Who’s afraid of a little Russian propaganda?

first_imgThe well the Russians are allegedly fouling was never pure.Political ads often distort reality much in the same way propaganda does, expressing emotional half-truths and obfuscations to persuade voters. But recent campaign, in which Trump spent about a third of what Hillary Clinton did on TV ads yet prevailed, proves that the masses are not susceptible to all the advertisements that money can buy. The volume of Clinton ads clearly dwarfs the combined output of Russian propaganda and disinformation but still did not change enough minds to win the prize.In this sense, the shrillness of the propaganda debate reveals a deep distrust of citizens by the elites. The Ignatiuses and Stengels of media and government don’t worry about propaganda infecting them. Proud of their breeding and life experience, they seem confident they can decode fact from fiction. What they dread is propaganda’s effect on the non-elites, whom they paternalistically imagine believe everything they read or view. But they don’t. The idea that naïve and vulnerable audiences can be easily influenced by the injection of tiny but potent messages into their media feedbag was dismissed as bunk by by social scientists as early as the 1930s and 1940s. According to what academics call the hypodermic needle theory (aka magic bullet theory, aka transmission-belt model), there is little evidence that the public was the defenseless prey of mini-doses of propagandists. Larger doses don’t seem to be very effective, either.“We know from the entire history of communication research that attitude change is hard, and behavior change is even harder,” says Nikki Usher, a media scholar at George Washington University.Does Russian propaganda have influence on the margins? Very likely. According to a Gallup Poll, 42 percent of Americans subscribe to creationism, indicating that faith supersedes reason for many people. In other words, if people want to believe something, all the textbooks they’ve been expose to at school won’t budge them. Another Gallup Poll found that 53 percent of respondents could not identify the first 10 amendments to the Constitution as the Bill of Rights, signaling that the political views of the majority of Americans rest on a foundation of blarney and bull feathers even before the propaganda artists cast their spell. How stupid are Americans? Gallup tells us that 18 percent believe the sun revolves around the earth. (The kicker is that 3 percent had no opinion. How can you have no opinion?!) The well the Russians are allegedly fouling was never pure.“Yeah, but the Internet and social media!” I hear some readers shouting in their computer screens. While it’s true that propagandists have never enjoyed such cheap and universal methods of distribution, the same technology makes it equally convenient for debunkers to search and destroy propaganda. Remember, as well, that it is a very big playpen the propagandists have entered, and the dilution factor benefits honest voices, which dominate. The detection and isolation of state-sponsored propaganda is — and always has been — a laudable enterprise. And, obviously, the Russians now serve mounds of disinformation into our media diet. But is this contamination anywhere near as dangerous as some of the heralds make it out to be? Have the Russians really manipulated our politics and enslaved us in a post-truth world?How distressed need we be today during peacetime about direct but discreet doses of Russian propaganda from venues like RT and Sputnik?American anxiety about foreign propaganda goes back to at least the World War I era. As media historian David Greenberg writes in The Republic of Spin, Berlin fed “bulletins and capsules” supportive of the German war effort to U.S. publications. It wasn’t all that successful. “In the short term, the German propaganda campaign aroused opinion against Berlin. In the longer term, it primed Americans to cooperate with unconscionable anti-German practices and civil liberties crackdowns that they justified as wartime exigencies,” Greenberg writes. During World War II and especially the Cold War, violent totalitarian regimes that sought to conquer us produced huge volumes of strident, pervasive and even subtle foreign propaganda. In 1941, the U.S. government prosecuted German agents based in America, “effectively closing down the German government’s primary channels of information dissemination” here, media scholar Brett Gary writes in The Nervous Liberals: Propaganda Anxieties From World War II to the Cold War. Soviet propaganda helped to fuel the Red Scare and prompted the U.S. to build its own propaganda machine to disseminate its counter-claims, broadcasting news from the U.S. point of view into Europe and the Soviet Union.This fear of foreign propaganda persisted into the late Cold War era, too, with President Ronald Reagan claiming in a 1987 interview — without citing any specifics — that the Rooskies were sullying America with untruths. “There is a disinformation campaign, we know, worldwide, and that disinformation campaign is very sophisticated and is very successful, including a great many in the media and the press in America,” Reagan told Washington Times Executive Editor Arnaud de Borchgrave. Ubiquitous Soviet disinformation was echoing on Capitol Hill, too, Reagan asserted. He believed that the closing of congressional committees investigating communist influence in America “shows the success of what the Soviets were able to do in this country with making it unfashionable to be anticommunistsSomehow the Republic withstood the propaganda onslaughts that were backed up by U-boats and nuclear weapons; although some Soviet efforts, such as the ones that capitalized on the civil rights struggle, made a mark, in general the truth prevailed in the free marketplace of ideas. So how distressed need we be today during peacetime about direct but discreet doses of Russian propaganda from venues like RT and Sputnik, a myriad of Russian disinformation and trolling operations into the media stream, and the Russian-inspired fake-news adulteration of other sites?I, for one, am having no trouble sleeping at night. Nor do I see a reason for a House Un-American Committee reunion. The current panic over propaganda led by the American media and the government is only the old panic in a new guise with social media and non-mainstream news outlets taking the bulk of the beating. I wonder if Russian propaganda would be Topic A had Hillary Clinton had beaten Donald Trump. The election post-mortems have been searching for a reason, or even a hint of a reason, for Trump’s victory, and the theory that Russian propaganda might have influenced voters has enticed both journalists and government officials. Propaganda has a way of making the soberest and most responsible elements in our culture go all wiggy. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius filed a fretful column this week based on his interview with Richard Stengel, State Department undersecretary for public diplomacy. Ignatius and Stengel, America’s top counter-propagandists, advance all the most frightful clichés about propaganda.The pair are on the same page with comments like, we’re living in a “post-truth world.” The Russians are waging “a war on information,” determined to make you think everybody is lying, they offer. The Russian hacks are “polluting the public information stream.” Our citizens are being exposed “weaponized information, false information.” Ignatius concludes, “right now, the truth is losing.”The news pages have been equally alarmist. The Washington Post recently published an article about Russian propagandists pushing a “flood of fake news” during the presidential campaign that may have affected the outcome. So panicky was the Post treatment of the topic that it cited the findings of PropOrNot, a group of anonymous anti-propaganda researchers who have produced a wide-ranging list of sites that they find suspect because they “reliably echo Russian propaganda.” The original list included such sites as Counterpunch, NutritionFacts.org, Truthdig, Naked Capitalism, Drudge Report, Truth Out and AntiWar as Russian dupes, and it inspired the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald and Ben Norton to denounce the Postpiece as a McCarthyite smear.center_img Once a society commits itself to the free speech radicalism of something like the First Amendment, propaganda will automatically enter the media equation. We need to combat it the way we combat all bad ideas: with our vigilance and wit, knowing that we can’t ever completely expunge it from the atmosphere. Like its cousin, “fake news,” propaganda has always been with us and always will be. By our best non-hysterical efforts, refuting propaganda with the diligence we fight cockroaches, we can hope to reduce propaganda’s effect to that of background radiation. The truth loses battles but never the war.Thanks to input from an emergency meeting of members the Shafer Media Brain Trust: Stephen Bates, Mark Feldstein, Michael Socolow, Nikki Usher, W. Joseph Campbell and David Greenberg, none of whom are Russian disinformation agents. Send propaganda sightings to [email protected] My email alerts work for the Stasi, my Twitterfeed for the KGB and my RSS feed for VOA. Also On POLITICO Vladimir Putin to Trump: Let’s be friends By Cynthia Kroet catching up with … Mikhail Khodorkovsky: Treat Putin as a bandit By David M. Herszenhornlast_img read more

Stream String Cheese Incident, Twiddle, Dopapod Live From The Red Rocks

first_imgThe String Cheese Incident is gearing up for a huge 3-night run this weekend along with support from Twiddle, Dopapod and Nahko and Medicine for the People. If you can’t make it out to Colorado, stream the shows from the comfort of your couch!Listen To String Cheese Incident’s Catchy New Tune, ‘Stop, Drop, Roll’In anticipation of the upcoming streams, TourGigs is currently offering a free stream of String Cheese’s set from Saturday of this year’s Electric Forest. Watch it here, and tune in July 24-26 to live stream what is sure to be an epic three nights at one of the most spectacular and historic venues in the country.last_img

GRC celebrates 10th anniversary with panel discussion

first_imgLast night, the Gender Relations Center (GRC), along with Shades of Ebony, hosted an alumni panel to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the GRC. The five panelists were crucial to the founding of the GRC and included Kaitlyn Redfield Ortiz ‘06, Zach Ortiz ‘06, John Corker ‘07, Lizzi Shappell ‘07 and Heather Rakoczy Russell ‘93. Christine Gebhardt, director of the GRC, served as the moderator.The panel began with a discussion of what prompted the panelists to realize an organization such as the GRC was necessary. Redfield Ortiz said the behavior of a male classmate made her realize what a problem gender relations were at Notre Dame.“I was sitting in my freshmen writing class, and this guy had a shirt on like one of those old Snickers commercials, except it said ‘Hungry? Grab a SMCer,” she said. “I was shocked that this was acceptable, so it seemed kind of natural that this is what we would work for.”The panelists then talked about the issues they faced when building up the GRC. Rakoczy Russell said it was hard to collaborate with other groups because they had preconceived notions about what they were standing for.“The Gender Relation Center, and probably me specifically, were regarded with suspicion by pretty much everyone,” she said. “Gender was a really loaded term at the time and it was really hard to get anyone to sign on as a panel.” Rosie LoVoi Panel of alumni discuss issues they faced as members of the GRC during their time at Notre Dame in Geddes Hall on Monday.They also talked about their early goals for the GRC and the primary issues they were trying to combat. Shappell said they tried to emphasize reaching as broad an audience as possible.“One thing that I found was really important was trying to bring the Gender Relations Center, for all of its impressions and and people’s stereotypes about whether we were left or we were right, or what we were doing, was to make the GRC more mainstream,” she said.Ortiz, one of the founders of Men Against Violence (MAV), said another goal was to get men more involved in issues that males did not associate as “men’s issues.”“We were still at a time where sexual assault was still considered to be a women’s issue,” he said. “It was very interesting to see how different groups within campus would try to work together with these different ideologies.”Corker, another founder of MAV, said there was a problem with men simply ignoring issues pertaining to gender.“There was a tacit, cop-out view of ‘that sort of stuff doesn’t happen at Notre Dame’ and ‘I don’t do that kind of stuff so I don’t need to take a stand against it,’” he said.To close, Corker encouraged students to be proactive about finding and creating dialogue about gender issues. He said students need to challenge their own ideas.“Don’t just be open to, but seek out conversations with other people for the express purpose of challenging the beliefs that you may have, that you may feel are right or are valuable,” he said.Tags: 10th anniversary, GRC, MAVlast_img read more

