Intelligence community split on Russia’s alleged involvement in election hacks

President George W Bush visits CIA Headquarters, March 20, 2001.

 

Blog post by Patrick Pickett

The political split in the United States following the 2016 election and its aftermath is getting more intense after CIA officials claimed on Friday, December 9, that the Russian government interfered in the contest to help President-elect Donald Trump win on November 8.

According to the Washington Post, the CIA and FBI are split on their own accounts of what happened with the alleged Russian hacks during the election cycle. While the CIA believes that both campaigns were hacked (and only Democratic Party information was actually leaked) the FBI is unsure of the details regarding what the hackers targeted, their motives, and whether what was revealed ultimately altered the election results.

“There’s no question that [the Russians’] efforts went one way, but it’s not clear that they have a specific goal or mix of related goals, said an unnamed intelligence official in an interview with the Post.

Senator Angus King of Maine, who is also part of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told the Post that the information regarding the elections hacks should be released to the public “to see that this doesn’t happen again.” King added that this sort of thing might not stop at this year’s election, but could continue into the 2018 midterm elections, as well as the 2020 Presidential race.

Following the reports, members of both political parties have denounced the hacks, and called for a thorough investigation. Meanwhile, Donald Trump himself has vigorously denied the claims that Russia meddled in the election calling the accusations ridiculous, and blamed Democrats for looking an excuse as to why they lost at the polls.

President Barack Obama has since called for a full report on Russian cyber activities to be completed before he leaves office in January, while lawmakers want the review to accompanied by a congressional investigation.

Fake News and Social Media- Blog #7

newsImage Source

By: Phillip Sternitzke- @PSpepper

A lot of big things have happened in the world over the few weeks; funny enough one of the biggest news stories is about the news itself, and how its fake. Fake news has been a source of huge controversy for the past month or so, particularly around the election. Fake news started to make headlines after reports surfaced that Donald Trump won the popular vote as well as the elect orals. Immediately after the election, many news sites started citing a report that Trump won the popular vote by over 300,000. Turns out the original source was a wordpress page, and that in reality Clinton received over 2.5 million more votes than Trump. Since then fake news has been a constant source of controversy, particularly when it comes to social media. Users of social media seem particularly susceptible to fake news, being tricked by fake sites or taking headlines at face value. I’m not if it’s because people are ignorant or idiotic, all I know is that my feed is constantly bombarded by obviously fake news. One question that has been raised is what are social media companies role in this whole ordeal. Is it the job of companies like Facebook and Twitter to police their services, stopping fake news in their tracks? And what constitutes as fake news? Is it a story that claims to be fact but is blatantly false, or an opinion that isn’t popular? The situation isn’t as simple as it may seem. And if they did start combating fake news, is it censorship? Denying people the right to post what they want to post. What gives them the authority to tell people what they can believe. There may never be a solution to this issue. We just have to hope that overtime people begin to become wise to fake news stories, learning what sources are credible and which are crap.

http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-11-26/whats-role-social-media-news-media

http://www.ibtimes.com/latest-2016-popular-vote-election-results-clinton-leads-trump-26-million-margin-grows-2457151

https://pixabay.com/en/news-headlines-newsletter-636978/

Are you there, Twitter? It’s me, Donald.

Elena Alvarez

@elenaalvarezpr

Say what you want about President Barack Obama, But at least his twitter doesn’t mirror that of a petty 13 year-old-girl. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has a twitter profile that rivals that of the girl you knew in sixth grade. You know that one.

The very grown man uses twitter as a platform to whine incessantly on times he felt treated unfairly.

For example, Protests broke out in response to the businessman’s election to United States President. Trump took to twitter to voice his disapproval. Calling the protests which were at the time, into their second day in cities across the nation.

Friendly reminder that Trump felt very differently about election protests in 2012.

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Perhaps the most interesting of Trump’s twitter meltdowns was his disapproval of the post-performance speech given by the cast of the Broadway play, Hamilton, directed toward his Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

In maybe one of the more ludicrous of Trump’s twitter tantrums was his whining about Alec Baldwin’s parody of him on Saturday Night Live. For decades, Presidents have been parodied on the comedy show but Trump felt personally attacked enough to get on twitter and voice his condemnation.

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While it might make for an entertaining millisecond while scrolling through twitter (for those with the stomach to follow him) there’s a bit of a horrifying undertone to all of this.

The theater, the press, and protests are all outlets of our first amendment right as citizens of this nation. When our President-elect feels the need to get on social media and condemn day-after-day different displays of free-speech by American’s, that is concerning. Trump was elected president and used the same kind of social media in that process. Trump is and has been since the dawn of his campaign a provocateur and his chosen weapon is Twitter.

Sources:

Cummings, W. (2016, November 11). Trump calls protests ‘unfair’ in first controversial tweet as president-elect. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2016/11/10/trump-tweet-professional-protesters-media/93624612/

Chen, J. (2016, November 19). Donald Trump Calls on ‘Hamilton’ Cast to Apologize to Mike Pence, ‘A Very Good Man’ Retrieved from http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/donald-trump-calls-on-hamilton-cast-to-apologize-to-mike-pence-w451524

 

Recounting the most controversial election of the decade

DC: Green Party Presidential Nominee Jill Stein Makes Announcement On 2016 RaceGreen Party Candidate Jill Stein. Photo from OpenSecrets.org

 

Post by: Patrick Pickett

On Friday, November 25, Wisconsin’s election board decided to go through a statewide recount of the 2016 election after Green Party candidate Jill Stein requested it along with two other states where President-Elect Donald Trump scored narrow wins.

According to a Reuters article the recount will begin next week and must be completed by December 13. The recount will cost approximately seven million dollars when factoring all legal fees. Stein says the goal of the recount is to confirm the legitimacy of the U.S. voting system, not to undo Trump’s victory. Stein noted that the hacking of voting machines, and the high margin of error were other reasons for requesting the recount.

A senior official of the Obama administration said there has been no concrete evidence that hackers affected the election results.

“We stand behind our election results which accurately reflect the will of the American people,” said the official.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has supported Stein’s recount of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, saying they want to see a “fair” process for all involved. Clinton’s campaign lawyer, Marc Elias said that initially, there were no plans to participate in a recount.

“Because we had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology, we had not planned to exercise this option ourselves. But now…we intend to participate I order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides,” said Elias.

Donald Trump opposed the notion of a recount, calling the action “a scam.” Meanwhile, Trump’s senior advisor Kellyanne Conway called Stein and Clinton “a bunch of crybabies ad sore losers.” The President-elect continued his criticism of the recount via Twitter on Sunday morning, saying “Hillary Clinton conceded the election…nothing will change.” Trump went on to say, “”In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

trumpPresident-elect Donald Trump. Photo by Evan Vucci from the Associated Press

According to experts, Trump’s claim that millions voted illegally is unfounded.

Clinton defeated Trump in the popular vote by over 2 million ballots however Trump won the Electoral College by 306-232. The Electoral College finalizes its election decision on December 19

Freedom of Inclusion

By Phyllis Lynch

The cast of the hit Broadway play ‘Hamilton’ made a rather unique request to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who was in the audience Friday night. They urged him and Trump to “uphold our American values”, which can be defined by equality and diversity. It’s not the vague “Make America Great Again” slogan that Trump has rallied behind in order to silence minority citizens’ voice.

Trump went as far as to demand an apology from the cast members, and claimed that they “couldn’t even memorize lines”. He referre

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nytimes.com

d to the cast as “very rude and insulting” in a tweet that was soon deleted. The issue here is that the cast of ‘Hamilton’ didn’t offended Mike Pence in the slightest. If anything, the cast just asked Pence to do his job, which shouldn’t be a ridiculous request.

The only person that is truly being malicious in this situation is Trump, and Pence by association. Maybe singling out audience members isn’t the best way to conduct yourself when putting on a performance, but it all boils down to context. In the politest fashion, the multicultural cast expressed the lack of security they feel within this country as a result of this election.

How could someone blame them? It’s no secret that racism played a big role in America’s growth, to insinuate that this nation has rid itself of every discriminatory stain is inaccurate. This election exposed every prejudice ideology that Americans have, and while some people choose to redirect their beliefs into a more positive direction, it was fuel on the fire for some.

To me, it feels as if we’re embarking on a Trump tyranny, where even a simple call for inclusion is considered heinous. Where “freedom of speech” doesn’t apply to individuals who aren’t cis white men. Then again, it seems as if that’s been the notion in this nation for quite some time.

