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Hurricane Florence makes landfall in North Carolina

Republicans May have a Clear Path in North Carolina

The Story: Senator Richard Burr (R), who has served three terms in the Senate from Noth Carolina, is retiring. In other circumstances, this might have...

Report: Russia still using social media to roil US politics

WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia’s sweeping political disinformation campaign on U.S. social media was more far-reaching than originally thought, with troll farms working to discourage black voters and “blur the lines between reality and fiction” to help elect Donald Trump in 2016, according to reports released Monday by the Senate intelligence committee. The two studies are the most comprehensive picture yet of the Russian interference campaigns on American social media. The Senate panel has been investigating Russian interference on social media and beyond for almost two years. Intelligence committee Chairman Richard Burr said in a statement that the data shows how aggressively Russia tried to divide Americans by race, religion and ideology and erode trust in institutions. One major takeaway from both studies is the breadth of Russian interference that appeared on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook and was not frequently mentioned when its parent company testified on Capitol Hill. The study says that as attention was focused on Facebook and Twitter in 2017, the Russians shifted much of their activity to Instagram. “Instagram was a significant front in the IRA’s influence operation, something that Facebook executives appear to have avoided mentioning in congressional testimony,” the researchers wrote. The Russians’ attempts to influence Americans on social media first became widely public in the fall of 2017. Other findings in the studies: — During the week of the presidential election, posts directed to right-leaning users aimed to generate anger and suspicion and hinted at voter fraud, while posts targeted to African-Americans largely ignored mentions of the election until the last minute. — Facebook posts linked to the IRA “reveal a nuanced and deep knowledge of American culture, media, and influencers in each community the IRA targeted.” Certain memes appeared on pages targeted to younger people but not older people.
Trump arrives in NC to survey Florence damage

Trump arrives in NC to survey Florence damage

President Trump meets with federal and local officials from North Carolina to be briefed on the ongoing disaster relief following Hurricane Florence.

John Brennan threatens to sue Trump over stripped security clearance

The former CIA director John Brennan is threatening legal action against Donald Trump, after he was summarily stripped of his security clearance in an unprecedented display of presidential pique. Read more Brennan took to the airways on Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press and made clear that he had no intention of being cowered by Trump’s bombshell action to deprive him of access to classified information. The unparalleled move has triggered an equally unparalleled blowback from 13 of the most revered national security figures in the country, who penned a joint letter decrying the move as “ill-considered and unprecedented”. Brennan said he had been contacted by a number of lawyers and was actively weighing his options. He told NBC that in his opinion the revoking of his security clearance was Trump’s way of trying to scare other existing and former government officials. He said: “I am going to do whatever I can to try and prevent these abuses occurring in the future and if that means going to court I will do that.” While the former CIA director has been busily doubling down on his criticism of Trump, the White House and its supporters in Congress have also been energetically mounting a campaign of character assassination against him. Richard Burr, the Republican chair of the Senate intelligence committee, began the outpouring last week when he suggested that any comment by Brennan accusing Trump of possible collusion with Russia that had been based on classified information gathered since he left the CIA would constitute an intelligence breach. When he was CIA director I was very troubled by … what I thought was his politicization of the intelligence community John Bolton On Sunday, national security adviser John Bolton echoed the claim when he told ABC’s This Week: “A number of people have commented that [Brennan] couldn’t be in the position he’s in of criticizing President Trump and his so-called collusion with Russia unless he did use classified information.” Bolton was forced to admit he could point to no specific examples of any such breach. Instead, he further cast aspersions on Brennan by questioning his actions while in office as Barack Obama’s final CIA director. “When he was CIA director I was very troubled by his conduct, by statements he made in public and by what I thought was his politicization of the intelligence community,” Bolton said, again without offering specifics.

