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‘Easy mark’ Americans fell for Russian troll tweets nine times more often than any other country: analysis

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Americans were easily suckered by Russian propaganda in the 2016 election, allowing themselves to be duped by trolls much more frequently than Europeans, reports the Daily Beast in a new piece that analyzes how the output of Kremlin troll farms was received.

The Russian propaganda was “nine times more effective than its disinformation in Russian,” the report says, because Russians are smarter about identifying it.

The analysis follows Twitter releasing details of over nine million tweets associated with 3,841 different accounts that Twitter’s investigators linked to the Russia’s intelligence agency. That dataset includes 5,708,020 original tweets and 3,333,168 retweeted by the Russians.

Former NSA official Ryan Fox said the Russians have long been trying trying to do stuff like this in their own sphere of influence but that the United States was “a far better environment for it to succeed.”

“Poland, Estonia, Ukraine, Georgia, they know Russia’s coming after them,” Fox told the Beast. “They’ve been culturally trained to recognize Russia as a threat, so the skepticism of people in that region is pretty high.”

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In every language it operates other than English, the Russians got an average of 1.73 retweets, likes or replies, the Beast found. Meanwhile, tweets aimed at Americans and some Brits got an average of 15.25 engagements over the same period.

It wasn’t just fake news that was a concern, either, The Beast found. “Weaponized truth,” which includes an element of truth but which fits into a highly partisan narrative, was the most effective tool.

“The conversation after the election was more about fake news, and not the content that was a form of weaponized truth, that picked at narratives that people want to believe and that have an element of truth to them,” said Fox.

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Jon Stewart blasts ‘abomination’ of Rand Paul trying to ‘balance the budget on the backs of’ 9/11 responders

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On Wednesday's edition of Fox News' "Special Report," comedian and activist Jon Stewart slammed Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for blocking unanimous consent for a bill to support health care for 9/11 first responders.

"Pardon me if I'm not impressed in any way by Rand Paul's fiscal responsibility virtue signaling," said Stewart to anchor Bret Baier, who appeared on the show with first responder and activist John Feal.

He added that Paul's complaint, that the bill was unfunded, rings hollow given that he "added hundreds of billions of dollars to our deficit" with the GOP tax cuts for billionaires. He castigated Paul for trying to "balance the budget on the backs of the 9/11 first responder community."

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Republicans will never say that racism is ‘racism’ — basically because they’re racist

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Is there any expression of racism that Republicans will actually admit is racism? It's a question on a lot of progressive minds in the wake of Donald Trump demonizing female congresswomen of color with the "go back" canard that white nationalists and other assorted racists have long used to abuse anyone with heritage they dislike, whether that heritage is Jewish, Irish, Italian, African, Latin American or Muslim. Telling someone to "go back" is, in the ranks of racist statements, right up there with calling a person the N-word or some other rank slur. Yet, there still appears to be resistance among Republicans to admitting that is racism, which leads many on the left to wonder: If this doesn't count, then what could possibly count?

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This explains why Trump picked a fight with the four Congresswomen of color: analysis

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On one hand, President Donald Trump almost certainly chose to mark out Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) because of his own deep-seated racism.

But there is likely another reason he is doing it, wrote Aaron Blake of the Washington Post's "The Fix" on Wednesday: because his core voters hate them as much as he does.

Blake cited a new The Economist/YouGov poll of 2016 Trump voters' opinions on several politicians. "As you peruse it, it becomes clear that the conventional wisdom about why Trump picked these targets is right: They were ripe for motivating the GOP base ... All of them are better known among Republicans than Democrats, which suggests that a steady stream of coverage in conservative media has elevated them as potential Democratic bogeywomen. Trump is tilling fertile soil. And in fact, they might already be his most effective foils."

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