Global trumpism: how India's brutal leader manufactures reality with trumped-up "polls"

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an authoritarian war criminal who is part of the worldwide surge of trumpist leaders and hopefuls, including Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte; Hungary's Viktor Orbán; Russia's Vladimir Putin; South Korea's Park Geun-hye; France's Marine Le Pen; the UK's Nigel Farage, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and others -- bound together by xenophobia, a lack of transparency, violent suppression of opposition, and savvy use of the internet. Read the rest

Pirate Party invited to form Iceland's next government

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Though the October polls that predicted a great showing for the Pirate Party in the Icelandic elections turned out to be wrong, that election did end with a deeply divided parliament that has been unable to find enough common ground upon which to form a new government. Read the rest

Hamilton's eerie relevance to this moment in America's terrifying political journey

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Lin-Manuel Miranda's smash Broadway musical Hamilton -- which recounts the events of 240 years ago -- keeps looming large in our very current political discourse, from Hamilton's role in the establishment of the Electoral College to Mike Pence's night at the theater and the ensuing Trumpian call for a safe-space for vulnerable politicians who have only their status as the second-most powerful man on the planet to defend themselves from the terrifyingly mild petitions delivered by actual, globe-striding singing fellows. Read the rest

British politicians exempt themselves from warrantless spying under the Snoopers Charter

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The Snoopers Charter is the most invasive surveillance law ever passed by a "democracy", requiring service providers to retain records of virtually everything you do online and with your phone, and then allowing virtually "everyone" to search that data, without a warrant or even record-keeping, so it's virtually impossible to catch systemic abuse of the system. Read the rest

Donald Trump still loves torture

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The New York Times indulged a bit of wishful thinking last week when it reported on Trump's surprise that his likely secretary of defense Marine Corps General James Mattis thought torture didn't work, suggesting that this meant that Trump would abandon his campaign promise to torture the shit out of anyone he didn't like, because if it's good enough for ISIS, it's good enough for Trump. Read the rest

Trump staffer convicted of felony election fraud in 2012 case

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Brandon Hall, a Michigan man who worked Donald Trump's election campaign, forged signatures on a petition in 2012 and faces up to five years in jail. At the time he was working for judicial candidate Chris Houtaling, not the Bloated Peachbeast of Queens N.Y.

In 2012, Hall was convicted for stealing from a school fundraiser where he serves on the Grand Haven school board. He ran earlier this year for the state House 89th District.

In a statement, Progress Michigan said Hall’s conviction is proof that former Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s recount effort should continue in Michigan.

“Donald Trump has made claim after claim calling the integrity of the election into question, but his Michigan campaign had no problem hiring a staff member facing election law charges,” executive director Lonnie Scott said. “The fact that the Trump campaign and the Michigan Republican Party embraced Brandon Hall is just one more reason to recount and audit the vote in Michigan.”

Trump attracted a certain kind of boy, scathing but scruple-free. Disgust and humorless mirth orbiting a black hole of self-loathing. Now he's in power they'll turn on him and switch into opposition, because that's where the action is going to be. Read the rest

Trump's presidential hires and advisors own a hell of a lot of fake news sites

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Floyd Brown invented the Reagan-era Willie Horton lie, helped create the Citizens United group, and now owns Liftable Media, including sites like Conservative Tribune (50th most-trafficked site in the USA) and Western Journalism (81st), whence came fake news stories like the lie that Obama had altered the White House logo to include a white flag of surrender (the logo change came from GWB's White House); the lie that Muslims had been "ordered" to vote for Hillary; the lie that Obama had encouraged millennial non-citizen Latin@s to vote without fear of reprisals; the lie that Clinton had a Vegas "drug holiday" before the debate; the lie that Obama's birth certificate was not accepted by experts as genuine -- Brown's sites are all included in Facebook's verified news sources. Read the rest

Beyond fake news: the "constructed realities" of the polarized world

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Gilad Lotan -- our favorite fake-news sleuthing data-scientist -- writes about the problem of not-quite-fake news, which is much more pernicious than mere lies: it's news that uses attention-shaping, one-sided "news" accounts that divide their readers into their own "constructed realities." Read the rest

If blue-collar workers want better jobs, they need unions, not Trump

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Even though the majority of American workers would like to join a union, America's anemic labor laws scare them away from it -- after all, if you're fired for attempting to unionize, all your boss owes you is back pay, a sum so trifling that business groups call it a "hunting license." Read the rest

The neoliberal politicians who impeached Brazil's president and took over are imploding in spectacular corruption scandals

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Last June, a group of business-friendly right-wing politicians staged a legal coup and had president Dilma Rousseff removed, putting convicted fraudster Michel Temer in her office, which he used as an auction-block from which to sell off his country's crown jewels at knock-down prices to his pals, while slashing public services. Read the rest

Trump team says Elton John's playing at his inauguration; Elton John says he's not

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"Elton John is going to be doing our concert on the mall for the inauguration," said Anthony Scaramucci, a member of president-elect Donald Trump's transition team.

"There is no truth in this at all," Elton John's spokeswoman told BBC News. Read the rest

1946 information film about how democracy slides into despotism

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Encyclopaedia Brittanica explains: "As a community moves toward despotism, respect is restricted to fewer people. A community is low on a respect scale if common courtesy is withheld from people on the basis of their political attitudes; rude to others because wealth or position gives them that right; or because they don't like a man's race or religion."

The use of the "not equal" sign, ≠, as a stand in for the swastika, is just perfectly on-the-nose.

But here's the best moment, depicting a despot's despotic laugh:

I immediately recognized this as the sampled laugh of Damnd, a guardian from Capcom's 1989 arcade game Final Fight:

Read the rest

UPDATE: Chicago Tribune's Ivanka Trump "If he wasn't my father, I would spray him with Mace" quote is fake

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UPDATE: The quote attributed to Ivanka Trump by The Chicago Tribune did not originate with her, reports Snopes' Dan Evon. Fake.

Kendizor evidently found Ivanka's alleged "mace" quote in the "Quotables" section of the Chicago Tribune. The screen shot she shared was real, and was published by the newspaper in August 2006:

"If he wasn't my father, I would spray him with Mace." ... The same quote, along with the same attribution, also appeared in an end-of-the-year quiz by the Telegraph. However ... The earliest version of this quote we could uncover was published on 17 March 2006, in the "News For Dumb Guys" section — a weekly feature in Louisiana's Shreveport Times — where it was attributed to comedian Conan O'Brien

In 2006, president-elect Donald Trump remarked that if Ivanka Trump wasn't his daughter, "perhaps I'd be dating her." In response, she said "If he wasn't my father, I would spray him with Mace." (CORRECTION: The Ivanka Trump quote from The Chicago Tribune is fake, reports Snopes. Sorry Ivanka.)

The remark was unearthed by Sarah Kenzidor from the Aug. 24, 2006 issue of The Chicago Tribune; it's one of several.

“Yeah, she’s really something, and what a beauty, that one. If I weren’t happily married and, ya know, her father . . . “ Trump said to Rolling Stone in 2015.

Read the rest

NPR tracks down "fake news" entrepreneur claiming up to $30,000 a month from ads: "I have a beautiful life"

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The Denver Guardian looked enough like a real news site to convince legions of Facebookers that its fake news about Hillary Clinton was worth sharing. The anonymous creator reused an old handle in an early posting there, though, allowing NPR to track him down to the LA suburbs.

Jestin Coler, 40, weasels at first, claiming it's all an attempt to "highlight the extremism" and show "how easily fake news spreads." But he's soon boasting of a business operation that brings in five figures a month from ads.

Coler's company, Disinfomedia, owns many faux news sites — he won't say how many. But he says his is one of the biggest fake-news businesses out there, which makes him a sort of godfather of the industry.

At any given time, Coler says, he has between 20 and 25 writers. And it was one of them who wrote the story in the Denver Guardian that an FBI agent who leaked Clinton emails was killed. Coler says that over 10 days the site got 1.6 million views. He says stories like this work because they fit into existing right-wing conspiracy theories.

"The people wanted to hear this," he says. "So all it took was to write that story. Everything about it was fictional: the town, the people, the sheriff, the FBI guy. And then ... our social media guys kind of go out and do a little dropping it throughout Trump groups and Trump forums and boy it spread like wildfire."

As with other fake news hucksters, Coler says he also targeted liberals and lefties too, but found that they didn't fall for it the way others do. Read the rest

Word of the day: Kakistocracy

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Kakistocracy n. (kak·is·toc·ra·cy / kækɪsˈtɑkɹəsi) Government by the worst persons; a form of government in which the worst persons are in power. Read the rest

Twitterbot experiment suggests that public disapproval by white men can reduce harassers' use of racist language

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NYU PhD candidate Kevin Munger made a set of four male-seeming twitterbots that attempted to "socially sanction" white Twitter users who habitually used racial epithets (he reasons that these two characteristics are a good proxy for harassment): the bots could be white or black (that is, have names that have been experimentally shown to be associated with "whiteness" or "blackness") and could have 2 followers or 500 of them. Read the rest

Hugely successful Facebook fake news author considers himself a "satirist"

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Paul Horner says he made more than $10,000 month writing fake news on Facebook that was widely shared by Trump supporters and picked up by the real press -- for example, hoax stories about protesters being paid to turn out against Trump -- and that he targeted Trump supporters as an act of "satire" to show that they would credulously share anything, providing that it confirmed their conspiracy theories about the left and the Democratic party. Read the rest

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