In other news, independent investigators found that Washington state Rep. Matt Shea helped plan the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016, calling Shea's actions "domestic terrorism." Shea also promoted violence against the U.S. government during the Bundy ranch standoff in Nevada according to the report. Washington's top Republican is calling on Shea to resign.
Meanwhile, Facebook says the pro-Trump conspiracy website The Epoch Times has been using artificial intelligence programs to create fake Americans and then used the fake identifies to push their own stories.
The network was called “The BL” and was run by Vietnamese users posing as Americans, using fake photos generated by algorithms to simulate real identities. The Epoch Media group, which pushes a variety of pro-Trump conspiracy theories, spent $9.5 million on ads to spread content through the now-suspended pages and groups.
“What’s new here is that this is purportedly a U.S.-based media company leveraging foreign actors posing as Americans to push political content. We’ve seen it a lot with state actors in the past,” Facebook’s head of security policy, Nathaniel Gleiche, said in an interview.
I guess we don't need Russian troll farms if American-owned troll farms are willing to defraud their own neighbors and fellow citizens.
Finally, the White House and China told two very different stories about today's phone call between Trump and Xi Jinping.
WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump spoke on Friday with Chinese President Xi Jinping and claimed progress on issues from trade to North Korea and Hong Kong, but China said Xi accused the United States of interfering in its internal affairs. [...]
China’s Xinhua news agency said Xi told Trump that China is deeply concerned about “the negative words and deeds” of the United States on issues related to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet.
“These actions have interfered in China’s internal affairs, harmed China’s interests and undermined mutual trust and cooperation between the two sides,” Xinhua said.
Programming note... I will be offline until after the holidays when we'll all hopefully be charged and ready to face an election year.
As someone experiencing their first Christmas without my mother and my best friend, make the most of what you have because it could be gone tomorrow. Everything will be gone if we don't all vote next year.
Okay, that was depressing, but seriously -- drink some eggnog, imbibe your favorite spirits, and whatever you do, have fun doing it.
I may not tweet much over the break, but you can always follow me here.