On 1 February, the Labour MP Chuka Umunna formally announced the existence of the grassroots coordinating group, a regular Wednesday morning gathering of organisations, activists and sympathetic MPs. Two weeks ago, GCG members launched the People’s Vote, calling for a referendum on the final Brexit deal.
Launching in August 2016 with six staff, the campaign group aimed to “Seek common ground between voters on both sides” by advocating a Brexit so soft, one journalist dubbed it “The Mr Whippy of Brexits”.
“I said, ‘Look, I want to stop Brexit as much as anyone else, but the question is how?’ My very strong view was that seeking to divide the movement between whether you were pure no-Brexit or soft Brexit was totally unhelpful.”
One argument is that there was no form of Brexit on the ballot paper and that campaign promises have been broken.
“We think Brexit is being driven by elites,” says Tom Brufatto, chair of Britain for Europe.
Thousands of people have gathered outside the Art Gallery for the Great Northern March, one of several simultaneous Stop Brexit protests designed to show that opposition is growing around the country.
At Best for Britain’s barnstorms, activists are sternly told that things that galvanise remainers, such as flags and Bollocks to Brexit stickers, are counterproductive when it comes to swaying the unconverted.
The voices are diverse, but they all hit the same notes: new facts have emerged; the negotiations aren’t delivering what was promised; a people’s vote is a democratic necessity; Brexit is not inevitable.
The orginal article.
One of my least favorite questions is: “Did Russian interference cost Hillary Clinton the 2016 election?” The question is newly relevant because of special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians on Friday on charges that they used a variety of shady techniques to discourage people from voting for Clinton and encourage them to vote for Donald Trump.
You know what probably did cost Clinton the election? The letter that former FBI Director James Comey sent to Congress on Oct. 28, 2016, and the subsequent media firestorm over it.
The magnitude of the interference revealed so far is not trivial but is still fairly modest as compared with the operations of the Clinton and Trump campaigns.
The indictment alleges that an organization called the Internet Research Agency had a monthly budget of approximately $1.25 million toward interference efforts by September 2016 and that it employed “Hundreds of individuals for its online operation.” This is a fairly significant magnitude – much larger than the paltry sums that Russian operatives had previously been revealed to spend on Facebook advertising.
Thematically, the Russian interference tactics were consistent with the reasons Clinton lost.
That’s largely because Clinton was viewed as dishonest and untrustworthy, exactly the sort of message that the Russian campaign was trying to cultivate.
The hacked emails from the Clinton campaign and the DNC potentially also were more influential than the Russian efforts detailed in Friday’s indictments.
If it’s hard to prove anything about Russian interference, it’s equally hard to disprove anything: The interference campaign could easily have had chronic, insidious effects that could be mistaken for background noise but which in the aggregate were enough to swing the election by 0.8 percentage points toward Trump – not a high hurdle to clear because 0.8 points isn’t much at all.
The orginal article.
At another point during the campaign, I was invited to meet with former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.
Rendell had already publicly endorsed another candidate in the race.
The bundler immediately chimed in, “Well, we need to get you over there because it would make it a helluva lot easier to raise money for you.” Rendell followed up with, “Call my office and we’ll get you set up for a trip over there.” I remained silent.
Rendell had publicly endorsed one candidate in the race, told a second candidate he would support him once he won the primary, and told me that he’d support my campaign by connecting me with donors.
The Democratic state representative on the county committee set up to endorse a primary candidate, who blatantly stated, “Money is money. We need a candidate who has or can raise a lot of it so we can win.” The county party chair who wouldn’t return my calls and emails presumably because they had already backed the wealthiest Democrat in the race.
Perry is right that fundraising can be stomach-turning, Rendell said.
“Look, fundraising sucks. Almost anybody who runs for office who has any scruples at all will tell you that it sucks, but it is a necessary part of the business, and if you believe in yourself and believe that you can do good, and that good will help people and improve their quality of life, you do it because you want to, you do it because it’s necessary to get in a position to effectuate the change you want to effectuate. So I don’t have any sympathy for Paul. He knew going in that money was going to play a big part. He couldn’t communicate his message, he couldn’t tell people about himself and tell people about his ideas without the money to communicate,” he said.
“If Paul had come to me early before I endorsed the other candidate, I probably would have endorsed him or would have stayed out of it. As it turned out, when the other candidate dropped out, if Paul was still in the race and had raised money, he might’ve been in a position to win,” he said.
The orginal article.
The news reports had gone from bad to catastrophic, with the National Weather Service declaring, “This event is unprecedented and all impacts are unknown.” And Beto O’Rourke was headed toward the storm.
His time playing in punk-rock bands during his high school and college years has proved irresistible for headline writers, who have identified him as “Ted Cruz’s Punk-Rock Problem” and asserted that his “Punk-Rock Past Could Help Him.” An in-production documentary titled Beto vs. Cruz promises that the coming Senate race will be the “Most outrageous and consequential political fight of 2018.” O’Rourke’s fund-raising has been robust, with $3.8 million raised in the second and third quarters of 2017-more than Cruz-and his campaigning has been relentless.
There are three phrases that O’Rourke repeats at nearly every campaign event: The first is “Texas isn’t a red state or a blue state, it’s a nonvoting state,” which is O’Rourke’s way of saying that he needs a lot of first-time voters to come to the polls in order for him to have a chance.
As O’Rourke finished summarizing his recent Washington business to his constituents at the town hall, it was mostly veterans who rushed to the front of the aisles for their chance to speak with their congressman.
After an independent ethics-review commission dismissed the charges against him, O’Rourke denounced what he saw as a coordinated campaign of “Character assassination and political intimidation.”
Romo refuses to call O’Rourke Beto, because he sees the name as an act of cultural appropriation by “Someone who betrayed our trust.” O’Rourke’s many supporters see him as someone who genuinely, even idealistically, thought the plan would be good for the city and got badly mischaracterized.
O’Rourke said to the El Paso Times that Reyes’s idea “That we stand back and let people duke it out is not showing leadership.”
O’Rourke talked openly about running against Reyes in the Democratic primary in 2010, but he decided against it.
The orginal article.
Voters in Fort Collins, Colorado, yesterday approved a ballot question that authorizes the city to build a broadband network, rejecting a cable and telecom industry campaign against the initiative.
Fort Collins voters said “Yes” to a ballot question that gives the city council permission “To establish a telecommunications utility to provide broadband services,” The Coloradoan wrote.
Industry groups tried to convince voters to reject the municipal broadband network; the city’s mayor called it a “Misinformation” campaign by the broadband incumbents.
The anti-municipal broadband group, called “Priorities First Fort Collins,” spent $451,000 campaigning against the broadband network ballot question.
The pro-municipal broadband group in Fort Collins, the Fort Collins Citizens Broadband Committee, spent less than $10,000 in the campaign.
The anti-municipal broadband campaign had funded ads warning that a publicly funded network in Fort Collins would take money away from other infrastructure initiatives.
Colorado has a state law requiring municipalities to hold referendums before they can provide cable, telecom, or broadband service.
Yesterday, voters in Eagle County and Boulder County authorized their local governments to build broadband networks, “Bringing the total number of Colorado counties that have rejected the state law to 31-nearly half of the state’s 64 counties,” Motherboard wrote today.
The orginal article.
In June 2014, Harvard Law scholar Jonathan Zittrain wrote an essay in New Republic called, “Facebook Could Decide an Election Without Anyone Ever Finding Out,” in which he called attention to the possibility of Facebook selectively depressing voter turnout.
“If you’d come to me in 2012, when the last presidential election was raging and we were cooking up ever more complicated ways to monetize Facebook data, and told me that Russian agents in the Kremlin’s employ would be buying Facebook ads to subvert American democracy, I’d have asked where your tin-foil hat was,” wrote Antonio García Martínez, who managed ad targeting for Facebook back then.
The way Facebook determines the ranking of the News Feed is the probability that you’ll like, comment on, or share a story.
In the key metric for Facebook’s News Feed, its posts got 886,000 interactions from Facebook users in January.
His best-known analysis happened after the election, when he showed that “In the final three months of the U.S. presidential campaign, the top-performing fake election-news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, NBC News, and others.”
Already in January 2015, Robinson Meyer reported about how Facebook was “Cracking down on the fake news stories that plague News Feeds everywhere.”
In the aftermath of these discoveries, three Facebook security researchers, Jen Weedon, William Nuland, and Alex Stamos, released a white paper called Information Operations and Facebook.
The truth is that while many reporters knew some things that were going on on Facebook, no one knew everything that was going on on Facebook, not even Facebook.
The orginal article.
The email is likely to be of keen interest to the Justice Department and congressional investigators, who are examining whether any of President Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government to disrupt last year’s election.
At the White House, the deputy press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, was adamant from the briefing room lectern that “The president’s campaign did not collude in any way. Don Jr. did not collude with anybody to influence the election. No one within the Trump campaign colluded in order to influence the election.”
The younger Mr. Trump, who had a reputation during the campaign for having meetings with a wide range of people eager to speak to him, did not join his father’s administration.
In an interview Monday, Mr. Goldstone said he was asked by Mr. Agalarov to set up the meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya.
The elder Mr. Agalarov and the younger Mr. Trump worked together to bring a Trump Tower to Moscow, but the project never got off the ground.
Mr. Goldstone said the last time he had communicated with the younger Mr. Trump was to send him a congratulatory text after the November election, but he added that he did speak to the Trump Organization over the past weekend, before giving his account to the news media.
Donald Trump Jr., who initially told The Times that Ms. Veselnitskaya wanted to talk about the resumption of adoption of Russian children by American families, acknowledged in the Sunday statement that one subject of the meeting was possibly compromising information about Mrs. Clinton.
His decision to move ahead with such a meeting was unusual for a political campaign, but it was consistent with the haphazard approach the Trump operation, and the White House, have taken in vetting people they deal with ahead of time.
The orginal article.
A few weeks later, right around the time the DNC emails were dumped by Wikileaks-and curiously, around the same time Trump called for the Russians to get Hillary Clinton’s missing emails-I was contacted out the blue by a man named Peter Smith, who had seen my work going through these emails.
Smith had not contacted me about the DNC hack, but rather about his conviction that Clinton’s private email server had been hacked-in his view almost certainly both by the Russian government and likely by multiple other hackers too-and his desire to ensure that the fruits of those hacks were exposed prior to the election.
Following the DNC hack and watching the Russian influence campaign surrounding it unfold in near real-time, Smith’s comment about having been contacted by someone from the “Dark Web” claiming to have Clinton’s personal emails struck me as critically important.
Smith routinely talked about the goings on at the top of the Trump team, offering deep insights into the bizarre world at the top of the Trump campaign.
Smith told of Flynn’s moves to position himself to become CIA Director under Trump, but also that Flynn had been persuaded that the Senate confirmation process would be prohibitively difficult.
Over the course of a few phone calls, initially with Smith and later with Smith and one of his associates-a man named John Szobocsan-I was asked about my observations on technical details buried in the State Department’s release of Secretary Clinton’s emails.
A few weeks into my interactions with Smith, he sent me a document, ostensibly a cover page for a dossier of opposition research to be compiled by Smith’s group, and which purported to clear up who was involved.
We couldn’t show that Smith had been in contact with actual Russians.
The orginal article.