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Instagram deserves more scrutiny after Russian troll farm investigation

Instagram played a much larger role in Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 elections than Facebook initially let on. That’s one of many striking findings of a bipartisan Senate investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. 

The Senate Intelligence Committee released the second volume of its report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and the report makes clear that Instagram played a large role in the Russia-backed Internet Research Agency’s “information warfare campaign.”

“On the basis of engagement and audience following measures, the Instagram social media platform was the most effective tool used by the IRA to conduct its information operations campaign,” the report notes

This is striking in part because Facebook has long downplayed Instagram’s role in Russia’s election interference. The company previously told Congress that, according to its estimates, only 20 million people say IRA posts on Instagram (Facebook’s general counsel told Congress the IRA reached 126 million on Facebook proper.) 

“Instagram was the most effective tool used by the IRA”

But the Senate report makes clear that the IRA’s real influence on Instagram was much higher. The top two most popular IRA Instagram accounts alone generated more than 46 million interactions, according to the report. “In total, over the course of more than two years spent as an instrument for foreign influence operations, 12 of the IRA’s Instagram accounts amassed over 100,000 followers, and nearly half of the IRA’s 133 Instagram accounts each had more than 10,000 followers,” the report says.

In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson acknowledged that its previous assessment of IRA activity on Instagram was “somewhat incomplete,” but suggested that some Instagram users who interacted with the accounts in question also interacted with IRA content on Facebook. 

“As we said previously, our data regarding the number of Instagram users who were reached by IRA content is somewhat incomplete, but based on the data available, we assess that 20 million unique Americans saw an IRA post on Instagram that didn’t see one on Facebook,” the spokesperson said.

The Senate report is not the first time questions have been raised about the IRA’s use of Instagram. Researcher Jonathan Albright previously found that Instagram was a much bigger source of Russia-backed disinformation than Facebook had previously claimed. 

“Facebook’s sibling property has largely been left as an afterthought,” Albright wrote in 2017, referring to Instagram. “Instagram is a major distributor and re-distributor of IRA propaganda that’s at the very least on par with Twitter. In my opinion, the platform is far more impactful than Twitter for content-based ‘meme’ engagement — especially for certain minority segments of the American population.” (Facebook subsequently shut off Albright’s ability to access data he used in his initial research.) 

But the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report proves that Albright and others were right to push for more information about the IRA’s use of Instagram, which we now know was far more widespread than previously claimed. 

UFO sighting: ET hunter spots ‘alien city’ in NASA photo of Earth’s moon 

Scott Waring took to his etdatabase.com to expound on the alien conspiracy claims, which he claims closely resembles a previous purported find. He said: “What we are looking at are structures on the Moon’s polar region. “I have seen such white shiny spot before on dwarf planet Ceres.”

Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt lying between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

These alien structures are almost impossible to see, yet they are there

Scott Waring

He added: “These alien structures are almost impossible to see, yet they are there.”

Zooming into the NASA image, he continued: “You can see areas where the top part of the Moon been peeled off and buildings are visible underneath.

“A lot of viewers claim such images are a product of pixilation, but it is not.”

Waring proceeds to use photo editing software to manipulate the archived 30MB NASA Moon photo.

READ MORE: ‘Alien disk’ spotted flying over New York – ‘Undeniable proof’

ufo sighting alien hunter spots alien city nasa photo earth moon building

UFO sighting: UFO hunter Scott Waring believes he has discovered another alien base on the Moon (Image: NASA/Getty)

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UFO sighting: Bizarre lunar anomalies have been spotted in resurfaced NASA photos (Image: NASA)

He said: “You can see it is a polar region and as we are looking at it.”

The alien life enthusiast claimed the inner circle of the original NASA photo is always invisible from Earth.

He said: “The dark shadowy spot in the centre is something we can’t see.

“And the little spots that resemble pixilation are actually structures.”

Waring then adds some darkness to sections of the photo to help see the strange lunar anomaly more clearly.

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He said: “Look at that, it is like a giant alien air vent, leading to an alien base below the ground.

“It is not an air vent, of course, but is more likely a doorway.

“Or it could be an entrance to some sort of space port.”

The circular lines on the original NASA photo are then used by Waring to contrast between pixilation and the lunar anomalies.

Waring moves on to examine bizarre bubble-shaped lumps in an other section of the old NASA photo.

Moon

UFO sighting: The Moon formed about 4.5 billion years ago (Image: Getty)

NASA-Moon-Apollo-photo

NASA: The US-based space agency has found no evidence of aliens on the Moon (Image: Getty)

He said: “Now, these ones are black and stand out really well.”

“I will have to add some colour in order to make them more visible.

“I hate doing this, but it is the only way to see the structures in detail

Waring believes its is only a matter of time until humans mimic such sophisticated construction.

“When we imagine an alien city, we see structures like our own, but in 1 million or even 1 billion years are humans really going to make such structures or are we going to change everything about them?”

The unfounded claims rapidly attracted score of comments to Waring’s YouTube channel.

YouTube viewer George Mair appeared to be convinced, writing: “An amazing find Scott it looks like a giant city of some sort? Definitely intelligently made structures?

And Paul Blake was also impressed by the highly dubious discovery, adding: “Amazing Scott, we wonder how much longer can NASA and Gov keep these obvious images under wraps?”

MH370 analysis: How debris rules out key theory – but plane could still have landed

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing on March 8, 2014, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. The official investigation concluded that the plane most likely ended up in the Indian Ocean. This is in part due to communications between the plane and a satellite belonging to British satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat, which indicate it flew out over the sea.

There have also been three confirmed pieces of MH370 washed up on islands in the Indian Ocean and on the west coast of Africa.

The first of these to be found was the right wing flaperon, which was discovered in July 2015 on a beach in Saint Denis on Reunion Island.

A flaperon is a section from the plane’s wing that helps to control speed and position.

In September 2015, French judicial authorities who examined it confirmed that it came from MH370.

READ MORE: MH370 revelation: Why experts think plane ‘could have landed safely’

According to a 2019 Channel 5 documentary entitled ‘Flight MH370’, they found crucial information as part of their analysis. 

The narrator said: “Does the wreckage we know came from MH370 tell us anything about the plane’s final moments? 

“Analysis of the wing’s flaperon suggests it was not configured for a landing – or a ditching.”

A water landing is a euphemism for crash-landing into water an aircraft not specifically designed for this purpose – in other words, not a floatplane – an event formally termed as ditching.

Mr Gleave explained how planes are designed to ditch and float, as demonstrated by successful examples of this in the past.

The most famous is perhaps the Miracle on the Hudson, when two commercial pilots reacted well to an engine failure and managed to glide their plane to a ditching on a river.

US Airways Flight 1549 departed from New York City’s LaGuardia Airport in 2009, but collided with a flock of geese, causing their engine to fail.

The pilots landed on the River Hudson of Midtown Manhattan and all 155 people on board were successfully rescued with no fatalities.

The incident was later made into a successful film called Sully, featuring Tom Hanks as Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenbeger.

Mr Gleave said: “We saw with the Miracle on the Hudson, the Sully film, that aeroplanes are actually designed to ditch and they’re designed to float, certainly for a significant period of time to allow everybody to get out onto life rafts.

“So [a hijacker would] want to crash the aeroplane in a way that ensure it didn’t float, because then it would be found. 

Another reason it is unlikely MH370 ditched is, if it had, it would have landed on the surface of the water and probably found by search and rescue missions.

Asteroid shock claim: The EXACT location ‘God of Chaos’ Apophis to strike Earth revealed?

Research scientist and official representative for Billy Meier, Michael Horn, insisted that the Apophis asteroid would definitely hit planet Earth and cause mass destruction wherever it hit. During an interview with Express.co.uk, he claimed that he and his team have narrowed down the area to between the North Sea and the Black Sea. He argued the impact of the asteroid could result in human life extinction due to the varied after impact effects.

Mr Horn said: “There are two things we are speaking about here, a massive asteroid collision and the otherwise certain collision impact from Apophis.

“We know, in terms of the research time that I have, will be between the North Sea and the Black Sea, which isn’t too far from the UK.

“To spell out such an impact, we have taken the trouble to illustrate this information, we have put it online in comic book form so people can have a graphic sense of what this means.

“The descriptive words are probably even more important because of the tremendous damage.

DON’T MISS: NASA preparing for ‘colossal God of Chaos’ asteroid arrival by 2029

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Michael Horn revealed where he and his team believe Apophis will strike Earth (Image: Getty)

Michael Horn nasa apophis asteroid

Michael Horn has insisted that Apophis will eventually hit the planet (Image: N/A)

“If and when Apophis, let us say specifically in the area between the North Sea and the Black Sea.

“It will cause a crack, cracking in the Earth’s crust whether it hits by the sea or nearby.

“It will cause a massive release of gasses, there will be pieces of the asteroid and the Earth that would be hurled back into space.

“There is tremendous heat as a thing like that comes in meaning fires and millions of people perish in the immediate area.

NASA space Apophis asteroid

An impact from Apophis will likely prove to be massively devastating to the planet (Image: Getty)

“Then the asteroid impact produces a possibly global effect.

“From everything from nuclear winter kind of phenomenon where the sky is darkened and gasses migrating damage to the seas.

“Every kind of consequential complication from a massive object coming in at enormous speeds and glowing hot in the atmosphere and impacting the Earth.

READ MORE:

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NASA apophis god of chaos

NASA has created a simulation of their expected path of the Apophis asteroid (Image: NASA)

“We don’t want to see that, nobody does so whether it is between the North Sea and the Black Sea or any place if the Apophis asteroid hits it will cause massive damage.”

NASA has already begun preparations for the arrival of asteroid 99942 Apophis – dubbed the ‘God of Chaos’ asteroid – which will skim past the earth in 10 years according to the space agency.

The asteroid measures 340 meters across and will pass within just 19,000 miles of Earth’s surface.

Apophis is one of the largest asteroids to pass so near to the Earth’s surface and a collision with the planet has the potential to be devastating for all life on Earth.

Even SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has offered his views. 

Sharing an Express.co.uk article about Apophis he warned Earth “currently has no defence” for the impact of a “big rock”.

He said: “Great name! Wouldn’t worry about this particular one, but a big rock will hit Earth eventually and we currently have no defence.”

12 Years After ‘Grace Kelly,’ Mika Turns Personal Trauma Into Joyous Pop Once More

After more than a decade as a falsetto-voiced purveyor of pop music, Mika is hitting the reset button.

On “Grace Kelly,” off his 2007 debut album, “Life in Cartoon Motion,” the Lebanese-born British singer announced he’d gone “identity mad” as he crooned about adopting different identities, namely the 1950s screen siren of the song’s title and Freddie Mercury. (The song itself is a nod to his frustrations with studio executives who wanted to restyle his image.)

By contrast, the title of Mika’s fifth album is “My Name Is Michael Holbrook,” the first time he’s formally referenced part of his birth name ― Michael Holbrook Penniman Jr. ― in a musical project. 

“It was written as medicine,” the 36-year-old told HuffPost. “I needed to re-find that young guy who was writing songs in his apartment at 17 or 18. I felt this urgent sense, this need to reconnect with the elation and joy of making music after a good three years of having lost that sensation. At a certain point, you’re like, ‘Well, who am I, really?’ So I kind of used my legal name in order to … write about myself with more freedom.” 

Mika delves into personal territory on his fifth album, “My Name Is Michael Holbrook,” released last week.



Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

Mika delves into personal territory on his fifth album, “My Name Is Michael Holbrook,” released last week.

Released last week, “My Name Is Michael Holbrook” proves Mika hasn’t lost his flair for disco-tinged exuberance. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the album’s leadoff single, “Ice Cream,” a summery bop laden with sexual innuendo. “Tiny Love,” meanwhile, harks back to Elton John or “Bohemian Rhapsody”-era Queen with its anthemic choruses and vocal harmonies. 

But as its title suggests, “My Name Is Michael Holbrook” is also an intensely personal affair. “Paloma” is a contemplative ballad Mika wrote about his sister, who nearly died after falling from an apartment window and impaling herself on a fence post. The sultry, if deceptively titled, “Sanremo” was inspired by the adolescent awkwardness he experienced at age 13 while visiting the coastal Italian city of the title with his family.

The “Sanremo” video, which dropped Oct. 4, interprets the song’s escapist lyrics in a wildly different way. In it, Mika plays a closeted gay man in the 1950s who, after kissing his wife and daughter goodbye, ventures through the city streets and into a speakeasy-style bar filled with sailors and drag queens, in search of a male companion. The video, viewable below, concludes with Mika, who has been dodging suspicious glances from passersby, being stopped by a police officer as audio from what sounds like a vintage radio broadcast warns of the “dangers” of homosexuality.

The narrative of the “Sanremo” video could be seen as a nod to Mika’s own trajectory as an artist. He came out publicly as gay in 2012, though the media had been scrutinizing the queer subtext of his work for years. “It’s only through my music that I’ve found the strength to come to terms with my sexuality beyond the context of just my lyrics,” he said at the time. “This is my real life.”

Much as Mika looked to Mercury and George Michael for inspiration, he has, in turn, helped pave the way for the likes of Troye Sivan and Sam Smith, who have not shied away from expressing their sexuality and gender identity through their music. Still, he believes LGBTQ artists continue to face a “complicated” reality when it comes to the world of mainstream pop.

“I refuse to define the challenges associated with being LGBTQ purely with media acceptance,” he said. “It’s easier to know you’re going to be given a shot, and from that point of view, you’re going to face less discrimination in the media sense or the music industry sense — discrimination which I definitely suffered, and a lot of artists did much more than me. But that doesn’t mean it’s simpler. Every person’s journey is atypical.” 

“I refuse to define the challenges associated with being LGBTQ purely with media acceptance,” Mika said. 



NurPhoto via Getty Images

“I refuse to define the challenges associated with being LGBTQ purely with media acceptance,” Mika said. 

Mika’s defiance of convention has always been present in his live performances, too. In September, he embarked on his six-date Tiny Love Tiny Tour in Brooklyn, New York, with a high-energy set that was, as always, delightfully campy. He’ll return to the concert stage Nov. 10 in London, where he kicks off his Revelation Tour across Europe. 

One thing he isn’t deeply concerned with, however, is commercial viability. After the global breakout of “Life in Cartoon Motion,” his three subsequent releases — 2009’s “The Boy Who Knew Too Much,” 2012’s “The Origin of Love” and 2015’s “No Place in Heaven” — garnered critical acclaim but did not yield an across-the-board hit like “Grace Kelly.” 

If you’re finding yourself a niche artist — which I am — really go to the niche.
Mika

The flip side of that cooling reception, Mika said, is creative freedom. In fact, he’d like to divert even further from the mainstream by writing a movie musical or staging an opera in the future. 

“If you’re finding yourself a niche artist — which I am — really go to the niche,” he said. “Think of 15 people. Think of 100 people. What would those 15 or 100 people think?”

“I have no delusions about commercial grandeur,” he added. “My delusions of grandeur are purely storytelling or conceptual ones, and thank God I have those. Otherwise I wouldn’t want to get up in the morning.”   

Kaley Cuoco Reveals She Still Doesn’t Live With Her Husband

Kaley Cuoco and her husband of over a year are pulling a Gwyneth Paltrow

No, they’re not consciously uncoupling ― but they are consciously not living together at the moment.

The “Big Bang Theory” star opened up about her living situation with Karl Cook during an interview Saturday at the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Los Angeles.

“Life is about balance,” Cuoco told Extra over the weekend, before explaining why the couple isn’t shacked up together quite yet.

“It’s great — we are building our dream house, so we’re gonna be in our home together very soon. But as of now, it’s worked out fine for us. I have no problem with it,” she added. That puts her in the company of Paltrow, who also didn’t live with her husband until about a year after they tied the knot.

Karl Cook and Kaley Cuoco attend the 76th annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 6 in Beverly Hills.



Frazer Harrison via Getty Images

Karl Cook and Kaley Cuoco attend the 76th annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 6 in Beverly Hills.

Cuoco previously spoke about the pair’s new house and her “unconventional marriage” with Cook, who is a professional equestrian.

“We have different locations that we are at a lot,” the actor told E! News in August. “We are not together every single day.”

“It works well for us,” Cuoco said, adding that once their new house is complete the two will be “under the same roof forever.”

Paltrow revealed that she didn’t live with her husband, producer Brad Falchuk, so they could each let their kids adjust to their new, blended family. The actor has two children ― Apple and Moses Martin ― with ex-husband Chris Martin. Falchuk also has two kids ― Isabella and Brody ― from his previous marriage to Suzanne Bukinik.

“We took a year to let everybody [in the family] take it in and let the dust settle, and now we’re moving in together this month,” the actor said in an InStyle interview for the magazine’s September issue.

