×
December 17, 2018

Instagram, not Facebook, may be Russia's most effective tool for spreading propaganda.

A new report prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee shows that posts from the Russian Internet Research Agency, a troll farm, received 187 million interactions on Instagram from 2015 through 2018, and only 77 million interactions on Facebook and 73 million on Twitter, reports Bloomberg.

This suggests Instagram has been a much more significant factor in Russia's attempt to manipulate American politics through social media than previously thought, and the report notes that this is "something that Facebook executives appear to have avoided mentioning in congressional testimony." The researchers also say that Instagram could be "more ideal" for spreading propaganda through memes than other platforms and that it is "likely to be a key battleground on an ongoing basis."

Additionally, the report says that not only did Russian trolls seek to promote President Trump's campaign and damage Hillary Clinton's, but the "most prolific IRA efforts on Facebook and Instagram specifically targeted black American communities," The New York Times reports. While the Russian troll farm targeted some other specific groups with a handful of accounts and pages, "the black community was targeted extensively with dozens," researchers conclude. On Facebook, for instance, among 81 Facebook pages the IRA created, 30 targeted black Americans. Efforts to encourage people to skip voting or vote against Clinton targeted both black Americans and supporters of Clinton's primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Read more at The New York Times. Brendan Morrow

2:06 a.m.

More than 100 people have been killed in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, with heavy rains causing widespread flooding and triggering landslides.

Millions of people have been displaced from their homes, including 4.3 million in the Indian states of Assam and Bihar. It is the beginning of monsoon season, and the rain started on Thursday, leaving roads and railroad tracks underwater. It's estimated that some parts of Nepal saw nearly 16 inches of rain in the last few days, and in Bangladesh, officials are keeping an eye on the swollen rivers that flow into the country from India.

During the 2017 monsoon season, at least 800 people were killed in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, with countless crops and homes destroyed. Catherine Garcia

1:25 a.m.

Attorney George Conway, husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and one of the most prominent conservative critics of President Trump, said he always viewed Trump as "boorish, dim-witted, inarticulate, incoherent, narcissistic, and insensitive," but also thought he was an "equal-opportunity bully — in his uniquely crass and crude manner, he'll attack anyone he thinks is critical of him."

In an op-ed published Monday night in The Washington Post, Conway writes that because of Trump's tweets on Sunday, telling four Democratic lawmakers, all women of color, to "go back" where they came from, there is no doubt that "naiveté, resentment, and outright racism, roiled in a toxic mix, have given us a racist president. Trump could have used vile slurs, including the vilest of them all, and the intent and effect would have been no less clear."

Conway's mother came to the U.S. from the Philippines, and while he remembers in the 1970s a woman approached her in a parking lot and said "Go back to your country," this never really bothered him, because "to my mind, most Americans weren't like that. The woman in the parking lot was just a boor, an ignoramus, an aberration." Now, he can see there are more people in the world who share this woman's point of view, and it horrifies him that Trump appears to be one of them.

"Trump is not some random, embittered person in a parking lot — he's the president of the United States," Conway said. "By virtue of his office, he speaks for the country. What's at stake now is more important than judges or tax cuts or regulations or any policy issue of the day. What's at stake are the nation's ideals, its very soul." Read the entire op-ed at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

July 15, 2019

Seth Meyers wasn't too shocked by President Trump's "appallingly racist attack" against four Democratic women of color in Congress, saying on Monday's Late Night it's been clear Trump is "a racist and that racism is at the core of his political ideology. It's not a side dish — it's the main course."

As Meyers reminds the audience, Trump was a vocal advocate of the birtherism conspiracy, accused Mexico of sending rapists across the southern border, and said the judge in charge of one of his many cases could not be fair because of his Mexican heritage. Over the weekend, he added to his greatest hits by tweeting at the congresswomen to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." There is "no acceptable word for this other than racist," Meyers said. "Period."

Three of the women were born in the U.S., and all are American citizens, "so if you're asking them to fix the totally broken, crime-infested governments of their home countries, they're trying," Meyers said. It doesn't even matter whether they were born here or not, he continued, because "they're Americans. This is their country, and they're treating it with a lot more respect than the racist gargoyle who sits around tweeting from the back nine of his chintzy golf course." Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia

July 15, 2019

The Trump administration on Monday said taxpayer-funded family planning clinics can no longer refer women for abortions.

The Health and Human Services Department also told clinics that they must maintain separate finances from facilities that provide abortions, The Associated Press reports. Every year, about four million low-income women are able to receive family planning and preventative health services through the Title X program, which provides $260 million worth of grants to independent clinics. Under federal law, taxpayer funds cannot be used to pay for abortions.

Many of these clinics are operated by Planned Parenthood, and President Leana Wen said the organization is hoping to get the regulations overturned in federal court. Several professional groups, including the American Medical Association, are against the new policy, saying it could affect how a woman receives basic medical care. Catherine Garcia

July 15, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday night said the House of Representatives will not raise the debt ceiling unless it is combined with a budget agreement.

Earlier in the day, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters that if a budget deal is not reached soon, Congress will have to raise the debt ceiling before its August recess, otherwise there won't be enough money to pay the government's bills. This idea, Pelosi said, is not "acceptable to our caucus."

Lawmakers have until the end of September to hammer out a budget deal, as that's when funding for several agencies is scheduled to run out. The Treasury Department can only issue debt up to the limit set by Congress. Since President Trump's inauguration, total government debt has increased by about $3 trillion, to more than $22 trillion. Catherine Garcia

July 15, 2019

It took more than a century, but Andrew Johnson has met his match when it comes to racist presidents, presidential historian Jon Meacham said Monday.

Meacham appeared on MSNBC's Hardball to discuss President Trump telling four lawmakers — all Democratic women of color — that they needed to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." Going on a "journey toward a more perfect union is the story of the country," Meacham said. "What the president's done here is yet again — I think he did it after Charlottesville and I think he did it, frankly, when he was pushing the birther lie about President Obama — he has joined Andrew Johnson as the most racist president in American history."

Meacham explained that in a state message, Johnson "said African Americans were incapable of self-government and relapsed into barbarism if they weren't closely supervised." Historian Eric Foner, he added, "said this was the single most racist statement by a president in a public paper." Since the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, when the Supreme Court ruled racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, politicians have set it up so poor black Americans and poor white Americans are "pointing at each other instead of pointing up," Meacham said. "That's the story of the racial politics of the country in the modern era. By using culture instead of economics, which the Republican Party in the modern era has done very well."

The country can't escape its past, and it's "pointless to try to expiate ourselves from what Trump has been saying," he said, adding, "The way America moves forward from this is 51 percent of the time we're with Lincoln instead of Andrew Johnson." Catherine Garcia

July 15, 2019

The four progressive Democratic lawmakers targeted by President Trump in a series of racist tweets over the weekend held nothing back during a press conference on Monday.

"We can continue to enable this president and report on the bile of garbage that comes out of his mouth, or we can hold him accountable for his crimes," Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said. "It is time for us to stop allowing this president to make a mockery out of our constitution. It is time to impeach this president."

On Sunday, Trump referenced Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Omar in several tweets, saying they "originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe" and the women needed to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, and Pressley were all born in the U.S.; Omar's family fled Somalia more than 20 years ago, and she is now a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Pressley said Trump's remarks — which he refused to apologize for on Monday — are "simply a disruption and a distraction from the callous, chaotic, and corrupt culture of this administration. I encourage the American people and all of us in this room and beyond not to take the bait." As for Ocasio-Cortez, she believes Trump "does not know how to defend his policies and so what he does is attack us personally." Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads