Showing posts with label Power Political. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Power Political. Show all posts

February 16, 2020

How Is the Corona Virus Politicly Impacting China and It's Future ?

Poster displaying a map of China on the four characters reading 武汉肺炎 meaning Wuhan pneumonia. Image used with permission.
What started at a seafood market as a local health issue has grown into a national health crisis in China. After the Wuhan coronavirus was identified in December 2019, a chain reaction was set in motion that has profoundly shaken Chinese society and challenged Beijing’s political stability
Gripped by its obsession with information control, the Chinese government, both local and central, delayed the release of life-saving information for weeks. When they suddenly announced drastic measures to prevent the spread of the epidemic in late January, for many it was much too late as the Chinese New Year kick-off celebrations had already begun. 
Doctors and scientists are still researching and debating the possible origin of the previously unknown Wuhan coronavirus, also called COVID-2019, a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and can lead to pneumonia. One possible theory is that it comes from snakes or bats that are consumed as a delicacy in China and were sold at the Huanan wet market in Wuhan where the virus is believed to originate.
One of the key questions determining the spread of the virus is its transmissibility: whether it can jump from human to human, and how many people can be infected on average by the same virus carrier. The latest medical evidence indicates there is a human-to-human transmission, and what is concerning is that it seems to happen before the virus carrier develops symptoms, thus making detection incredibly challenging.
As for the rate of transmission, called “basic reproduction number” by epidemiologists, it is believed to be between 2 to 3 in late January, meaning one person infects two to three persons, but the numbers are still being discussed and require further research should proper data be made available. 
As the figure of infected people rises daily, a major health crisis has developed in China’s central province of Hubei and its capital Wuhan that has a combined population of nearly 60 million people. As cases have been confirmed all over China, all medical staff are on alert, adding pressure on a medical system that is often insufficient for such a large and aging population. 
But the Wuhan coronavirus is not just a health crisis, it is also a major political moment of truth. Trust in the government that claimed there was nothing to worry about until very late in the game has eroded public confidence significantly, and not just in Hubei province. Beijing was criticized for the way it mishandled the SARS crisis in 2002-2003 as it concealed information from the World Health Organization (WHO). China’s top leader Xi Jinping kept silent on the recent outbreak until January 20 when he recognized the severity of the situation in a public statement – over one month after the first cases had been identified. Control of information remains tight, and as China is experiencing a trade war with the US and an economic slowdown, the handling of the Wuhan coronavirus crisis will determine the course of Chinese society and politics in 2020. 

June 3, 2019

"Mueller is as elliptical as Barr is diabolical"


When I was a political reporter at The Times, I had an editor who told me never to give anyone a Homeric epithet.

Such epithets denote a permanent trait, the editor explained, and people in the caldron of politics were mutable. So if I called that Republican strategist “savvy” this week, the man might do something dumb the following week. (And that is exactly what happened.)

But I might have to make an exception for William Barr. Homer had a couple of epithets that would suit our attorney general: “crooked-counseling” and “devious-devising” come to mind.

In an interview in Alaska for “CBS This Morning,” Jan Crawford asked Barr — who was doing his best Cheneyesque dour-jowly-outdoorsman under the Big Sky routine — if he was worried about his reputation. 

Barr came into the job, Crawford said, with a good reputation on the right and the left and now he stands “accused of protecting the president, enabling the president, lying to Congress.”

In Homer’s epic poems, reputation is more exalted than life itself. But in Donald Trump’s epic reign as the hotheaded, ammonia-haired, serpent-tongued destroyer of worlds, political survival is paramount, no matter the venality involved or the cost to your reputation.

Barr responded to Crawford with fatalism, saying “everyone dies” and he doesn’t believe in “the Homeric idea” that immortality comes by “having odes sung about you over the centuries, you know?”

It’s a good thing, too, because no one will be singing odes about this general being lionhearted in the rosy-fingered dawn. 

