Sunday, October 25, 2020

Facebook is Taking Measures to Slow Spread of Viral Content

Facebook is taking Specific Measures, to Slow the Spread of Viral Content, in anticipation of possible Unrest on Election Day. Last month, the Company's Head of Global Affairs said it Planned to Restrict Content Circulation in Preparation for Potential Violence and Unrest.

The Social Media Tech Giant Plans to Mitigate Conflict by: Slowing the Spread of Viral Content; Tweaking the News Feed to Change what Types of Content Users see; and Lowering the Threshold for what the Software Flags as Harmful.

"We've spent years building for safer, more secure elections. We've applied lessons from previous elections, hired experts, and built new teams with experience across different areas to prepare for various scenarios. We've created new products, partnerships and policies — such as pausing post-election ads — to ensure we're more prepared than ever for the unique challenges of an election during a global pandemic." a Spokesperson for Facebook said in a Statement.

Facebook's Head of Global Afairs said, last month, the Company had Plans in Preparation for Unrest after the Election but had Not Specified what Messures would be Intact. In September, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said "this election is not going to be business as usual" and will take Steps to "reduce the chances of violence and unrest."

Facebook announced Early this Month it will Ban All Political Ads for an Indefinite Period after Election Day.

Election and Security Experts including the Bipartisan Transition Integrity Project have Warned the Potential for Violence is High in this coming Election. State and City Officials are preparing for Potential Unrest as concerns for Security Arise. Meanwhile, Armed Extremist Groups have signaled they would Appear at Polling Sites on Election Day.

Critics have Scrutinized Facebook for the way it Responds to Violent Extremist Groups, which often Congregate on the Social Media Platform. In August, Zuckerberg said the Company was Slow to take Down a Page that called for Armed Civilians to Kenosha, Wisconsin, amid Oongoing Protests which Buzzfeed said was Flagged to Facebook 455 times.

A Wall Street Journal Analysis. Published this month, said the Company did Not always Enforce Content Policies regarding Disinformation and Hate Speech it said it would Implement.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins Votes from ISS

However you go about casting your Vote, you have to admire this NASA Astronaut who Managed to Cast her Vote all the way from Space.

Kate Rubins, who's currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS), posted a Photo of herself in front of a pPdded Booth marked "ISS Voting Booth," with the text "From the International Space Station: I voted today."

NASA notes this isn't Rubins' first time Voting from Space. She did so in 2016, when she was also on the ISS.

"I think it's really important for everybody to vote," Rubins said in a Video uploaded by NASA. "And if we can do it from space, then I believe folks can do it from the ground, too." Rubins' Six-Month ISS Mission began Oct. 14th.

Most Astronauts choose to Vote as Texas Residents because they move to Houston for Training, NASA said, though, that those who wish to Vote as Residents of their Home State can make Special Arrangements.

The Voting Process:

1. Ballots from the County where the Astronaut is Registered are Tested on a Space Station Training Computer.

2. The Real Ballot is Generated and Uplinked to the ISS with Crew-Member-Specific Credentials to keep it Secure.

3. The Completed Ballot is Electronically Delivered back to Earth to be Officially Recorded.

"Voting in space has been possible since 1997 when a bill passed to legally allow voting from space in Texas," NASA said in a statement.

"Since then, several NASA astronauts have exercised this civic duty from orbit. As NASA works toward sending astronauts to the Moon in 2024 and eventually on to Mars, the agency plans to continue to ensure astronauts who want to vote in space are able to, no matter where in the solar system they may be."

NASA had expected the U.S. Astronauts on the SpaceX Crew-1 Mission to the ISS to join Rubins in Voting from Space, but their Mission has been Delayed until Early to Mid-November, so they can now Vote from Earth.

Is this the Electronic Voting we are waiting for?

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

National Popular Vote Compact Update

The National Popular Vote Compact (NPVC) Bill, would Quarantee the Presidency to the Candidate who Receives the Most Popular Votes, when enough State's Legislatures and the District of Columbia make it Law, that equals 270 Votes. This Option keeps the Electoral College.

It has been Enacted into Law by 15 States and DC with 196 Electoral Votes: CA; CO; CT; DC; DE; HI; IL; MA; MD; NJ; NM; NY; OR; RI; VT; and WA.

The Bill needs an Additional 74 Electoral Vvotes to go into effect.

On August 1st, 2019, a Referendum Petition was filed to Force a Statewide Vote in November 2020 on the National Popular Vote Law Passed by the Colorado Legislature and Signed by Governor Jared Polis in March 2019.

