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Nigel Farage back in frontline politics as Brexit Party leader

The ex-UKIP leader is taking over from Catherine Blaiklock, who quit over what he said were "horrible and intolerant" comments on Twitter about Islam. Mr Farage said the party was currently a "virtual" entity but would mobilise at short notice if the UK ended up taking part in European elections. He said Leave voters "betrayed" by the political classes needed a voice. Mr Farage led UKIP three times over the course of 20 years but quit the party earlier this year, accusing its leadership of associating with the far right and condoning Islamophobic views. Mr Farage said he was unaware of Ms Blaiklock's Twitter history when they set up the party together and she was right to stand down for posting "angry, intolerant stuff". "She was never intended to be a long-term leader," he told Radio 4's Today. He said the Brexit Party would field candidates from across the political spectrum in the event that the UK failed to reach a Brexit agreement before the latest deadline and ended up taking part in European elections in May. "It is at the moment a virtual party," Mr Farage said. "It is a website. We haven't even launched... Our trust has been betrayed by politicians and if we fight these elections, it will be a chance to say what we think."

Bernie Sanders Just Hired His Twitter Attack Dog

Since December, David Sirota has, on Twitter, on his own website, and in columns in The Guardian, been trashing most of Sanders’s Democratic opponents—all without disclosing his work with Sanders—and has been pushing back on critics by saying that he was criticizing the other Democrats as a journalist. Sirota’s hiring as a senior adviser and speechwriter was announced by the Sanders campaign on Tuesday morning after The Atlantic contacted the campaign and inquired about the undisclosed role Sirota held while attacking other Democrats. “He was advising beforehand,” Shakir said, explaining that Sirota’s informal work for Sanders goes back months, and was meant to be a trial period to see how the senator, who famously likes to write every word that he says himself, would work with a speechwriter. “Negative attacks on Democratic candidates,” Sanders said in 2018, criticizing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for putting out damaging information about an opponent to a favored candidate in a primary, “just continues the process of debasing the Democratic system in this country, and is why so many people are disgusted with politics." When people have questioned his tactics, Sirota has called them “mentally incapacitated.” Responding in mid-January to those who criticized him online for preemptively railing against the record of O’Rourke, who had not yet entered the race but had been a huge source of concern for Sanders allies since talk of O’Rourke’s potential presidential run picked up last year, Sirota tweeted, “The screaming temper tantrums by Democratic Party operatives whenever reporters scrutinize a lawmaker’s voting record is something to behold. On Monday night, after being contacted for a second time by The Atlantic with a list of specific questions about his undisclosed work for Sanders, Sirota did not respond to the email but deleted more than 20,000 tweets. On Tuesday morning, minutes after his position was announced by the Sanders campaign in a long list of new hires, Sirota said he hadn’t been able to respond to my initial inquiries because he’d been caring for his sick child. I started doing this many months ago.” He did not respond when asked if it was a coincidence that the tweets were deleted hours after I contacted him and the morning before he was announced as a Sanders employee. He then turned those into an op-ed on December 20 in The Guardian, writing that “a new analysis of congressional votes from the non-profit news organisation Capital & Main shows that even as O’Rourke represented one of the most solidly Democratic congressional districts in the United States, he has frequently voted against the majority of House Democrats in support of Republican bills and Trump administration priorities.” “This story was reported by David Sirota of Capital & Main,” the disclaimer at the end of the article read. He wrote another op-ed two weeks later, on New Year’s Eve, headlined “Beto O’Rourke Is the New Obama.

Elizabeth Warren got her first retweet from Ted Cruz following Facebook ad removal

Sens. However, the Texas Republican came to the support of his liberal Massachusetts colleague after Facebook briefly took down several of her Democratic presidential campaign ads promoting her new plan to break up “Big Tech.” The ads — which were restored shortly after Politico reported on their removal Monday night — argued that big companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon should be split apart “so they don’t have so much power over everyone else.” Additionally, Warren tweeted Monday night that Facebook’s removal of the paid posts proved her point about the social media company’s platform. Let’s start with their ability to shut down a debate over whether FB has too much power,” she wrote. In a retweet of Warren’s post Tuesday afternoon, Cruz said he agrees and called the power of tech giants “a serious threat to our democracy. “They shouldn’t be censoring Warren, or anybody else.” First time I’ve ever retweeted @ewarren But she’s right—Big Tech has way too much power to silence Free Speech. — Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 12, 2019 Despite the two senators’ suggestions, there’s been no credible evidence that Facebook censors speech based on political viewpoints. Cruz has also been skeptical about the concentrated tech power, albeit often for different reasons. The Texas senator and other Republicans have raised suspicions about Facebook and other tech platforms suppressing conservative views. “Facebook and the tech industry are located in the Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Cruz during a hearing last April. “This is actually a concern that I have and I try to root out in the company … making sure that we don’t have any bias in the work that we do.” Zuckerberg said that while Facebook has certain standards and does remove broadly objectionably content like hate speech, terrorist propaganda, or nudity, the company does not censor political speech.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter is a ghost town for political ads in India so far