Barr is not so much the attorney general as the minister of information. His interview with Crawford was tactically brilliant. Barr once more deftly took advantage of the fact that Mueller, with his impenetrable legalese and double negatives, has handcuffed himself.

Even when the reclusive and mute Mueller finally stepped up to the lectern on Wednesday, he was still hiding.

“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” said Mueller, sounding like Odysseus struggling to navigate between Scylla and Charybdis. “We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”

Mueller is as elliptical as Barr is diabolical. The special counsel is clearly frustrated that we don’t understand his reasoning. But his reasoning is nonsensical.

Adding insult to injury, the man whose whole career has been about asking the tough questions wouldn’t even take questions. And he doesn’t want to deign to testify about his $35 million report.

Mueller was trying to let himself off the hook by insisting that he couldn’t reach a conclusion on the president’s obstruction because he was bound by a Department of Justice opinion stating that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Plus, he layered on some extra “principles of fairness.”

But talking to Crawford, Barr took the knife he had already stuck in his old friend and twisted it, using St. Mueller’s prestige against him. He said Mueller, in fact, was not barred from reaching a conclusion, and this is why a “surprised” Barr and his former deputy, Rod Rosenstein, had to step in and reach a conclusion on obstruction, one ending up favoring Trump.

After indicating that Mueller was derelict and misguided, Barr went ahead and belittled him and his dream team as inept.

Dismissively noting he and Rosenstein did not agree with a lot of the legal analysis in the Mueller report, Barr said he applied what he considered to be “the right law,” though he confusingly said he didn’t rely on that when pronouncing Mueller’s evidence “deficient” on the 11 instances of potential obstruction laid out in the report.

When Barr moved on to his investigation of the investigators who worked on the case of possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, he really bared his claws.

About the F.B.I. team that did the investigating, Barr backed up all of Trump’s deep-state rants, saying: “Republics have fallen because of Praetorian Guard mentality where government officials get very arrogant, they identify the national interest with their own political preferences and they feel that anyone who has a different opinion, you know, is somehow an enemy of the state.” He added, ominously, “Things are just not jiving.”

Just as Barr enables Trump, Mueller enabled Barr.

Mueller’s argument seems to be that he can’t report on what his facts mean because the president has immunity from prosecution. But that doesn’t follow. If you believe Trump committed a crime, even if you can’t indict him now, why not say so? Otherwise, what was the point of the investigation? All Mueller was asked to do was to describe what he found and give his conclusions; then the Justice Department and Congress could do what they wanted.

As Walter Dellinger, an acting solicitor general in the Clinton administration, tweeted: “Everyone agrees a president can be indicted once he is out of office. That (in addition to impeachment) is a reason to gather the evidence now while docs are available and memories fresh.” 

But, tangled up in some overweening idea of fairness, the ultimate straight arrow decided to remain agnostic even though his job did not require agnosticism. And that made him weirdly complicit in Barr’s whitewashing of Trump.

Mueller colored inside the lines and Barr seized the narrative. Rectitude was Mueller’s Achilles’ heel.

Sometimes it’s hard to know who is worse: devils or saints.
I invite you to follow me on Twitter (@MaureenDowd) 

Maureen Brigid Dowd is an American columnist for The New York Times and an author. During the 1970s and the early 1980s, Dowd worked for Time magazine and the Washington Star, where she covered news and sports and wrote feature articles. Wikipedia