Facebook Identifies an Active Political Influence Campaign Using Fake Accounts

Image WASHINGTON — Facebook said on Tuesday that it had identified a coordinated political influence campaign that was potentially designed to disrupt November’s midterm elections, with the social network detecting and removing 32 pages and fake accounts that engaged in activity around divisive social issues. American intelligence officials have indicated that at least one other unnamed Democratic senator up for re-election has been targeted. And Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, and other executives mounted a media blitz after the announcement to explain what the company did and did not know about the influence campaign. Facebook executives characterized the continuing battle with foreign campaigns as a cat-and-mouse game, but said they were making progress to detect suspicious activity more quickly. Unlike many of the alleged Russian trolls in 2016, who paid for Facebook ads in rubles and occasionally used Russian internet protocol addresses, these accounts used advanced security techniques to avoid detection. But there were clues that the suspicious accounts may have been connected to the Internet Research Agency. Like the 2016 Russian interference campaign, the recently detected campaign sought to amplify divisive social issues, including through organizing real-world events. Although other Facebook pages are promoting the counterprotest, the social network said that the Resisters page was the first, and that it had coordinated with administrators for five other apparently real pages to co-host its page — publicizing details about transportation and other logistics. Organizers of the counterprotest — who quickly created a new Facebook page — objected to Facebook’s suggestion that a fake account was behind the event itself and not just the creator of a Facebook event page for it. Earlier in July, Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, warned that Russian interference remains an active threat to November’s elections.

Facebook finds ‘sophisticated’ efforts to disrupt US politics, removes 32 accounts

The company, which said it is in the early stages of its investigation, held briefings in the House and Senate this week. The company said it doesn't know who is behind the efforts, but said there may be connections to Russia. Facebook said it has found some connections between the accounts it removed and the accounts connected to Russia's Internet Research Agency that it removed before and after the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. “Today’s disclosure is further evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division and spread disinformation, and I am glad that Facebook is taking some steps to pinpoint and address this activity," Warner said in a statement to Fox News. There is still much that needs to be done to prevent and counter foreign interference on social media." Facebook says more than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of the fake pages. Facebook says the pages ran about 150 ads for $11,000 on Facebook and Instagram, paid for in U.S. and Canadian dollars. That group was created by Russian government figures but had been dormant since Facebook disabled its administrators last year. However, the tech company chose to remove the group to protect the privacy of its members in advance of a forthcoming report from the Atlantic Council that will analyze the Pages, profiles and accounts that Facebook disabled today. Miller continued: “We will not be safe from foreign interference -- and Facebook’s own business model of profiting off of bad actors -- until Congress and the FTC step in to break up the company and impose strong privacy rules.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Full Amy Klobuchar: President Trump ‘Wants To Create An Alternate Reality’ | MTP Daily | MSNBC

Full Amy Klobuchar: President Trump ‘Wants To Create An Alternate Reality’ | MTP Daily...

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) joins MTP Daily to discuss Sen. Burr saying that there are “sound reasons” to approve the Carter Page FISA warrant and Trump’s concern that Russia will meddle in the midterms to help Democrats. » Subscribe to…

Senators release election security recommendations to deter meddling

A bipartisan group of senators leading an inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 US election called on Tuesday for urgent action by Congress to help states protect their voting systems from future threats of foreign interference. With the 2018 congressional primaries already under way, members of the senate intelligence committee outlined a series of recommendations – the first public release from the panel’s yearlong investigation – that they say will help improve the cybersecurity of the nation’s election infrastructure. “We’re now at a point where we’ve wrapped up one piece of our investigation, which deals with election security,” said Republican senator Richard Burr, the chairman of the committee, who spoke alongside the Democratic vice-chair, Senator Mark Warner, and members of the committee. By and large, he said, “we need to be more effective at deterring our adversaries.” “The Russians were relentless in attempting to meddle in the 2016 elections and they will continue their efforts to undermine public confidence in western democracies and in the legitimacy of our elections,” Senator Susan Collins, another Republican member of the committee, added during the press conference. The election security recommendations were released a day ahead of full committee hearing to discuss the attempted hacks of several state voting systems in 2016 and federal and local response. Jeh Johnson, the former homeland security secretary and Kirstjen Nielsen, the current homeland security secretary, are scheduled to testify. The suggestions include more federal funding for states to replace outdated voting systems and improved information sharing between local and state agencies. There are currently 14 states that lack a paper trail of votes cast. The bipartisan nature of the Senate committee sharply contrasts with a parallel investigation in the House, which the Republicans recently ended after concluding that there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Last month, in indictments handed down by a grand jury, Mueller alleged that 13 Russian citizens and three Russian organizations had sought to disrupt the 2016 election.
Sen. Richard Burr: Issue of collusion still open

Sen. Richard Burr: Issue of collusion still open

The Senate Intelligence Committee, according to Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC), is still investigating whether there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians in the targeting of Facebook ads.