India’s politicians and political parties don’t seem to be buying ads on Twitter just yet, even as parties are pumping money into Facebook advertising. As of yesterday (March 11), Indian content is now visible on Twitter’s Ad Transparency Centre: an archive that displays promoted tweets that have been run over the past week. Quartz searched the archive’s records to see if it showed any ads being run by major politicians and political parties, and could not find a single one. (The archive only permits you to search accounts individually—not to click to see all campaign ads at once. Twitter Ad Transparency Centre Twitter Ad Transparency Centre Twitter has rolled out the initiative as part of its attempts to boost transparency ahead of India’s upcoming general election. “The Transparency Ad Centre along with the Political Content Policy is a welcome step to bringing transparency to promoted and political promoted tweets,” Elonnai Hickock, chief operating officer of the Indian think tank The Centre for Internet and Society, told Quartz. First, Twitter’s archive only displays ads that have run over the course of the past seven days, while Facebook’s allows users to see all ads that a particular page has run. To see what politics-related ads are being run in India, one has to manually search through the ads from relevant accounts. The major issue with this is that, especially when it comes to social media advertising, it is not always political parties’ official accounts that run the most aggressive, or the most worrisome, advertising. Twitter’s portal would not provide a simple way of helping a user discover this behaviour—exactly the sort of thing that a transparency resource should do.

Rep. Omar deletes tweets that sparked political firestorm

Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn, has deleted her controversial tweets that triggered bipartisan backlash on Capitol Hill. Washington Examiner’s Jerry Dunleavy first noted that representative erased three posts that were considered by some as anti-Semitic. Fox News has confirmed that those tweets have been deleted. Omar’s Twitter troubles date back to 2012 when she claimed that Israel has “hypnotized the world” regarding the Jewish state’s ongoing conflict with Palestinians. The Minnesota Democrat then reignited accusations of anti-Semitism when she suggested that the GOP’s support of Israel is bought, saying that its stance is “all about the Benjamins.” She later named AIPAC as a group that pays pro-Israel politicians despite the fact they don’t make financial contributions to campaigns. Amid uproar, Omar issued an apology. "Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole," Omar stated. "We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize." Many in the GOP called Democratic leadership to remove Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Robert Vadra drops hint at joining active politics in FB Post, BJP jeers on...

Close on the heels of his wife entering active politics, businessman Robert Vadra, the husband of Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra yesterday indicated in his facebook post that he was open to "larger role in serving the people" inviting ridicule from the BJP. In a facebook post, he said, "The years n months that I spent campaigning n working in different parts of the country, but mainly in UP, gave me a feeling to do more for the people n make smaller changes possible by me, in their areas n when they got to know me, the genuine love, affection n respect I earned was humbling." Vadra added, "All these years of experience n learning cannot be just wasted and should be put to better use. He at present is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for alleged money laundering charges on him. The agency has leveled charges against Vadra in connection with 9 properties he owns in London which are worth around 12 million pounds. From the blind school, to mother Teresa's missions, to serving at orphanages n when visiting different faiths n places of worship, n feeding hungry ppl outside hospitals, temples. Reacting sharply to his facebook post, BJP took to Twitter to post claims that Vadra will be Congress's Prime Ministerial candidate in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. In his facebook post recently, Vadra had dismissed the accusations against him and blamed the government for being "vindictive" and harassing him and his mother. If there was any issue or any illegality, which was found by government, why did it take them 4 years n 8 months, to call me a month before campaigning begins for the General elections. Do they think people in India do not view it as an election gimmick ?!"

Rep. Omar apologizes for controversial tweets on Israel lobby after backlash from Democratic leaders

Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar apologized Monday afternoon for controversial tweets about the Israel lobby in the United States after her comments were denounced by House Democratic leaders as "anti-Semitic tropes." In a post on Twitter, Pelosi said she and Omar had discussed the tweets. Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, tweeted that she would reach out to Omar's office on Monday to discuss "anti-Semitic tropes." — Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) February 11, 2019 Omar, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was originally responding in her earliest tweet to criticism from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy over her prior comments regarding Israel. McCarthy and other Republicans have called on Democratic leadership to "take action" regarding Omar and fellow Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, the other Muslim woman elected last year, over their criticism of Israel. Meanwhile, Democratic Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Elaine Luria of Virginia were seeking signatures Monday from Jewish House colleagues on a letter they plan to send to the House Democratic leadership calling on "each member of our Caucus to unite against anti-Semitism and hateful tropes and stereotypes." Minnesota Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips, who is Jewish and whose district is adjacent to Omar's, spoke with Omar on Monday night to express his offense at her comments and extend an invitation for discussions aimed at fostering a better understanding between Jewish and Muslim members of Congress, according to a statement from his office. "The use of stereotypes and offensive rhetoric by Members of Congress, whether anti-Semitic or racist, must come to an end," he said. "They should never be a part of any conversation about the policies of Congress. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., however, called Omar's comments "absolutely shameful."

Ilhan Omar Tweets U.S. Politicians’ Support for Israel Is ‘All About the Benjamins’

WASHINGTON – A new controversy involving Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar and Israel erupted on Sunday, when the Minnesota Congresswoman wrote on Twitter that support for Israel in the United States was “all about the Benjamins,” referring to Benjamin Franklin, whose image appears on $100 bills. Bad form, Congresswoman. That's the second anti-Semitic trope you've tweeted.” In reply, Omar wrote: “AIPAC!” The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is the most influential U.S. lobby group supporting the Israeli government. AIPAC responded to the controversy with a short statement: “We are proud that we are engaged in the democratic process to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship. Our bipartisan efforts are reflective of American values and interests. We will not be deterred in any way by ill-informed and illegitimate attacks on this important work.” >> Republicans spoke up against Steve King. "Implying that Americans support Israel because of money alone is offensive," he wrote. The American Jewish Committee also criticized Omar, saying she should apologize: “Suggesting that a Jewish organization is buying off American politicians is both demonstrably false and stunningly anti-Semitic. He also accused Omar of “shameful bigoted hate-mongering.” Last month Omar apologized for saying "Israel has hypnotized the world" to carry out "evil" in a 2012 tweet. The tweet was brought up by critics after Omar's election to Congress for its alleged anti-Semitic undertones.
Donald Trump Calls Democrats' Oversight 'Unlimited Presidential Harassment' | The 11th Hour | MSNBC

Donald Trump Calls Democrats’ Oversight ‘Unlimited Presidential Harassment’ | The 11th Hour | MSNBC

Trump lashed out on Twitter at the investigations House Democrats plan against him, his administration, and his finances. What could all this congressional oversight mean for Trump? We talk to Peter Baker, Maya Wiley, and Tal Kopan. » Subscribe to…

Even some Republicans balk as Trump targets US spy chiefs

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr declined to critique Trump's tweets, but he stood by the covert services. Trump's rejection of intelligence agency assessments that Russia interfered in the 2016 election rocked his ties with his administration's top spies during his first year in office. Often his goal seemed to be to grease his one-man flattery offensive toward President Vladimir Putin, which continues to this day. Now Trump is inventing his own version of the facts to justify his withdrawal from an Obama-era nuclear deal because the deal was "defective at its core." It's unprecedented for a president to be so frequently and publicly at war with the intelligence community. But it was also another example of how the President prioritizes his own political goals when they conflict with the judgments of the intelligence community. Trump's most notorious dissing of US intelligence came during his summit with Putin in Helsinki last year, in a shocking public display of an American President siding with one of his nation's enemies over his own administration. It's ironic that a Republican President should adopt positions so at odds with his party's self-image as the adult in the room on national security. McConnell was positioning himself as the voice of the traditionally hawkish Republican consensus on foreign policy. Though it could be argued that on the idea of bringing troops home from long foreign wars, the President is more in tune with grass-roots opinion than his critics -- a view backed up by early exchanges in the Democratic White House race.
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