Texas expansion of medical cannabis nears finish line after Senate approval

first_imgSee also: Texas House passes limited medical cannabis bill Marijuana advocates were handed an unlikely victory Wednesday after the Texas Senate advanced a bill greatly expanding the list of debilitating medical conditions that can legally be treated by cannabis oil in the state.Although the upper chamber’s leadership once opposed bills that would relax the state’s pot policies, the Senate unanimously voted in favor of a bill by state Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, that expands the state’s Compassionate Use Program, which currently allows the sale of cannabis oil only to people with intractable epilepsy who meet certain requirements.The bill now heads back to the Texas House, where lawmakers can either approve the Senate changes or opt to iron out their differences in a conference committee before lawmakers adjourn in five days. Klick did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether she’d accept the Senate changes to her bill. “Why aren’t veterans who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, included in this bill?” asked state Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville.“We just don’t have the data — good scientific data — that supports for PTSD that we can put in the bill at this time,” Campbell responded. “To our veterans and our first responders: Thanks for speaking out. We hear you. But most importantly, we thank you for your service.“I hope — I hope — that we can get the definitive research necessary to be able to include PTSD, traumatic brain injury and those other illnesses that are very difficult to measure.”State Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, meanwhile, asked Campbell about the restraints on her legislation. A top concern: ensuring the bill wasn’t a gateway to Texas legalizing marijuana recreationally.“I come at this with a highly guarded sense of danger of the direction that this might take us to recreational use,” Birdwell said. “I wouldn’t be comfortable going any further than this because of what I’m seeing in Colorado, Washington and Oregon and what’s happening in those states. I am highly guarded.”“For those who are concerned this is a slippery slope —,” Campbell later began to say.“I’m more concerned it’s a cliff,” Birdwell retorted.Campbell repeatedly assured other senators, however, that she wouldn’t let the bill lead to any missteps — adding that it’s not her intention to raise the cap on the amount of THC allowed in medical cannabis without additional research and going so far as to say that she shared Birdwell’s concerns for the bill being a step toward marijuana legalization.“I am not for legalizing marijuana,” she said. “I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone.”The upper chamber’s passage of Klick’s bill came as a surprise to some marijuana advocacy groups, considering Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick previously said he was “wary of the various medicinal use proposals that could become a vehicle for expanding access to this drug.” When the bill was heard in a Senate committee last week, however, Campbell said Patrick “helped craft” the reworked version of the legislation.Expanding the Compassionate Use Act has drawn the support of some politically powerful players since the last legislative session. In March, a new group lobbying for medical marijuana, Texans for Expanded Access to Medical Marijuana, emerged with players who have some serious clout in the Capitol — including Allen Blakemore, a top political consultant for Patrick.The Republican Party of Texas also approved a plank last year asking the Legislature to “improve the 2015 Compassionate Use Act to allow doctors to determine the appropriate use of cannabis to certified patients.”Although some marijuana advocacy groups lamented that certain conditions weren’t included in the House bill, many praised the Senate for advancing the legislation.“HB 3703 will ensure more patients have access to medicine which will have a positive impact on their lives,” said Jax Finkel, executive director of Texas NORML, the Austin chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “Many more patients are still being left behind, however, and will now have to wait until the next legislative session in 2021 for their next opportunity to find relief.”Disclosure: Allen Blakemore has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues. The version of the bill approved by the Senate would expand the list of conditions that qualify for the medicine to include all forms of epilepsy; seizure disorders; multiple sclerosis; spasticity; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS; terminal cancer; autism and incurable neurodegenerative diseases. The bill also axes a requirement in current statute that says those wanting access to the medicine need the approval of two licensed neurologists, rather than one.“This bill is about compassion,” said state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, the Senate sponsor of the bill. “For patients participating in the [Compassionate Use Program], they have had a remarkable and life-altering change because of this. That’s compassion.”Under Campbell’s version of the bill, the Texas Department on Public Safety would still have oversight of the Compassionate Use Program. Her revised bill also keeps intact the 0.5% cap on the amount of the psychoactive element in marijuana, known as THC, that medical cannabis products are legally allowed to contain. Campbell’s version also axes a provision in Klick’s bill that calls for a research program to assess how effective cannabis is as a medical treatment option for various conditions.Although the Texas Senate overwhelmingly passed the legislation, lawmakers questioned Campbell about potential shortfalls of her bill. Those concerns ranged from Democrats curious as to why the legislation wasn’t broader to Republicans wary the legislation would open the door to the state legalizing recreational marijuana. By Alex SamuelsThe Texas Tribunetexastribune.orglast_img read more

