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September 6, 2017

Facebook admitted Wednesday that it unknowingly sold $100,000 worth of ads to a Russian "troll farm" during the 2016 presidential election, The Washington Post reports. The ads began running in the summer of 2015 and link back to a St. Petersburg company called the Internet Research Agency, which has been known to push Kremlin propaganda.

Facebook informed congressional investigators Wednesday that it had discovered the link to Russia. "Even though the ad spending from Russia is tiny relative to overall campaign costs, the report from Facebook that a Russian firm was able to target political messages is likely to fuel pointed questions from investigators about whether the Russians received guidance from people in the United States — a question some Democrats have been asking for months," the Post writes.

Confronted with allegations that Facebook served as a hotbed for fake news and propaganda during the election, founder Mark Zuckerberg claimed in November that 99 percent of the news on Facebook was real and only "a very small amount" was untrue. Facebook discovered the ads' links to Russia in an investigation that began this spring.

The Russian ads were "directed at people on Facebook who had expressed interest in subjects explored on those pages, such as LGBT community, black social issues, the Second Amendment, and immigration," a Facebook official told the Post. While the social media company would not reveal what exactly the ads were, the Post reveals Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were directly named.

During its investigation, Facebook uncovered 470 suspicious or fraudulent accounts and pages it believes are linked to Russia. A total of 3,300 ads led back to the troll farm. Read the full report at The Washington Post. Jeva Lange

11:34 a.m.

Sports Illustrated on Monday announced the Golden State Warriors as its 2018 Sportsperson of the Year — the first team to win the honor since the Boston Red Sox in 2004, and the fourth overall since the magazine introduced the title in 1954.

The Kevin Durant-led Warriors swept LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers to win their third championship in four years in June. The victory helped the team beat out actual sportspeople for the Sports Illustrated award, such as the Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin, snowboarder Chloe Kim, and resurgent golfer Tiger Woods.

"It was impossible to overlook the influence that the Warriors, as a collective group, have had on their sport and the broader culture over the last half-decade," Chris Stone, SI's editor-in-chief, said in announcing the honor. "They are a generational phenomenon, the likes of which we might not see again for decades, if at all." The Phoenix Suns, currently 4-22, could not be reached for comment about the snub. Jacob Lambert

10:55 a.m.

The swamp may be dirty, but it pays well.

The United States contains 3,142 counties, and the five of them with the highest median income levels are all in the Washington, D.C., metro area, the Census Bureau reports, using data from 2013 to 2017. They are Loudoun, Fairfax, and Arlington Counties in Virginia, as well as Falls Church City, Virginia, and Howard County, Maryland.

The lowest income counties tend to be found in the Southeast region, especially in rural areas. The Census Bureau lists McCreary, Bell, and Harlan Counties in Kentucky with Holmes County, Mississippi, and Sumter County, Alabama, as five of the lowest median income counties nationwide.
Bonnie Kristian

10:54 a.m.

Yet another batch of awards nominees brings the Oscars' likely Best Picture list into even greater focus.

The 2019 Critics Choice Awards nominees, which are selected by the Broadcast Film Critics Association, were announced Monday morning. The group's Best Picture picks are Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, The Favourite, First Man, Green Book, If Beale Street Could Talk, Mary Poppins Returns, Roma, A Star Is Born, and Vice, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Based on how the awards season has been shaking out, don't be surprised if the Oscars' nominees for Best Picture are essentially this exact list; every one of the films here was nominated at the Golden Globes last week except for First Man. Since 2000, the Oscars' eventual Best Picture winner has been nominated at the Critics Choice Awards every single year, and the two groups often pick the same film.

The category of Best Actor consists of Christian Bale (Vice), Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born), Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate), Ryan Gosling (First Man), Ethan Hawke (First Reformed), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody), and Viggo Mortensen (Green Book), while the Best Actress nominees are Yalitza Aparicio (Roma), Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns), Glenn Close (The Wife), Toni Collette (Hereditary), Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born), and Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?).

The Favourite received the most nominations: 14, while the second most nominated film was Black Panther with 12. First Man also received 10 nominations after being mostly shut out at the Golden Globes. Read the full list of nominees at The Hollywood Reporter. Brendan Morrow

10:39 a.m.