I Still Hate the Electoral College

Almost two weeks after the US Presidential Election, and people are still angry about the outcome, including me.  In a post right before the election, I talked about the 2000 Presidential Election and how the Electoral College was unfair.  Much like what happened to Al Gore in 2000, Hillary Clinton was not elected president, even though she won the popular vote of the nation. Donald Trump was elected only because he won over 270 Electoral College votes. 

There has been a lot of talk from people who are happy that Trump won that are calling out people who aren’t.  Some are saying that the only reason people are upset is that their candidate didn’t win, not the Electoral College. This is definitely true for some people, but not all. The fact is that the Electoral College is unfair to the candidates and the American public. If I vote for someone, I want my vote to stand by itself, and count towards the big picture in the outcome.

The Electoral College stifles the vote of the public. Clinton received over 1.5 million votes more than Trump did, but not the right amount of Electors. It doesn’t make sense that a candidate with the highest amount of votes, could not get elected.  

The amount of electoral votes that a state has is equal to the number of people in Congress that the state has. The minimum being three, representing two people in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives. There are people from each party who are elected to vote in the Electoral College. They are usually very involved and are trusted to vote with the party they associate with.  The party of the candidate that wins more votes in the state gets to be the electors for that campaign.  This means that since Trump won the state of Texas, the only electors who get to vote in December are the ones appointed by the Republican Party.

North Dakota has a population of 756,927 people and has three electors.  This means that each vote represents 252,309 people. Texas’ population is nearly 27.5 million people and has 38 votes in the Electoral College. Each of those votes represents almost 723,000 people, which is almost as much as the whole state of North Dakota. If I vote in Texas, my vote could only be potentially 1/723,000 of one of the votes, but in North Dakota it could be 1/252,000.  The votes of people in smaller states are mathematically more reliable and accurate. Over 3.8 million people in Texas, and over 64 million in the whole country voted for Clinton, but because the majority of states with a higher, more influential population voted leaned towards her opponent, she lost.

When it was created, the Electoral College made some sense.  It was difficult to count all of the votes and get that information spread, but it was much easier for individual states to count them and send representatives. Now we have amazing technology and easy communication, so the system is impractical and makes our votes not count as much.  I don’t want my vote to be discounted because more people in my state voted a different way, regardless of my party affiliation.

By Bethany LaChance

Social Media’s Influence on the 2016 Election

By: Meredith Erikson

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Photo via Fordham Political Review

The election results of 2016 caused a chaos of emotions from all different viewpoints. Media has played a large part in the showcasing and spreading of the reactions of not only Americans, but the whole world. Some argue that social media played a role in making this one of the most controversial elections in history. NPR’s host Renee Montagne argues, “social media, by this point, is not new. But in this election season, it’s played a bigger role in our politics than ever before.” In what ways has it become so relevant to this election? In regards to Twitter and Facebook, platforms that are meant for written communication, open discussion of this election has played a part in the reiteration of strongly conflicting views from both sides. Through tactics of reposting, retweeting and click-bait journalism, viewpoints about this election have been partly socially constructed. Not to mention that Trump’s outlandish comments were something unique to this election, that the media pounced on to utilize as content. Bots also exaggerated things as Douglas Guilbeault says, “they reinforce this sense of polarization in the atmosphere because bots don’t tend to be mild mannered. They are programmed to align themselves with an agenda.” Even executives at Facebook have contemplated their influence in the outcome of this race. “Facebook has been in the eye of a postelection storm for the last few days, embroiled in accusations that it helped spread misinformation and fake news stories that influenced how the American electorate voted,” according to New York Times writer Mike Isaac. There is the issue of sharing misinformation that has negatively associated Facebook, whether it is actually associated with it or not. Some of their employees claim that is an unbiased site that is for everyone to have their voice heard. Despite the intensified disagreement in our country resulting from social media, it has also created some good, especially during post-election time. Social media users, both common people and public figures, have used their platforms to encourage unity and to promote activism. It’s not a question of whether social media played a role in this election but rather if it increased a polarization of views or not. Social media is a powerful tool that is crucial to our communication in this modern world, but must be used with caution.

Isaac, M. (2016, November 12). Facebook, in Cross Hairs After Election, Is Said to Question Its Influence. Retrieved November 15, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/14/technology/facebook-is-said-to-question-its-influence-in-election.html

Sanders, S. (2016, November 7). Social Media’s Increasing Role In The 2016 Presidential Election. Retrieved November 15, 2016, from http://www.npr.org/2016/11/07/500977344/social-media-s-role-increases-in-2016-presidential-election