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Bob Woodward: Obama Officials Possibly Facing Criminal Charges for Unmasking Scheme

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said earlier that he had briefed Trump on new information, unrelated to an investigation into Russian activities, that suggested that several members of Trump’s transition team and perhaps Trump himself had their identities “unmasked” after their communications were intercepted by U.S. intelligence officials.

The revelation is notable because identities of Americans are generally supposed to remain “masked” if American communications are swept up during surveillance of foreign individuals.

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During an interview on Fox News, Woodward said that if that information about the unmasking is true, “it is a gross violation.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Obama Administration Ending Policy Allowing Cubans to Stay Without Visas

WASHINGTON— Carol E. Lee and Felicia Schwartz report: The White House plans to announce that President Barack Obama is undoing a longstanding policy that allows Cuban émigrés who reach U.S. soil without visas to stay in the country and apply for a green card after one year, administration officials said.

The special exception for Cuban immigrants — known as the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy — has been in place since the 1990s. It allows Cubans who make it to U.S. soil to stay, while those caught in transit are sent back.

Those who are permitted to remain also may be eligible to receive benefits the U.S. grants to refugees fleeing persecution, including cash assistance and health care coverage.

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The policy, essentially encouraging Cubans to flee their country, has long been part of the economic, immigration, and foreign policy tool kit used by Washington, and has been opposed by Havana, which considers it a drain on its resources. No other immigrants are provided similar allowances.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Mr. Obama’s decision to reverse the policy one week before he leaves office marks one of his final moves to solidify his effort begun in 2014 to restore U.S. relations with Cuba. Putting Cubans on equal footing with immigrants from other countries would be a sign of more normalized relations. But it is also a step the Cuban government has wanted the White House to take.

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The wet-foot, dry-foot policy grew out of the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, which gives the U.S. Attorney General discretion to treat Cuban immigrants differently than those from other countries. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, the number of Cubans trying to leave the country skyrocketed, resulting in often dangerous flotilla escapes. In 1994, then-President Bill Clinton spearheaded a policy change that provided that anyone caught at sea would be sent back to Cuba. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] ‘You Guys Are Feeling the Heat!’: Anderson Cooper, Kellyanne Conway Battle Over CNN Intel Report

Josh Feldman reports: Kellyanne Conway and Anderson Cooper got into a massive heated back-and-forth tonight over CNN’s report last night on Trump being briefed about supposed “compromising” information against him.

Cooper expressed his frustration that Sean Spicer appeared to be conflating CNN’s report with BuzzFeed’s, which included a dossier on that alleged Russian disinformation, and he confronted Conway about that. Conway repeatedly insisted to Cooper that CNN’s “screaming headline” was wrong and that they linked to the BuzzFeed report online.

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While the interview was going on, Jim Sciutto tweeted this:

Cooper seemed utterly bewildered at Conway scolding CNN for its report, and when she said “I know CNN is feeling the heat today,” Cooper shot back, “I think you guys are feeling the heat.”

[Read the full story here, at Mediaite]

Cooper defended CNN’s reporting and asked Conway how she can dismiss it as inaccurate when she doesn’t know for certain that it’s false. He said, “CNN is not BuzzFeed, I just wish you guys would acknowledge [it].” Read the rest of this entry »


INAUGURATION REWIND: Remember in 2009 When The Huffington Post Ran This?

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Me neither. It’s because it’s not real. It’s a parody.

But you know what the Huffington Post actually did run this week?

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This one is real. Not The Onion.

h/t Ed Driscoll Instapundit

 


[VIDEO] Kellyanne Conway: ‘The Biggest Fake News was That Trump Couldn’t Win’ 

At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey writes: In the clip above, Conway wonders aloud what message Democrats thought they were selling during the campaign. “I don’t know what her message was to America,” Conway says, “other than ‘I’m not Donald Trump and you shouldn’t vote for him’.” Conway also argues that Hillary didn’t do much to move the needle with women, scoring 54/41 in exit polls, almost identical to Barack Obama’s 55/44 over Mitt Romney in 2012. How did she fail to leverage that advantage, Conway asks?

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The near-hysteria generated by advocates of this latest social panic has reached almost ludicrous heights. In the past 48 hours, we have now been lectured about “fake news” by Hillary Clinton, former NBC News anchor Brian Williams, and outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Hillary’s reliance on lies and half-truths in the campaign was well documented, especially when it came to her e-mail scandal and the slow unfolding of contradictory facts that exposed those lies — let alone Hillary’s claim to have been in New York City on 9/11“Tuzla Dash” claims in 2008, her supposed rejection by the Marine Corps over her gender, and especially the attempt to slough off the planned terror attack on our Benghazi compound in 2012 as a spontaneous reaction to a YouTube video when speaking to the families of those killed in the attack. Brian Williams lost his position as anchor for repeated instances of fabulism, including in on-air remarks. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Facebook Helps Users Block The New York Times, CBS, NBC, ABC, with ‘B.S. Detector’, Fake News Warning Plugin 

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Not only is Facebook not providing little red warnings along with links to potentially specious news—it’s now blocking links to the plugin that did.