She previously said her friends thought the arrangement sounded pretty perfect.

“Oh, all my married friends say that the way we live sounds ideal and we shouldn’t change a thing,” Paltrow told The Times of London.

Anthony Scaramucci Makes A Bold Prediction About How It Ends For Trump

Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House communications director who infamously lasted just 10 days working for President Donald Trump, says his old boss is toast. 

Over the summer, Scaramucci came out against Trump and vowed to work against his reelection. 

“It is imperative that Americans unite to prevent him from serving another four years in office,” Scaramucci wrote in The Washington Post.

He also said in a podcast interview that he could turn 5% to 8% of Trump voters against the president, more than enough to swing the election.

But will that effort be needed? As news broke Tuesday that the House was launching a formal impeachment inquiry, Scaramucci said Trump is “gone.” He then suggested that the “Art of the Deal” author could negotiate his way out of Washington:

Also on Tuesday, Scaramucci told Vanity Fair that he was embarking on a speaking tour of swing states and launching two political action committees. One would work to end gun violence. 

“There is definitely a bridge that can be built between the two parties that maintains the sanctity and the original mechanism and content of the Second Amendment, but also reduces the domestic terrorism that’s taking place in the United States now through the mass shootings,” he told the magazine. 

The other PAC would focus on restoring civility “to end the coarseness and to end the bullying and to end the nonsense.”

Scaramucci’s brief White House tenure in 2017 was marked by some coarseness of his own.   

I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock,” he told The New Yorker, referring to the then-chief strategist to Trump. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country.”

Scaramucci was fired days after the interview, but Bannon didn’t last very long either: He was pushed out a few weeks later. 

Terence Crawford to Errol Spence, ‘Take Off the Panties and Sign the Contract’

Blind man sued Domino’s over its website. Here’s what the Supreme Court had to say.

Ordering food online is supposed to be convenient— but Domino’s Pizza needs to ensure that it’s convenient for everyone. 

The Supreme Court passed on reviewing a case from the pizza chain Monday, which questioned whether it has to make its website and mobile app accessible for people with disabilities. 

This decision is a victory for blind people and those with limited vision who need to access websites and apps just as easily as any sighted person. The decision could also inspire others to sue retailers to make sure their websites and mobile apps are accessible.

The case, known as Domino’s Pizza LLC. v. Guillermo Robles, started when a blind man, Guillermo Robles, sued Domino’s in 2016 after he was unable to order food from the pizza chain using screen reading technology. His attorneys cited the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit agreed with Robles, arguing under the ADA that customers should be able to access “the services of a public accommodation.” In this case, that means Domino’s website and mobile app. 

The pizza chain, on the other hand, argued that the ADA shouldn’t apply to online spaces.

Domino’s wanted the Supreme Court to review the 9th Circuit’s decision, but because it won’t, the lower court’s ruling will remain in place. 

“The blind and visually impaired must have access to websites and apps to fully and equally participate in modern society – something nobody disputes,” Robles’ lawyer, Joe Manning, said in a statement to CNBC. “This outcome furthers that critical objective for them and is a credit to our society.”

Christina Brandt-Young, managing attorney at Disability Rights Advocates, told Mashable that the ADA should indeed include websites. “[The ADA] always applied to effective communication between businesses and their customers and that’s what Domino’s uses its websites for — to communicate with their customers.”

Predictably, Domino’s is disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision.

“Creating a nation-wide standard will eliminate the tsunami of website accessibility litigation that has been filed by plaintiffs’ lawyers exploiting the absence of a standard for their own benefit, and chart a common path for both businesses and non-profit institutions to follow in meeting the accessibility needs of the disabled community,” Domino’s said in an online statement

Since Domino’s wants to keep fighting, it’ll have to do so in the lower courts. If differing judicial opinions arise then the Supreme Court could reconsider and take up the case in the future. Brandt-Young says that’s unlikely, though.

This isn’t the first time, companies have come under fire over their allegedly inaccessible websites. As the Wall Street Journal reported, over 240 businesses in the U.S. were sued over this issue since the beginning of 2015. 

While many of these companies settled, Domino’s seems to be bracing itself for the long run. 

UPDATE: Oct. 7, 2019, 5:19 p.m. EDT Updated with comment from Christina Brandt-Young, managing attorney at Disability Rights Advocates.