set up stakeouts to prevent illegal stuffing of ballot boxes. Officials overseeing elections are ramping up security at polling places.

Voting rights groups said they were increasingly concerned by Ms. Engelbrecht.

She has “taken the power of rhetoric to a new place,” said Sean Morales-Doyle, the acting director of voting rights at the Brennan Center, a nonpartisan think tank. “It’s having a real impact on the way lawmakers and states are governing elections and on the concerns we have on what may happen in the upcoming elections.”

Some of Ms. Engelbrecht’s former allies have cut ties with her. Rick Wilson, a Republican operative and Trump critic, ran public relations for Ms. Engelbrecht in 2014 but quit after a few months. He said she had declined to turn over data to back her voting fraud claims.

“She never had the juice in terms of evidence,” Mr. Wilson said. “But now that doesn’t matter. She’s having her uplift moment.”

a video of the donor meeting obtained by The New York Times. They did not elaborate on why.

announce a partnership to scrutinize voting during the midterms.

“The most important right the American people have is to choose our own public officials,” said Mr. Mack, a former sheriff of Graham County, Ariz. “Anybody trying to steal that right needs to be prosecuted and arrested.”

Steve Bannon, then chief executive of the right-wing media outlet Breitbart News, and Andrew Breitbart, the publication’s founder, spoke at her conferences.

True the Vote’s volunteers scrutinized registration rolls, watched polling stations and wrote highly speculative reports. In 2010, a volunteer in San Diego reported seeing a bus offloading people at a polling station “who did not appear to be from this country.”

Civil rights groups described the activities as voter suppression. In 2010, Ms. Engelbrecht told supporters that Houston Votes, a nonprofit that registered voters in diverse communities of Harris County, Texas, was connected to the “New Black Panthers.” She showed a video of an unrelated New Black Panther member in Philadelphia who called for the extermination of white people. Houston Votes was subsequently investigated by state officials, and law enforcement raided its office.

“It was a lie and racist to the core,” said Fred Lewis, head of Houston Votes, who sued True the Vote for defamation. He said he had dropped the suit after reaching “an understanding” that True the Vote would stop making accusations. Ms. Engelbrecht said she didn’t recall such an agreement.

in April 2021, did not respond to requests for comment. Ms. Engelbrecht has denied his claims.

In mid-2021, “2,000 Mules” was hatched after Ms. Engelbrecht and Mr. Phillips met with Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative provocateur and filmmaker. They told him that they could detect cases of ballot box stuffing based on two terabytes of cellphone geolocation data that they had bought and matched with video surveillance footage of ballot drop boxes.

Salem Media Group, the conservative media conglomerate, and Mr. D’Souza agreed to create and fund a film. The “2,000 Mules” title was meant to evoke the image of cartels that pay people to carry illegal drugs into the United States.

said after seeing the film that it raised “significant questions” about the 2020 election results; 17 state legislators in Michigan also called for an investigation into election results there based on the film’s accusations.

In Arizona, the attorney general’s office asked True the Vote between April and June for data about some of the claims in “2,000 Mules.” The contentions related to Maricopa and Yuma Counties, where Ms. Engelbrecht said people had illegally submitted ballots and had used “stash houses” to store fraudulent ballots.

According to emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, a True the Vote official said Mr. Phillips had turned over a hard drive with the data. The attorney general’s office said early this month that it hadn’t received it.

Last month, Ms. Engelbrecht and Mr. Phillips hosted an invitation-only gathering of about 150 supporters in Queen Creek, Ariz., which was streamed online. For weeks beforehand, they promised to reveal the addresses of ballot “stash houses” and footage of voter fraud.

Ms. Engelbrecht did not divulge the data at the event. Instead, she implored the audience to look to the midterm elections, which she warned were the next great threat to voter integrity.

“The past is prologue,” she said.

Alexandra Berzon contributed reporting.

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Justice Department OK With 1 Trump Pick For Mar-A-Lago Arbiter

The accommodation could help accelerate the selection process and shorten any delays caused by the appointment of the so-called special master.

The Justice Department said Monday that it was willing to accept one of Donald Trump’s picks for an independent arbiter to review documents seized during an FBI search of the former president’s Florida home last month.

The accommodation could help accelerate the selection process and shorten any delays caused by the appointment of the so-called special master. The judge in the case, granting a request from the Trump team, said last week that she would appoint a neutral arbiter to go through the records and weed out any that may be covered by executive privilege or attorney-client privilege.

