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first_imgFalse and misleading information surging in battleground states that have become the focus of the political battle — including Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia; No, Sharpies didn’t invalidate votes in Arizona. Republicans looking to cast doubts on the legitimacy of election results in the state circulated a conspiracy theory that alleged that poll workers had provided Trump voters with felt-tip pens to mark their ballots, which some claimed invalidated those ballots by making them unreadable by voting machines. Multiple Arizona officials said that there was no truth to that claim, and that votes with felt-tip pens were counted. [The New York Times] Could state legislatures pick electors to vote for Trump? It is not likely. Election law experts are highly skeptical. And leaders of the Republican majorities in legislatures in key states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona and Georgia, said they saw no role for themselves in picking electors. [The New York Times] I spoke with Renee DiResta, a disinformation researcher at the Stanford Internet Observatory, who told me she was worried about three specific themes around election misinformation: Today’s newsletter is a dispatch from our colleagues in the tech bureau who have been covering the spread of disinformation in the aftermath of the election. First this from Davey Alba:President Trump’s steadfast refusal to acknowledge that Joseph R. Biden Jr. won the presidential election, along with his continual statements containing unfounded claims that the election was rigged, has left a huge information gap ripe for exploitation by bad actors, disinformation researchers have told me. And that has led to the worst-case scenario for the proliferation of misinformation about the election playing out: The volume of bad information, they say, is unprecedented.- Advertisement – Can Mr. Trump still win? No. He’s already lost. Mr. Trump has repeatedly said that he “will win.” This is false. Mr. Biden’s winning margins in the key battleground states he has captured are well above the thresholds of votes that have been changed in previous recounts. [The New York Times] – Advertisement – The re-emergence of misinformation incidents and delegitimization themes that pointed back to earlier allegations — ideas that a Democrat-led coup would take place, voting machines being tainted, and more. – Advertisement – As my colleagues Jim Rutenberg and Nick Corasaniti reported on Sunday, the roots of Mr. Trump’s approach — to cast doubt on the outcome of the vote — dates to before his election in 2016, and he advanced his plans throughout his term. But it took shape in earnest when the coronavirus pandemic upended normal life and led states to promote voting by mail.To be sure, misinformation of all kinds, not just about the election, had already been on the rise, compounded by the pandemic and stay-at-home orders that have caused more people to be glued to their screens and consuming social media.But a lot of it was tied to politics in one form or another. There was a surge in followers of the QAnon conspiracy, whose convoluted theory falsely claims that a cabal of Satan-worshiping, pedophile Democrats is plotting against President Trump. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the average membership in 10 large public QAnon Facebook groups swelled almost 600 percent from March through July. The repurposing of user-created content from Election Day, which documented one-off incidents, aggregated to support claims of fraud and illegitimacy; “These narratives are reaching audiences inclined to believe them, and so a significant concern remains around whether the losing side will accept the legitimacy of the outcome,” Ms. DiResta said.A lot of the claims are not new, with just the specifics updated. Indeed, I can’t tell you how many misinformation themes have been recycled in this period. Unsubstantiated rumors of dead people voting emerged early on in Michigan; the same rumor happened in Pennsylvania, only the supposed fraud was now at a much larger scale, including tens of thousands of people. Then the claims of voter fraud morphed into an unfounded accusation about impostors using maiden names to steal votes. Claims of ballots being magically lost or found, or being burned, or being carted into vote-counting sites by unauthorized people soared.For some solid advice on how to keep levelheaded in this period, especially coming out of this weekend, when protests about the election results were held, I would suggest listening to Nina Jankowicz, a disinformation analyst at the Wilson Center, a nonpartisan think tank. She recommended trying to tune out politicians and political pundits for the time being, especially when you feel yourself starting to have a strong emotional response to social media posts.“I would recommend some ‘informational distancing’ — walk away from your device for a little while and if that information is still bugging you in a few minutes go and do some lateral reading,” Ms. Jankowicz said. “Figure out if anyone else is reporting what you’ve seen, and look at those official sources to see if they corroborate what you’ve just read or watched.”Stay safe out there in the internet seas, dear readers.Here from Joe Plambeck are some false and misleading rumors spreading about the election, and the truth behind the claims. No, Dominion voting machines did not delete Trump votes. President Trump last week spread new baseless claims that “glitches” in software made by Dominion Voting Systems changed vote tallies in Michigan and Georgia. The Dominion software was used in only two of the five counties that had problems in those states, and in every instance there was a detailed explanation for what had happened. In all of the cases, software did not affect the vote counts. [The New York Times] There is no proof that people stole maiden names to vote. The claim that unauthorized people had cast votes under the maiden names of real voters spread widely last week, much of it under the hashtag #MaidenGate. But there is no evidence behind those accusations. [The New York Times] – Advertisement –last_img read more

