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Appeals Court Rejects Strict North Carolina Voting Law

A federal appeals court on Friday struck down the heart of a North Carolina voting law seen as the strictest in the nation, finding that Republican lawmakers intentionally discriminated against African-Americans when they passed it.

A divided 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the measure’s provisions “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”

The ruling is just the latest court win for voting rights advocates. A different federal appeals court ruled this month that Texas’s voter ID law is racially discriminatory and must be softened. And a district court softened Wisconsin’s ID law, too, though that decision is being appealed.

The office of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, who signed the law and has championed it, didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry about whether the state planned to appeal the ruling. McCrory is in a tight re-election battle with Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, who has refused to defend the law in court.

The voting law imposed a voter ID requirement, cut early voting opportunities, eliminated same-day voter registration and banned out-of-precinct voting, among other provisions.

The court found that by 2013, African-American registration and turnout rates had reached near parity with those of whites. But weeks after the Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, Republicans said they planned to enact an “omnibus” voting law. The court’s ruling continued: “Before enacting that law, the legislature requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices. Upon receipt of the race data, the General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected African-Americans.”

While Texas and Wisconsin’s voter ID laws were softened rather than eliminated, the appeals court rejected that approach here, saying even a softened ID provision would still have a discriminatory impact.

The election law scholar Rick Hasen called the ruling “a very big win for voting rights plaintiffs and the [U.S. Justice Department],” who had challenged the law.

With surgical precision, North Carolina tried to eliminate voting practices disproportionately used by African-Americans. This ruling is a stinging rebuke of the state’s attempt to undermine African-American voter participation, which had surged over the last decade,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “It is a major victory for North Carolina voters and for voting rights.”

A district court earlier this year upheld the law. But the appeals court found that the lower court erred by seeing the law’s goals as partisan rather than race-based. The state’s history of racial discrimination in voting, the appeals court said, “highlight[s] the manner in which race and party are inexorably linked in North Carolina. This fact constitutes a critical — perhaps the most critical — piece of historical evidence here. The district court failed to recognize this linkage, leading it to accept “politics as usual; as a justification for many of the changes in [the voting law]. But that cannot be accepted where politics as usual translates into race-based discrimination.”

Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/appeals-court-strikes-down-strict-north-carolina-voting-law-n619836

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Election Fraud

Washington Post: By November, Russian hackers could target voting machines

As we’ve said before, voting machines are in fact hackable. They can be hacked by unsophisticated means, and if you add in Russian hackers who are by all intents and purposes, extremely sophisticated, these machines are probably very vulnerable to being hacked.

From The Washington Post:

Russia was behind the hacks into the Democratic National Committee’s computer network that led to the release of thousands of internal emails just before the party’s convention began, U.S. intelligence agencies have reportedly concluded.

The FBI is investigating. WikiLeaks promises there is more data to come. The political nature of this cyberattack means that Democrats and Republicans are trying to spin this as much as possible. Even so, we have to accept that someone is attacking our nation’s computer systems in an apparent attempt to influence a presidential election. This kind of cyberattack targets the very core of our democratic process. And it points to the possibility of an even worse problem in November — that our election systems and our voting machines could be vulnerable to a similar attack.

If the intelligence community has indeed ascertained that Russia is to blame, our government needs to decide what to do in response. This is difficult because the attacks are politically partisan, but it is essential. If foreign governments learn that they can influence our elections with impunity, this opens the door for future manipulations, both document thefts and dumps like this one that we see and more subtle manipulations that we don’t see.

Retaliation is politically fraught and could have serious consequences, but this is an attack against our democracy. We need to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin in some way — politically, economically or in cyberspace — and make it clear that we will not tolerate this kind of interference by any government. Regardless of your political leanings this time, there’s no guarantee the next country that tries to manipulate our elections will share your preferred candidates.

Even more important, we need to secure our election systems before autumn. If Putin’s government has already used a cyberattack to attempt to help Trump win, there’s no reason to believe he won’t do it again — especially now that Trump is inviting the “help.”

