tried to backtrack with the whole gay community but changed his mind thinking of how unpopular that would be and besides the gay community has reached the backing of the law by the Supreme Court and in many legislatures in many states. It is said his son in law Mr. Jarrett and his daughter,  convinced him otherwise to reconsider and so he did but he would have never have changed his mind if it wasn’t that he realized he was going to get a lot of heat in his presidency too early on. He figures there is always later.

The Transgender community does not enjoy the advances the gay community has enjoyed.
That is why they fought so hard when some red states made an issue where there was none, about the use of the bathrooms. At the same time you saw the bigotry against this community since it is the least understood, come out.  Now people who never knew the so called problem existed now they were “scared, concern could not let it go on” There was legislation on the pike for the Transgender community but the Republicans had been dragging their feet for two years on this. Everyone thought with another Democratic administration their protections would advance but no luck there. They got a man that can turn his promises around on a dime! It’s still stinging and hurtful.  The Emperor with no clothes now and also fat wearing a speedo with a full shoulder nudge from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is dropping protections for transgender youth looking to use, of all things, a school bathroom.

For a national leader who continually talks about unity and public support, it’s a divisive and cruel move. He’s erasing a guarantee in the battle for equality and basing the decision on the doctrine of states rights, a cloak that bigots misuse to dodge federal directives — especially those dealing with civil rights.

The net effect overturns an Obama directive and needlessly reignites a culture war issue. It allows states and school districts to set the rules on whether to allow transgender students to use toilet facilities and locker rooms based on their gender identity, not birth certificate. But it also gives license to bullying and discrimination and deepens a sense of separation for an emerging minority.

During his campaign, Trump signaled sympathy, saying transgender people had the right to “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate.” But he also worked hard to win support from religious conservatives, who oppose the idea. Since taking office, he’s continued that shift by picking Sessions, a longtime foe of gay rights, as attorney general.
In California the reversal will have little impact since state laws and most school boards fully support transgender access. Nationally it will be another story. There are an estimated 150,000 transgender youths between 13 and 17 years old, according to the Williams Institute, a think tank at the UCLA law school.

The White House argues that the Obama administration went too far in using federal laws barring sex discrimination in schools. That, at least, was the legal rationale used by religious minded critics who talked up fears of sexual predators and wholesale loss of privacy.

If there’s any consolation, it’s that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reportedly struggled to convince Trump to stick with the access rule. But she lost out to Sessions, who viewed access as an intrusion on state powers and wanted no part of defending legal cases testing the law.

By backing away from transgender rights, Trump is punishing the group and rewarding his most strident followers. He’s also showing that his campaign rhetoric about tolerance can mean little when the pressure builds.

January 25, 2017

The Alternate Truth and Interesting Real Truths Today

A New ATT:

The following appeared on NBC site and it shows by quoting different media sources how Alternate Truth Trump (ATT), disregards the Truth and feels very comfortable looking at the camera in the lens and saying the opposite of the truth. We have always known that politicians lie. Some people were quoted as saying they voted for Trump (ATT) because he was  different than politicians and he said it ‘how it is’. 

The problem with Trump is that he is not your regular everyday bread and butter politician. 
He makes his own truth. Politicians tend to stretch or hide the truth. Trump*ATT does it differently with the truth. He lives the truth where it is and makes his own.  Some Preachers do it all the time and so does magicians.  Those two professions depend on the followers not only to trust them but to pay money to see and listen to them. The truth is the truth no matter what, the problem is that you mostly need words to describe the truth and there is where people that get paid to play with the truth have the advantage. Trump has enough of ‘something’ to believe he can conn the whole nation with his alternative truth (alternative truth is adjective introduced by Trump’s Press Secretary and KellyAnne his Special Assistant).

The President is going to show this nation how smart it the nation is and he is going to play with the truth and our sense of decency and certain truths we have always held close to us and thus making mistakes have developed in 200+ years a nation many envy and will kill just to be part of it.  This is another test of the people we truly are and the attack this time comes from within. Only time will tell who wins. During this four years we should look in the mirror often (just a thought).