first_imgGARY Kirsten is the “right man” to become England’s next head coach, according to former South Africa team-mate Lance Klusener.Kirsten, who has had spells in charge of India and South Africa, is reportedly in talks with England director of cricket Ashley Giles.“What is he going to bring? Loads and loads of experience,” Klusener told Stumped on the BBC World Service.“He brings winning, so that for me is vitally important.”Former opening batsman Kirsten, 51, led India to their World Cup triumph in 2011 and was in charge of South Africa when they went top of the Test rankings the following year.He has also coached Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Hobart Hurricanes in Australia’s Big Bash.“Gary’s won the World Cup. He’s the right man for the job,” said former all-rounder Klusener, who was appointed Afghanistan head coach last week.“He brings experience in coaching the big T20 leagues around the world. He’s one of those guys that when they do stand up and speak, people tend to listen, and he’s had that ability since I used to play with him.”England are looking for a replacement for Australian Trevor Bayliss, who left after four years in charge at the end of the summer.Under Bayliss, England won the World Cup for the first time but their performances in Test cricket stagnated.Giles has said that he wants a renewed focus on red-ball cricket.“Can you lift England white-ball cricket much more?” Klusener said. “What they’ve done is fantastic but their challenge is in Test cricket.“Kirsten was a phenomenal Test cricketer himself, so he knows exactly what’s needed.”England begin their tour of New Zealand later this month, playing five Twenty20s and two Tests in November. (BBC Sport).last_img read more

first_imgIn the best interest of U.S. soybean farmers, the Board of Directors of the American Soybean Association (ASA) yesterday voted unanimously to ask the Secretary of Agriculture to order an Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation and financial audit of the National Soybean Checkoff Program. The ASA petition, filed today with Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer and the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), calls for an investigation of the United Soybean Board (USB) and the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) to ensure that soybean checkoff dollars are being managed and invested as prescribed by law.”Serious ethical, legal, and financial allegations have been raised about how farmer checkoff funds and program activities are being conducted,” said ASA President John Hoffman, a soybean producer from Waterloo, Iowa. “These significant allegations have caused ASA to ask the Inspector General to conduct an investigation and audit so that the basis of the allegations can be impartially investigated to find the truth.”Allegations include the improper and wasteful expenditure of both checkoff and federal funds; potential evasion of mandated salary and administrative spending caps by USB; conflicts of interests at USB; use of checkoff funds for prohibited purposes by USB; and wasteful and excessive spending by USB. There are additional allegations concerning improper USB oversight and tolerance of actions that have taken place at the USSEC, an entity created by USB and ASA in October 2005. These allegations include improper conduct by a USSEC employee at USSEC functions; the firing of whistleblowers; improper employee relationships; contracting violations; management malfeasance and the inability of ASA Directors serving on USSEC Board to obtain an independent and objective investigation of the allegations.”With USB and USSEC, we are dealing with entities that are spending tens of millions per year in soybean farmer checkoff dollars and U.S. taxpayer funds,” Hoffman said. “As the policy organization that represents U.S. soybean farmers, it is ASA’s responsibility to ensure that the soybean checkoff, and other entities the checkoff has created, are operating in an accountable and transparent manner in the best interest of soybean farmers.”ASA is the only national, non-governmental, non-profit trade organization that represents soybean farmers in the United States. It was ASA and its state affiliates that developed the concept for national soybean checkoff in the late 1980s and then worked with Congress and USDA to establish the national soybean checkoff in 1990.”ASA and its members believe that since federal taxpayer funds or the federally mandated checkoff funds comprise all of the operations of USB and USSEC, we are compelled to petition for an OIG investigation to ensure these allegations are examined in an unbiased and fair way, something that ASA has tried to do within the framework of USB and USSEC, but has been thwarted in so doing by USB Directors and their attorneys,” Hoffman said.”ASA firmly believes it is doing the right thing for the soybean farmers by asking the Inspector General to conduct a full investigation of the serious allegations of wrongdoing that have surfaced,” Hoffman said. “ASA believes the national soybean checkoff, as currently structured and operated, is no longer responsive and accountable to soybean farmers. The failure of USB leaders to take decisive action on these particular matters is indicative of how USB is no longer accountable and responsive to the very soybean farmers who are paying funds into the checkoff program.”Soybean checkoff funds are invested in program areas such as Domestic and International Marketing, New Uses Development, Production Research and Producer Communications. For more information about the soybean checkoff, see www.soybeancheckoff.com.During the national checkoff’s nearly two decades of operation, soybean farmers have paid $1.3 billion into the checkoff. At the higher price and acreage levels experienced recently, checkoff collections from soybean farmers in fiscal year 2008 are estimated to exceed $140 million — three and half times the amount collected in 1992 when the national checkoff first began. Soybean farmers today are paying two to four times more to the checkoff fund than they have historically, and significant allegations of wasteful spending and abuse have emerged.The ASA Board of Directors approved calling for an Inspector General investigation at the Board’s regularly scheduled winter meetings, which commenced yesterday in Saint Louis. During the meeting, Board members had the opportunity to review the allegations of improper activities that have surfaced and voted unanimously to take action in the best interest of U.S. soybean farmers. ASA has shared a summary of its concerns and allegations with state and national soybean leaders and key industry stakeholders. The summary document is also available here.”ASA does not take this action lightly but with great reluctance,” Hoffman said. “ASA must do what is in the best interest of soybean farmers ethically, legally, and financially. ASA believes strongly in the need for a national soybean checkoff program – but one that is accountable, transparent and responsive to soybean farmers, and spends their dollars wisely. Over the coming months, ASA will begin announcing specific steps that it will take to ensure that the national soybean checkoff is accountable to soybean producers and spends their money prudently.”last_img read more