Posted: March 8, 2017
Wiretapped Data Used In Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry Into Trump Associates
Andrew C. McCarthy writes: Now that the media-Democrat complex has been caught in its own web, there is some serious skullduggery underway. It’s revisionist history, Soviet style. You know, the kind where the bad stuff gets “disappeared.” The New York Times is disappearing its claim that Obama investigated Trump.
For four months, the mainstream press was very content to have Americans believe — indeed, they encouraged Americans to believe — that a vigorous national-security investigation of the Trump presidential campaign was ongoing. “A counterintelligence investigation,” the New York Times called it.
— Chris Farrell (@cjtfarrell) March 8, 2017
… As I contended in a column this weekend, it was essential for the media and Democrats to promote the perception of an investigation because the scandalous narrative they were peddling — namely, that Trump-campaign operatives conspired with the Putin regime to “hack the election” — required it.
Russia obviously did not hack the election. Russian intelligence services may have hacked e-mail accounts of prominent Democrats, although even that has not been proved. And there is even less evidence of collusion by the Trump campaign in that effort — as one would expect, in light of the intelligence agencies’ conclusion that the Russians sought to hack accounts of both major parties.
So, for this fatally flawed storyline to pass the laugh test, the Left needed the FBI. Even if the election-hacking conspiracy story sounded far-fetched, the public might be induced to believe there must be something to it if the Bureau was investigating it.
But when the election-hacking narrative went on too long without proof, the risk the Democrats were running became clear. If the FBI had been investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded in purported “Russian hacking of the election,” that meant the incumbent Obama administration must have been investigating the campaign of the opposition party’s presidential candidate.
Moreover, if such an investigation had involved national-security wiretaps under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), that would suggest that the Obama Justice Department had alleged, in court, that Trump associates had acted as “agents of a foreign power” — in this case, Russia. Read the rest of this entry »
Charles Murray writes: A few months ago, AEI’s student group at Middlebury College invited me to speak on the themes in Coming Apart and how they relate to the recent presidential election. Professor Allison Stanger of the Political Science Department agreed to serve as moderator of the Q&A and to ask the first three questions herself.
“Middlebury tried to negotiate such an agreement with the protesters, but, for the first time in my experience, the protesters would not accept any time limits. If this becomes the new normal, the number of colleges willing to let themselves in for an experience like Middlebury’s will plunge to near zero.”
About a week before the event, plans for protests began to emerge, encouraged by several faculty members. Their logic was that since I am a racist, a white supremacist, a white nationalist, a pseudoscientist whose work has been discredited, a sexist, a eugenicist, and (this is a new one) anti-gay, I did not deserve a platform for my hate speech, and hence it was appropriate to keep me from speaking.
“Academia is already largely sequestered in an ideological bubble, but at least it’s translucent. That bubble will become opaque. Worse yet, the intellectual thugs will take over many campuses.”
Last Wednesday, the day before the lecture was to occur, I got an email from Bill Burger, Vice President for Communications at Middlebury. The size and potential ferocity of the planned protests had escalated. We agreed to meet at the Middlebury Inn an hour before the lecture so that we could go over a contingency plan: In the event that the protesters in the lecture hall did not cease and desist after a reasonable period, Professor Stanger and I would repair to a room near the lecture hall where a video studio had been set up that would enable us to live-stream the lecture and take questions via Twitter.
Here’s how it played out.
The lecture hall was at capacity, somewhere around 400. There were lots of signs with lots of slogans (see the list of allegations above), liberally sprinkled with the f-word. A brave member of the AEI student group, Ivan Valladares, gave an eloquent description of what the group was about. Middlebury’s president, Laurie Patton, gave a statement about the importance of free speech even though she disagrees with much of my work. A second brave member of the AEI club, Alexander Khan, introduced me. All this was accompanied by occasional catcalls and outbursts, but not enough to keep the speakers from getting through their material. Then I went onstage, got halfway through my first sentence, and the uproar began.
“The people in the audience who wanted to hear me speak were completely cowed. That cannot be allowed to stand.”
First came a shouted recitation in unison of what I am told is a piece by James Baldwin. I couldn’t follow the words. That took a few minutes. Then came the chanting. The protesters had prepared several couplets that they chanted in rotations—“hey, hey, ho, ho, white supremacy has to go,” and the like. It was very loud, and stayed loud. It’s hard for me estimate, but perhaps half the audience were protesters and half had come to hear the lecture.
It was very loud, and stayed loud. It’s hard for me estimate, but perhaps half the audience were protesters and half had come to hear the lecture.
I stood at the podium. I didn’t make any attempt to speak—no point in it—but I did make eye contact with students. I remember one in particular, from whom I couldn’t look away for a long time. She reminded me of my daughter Anna (Middlebury ’07) — partly physically, but also in her sweet earnestness. She looked at me reproachfully and a little defiantly, her mouth moving in whatever the current chant was. I’m probably projecting, but I imagined her to be a student who wasn’t particularly political but had learned that this guy Murray was truly evil. So she found herself in the unfamiliar position of activist, not really enjoying it, but doing her civic duty.
“In the mid-1990s, I could count on students who had wanted to listen to start yelling at the protesters after a certain point, ‘Sit down and shut up, we want to hear what he has to say.’ That kind of pushback had an effect. It reminded the protesters that they were a minority. I am assured by people at Middlebury that their protesters are a minority as well. But they are a minority that has intimidated the majority.”
The others…. Wow. Some were just having a snarky good time as college undergrads have been known to do, dancing in the aisle to the rhythm of the chants. But many looked like they had come straight out of casting for a film of brownshirt rallies. In some cases, I can only describe their eyes as crazed and their expressions as snarls. Melodramatic, I know. But that’s what they looked like.
This went on for about twenty minutes. My mindset at that point was to wait them out if it took until midnight (which, I was later to realize, probably wouldn’t have been long enough). But finally Bill Burger came on stage and decided, correctly, that the people who had come to hear the lecture deserved a chance to do so. Professor Stanger and I were led out of the hall to the improvised studio.
I started to give an abbreviated version of my standard Coming Apart lecture, speaking into the camera. Then there was the sound of shouting outside, followed by loud banging on the wall of the building. Professor Stanger and I were equipped with lavalier microphones, which are highly directional. The cameraman-cum-sound-technician indicated that we could continue to speak and the noise from outside would not drown us out. Then a fire alarm went off, which was harder to compete with. And so it went through the lecture and during my back and forth conversation with Professor Stanger—a conversation so interesting that minutes sometimes went by while I debated some point with her and completely forgot about the din. But the din never stopped.
“I didn’t see it happen, but someone grabbed Allison’s hair just as someone else shoved her from another direction, damaging muscles, tendons, and fascia in her neck. I was stumbling because of the shoving. If it hadn’t been for Allison and Bill keeping hold of me and the security guards pulling people off me, I would have been pushed to the ground. That much is sure.”
We finished around 6:45 and prepared to leave the building to attend a campus dinner with a dozen students and some faculty members. Allison, Bill, and I (by this point I saw both of them as dear friends and still do) were accompanied by two large and capable security guards. (As I write, I still don’t have their names. My gratitude to them is profound.) We walked out the door and into the middle of a mob. I have read that they numbered about twenty. It seemed like a lot more than that to me, maybe fifty or so, but I was not in a position to get a good count. I registered that several of them were wearing ski masks. That was disquieting. Read the rest of this entry »
A court in Austria has heard that nine Iraqi immigrants gang raped a teacher during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Vienna.
The defendants in the case are aged 22 to 45 and are all related to each other. At the time of the alleged attack, which is said to have taken place on January 1, 2016, five of the men had refugee status while the asylum applications of the other four were pending.
After the alleged incident, one of the men led the woman – who is German – to a bathroom in the apartment and with his phone took a photo featuring both of them. She was later taken to a tram stop in central Vienna and subsequently hospitalized.
One defendant has pleaded guilty to rape. The others deny assaulting the woman. The court was told they feel “no guilt” despite the existence of DNA evidence. One claimed the woman had been “offered” to them by relatives while another said she was willing.
At about 3am the woman and her friend were drinking in a bar called Cactus when the victim disappeared. A witness in the bar reportedly said some men she had been talking with had “taken her away”. Read the rest of this entry »
Riot-Prone Mobs Are A Product Of America’s Cult-Like Education System
‘If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.’
— Thomas Jefferson
Stella Morabito writes
…Those who are pushing for sustained street resistance seem to be banking on two things. First they are betting that mainstream Americans won’t realize until it’s too late that we are in the midst of a virtual civil war that could turn violent. Dennis Prager recently wrote of this Second Civil War, warning Americans to wake up to it. Second, agitators are also wagering that Americans will not have the stomach for the prolonged fight they intend to bring to the streets, a point noted by psychologist Tim Daughtry in his book “Waking the Sleeping Giant.”
“What brought us to this place where the losing side has so utterly and violently rejected the peaceful transfer of power from one president to another, and previously agreed-upon electoral process and rules?”
So is this some kind of a joke? Revolution in the streets of America that overturns the election results? So far it all sounds so goofy, at least where it doesn’t get violent. We can watch in wonder as a shrieking NYU professor verbally assaults numerous police officers with the sort of impunity only afforded to the far-left. We can assure ourselves that there aren’t that many irrational people. Even if true, however, that’s beside the point. Too many citizens are at sea in understanding what freedom even means.
“Let’s face it. Today’s street theater is the culmination of decades of radical education revision. The radical Left’s systematic attack on the study of Western Civilization has essentially been an attack against the study of any and all civil societies. It is an attack on the features that make a society civil and free.”
We need to ask ourselves: What brought us to this place where the losing side has so utterly and violently rejected the peaceful transfer of power from one president to another, and previously agreed-upon electoral process and rules? It’s past time to ponder the quote from Thomas Jefferson: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
Destroying Our Education System Got Us Here
Let’s face it. Today’s street theater is the culmination of decades of radical education revision. The radical Left’s systematic attack on the study of Western Civilization has essentially been an attack against the study of any and all civil societies. It is an attack on the features that make a society civil and free. Those features include freedom of expression, civil discourse, the Socratic method of figuring out truth, value of the individual, and a common knowledge of the classics of history and literature that help us understand what’s universal in the human experience. All of that had to go.
Now, as we see students marching to demonize as “fascists” proponents of free speech, their ignorance is in full view. This is really a full frontal attack on the rule of law, the Constitution, and a system of checks and balances that guards against the consolidation of centralized power.
“The last 50 years have produced a huge wave of kids who are functionally uneducated.” https://t.co/4r0v3Lv6tm
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) February 13, 2017
That’s the whole point of the education these students have been fed. In fact, a lot of 1960s agitators, including domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, decided to place their bets on radical education revision. For at least 40 years, Ayers has been devoted to transforming schools from places of actual education to places of coercive thought reform. As Andrew McCarthy recently pointed out in National Review: “It was a comfy fit for him and many of his confederates, once it dawned on them that indoctrination inside the schoolhouse was more effective than blowing up the schoolhouse.”
If you review the history of radical education reform, it’s clear these agitators have been committing mind arson on the children, undermining their ability to think independently and clearly. (For more on this, read Robin Eubanks’ book “Credentialed to Destroy.”)
How to Short-Circuit a Child’s Thinking
Radical education reformers have made a point of removing context from children’s education, and to squash their natural curiosity, undermining their capacity to think. Read the rest of this entry »
Nice job liberals.
John Ziegler writes:
…It is very clear that academia is tremendously biased against conservatives and is extremely hypocritical on the issue of “free speech.” In the vast majority of our places of higher learning (even at the high school level), “academic diversity” means that the school makes sure that they have a liberal of every color, gender, sexual persuasion, and religion. Generally, a “conservative” is defined as someone who thinks that George W. Bush was legitimately elected and didn’t purposely lie to get us into Iraq (I’m not kidding).
Understanding this, Yiannopolus has decided to take personal advantage of the left’s all-too-predictable freak-out over an openly gay conservative who calls himself a “faggot” being allowed a microphone and an auditorium on a major college campus. He obviously schedules his events to create the greatest possible chance to be banned, cancelled, or to create chaos, all of which gives him what he wants most: publicity and martyrdom.
At Berkeley, he got probably more than he could have ever dreamed of, with hundreds of apparent students gathering to protest and creating all sorts of destruction on live television. This caused his “performance,” as the school aptly described it in a tweet, to be cancelled (which is basically the dictionary definition of the “heckler’s veto,” which used to be a concept for which academia had complete disdain). This, of course, in the era of modern media and the perverse incentives it creates, was the best outcome for which he could have possibly hoped.
Thanks to this, Milo’s national profile increased greatly. He got to expose the liberal academics as the hypocrites that they are while being allowed to take the moral high ground. The President of the United States effectively tweeted his support while threatening to pull federal funding from the school. He got invited to be an in-studio guest on Tucker Carlson’s new hit Fox News show. And his already controversial book dramatically surged in sales. All of this without having to even say a word to the miniscule crowd which would have heard him speak that night.
Nice job liberals.
This whole episode went so poorly for the liberal “resistance” that several prominent voices are deluding themselves (or just desperately lying) into thinking that this really was NOT all the fault of young liberal “special snowflakes” who grew up getting participation trophies and can’t even deal with an opposing opinion. That’s right. You see, at least according to some on the left, this was all part of a grand right-wing conspiracy to make it LOOK like a riot by liberals.
Yeah, and I heard that the very same people were also behind the “Bowling Green Massacre.”
For many reasons, this “theory’ is absurd on its face. First, it should be pointed out that just because someone benefits from a circumstance, as Milo clearly did here, that not means that they were responsible for creating those events (though, I’m sure he anticipated/welcomed them). Milo may have set a trap for liberals, but, like a husband who makes a pass at his wife’s hot friend, that doesn’t get them off the hook for stupidly taking the bait. Read the rest of this entry »
Gallup Poll: President Obama’s Average Approval Rating was Among the Worst of the Post-War PresidentsPosted: January 26, 2017
Only three presidents scored worse than Obama since Gallup started doing these surveys in 1945.
As President Obama left the White House, the mainstream press was falling over itself proclaiming how popular he was.
“Obama leaving office on a very high note,” was a typical headline.
Yet despite the media’s fixation with polls, the press completely buried one of the more newsworthy poll findings — a Gallup report that came out last Friday, which took a final look at the President Obama’s popularity over his eight years in office.
“Obama even did worse overall than Richard Nixon, whose average approval was 49%, and was less popular overall than George W. Bush, who got an average 49.4%.”
That poll found that Obama’s overall average approval rating was a dismal 47.9%.
Obama even did worse overall than Richard Nixon, whose average approval was 49%, and was less popular overall than George W. Bush, who got an average 49.4%.
That sounds newsworthy, doesn’t it? But you’d never know this if you relied on the mainstream press for information. That’s because not one of them reported on Gallup’s finding. Read the rest of this entry »
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a notice on its website on Sunday that it is launching a nationwide clean-up campaign aimed at internet service provider (ISP), internet data centrer (IDC), and content delivery network (CDN) companies.
It ordered checks for companies operating without government licenses or beyond the scope of licenses.
The ministry said it was forbidden to create or rent communication channels, including VPNs, without governmental approval, to run cross-border operations.
VPNs can be used to gain access to blocked websites.
China has the world’s largest population of internet users – now at 731 million people – and is home to some of the biggest internet firms such as Tencent Holdings, Baidu Inc and Alibaba Group Holding. Read the rest of this entry »
‘Everyone should be ashamed’
Peter Hasson reports: The end of Barack Obama’s eight years in office combined with an incoming Trump administration has liberal journalists placing a renewed importance on holding elected officials accountable.
In an article published Monday, Politico’s Jack Shafer argues that Donald Trump has made reporters “free” to cover the presidency in a more aggressively critical manner than they did during previous administrations.
Reporters, Shafer says, “ought to start thinking of covering Trump’s Washington like a war zone.”
Let’s fix this headline: Trump Is Making Journalists … Do Their Job Again? https://t.co/xUdAPMUFld
— Rachel Stoltzfoos (@RachelStoltz) January 16, 2017
“Witness how many publications are selling subscriptions by promising to ‘hold Trump accountable,’” Shafer adds later, arguing that “It’s not winter that’s coming with the inauguration of Trump. It’s journalistic spring.”
Liberal media members on Twitter received Shafer’s rediscovery of journalistic purpose with enthusiastic applause.
“Hear, hear! Has there ever been a more interesting time to be a reporter?” Politico’s Josh Dawsey cheered.
Clara Jeffrey, editor-in-chief of the left-wing Mother Jones, wrote: “Yes: Cover Trump admin the way you would a war zone.”
Kevin D. Williamson writes: Applause was a serious business in the Soviet Union, as it is in Cuba, as it is in Venezuela, as it is in all unfree societies and at our own State of the Union address, which is modeled on the ex cathedra speeches of unfree societies. The less free you are, the more you are obliged to applaud. Joseph Stalin’s pronouncements were greeted with perfervid applause, which would continue, rapturously — no one dared stop — until Stalin himself would order its cessation.
“The desire to rule is complexly mixed up with the desire to be ruled, just as the most masterful among us bow the lowest and grovel the most enthusiastically when presented with a strongman-savior.”
But what to do when Stalin was not there? The mere mention of his name, even in his absence, would trigger fanatical applause, and nobody wanted to be the first to stop. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn related one famous story:
The director of the local paper factory, an independent and strong-minded man, stood with the presidium. Aware of all the falsity and all the impossibility of the situation, he still kept on applauding! Nine minutes! Ten! In anguish he watched the secretary of the District Party Committee, but the latter dared not stop. Insanity! To the last man! With make-believe enthusiasm on their faces, looking at each other with faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and on applauding till they fell where they stood, till they were carried out of the hall on stretchers! And even then those who were left would not falter.
Then, after eleven minutes, the director of the paper factory assumed a businesslike expression and sat down in his seat. And, oh, a miracle took place! Where had the universal, uninhibited, indescribable enthusiasm gone? To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved! The squirrel had been smart enough to jump off his revolving wheel.
That, however, was how they discovered who the independent people were. And that was how they went about eliminating them.
That same night the factory director was arrested.
Stalin is long gone, and the Soviet Union, too, having been deposited, as Ronald Reagan predicted, onto the “ash heap of history.” But the craven instinct on display in the scene Solzhenitsyn described remains.
The desire to rule is complexly mixed up with the desire to be ruled, just as the most masterful among us bow the lowest and grovel the most enthusiastically when presented with a strongman-savior. There is something atavistic in us that is older than the human part — the inner chimp — that makes those who listen to its voice keenly aware of their places in the social hierarchy. Even a predator instinctively recognizes a predator higher up the food chain.
“The language there is interesting: She did not write that Price ‘did not applaud,’ ‘refrained from applauding’, or even ‘failed to applaud,” but that he refused to applaud, a formulation that converts passivity into a positive act, one from which we are to derive something of significance about his fitness for the role of secretary of health and human services.”
Which is not to say that National Public Radio’s Marilyn Geewax is a Stalinist, but rather that they were what she is, representatives of the same species.
Geewax, who is a senior business editor for NPR, is very interested in applause. This week, she expressed some concern that Representative Tom Price has been nominated to serve as the next secretary of health and human services. Read the rest of this entry »
The media just pretended they didn’t exist.
Mark Hemingway writes: As achievements go, this would be one in which a modern president could take pride. But in making the claim for himself, Obama proves he cannot even accurately describe the events of his presidency. His tenure saw an astounding number of scandals: Benghazi, Fast and Furious gunrunning, Solyndra and green energy subsidies for campaign donors, cash for Iranian hostages, IRS targeting of conservative groups, spying on journalists, Hillary Clinton’s private email server, the Veterans Administration disaster, trading deserter Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders held in Guantánamo, droning American citizens without due process, and firing inspector general Gerald Walpin for investigating an Obama crony who was abusing federal programs. And that list isn’t exhaustive.
The media have certainly tried their best to buttress Obama’s claim to have presided over a scandal-free administration—starting long before he even made it. In 2014, New Yorker editor and Obama biographer David Remnick told the (skeptical) host of PBS’s Charlie Rose that the president had already racked up “huge” achievements. On his list: “The fact that there’s been no scandal, major scandal, in this administration, which is a rare thing in an administration.”
Remnick was hardly alone. Veteran journalist Jonathan Alter wrote a column for Bloomberg back in 2011 headlined “The Obama Miracle, a White House Free of Scandal.” More recently, Glenn Thrush, then a Politico reporter, tweeted, “As Obama talks up legacy on campaign trail important to note he’s had best/least scandal-scarred 2nd term since FDR.” Even conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks last year declared the Obama administration “remarkably scandal-free.”
Remnick’s remark is particularly notable for how it presaged White House talking points. Obama’s chief campaign strategist David Axelrod was asked at the University of Chicago in 2015 about the administration’s broken promise to bar lobbyists from working for it. Axelrod admitted things hadn’t been “pristine” but said, “I’m proud of the fact that, basically, you’ve had an administration that’s been in place for six years in which there hasn’t been a major scandal.”
As Noah Rothman observed in Commentary, “The qualifier ‘major’ lays the burden on shoulders of the press to define what constitutes a serious scandal, and political media had thus far reliably covered the administration’s ethical lapses as merely the peculiar obsessions of addlebrained conservatives.”