April 6, 2018

The Three Ultra Rich Families Which 'ARE' The Republican Party

The GOP~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


This week, the House and Senate will work to reconcile their different versions of the tax bill into something that president Donald Trump can sign into law. As they do, dozens of protests and rallies against the bill are being planned from California to Chicago to Staten Island, New York. Citizens are frantically organizing to try to shut down the only major legislative success of a president who ran on a platform of populism, and Democrats are growing optimistic about flipping one or both houses of Congress. How did the country get here just a year after Donald Trump’s historic win?
To understand that, you need to look back to the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision in 2010, which opened the floodgates for wealthy donors in political races. Since then, corporations and the rich have plowed money into both parties. Three extremely wealthy families, the Mercers, the Kochs, and the Adelsons, all prominent donors to the Republican party, now seem locked in a struggle over the future of the GOP.
As campaigning for the midterm elections in November 2018 gets under way, the three families are facing off against each other in battleground states. They’re lighting a fire under Republican politicians who are now determined to get something, anything, passed in Washington—even if it’s a last-minute tax bill that most voters don’t agree with and legislators barely had time to read.
But Republicans who fail to pass tax reform risk losing donor support, and getting wiped out by a rival Republican candidate. As Lindsay Graham, the veteran Republican senator from South Carolina, told an NBC news reporter early last month, a failed tax reform will look a lot like a failed party. 

The donors’ battle inside the GOP

Early in 2014, over a dozen big-name Republican donors attended a meeting in New York City organized by a wealthy hedge fund executive. They had one goal—come up with a strategy to win back the US senate from the Democrats in November.
A veteran Republican strategist laid out an optimistic battle plan capped with the GOP taking the House and Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, then minority leader, leading the Senate. At the mention of McConnell’s name, an audible groan came from one corner of the room—Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of hedge fund tycoon Robert Mercer, was making her displeasure known. “I can’t think of anything worse,” Mercer said, according to one attendee.
She would rather Democrats controlled the Senate “than have McConnell as the majority leader,” the attendee said, still sounding mystified years later. The Mercer’s “mindset is totally different from a traditional Republican donor mindset,” he said.
In recent decades, the US’s two-party system had been pretty tribal. Whether a Democrat or Republican, you mostly counted yourself a winner when you got more of your team into power than the other guys. That tribal glue started to give way when the insurgent Tea Party movement appeared in 2009, fielding ultra-conservative candidates against establishment Republicans in many congressional districts and splitting the party into two camps. It nonetheless remained largely united against the common enemy of president Barack Obama.
But since Trump, with no ties to either camp or its ideology, defeated a raft of other candidates for the presidential nomination last year, the Republicans have been cast into a growing civil war between mainstream conservatives, Tea Party-inspired libertarians, and the xenophobic and misogynistic groundswell that Trump has proven expert at tapping into. These schisms reflect genuine divisions in the Republicans’ voter base—and the Mercers, the Kochs, and the Adelsons are adept at exploiting them.

Shaking up the GOP after Obama

“If money could buy elections, Mitt Romney would have won,” was a familiar refrain among campaign finance experts and political strategists alike, after the wealthy former Massachusetts governor failed to unseat Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential race, despite outspending him by $110 million.
The Mercers, for years content to quietly donate to the Kochs’ political network, started to act alone after the Republicans’ failure to unseat president Barack Obama reportedly led Rebekah to decide (paywall) the Koch network was full of “fools.” The Koch brothers, stung by the 2012 election loss, doubled down on state races, while the Adelsons poured their money into a political action committee run by former George W. Bush chief of staff Karl Rove.
Romney’s loss had shaken the Republican party so deeply that then-party chief Reince Priebus spent months putting together a soul-searching policy paper (pdf) about the direction it should go, based on thousands of interviews. Most people think Republicans don’t care about Americans, it found, and the party needs to reach out to women, and minorities. It included advice that now seems unfathomably quaint, like (pg. 6):
The Republican Party must be the champion of those who seek to climb the economic ladder of life. Low-income Americans are hardworking people who want to become hard-working middle-income Americans. Middle-income Americans want to become upper-middle-income, and so on. We need to help everyone make it in America.
We have to blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.
But America’s GOP oligarchs did not appear to have read the report. The congressional candidates that the three families have backed (sometimes together) bore little resemblance to that GOP prescriptive.
Instead, they helped launch a new era of even less compassionate Republicans that included a woman who thinks the UN is a conspiracy and wants to eliminate the minimum wage, and a former doctor who crafted a health-care bill that allow insurance companies to charge people with pre-existing conditions more. 
Unlike Romney, these radical new candidates won. But Republican experts warn that the families’ picks may eventually hollow out the Republican party by pushing policies that American voters reject, or set the stage for a full-fledged revolt.
The latest example is the openly racist Roy Moore, the candidate in Alabama’s December 2017 special election for the Senate, who has been accused of sexually assaulting several teens when he was in his 30s. Moore, who is championed by former (paywall) White House advisor and Mercer family affiliate Stephen Bannon, secured the backing of Trump, and the Republican National Committee this week.
“The RNC is the president’s political arm, and we support him and his agenda,” a RNC official told Quartz today (Dec. 5). But Republican strategists say it’s a huge gamble.
“If the party nominates the slate of candidates that the Mercers are backing, [Democratic Senator Chuck] Schumer will be the Senate majority leader, and [Democratic representative] Nancy Pelosi will be the speaker of the House” in 2018, said one long-time Republican strategist and donor who is aligned with the Adelsons, before the Republican Party threw its support behind Moore on Dec. 4.
“If people question why Trump is unable to get anything accomplished, it will be the fault of the Mercers and Steve Bannon.”

Three Republican families, three visions

The influence of these three families offers a stark illustration of how extreme wealth can distort a democracy.
Each family is closely tied to the Republican leader of one branch of government: Robert, Diana, and Rebekah Mercer helped propel Trump’s bombastic rise to the White House. Industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch funded the Tea Party and its protege, House speaker Paul Ryan. And while casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam Ochsorn are on the party’s more moderate wing, they have long stood behind the calculating, conservative Senate leader, McConnell, who even before the Tea Party’s rise was known as an extreme obstructionist (paywall), dedicated to stomping out the bipartisan compromises that historically made the US government work. 
The Adelsons favor pro-Israel policies. Despite their anti-regulation stance, they are keen to squelch the growth of online gambling, and want to support moderate Republicans with a chance of picking up swing voters.
The Koch brothers have funded and organized a vast network of libertarian think tanks and grassroots movements aimed at sowing distrust of “big government” and climate science, the better to benefit their massive fossil fuel-heavy Koch Industries. There are other Republican donors who have spent more money, but the Koch’s network gives them great influence.
The Mercers seem to hold the most extreme social views: Robert Mercer complained that the US started going in the wrong direction “after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s,” according to a lawsuit filedby a former employee. He reportedly invested $10 million in 2011 into Breitbart, the news site run by one-time Trump adviser Steve Bannon, which regularly airs white-supremacist views. Early last month, Robert Mercer quit the hedge fund he worked at for years, and said he’d sold his stake in Breitbart News to his daughter, but he’s reportedly getting even deeper into politics.
Emboldened by Trump’s presidential victory, the Mercer family has been siding with extremist candidates for 2018 congressional races, hoping to wipe out incumbent Republicans and yank Senate leader McConnell from his seat.
In Nevada, another Mercer-backed Republican, Danny Tarkanian, is challenging incumbent Dean Heller for the 2018 midterms, on a platform of destroying McConnell.

The Mercers are also expected to attack Republicans in Mississippi, Nevada, Maine, and Michigan during the 2018 midterms who don’t hew with their extremist views. Many narrowly won their last races, and some, like Nevada’s Heller, failed to support Trump on the campaign trail.
American historians see a titanic clash on the horizon. What’s coming next is a battle between “the very idea of democracy, and that human beings are created equal” against the notion that power in America should be concentrated in the hands of a very few, very wealthy people, just as it once was in medieval Europe, predicts Heather Richardson, a history professor at Boston College and author of several books about the GOP.

Sheldon and Miriam Adelson Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam Ochsorn were the largest individual Republican donors in 2016, after jumping headfirst into Republican funding over the past decade. Adelson donated just $1 million to Newt Gingrich’s exploratory presidential campaign in 2006. Last year, the two donated some $83 million—much of that of it in congressional races after reportedly deciding (paywall) that Donald Trump had no chance of becoming president.