The Washington Post: "Donald Trump, having propelled his presidential campaign to victory while often disregarding the truth, now is testing the proposition that he can govern the country that way." 
He is expected to sign an order to fund a border wall. More, from Kristen Welker: "President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order Wednesday to begin paying for a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, a senior administration official told NBC News on Tuesday night, taking the first step toward fulfilling his marquee campaign promise. The official, who asked not to be identified, said Trump would likely sign the order — which would shift money from other federal programs to the wall project — during an appearance Wednesday at the Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The official said Trump still intends for Mexico to end up paying for the wall eventually." 
More from the Washington Post: "It was not yet clear late Tuesday whether DACA would be addressed as part of Trump's immigration actions, according to a White House official, because of differing views among Trump's advisers and associates about the timing, scope and political benefits of ending the program or suspending it for new entries." 
Worth watching, via POLITICO: "Donald Trump promised during the campaign that he'd "immediately" kill Barack Obama's unilateral actions to shield hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation. Now, just four days into the new administration, immigration hardliners are demanding that the new president follow through. And they're increasingly frustrated at the shift in tone from top White House officials signaling a more compassionate approach for so-called Dreamers." 
Trump threatened to "send in the Feds" to Chicago if its "carnage" does not stop. 
And Trump on Twitter said he will be asking for a "major investigation" into voter fraud. 
The Wall Street Journal on the issues Trump will face as he tries to "put America first" on trade. "Upending existing trade rules risks hurting U.S. firms that depend on sales to Canada, China and Mexico, the top three buyers of U.S. goods and services. Moreover, global trade is anchored in regulations layered on since the end of the World War II, making it difficult to change terms without setting off a domino effect of unintended consequences. That will likely complicate the Trump administration's efforts to wrest economic concessions from existing trade partners." 
Here's NBC's Peter Alexander on Trump's order to advance the Keystone XL pipeline and Dakota Access pipeline projects. 
POLITICO on the information lockdown hitting some federal agencies. "Federal agencies are clamping down on public information and social media in the early days of Donald Trump's presidency, limiting employees' ability to issue news releases, tweet, make policy pronouncements or otherwise communicate with the outside world, according to memos and sources from multiple agencies. The steps to mute federal employees — seen to varying degrees in the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of the Interior, Transportation, Agriculture and Health and Human Services — are sparking early fears of a broader crackdown across the government, as Trump vows to pursue an agenda sharply at odds with his predecessor." 
Writes the Wall Street Journal: "Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said Gary Cohn will receive more than $100 million of stock and cash that would otherwise have been locked up for years as he leaves the Wall Street firm for a role in the Trump administration. Goldman said in a filing Tuesday that it had made available immediately Mr. Cohn's outstanding stock awards and long-term bonuses accumulated over his 25 years at the bank, many of which he spent as the heir apparent to Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein." 
The New York Times on Trump's coming Supreme Court pick: "Mr. Trump said Tuesday morning that he would make his choice by Friday and would announce next week his choice of "a truly great" justice. The three leading contenders — Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of the federal appeals court in Atlanta, Judge Neil M. Gorsuch of the federal appeals court in Denver and Judge Thomas M. Hardiman of the federal appeals court in Philadelphia — are drawn from a list of 21 conservative nominees that Mr. Trump made public during his campaign." 
Here's what Bloomberg is reporting on the SCOTUS pick: Two frontrunners and two more in the mix. 
DEM WATCH: Missing the boat on the Women's March?
NBC's Alex Seitz-Wald asks if Democrats missed the boat on the Women's March: "Established Democratic groups were slow to fully endorse the march, and made limited efforts to collect participants' information in order to communicate with them and try to convert marchers into volunteers and donors. While some groups had a presence, there were relatively few clipboards visible on the National Mall Saturday.”

January 22, 2017

Kellyanne Conway and Trump Alternative Facts = Ur Own Truth

 Kellyanne with Dan Quayle (Mr. Potatohead to others)

The phrase "alternative facts," coined by President Donald Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, buzzed around the Internet Sunday (Jan. 22), leading to amused commentary by many -- including 'NSYNC's Lance Bass.
Conway said the White House delivered "alternative facts" to those reported by the media regarding how large Trump's inauguration crowd was. Press secretary Sean Spicer backed up claims by Trump on Saturday, saying, "This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration -- period -- both in person and around the globe." Photos of his inauguration crowd compared to previous ones -- including former President Barack Obama's in 2009 -- showed otherwise. The New York Times, with the help of an expert, reported that Trump's crowd was roughly one-third of the size of Obama's.
"You're saying it's a falsehood and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that," Conway said in an interview on NBC's Meet the Press. "I don't think you can prove those numbers one way or another. There's no way to quantify crowd numbers."
 Conway's choice of words baffled many and made way for some jokes as the hashtag #AlternativeFacts was born on social media.
Bass mocked Trump's counselor, tweeting, "As a member of the @backstreetboys, I had a love child with @BettyMWhite. #AlternativeFacts” 
Conway was also parodied on SNL Saturday night in a Chicago-inspired skitthat imagined why she joined Trump's campaign.
Meanwhile, the ‘NSYNC singer kept busy this weekend, taking part in the Women's March in Los Angeles, where he carried a sign that read "Gays Love Vaginas."

November 28, 2016

Fed.Gov’t Will Become a Joke as Trump Makes Up His Own Untrue Facts

“There He Goes Again” (adamfoxie)

 Needs to be first! "Now I need to build the popular vote so I can win it too.
Election Over? No, they are still counting votes.”