Over the years, more and more states have moved to electronic voting machines and have flirted with Internet voting. These systems are insecure and vulnerable to attack.

But while computer security experts like me have sounded the alarm for many years, states have largely ignored the threat, and the machine manufacturers have thrown up enough obfuscating babble that election officials are largely mollified.

We no longer have time for that. We must ignore the machine manufacturers’ spurious claims of security, create tiger teams to test the machines’ and systems’ resistance to attack, drastically increase their cyber-defenses and take them offline if we can’t guarantee their security online.

Longer term, we need to return to election systems that are secure from manipulation. This means voting machines with voter-verified paper audit trails, and no Internet voting. I know it’s slower and less convenient to stick to the old-fashioned way, but the security risks are simply too great.

There are other ways to attack our election system on the Internet besides hacking voting machines or changing vote tallies: deleting voter records, hijacking candidate or party websites, targeting and intimidating campaign workers or donors. There have already been multiple instances of political doxing — publishing personal information and documents about a person or organization — and we could easily see more of it in this election cycle. We need to take these risks much more seriously than before.

Government interference with foreign elections isn’t new, and in fact, that’s something the United States itself has repeatedly done in recent history. Using cyberattacks to influence elections is newer but has been done before, too — most notably in Latin America. Hacking of voting machines isn’t new, either. But what is new is a foreign government interfering with a U.S. national election on a large scale. Our democracy cannot tolerate it, and we as citizens cannot accept it.

Last April, the Obama administration issued an executive order outlining how we as a nation respond to cyberattacks against our critical infrastructure. While our election technology was not explicitly mentioned, our political process is certainly critical. And while they’re a hodgepodge of separate state-run systems, together their security affects every one of us. After everyone has voted, it is essential that both sides believe the election was fair and the results accurate. Otherwise, the election has no legitimacy.

Election security is now a national security issue; federal officials need to take the lead, and they need to do it quickly.

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Trump urges Russia to hack Clinton’s emails

Democrats prepared to use their convention Wednesday night to raise fresh doubts about Donald Trump’s fitness to serve as commander in chief, as the Republican presidential candidate called on Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton’s email server to find “missing” messages and release them to the public.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press,” Trump said during a news conference at his South Florida resort on Wednesday.

“They probably have them. I’d like to have them released. . . . It gives me no pause. If they have them, they have them,” Trump added later when asked if his comments were inappropriate. “If Russia or China or any other country has those emails, I mean, to be honest with you, I’d love to see them.”

The Clinton campaign quickly expressed alarm at Trump’s remarks.

“This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent,” Clinton’s senior policy adviser, Jake Sullivan, said in a statement. He added later: “This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”

Trump’s comments earned another rebuke from House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.). His spokesman, Brendan Buck, said in a statement that “Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin should stay out of this election.”

On several occasions throughout the GOP primary campaign, Ryan disavowed controversial Trump statements and withheld his endorsement for a month after the candidate had locked up the necessary delegates. Once he endorsed Trump, Ryan vowed to speak out if he felt that Trump had crossed a line.

Meanwhile, President Obama, Vice President Biden and the man who wants to succeed him, Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.), spent Wednesday morning previewing what they plan to say tonight to tout Clinton’s national security experience.

On NBC’s “Today” show, Obama sought to raise fears about a Trump presidency. Responding to a question on Trump’s electoral chances, Obama said “we don’t know” whether the Republican could win the presidency and warned Democrats that “anybody who goes into campaigns not running scared can end up losing.”

Biden delivered a blunter assessment, saying that Trump “knows nothing about foreign policy, nor should he, based upon his background. But the thing that bothers me is, I don’t see any attempt for him to go out and to get people who really know on the Republican side” to advise him, he told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Trump dismissed the attacks during his news conference, calling Obama “the most ignorant president in our history. His views of the world, as he says, don’t jive, and the world is a mess.”

Trump appeared to be alluding to comments Obama made last week that disputed Republican views of a country “on the verge of collapse.”

“I think it is important, just to be absolutely clear here, that some of the fears that were expressed throughout the week just don’t jibe with the facts,” Obama said at a news conference last Friday.