Net worth: Sheldon’s holdings in Las Vegas Sands (LVS), the US’s largest casino company, give him a net worth of $36 billion according to Forbes. Miriam, an Israeli doctor who researches drug dependencies, owned an equal share in LVS as recently as 2012, but her net worth is not listed separately.
How they donate: The couple are the largest supporters to the “Senate Leadership Fund,” linked to Mitch McConnell, which claims it has one goal—“to protect and expand the Republican Senate Majority.” In 2016, the couple donated $46 million to the fund, followed by Karl Rove’s One Nation, which donated about $22 million and works with the Senate Leadership fund to support the same politicians. They also supported Future45, an anti-Trump PAC with the tagline “America Deserves Better.”
Who they back: Traditional “establishment Republicans” like Arizona’s Flake—who has been an outspoken critic of Trump.
These include politicians who are fiscally conservative, who aren’t openly anti-gay marriage, but are probably supporters of Israel. The Adelsons fear that backing more extremist Republicans may drive moderate voters away, ultimately putting Democrats in power, strategists say.
FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2013, file photo, Americans for Prosperity Foundation Chairman David Koch speaks in Orlando, Fla. The United Negro College Fund announced a $25 million grant from Koch Industries Inc. and the Charles Koch Foundation, a large donation from the conservative powerhouse Koch name that Democrats have sought to vilify heading into the 2014 mid-term elections. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

David Koch
“Love him or hate him [Adelson] sticks to his guys,” Michael Green, a professor of politics at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. During Newt Gingrich’s 2012 presidential run, for example, “he kept Gingrich afloat, and I don’t think anyone outside the Gingrich family thought he had a chance.”
Notable quote: “I don’t agree with the Republican stance on abortion. Religion shouldn’t be political. But nothing is perfect. Supporting a free-market society and Israel are more important issues,” Ochsorn said in 2014. The Koch family has been involved in American politics since the 1930s, when Dutch immigrant Harry Koch railed against workers’ unions and New Deal programs like Social Security from a Texas newspaper he owned. His grandsons Charles, 81, and David, 77, ushered in a new eraof Republicanism in the past decade that Harry would have appreciated.
The Koch brothers are considered the architects of Congress’s 2010 “Republican wave” and the patron saints of the Freedom Caucus, a libertarian right-wing group in the House that acted as a de facto “third party” in recent votes, threatening to sink bills that more traditional Republican colleagues supported. 
Despite the Koch brothers’ initial distaste for Trump, his cabinet is stacked with people they’ve funded, from CIA head Mike Pompeo to budget director Mick Mulvaney, to a host of coal-industry linkedappointees.
Net wealth: Koch Industries, the private oil and gas empire they inherited from their father and have a controlling majority stake in, has made them both incredibly wealthy. Forbes estimates each brother is worth $48.3 billion.
How they donate: While the Kochs have personally have donated tens of millions of dollars to political causes, the network of wealthy donors and right-wing think tanks they’ve created is more important. Together the Kochs and their wealthy partners spent nearly $1 billion in the run-up to the 2016 election, and funded a grassroots libertarian movement.
When former White House advisor Steve Bannon called House majority leader Paul Ryan “a limp-dick motherf–er who was born in a petri dish at the Heritage Foundation,” the lab he was alluding to was funded by the Kochs.
The Koch brothers and their donor networks plan to spend $400 million on their candidates in the run-up to the 2018 election. They’ve also recently invested $650 million in a group that acquired Time.
Who they back: Tear-down-the-government candidates who are anti-regulation, vote against climate-change mitigation, and, at least on the campaign trail, said they wanted to repeal Obamacare.
The brothers say they are interested in civil-justice reform and slammed Trump’s Muslim ban.
Notable quote: “But if I had to vote for cancer or heart attack, why would I vote for either?”—Charles Koch in 2016, when asked by Fortunewhether he’d vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in the presidential election.

Backed by Mercer money.

The Mercers might hve stopped backing Bannon.