In a tweet Sunday afternoon, President-elect Donald Trump said he won the popular vote in Nov. 8’s election if “you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

There has been no evidence of the widespread voter fraud that would have had to taken place to give Clinton millions of illegitimate votes.

While Trump won the presidential election overwhelmingly in the Electoral College, where the Republican collected 306 votes to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 232, the most recent tallies indicate that he lost the popular vote to Clinton by more than 2 million votes, according to NPR.

The winner of the popular vote has lost in presidential elections four times before, but some of Clinton’s supporters have argued that her large lead and likely victory in the popular vote should force politicians to reconsider the electoral college system. Several petitions asking electors to defy the results of their particular vote and vote for Clinton have garnered millions of signatures, though the likelihood of that happening is almost non-existent according to most political observers.

In the past week, Clinton’s campaign has said it will join in recount efforts in the state of Wisconsin started by Green Party nominee Jill Stein. While Clinton’s campaign said it had uncovered no evidence of voter fraud or illegal hacking, several cybersecurity experts and political advisers have urged the Democrat to challenge the election results in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, according to a New York Magazine report.

Trump, for his part, argued on the campaign trail that the electoral system was “rigged” against him and urged his supporters to take steps to fight voter fraud, including casting multiple ballots or registering as poll watchers on Election Day, leading some to fear there would be incidents of voter intimidation. However, most reports from Election Day indicated that the election proceeded smoothly, though there were a few instances of violence, per

In two follow-up tweets, Trump also argued that he would have won the popular vote “convincingly” if the Electoral College did not exist.

November 5, 2016

Ivanna Trump Worked Illegally in the US Earning Thousands

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has put illegal immigration issues at the forefront of his campaign. But a new report claims that his wife, Melania Trump, worked in the United States before she had obtained a work visa and allegedly illegally earned over $20,000.
According to the Associated Press, Melania was paid $20,056 over seven weeks for 10 modeling jobs in the United States in 1996 while she was on a B1/B2 visitor visa. The news outlet cites detailed accounting ledgers, contracts and related documents from 20 years ago in their reporting.
The B1/B2 visitor visa allowed Melania to stay in the U.S. to look for work, but not to perform paid work in the country. Melania, through immigration attorney Michael J. Wildes, released a statement on Oct. 5 confirming she came to the United States from Slovenia on August 27, 1996 and pursued a B-1/B-2 visitor visa. However, Wildes also said that Trump didn’t obtain her work visa until nearly two months later. 


“Shortly, therefore, on October 18, 1996, the U.S. Embassy in Slovenia issued Mr. Trump her first H1-B visa, a category which authorizes employment as a model in the United States. Mrs. Trump was thereafter consistently issued H1-B visas, five in total, between October 1996 and 2001, at which point she became a lawful permanent resident, or ‘green card’ holder,” Wildes wrote.
Documents provided to the AP, however, indicate that Melania was paid for work between Sept. 10 and Oct. 15 — therefore making the income earned outside of the bounds of her visa.
A Trump campaign spokesperson did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Wildes did issue a statement to the AP after reviewing their source material — which they said included ledgers, accounting documents and a management agreement signed by Melania from Metropolitan International Management.
He told the AP that “these documents, which have not been verified, do not reflect our records including corresponding passport stamps.” The AP said he did not elaborate or answer additional questions asking for clarification.  
In August, she responded to reportsquestioning the legality of her immigration.
“Let me set the record straight: I have at all times been in full compliance with the immigration laws of this country. Period,” she said in a statement on Twitter. “Any allegation to the contrary is simply untrue. In July 2006, I proudly became a U.S. citizen. Over the past 20 years, I have been fortunate to live, work and raise a family in this great nation and I share my husband’s love for our country.”The potential first lady has refused to make her immigration papers public, despite a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Democratic Coalition Against Trump.

Report stating that Melania Trump’s former records suggest that she was on a tourist visa when she was modeling and therefore not allowed to work.

 On Thursday, she talked about her decision to come to the United States while giving a speech for her husband.
“As a young entrepreneur, I wanted to follow my dream to a place where freedom and opportunity were in abundance. So of course, I came here,” Melania said. “Living and working in America was a true blessing — but I wanted something more. I wanted to be an American.”

People Magazine
*In 1971, she married real estate agent Alfred Winklemeier, but they were divorced in 1973. In 1975 she left Czechoslovakia for Canada to be with a childhood friend, George Syrovatka, who owned a ski boutique there. For the following two years she lived in Montreal and worked as a model for some of Canada's top fur companies. She then left Syrovatka and moved to New York to promote the Montreal Olympics.

It was in New York that she met Donald Trump, son of prominent real estate developer Fred Trump. On April 7, 1977, she married Donald John Trump, in a lavish society wedding. Donald and Ivana Trump became leading figures in New York's high society and business during the 1980s. 

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