A pair of reports published Monday by Gallup and Pew Research show global interest in migration is rising while support for it is falling.

The Gallup survey found about 750 million people, 15 percent of the world's adults, said in the 2015 to 2017 polling period they would like to permanently move to another country. That's up from 13 percent in 2010 to 2012, though slightly lower than the 16 percent interest in 2007 to 2009. Interest in migration is on an upward trend in every region but Oceania and Asia, where it has held steady since 2010.


(Gallup)

Pew's report, meanwhile, found a majority in 27 nations would prefer to maintain or lower the number of immigrants permitted to come to their country. Spain was the only nation polled in which more than a quarter of respondents said more immigrants should be allowed to move in, though the United States was a close second at 24 percent.

Concern about emigration is also high, Pew found, with a 27-nation median of 64 percent saying "people leaving their country for jobs in other countries is a very or moderately big problem." These emigration worries were around 80 percent or higher in Greece, Spain, Hungary, Italy, Tunisia, Argentina, and Mexico. Bonnie Kristian

10:37 a.m.

In an embarrassing public rejection, President Trump's reported pick to replace White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has turned him down.

Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, Nick Ayers, was reportedly Trump's only choice to replace Kelly to the point that an announcement of his selection had been drafted, The New York Times reports. But on Sunday, Ayers said he would not take the job and would instead return home to Georgia.

So why did Ayers turn down what should be a highly-desired job? Here are some possible explanations.

1. The Times and CNN report that Trump asked Ayers to commit for two years, but he was only willing to take the job on an interim basis. When they couldn't agree on a timeline, Ayers decided to decline. CNN notes that Ayers has young kids, and thus didn't want to stay in the White House until 2020.

2. Conservative columnist John Podhoretz speculates that Ayers wanted to avoid being in the White House during the impending wave of Democratic investigations and possible indictments, per Talking Points Memo. Politico reports that Ayers plans to run for office in Georgia, and perhaps he sensed that staying on staff amid such chaos could only hurt those chances.

3. Similarly, The Washington Post reports that Ayers was "skeptical of taking the job based on the challenges" his predecessors, Reince Priebus and Kelly, faced. Kelly and Trump reportedly stopped speaking in recent days.

4. The Times reports that Ayers, whose net worth is more than $12 million, may have wanted to avoid "scrutiny of his personal finances." Ayers is now reportedly going to make a whole lot of money running a pro-Trump Super PAC.

5. Finally, The Times' Maggie Haberman writes that Ayers was essentially being used by those opposed to Kelly to push him out of the job, and "toward the end, he may have realized that." Brendan Morrow

10:07 a.m.

A video published on Facebook shows a group of New York City police officers violently yanking a baby away from his mother while attempting to arrest her at a social services office in Brooklyn. The clip was uploaded Friday and gathered more than 200,000 views over the weekend, prompting a police department review of the incident and outrage from local political leaders.

The encounter reportedly began when Jazmine Headley, 23, sat on the floor in the office waiting room because all the seats were filled. "The security guard, I guess she came over and told her she couldn't sit there. So she's like, 'Where am I going to sit?'" said Nyashia Ferguson, who captured the footage. "She was like, 'What is the crime? What did I do wrong?'" Ferguson added. "And then it just escalated."

In the video, Headley is seen on the floor, desperately holding on to her 1-year-old son while a group of about five officers and guards try to restrain her and pull her child away. "They're hurting my son!" she shouts as the waiting room crowd protests. One officer takes out a yellow stun gun, waiving it at bystanders and pointing it at Headley's face.

Headley was ultimately arrested and charged with resisting arrest, criminal trespass, obstructing governmental administration, and, incredibly, acting in a manner injurious to a child. Her mother said as of Sunday she was still in jail and had not been allowed to see her son.

Watch the disturbing video below. Bonnie Kristian

9:28 a.m.

In case there was any doubt that 2018 has lasted approximately 200 years, take a look at the Time "Person of the Year" shortlist. It is ... exhausting:

Remember the North Korea summit, a few short lifetimes ago? Or the Royal Wedding, which feels like a distant, hazy dream? And how about March for Our Lives, which either took place in March or the Paleoarchean Era (both seem equally plausible)?

There is only one takeaway from all this: Make 2019 the year of the nap. Jeva Lange

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