Robert Mercer, 70, is the former co-head of Renaissance Technologies, which runs the Medallion Fund, often referred to as the world’s most successful hedge fund for the returns it has made for the Renaissance employee-investors. Mercer, his wife, Diana, and daughter Rebekah seemed to burst onto the political scene in 2016, first backing Texas senator Ted Cruz and then Trump for president.
Net worth: Not entirely clear—Robert’s net worth is at least $1 billion based on his own investment in Medallion, Bloomberg believes. Rebekah was a stock trader briefly, and was married to a high-ranking Morgan Stanley executive. She’s listed as “retired” or “homemaker” on campaign finance databases, although elsewhere she’s known as the “First Lady of the Alt-Right.”
How they use it. The Mercer Family Foundation once funded “medical research and conventional charities,” according to a comprehensive profile of the family in the New Yorker.
In 2015, however, it donated $24.5 million (pdf, pg. 1) to charities and to political causes like the Media Research Center, which says it wants to “neutralize” mainstream media, and Reclaim New York, which critics believe is trying to cripple upstate New York government. In recent years, Robert funded Bannon’s Government Accountability Institute, and the white-nationalist Breitbart News, as Bloomberg’s extensive 2016 profile shows.
The Mercers’ other weapon is data-mining company Cambridge Analytica, which an executive brags has a “secret sauce” (paywall) that helped aid Trump. Others have questioned how effective Cambridge was. The family also invests in a company that sells machine guns, and a Florida horse farm.
Who they back. A new generation of radical, race-baiting politicians, even further right than the Freedom Caucus, who seem loosely bound to the US democratic processes. In the words of an anonymous Mercer affiliate (who sounds a lot like Bannon), Mercer’s candidates want to “blow things up and start from scratch.”
As a Cruz donor, Rebekah was so involved that she reportedly pushed him to be tougher on immigration, sparking Cruz to propose suspending all H-1 B visas. “Their decisions on getting involved or not are not empirical or data driven,” said Constantin Querard, a Republican strategist and founder of Grassroots Partners in Arizona. “It’s that larger sense—does this person have the courage and backbone to truly change things?”
Notable quotes: The Mercers avoid the press. After a video emerged last year showing Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women, Robert and Rebekah issued a statement condemning Republicans who abandoned Trump. “Those among the political elite who quake before the boombox of media blather do not appreciate the apocalyptic choice that America faces on November 8th,” it read. “We have a country to save and there is only one person who can save it.”

The one “reform” that GOP oligarchs can agree on

If there’s one thing the three families agree on, it’s cutting taxes for rich people and for the companies they control.
What unites the three families is a “feeling of grievance, which is ironic because they have all done well, financially,” noted Green, the University of Nevada professor. “Its hard to figure out exactly what they have great reason to be upset about, other than not having done even better financially.”
This October, wealthy donors in the Koch network described tax reform as a “do or die moment,” in which wealthy donors and activists would abandon the party if they didn’t get what they wanted, the Boston Globe reported. Congress’s current tax reform plan certainly addresses that, and both the House and Senate versions give wealthy families huge tax cuts on the passage of wealth down through generations.
The Senate plan specifically most benefits taxpayers who make over $500,000 a year, while eventually lowering incomes for the working class, and adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt. It will lower corporate tax rates from 35% to about 20%, while possibly knocking public school budgets and salaries for firefighters.
It’s going to be a tough sell for Republicans at home, who rushed the bill though Congress without a single Democratic vote, and will have to convince their constituents it is a good idea after passing it into law.
Tax reform was the major driver behind the Republican push to repeal and replace Obamacare, which would have allowed them to divert billions to offset tax cuts. But that turned out to be something that most Americans don’t want, Republicans learned this year after facing off with voters at acrimonious town halls. About two-thirds of Americans would prefer that Congress keep Obamacare as it is or improves it, a July survey showed—but the Senate version of the tax reform bill contains a provision that would essentially kill it as well. Most Americans, no matter what party they vote for, don’t support tax cuts for the rich or for companies, a Pew Research survey showed in September.
So far, congressional Republicans have shown the most concern about pressure from donors, not voters, though. On tax reform, “my donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again,’” Chris Collins, the Republican representative from upstate New York, said in November.
Published on QUARTZ
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September 2, 2017