Over the past week, some Facebook users reported seeing content warnings next to links from established fake news domains, apparently without realizing a third party was responsible. We reported this phenomenon, later clarifying that B.S. Detector is in fact a third party plugin that both we and a number of Facebook users mistook as a testing feature. Irony!

Now, if you attempt to share a link to B.S. Detector on Facebook, you’ll be met with this message. Apparently, blocking fake news (detectors) is quite simple!

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“I believe they are doing this because of TechCrunch article that came out yesterday, falsely identifying a screenshot of my plugin as a Facebook feature under development,” Daniel Sieradski, design technologist and creator of B.S. Detector, told TechCrunch. “It would seem I’ve caused them some embarrassment by showing them to be full of bull when it comes to their supposed inability to address fake news and they are punishing me for it.”

Jeff Fager (L), chairman CBS News and executive producer '60 Minutes', Scott Pelley, anchor and managing editor CBS Evening News and David Rhodes (R) president CBS News, speak at the CBS Television Network's 2011 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour in Beverly Hills, California August 3, 2011. REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS) - RTR2PL1B

For now, the B.S. Detector plugin itself remains functional, as do links to the plugin on Product Hunt and the Chrome app store. Read the rest of this entry »


Facebook User Verifies Truth Of Article By Carefully Checking It Against Own Preconceived Opinions

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“You can’t just accept everything you see online, which is why I always take a closer look at the claims that are made in every article and make sure that each one of them is backed up by my existing assumptions and personal feelings about the world.”

CLARKSVILLE, TN—Explaining that people need to be critical of the news stories that circulate on social media these days, area Facebook user James Wheatley, 44, reportedly took the time to verify the truth of an article he came across Thursday by carefully checking it against the opinions he already holds.

 “There are all kinds of bogus news stories out there, so it’s important to take a step back and hold each article up against my personal convictions to find out for myself whether what I’m reading is true or not. It’s pretty sad, but once I got in the habit of looking at articles this way, I could see just how many awful sites there are on the internet that don’t even adhere to the most basic tenets of my individual worldview, so now I just disregard them completely.”

“You can’t just accept everything you see online, which is why I always take a closer look at the claims that are made in every article and make sure that each one of them is backed up by my existing assumptions and personal feelings about the world,” said Wheatley, who told reporters he had to correct several friends on Facebook earlier this week after an investigation of his beliefs and individual political perspectives proved the articles they had posted to be entirely false. Read the rest of this entry »


Social Media Is Killing Discourse Because It’s Too Much Like TV

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We need more text and fewer videos and memes in the age of Trump.

Hossein Derakshan writes: If I say that social media aided Donald Trump’s election,
you might think of fake news on Facebook. But even if Facebook fixes the algorithms that elevate phony stories, there’s something else going on: social media represents the ultimate ascendance of television over other media.

I’ve been warning about this since November 2014, when I was freed from six years of incarceration in Tehran, a punishment I received for my online activism in Iran. Before I went to prison, I blogged frequently on what I now call the open Web: it was
decentralized, text-centered, and abundant with 51kxbo1vo8l-_sl250_hyperlinks to source material and rich background. It nurtured varying opinions. It was related to the world of books.

[Order Neil Postman’s book “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” from Amazon.com]

Then for six years I got disconnected; when I left prison and came back online, I was confronted by a brave new world. Facebook and Twitter had replaced blogging and had made the Internet like TV: centralized and image-centered, with content embedded in pictures, without links.

[Read the full story here, at technologyreview.com]

Like TV it now increasingly entertains us, and even more so than television it amplifies our existing beliefs and habits. It makes us feel more than think, and it comforts more than challenges. The result is a deeply fragmented society, driven by emotions, and radicalized by lack of contact and challenge from outside. This is why Oxford Dictionaries designated “post-truth” as the word of 2016: an adjective “relating to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals.”

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Neil Postman provided some clues about this in his illuminating 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show BusinessThe media scholar at New York University saw then how television transformed public discourse into an exchange of volatile emotions that are usually mistaken by pollsters as opinion. One of the scariest outcomes of this transition, Postman wrote, is that television essentially turns all news into disinformation. “Disinformation does not mean false information. It means misleading information—misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information—information that creates the illusion of knowing something but which in fact leads one away from knowing … The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining.” (Emphasis added.) And, Postman argued, when news is constructed as a form of entertainment, it inevitably loses its function for a healthy democracy. “I am saying something far more serious than that we are being deprived of authentic information. I am saying we are losing our sense of what it means to be well informed. Ignorance is always correctable. But what shall we do if we take ignorance to be knowledge?” Read the rest of this entry »