August 1, 2018

Facebook Removes Fake Accounts

We're officially on Insta! Did I throw on a blazer at 5 am for all you lovely people? You bet I did!

“Facebook elevated concerns about election interference Tuesday, announcing that it had uncovered ‘sophisticated’ efforts, possibly linked to Russia, to manipulate U.S. politics and by extension the upcoming midterm elections.” (AP News)

See past issues

The left is concerned that social media companies are ill-equipped to deal with political influence campaigns, and is urging the government to take action against foreign actors using these platforms to foment division.

“While it may be alarming that there was some mysterious force... that spent a paltry $11,000 to run political interference prior to the U.S. election, it is far more alarming that news of this nature is being broadcast by Facebook, and on Facebook’s own terms...There’s an innate conflict of interest in Facebook self-reporting on what their internal cops have caught...Who moderates the moderators?

Salon

“Whether or not Russia was behind these 32 pages on Facebook's servers, the question remains whether these kinds of operators will be thwarted

or thwartable) going forward.”

Forbes

“Russia

and others) are making headway in sowing doubt about the media and our broader society.” A former FBI special agent warns, “Russia and other nation states won’t stop influencing via social media until they are met with a response; the U.S. has not mounted one and social media companies are really our only defense.”

Washington Post

Regarding the deployment of an aircraft carrier and bombers, many note that the US “has a long history of provoking, instigating, or launching wars based on dubious, flimsy, or manufactured threats… The most egregious case was the U.S. invasion of Iraq, in 2003, which was based on bad intelligence that Baghdad had active weapons-of-mass-destruction programs. The repercussions are still playing out sixteen years (and more than four thousand American deaths) later… The sense of foreboding is tangible.”
Robin Wright, The New Yorker

Trump's “goal, it seems, is to put so much pressure on Tehran that it has no choice but to completely change its behavior — but he could end up leading the countries to the brink of war in the process… Now is typically the time when cooler heads prevail, but it’s unclear if there are cooler heads around… It’s hard to overstate how avoidable this situation was.”
Alex Ward, Vox

“In theory, there’s no reason why a bad businessman can’t go on to become a good president. But a commander-in-chief whose signature legislative achievement expanded tax loopholes that he himself describes as grossly unfair is pretty much a bad president, by definition.”
Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

The right is divided.

The right is divided.

Many dismissed the news. “We need to keep these threats in perspective... For a malicious operation presumably run by a hostile intelligence service, its impact was ludicrously small, and its investment — just $11,000 with three months to go? — even more so.”

Hot Air

“Have you ever listened to the BBC for a fresh angle on American politics? I have heard numerous complaints of the echo chamber on both the Right and Left of American media regurgitate talking points. Do we need Mueller to protect us from foreign perspectives on our own politics?... Giving public figures the power to criminally punish their critics, even if they’re Russian, ought to concern us all.”

The Federalist

Others, however, argue that “regardless of which state is responsible here, once they are identified they must face sanctions. That necessity is informed not so much by the measure of harm these particular cyberattacks might have inflicted on the U.S. election... but rather by the precedent they set... that the U.S. democratic process is still a ripe target for hostile attack more than 18 months since the November 2016 presidential election.”

Washington Examiner

“The broader context here is North Korea's crop crisis. If Kim hasn't got sanctions relief by August's end, a painful winter is coming… Absent Kim's commitment to suspend all ballistic missile tests, the U.S. should not support the provision of food supplies to the North Korean people. A North Korean long-range nuclear strike capability poses an existential threat to American society… Trump must not allow North Korea's coming suffering to dictate his decisions. Supporting North Korea with food will both prolong North Koreans' suffering under Kim and directly undercut U.S. interests.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

Some argue, “It stands to reason that if Kim is willing to starve his own people, deprive his economy of any growth, and pour billions of dollars into missile tech, he will, at some point, develop weapons America and its allies mastered decades ago. And short of an invasion or a diplomatic agreement, under the present circumstances, there is very little we can do to stop him… Taking a hardline approach—what many call the ‘big deal’—or only granting sanctions relief after full denuclearization and the end of Kim’s missile programs is completely impractical and something North Korea would never agree to… only a step-by-step process of disarming Pyongyang, where each side gets a benefit for making a concession, will work.”
Harry J. Kazianis, The American Conservative

Others posit that “the reason Kim is developing missiles that can strike Seattle or LA is that 28,000 U.S. troops are in South Korea… If we cannot persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons in return for a lifting of sanctions, perhaps we should pull U.S. forces off the peninsula and let China deal with the possible acquisition of their own nuclear weapons by Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan…

“After an exhausting two weeks [between North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and others], one is tempted to ask: How many quarrels, clashes and conflicts can even a superpower manage at one time? And is it not the time for the United States, preoccupied with so many crises, to begin asking, ‘Why is this our problem?’”
Pat Buchanan, Townhall

Counterpoint: “after the War of 1812, President Madison… enacted the Tariff of 1816 to price British textiles out of competition, so Americans would build the new factories and capture the booming U.S. market. It worked. Tariffs [also] financed Mr. Lincoln’s War. The Tariff of 1890 bears the name of Ohio Congressman and future President William McKinley, who said that a foreign manufacturer ‘has no right or claim to equality with our own… He pays no taxes. He performs no civil duties’… [A tariff’s] purpose is not just to raise revenue but to make a nation economically independent of others, and to bring its citizens to rely upon each other rather than foreign entities.”
Patrick J. Buchanan, The American Conservative

A libertarian's take

“The scoop reflects poorly on Trump, who willfully misled the public for a decade in hopes of fraudulently representing himself as a man with a Midas touch. But he could not have succeeded without the assistance of many Americans, some mercenary, others over-credulous, who helped to spread the deceit and deception, generating countless newspaper articles, magazine stories, and TV segments that misinformed the public about the publicity hound’s record in business. New evidence of his staggering losses in that decade therefore provides an apt occasion to reflect on the media’s complicity in Trump’s brazen deceit and deception… Let [this] be a lesson for today’s tabloids, gossip columnists, over-credulous or mercenary journalists, and reality-television producers.”
Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

On the bright side...

Man puts out Southend Pier fire by peeing on it.

BBC

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