Department lawyers said in a filing Monday night that, in addition to the two retired judges whom they earlier recommended, they would also be satisfied with one of the Trump team selections — Raymond Dearie, the former chief judge of the federal court in the Eastern District of New York. He is currently on senior active status, and the department said he had indicated he was available and “could perform the work expeditiously” if appointed.

It was not immediately clear whether U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon would name Dearie or someone else. The Trump team said earlier Monday that it opposed both Justice Department selections.

The back-and-forth over the special master came as Trump’s lawyers in a 21-page filing Monday dismissed the former president’s retention of top-secret documents at Mar-a-Lago as a “storage dispute” and urged Cannon to keep in place a directive that temporarily halted key aspects of the Justice Department’s criminal probe. The Trump team referred to the documents that were seized as “purported ‘classified records,'” saying the Justice Department had not proven that the materials taken by the FBI during its Aug. 8 search were classified or remain so now.

The filing underscores the significant factual and legal disagreements between lawyers for Trump and the U.S. government as the Justice Department looks to move forward with its criminal investigation into the retention of national defense information at Mar-a-Lago. Department lawyers in their own filings have rejected the idea that the documents, many of them classified at the top-secret level, belonged to Trump or that Mar-a-Lago was a permissible place to store them.

“This investigation of the 45th President of the United States is both unprecedented and misguided,” they wrote. “In what at its core is a document storage dispute that has spiraled out of control, the Government wrongfully seeks to criminalize the possession by the 45th President of his own Presidential and personal records.”

The investigation hit a roadblock last week when Cannon granted the Trump team’s request for a special master and prohibited the department, for now, from examining the documents for investigative purposes.

The Justice Department has asked the judge to lift that hold and said it would contest her ruling to a federal appeals court. The department said its investigation risked being harmed beyond repair if that order remained in place, noting that confusion about its scope had already led the intelligence community to pause a separate risk assessment.

But Trump’s lawyers said in their own motion Monday that Cannon should not permit the FBI to resume its review of classified records. It said the government had unilaterally determined the records to be classified but had not yet proven that they remain so.

“In opposing any neutral review of the seized materials, the Government seeks to block a reasonable first step towards restoring order from chaos and increasing public confidence in the integrity of the process,” the lawyers wrote.

Both sides on Friday night proposed different names of candidates who could serve as special master, though they disagreed on the scope of duties the person should have. Cannon has said the yet-to-be-named arbiter would be tasked with reviewing the documents and segregating out any that could be covered by claims of either executive privilege or attorney-client privilege.

The Justice Department recommended either Barbara Jones, a retired judge in Manhattan who has served as special master in prior high-profile investigations, or Thomas Griffith, a retired federal appeals court jurist in the District of Columbia who was appointed to the bench by former President George W. Bush. The department said in its proposal that the special master should not have access to classified documents, or be empowered to consider claims of executive privilege.

On Monday, the Trump team told the judge it was objecting to both those candidates but was not prepared to say why publicly at the moment.

Trump’s lawyers proposed either Dearie, a senior judge on active status in the federal court in Brooklyn who also previously served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or Florida lawyer Paul Huck Jr. They have said the arbiter should have access to the entire tranche of documents and should be able to evaluate executive privilege claims.

The Justice Department said it was willing to support Dearie’s selection but it opposed the selection of Huck because of what it said was a lack of relevant experience.

In its filing Monday, the Trump team again voiced a broad view of presidential power, asserting that a president has an “unfettered right of access” to his presidential records and absolute authority to declassify any information without the “approval of bureaucratic components of the executive branch” — though it did not say, as Trump has maintained, that he had actually declassified them.

The Justice Department has said Trump had no right to hold onto the presidential documents. And the criminal statutes the department has used as the basis of its investigation, including one criminalizing the willful retention of national defense information, do not require that the records be classified.

In any event, the Justice Department says more than 100 documents with classification markings were found in last month’s search.

Trump, who often spends time at his various properties, was at his Virginia golf club Monday.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Why Is Tiktok Under Scrutiny Again?

TikTok has been under scrutiny since a social media company claimed the app was collection data from Americans and giving China access to U.S. info.

As far back as 2020, former President Donald Trump attempted to force the sale of the social media company TikTok to Oracle, claiming that the app was storing data collected on its American user base in China, and thus enabling the possible surveillance of U.S. citizens. That sale was eventually blocked, but it opened the door to a cycle in which, every few months, U.S. government entities attempt new investigations into TikTok’s data collection. 

It begs the question — what exactly is novel about these data misuse accusations in 2022? 

The newest cycle started in June, when Buzzfeed published leaked audio from 80 internal TikTok meetings which showed that U.S. data was “repeatedly” accessed from China. Around the same time, Republican FCC Chair Brendan Carr published a letter in which he claimed to have new evidence that TikTok “harvests swaths of sensitive data” that “are being accessed in Beijing.”  