Women’s hockey ready to retool for next season

first_imgWomen’s hockey ready to retool for next seasonThe Gophers were just three games away from a chance to hoist their eighth national championship trophy before the season was canceled. Kamaan RichardsGophers Head Coach Brad Frost addresses the team during a timeout at Ridder Arena on Friday, Jan. 17. Minnesota suffered a 1-4 loss to Ohio State. (Kamaan Richards / Minnesota Daily) Matthew KennedyApril 18, 2020Jump to CommentsShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via EmailPrintThe NCAA women’s hockey season came to an untimely end Thursday, March 12 — right before the NCAA Tournament was set to kick off.The Gophers were coming off of a close overtime loss in the WCHA Tournament semifinals to eventual WCHA champions Ohio State and were scheduled for a rematch against the Buckeyes in the first round of the NCAA tournament before the cancellation. “It’s tough because I really liked how our team was playing,” head coach Brad Frost said. “We were very excited to get another crack at Ohio State. If you win or lose, you know you left all you had on the ice and did whatever you could, and that can give you closure. With the abrupt ending we had this season and not having a ‘last practice,’ it’s very anticlimactic to end a season that way.”Still, Frost deemed the season “successful.” The Gophers never fell outside the top five in the NCAA rankings. Several Gophers also garnered individual accolades.  Senior goaltender Sydney Scobee won WCHA Goalie of the Year, freshman Madeline Wethington won WCHA Rookie of the Year and Alex Woken was named as the WCHA Student Athlete of the Year. Sarah Potomak led the WCHA with a +39 plus/minus rating and finished her senior season ranked No. 11 all-time in points scored in program history (179 points with 65 goals and 114 assists). Olivia Knowles also led all WCHA defense at +35 plus/minus rating for the year. Additionally, Minnesota’s 3-0 win over Minnesota State Mankato on February 22 was Frost’s 400th career win as a head coach. Frost’s career coaching record stands at 402-76-34 (all allocated at Minnesota). He ranks fifth among all-time NCAA women’s hockey coaches in total wins. And while the Gophers will lose Scobee and Woken to graduation, the team returns a lot of talent from a junior-heavy 2019-20 team.  Both defensive starters Emily Brown and Olivia Knowles will return along with leading scorer Grace Zumwinkle. “[We] have a lot of positives to look forward to next season with a bunch of names returning. It should be another great time on the ice,” Brown said. The Gophers should be back at full strength next season and ready for another shot at a championship run with a “great” recruiting class, according to Frost. Minnesota brings in five forwards (Addie Burton, Anne Cherkowski, Tella Jungels, Abbey Murphy and Audrey Wethington) and two defenders (Josey Dunne and Maggie Nicholson).last_img read more

Michelin Execs Apparently on Missing Flight

first_imgWith more than 20 years of experience across multiple industries and functional areas, deMoulpied has particular expertise in organizations with complex technical products. Combined, his prior positions have required a spectrum of skills in corporate strategy, operations improvement, product quality, and revenue cycle management. He has an impressive history of utilizing data driven problem solving (Lean Six Sigma) and project management (PMP and CSM) to achieve strategic goals surrounding customer satisfaction, operational efficiency and improved profit.  LSI President Brett Tennar says, “Steve’s success in developing operational strategies that improves the bottom line, builds teamwork, reduces waste and ensures quality product development and distribution checks many of the boxes of what we were looking for in a COO. This, coupled with his career in the Air Force working with highly technical systems and his in-depth understanding of Lean Six Sigma and Business Process Management sealed our offer. As our tagline states, our products are Powered by Science. This data driven approach is one reason why our company has grown exponentially as we employ the most advanced technology to product development. I am confident that Steve is the right person to drive operational strategy for our diverse and growing brands.” Advertisement Various news reports say that at least two ­ maybe three – Groupe Michelin executives were aboard an Air France flight that disappeared en route from Brazil to France early this morning.AdvertisementClick Here to Read MoreAdvertisement Dow Jones reports that two executives – the head of Latin American operations and a computing manager for Brazil – were on the Air France Airbus A330 that disappeared over the Atlantic just hours after taking off from Rio de Janeiro. Meanwhile, AFP reported that a third Michelin executive from its corporate offices in France was also on the flight. Officials say that the flight apparently lost all electronics after hitting a sudden, unexpected storm, knocking out its communications and radar devices. Currently, search teams are scouring the Atlantic off the South American coast. (Courtesy of Tire Review),Lubrication Specialties Inc. (LSI), manufacturer of Hot Shot’s Secret brand of performance additives and oils, recently announced the expansion of senior leadership. Steve deMoulpied joins LSI as the company’s chief operating officer (COO). AdvertisementClick Here to Read MoreAdvertisement DeMoulpied has a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Management from the United States Air Force Academy and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Dayton in Marketing and International Business. He served six years with the USAF overseeing the development of technology used on fighter aircraft and the E-3 Surveillance aircraft, finishing his career honorably as Captain. DeMoulpied comes to LSI from the Private Client Services practice of Ernst & Young where he managed strategy & operations improvement engagements for privately held client businesses. Some of his prior roles include VP of strategic development, director of strategic initiatives, and Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt at OptumHealth, UnitedHealth Group’s health services business, as well as Lean Six Sigma Black Belt at General Electric, where he applied operations improvement principles to customer service, supply chain and product development. A successful entrepreneur, deMoulpied is also the founder of PrestoFresh, a Cleveland-based e-commerce food/grocery business. last_img read more

