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Category Archives: Congress

New report on Russian disinformation, prepared for the Senate, shows operation’s scale and sweep

Washington Post: “A report prepared for the Senate that provides the most sweeping analysis yet of Russia’s disinformation campaign around the 2016 election found the operation used every major social media platform to deliver words, images and videos tailored to voters’ interests to help elect President Trump — and worked even harder to support him while in office. The report, a draft of which was obtained by The Washington Post, is the first to study the millions of posts provided by major technology firms to the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), its chairman, and Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), its ranking Democrat. The bipartisan panel hasn’t said whether it endorses the findings. It plans to release it publicly along with another study later this week.

The research — by Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project and Graphika, a network analysis firm — offers new details of how Russians working at the Internet Research Agency, which U.S. officials have charged with criminal offenses for meddling in the 2016 campaign, sliced Americans into key interest groups for targeted messaging. These efforts shifted over time, peaking at key political moments, such as presidential debates or party conventions, the report found. The data sets used by the researchers were provided by Facebook, Twitter and Google and covered several years up to mid-2017, when the social media companies cracked down on the known Russian accounts. The report, which also analyzed data separately provided to House Intelligence Committee members, contains no information on more recent political moments, such as November’s midterm elections.

“What is clear is that all of the messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party — and specifically Donald Trump,” the report says. “Trump is mentioned most in campaigns targeting conservatives and right-wing voters, where the messaging encouraged these groups to support his campaign. The main groups that could challenge Trump were then provided messaging that sought to confuse, distract and ultimately discourage members from voting.”

United States Congressional Web Archive now includes content for 113th and 114th Congresses

LC – In Custodia Legis: “The Library of Congress Web Archiving Program is dedicated to providing reliable access to historical web content from the legislative branch. To that end, the Library has just released an update to the United States Congressional Web Archive. The archive, which includes member sites from the House and Senate, as well as… Continue Reading

Right to Try: Access to Investigational Drugs

EveryCRSReport.com: Right to Try: Access to Investigational Drugs, November 27, 2018 – “The Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try (RTT) Act of 2017 became federal law on May 30, 2018. Over the preceding five years, 40 states had enacted related legislation. The goal was to allow individuals with imminently… Continue Reading

Every moment of every day mobile phone apps collect detailed location data

The New York Times – “The millions of dots on the map trace highways, side streets and bike trails — each one following the path of an anonymous cellphone user. One path tracks someone from a home outside Newark to a nearby Planned Parenthood, remaining there for more than an hour. Another represents a person… Continue Reading

Congressional Oversight of Intelligence: Background and Selected Options for Further Reform

EveryCRSReport.com – Congressional Oversight of Intelligence: Background and Selected Options for Further Reform, December 4, 2018: “Prior to the establishment of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) in 1976 and 1977, respectively, Congress did not take much interest in conducting oversight of the Intelligence Community… Continue Reading

The long, tortured quest to make Google unbiased

The Verge – Can a search engine ever be meaningfully neutral: “[December 11, 2018], Sundar Pichai will try to reassure Congress that Google’s search engine isn’t rigged. The Google CEO is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday [The Hearing is titled – Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and… Continue Reading

The Bloomberg 50

The Bloomberg 50: “What does Black Panther director Ryan Coogler have in common with Ben van Beurden, chief executive officer of Royal Dutch Shell? Or Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with Michael Gelband, co-founder and CEO of ExodusPoint Capital Management? A place on the second annual Bloomberg 50, our look at the people in business, entertainment, finance,… Continue Reading

Monumental Disaster at the Department of the Interior

Scientific American – A new report documents suppression of science, denial of climate change, the silencing and intimidation of staff: “…In a new report, Science Under Siege at the Department of the Interior, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has documented some of the most egregious and anti-science policies and practices at the DOI under… Continue Reading

By the numbers: Political tweets turn blue in 2018

Axios: “New data from Twitter shows the top 10 U.S. politicians who were most tweeted about in the few months after the midterm election were Democrats, replacing a list that was once dominated by GOP lawmakers the majority of 2018. Why it matters: The political clout and conversation is changing with its politicians. Republicans like Speaker… Continue Reading

Guide – FDsys Retirement and Transition to govinfo

GovInfo FAQ: “govinfo is free U.S. Government information for all.” govinfo is a service of the United States Government Publishing Office (GPO), which is a Federal agency in the legislative branch. govinfo provides free public access to official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government. govinfo will replace FDsys GPO launched govinfo in… Continue Reading

A Sustainable Path Forward Report from the Task Force on US Postal System

United States Postal Service: A Sustainable Path Forward Report from the Task Force on the United States Postal System. December 4, 2018 – “On April 12, 2018, you [President Trump] signed Executive Order 13829, which established the Task Force on the United States Postal System to evaluate the operations and finances of the United States… Continue Reading

The Constitution of Knowledge

The Constitution of Knowledge,” by Jonathan Rauch in National Affairs:  “America has faced many challenges to its political culture, but this is the first time we have seen a national-level epistemic attack: a systematic attack, emanating from the very highest reaches of power, on our collective ability to distinguish truth from falsehood. “These are truly… Continue Reading