Pro Russian Bots Got Activated, Attacked McCain (social media)When He Came Down on Trump

 Iam very visual and for me to understand things better I need a picture in my mind. Here are Pixel Robot icons or an isolated set of 8 bits bots vector isolated set. They are shown billions bigger of their actual size. They are cell size travelers of the internet system going from computer to computer or standing to guard a site such as Wikipedia making sure other bots with intentions of corrupting data don't come in to change their data ie. numbers of visitors. This blog uses them and internet companies use them. They make the thinking of the collective, in this case, humans into counted numbers and graphs. They make their biggest impact on the thinking of the masses where ever you find the biggest quantitative of humans like social media. It is believed they can change elections by posting incorrect data to the side with the wrong candidates and this just happened and this is what this story is all about.     {}


After violent protests rocked Charlottesville, Virginia last month, Republican Senator John McCain took to Twitter to condemn hatred and bigotry and urge President Donald Trump to speak out more forcefully.
Pro-Russian bots get activated on social media.
Within hours, an online campaign attacking McCain -- a frequent Trump critic -- began circulating, amplified with the help of automated and human-coordinated networks known as bots and cyborgs linking to blogs on “Traitor McCain” and the hashtag #ExplainMcCain

After the 2016 U.S. presidential race was subject to Russian cyber meddling, analysts say the ferocity of more recent assaults is a preview of what could be coming in the 2018 elections, when Republicans will be defending their control of both chambers of Congress.
“They haven’t stood still since 2016,” said Ben Nimmo, a senior fellow in information defense at the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council in Washington, which tracked the activity. “People have woken up to the idea that bots equal influence and lots of people will be wanting to be influencing the midterms.”
While special counsel and former FBI chief Robert Mueller keeps investigating the 2016 race, Nimmo’s work is among a number of initiatives cropping up at think tanks, start-ups, and even the Pentagon seeking to grasp how bots and influence operations are rapidly evolving. Blamed for steering political debate last year, bots used for Russian propaganda and other causes are only becoming more emboldened, researchers say.
They’re preparing “and sowing seeds of discord” and “potentially laying the groundwork for what they’re going to do in 2018 or 2020,” said Laura Rosenberger, senior fellow, and director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund.
The alliance last month unveiled Hamilton 68, an online dashboard designed to track Russian influence operations on Twitter with the hope of better highlighting sources of information.
The site culls real-time data from 600 Twitter users, analyzing trending hashtags, topics, and links. The dashboard’s developers say the accounts they selected cover those likely controlled by Russian government influence operations. Other accounts are pro-Russia users that may be loosely connected to the government and some are people influenced by the first two groups and who are active in bolstering Russian media themes. Some are bot accounts.
“Our view is that exposure is a really important element of beginning to push back on some of these efforts,” said Rosenberger, who served at the National Security Council and the State Department in the Obama administration. 

Cyborgs Vs. Bots

Short for “robot,” internet bots come in a couple of forms. There are automated versions in which software pumps out posts from social media accounts, often at rates that a human couldn’t conceivably do. Others are dubbed cyborgs -- some of their content is automatically spit out, but a person also takes over posting at times. They can also be human-run accounts that are hacked or taken over by a robot.
Not all bots are nefarious. Although researchers say pro-Russian operatives exploiting social media have made headlines lately, the use of bots is broadening as they prove they can be influential in moving narratives from niche circles and the fringes of the internet to a wider audience by spreading links to blogs and news sites, as well as popularizing memes and hashtags. That will make them a potentially potent tool for competing interests trying to influence U.S. political debate in 2018 and beyond.
It’s hard to determine from where bots originate. Analysts are able to monitor the messaging that bots latch on to, such as advocating for Russian and alt-right narratives or anti-NATO stances. Nation-states or groups helping political campaigns might look to employ bots given their power to shift debates.
And while many online campaigns are clearly fake, bots are also used in more sophisticated efforts that start from a basis in truth. 