The Secretary of State has Confirmed that the Statewide Vote will be in November 2020 as Proposition 113.

The National Popular Vote Bill in Colorado has been Endorsed by: Common Cause Colorado; League of Women Voters of Colorado; AFL-CIO Colorado; Working Families Party Colorado; March-On Colorado; National March-On COLOR; Our Revolution Metro Denver; and America Votes Colorado.

If passed, the Colorado's Nine Votes, will take the NPVC to 205 Electoal Votes.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Saturday, October 24, 2020

NV Judge Rejects GOP Request for Restraining Order Blocking Ballot Counting

A Nevada Judge, on Friday Oct. 23rd, Denied the Trump Campaign and the State's Republican Party's Request for a Temporary Restraining Order that would Halt the Counting of Ballots in Clark County, until a Observation Plan can be Reached.

Carson City District Judge, James Wilson, made the Ruling hours after the Lawsuit was filed, but will hold an Evidentiary Hearing on Wednesday Oct. 28th.

Republicans requested in April that they would be able to Monitor the Process, but did Not Receive Proper Approval for their Plan from Nevada Secretary of State, Barbara Cegavske, according to Court Filings. A Different Plan to Install Video Equipment at Election Headquarters was also Rejected.

The Lawsuit Accuses Clark County Registrar of Voters, Joe Gloria of "obstructing the observation process," saying Gloria "refused to timely provide a plan to the Secretary for approval." The Suit also Argues that a Signature-Matching Machine has a "tolerance number" that is set too Low, Decreasing the Number of Ballots Rejected.

Trump Campaign Co-Chair, Adam Laxalt, said that he found it "hard to believe" that only 1% of Ballots had been Rejected. In 2016 and 2018, approximately 1.2% of Mail-in-Ballots were Rejected Nationwide, according to an ABC News Analysis. The Primary reasons for Rejecting were Invalid Signatures and Ballots Returned after the Deadline.

Clark County disputes the Claims in the Lawsuit, saying that Observers have been Welcomed in Areas Open to the Public. Critics of the Lawsuit call it an attempt to Suppress Votes.

"The demands articulated in the GOP's lawsuit amount to voter suppression, plain and simple. Like the Trump campaign's last attempt to interfere with Nevada's election, this suit is nothing but a sham. Nevadans are tired of the GOP's bad faith cowardice, and that is why they will remain laser-focused on rejecting Trump for the next eleven days," Nevada Democratic Party Chair, William McCurdy II, said in a Statement.

Nevada Attorney General, Aaron Ford agreed, tweeting, "Again I say, we will always protect the right to vote, and we won't let it be suppressed."

Voter Turnout in Nevada is High, with over Twice as many Mail-in-Votes already Received than in the Full 2016 Election, according to the Associated Press. As of Monday, almost 176,000 Ballots had been Received in the State, compared with nearly 79,000 Mail-in-Ballots in 2016.

Two months ago, Nevada Lawmakers Passed Assembly Bill 4, requiring All Active Voters be Mailed Ballots due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. In-Person Voting Centers are Open for Early Voting until October 30th.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Supreme Court Lets AL Ban Curbside Voting

The Supreme Court ruled Alabama can Ban Curbside Voting in the General Elections, handing Republicans a Victory in their Battle against Easing Election Rules because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Court ruled 5-3, with the remaining Three Liberal Justices Dissenting.

A Federal Appeals Court already had Refused to Lift an Alabama Requirement that Voters using Absentee Ballots submit Affidavits Signed by a Notary or Two Adult Witnesses. That Court also Reaffirmed the need for Absentee Ballots to include Copies of Photo IDs.

But the Appeals Court Refused to let State Officials Block Counties from Employing Curbside Voting, leading to the latest Supreme Court Case.

State Attorney General, Steve Marshall, argued in Legal Papers that Curbside Voting, used in the past to assist Voters with Disabilities, "comes with a host of logistical, safety and ballot secrecy concerns." Among them, the need to Transfer Custody of the Ballot to a Third Party.

Challengers, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the American Civil Liberties Union, argued that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the Practice "as a means of reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 at the polls."

"COVID-19 has infected 172,000 Alabamians and led to the deaths of more than 2,700 of them," they said. "Every decision about whether to leave home requires Alabamians to take calculated health risks. These risks are especially acute for people who ... are at higher risk of severe illness or death from the virus due to their age and/or underlying medical conditions."

