US briefing Stone pardon plea, climate denial bots and ‘Russia for Trump’

US briefing Stone pardon plea, climate denial bots and ‘Russia for Trump’

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Good morning, I’m Mattha Busby with today’s essential stories. Roger Stone, a self-described political dirty trickster and longtime ally of the president, was sentenced on Thursday to more than three years in prison after attempting to sabotage the congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election by lying to investigators about his contacts with WikiLeaks and trying to block the testimony of a witness to protect Donald Trump. After his sentencing, a representative for Stone urged Trump to “right this horrible wrong” and pardon him – before the president suggested he might do so.‘Totally tainted’. The president undermined proceedings, tweeting they were “fraudulent” and claiming the jury forewoman was an “anti-Trump activist” during a running commentary of the case. Above the law? This week, Trump issued pardons and commutations to nearly a dozen other convicts guilty of public corruption, also ageing white men with personal ties to him. An army of automated Twitter bots are distorting online conversations to make climate science denialism more prevalent, with research finding a quarter of all climate-related tweets are produced by bots. Analysis of millions of tweets from around the time Trump announced he would withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement in June 2017 suggested bots had a substantial impact in amplifying misinformation, while disproportionately tending to applaud and support the president.‘Fake science’. Bots were responsible for 38% of tweets that claimed scientific falsehoods with the phrase used by Trump to dismiss the climate crisis, and 28% of all tweets about the petroleum giant Exxon. A misleading video capturing a snapshot of the former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg’s widely criticised Democratic debate performance, which suggests he silenced his rivals after saying he is the “only one here, I think, that’s ever started a business”, will not be removed from Instagram. The decision by the social media platform prompted fresh concern over the policing of online disinformation by politicians, but the Bloomberg campaign said it was “tongue-in-cheek” and not meant to be viewed as real. Not a violation. A spokesman for Facebook said “this video does not violate our manipulated media policy”, while Twitter said it would probably fall under a new policy warning of significantly altered content. Members of Congress were told Russia was trying to interfere in the 2020 election campaign in favour of Donald Trump last week, according to reports that said it led to the abrupt removal of the acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire. The alleged briefing led the president to announce the appointment of the hardline loyalist Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany, after a confrontation with Maguire, a former navy admiral, in the Oval Office. Motive. Grenell’s appointment is an attempt to politicize intelligence and hide information from Congress as Russia again assists Trump, claimed the

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US briefing Stone pardon plea, climate denial bots and ‘Russia for Trump’: w

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