So what would constitute a “major” scandal? Would it involve, say, dead bodies? The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gave thousands of guns to Mexican drug cartels; they used some of them to kill dozens of people, including American border patrol agent Brian Terry. When Congress tried to investigate why the ATF gave away so many guns and failed to track them, the Department of Justice engaged in unprecedented stonewalling.
The department withheld 92 percent of the documents requested and forbade 48 relevant employees from speaking to congressional investigators. Attorney General Eric Holder was ultimately held in contempt of Congress, with 17 Democrats supporting the measure. An explanation for why the ATF gave thousands of guns to violent criminals has yet to emerge—but we are to understand that this is not a “major” scandal. Read the rest of this entry »
Peter Hasson reports: WikiLeaks’ publication of emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta revealed the close ties between prominent journalists and the Clinton campaign. Many of those same journalists will now be covering the Trump White House.
Harwood told Podesta to “watch out” for Dr. Ben Carson during the Republican primary. “Ben Carson could give you real trouble in a general,” Harwood warned, including video clips of Carson’s political positions.
In a December 2015 email to Podesta, Harwood claimed the Republican Party was “veering off the rails” and bragged about provoking Trump during a Republican presidential debate, where he asked Trump if he was running “a comic book version of a presidential campaign.”
“I imagine…” Harwood titled the email, continuing in the body: “…that Obama feels some (sad) vindication at this demonstration of his years-long point about the opposition party veering off the rails.”
“I certainly am feeling that way with respect to how I questioned Trump at our debate.”
As CNBC’s chief political correspondent, Harwood will play a central role in the network’s coverage of the Trump administration. Harwood has yet to respond to repeated requests from TheDC regarding his email exchanges with the Clinton campaign. Read the rest of this entry »
Fake News: This narrative was false and as the chronology below will show, illustrates how effectively false and misleading news can ricochet through the global news echo chamber through the pages of top tier newspapers that fail to properly verify their facts.
Kalev Leetaru writes: On Friday the Washington Post sparked a wave of fear when it ran the breathless headline “Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, U.S. officials say.” The lead sentence offered “A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials” and continued “While the Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt operations of the utility, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a security matter, the penetration of the nation’s electrical grid is significant because it represents a potentially serious vulnerability.”
“From Russian hackers burrowed deep within the US electrical grid, ready to plunge the nation into darkness at the flip of a switch, an hour and a half later the story suddenly became that a single non-grid laptop had a piece of malware on it and that the laptop was not connected to the utility grid in any way.”
Yet, it turns out this narrative was false and as the chronology below will show, illustrates how effectively false and misleading news can ricochet through the global news echo chamber through the pages of top tier newspapers that fail to properly verify their facts.
“Only after numerous outlets called out the Post’s changes did the newspaper finally append an editorial note at the very bottom of the article more than half a day later saying ‘An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid.’”
The original article was posted online on the Washington Post’s website at 7:55PM EST. Using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, we can see that sometime between 9:24PM and 10:06PM the Post updated the article to indicate that multiple computer systems at the utility had been breached (“computers” plural), but that further data was still being collected: “Officials said that it is unclear when the code entered the Vermont utility’s computers, and that an investigation will attempt to determine the timing and nature of the intrusion.” Several paragraphs of additional material were added between 8PM and 10PM, claiming and contextualizing the breach as part of a broader campaign of Russian hacking against the US, including the DNC and Podesta email breaches.
“Just as with the Santa Claus and the dying child story, the Post story went viral and was widely reshared, leading to embarrassing situations like CNBC tweeting out the story and then having to go back and retract the story.”
Despite the article ballooning from 8 to 18 paragraphs, the publication date of the article remained unchanged and no editorial note was appended, meaning that a reader being forwarded a link to the article would have no way of knowing the article they were seeing was in any way changed from the original version published 2 hours prior.
Yet, as the Post’s story ricocheted through the politically charged environment, other media outlets and technology experts began questioning the Post’s claims and the utility company itself finally issued a formal statement at 9:37PM EST, just an hour and a half after the Post’s publication, pushing back on the Post’s claims: “We detected the malware in a single Burlington Electric Department laptop not connected to our organization’s grid systems. We took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alerted federal officials of this finding.”
“Particularly fascinating that the original Post story mentioned that there were only two major power utilities in Vermont and that Burlington Electric was one of them, meaning it would have been easy to call both companies for comment.”
From Russian hackers burrowed deep within the US electrical grid, ready to plunge the nation into darkness at the flip of a switch, an hour and a half later the story suddenly became that a single non-grid laptop had a piece of malware on it and that the laptop was not connected to the utility grid in any way.
However, it was not until almost a full hour after the utility’s official press release (at around 10:30PM EST) that the Post finally updated its article, changing the headline to the more muted “Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility, showing risk to U.S. electrical grid security, officials say” and changed the body of the article to note “Burlington Electric said in a statement that the company detected a malware code used in the Grizzly Steppe operation in a laptop that was not connected to the organization’s grid systems. The firm said it took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alert federal authorities.” Yet, other parts of the article, including a later sentence claiming that multiple computers at the utility had been breached, remained intact.
“One driving force of fake news is that as much of 60% of the links shared on social media are shared based on the title alone, with the sharer not actually reading the article itself. Thus, the title assigned to an article becomes the story itself and the Post’s incorrect title meant that the story that spread virally through the national echo chamber was that the Russians had hacked into the US power grid.”
The following morning, nearly 11 hours after changing the headline and rewriting the article to indicate that the grid itself was never breached and the “hack” was only an isolated laptop with malware, the Post still had not appended any kind of editorial note to indicate that it had significantly changed the focus of the article.
This is significant, as one driving force of fake news is that as much of 60% of the links shared on social media are shared based on the title alone, with the sharer not actually reading the article itself. Thus, the title assigned to an article becomes the story itself and the Post’s incorrect title meant that the story that spread virally through the national echo chamber was that the Russians had hacked into the US power grid.
Only after numerous outlets called out the Post’s changes did the newspaper finally append an editorial note at the very bottom of the article more than half a day later saying “An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid.”
Yet, even this correction is not a true reflection of public facts as known. The utility indicated only that a laptop was found to contain malware that has previously been associated with Russian hackers. Read the rest of this entry »
The declared aim of this ambitious plan for a social-credit system is to build a ‘culture of sincerity.’ At this stage in China’s history, it is questionable whether the party-state can build any kind of culture.
Stanley Lubman writes: The Chinese government is taking the first steps in an evolving plan to employ big data to establish a nationwide system of mass surveillance of the entire population. This “social-credit system” would mobilize technology to collect information on all citizens and use that information to rate their behavior, including financial creditworthiness and personal conduct. The local experiments have provoked mixed reactions.
“The Communist Party, since it gained power in 1949, has endeavored to monitor and control the behavior and thoughts of the population. In the era of Mao Zedong it established ‘residents’ committees’ in the cities and ‘village committees’ in the countryside to monitor citizens’ behavior and report to local police. These continue to operate today, if in slightly different forms.”
The declared aim of this ambitious plan for a social-credit system is to build a “culture of sincerity.” At this stage in China’s history, it is questionable whether the party-state can build any kind of culture. The center cannot effectively control local governments, a large share of economic profits is going to the wealthy, corruption remains widespread and neither the economy nor the populace will tolerate the absence of rule of law indefinitely.
The Communist Party, since it gained power in 1949, has endeavored to monitor and control the behavior and thoughts of the population. In the era of Mao Zedong it established “residents’ committees” in the cities and “village committees” in the countryside to monitor citizens’ behavior and report to local police. These continue to operate today, if in slightly different forms.
The current effort to expand control of personal conduct is the latest in a series of moves to control behavior that now include campaigns against corrupt officials, rights lawyers and others whose conduct and actions are considered “subversive” both in person and otherwise—such as in social media.
The new social-credit system may include “black marks for infractions such as fare cheating, jaywalking and violating family-planning rules,” according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. The article quotes planning documents stating that the system would “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.” It is no wonder that one Chinese human rights-activist is quoted as saying “Tracking everyone that way, it is just like ‘1984’.” (The famous novel published in 1949 by George Orwell imagines a mythical regime that spies on all of its citizens using omnipresent surveillance.)
Current tentative steps to test the new system have raised questions about its implementation and reach. Obvious issues include defining the criteria that would be applied to rate citizens, the government and social institutions that would perform the ratings, and the impact of those ratings on citizens’ business and professional activities and on their lives in general. A key component of the new system will be taking traditional credit-scoring and adding other data points. Sesame Credit, an affiliate of e-commerce titan Alibaba, currently surveys online shopping habits and, if users consent, posts their education levels and legal records. Businesses and some individuals such as lawyers, accountants, teachers and journalists would receive closer scrutiny of their professional behavior. Read the rest of this entry »