Top theme users boosted the week after the Charlottesville clashes were “alt-right alarmism” about the left-wing anti-fascist movement, known as Antifa, according to the dashboard findings. The most-tweeted link in the Russian-linked network followed by the researchers was a petition to declare Antifa a terrorist group.
On Twitter, pro-Russian bots and cyborgs helped promote accusations that McCain allied with neo-Nazis in the past, such as during Ukraine’s civil unrest in 2013. At the time, the Arizona Republican, who is known for his tough stance against Russian meddling in Ukraine, met with and appeared on a stage with nationalist leader Oleh Tyahnybok, whose group has neo-Nazi roots. 
One Twitter account tracked by Nimmo’s lab, @TeamTrumpRussia, is what the researchers call a “pro-Kremlin cyborg site.” It averages a rate of more than 220 tweets a day, including memes about McCain in the week after the Charlottesville unrest, which left one person dead.

 Top Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have repeatedly rejected accusations the country meddled in the U.S. election, a finding at odds with the conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community. In January, the nation’s top intelligence agencies agreed that Russia interfered in the election to discredit Hillary Clinton and boost Trump, who has often appeared reluctant to embrace the findings. Trump’s intelligence chiefs, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, have agreed with the conclusions.

Putin told NBC News in June that there’s “no proof” of any involvement by Russia at the “state level.” But he did say that “patriotically minded” Russians could have been behind intrusions into Clinton’s campaign.
The drumbeat of news about Russia’s role in the election have only helped push relations with the U.S. to post-Cold War lows. Nonetheless, analysts say Russia’s longer-term goal is less focused on Trump than on helping disrupt or undermine U.S. democratic institutions -- an effort that has been under way for decades but which now has a more technological edge.
Researchers say Twitter isn’t the only domain for bots. They’re increasingly expanding to other platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn. They even operate interactive “chatbots” on mobile applications available on Facebook, said Nitin Agarwal, an information science professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Mimicking Human Behavior

“The level of sophistication among these bots is increasing and becoming more and more advanced to try to evade bot detection and suspension from Twitter and other platforms,” said Agarwal, who’s spent a decade studying the use of social media for influence operations. They’re also trying to “mimic human behavior so that they can gain your trust and they can influence your behaviors,” he said.
Because the use of bots is still new, trying to understand how they operate has become a cutting-edge field. It’s even caught the attention of the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA.
In May, the agency awarded Agarwal and Intelligent Automation Inc., a Rockville, Maryland-based technology company, a contract of up to $1.5 million over three years -- if research milestones are met -- to study the classification of “social bots,” what their intent is and how they’re applied on social media.
For researchers, Twitter is a data gold mine because users’ accounts are usually publicly available. It’s harder to access private content on Facebook.

‘Powerful Antidote’

When asked how it was responding to growing sophistication by bots, a Twitter spokeswoman referred to a June 14 blog post by Colin Crowell, the company’s vice president of public policy, government, and corporate philanthropy. Crowell outlined how Twitter is curbing “bots and other networks of manipulation,” including growing its team and resources and working “hard to detect spammy behaviors.”
“Twitter’s open and real-time nature is a powerful antidote to the spreading of all types of false information,” Crowell wrote. “This is important because we cannot distinguish whether every single Tweet from every person is truthful or not. We, as a company, should not be the arbiter of truth.”
 Since the election, Twitter and Facebook have taken steps to counter false news and kill off fake accounts. In August, Facebook said it created a software algorithm to flag stories that may be suspicious and send them to third-party fact checkers. But bots are also getting savvier at dodging detection. That poses a challenge to social media companies trying to crack down on fake accounts -- and fake news.
And with bot activity accelerating as the U.S. heads into another election season in 2018, social media companies could face further risks from these networks.
A challenge for social media companies is “how good their algorithms are at weeding out bot strikes,” Nimmo said. “That’s something that they need to be thinking of.”
— With assistance by Sarah Frier

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