Trump’s exchange with reporters on Wednesday was free-wheeling and tense. On several occasions, he interrupted reporters and accused them of bias. In one instance, he told a female reporter to “be quiet.”

The real estate mogul sought to distance himself from allegations that the Russian government hacked into the Democratic National Committee to benefit his campaign, which Clinton’s campaign manager suggested earlier this week.

“It is so farfetched. It’s so ridiculous. Honestly, I wish I had that power. I’d love to have that power, but Russia has no respect for our country,” Trump said.

Trump said repeatedly that “I have nothing to do with Russia” and distanced himself from previous positive comments he made about Putin: “I have nothing to do with Russia! I said that Putin has much better leadership qualities than Obama, but who doesn’t know that?”

Earlier on Twitter, Trump called Biden “not very bright.”

In Philadelphia, Kaine spoke Wednesday morning to Virginia Democrats and focused on Trump’s rhetoric and his frequently controversial remarks about women, minorities and temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States.

“Is it too much to ask to have the first woman president rather than someone who offends women every time he opens his mouth?” he said on Wednesday morning.

Kaine, whose Marine son deployed overseas Monday, also said Trump has fought to avoid paying taxes that pay for the military — a potent message in veterans-rich Virginia.

“Who’s funding veterans’ programs?” he asked. “Who’s funding veterans’ services? Folks like you and me, but Donald Trump’s too big to have to fund veterans, too big to have to fund our military . . . too big to have to fund the things that make us a great nation.”

“I guess that’s just for suckers to have to pay for the society we have,” he said, as the audience of friends and supporters cheered.

Kaine is expected to focus on Clinton’s national security and foreign policy plans in his prime-time address, according to a campaign official.

The topics are consistent with the theme that Clinton officials have crafted for a third night of the convention, as foreign policy and terrorism have risen to the fore in the 2016 election. Trump has seized on those issues, casting himself as the candidate more focused on keeping the country safe.

Kaine’s pick as Clinton’s running mate drew praise from many quarters, but the former Virginia governor faces a challenge in convincing some progressive groups that he will champion their issues. Longtime watchers of Virginia politics say the question during much of Kaine’s career there has actually been whether he is too liberal for their state.

But Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), who sits alongside Kaine on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, described the Virginian on Wednesday as “a next-level intellect.”

“There’s nobody better on that committee to distill these complicated issues into easy, digestible ways,” Murphy said in a Washington Post Live interview in Philadelphia. “I think he’s going to bring a readiness and humanity to this role. And all the press he gets about being a nice guy — it’s all true.”

Other speakers on Wednesday will include Leon Panetta, the former defense secretary and CIA director who served alongside Clinton during Obama’s first term, most notably during the military operation that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent, plans to endorse Clinton during Wednesday evening’s proceedings amid concerns about Trump’s fitness for the presidency.

Relatives of the victims of the recent Orlando nightclub shooting will also appear on Wednesday night, as well as the daughter of the principal of a Connecticut elementary school who was shot dead in a 2012 shooting; and astronaut Mark Kelly and his wife, former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), the victim of a 2011 assassination attempt. The couple leads a gun safety organization.

The Clinton campaign meanwhile sought to tamp down fresh questions about whether the candidate intends to reverse her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership if she is elected president.

The controversy erupted on Tuesday night when Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe told a reporter for Politico that Clinton, who is a longtime friend and ally, would support a version of the deal, which is supported by Obama.

But Clinton’s campaign chairman, senior aides and prominent supporters quickly corrected the governor, saying that Clinton opposes TPP before and after the election.

McAuliffe also clarified his position, blaming a misunderstanding for the gaffe. He said he believed that Clinton would oppose the deal unless her concerns were addressed.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/democratic-national-convention-obama-biden-kaine-set-to-tout-clinton-as-commander-in-chief/2016/07/27/afc57884-53e8-11e6-bbf5-957ad17b4385_story.html

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The DNC Hack Is Watergate, but Worse

The email dump isn’t a high-minded act of transparency. It’s a foreign power attempting to swing an election for its favored candidate.

