Our close shave with death

James Azania, Lokoja

Uneasy calm has taken over the atmosphere in and around Tawari, a community in Kogi Local Government Area of Kogi State, one week after a deadly attack by unidentified gunmen.

While those who survived the penultimate Friday morning attack continued to bemoan the gruesome killings of families by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen, the unspoken thought that appeared to be playing out in the minds of the people remains, how safe are we?

About 20 persons reportedly died in the hands of the gunmen that descended on Tawari community that early morning. They were believed to be herdsmen.

Buildings, including the palace of the local chief, were razed.

But, despite the confidence-building visits by the governor and his deputy to the affected areas and other near places, some of those who survived remained shaken by the bloody attack.

Governor Yahaya Bello during a visit to the Ohimege-Igu of Koto-Karfe, Alhaji Abdulrazaq Isah Koto, at his palace last Sunday, said that his administration will do everything to stand by and ensure immediate assistance to the victims of the attack at Tawari.

Bello’s visit came a day after his deputy, Edward Onoja, was at the community for an on-the-spot assessment. The governor pledged his administration’s commitment to ensuring that the attackers are fished out and made to face justice.

He enjoined all to remain calm, assuring that his government will not relent in its efforts to protect the lives and property of the people of the state.

He described the attack as barbaric, inhuman, dastardly and unwanted. He also assured that his administration will do everything to stand by them, noting that both the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), will provide them with timely supports.

A week after, some of those who spoke with The Nation on their experiences, aside seeking the unmasking of the perpetrators or those behind it appeared uneasy about security.Abuja

Mallam Orege(not real name)said he lost two brothers and three other family members in the attack.He was, however, indifferent to all official talks, saying that if he had his way, those who carried out the attack will be made to face justice.

“My position is that those who carried out this action should be apprehended, and it should be immediately. People cannot just come and attack others, killing and burning their houses and then just disappear like that. It will be great injustice if the security people don’t arrest them and charge them accordingly.

“I lost five of my family members; they were killed; my direct brothers. Three others of my larger family were similarly killed”.

Others who spoke to our correspondent included Attoh Ifeji(not real name),  a local hunter, who identified  security as their major worries and what he described as “the distant presence of government to us”.

According to him, police presence in Tawani could have waded off the night of horror.

“Those gunmen came in unannounced and  there was no security to challenge them. They killed our people and committed other atrocities. What do you say if you don’t have security to defend you? We don’t have a defence at all.

“There should be more police and government’s presence here in Tawari so that this type of thing won’t happen again.”

A recent killing of four suspected kidnappers, alleged to be herdsmen, along the Lokoja-Abuja highway by security agencies, following a tip off by vigilantes from Tawari community, was said to have angered the militia, who in turn attacked the community.

Another account said that sometime last year, a herdsman was allegedly killed and his body mutilated by suspected ritualists.  His fellow herdsmen were believed to have pointed accusing fingers at the Tawari community.All

But, following persistent persuasion by the community head, Alhaji Yahaya Tawari, against a reprisal, the herdsmen appeared to have forgotten about the whole thing. So the people thought until a few days later  when they started moving out of the community enmasse. This action was a presage to trouble.

Efforts were, therefore, said to have been made to pacify them, but  the herdsmen reportedly assured that their movement was a way of life, assuring that it bore no ulterior motives, only for gunmen to swoop on the community.

The Kogi State Deputy Governor, Chief Edward Onoja, during the visit, assured that no stone would be left unturned in unravelling the penetrators.

He described the attack as very unusual and a call for concern, saying that the seriousness which Governor Bello attaches to unravelling the penetrators as well as the need to bring succour and support to the affected areas underscored his visit to the community.

He assured that the state government will begin a rehabilitation and reconstruction process of the area.

He urged the residents not to leave their homes but  remain resolute.

The council administrator, Muhammed Tanko, said that the situation had been brought under normalcy.

He noted that the presence of security agencies brought hope to the people of the community as those who ran away during the attack have started returning home.

He commended Governor Bello for his quick response during the attack, adding that those who sustained injuries were responding to treatment at the Federal Medical Center and the Specialist Hospital Lokoja.

Related posts

Facebook keeps policy protecting political ads | ABS-CBN News

ad
Facebook logos are seen on a screen in this picture illustration taken Dec. 2, 2019. Johanna Geron, Reuters/file

SAN FRANCISCO — Defying pressure from Congress, Facebook said on Thursday that it would continue to allow political campaigns to use the site to target advertisements to particular slices of the electorate and that it would not police the truthfulness of the messages sent out.

The stance put Facebook, the most important digital platform for political ads, at odds with some of the other large tech companies, which have begun to put new limits on political ads.

Facebook’s decision, telegraphed in recent months by executives, is likely to harden criticism of the company heading into this year’s presidential election.

Political advertising cuts to the heart of Facebook’s outsize role in society, and the company has found itself squeezed between liberal critics, who want it to do a better job of policing its various social media platforms, and conservatives, who say their views are being unfairly muzzled.

The issue has raised important questions regarding how heavy a hand technology companies like Facebook — which also owns Instagram and the messaging app WhatsApp — and Google should exert when deciding what types of political content they will and will not permit.

By maintaining a status quo, Facebook executives are essentially saying they are doing the best they can without government guidance and see little benefit to the company or the public in changing.

In a blog post, a company official echoed Facebook’s earlier calls for lawmakers to set firm rules.

“In the absence of regulation, Facebook and other companies are left to design their own policies,” Rob Leathern, Facebook’s director of product management overseeing the advertising integrity division, said in the post. “We have based ours on the principle that people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all, and that what they say should be scrutinized and debated in public.”

Other social media companies have decided otherwise, and some had hoped Facebook would quietly follow their lead. In late October, Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, banned all political advertising from his network, citing the challenges that novel digital systems present to civic discourse. Google quickly followed suit with limits on political ads across some of its properties, though narrower in scope.

Reaction to Facebook’s policy broke down largely along party lines.

The Trump campaign, which has been highly critical of any attempts by technology companies to regulate political advertising and has already spent more than $27 million on the platform, largely supported Facebook’s decision not to interfere in targeting ads or to set fact-checking standards.

“Our ads are always accurate so it’s good that Facebook won’t limit political messages because it encourages more Americans to be involved in the process,” said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign. “This is much better than the approaches from Twitter and Google, which will lead to voter suppression.”

Democratic presidential candidates and outside groups decried the decision.

“Facebook is paying for its own glowing fake news coverage, so it’s not surprising they’re standing their ground on letting political figures lie to you,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said on Twitter.

Warren, who has been among the most critical of Facebook and regularly calls for major tech companies to be broken up, reiterated her stance that the social media company should face tougher policies.

The Biden campaign was similarly critical. The campaign has confronted Facebook over an ad run by President Donald Trump’s campaign that attacked Joe Biden’s record on Ukraine.

“Donald Trump’s campaign can (and will) still lie in political ads,” Bill Russo, the deputy communications director for Biden, said in a statement. “Facebook can (and will) still profit off it. Today’s announcement is more window dressing around their decision to allow paid misinformation.”

But many Democratic groups willing to criticize Facebook had to walk a fine line; they have pushed for more regulation when it comes to fact-checking political ads, but they have been adamantly opposed to any changes to the ad-targeting features.

On Thursday, some Democratic outside groups welcomed Facebook’s decision not to limit micro-targeting, but still thought the policy fell short.

“These changes read to us mostly as a cover for not making the change that is most vital: ensuring politicians are not allowed to use Facebook as a tool to lie to and manipulate voters,” said Madeline Kriger, who oversees digital ad buying at Priorities USA, a Democratic super PAC.

Other groups, however, said Facebook had been more thoughtful about political ads than its industry peers.

“Facebook opted against limiting ad targeting, because doing so would have unnecessarily restricted a valuable tool that campaigns of all sizes rely on for fundraising, registering voters, building crowds and organizing volunteers,” said Tara McGowan, chief executive of Acronym, a non-profit group that works on voter organization and progressive causes.

Facebook has played down the business opportunity in political ads, saying the vast majority of its revenue came from commercial, not political, ads. But lawmakers have noted that Facebook ads could be a focal point of Trump’s campaign as well as those of top Democrats.

Facebook’s hands-off ad policy has already allowed for misleading advertisements. In October, a Facebook ad from the Trump campaign made false accusations about Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. The ad quickly went viral and was viewed by millions. After the Biden campaign asked Facebook to take down the ad, the company refused.

“Our approach is grounded in Facebook’s fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process and the belief that, in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is,” Facebook’s head of global elections policy, Katie Harbath, wrote in the letter to the Biden campaign.

In an attempt to provoke Facebook, Warren’s presidential campaign ran an ad falsely claiming that the company’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, was backing the reelection of Trump. Facebook did not take the ad down.

Criticism seemed to stiffen Zuckerberg’s resolve. Company officials said he and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s president, had ultimately made the decision to stand firm.

In a strongly worded speech at Georgetown University in October, Zuckerberg said he believed in the power of unfettered speech, including in paid advertising, and did not want to be in the position to police what politicians could and could not say to constituents. Facebook’s users, he said, should be allowed to make those decisions for themselves.

“People having the power to express themselves at scale is a new kind of force in the world — a Fifth Estate alongside the other power structures of society,” he said.

Facebook officials have repeatedly said significant changes to its rules for political or issue ads could harm the ability of smaller, less well-funded organizations to raise money and organize across the network.

Instead of overhauling its policies, Facebook has made small tweaks. Leathern said Facebook would add greater transparency features to its library of political advertising in the coming months, a resource for journalists and outside researchers to scrutinize the types of ads run by the campaigns.

Facebook also will add a feature that allows users to see fewer campaign and political issue ads in their news feeds, something the company has said many users have requested.

There was considerable debate inside Facebook about whether it should change. Late last year, hundreds of employees supported an internal memo that called on Zuckerberg to limit the abilities of Facebook’s political advertising products.

On Dec. 30, Andrew Bosworth, the head of Facebook’s virtual and augmented reality division, wrote on his internal Facebook page that, as a liberal, he found himself wanting to use the social network’s powerful platform against Trump.

But Bosworth said that even though keeping the current policies in place “very well may lead to” Trump’s reelection, it was the right decision. Dozens of Facebook employees pushed back on Bosworth’s conclusions, arguing in the comments section below his post that politicians should be held to the same standard that applies to other Facebook users.

For now, Facebook appears willing to risk disinformation in support of unfettered speech.

“Ultimately, we don’t think decisions about political ads should be made by private companies,” Leathern said. “Frankly, we believe the sooner Facebook and other companies are subject to democratically accountable rules on this, the better.”

2020 The New York Times Company

Related posts

Why the fight against disinformation, sham accounts and trolls won’t be any easier in 2020

2020 Election

The big tech companies have announced aggressive steps to keep trolls, bots and online fakery from marring another presidential election — from Facebook’s removal of billions of fake accounts to Twitter’s spurning of all political ads.

But it’s a never-ending game of whack-a-mole that’s only getting harder as we barrel toward the 2020 election. Disinformation peddlers are deploying new, more subversive techniques and American operatives have adopted some of the deceptive tactics Russians tapped in 2016. Now, tech companies face thorny and sometimes subjective choices about how to combat them — at times drawing flak from both Democrats and Republicans as a result.

