Pablo Picasso Self portrait 1972
It’s Hunter season.
I think Tyler has the timeline a bit wrong. Tucker didn’t say this “Hours before Politico reported the existence of a letter signed by ’50 former senior intelligence officials'”, he said it on October 16 (maybe even 15?!) , and the letter was published the 19th.
• ‘Nonpublic Information’ Debunks Letter From ’50 Former Intel Officials’ (ZH)
Hours before Politico reported the existence of a letter signed by ’50 former senior intelligence officials’ who say the Hunter Biden laptop scandal “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation” – providing “no new evidence,” while they remain “deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case,” Tucker Carlson obliterated their (literal) conspiracy theory. According to the Fox News host, he’s seen ‘nonpublic information that proves it was Hunter’s laptop,’ adding “No one but Hunter could’ve known about or replicated this information.” “This is not a Russian hoax. We are not speculating.”
Meanwhile, the Delaware computer repair shop owner who believes Hunter dropped off three MacBook Pros for data recovery has a signed work order bearing Hunter’s signature. When compared to the signature on a document in his paternity suit, while one looks more formal than the other, they are a match. Going back to the ’50 former senior intelligence officials’ and their latest Russia fixation, one has to wonder – do they think Putin was able to compromise Biden’s former business associate, Bevan Cooney, who gave investigative journalist Peter Schweizer his gmail password – revealing that Hunter and his partners were engaged in an influence-peddling operation for rich Chinese who wanted access to the Obama administration?
Did Putin further hack Joe Biden in 2011 to make him take a meeting with a Chinese delegation with ties to the CCP – arranged by Hunter’s group, two years they secured a massive investment of Chinese money? The implications boggle the mind. Here’s the clarifying sentences from the ’50 former senior intelligence officials’ that exposes the utter farce of it all: “While the letter’s signatories presented no new evidence, they said their national security experience had made them “deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case” and cited several elements of the story that suggested the Kremlin’s hand at work. “If we are right,” they added, “this is Russia trying to influence how Americans vote in this election, and we believe strongly that Americans need to be aware of this.”
Read more …
A 14-year old relative. Most damning is that Joe knew about it.
• Rudy Giuliani Files Police Report On Hunter Biden For Child Endangerment (JTN)
Rudy Giuliani, one of President Trump’s private attorneys, has reported to Delaware police concerns that materials on a laptop purportedly tied to Hunter Biden contained evidence of possible child endangerment. Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney and New York City mayor, confirmed Tuesday night he went Monday to a local police department in Wilmington to report his concerns of children endangerment and sexual exploitation. Giuliani told Just the News that former New York Police Department commissioner Bernard Kerik joined him when he delivered photographs and text messages to the New Castle County Police Department. “I told them other details about what appears to be an inappropriate sexual relationship,” he said in an interview. “They told me it would be investigated.”
Law enforcement officials in Delaware told Just the News that Giuliani’s concerns have been forwarded to the state Department of Justice. A spokesman for New Castle County police referred reporters to the state Justice Department. A spokesman for the state agency did not immediately return a call or email seeking comment. A senior federal law enforcement official told Just the News on Tuesday night that the FBI is in possession of the laptop and that the bureau concurs with Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe’s assessment that the laptop is not part of Russian intelligence operation, as some Democrats have alleged. That official declined to discuss the contents of the laptop.
[..] Giuliani said the materials he gleaned from the controversial laptop — which a Delaware computer shop owner alleges was left with him by Hunter Biden — gave him concern for the welfare of a minor girl. Giuliani declined to identify the alleged minor victim or who was in the photos. “There are many texts which I gave to them that point out that family was concerned about the safety of the child,” Giuliani said. “I will tell you the evidence I gave them states it was reported to Joe Biden. What did he do about it?“Giuliani dismissed suggestions that filing a police report as Trump’s private attorney two weeks before Election Day should be deemed political. “The conduct falls under the mandatory reporting requirements for child endangerment,” Giuliani said. “If I was the U.S. attorney or the mayor or Bernie was still the commissioner, it would have been a crime for us not to report what we had.”
Read more …
After they’ve had it for a year?! Yeah, that should work…
What the FBI is investigating is not the contents of the emails, but the RussiaRussia claims the Dems launched.
Is Giuliani’s report now also with the FBI?
• Hunter Biden’s Laptop Probe Referred to FBI, Delaware State Police Say (NW)
The Delaware state police have passed on an inquiry concerning the laptop purportedly belonging to Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, to the FBI.On Tuesday, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani told Newsmax that he handed over the laptop that he claims belongs to Hunter Biden to the Delaware state police on Monday. “In light of ongoing questions about the credibility of these claims and multiple reports that the FBI is investigating their veracity, law enforcement is referring this matter to the FBI,” a Delaware State Police spokesperson told Newsweek. The Delaware State Police also confirmed that they are not in possession of the laptop.
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff accused each other of politicizing intelligence on Monday over emails allegedly found on the laptop. More than 50 former senior intelligence officials signed a letter on Monday detailing their belief that the laptop “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” After Schiff called revelations stemming from the laptop a Kremlin “smear” campaign, Ratcliffe on Monday insisted that the laptop “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign.”
Read more …
Some good points.
• 10 Tea Leaves Pointing To ‘Surprise’ Trump Victory (Del Beccaro)
1. Pennsylvania Voter Registration. American presidential elections are decided by the Electoral College as President Trump and Joe Biden both know. In 2016, Pennsylvania and its 20 Electoral College votes were key to President Trump’s victory. He won Pennsylvania by a slim 44,292 votes out of nearly 6 million. That November, the Democrats had nearly a 900,000 voter registration advantage over the Republicans. That number is now down to a 700,000 registration advantage and has narrowed to 100,000 in the last year.
2. Florida, too. In 2008, Democrats held nearly a 700,000 thousand voter registration advantage and Barack Obama carried the state by 236,148 votes. By 2012 that advantage slipped to 558,272 registrations and Obama won there by 74,309 votes. In 2016, Democrats had a 327,483 registration advantage and Trump carried the state by 112,991 votes. Now the Democrats’ voter registration advantage is down nearly 200,000 to just a 134,242 thousand lead, which Politico called a “historic low.”
3. Latinos for Trump. Trump could well receive a historic level of support from Latino Voters in 2020. In Florida, a NBC/Marist poll had Trump leading among Latinos 50% to 46% over Biden, whereas, in 2016, Hillary won among Latinos in Florida 62% to 35%. That would be a 15% swing toward Trump if it held up on Election Day. After the first debate between Biden and Trump, a Telemundo poll showed Trump winning the debate overwhelmingly 66% to 34%. Snap media polls tend to reflect the sentiment of their viewers. Thus, it is no surprise that CNN viewers said Biden won the debate. The fact that Telemundo viewers decisively picked Trump as the winner, along with polls like those cited above in Florida, portend Trump getting the highest ever Latino support of any Republican presidential candidate.
4. African Americans For Trump. In September, according to polling done by Rasmussen, Trump’s approval rating among African Americans reached 45%. Keep in mind that President Trump only received 8% of the Black vote in 2016. If Trump received just 16% of the Black vote this November, let alone an even higher number, that would all but secure states like Michigan for Trump.
5. Biden the Tax Increaser. Candidates who promise tax increases, or have a history of supporting tax increases, tend to lose versus those pushing for tax cuts. President Jimmy Carter lost to challenger Ronald Reagan, Walter Mondale lost to President Reagan, Michael Dukakis lost to George H.W. Bush 41 and then 41 lost his reelection after his tax increase became a reality. George W. Bush beat Al Gore and then John Kerry. Barack Obama promised to reduce taxes and he beat John McCain who was not a tax cutter. Obviously, President Trump offered tax cuts while running against, and beating, Hillary Clinton. Joe Biden, on the other hand, is pushing for the largest tax increase in history.
6. Enthusiasm Matters. As the New York Post has reported, “just 46 percent of Biden voters in a recent Pew poll said that they strongly support him, compared to 66 percent of Trump’s base.” That is a 20 gap. In 2016, Trump had only a 13 point gap over Hillary. That increase of 7% bodes well for Trump, not Biden.
7. Early Voting in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio. National polling from Pew Research indicates that “55% of voters who plan to cast their ballot in person before Election Day support Biden, compared to 40% who support President Trump.” However, in the key battleground states of Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin the early voting indicates that “registered Republicans are returning ballots at about the same rate as registered Democrats.” The parties are even in Michigan, Democrats up 2% in Wisconsin and the Republicans up 2% in Ohio.
8. American Voters Are More Satisfied in 2020 than they were in 2016. A new Gallup poll shows that 56% of Americans say they are better off now than they were four years ago. That could well be the telling in this case given that just four years ago marked the end of the Biden vice presidency. Why would voters return to Biden if they are happier now than when he was in office?
9. Party Identification. According to Gallup, by the end of September, when the polling firm asked voters this question, “In politics, as of today, do you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat or an independent?” the answer came back as follows: 28% said Republican, 27% said Democrat and 42% said independent. That is meaningful because many of the polls giving Biden the lead appear to be sampling more Democrats than Republicans – sometimes by a wide margin. Also, in 2016, Gallup had Democrats up 32% to 27% but, as we know, Trump still won.
10. Voters Think Trump Will Win. In the Trump era, there has been a lot of talk about whether Trump supporters feel free to tell pollsters that they are supporting the president’s reelection. Some experts point to polls asking voters who they believe will win the election to be a truer indication of candidate support. Once again this bodes well for President Trump as a “Gallup poll shows only 40% of Americans think Biden will win the election; 56% predict a Trump victory.”
Read more …
• Trump: Hunter Emails No Russian Plot, Tulsi Gabbard No ‘Russian Asset’ (RT)
Donald Trump has compared Rep. Adam Schiff’s claim that Hunter Biden’s alleged leaked emails are part of a Russian disinformation plot to Hillary Clinton calling Democrat Tulsi Gabbard a “Russian asset” similarly without evidence.During a Tuesday Fox News interview, Trump addressed Schiff’s evidence-free claim that the Hunter Biden email leaks, which detail his alleged dealings in Ukraine and China, were coming “from the Kremlin.” The leaks were published by the New York Post last week. “It’s just crazy,” Trump said of the theory, referring to the Democratic congressman as “Shifty Schiff” and a “sick” man, who was purposefully obfuscating the issue.
“Thank god we have John Ratcliffe,” Trump added, pointing out that the director of national intelligence refuted the speculation on Monday. During his own sit down with Fox, DNI Ratcliffe said that there was “no intelligence” to support Schiff’s position, and accused the politician of “politicizing” intelligence. The president recalled similar accusations made by his failed 2016 rival Hillary Clinton, who previously implied that the Green Party’s former nominee Jill Stein and Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard were “Russian assets.” “This was like Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein, when Hillary Clinton said it about them… that they were agents of Russia,” Trump noted, adding, “They were not agents of Russia, they never spoke to anybody from Russia.”
Read more …
13 days left to go.
• Secret Service Travel Logs Match Details in Alleged Hunter Biden Emails (ET)
Secret Service logs obtained earlier this year by Senate investigators include dates and locations matching those discussed in the emails allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.The alignment of the dates in the emails and the Secret Service protective detail logs is significant because the authenticity of the emails, first published by the New York Post last week, is the subject of heated debate. The FBI, which purportedly obtained Hunter Biden’s laptop in December last year, has not yet officially confirmed that it is in possession of the device and whether the emails are genuine.
In one alleged email, written after midnight on April 13, 2014, Hunter Biden wrote to Devon Archer, his business partner, that he will be traveling to Houston the next day. Secret Service logs obtained by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs show a trip by Biden on April 13-14, 2014. In another alleged email, Vadim Pozharskyi, a top executive from Ukrainian gas firm Burisma, wrote to Biden and Archer on May 12, 2014: “Following our talks during the visit to the Como Lake and our further discussions, I would like to bring the following situation to your attention.” While the email doesn’t cite a date for the trip, Secret Service logs include a travel entry for Biden on April 3-6, 2014.
In another alleged email, Archer wrote on May 12, 2014, that he is with Biden in Doha, Qatar. Secret Service records include a trip by Biden to Doha, Qatar, on May 11-14, 2014. The alignment in dates and location was first spotted by the staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Finance committees. Notably, some of the alleged Hunter Biden emails included discussions of Biden’s travel after he allegedly declined a Secret Service detail. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) penned a letter to the director of the Secret Service on Oct. 20 asking for records after the date when Biden purportedly stopped receiving a Secret Service detail.
Read more …
• Hunter Biden Arranged White House Meeting for Elite Chinese Group (NR)
In November 2011, an elite group of Chinese Communist Party members and billionaire cronies of the repressive regime in Beijing secured a meeting in the White House, said to be with Vice President Biden and other Obama administration officials, through Hunter Biden’s associates. News of the meeting has been broken by Peter Schweizer and Seamus Bruner. Schweizer, who has spent years tracking Washington’s web of money, influence and access, is the author most recently of Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends, which focuses on the Biden family — among other intriguing money trails on both sides of the political aisle. Schweizer and Bruner have obtained the cooperation of Hunter Biden’s former business partner, Bevan Cooney, who is serving a federal prison sentence for a fraud scheme.
Another Hunter Biden business partner, Devon Archer, was also convicted (and has had his conviction reinstated by the Second Circuit federal appeals court after a trial judge in the Southern District of New York set it aside). Hunter Biden was featured in the evidence but not charged. Cooney has given the investigative journalists access to his email account, which contains years of correspondence with Biden, Archer, and others. The authors have begun writing reports published at Breitbart, and Schweizer has also been interviewed about it on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program. Obviously, those are very pro-Trump venues, so it is worth noting that solid reporting Schweizer did on the Clinton Foundation (the subject of his book Clinton Cash) was closely examined and relied on by the New York Times.
[..] Based on Cooney’s emails, the authors report that in November 2011, Hunter Biden’s business associates arranged meetings at the Obama White House for a delegation of the “China Entrepreneur Club.” Established in 2006, the CEC is led by high officials of the Chinese Communist Party, some government officials (including diplomats), and billionaire business executives with close ties to the regime. This visit to the White House is said to have included a meeting with then–Vice President Biden. In discussions among themselves, Hunter Biden’s associates reportedly made it clear that they anticipated cashing in on business prospects that were expected to arise from providing the Chinese contingent with high-level access to the Obama administration.
Read more …
• US Schools Report $6.5 Billion in Undisclosed Foreign Gifts and Contracts (ET)
American Universities failed to report $6.5 billion in foreign gifts and contracts, an investigation by the Department of Education found. Federal law requires schools to disclose substantial foreign gifts and contracts to the Department of Education (DOE) twice a year. Many have for years failed to do so, while others severely underreported the income. The deluge of the financial disclosures poured in as the department opened investigations into 12 elite universities. Universities reported receiving a total of more than $19.6 billion in foreign gifts and contracts from 2014 to 2020, including nearly $1.5 billion from China, almost $3.1 billion from Qatar, and more than $1.1 billion from Saudi Arabia, according to historical DOE data and most recent figures posted on its new online reporting portal.
Carnegie Mellon University reported receiving almost $1.61 billion in foreign gifts and contracts, the most of any university. Harvard tops the list in terms of total funds received from China, reporting nearly $116 million. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos unveiled the findings of the investigation at an event on Oct. 20, alongside officials from the Justice Department and the State Department. “The threat is real, so we took action to make sure the public is afforded the transparency the law requires,” DeVos said. “We found pervasive noncompliance by higher-ed institutions and significant foreign entanglement with America’s colleges and universities.”
The vast majority of the foreign funds went to America’s largest and most prestigious universities, which have received billions of dollars through a bevy of intermediaries, according to a report released by the DOE on Oct. 20. All of the institutions involved are in the meantime dependent on tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer subsidies while operating largely “divorced from any sense of obligation to our taxpayers or concern for our American national interests, security, or values,” the DOE report states. For the first half of 2020 alone, U.S. universities retroactively reported $2 billion in foreign gifts and contracts. One school, which isn’t identified in the report, failed to report $760 million in foreign funding. University officials told the DOE they were “dumbfounded” by the reporting error. Another unnamed school failed to report $1.2 billion in foreign gifts and contracts.
Read more …
“82% of senior citizens think that this is the most important presidential election of their lifetime. Think about that.”
• No, Our Democracy And Freedom Are Not On The Line This Election (Rasmussen)
One of the things that never fails to amaze me as a pollster is the absolute intensity that accompanies the final weeks of a presidential campaign. A poll I conducted recently for HealthInsurance.com found that 82% of senior citizens think that this is the most important presidential election of their lifetime. Think about that. That’s what senior citizens are saying. These are voters who were around when the Berlin Wall went up and the Cold War was being fought in a space race. The civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, Woodstock and Watergate were part of their life experience. And yet, now, they say this year — 2020 — is the most important presidential election of their lifetime.
Of course, you don’t need a poll to sense the intensity that some activists and voters bring to the election season. Supporters of both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden regularly assert that the nation will never recover if the other side wins. Our democracy or our freedom will be lost. This shouldn’t surprise me. It happens every four years. But it catches me off guard because I don’t agree with the assessment. America will survive another four years of Donald Trump as president or the first four years of Joe Biden as president. There will be differences, of course, because elections matter. They have consequences. But it’s important to remember that politicians aren’t nearly as important as they think they are. They don’t determine the nation’s agenda or decide the fate of the nation.
The culture leads and the politicians lag behind. It’s also important to remember that American society isn’t nearly as polarized as American politics. That’s the good news. Still, it seems like a good time to review the data and assess where we are as Election 2020 draws to a close. The place to start is with a number that partisan activists find impossible to believe. My polling shows that 14% of voters — 1 out of 7 — are not fully certain how they will vote. That number includes some who currently support Trump or Biden but could change their mind. It also includes some who are currently leaning towards a third-party candidate. Historically, many such voters end up deciding at the last minute to reluctantly vote for one of the major party candidates. And, there are a few who just don’t like the choice before them.
In a sense, this group of uncommitted voters might best be described as voters who want both Trump and Biden to lose. While most are unlikely to change their mind, the possibility remains that something might happen to cause a late break in either direction. As a result, with two weeks to go, it’s best to consider a range of possibilities. Biden and the Democrats are ahead at the moment, but victory is not assured. I’ll start with the best-case scenario for the Republicans. If the race gets a bit tighter, Election 2020 will be a toss-up with the presidency determined by a few key states — places like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. It will seem like four years ago with one big exception: This time around, extensive mail-in voting means we wouldn’t know the winner for weeks. And, we also wouldn’t know who controls the Senate, the results in a couple dozen House races, and who has control of a few state legislatures.
Read more …
I thought they would only agree on going to war.
• DOJ Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google Draws Bipartisan Praise (ET)
Lawmakers in the House and Senate praised a Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit against Google over allegations that the tech giant used its power to preserve its monopoly. “Today’s lawsuit is the most important antitrust case in a generation,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said in a statement after the filing. “Google and its fellow Big Tech monopolists exercise unprecedented power over the lives of ordinary Americans, controlling everything from the news we read to the security of our most personal information. And Google in particular has gathered and maintained that power through illegal means.” The lawsuit drew bipartisan support. House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) said in a statement that the lawsuit was “long overdue.”
“The Subcommittee’s investigation uncovered extensive evidence showing that Google maintained and extended its monopoly to harm competition,” he said in a statement. “It is critical that the Justice Department’s lawsuit focuses on Google’s monopolization of search and search advertising, while also targeting the anti-competitive business practices Google is using to leverage this monopoly into other areas, such as maps, browsers, video, and voice assistants.” Cicilline said in early October in a House antitrust subcommittee that Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple all wield monopoly power. “It’s Google’s business model that is the problem,” he said. “Google evolved from a turnstile to the rest of the web to a walled garden that increasingly keeps users within its sights.”
The suit, filed in a Washington federal court, asserts that Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., has tried to maintain its status as a gatekeeper to the Internet by using a number of interlocking businesses to shut out competitors, thereby securing itself as a monopoly. The DOJ claimed the Silicon Valley firm uses billions of dollars from its own advertisements to pay carriers, browsers, phone companies, and other entities to maintain Google as a default search engine. “Absent a court order, Google will continue executing its anticompetitive strategy, crippling the competitive process, reducing consumer choice, and stifling innovation. Google is now the unchallenged gateway to the internet for billions of users worldwide,” the DOJ lawsuit alleged, resulting in negative consequences for advertisers, consumers, and upstart companies that “cannot emerge from Google’s long shadow.”
Read more …
“One way or another, either voluntarily or pursuant to subpoena, they will testify and they will testify before the election,” Cruz said.”
• Senate Panel Delays Vote To Subpoena Twitter, Facebook CEOs (Pol.)
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday postponed plans to vote on subpoenas to compel the CEOs of Twitter and Facebook to testify on allegations of anti-conservative bias after some panel Republicans expressed reservation about the maneuver. President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have scorched the two social media companies in recent days over their handling of disputed New York Post reports alleging ties between Joe Biden and his son’s business interests. GOP Judiciary leaders had announced plans to hold a markup Tuesday on whether to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to testify on allegations the company’s decisions on user posts stifle conservative viewpoints, which Twitter denies. Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) later said the planned vote would also target Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The panel announced Monday it will now consider whether to authorize the subpoenas at a high-profile executive session Thursday where it is separately expected to approve Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. The committee said in a statement it will continue to negotiate with the companies “to allow for voluntary testimony” by the CEOs, but that if an agreement is not reached the panel will move ahead with a vote on the subpoenas “at a date to be determined.” The subpoenas would require the tech moguls to testify on the alleged “suppression and/or censorship” of the New York Post reporting and on “any other content moderation policies, practices, or actions that may interfere with or influence elections for federal office,” according to a document released by the committee Monday.
Judiciary staff has indicated internally that plans for the vote were delayed in part due to some GOP panel members wavering on whether to support the action, according to one Senate GOP aide, who spoke anonymously to discuss private negotiations. Republican officials have also expressed trepidation about how quickly the committee has moved to vote on the subpoenas, the aide said. A committee spokesperson did not immediately offer comment on the matter. But they’re not off the hook yet: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who chairs Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, told reporters he’s expecting the committee to hear testimony from both Dorsey and Zuckerberg “shortly” whether they come willingly or not. “One way or another, either voluntarily or pursuant to subpoena, they will testify and they will testify before the election,” Cruz said.
Read more …
“But we didn’t have problems circulating leaked Trump tax or any other s–t surrounding Trump or COVID.”
• Facebook Workers ‘Ashamed’ By Censorship Of Hunter Files Reporting (NYP)
“Facebook is almost an arm of the Democratic Party — an arm of the far-left wing of the Democratic Party.” So said the former Facebook insider as we sat down for an interview at a Midtown restaurant Friday afternoon.A gloomy rain had left the joint deserted, yet the man across the table from me spoke in hushed tones and looked over his shoulder in between remarks for fear of retaliation. Yet he felt he had to speak out, because staffers are “intentionally trying to swing people further to the left,” as he had put it in an e-mail requesting the meeting. I already knew that, of course. It was a Facebook communications manager, Andy Stone, who on Thursday announced the firm was reducing circulation of The Post’s still-undisputed reporting on the Hunter Files — an employee who happened to work for Democratic lawmakers before joining the tech giant.
What the Facebook insider wanted to impress upon me, however, was how Facebook’s partisan tilt is common knowledge inside the firm.He had the secret chats to prove it. Facebook employees who wish to speak freely take to Blind, an anonymous social network for the tech industry, where workers at major firms like Uber, Google, Twitter and the like trade gossip and occasionally blow the whistle on malfeasance. To gain access to the Facebook network on Blind, a user must sign up using his or her Facebook work e-mail address. The posters, in other words, are verified Facebook employees (and ex-employees in a few cases). So what do Facebook workers think about the company’s handling of our story? The comments speak for themselves: “[Facebook] employees want Trump to lose,” wrote one user. “If that means rigging [the platform] against him, they don’t care.”
The post garnered 29 “likes” from other employees. “I was shocked that Facebook did this,” said another. “We kinda called [brought] this on ourselves. So much for ‘we are not the arbiters of truth.’ ” That comment garnered 15 “likes.” Still other comments: “Facebook bets that Biden wins the election. So an effort to jump on the bandwagon.” “Yeah this one is unconscionable. I’m ashamed.” “Imagine if we censored some leaked Trump stuff. It would be the #1 upvoted question tomorrow for Mark [Zuckerberg company-wide]’s Q&A.” Another employee wrote a detailed critique: “Why do people hate Facebook everywhere? Here’s one reason. Freaking one-sided decision. The comms Twitter account [Andy Stone’s] was definitely left-leaning, and it’s a talking point, as well. No proper response to comms feedback. Don’t want to be the what-if person. But we didn’t have problems circulating leaked Trump tax or any other s–t surrounding Trump or COVID.”
Read more …
• Meet Your -Chinese- Facebook Censors (Ahmari)
China is one of the most censorious societies on earth. So what better place for ≠Facebook to recruit social-media censors? There are at least half a dozen “Chinese nationals who are working on censorship,” a former Facebook insider told me last week. “So at some point, they [Facebook bosses] thought, ‘Hey, we’re going to get them H-1B visas so they can do this work.’ ”The insider shared an internal directory of the team that does much of this work. It’s called Hate-Speech Engineering (George Orwell, call your office), and most of its members are based at Facebook’s offices in Seattle. Many have Ph.D.s, and their work is extremely complex, involving machine learning — teaching “computers how to learn and act without being explicitly programmed,” as the techy Web site DeepAI.org puts it.
When it comes to censorship on social media, that means “teaching” the Facebook code so certain content ends up at the top of your newsfeed, a feat that earns the firm’s software wizards discretionary bonuses, per the ex-insider. It also means making sure other content “shows up dead-last.”Like, say, a New York Post report on the Biden dynasty’s dealings with Chinese companies.To illustrate the mechanics, the insider took me as his typical Facebook user: “They take what Sohrab sees, and then they throw the newsfeed list into a machine-learning algorithm and neural networks that determine the ranking of the items.” Facebook engineers test hundreds of different iterations of the rankings to shape an optimal outcome — and root out what bosses call “borderline content.”
It all makes for perhaps the most chillingly sophisticated censorship mechanism in human history. “What they don’t do is ban a specific pro-Trump hashtag,” says the ex-insider. Instead, “content that is a little too conservative, they will down-rank. You can’t tell it’s censored.”
Read more …
They don’t appear to know why.
• Studies Point To Big Drop In COVID-19 Death Rates (NPR)
Two new peer-reviewed studies are showing a sharp drop in mortality among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The drop is seen in all groups, including older patients and those with underlying conditions, suggesting that physicians are getting better at helping patients survive their illness. “We find that the death rate has gone down substantially,” says Leora Horwitz, a doctor who studies population health at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine and an author on one of the studies, which looked at thousands of patients from March to August. The study, which was of a single health system, finds that mortality has dropped among hospitalized patients by 18 percentage points since the pandemic began. Patients in the study had a 25.6% chance of dying at the start of the pandemic; they now have a 7.6% chance.
That’s a big improvement, but 7.6% is still a high risk compared with other diseases, and Horwitz and other researchers caution that COVID-19 remains dangerous. The death rate “is still higher than many infectious diseases, including the flu,” Horwitz says. And those who recover can suffer complications for months or even longer. “It still has the potential to be very harmful in terms of long-term consequences for many people.” Studying changes in death rate is tricky because although the overall U.S. death rate for COVID-19 seems to be dropping, the drop coincides with a change in whom the disease is sickening. “The people who are getting hospitalized now tend to be much younger, tend to have fewer other diseases and tend to be less frail than people who were hospitalized in the early days of the epidemic,” Horwitz says.
So have death rates dropped because of improvements in treatments? Or is it because of the change in who’s getting sick? To find out, Horwitz and her colleagues looked at more than 5,000 hospitalizations in the NYU Langone Health system between March and August. They adjusted for factors including age and other diseases, such as diabetes, to rule out the possibility that the numbers had dropped only because younger, healthier people were getting diagnosed. They found that death rates dropped for all groups, even older patients by 18 percentage points on average.
Read more …
How embarrassing for the West if this works.
• Moscow Will Begin Mass Vaccination Against COVID19 In December (RT)
Moscow will receive its first large batches of the coronavirus vaccine in November, and mass vaccination in the Russian capital will begin in December and January, according to its Mayor Sergey Sobyanin. Sobyanin, who has run Europe’s largest city since 2010, believes that mass vaccination will be “the final victory over the pandemic.” Writing on his blog, the mayor explained that the high number of infections in Moscow is due to the city’s huge population and the significant number of tests being conducted. On Monday, confirmed cases in the capital hit 367,629, a quarter of the country’s overall number (1,415,316), despite officially having around only eight percent of the population.
In the same blog post, Sobyanin highlighted that he does not yet see a necessity to introduce “extreme” measures in the city, such as a curfew and a ban on movement, but did not rule out other less stringent measures. The main aim is to interrupt the spread of the infection, while not affecting the economy or depriving people of work, he wrote. “Ultimately, we are not making a choice between good and bad,” the mayor said. “All decisions are bad. We have to choose the lesser of two evils. But if we do nothing today, then tomorrow we will have to take tougher, more radical, and more unpleasant measures.” Last week, the capital introduced extra restrictions regarding nightlife, with those attending bars and clubs after midnight being forced to scan a QR code for the purpose of track-and-trace.
Moscow is currently hosting the third phase trial of the country’s homegrown Covid-19 vaccine, called Sputnik V. The mass post-registration testing of the vaccine, which was produced by the city’s Gamaleya Institute, involves 40,000 volunteers – a quarter of whom will receive a placebo.
Read more …
“I’m quite pessimistic in the days ahead” – on the likelihood of a spike in coronavirus infections as people spend more time indoors this winter, exacerbated by a lack of systematic testing.”
• Nassim Taleb On Capitalism, Entrepreneurs, And The Pandemic (BI)
1. “There are two kinds of people. People who when they hear that there’s a problem, they go into their basement, start crying, have an emotional support group, do some praying, and wait for the government to save them. Others who take their fate in their own hands and try to say, ‘Hey, life gave me a lemon, let me make lemonade out of it'” – on the best way to react to a crisis. 2. “There are ways you can be ahead. You just have to fight” – on the subject of adapting to the pandemic. Taleb gave the example of a gym owner pivoting to installing home gyms, and a waiter making more money as a delivery driver.
3. “Capitalism is a wonderful mechanism to convert individual human greed into collective virtue.” 4. “Governments are good at doing things that look important but are not necessarily effective.” 5. “We’re spending $1 trillion on fighting illusory enemies with very complex nuclear stuff, but you can’t do something as basic as test people when they want to board a plane” – criticizing the government response to the pandemic. 6. “I’m quite pessimistic in the days ahead” – on the likelihood of a spike in coronavirus infections as people spend more time indoors this winter, exacerbated by a lack of systematic testing.
7. “Millennials think that joining an NGO is a great way to save the world. I say no. Start a company, that’s how you improve mankind. We did not pull 2 billion people out of poverty thanks to NGOs and bureaucrats, we pulled them out thanks to capitalism, by generating economic growth.” 8. “A soldier can fail without any shame to the country. We should interpret the failure of entrepreneurs as something that is helping the planet” – on the need to encourage entrepreneurs and remove the stigma of failure.
Read more …
We try to run the Automatic Earth on donations. Since ad revenue has collapsed, you are now not just a reader, but an integral part of the process that builds this site.
Click at the top of the sidebars for Paypal and Patreon donations. Thank you for your support.
Support the Automatic Earth in virustime, election time, all the time. Click at the top of the sidebars to donate with Paypal and Patreon.