A foreign government has hacked a political party’s computers—and possibly an election. It has stolen documents and timed their release to explode with maximum damage. It is a strike against our civic infrastructure. And though nobody died—and there was no economic toll exacted—the Russians were aiming for a tender spot, a central node of our democracy.

It was hard to see the perniciousness of this attack at first, especially given how news media initially covered the story. The Russians, after all, didn’t knock out a power grid. And when the stolen information arrived, it was dressed in the ideology of WikiLeaks, which presents its exploits as possessing a kind of journalistic bravery the traditional media lacks.

But this document dump wasn’t a high-minded act of transparency. To state the obvious, only one political party has been exposed. (Selectively exposed: Many emails were culled from the abridged dump.) And it’s not really even the inner workings of the Democrats that have been revealed; the documents don’t suggest new layers of corruption or detail any new conspiracies. They’re something closer to the embarrassing emails that fly across every office in America—griping, the testing of stupid ideas, the banal musings that take place in private correspondence. The emails don’t get us much beyond a fact every sentient political observer could already see: Officials at the DNC, hired to work hand in glove with a seemingly inevitable nominee, were actively making life easier for Hillary Clinton. It didn’t take these leaks to understand that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a hack and that the DNC should be far more neutral in presidential primaries.

What’s galling about the WikiLeaks dump is the way in which the organization has blurred the distinction between leaks and hacks. Leaks are an important tool of journalism and accountability. When an insider uncovers malfeasance, he brings information to the public in order to stop the wrongdoing. That’s not what happened here. The better analogy for these hacks is Watergate. To help win an election, the Russians broke into the virtual headquarters of the Democratic Party. The hackers installed the cyber-version of the bugging equipment that Nixon’s goons used—sitting on the DNC computers for a year, eavesdropping on everything, collecting as many scraps as possible. This is trespassing, it’s thievery, it’s a breathtaking transgression of privacy. It falls into that classic genre, the dirty trick. Yet that term feels too innocent to describe the offense. Nixon’s dirty tricksters didn’t mindlessly expose the private data of low-level staff.

We should be appalled at the public broadcast of this minutiae. It will have a chilling effect—campaign staffers will now assume they no longer have the space to communicate honestly. This honest communication—even if it’s often trivial or dumb—is important for the process of arriving at sound strategy and sound ideas. (To be sure, the DNC shouldn’t need privacy to know that attacking a man for his faith is just plain gross.) Open conversation, conducted with the expectation of privacy, is the necessary precondition for the formation of collective wisdom and consensus. If we eviscerate the possibility of privacy in politics, we increase the likelihood of poor decision-making.

It is possible to argue that Russia is just behaving as great powers often do. States try to manipulate opinion beyond their borders. Barack Obama recently attempted to sway the British public to reject Brexit; we don’t just broadcast the Voice of America to expose the world to jazz. Russia does this, too. It has a website and television network, Russia Today. We might not care for Russia Today and its propagandistic coverage, but it operates in the open. It uses reporting and opinion to sway hearts and minds. The interconnected nature of the world means that it would be malpractice for states not to make the best case for its policies to enemy and ally alike. The United States is better when it understands the world and argues with it.

Still, we have a clear set of rules designed to limit foreign interference in our elections, to protect our sovereignty. We should be open to rational arguments from abroad but terrified about states playing a larger role than that. This is why we don’t let foreign entities make campaign contributions. We don’t allow noncitizens to vote. Consider our reaction, if an American political leader had pulled this stunt: He would be prosecuted, and drummed from political life. These are unacceptable tactics for an American; they can hardly be more tolerable when executed by a foreign power that wishes us ill.

The DNC dump may not have revealed a conspiracy that could end a candidacy, but it succeeded in casting a pall of anxiety over this election. We know that the Russians have a further stash of documents from the DNC and another set of documents purloined from the Clinton Foundation. In other words, Vladimir Putin is now treating American democracy with the same respect he accords his own. The best retaliation isn’t a military one, or to respond in kind. It’s to defeat his pet candidate and to force him to watch the inauguration of the woman he so abhors.

Read more about Donald Trump’s connections to the Kremlin, and about his campaign manager’s work for Putin’s allies.

Source: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/07/the_dnc_hack_is_watergate_but_worse.html
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George Soros returns to politics with $25 million splash

Billionaire investor George Soros has re-emerged this election cycle as a major Democratic donor, committing more than $25 million to Hillary Clinton and other party candidates and causes, according to Politico.

Soros spent roughly $27 million in a bid to unseat then-President George W. Bush in 2004 but later scaled back his giving, the website reported. Some associates of the Soros Fund Management chairman told Politico they expect him to give even more as Election Day approaches.

The Hungarian-born financier is worth $24.9 billion, according toForbes‘ most recent estimate, and his return as a big-time contributor will be a boon to the party as it seeks to retain control of the White House and regain a majority in the Senate.

Soros advisor Michael Vachon told Politico that Soros “has been a consistent donor to Democratic causes, but this year the political stakes are exceptionally high.”

Vachon confirmed to CNBC Politico’s report of the roughly $25 million in donations so far this cycle.

Soros’ charity, Open Society Foundations, did not respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.

Source: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/27/george-soros-returns-to-politics-with-25-million-splash-report.html

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It’s not all up to Sanders: Will Bernie’s political movement have life beyond the DNC?

Along with the Democratic party officials, delegates, lobbyists and members of the media who flocked to Philadelphia this weekend came tens of thousands of activists — a number that will likely continue to grow during the four days of the party’s presidential nominating convention that officially kicked off Monday night with speeches from first lady Michelle Obama and former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.

The activists’ causes were numerous. Front and center was a push to get the Democratic Party and its presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton, to pay greater attention to policies espoused by Sanders during his campaign for president. On Sunday, more than 10,000 people gathered in sweltering heat to attend at least one of two rallies that originated over the course of the afternoon in front of Philadelphia’s City Hall. The first called for a ban on fracking — a major industry in western and northeastern Pennsylvania — and a transition to a clean energy economy. The second was a demonstration in support of Bernie Sanders. Other protests occurred over the weekend: Black Lives Matter events called for an end to policies that disproportionately harm black people, and activists demanding health care for all and a $15 minimum wage joined the many in Philadelphia to make their voices heard.

The day before the big climate and Sanders marches, during a quieter event at a Quaker meeting hall, representatives from many of these causes met to lay out a platform in a formal, online document. The “People’s Convention,” as participants called it, was designed to look beyond this year’s presidential race, toward creating the sort of wide-reaching political movement the Vermont senator so often invoked on the campaign trail.

The initiative came about largely through the efforts of two organizers, Jack “Jackrabbit” Pollack and Shana East. Both had volunteered for Sanders in the Chicago area. East was hired by the campaign once it started ramping up its organizing efforts in Illinois. But in April, they decided they would have to step away from the Sanders campaign to foster a wider movement.

“The Sanders campaign didn’t really seem to be interested in actually working with the grass roots,” Pollack said. “Once Shana and I realized that that was the case, we figured that for the political revolution that Bernie had been calling for since the beginning of his campaign, it was really essential that we be building for something, toward something. We were kind of giving a form and a framework to a movement that is currently very amorphous.”

“The reality is that Bernie, if you really listened to his speeches and the things that he said over the course of the campaign, he never actually said ‘I’m leading this movement,’” Pollack continued. “I think the mistake that a lot of people have been making is to think that they needed to look to him for this movement. The movement is us.”

The Democratic Party may have one of the most liberal platforms in recent memory, in no small part because of Sanders and his impassioned supporters. But those at the People’s Convention were disappointed. They lamented the absence of planks calling for a ban on fracking, for universal health care and opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Fueling the discontent: Clinton’s choice of the relatively centrist Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) as her running mate over more populist options like Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

“I told somebody Friday before she announced: If she picks Kaine, every Berner in the country’s going to be at the DNC. It’s just the biggest slap in the face you could possibly have,” said Douglass Paschal, a resident of the Philadelphia suburbs who attended the People’s Convention.

A number of Sanders delegates to the Democratic Convention were in attendance. “I came here as mostly an interested observer. I’m excited to see a lot of people I know here,” said Christine Kramer, a delegate from Nevada. “When you get to the actual convention, the discussion ends. It’s a scripted TV show. So this is where we have the catharsis: This is what we all know needs to happen for our country and how do we get there.”

Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator who became a national spokeswoman for Sanders after switching her allegiance from the Clinton campaign to his during the primaries, delivered one of the convention’s keynote addresses.

“This nation needs people from all walks of life like those of us in this room today to be able to stand up and speak truth to power and not be afraid. Both major political parties need people like us in this room to keep us honest and keep them on task,” she said, also encouraging voters to check out other parties, including the Green Party and the Libertarian Party. “If we truly are a representative democracy where everyone’s voice matters, we shouldn’t be afraid of a little competition.”

There were plenty of people at the convention who still held out hope for a Sanders presidency, and others who are looking elsewhere: Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for president, served as the end-of-the-day keynoter. But Pollack and East emphasized that their Peoples’ Convention was not about pushing a specific outcome at the Democratic Convention, but instead about building an enduring movement.

Many of the people who stopped by the Quaker meeting hall cheered the advent of a formal progressive platform after years of diffuse activism and disorganization on the left.
The products of months of input, submitted through the internet, and months of drafting, led by Pollack and East, the People’s Platform that the alternative convention ratified Saturday afternoon contained five planks: economic justice,health care as a human right, racial justice, climate justice and “creating real Democracy” — which dealt with decreasing the influence of money in politics and increasing access to the ballot. All of the planks will be reopened for amending in August.

Contributing to the document were activists affiliated with Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, the Green Party, the Sanders campaign, environmental groups and groups trying to limit the influence of money on politics.

The People’s Convention was not without its points of contention. In particular, many expressed discomfort with lingering signs of segregation, pointing to the whiteness of the movements behind some causes represented, while the movement for racial justice remains, primarily, black.

But overall, many of the people who stopped by the Quaker meeting hall for some or all of the day cheered the advent of a formal progressive platform after years of diffuse activism and disorganization on the left.

“As far as the theater of power at the DNC is concerned, I don’t think this is going to make a big dent in that,” said Paschal, a veteran activist who has been following movements on the left since his time with the United Farm Workers in the early 1970s. “But as far as the Bernie movement, or the left movement, this meeting here showed everyone that it will continue. It’s a continual struggle. It’s going to continue in others’ hands.”

Source: http://www.salon.com/2016/07/26/its_not_all_up_to_sanders_will_bernies_political_movement_have_life_beyond_the_dnc_partner/

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Fart-in, Smoke-in and Actual Crowds Come to Philly After Boring RNC Protests

After surprisingly few people took to the streets of Cleveland last week to protest Donald Trump’s nomination at the Republican National Convention, this week’s Democratic convention will prove activism isn’t dead, with odd demonstrations and large turnout expected despite forecasted heat in the 90s.

Hinting at how the week is likely to unfold, the number of participants opposing or seeking to influence Hillary Clinton on Sunday alone — before the convention began — easily exceeded the number of protesters targeting Trump in an entire week.

The Sunday marches included an environmentalist procession police estimated atbetween 5,000 and 10,000 people and a march of more than 1,000 supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the socialist runner-up to Clinton in the primaries.

By contrast, the two largest marches in Cleveland had crowds estimated by their organizers at 1,000 and 2,500, though actual numbers may have been lower. Most others had more reporters and police than protesters. Astonished locals observed more than once that when one person voiced an opinion in public, a crowd of dozens would gather.

It’s unlikely to be that way in Philadelphia, which despite the searing heat has the benefit of being a short drive from New York City and the nation’s capital. The city has approved many protest permits and the protest-facilitating group Philly.fyi keeps a long list that’s not quite comprehensive and likely to be supplemented with unannounced actions.