This is our roundup of some of the evolving challenges Silicon Valley faces as it tries to counter online lies and bad actors heading into the 2020 election cycle:

1) American trolls may be a greater threat than Russians

Russia-backed trolls notoriously flooded social media with disinformation around the presidential election in 2016, in what Robert Mueller’s investigators described as a multimillion-dollar plot involving years of planning, hundreds of people and a wave of fake accounts posting news and ads on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube.

This time around — as experts have warned — a growing share of the threat is likely to originate in America.

“It’s likely that there will be a high volume of misinformation and disinformation pegged to the 2020 election, with the majority of it being generated right here in the United States, as opposed to coming from overseas,” said Paul Barrett, deputy director of New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.

Barrett, the author of a recent report on 2020 disinformation, noted that lies and misleading claims about 2020 candidates originating in the U.S. have already spread across social media. Those include manufactured sex scandals involving South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and a smear campaign calling Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) “not an American black” because of her multiracial heritage. (The latter claim got a boost on Twitter from Donald Trump Jr.)

Before last year’s midterm elections, Americans similarly amplified fake messages such as a “#nomenmidterms” hashtag that urged liberal men to stay home from the polls to make “a Woman’s Vote Worth more.” Twitter suspended at least one person — actor James Woods — for retweeting that message.

“A lot of the disinformation that we can identify tends to be domestic,” said Nahema Marchal, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute’s Computational Propaganda Project. “Just regular private citizens leveraging the Russian playbook, if you will, to create … a divisive narrative, or just mixing factual reality with made-up facts.”

Tech companies say they’ve broadened their fight against disinformation as a result. Facebook, for instance, announced in October that it had expanded its policies against “coordinated inauthentic behavior” to reflect a rise in disinformation campaigns run by non-state actors, domestic groups and companies. But people tracking the spread of fakery say it remains a problem, especially inside closed groups like those popular on Facebook.

2) And policing domestic content is tricky

U.S. law forbids foreigners from taking part in American political campaigns — a fact that made it easy for members of Congress to criticize Facebook for accepting rubles as payment for political ads in 2016.

But Americans are allowed, even encouraged, to partake in their own democracy — which makes things a lot more complicated when they use social media tools to try to skew the electoral process. For one thing, the companies face a technical challenge: Domestic meddling doesn’t leave obvious markers such as ads written in broken English and traced back to Russian internet addresses.

More fundamentally, there’s often no clear line between bad-faith meddling and dirty politics. It’s not illegal to run a mud-slinging campaign or engage in unscrupulous electioneering. And the tech companies are wary of being seen as infringing on American’s right to engage in political speech — all the more so as conservatives such as President Donald Trump accuse them of silencing their voices.

Plus, the line between foreign and domestic can be blurry. Even in 2016, the Kremlin-backed troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency relied on Americans to boost their disinformation. Now, claims with hazy origins are being picked up without need for a coordinated 2016-style foreign campaign. Simon Rosenberg, a longtime Democratic strategist who has spent recent years focused on online disinformation, points to Trump’s promotion of the theory that Ukraine significantly meddled in the 2016 U.S. election, a charge that some experts trace back to Russian security forces.

“It’s hard to know if something is foreign or domestic,” said Rosenberg, once it “gets swept up in this vast ‘Wizard of Oz’-like noise machine.”

3) Bad actors are learning

Experts agree on one thing: The election interference tactics that social media platforms encounter in 2020 will look different from those they’ve trying to fend off since 2016.

“What we’re going to see is the continued evolution and development of new approaches, new experimentation trying to see what will work and what won’t,” said Lee Foster, who leads the information operations intelligence analysis team at the cybersecurity firm FireEye.

Foster said the “underlying motivations” of undermining democratic institutions and casting doubt on election results will remain constant, but the trolls have already evolved their tactics.

For instance, they’ve gotten better at obscuring their online activity to avoid automatic detection, even as social media platforms ramp up their use of artificial intelligence software to dismantle bot networks and eradicate inauthentic accounts.

“One of the challenges for the platforms is that, on the one hand, the public understandably demands more transparency from them about how they take down or identify state-sponsored attacks or how they take down these big networks of authentic accounts, but at the same time they can’t reveal too much at the risk of playing into bad actors’ hands,” said Oxford’s Marchal.

Researchers have already observed extensive efforts to distribute disinformation through user-generated posts — known as “organic” content — rather than the ads or paid messages that were prominent in the 2016 disinformation campaigns.

Foster, for example, cited trolls impersonating journalists or other more reliable figures to give disinformation greater legitimacy. And Marchal noted a rise in the use of memes and doctored videos, whose origins can be difficult to track down. Jesse Littlewood, vice president at advocacy group Common Cause, said social media posts aimed at voter suppression frequently appear no different from ordinary people sharing election updates in good faith — messages such as “you can text your vote” or “the election’s a different day” that can be “quite harmful.”

Tech companies insist they are learning, too. Since the 2016 election, Google, Facebook and Twitter have devoted security experts and engineers to tackling disinformation in national elections across the globe, including the 2018 midterms in the United States. The companies say they have gotten better at detecting and removing fake accounts, particularly those engaged in coordinated campaigns.

But other tactics may have escaped detection so far. NYU’s Barrett noted that disinformation-for-hire operations sometimes employed by corporations may be ripe for use in U.S. politics, if they’re not already.

He pointed to a recent experiment conducted by the cyber threat intelligence firm Recorded Future, which said it paid two shadowy Russian “threat actors” a total of just $6,050 to generate media campaigns promoting and trashing a fictitious company. Barrett said the project was intended “to lure out of the shadows firms that are willing to do this kind of work,” and demonstrated how easy it is to generate and sow disinformation.

Real-life examples include a hyper-partisan skewed news operation started by a former Fox News executive and Facebook’s accusations that an Israeli social media company profited from creating hundreds of fake accounts. That “shows that there are firms out there that are willing and eager to engage in this kind of underhanded activity,” Barrett said.

4) Not all lies are created equal

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are largely united in trying to take down certain kinds of false information, such as targeted attempts to drive down voter turnout. But their enforcement has been more varied when it comes to material that is arguably misleading.

In some cases, the companies label the material factually dubious or use their algorithms to limit its spread. But in the lead-up to 2020, the companies’ rules are being tested by political candidates and government leaders who sometimes play fast and loose with the truth.

“A lot of the mainstream campaigns and politicians themselves tend to rely on a mix of fact and fiction,” Marchal said. “It’s often a lot of … things that contain a kernel of truth but have been distorted.”

One example is the flap over a Trump campaign ad — which appeared on Facebook, YouTube and some television networks — suggesting that former Vice President Joe Biden had pressured Ukraine into firing a prosecutor to squelch an investigation into an energy company whose board included Biden’s son Hunter. In fact, the Obama administration and multiple U.S. allies had pushed for removing the prosecutor for slow-walking corruption investigations. The ad “relies on speculation and unsupported accusations to mislead viewers,” the nonpartisan site FactCheck.org concluded.

The debate has put tech companies at the center of a tug of war in Washington. Republicans have argued for more permissive rules to safeguard constitutionally protected political speech, while Democrats have called for greater limits on politicians’ lies.

Democrats have especially lambasted Facebook for refusing to fact-check political ads, and have criticized Twitter for letting politicians lie in their tweets and Google for limiting candidates’ ability to finely tune the reach of their advertising — all examples, the Democrats say, of Silicon Valley ducking the fight against deception.

Jesse Blumenthal, who leads the tech policy arm of the Koch-backed Stand Together coalition, said expecting Silicon Valley to play truth cop places an undue burden on tech companies to litigate messy disputes over what’s factual.

“Most of the time the calls are going to be subjective, so what they end up doing is putting the platforms at the center of this rather than politicians being at the center of this,” he said.

Further complicating matters, social media sites have generally granted politicians considerably more leeway to spread lies and half-truths through their individual accounts and in certain instances through political ads. “We don’t do this to help politicians, but because we think people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an October speech at Georgetown University in which he defended his company’s policy.

But Democrats say tech companies shouldn’t profit off false political messaging.

“I am supportive of these social media companies taking a much harder line on what content they allow in terms of political ads and calling out lies that are in political ads, recognizing that that’s not always the easiest thing to draw those distinctions,” Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state told POLITICO.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

Related posts

The Sandman Says Women Main Eventing Is Wrong, Chris Jericho Reacts

person

• ON THIS DAY IN WWF HISTORY (December 1, 1997) – WWF RAW IS WAR

On this day in 1997, the World Wrestling Federation aired another episode of their weekly TV show ‘WWF RAW IS WAR’.

It was broadcasted from the Civic Center in Roanoke, Virginia and featured matches, interviews & storyline segments on the road to the ‘WWF In Your House 19: D-Generation X’ PPV.

Here’s the card:

1. TAKA Michinoku vs. Mr. Aguila

2. D-Lo Brown vs. Recon vs. Chainz vs. Miguel Perez Jr.

3. Rocky Maivia vs. Vader

4. Brian Christopher vs. Scott Taylor

5. Ahmed Johnson vs. Jeff Jarrett

6. Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Jim Neidhart

• The Sandman Says Women Main Eventing Shows Is Wrong, Chris Jericho Reacts

Impact Wrestling star Jordynne Grace noted on Twitter that ECW Legend The Sandman said to her that women main eventing wrestling shows is “wrong”.

Below is what she tweeted:

“Hey remember that time The Sandman came up to four women about to main event to tell us that women main eventing is “wrong” and “any male wrestler with any sort of experience would agree”?

Was this in 1998?

No, it was tonight. December 2019.”

Hey remember that time The Sandman came up to four women about to main event to tell us that women main eventing is “wrong” and “any male wrestler with any sort of experience would agree”?

Was this in 1998?

No, it was tonight. December 2019.

This led to multiple wrestlers, including current AEW World Champion Chris Jericho, standing up for the female wrestlers:

— Chris Jericho (@IAmJericho) December 1, 2019

Gross. I hope he stuck around to see the match and eat his words.

— ❌adison Rayne (@MadisonRayne) December 1, 2019

Really???

Most of the women wrestlers are pulling off more innovating & exciting stuff then the ever before.

Can’t tell you the amount of times I go watch a Stardom match & want to retire cos their matches are INSANE!

Let’s not interfere with progress, everyone keep killing it https://t.co/dbHTDSTZuG

— ᵂⁱˡˡ ᴼˢᵖʳᵉᵃʸ • ウィル・オスプレイ (@WillOspreay) December 1, 2019

I… am speechless

— “HEARTcore” Shazza McKenzie (@Shazza_McKenzie) December 1, 2019

— Melissa Santos (@ThisIsMelSantos) December 1, 2019

WATCH: Hot Video Of WWF Diva Sable Stripping & Showing Off Her Assets:

Related posts

Hunter Biden sits down for TV interview amid Trump’s attacks on his business dealings

person tie

Hunter Biden sits down for ABC interview amid Trump's attacks on his business dealings - CNNPolitics

Washington (CNN)Former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, will speak about President Donald Trump’s recent attacks on his foreign business dealings in a television interview set to air on Tuesday, the same day of the CNN/New York Times Democratic presidential debate.

“Hunter always understood that his father would be guided, entirely and unequivocally, by established U.S. policy, regardless of its effects on Hunter’s professional interests,” according to a statement released by his attorney. “He never anticipated the barrage of false charges against both him and his father by the President of the United States.”
Biden spoke with ABC News over the weekend. The Biden campaign was informed of Hunter Biden’s Sunday statement and new TV interview, but the decisions about when and how to speak have been Hunter Biden’s, not the campaign’s, CNN’s Jake Tapper reported.
    Hunter Biden has been under fire from Trump for an unproven accusation that his father as vice president improperly tried to help him by pressuring the Ukrainian government to fire the country’s prosecutor general. Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company at the time.
      The Obama administration, American allies, the International Monetary Fund and Ukrainian anti-corruption activists, among others, had all made clear that they were displeased with the performance of Viktor Shokin, who became prosecutor general in 2015. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
      Trump faces an impeachment probe in the Democratic-led House over his urging the Ukrainian President in a July phone call to investigate the Bidens. That phone call led to a whistleblower complaint that in part alleges Trump withheld US aid to Ukraine over the matter. The President has denied doing anything improper.

      Related posts

      Bernie Sanders and the 2020 age debate

      (CNN)With only120daysuntil the Iowa caucuses, the 2020 election will be here before you know it.Every Sunday, I round up the5BIG storylines you need to know to understand the upcoming week on the campaign trail. And they’re ranked — so the No. 1 story is the most important of the coming week.

      5. Trump, unleashed: Donald Trump has spent the last week talking and tweeting almost nonstop as he tries to fight his way out of mounting allegations over his pressure campaign to get the Ukrainians to look into debunked allegations of wrongdoing against Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
      And the rhetoric from Trump has gone to previously unseen heights — even for Trump. He’s accused Rep. Adam Schiff (California) of treason, he’s attacked Mitt Romney in deeply personal terms — more on that directly below — and he’s repeating, repeating, repeating long disproven lies.
      All of which means that when Trump travels to Minneapolis on Thursday for a “Keep America Great” rally, well, look out. Trump is always at his most, well, Trump-y at these campaign rallies — and, given the walls closing in on him in Washington, he could well use the Minnesota rally as a venting session the likes of which even longtime Trump observers rarely see.
      Stay tuned. It’s going to be a doozy.
      4. Any other Mitt Romneys out there?: Republicans have, almost uniformly, closed ranks around Trump even as a second whistleblower has emerged regarding the President allegedly using the power of his office for political gain during interactions over the summer with Ukraine.
      Only Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) has publicly criticized Trump in any way, calling the President’s urgings of China and Ukraine to investigate the Bidens “wrong” and “appalling.” Trump immediately struck back, referring to Romney as a “pompous ‘ass'” (I have no idea why he put “ass” in quotes) and suggesting that the 2012 Republican nominee was “begging” to be his secretary of state.
      Any Republican who was weighing speaking out about Trump’s behavior with Ukraine (and his plea for China to investigate his main rival for the 2020 nomination) now can have no illusions about what such criticism will be met with: Pure, unadulterated anger from Trump — and likely vilification from the President’s base.
      Is any prominent Republican other than Romney willing to risk speaking out when that reaction is assured? Principle vs. politics, anyone?
      3. Fundraising losers…: With the third fundraising quarter ending at the close of last month, most of the major candidates have released how much they brought in and how much they spent between July 1 and September 30.
      Let’s go through the losers first.
      * Joe Biden: When you are a former vice president and the race’s frontrunner, you need to be at or very close to the top of the money chase. Biden’s $15 million raised in the third quarter is well off the pace and a significant drop-off from when Biden raised $21.5 million from April 1 to June 30 — his first three months of active fundraising. His numbers will re-ignite the debate over whether he has real grassroots energy behind his establishment candidacy. Think about this: The mayor of South Bend, Indiana — Pete Buttigieg — raised $4 million more than Biden in the third quarter and has now out-raised the former vice president for six months straight.
      * Cory Booker: The New Jersey senator’s plea for $1.7 million in the final days of the quarter — in order, he said, for him to remain in the race — drew a ton of publicity. Even though Booker met his goal, he still only brought in $6 million for the entire three-month period. That likely means he will be facing another dire financial deadline in the not-too-distant future.
      2. … and fundraising winners: 
      * Bernie Sanders: Even as his poll numbers have stagnated somewhat, the Vermont senator’s small-dollar, online fundraising network continues to deliver. Sanders topped the field in the third quarter with more than $25 million raised and has now raised more than $71 million this year. That ensures he will not only have real organizations in all of the early states but will also be able to continue fighting for the nomination for months.
      * Elizabeth Warren: While Sanders edged out Warren for the top spot by about $500,000, Warren’s third quarter fundraising is yet another data point proving how much momentum she has built behind her candidacy. Warren already has the best organization in Iowa, and fundraising like she put on the board over the last three months ensures her campaign will be able to fund a (TV) air assault as well.
      * Andrew Yang: The tech entrepreneur raised $10 million in the third quarter, which, at least to me was the single most surprising result of the fundraising race. Yang’s total put him well above what Booker, as well as Sen. Michael Bennet (Colorado) and Gov. Steve Bullock (Montana) raised, and within shouting distance of Sen. Kamala Harris (California). That’s a stunner, and shows how far he’s come since the year started and almost no one knew who he was.
      1. The age/health debate is here: It was probably inevitable, given that the four most likely candidates to be president in 2021 are 70+ years old, but Bernie Sanders’ recent heart attack has officially injected the issue of age and health into the 2020 campaign.
      After several days of uncertainty, Sanders’ campaign confirmed that he had suffered a heart attack on the campaign trail and, following his release from the hospital late last week, he has returned to Vermont. His campaign has canceled its events until further notice but has said Sanders will be at the next debate — set for October 15 in Ohio.
      While the relatively advanced ages of Sanders (78), Joe Biden (76) and Elizabeth Warren (70) has been a sort of low buzz in the background of the Democratic race so far, those days are now over. All three candidates had previously pledged to release their medical records before the Iowa caucuses on February 3, 2020, but the urgency of those releases is significantly higher now than it was even a week ago.
      (Remember that Donald Trump was the oldest person ever elected to a first term when he won the presidency in 2016 at age 70. During the campaign, his personal physician released a letter proclaiming that Trump “would be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” Trump is now 73. In January of this year, he underwent a physical which found him in “very good health overall.”)
      In a May Pew Research Center poll, just 3% of Democrats said their ideal candidate would be in their 70s. A near- majority — 47% — said a candidate in their 50s would be best. On the other hand, more than 6 in 10 people told Gallup in May they would vote for a presidential candidate over 70 years old.

      Related posts

      The Impeachment Story Is Simple. Republicans Are Trying To Confuse You.

      WASHINGTON ― The story behind why Democrats are moving forward with an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump is simple.

      The president repeatedly pressured a foreign government to meddle in the 2020 U.S. election to help him win. It’s all there in the White House summary of Trump’s July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president. It’s corroborated by the subsequent whistleblower complaint. And Trump keeps telling other countries to do it, too, on live television.

      The Republican strategy to respond to this is to create total confusion, namely by focusing on the arcane legal process of whistleblower law. Not only are their claims false, they are irrelevant to the facts of Trump’s abuse of power.

      House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is out in front trying to lose people in the arcana of process and distract from what Trump did. He seized on a Wednesday New York Times report that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) got advance word of the whistleblower’s report and falsely claimed that Schiff orchestrated the complaint.

      “Democrats have rigged this process from the start,” McCarthy tweeted Wednesday, linking to the Times story.

      What the story actually said was that the whistleblower initially approached an Intelligence Committee staffer with a vague accusation. The staffer told the whistleblower to file a formal complaint through proper channels, per protocol, and then shared some of what the whistleblower said with Schiff, who never even knew the whistleblower’s identity.

      The whistleblower did exactly what they were supposed to do. The intelligence community whistleblower process lists the congressional intelligence committees as a venue that a whistleblower may take their complaint or approach about how to proceed with a complaint.

      Republicans already know that whistleblowers are encouraged to go straight to committees with a complaint. The GOP’s own page on the House Oversight and Reform website prominently features a link that literally says “blow the whistle” and offers a form for filing a complaint.

      “In my experience, it’s more than common for potential whistleblowers to contact the congressional intelligence committees directly in order to obtain guidance on the proper way to disclose wrongdoing,” Irvin McCullough, an intelligence community whistleblower expert at the Government Accountability Project, told HuffPost.

      “The process by which intelligence community employees and contractors can report wrongdoing is extremely complex and convoluted,” he added. “You need someone that can help usher you along that process, whether that is a congressional intelligence committee staff or an experienced attorney.”

      news

      House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is among the GOP leaders spreading false information about the Ukraine whistleblower complaint. It’s all part of a strategy to take attention off of what Trump actually did.

      Aides to Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Mark Warner (D-Va.), the ranking member, said on Wednesday that the whistleblower followed proper procedure by asking the House Intelligence Committee for guidance on how to file a complaint. That’s on top of the intelligence community inspector general and Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, both publicly stating that the whistleblower had done everything by the book.

      Another glaring hole in McCarthy’s claim is that the White House, Trump’s personal attorney and Trump himself have all separately corroborated the whistleblower’s claims. Even before releasing the transcript, the president admitted that he brought up Joe Biden with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. His lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has repeatedly said he was right to do so.

      The president said his conversation with Zelensky was about corruption, too. “It was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption [sic] already in the Ukraine,” Trump said on Sept. 22.

      Additionally, the call summary revealed Trump tying talks about U.S. military aid to Ukraine to his request for investigations into his potential 2020 rival Biden and Biden’s son Hunter. At the time of the call, Trump had suspended the provision of all aid to Ukraine. Zelensky was not aware of the U.S. suspension of aid until weeks after the call.

      It’s more than common for potential whistleblowers to contact the congressional intelligence committees directly in order to obtain guidance on the proper way to disclose wrongdoing. Irvin McCullough, an intelligence community whistleblower expert

      Republicans are trying to paper over these facts with confusion, conspiracies and flat-out lies about how Democrats are proceeding in their investigation.

      “This is looking more & more like a deep state scheme,” House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) tweeted Wednesday, invoking an insane conspiracy theory as an explanation for how Schiff got wind of a whistleblower complaint before it was filed.

      “Schiff told the media on September 17: ‘We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower. We would like to.’ He lied. The question is why?” McCarthy tweeted Wednesday, falsely claiming Schiff had spoken with the whistleblower when he had not.

      GOP senators, meanwhile, have been spreading misinformation to try to smear the credibility of the whistleblower. They have argued that in order to be considered a “real” whistleblower, you have to have firsthand information of a situation, which is false.

      “By definition, he’s not a whistleblower because he was reporting hearsay,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) incorrectly told reporters last week. “I think that we are giving too much credence, or at least credit, to someone who does not meet the definition of a whistleblower.”

      “It’s not a whistleblower because he wasn’t in the room. He wasn’t on the phone call,” Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) said last week, also falsely.

      They were publicly corrected on Tuesday by one of their own colleagues, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a longtime advocate of whistleblower safeguards.

      “The distinctions being drawn between first- and second-hand knowledge aren’t legal ones,” said Grassley. “It’s just not part of whistleblower protection law or any agency policy.”

      He added, “This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected.”

      Related posts

      Giuliani: I Provided Documents State Department Watchdog Gave To Congress

      President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani told CNN on Wednesday night that some of the documents in a packet the State Department inspector general handed to Congress just hours earlier had come from him. The revelation was the latest twist in the ongoing turmoil over Trump’s call with the leader of Ukraine in July. 

      CNN’s report came the same day the State Department’s watchdog, Steve Linick, sent an urgent message to Congress saying he needed to meet and give them copies of documents related to the Ukraine call. Democrats were reportedly prepared for some kind of a bombshell but instead were handed a 40-page packet of documents that included conspiracy theories and news clippings. The pages also referenced a slew of names related to the scandal: Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, Hunter Biden and George Soros.

      The packet had a return address that matched that of the Manhattan office of Giuliani, who later confirmed that he was responsible for their production, telling The New York Times they came from a “professional investigator who works for my company.”

      The documents prompted consternation from top Democrats, who issued public calls that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explain how such misinformation made it to the top levels of government. Lawmakers also said the packet only provided more evidence that the White House had “sought to use the machinery of the State Department to further the President’s personal political interests.”

      “We are now in possession of this packet of propaganda and disinformation,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) told Reuters on Wednesday. “The real question is where did it come from and how did it end up in our lap?”

      The chairs of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees released a joint statement earlier Wednesday expressing concerns about the “urgent” briefing. 

      The statement said the meeting with Linick raised “troubling questions” about alleged efforts by the Trump administration to target former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden and Yovanovitch, who was removed from her ambassadorship in May after Trump allies accused her of participating in an alleged Ukrainian attempt to support Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

      “The documents provided by the Inspector General included a package of disinformation, debunked conspiracy theories, and baseless allegations in an envelope marked ‘White House’ and containing folders labeled ‘Trump Hotel,‘” the chairs’ statement read. 

      Giuliani told CNN that he had “routed” what he said was an “outline” of allegations against Biden and Yovanovitch to Pompeo’s office in March. He also reportedly sent details about his talks from earlier this year with top Ukrainian prosecutors who helped give him information for his outline.

      “They told me they were going to investigate it,” Giuliani told CNN.

      The attorney and former New York mayor has become one of the central figures in the political whirlwind over Trump’s call with the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, on July 25. During the conversation, Trump repeatedly pressed his counterpart to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company for five years. Before the call, the Trump administration had been withholding military aid from Ukraine.

      A whistleblower complaint about the call mentioned Giuliani multiple times, and Trump’s lawyer has said in television interviews that he met with Ukrainian operatives. But in recent days he’s moved to minimize his role in the scandal, saying he got involved only at the behest of the State Department.

      House Democrats have been moving quickly to investigate the Ukraine call as part of their impeachment inquiry while Trump has raged about the effort. This week the president called the inquiry a “coup” and has been refusing to answer some reporters’ questions about the information that’s come out of transcripts of the call.

      Related posts

      Trump says he wants to meet whistleblower: ‘I deserve to meet my accuser’

      acting Director

      Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump on Sunday escalated his rebuke of the anonymous whistleblower at the center of the mounting Ukraine controversy after House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry against him, asserting that he deserves to “meet my accuser.”

      “His lies were made in perhaps the most blatant and sinister manner ever seen in the great Chamber. He wrote down and read terrible things, then said it was from the mouth of the President of the United States. I want Schiff questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason,” Trump said.
      CBS
      Lawyers for the whistleblower sent a letter to the acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire on Saturday outlining “serious” safety concerns for their client as Trump continues to take aim at the person.
        “The purpose of this letter is to formally notify you of serious concerns we have regarding our client’s personal safety,” the letter says, adding that recent comments by Trump are reason for “heightened” concern.
        “The events of the past week have heightened our concerns that our client’s identity will be disclosed publicly and that, as a result, our client will be put in harm’s way.”
        The letter also thanks Maguire’s office for “support thus far to activate appropriate resources to ensure their safety.” While the whistleblower’s attorneys wouldn’t elaborate on what those resources are, they strenuously denied their client is under federal protection as reported Sunday by CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
        Mark Zaid, one of the whistleblower’s lawyers, said in a statement given to CNN, “60 Minutes completely misinterpreted the contents of our letter.” He had was not available for comment about Trump’s Sunday tweets. The television program tweeted late Sunday that “60 Minutes stands by its sources and reporting on the whistleblower.”
        Trump’s tweets come days after the release of the whistleblower complaint that alleges Trump abused his official powers “to solicit interference” from Ukraine in the upcoming 2020 election, and that the White House took steps to cover it up. Trump has denied any wrongdoing. A rough transcript released by the White House shows Trump repeatedly pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his potential 2020 political rival, and his son, Hunter Biden.
        There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden.
        Congress
        Even before the whistleblower complaint was made available to lawmakers, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared Trump had betrayed his oath of office and announced this past week she was opening a formal impeachment inquiry into the President.
        Trump on Sunday also echoed his previous attacks on the whistleblower and promised “Big Consequences” for anyone who assisted in providing the person information.
        Joseph Maguire
        “I want to meet not only my accuser, who presented SECOND & THIRD HAND INFORMATION, but also the person who illegally gave this information, which was largely incorrect, to the ‘Whistleblower,'” he said. “Was this person SPYING on the U.S. President? Big Consequences!”
        Trump said last week that whoever provided the whistleblower with information about his call with Zelensky is “close to a spy,” and said that in the old days spies were dealt with differently. The comment prompted three House chairmen — including Schiff — to call on the President to stop attacking the whistleblower.
        spy
          “The President’s comments today constitute reprehensible witness intimidation and an attempt to obstruct Congress’ impeachment inquiry. We condemn the President’s attacks, and we invite our Republican counterparts to do the same because Congress must do all it can to protect this whistleblower, and all whistleblowers,” they said. “Threats of violence from the leader of our country have a chilling effect on the entire whistleblower process, with grave consequences for our democracy and national security.”
          This story has been updated.

          Related posts

          Whistleblower says White House tried to cover up Trump’s abuse of power

          news

          Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump abused his official powers “to solicit interference” from Ukraine in the upcoming 2020 election, and the White House took steps to cover it up, according to a stunning whistleblower complaint released Thursday.

          The complaint has been at the center of a controversy that has spurred Democrats to launch a formal impeachment inquiry. The White House on Wednesday also released a rough transcript of the call that shows Trump repeatedly pressed Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
          Caving to Democratic demands, the Trump administration let Congress release a declassified version of the complaint, one day after releasing a rough transcript of the Trump-Zelensky call. The developments triggered a flood of Democratic lawmakers to publicly support impeachment.
            Trump has maintained that he didn’t do anything wrong, while simultaneously promoting unfounded conspiracy theories about the Bidens, Ukraine, and Russian meddling in 2016.
            There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.

            White House lawyers asked to remove transcript

            politics
            The complaint notes White House lawyers were “already in discussion” about “how to treat the call because of the likelihood, in the officials’ retelling, that they had witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain.”
            White House lawyers also directed officials to remove the transcript of the call from a computer system that stores them for Cabinet-level officials and instead put the transcript in a system for especially sensitive information, the whistleblower alleges.
            This move concerned some officials, who shared their worries internally that this was an “abuse of the system.”
            The whistleblower said they heard from other White House officials that this was “not the first time” that the Trump administration used this storage system to hold politically sensitive documents. The codeword-level system is meant to hold files of national security importance.
            There weren’t additional details in the complaint, and some of the details came from secondhand sources. Republicans on Capitol Hill have used that point to question the veracity of the complaint, though the intelligence community inspector general already deemed it credible.

            Rudy Giuliani’s role worried State Dept officials

            US officials were concerned, the whistleblower said, with Trump’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his contacts with Ukrainian officials. The whistleblower alleges the US officials believed Giuliani was a conduit for messages between the President and officials in Kyiv and that he was at the helm of a problematic “circumvention of national security decisionmaking processes.”
            For most of the past two years, Giuliani has played a peculiar role as Trump’s personal attorney, a pro-Trump surrogate on television, and as an informal diplomat of sorts. This year, he has used his position to promote conspiracy theories about Ukraine, Biden, and the 2016 election.
            Whistleblower says White House tried to cover up Trump's abuse of power - CNNPolitics
            The whistleblower said they heard that two State Department officials intervened with Giuliani in an effort to “contain the damage” he was doing to national security. The complaint also said US diplomats worked with the new Ukrainian leaders to help them navigate the strange situation, where they juggled outreach from Giuliani with US diplomacy coming through official channels.
            State Department officials met with Ukrainian political figures and provided advice “about how to ‘navigate’ the demands that the President had made of” Zelensky, the whistleblower wrote.
            Little is known about the identity of the whistleblower, which is even still hidden from some of the most senior US intelligence officials. The Justice Department has said there are some indications that the whistleblower opposes Trump’s reelection, but the complaint was indeed credible. They used lawful channels to file the complaint and get the message to Congress.

            Trump potentially exposed to blackmail

            In a letter accompanying the whistleblower’s complaint, Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson wrote that the alleged conduct by Trump “would also potentially expose” the President “to serious national security and counterintelligence risks with respect to foreign intelligence services aware of such alleged conduct.”
            The implication is that US adversaries are always spying on the US and trying to intercept sensitive phone calls by US officials. If a hostile government possesses a recording or is aware of the details of Trump’s phone call, they could use it to blackmail Trump. The gravest risk is from Russia, which is essentially at war with Ukraine and has strong intelligence capabilities.
            news
            Atkinson also wrote in his letter that that the whistleblower’s complaint amounts to a “serious or flagrant problem [or] abuse” under US laws regarding the inspector general’s office.
            The comments were made in an August 26 letter sent to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire. Atkinson explains the reasoning behind his determination that the information amounted to an “urgent concern,” which triggered its eventual transmission to Congress.

            Whistleblower confused by Trump’s CrowdStrike interest

            The whistleblower expresses confusion about Trump’s references to CrowdStrike during his calls with Zelensky. The Democratic National Committee hired CrowdStrike in 2016 to investigate hacks to its computers, which were later blamed on the Russian government.
            In the call, Trump mentioned the US cybersecurity firm and said, “the server, they say Ukraine has it.” Trump also encouraged Zelensky to “find out what happened” with the server.
            “I do not know why the President associates these servers with Ukraine,” the whistleblower wrote in a footnote. The whistleblower added that Trump had previously connected the DNC server to Ukraine in television interviews.
            Trump’s interest in CrowdStrike and the DNC server, more than three years after the hacks, is part of a larger effort to undermine the notion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election to help him win. He has repeatedly rejected the assessment from CrowdStrike, which was later confirmed by US intelligence agencies, that Russia was behind the DNC hacks and leaks.
            politics
            The complaint demonstrates in stark terms how people who work inside the US government, with access to highly sensitive materials, have struggled to figure out what was going on in an unconventional White House administration with a president who goes around official channels.
              The complaint contains a blend of information that was observed firsthand, details that were provided secondhand from other officials, and information that comes from public sources, like Giuliani’s appearances on television and news articles about his activities surrounding Ukraine.
              This story is breaking and will be updated.

              Related posts