Executive Changes at Navistar

first_imgWARRENVILLE, Ill. — Navistar Inc. has announced that Al Saltiel, former president of NC2 Global, LLC, has returned to Navistar, Inc. as chief marketing officer. NC2, is the 50/50 global joint venture between Caterpillar and Navistar, which develops, manufactures and distributes commercial trucks outside North America and India. Prior to his two-year post at NC2, Saltiel had served as vice president, marketing for Navistar. AdvertisementClick Here to Read MoreAdvertisement Phil Christman, Navistar’s president for global truck operations and a member of the NC2 board of directors, has been named as president of NC2 to leverage opportunities in growth markets.   “Phil’s product and industry knowledge and Al’s ability to advance Navistar’s brand strategy make both men well suited for their new roles,” said Daniel Ustian, Navistar’s chairman, president and CEO. “During his time at NC2, Al did an outstanding job of introducing Cat and International products and dealers in key markets. He’ll bring bold ideas to our mission of growing Navistar brands globally. Phil’s extensive experience growing our global business makes him the ideal leader to take our JV with Caterpillar to the next level.” In Saltiel’s new role as chief marketing officer, he will manage Navistar’s marketing resources and will have worldwide responsibility for driving Navistar’s expanding portfolio of brands. Navistar also announced that Jim Spangler has been named chief communications officer and will lead the company’s corporate communications globally. “We are proud to have Jim join the Navistar team and are confident that his proven leadership and experience in our industry will help continue to build Navistar’s reputation in the global marketplace,” said Ustian. Advertisement A 26-year communications veteran, Spangler brings to Navistar a wide range of communications experience. He spent nearly 12 years with Tenneco, where he served as vice president of global communications and was responsible for corporate positioning, communications strategy and policy, executive communications, employee communications, media relations and public relations. Before joining Tenneco, Jim was director of global public relations and media relations for Arthur Andersen. Spangler also spent nearly eight years at Amoco Corp., in roles of increasing responsibility within the company’s public and government affairs group. He began his career as a reporter at City News Bureau of Chicago. Spangler holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Illinois. He is a member of the Arthur Page Society and the Public Relations Society of America.last_img read more

L&G puts Bloomberg HQ on the block

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Emerson completes acquisition of Prosys Inc.

first_imgGet instant access to must-read content today!To access hundreds of features, subscribe today! At a time when the world is forced to go digital more than ever before just to stay connected, discover the in-depth content our subscribers receive every month by subscribing to gasworld.Don’t just stay connected, stay at the forefront – join gasworld and become a subscriber to access all of our must-read content online from just $270. Subscribelast_img