The conversation shifted from data storage or giving data away to the Chinese government, to data access. 

“You can think about this as a Google drive, right? So you or most of us will have something on our Google Drives. And when we want to share photos with our loved ones, for example, we don’t actually send a USB drive to them. We just provide them with a link to our Google Drive folder and thereby they can access the photos from there,” said Ausma Bernotaite, a candidate at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University. 

John Wihbey is an associate professor of Media Innovation at Northeastern University. 

“I think there are some — there are some legitimate concerns that with some combination of otherwise private data, that the Chinese government could be building profiles about U.S. persons, and could be potentially tuning algorithms at various key points in the electoral cycles in the United States to try to influence voter behavior,” said Wihbey. “And we don’t yet know exactly how that data could be exploited.” 

The other important question at hand here is whether TikTok collects more intrusive data than other social media companies. Any American platform with bottom line based on using personal data to serve ads could be collecting similar data.  

“U.S. social media platforms like Snapchat, then Facebook, now Meta, Instagram, Pinterest have been taking advantage of that surveillance capitalism, as we call it. Just really monetizing our attention,” said Bernotaite. “And now we have a different actor. So, it’s kind of like the devil we don’t know in a way, because we’ve not really had to deal with Tiktok’s corporate representatives for that long.” 

Bernotaite noted that until we find ways to ensure data transparency from all social media companies, regardless of where they’re based, we’re never going to find out exactly if and whether data misuse is occurring. But that may be easier said than done. Wihbey told Newsy that much of this issue is driven by competition concerns, so we may not get to that point if the U.S. wants to ensure that its social media companies can stand alongside TikTok.  

“The United States has almost entirely dominated this space of media, entertainment, social platforms. China has done very well to grow its own domestic market and has impressive companies there, but they really haven’t reached the rest of the world. So, this is their big winner in this early phase of an ongoing battle between the two countries over media and communications technologies,” said Wihbey. 

Source: newsy.com

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U.S., Trump Team Propose Names For Arbiter In Mar-A-Lago Probe

Lawyers for Trump said they believe the so-called special master should review all documents seized by the FBI.

The Justice Department and Donald Trump’s legal team each proposed candidates Friday for the role of an independent arbiter in the investigation into top-secret documents found at the former president’s Florida home, but the two sides differed on the scope of duties the person would have.

Lawyers for Trump said they believe the so-called special master should review all documents seized by the FBI during its search last month of Mar-a-Lago, including records with classification markings, and filter out any that may be protected by claims of executive privilege.

The Justice Department, by contrast, said it does not believe the arbiter should be permitted to inspect classified records or resolve potential claims of executive privilege.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon had given both sides until Friday to submit potential candidates for the role of a special master, as well as proposals for the scope of the person’s duties and the schedule for his or her work.

The Justice Department submitted the names of two retired judges — Barbara Jones, who served on the federal bench in Manhattan and has performed the same role in prior high-profile investigations, and Thomas Griffith, a former federal appeals court jurist in the District of Columbia.

The Trump team proposed one retired judge, Raymond Dearie — also the former top federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York — and a prominent Florida lawyer, Paul Huck, Jr.

The back-and-forth over the special master is playing out amid an FBI investigation into the retention of several hundred classified documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago within the past year. Though the legal wrangling is unlikely to have major long-term effects on the investigation or knock it significantly off course, it will almost certainly delay the probe by potentially months and has already caused the intelligence community to temporarily pause a separate risk assessment.

The Justice Department proposed an Oct. 17 deadline for the special master to complete the review process, while the Trump team said the work could take as long as three months.

Though both sides met Cannon’s deadline to provide potential candidates, their filings made clear that they have core disagreements about the job of special master. That’s not surprising given that the Justice Department had strenuously objected to the Trump team’s desire for such an arbiter, and gave notice Thursday that it would appeal the judge’s decision to grant the ex-president’s request.

Central to the dispute is precisely what documents the yet-to-be-named special master should be tasked with reviewing. Roughly 11,000 documents — including more than 100 with classified markings, some at the top-secret level — were recovered during the FBI’s Aug. 8 search. In granting the request for a special master, Cannon directed the department to temporarily pause its use of the seized records for investigative purposes.

The Justice Department had said a special master was unnecessary in part because it had already completed its own review of the seized documents, locating a limited subset that possibly involve attorney-client privilege. It has maintained that executive privilege does not apply in this investigation because Trump, no longer president, had no right to claim the documents as his.

Though the government does not believe the special master should inspect documents with classification markings, the Trump team maintains the arbiter should have access to the entire tranche of seized records. According to a summary of its position outlined in a filing Friday night, it disputes the idea that the Justice Department’s “separation of these documents is inviolable” or that a document with classification markings should be forever regarded as classified.

And, the lawyers say, if any document is a presidential document then Trump has an “absolute right of access to it.”

“Thus, President Trump (and/or his designee) cannot be denied access to those documents, which in this matter gives legal authorization to the Special Master to engage in first-hand review,” the filing states.

Executive privilege generally refers to a president’s power to shield information from the courts and public so as to ensure the confidentiality of presidential decision-making, though there are limits.

A separate dispute concerns the special master’s fees and expenses. The Trump team has suggested splitting the costs evenly with the Justice Department. The government says the Trump team should bear the cost.

The two sides are also at odds over candidates, though three of the four are retired judges.

Jones, a former Manhattan federal judge and one of the government’s picks, recently served as special master in two other high-profile cases related to Trump. She reviewed materials seized in FBI raids on Trump’s one-time personal lawyers Michael Cohen, in an investigation related to hush-money payments, and Rudy Giuliani, in a probe of his dealings in Ukraine.

Griffith, the other Justice Department selection, was named to the federal appeals court in Washington in 2005 by then-president George W. Bush, and previously represented the institutional interests of the Republican-led Senate during the impeachment case of former President Bill Clinton.

The Trump team recommended Dearie, who was nominated in 1986 by then-President Ronald Reagan to the federal court based in Brooklyn. He has also served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The other Trump pick, Huck, served as general counsel to Charlie Crist when Crist was the Republican governor of Florida. He is married to Barbara Lagoa, a judge on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which would hear any appeal in the Trump case from Florida. He is listed on the Federalist Society website as a contributor to the conservative legal group.

The Justice Department on Thursday filed a notice of appeal indicating it would contest the judge’s special master order to the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit. It asked her to lift her hold on their investigative work pending their appeal.

The department has been investigating the unlawful retention of top-secret records at Mar-a-Lago after Trump left the White House, as well as whether anyone sought to obstruct that probe. It is not clear if Trump or anyone else will be charged.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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The Supply Chain Broke. Robots Are Supposed to Help Fix It.

The people running companies that deliver all manner of products gathered in Philadelphia last week to sift through the lessons of the mayhem besieging the global supply chain. At the center of many proposed solutions: robots and other forms of automation.

On the showroom floor, robot manufacturers demonstrated their latest models, offering them as efficiency-enhancing augments to warehouse workers. Driverless trucks and drones commanded display space, advertising an unfolding era in which machinery will occupy a central place in bringing products to our homes.

The companies depicted their technology as a way to save money on workers and optimize scheduling, while breaking down resistance to a future centered on evolving forms of automation.

persistent economic shocks have intensified traditional conflicts between employers and employees around the globe. Higher prices for energy, food and other goods — in part the result of enduring supply chain tangles — have prompted workers to demand higher wages, along with the right to continue working from home. Employers cite elevated costs for parts, raw materials and transportation in holding the line on pay, yielding a wave of strikes in countries like Britain.

The stakes are especially high for companies engaged in transporting goods. Their executives contend that the Great Supply Chain Disruption is largely the result of labor shortages. Ports are overwhelmed and retail shelves are short of goods because the supply chain has run out of people willing to drive trucks and move goods through warehouses, the argument goes.

Some labor experts challenge such claims, while reframing worker shortages as an unwillingness by employers to pay enough to attract the needed numbers of people.

“This shortage narrative is industry-lobbying rhetoric,” said Steve Viscelli, an economic sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania and author of “The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream.” “There is no shortage of truck drivers. These are just really bad jobs.”

A day spent wandering the Home Delivery World trade show inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center revealed how supply chain companies are pursuing automation and flexible staffing as antidotes to rising wages. They are eager to embrace robots as an alternative to human workers. Robots never get sick, not even in a pandemic. They never stay home to attend to their children.

A large truck painted purple and white occupied a prime position on the showroom floor. It was a driverless delivery vehicle produced by Gatik, a Silicon Valley company that is running 30 of them between distribution centers and Walmart stores in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Here was the fix to the difficulties of trucking firms in attracting and retaining drivers, said Richard Steiner, Gatik’s head of policy and communications.

“It’s not quite as appealing a profession as it once was,” he said. “We’re able to offer a solution to that trouble.”

Nearby, an Israeli start-up company, SafeMode, touted a means to limit the notoriously high turnover plaguing the trucking industry. The company has developed an app that monitors the actions of drivers — their speed, the abruptness of their braking, their fuel efficiency — while rewarding those who perform better than their peers.

The company’s founder and chief executive, Ido Levy, displayed data captured the previous day from a driver in Houston. The driver’s steady hand at the wheel had earned him an extra $8 — a cash bonus on top of the $250 he typically earns in a day.

“We really convey a success feeling every day,” Mr. Levy, 31, said. “That really encourages retention. We’re trying to make them feel that they are part of something.”

Mr. Levy conceived of the company with a professor at the M.I.T. Media Lab who tapped research on behavioral psychology and gamification (using elements of game playing to encourage participation).

So far, the SafeMode system has yielded savings of 4 percent on fuel while increasing retention by one-quarter, Mr. Levy said.

Another company, V-Track, based in Charlotte, N.C., employs a technology that is similar to SafeMode’s, also in an effort to dissuade truck drivers from switching jobs. The company places cameras in truck cabs to monitor drivers, alerting them when they are looking at their phones, driving too fast or not wearing their seatbelt.

Jim Becker, the company’s product manager, said many drivers hade come to value the cameras as a means of protecting themselves against unwarranted accusations of malfeasance.

But what is the impact on retention if drivers chafe at being surveilled?

“Frustrations about increased surveillance, especially around in-cab cameras,” are a significant source of driver lament, said Max Farrell, co-founder and chief executive of WorkHound, which gathers real-time feedback.

Several companies on the show floor catered to trucking companies facing difficulties in hiring people to staff their dispatch centers. Their solution was moving such functions to countries where wages are lower.

Lean Solutions, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., sets up call centers in Colombia and Guatemala — a response to “the labor challenge in the U.S.,” said Hunter Bell, a company sales agent.

A Kentucky start-up, NS Talent Solutions, establishes dispatch operations in Mexico, at a saving of up to 40 percent compared with the United States.

“The pandemic has helped,” said Michael Bartlett, director of sales. “The world is now comfortable with remote staffing.”

Scores of businesses promoted services that recruit and vet part-time and temporary workers, offering a way for companies to ramp up as needed without having to commit to full-time employees.

Pruuvn, a start-up in Atlanta, sells a service that allows companies to eliminate employees who recruit and conduct background checks.

“It allows you to get rid of or replace multiple individuals,” the company’s chief executive, Bryan Hobbs, said during a presentation.

Another staffing firm, Veryable of Dallas, offered a platform to pair workers such as retirees and students seeking part-time, temporary stints with supply chain companies.

Jonathan Katz, the company’s regional partnerships manager for the Southeast, described temporary staffing as the way for smaller warehouses and distribution operations that lack the money to install robots to enhance their ability to adjust to swings in demand.

A drone company, Zipline, showed video of its equipment taking off behind a Walmart in Pea Ridge, Ark., dropping items like mayonnaise and even a birthday cake into the backyards of customers’ homes. Another company, DroneUp, trumpeted plans to set up similar services at 30 Walmart stores in Arkansas, Texas and Florida by the end of the year.

But the largest companies are the most focused on deploying robots.

Locus, the manufacturer, has already outfitted 200 warehouses globally with its robots, recently expanding into Europe and Australia.

Locus says its machines are meant not to replace workers but to complement them — a way to squeeze more productivity out of the same warehouse by relieving the humans of the need to push the carts.

But the company also presents its robots as the solution to worker shortages. Unlike workers, robots can be easily scaled up and cut back, eliminating the need to hire and train temporary employees, Melissa Valentine, director of retail global accounts at Locus, said during a panel discussion.

Locus even rents out its robots, allowing customers to add them and eliminate them as needed. Locus handles the maintenance.

Robots can “solve labor issues,” said Nathan Ray, director of distribution center operations at Albertsons, the grocery chain, who previously held executive roles at Amazon and Target. “You can find a solution that’s right for your budget. There’s just so many options out there.”

As Mr. Ray acknowledged, a key impediment to the more rapid deployment of automation is fear among workers that robots are a threat to their jobs. Once they realize that the robots are there not to replace them but merely to relieve them of physically taxing jobs like pushing carts, “it gets really fun,” Mr. Ray said. “They realize it’s kind of cool.”

Workers even give robots cute nicknames, he added.

But another panelist, Bruce Dzinski, director of transportation at Party City, a chain of party supply stores, presented robots as an alternative to higher pay.

“You couldn’t get labor, so you raised your wages to try to get people,” he said. “And then everybody else raised wages.”

Robots never demand a raise.

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