Next up on the protest agenda is a march early Monday afternoon by a coalition that will denounce the “highly biased and unfair treatment” of Sanders during the Democratic primary. More than 7,000 people said on Facebook they’re going, and nearly 20,000 more said they might.

That march may turn into something of a victory parade given news Sunday that the woman Sanders fans hold responsible for the allegedly biased treatment — Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz — is stepping down as the Democratic Party’s chairwoman.

Along for the ride will be at least one — maybe two — enormous fan-operated inflatable joints, which cannabis activists led by the D.C. Cannabis Campaign will march south toward the convention center. The cannabis campaign, which has organized two recent smoke-ins near the White House, will then join a “smell the freedom” event at 4:20 p.m. near the convention.

Philadelphia has decriminalized marijuana, meaning if delegates smell “freedom” happening nearby, it’s unlikely there will be arrests. In most situations minor possession ispunished by a $25 ticket and public smoking a $100 ticket.

Watch: Footage from Sunday’s pro-Sanders march:

Later on Monday afternoon, the “March for Our Lives” put on by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, will march toward the convention’s main venue in South Philadelphia, with nearly 1,000 confirming attendance on Facebook.

The anti-poverty group on Thursday also plans to host a bean banquet before Clinton’s acceptance speech and then send people to the Wells Fargo Center to let the nominee smell what they think of her.

Cheri Honkala, national coordinator for the campaign, said some Sanders delegates will participate in the anti-Clinton “fart in,” but has declined to identify them until the day of the mass flatulence event.

 Source: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-07-25/fart-in-smoke-in-and-actual-protest-crowds-come-to-philadelphia-for-dnc
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As Democrats Gather, a Russian Subplot Raises Intrigue

This sub plot seems to be gaining traction. Is Donald Trump managed by Vladimir Putin? This story from the New York Times is gaining speed.

 

WASHINGTON — An unusual question is capturing the attention of cyberspecialists, Russia experts and Democratic Party leaders in Philadelphia: Is Vladimir V. Putin trying to meddle in the American presidential election?

Until Friday, that charge, with its eerie suggestion of a Kremlin conspiracy to aidDonald J. Trump, has been only whispered.

But the release on Friday of some 20,000 stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers, many of them embarrassing to Democratic leaders, has intensified discussion of the role of Russian intelligence agencies in disrupting the 2016 campaign.

The emails, released first by a supposed hacker and later by WikiLeaks, exposed the degree to which the Democratic apparatus favored Hillary Clinton over her primary rival, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and triggered the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the party chairwoman, on the eve of the convention’s first day.

Proving the source of a cyberattack is notoriously difficult. But researchers have concluded that the national committee was breached by two Russian intelligence agencies, which were the same attackers behind previous Russian cyberoperations at the White House, the State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff last year. And metadata from the released emails suggests that the documents passed through Russian computers. Though a hacker claimed responsibility for giving the emails to WikiLeaks, the same agencies are the prime suspects. Whether the thefts were ordered by Mr. Putin, or just carried out by apparatchiks who thought they might please him, is anyone’s guess.

On Sunday morning, the issue erupted, as Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, argued on ABC’s “This Week” that the emails were leaked “by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump” citing “experts” but offering no other evidence. Mr. Mook also suggested that the Russians might have good reason to support Mr. Trump: The Republican nominee indicated in an interview with The New York Times last week that he might not back NATO nations if they came under attack from Russia — unless he was first convinced that the countries had made sufficient contributions to the Atlantic alliance.

It was a remarkable moment: Even at the height of the Cold War, it was hard to find a presidential campaign willing to charge that its rival was essentially secretly doing the bidding of a key American adversary. But the accusation is emerging as a theme of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, as part of an attempt to portray Mr. Trump not only as an isolationist, but also as one who would go soft on confronting Russia as it threatens nations that have shown too much independence from Moscow or, in the case of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, joined NATO.

Mr. Trump has also said he would like to “get along with Russia” if he is elected, and complimented Mr. Putin, saying he is more of a leader than President Obama. Mr. Putin has in turn praised Mr. Trump. But Trump campaign officials on Sunday strongly rejected any connections between their candidate and efforts to undermine the Democrats.

“Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign and Putin and his regime?” George Stephanopoulos, of “This Week,” asked Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman.

“No, there are not,” Mr. Manafort shot back. “That’s absurd. And, you know, there’s no basis to it.”

One of Mr. Trump’s sons, Donald Trump Jr., was more definitive, charging the Clinton camp with a smear campaign. “I can’t think of bigger lies,” he said on CNN. The younger Mr. Trump mockingly suggested that Mr. Mook’s “house cat at home once said this is what happened with the Russians.’’

It may take months, or years, to figure out the motives of those who stole the emails, and more important, whether they were being commanded by Russian authorities, and specifically by Mr. Putin. But the theft from the national committee would be among the most important state-sponsored hacks yet of an American organization, rivaled only by the attacks on the Office of Personnel Management by state-sponsored Chinese hackers, and the attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, which Mr. Obama blamed on North Korea. There, too, embarrassing emails were released, but they had no political significance. The WikiLeaks release, however, has more of a tinge of Russian-style information war, in which the intent of the revelations is to alter political events. Exactly how, though, is a bit of a mystery, apart from embarrassing Democrats and further alienating Mr. Sanders’s supporters from Mrs. Clinton.

Evidence so far suggests that the attack was the work of at least two separate agencies, each apparently working without the knowledge that the other was inside the Democrats’ computers. It is unclear how WikiLeaks obtained the email trove. But the presumption is that the intelligence agencies turned it over, either directly or through an intermediary. Moreover, the timing of the release, between the end of the Republican convention and the beginning of the Democratic one, seems too well planned to be coincidental.

Mr. Trump himself leapt on the news after the WikiLeaks release on Saturday. In a Twitter message he wrote: “Leaked emails of DNC show plans to destroy Bernie Sanders. Mock his heritage and much more. On-line from Wikileakes, really vicious. RIGGED.”

The experts cited by Mr. Mook include CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm that was brought into the Democratic National Committee when officials there suspected they had been hacked.

In mid-June the company announced that the intruders appeared to include a group it had previously identified by the name “Cozy Bear” or “APT 29” and been inside the committee’s servers for a year. A second group, “Fancy Bear,” also called “APT 28,” came into the system in April. It appears to be operated by the G.R.U., the Russian military intelligence service, according to federal investigators and private cybersecurity firms. The first group is particularly well known to the F.B.I.’s counterintelligence unit, the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies. It was identified by federal investigators as the likely culprit behind years of intrusions into the State Department and White House unclassified computer system.

Russian intelligence agencies went to great lengths to cover their tracks, investigators found, including meticulously deleting logs, and changing the time stamps of the stolen files.

Officials at several other firms that have examined the code for the malware used against the Democratic National Committee and the metadata of the stolen documents found evidence that the documents had been accessed by multiple computers, some with Russian language settings. Moscow has outsourced politically motivated hacking to outside groups in the past. A crippling attack on Estonia in 2007, for example, was attributed to the pro-Kremlin Nashi youth organization. Intelligence officials and security researchers believe this outsourcing is done, in part, to preserve a measure of plausible deniability.

Intrusions for intelligence collection are hardly unusual, and the United States often does the same, stealing emails and other secrets from intelligence services and even political parties. But the release to WikiLeaks adds another strange element, because it suggests that the intelligence findings are being “weaponized” — used to influence the election in some way. The story has another level of intrigue involving Mr. Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman. Working through his lobbying firm, Mr. Manafort was one of several American advisers toViktor F. Yanukovych, the Russian-backed leader of Ukraine until he was forced out of office two years ago. Mr. Yanukovych was a key Putin ally who is now in exile in Russia.

In April, asked on Fox News about his relationship with Mr. Yanukovych, Mr. Manafort said he was simply trying to help the Ukrainians build a democracy that could align more closely with the United States and its allies.

Correction: July 25, 2016

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of a reporting credit with this article misspelled the surname of a reporter. He is David E. Sanger, not Sangar.

 

Source: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/07/25/us/politics/donald-trump-russia-emails.html?_r=0&