The Five Conservative Justices in the Majority did Not explain their Decision, which is common in Emergency Petitions. But the Three liberals did: Associate Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, writing for her Two Colleagues, said Voters with Disabilities, "for whom COVID-19 is disproportionately likely to be fatal," should not be required to stand indoors to vote "for as long as it takes, in a crowd of fellow voters whom Alabama does not require to wear face coverings."

Wonder if Board of Election Employees picked up these Ballots, would have Removed the Problem?

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Facebook Seeks Shutdown of NYU Research Project Into Political Ad Targeting

Facebook is Demanding that a New York University (NYU) Research Project cease Collecting Data about its Political-Ad Targeting Practices, setting up a Fight with Academics seeking to Study the Platform without the Company’s Permission.

The Dispute involves the NYU Ad Observatory, a Project launched last month by the University’s Engineering School that has Recruited more than 6,500 Volunteers to use a Specially Designed Browser Extension to Collect Data about the Political Ads Facebook shows them.

In a Letter sent Oct. 16th to the Researchers behind the NYU Ad Observatory, Facebook said the Project Violates Provisions in its Terms of Service that Prohibit Bulk data Collection from its Site.

“Scraping tools, no matter how well-intentioned, are not a permissible means of collecting information from us,” said the Letter, written by a Facebook Privacy Policy Official, Allison Hendrix. If the university doesn’t end the project and delete the data it has collected, she wrote, “you may be subject to additional enforcement action.”

The Clash between the Social-Media Giant and a Major Research University comes at a time of Heightened Scrutiny over Political Advertising on Social Media ahead of next month’s U.S. Election.

Facebook in recent weeks has said it would Bar New Political Ads ahead of Election Day and Suspend All Political Ads Indefinitely to Prevent the Spread of Paid Misinformation about the Election Outcome.

Following a furor about the Opaque nature of Political Advertising in the 2016 Presidential Campaign, Facebook launched an Archive of Advertisements that run on its Platform, with Information such as, who paid for an ad, when it ran, and the Geographic Location of People who saw it. But that Library excludes Information about the Targeting that Determines who sees the Ads.

The Researchers behind the NYU Ad Observatory said they wanted to Provide Journalists, Researchers, Policy Makers, and others with the Ability to Search Political Ads by State and Contest to see what Messages are Targeted to Specific Audiences and how those Ads are Funded.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Judge Orders DOJ to Verify its Filings in Flynn Case

The Federal Judge presiding over the Criminal Case against Former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, has Ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to Conduct an Unusual Review of its Filings in the Case and Certify by, Monday Oct. 26th, whether any have been Manipulated.

The Order is a signal of intense Distrust between the Judge, Emmet Sullivan, and the DOJ, whose Filings are typically Accepted at Face Value.

In this Case, DOJ has already Acknowledged that Two Documents it previously Filed, Handwritten Notes taken by Former FBI Counterintelligence Agent, Peter Strzok, and Former FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe, were Altered, "inadvertently" to include Inaccurate Dates.

Sullivan's Demand will force the DOJ to confront Tricky Interpretations of Handwritten Notes that DOJ and Flynn's Legal Team have Relied on to seek the Dismissal of the Prosecution.

Flynn pleaded Guilty in December 2017 to making False Statements about his Interactions with Russia's then, Ambassador to the United States in the weeks before Trump's Inauguration. Flynn encouraged the Russian Envoy, Sergey Kislyak, to Resist Escalating a Sanctions Battle with the Outgoing Obama Administration, which sought to Punish Russia for Interfering in the 2016 Election. But Flynn told FBI Agents in a, Jan. 24, 2017 Interview, as well as other Trump Administration Officials, that Sanctions were Not Raised on the Calls.

Though Flynn pleaded Guilty to Lying and Cooperated with Special Counsel, Robert Mueller's Investigators for a year, he Dropped his Legal Team in early 2019, hired Anti-Mueller Firebrand Attorney, Sidney Powell, and Reversed his Posture, Claiming he was Entrapped into a Guilty Plea by Corrupt FBI Agents and DOJ Prosecutors.

Earlier this year, Attorney General, William Barr, Appointed a Missouri-based U.S. Attorney to Review the Case and, as Flynn mounted an effort to Unravel his Guilty Plea. Then Barr moved in May to Dismiss the Charges Altogether.

But Sullivan has Resisted Pressure to Drop the Case, instead Appointing an Outside Adviser to argue against Dismissal. That Adviser, Former Judge, John Gleeson, has Accused Barr of an Overtly Political Effort to Drop the Flynn Case in Order to Protect a Prominent Trump Ally. Sullivan's posture has led to Contentious Litigation, including a Failed Effort by Flynn's Team to ask the Appeals Court to Push Sullivan Aside while Accusing Him of Bias. In the Intervening months, the DOJ and Flynn have continued to Publicly Post Sets of Documents that Flynn's Team has characterized as Evidence of FBI Misconduct.

Those are the Two Documents included the Notes that DOJ now Acknowledges were Altered, a Revelation that Sullivan said last month left him "floored" and Demanding Answers. In his New Order, Sullivan notes that DOJ did Not Respond to his Request to Authenticate all 14 Exhibits it has filed in Support of the Dismissal Motion.

"Although the government relies heavily on these 14 Exhibits, the government has not provided a declaration attesting that the Exhibits are true and correct copies," he wrote Friday. Though he acknowledged there is typically a legal "presumption" that documents filed by the government are authentic, it doesn't apply in this case. "Here, however, the government has acknowledged that altered FBI records have been produced by the government and filed on the record in this case."

In his Order, Sullivan demanded by Monday a Sworn Declaration that All other Documents in the Case are "true and correct copies." That Declaration, Sullivan says, must Spell Out the Name, Date, and Author of its Contents, aspects that were sometimes Left Ambiguous by the Publicly filed Records. Sullivan also asks for DOJ to provide Transcripts of the Hhandwritten Notes, which could also Eliminate Ambiguities related to some of the Hard-to-Read Scrawlings.

The Alteration in Strzok's Notes have already led to Significant Public Confusion about a Key Aspect of the FBI's Investigation of Flynn. Strzok's Notes summarize a Jan. 5th, 2017, Oval Office Meeting at which President Barack Obama, FBI Director James Comey, and other National Security Officials discussed Flynn's Contact with Russian Officials. The Document filed in Court included a Notation that indicated a Date Range of Jan. 4th-5th, 2017, an Addition that DOJ Attributes to an Inadvertently Scanned Sticky Note.

Despite little Ambiguity about the Date of the Oval Office Meeting, the inclusion of Jan. 4th, 2017, as a Potential Earlier Date helped Trump Deploy the Issue during a Debate last Month with Former Vice President Joe Biden.

Strzok's notes indicate that Biden mentioned the Logan Act — a mostly defunct 18th-century law that criminalizes efforts by private citizens to conduct U.S. foreign policy. The FBI internally discussed using the Logan Act as a basis for its decision to interview Flynn a few weeks later as it investigated his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the United States. Ultimately, FBI and DOJ officials said the interview was conducted as part of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Strzok’s Notes provide No Context about why Biden Raised the Logan Act, if it was in Response to anyone else or how any Officials responded. Biden has previously Acknowledged being Present in the Oval Office during the Discussion of the Flynn Matter and indicated he was broadly Aware of the FBI Investigation. “But that's all I know about it. I don't think anything else,” Biden said.

Trump, though, Accused Biden of Dredging up the Logan Act himself to go after Flynn. "You gave the idea for the Logan Act against General Flynn," Trump said at the Sept. 29th Debate.

Yet other Documents Released by the DOJ indicate that the Notion of Pursuing a Logan Act Charge against Flynn Originated inside the FBI on Jan. 4th, 2017, a day before the Oval Office Meeting occurred. Messages exchanged between Strzok and FBI Attorney Lisa Page on that Day reveal a Discussion of the Obscure Law. Strzok provided the Text of the Statute to Page, as well as an Analysis by the Congressional Research Service that noted the Logan Act had been in Relative Disuse for more than 200 years and could now be Unconstitutional.

On Thursday Oct. 21st, the DOJ also signaled in a Public Filing that it had Completed its Review of the Flynn Case and had No Additional Documents to turn over. DOJ specifically pointed out that it found No Evidence of an Earlier Draft of the FBI's Summary of Flynn's Jan. 24th, 2017 Interview with Strzok and Agent Joe Pientka. Flynn's Legal Team, as well as Outside Allies including Trump himself, have suggested for more than a year that an "original" summary — known in FBI parlance as an FD-302 — of the Interview Exists and must be Turned Over, but DOJ said it Scoured all FBI Systems and had already turned over Three Drafts as well as the First Finalized Version, completed on Feb. 15th, 2017.

"You have previously been provided with three draft versions of the FD-302, dated February 10, 11, and 14, 2017, that were circulated in PDF format by email to FBI personnel for review. [T]hese are the only draft versions of the FD-302 that we have located during our diligent searches. The department also indicated it found no additional relevant communications about Flynn's case among FBI higher-ups that hadn't already been disclosed." Justice Department Officials indicated.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker