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RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week

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RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week
May 23 to May 29, 2021

 

Featured Investigation:
How Zuckerberg Millions Paid for Progressives
to Work With 2020 Vote Officials Nationwide

In November’s election, vote officials in major cities and counties worked with a progressive group funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and its allies to create ballots, target voters and develop “cure” letters when mail-in ballots were in danger of being tossed out, Steve Miller reports for RealClearInvestigations.

Drawing on emails and other records obtained through hundreds of public records requests, Miller reports on the left’s influential backstage role in Election 2020:

  • The Center for Tech and Civic Life, or CTCL, provided millions in private funding for the elections from a $350 million donation from Zuckerberg. Grants went to 2,500 municipalities in 49 states.
  • In exchange, elections divisions agreed to conduct their elections according to terms set by the CTCL.
  • Other groups with a progressive leaning provided support for elections offices.
  • Together, the groups strategically targeted voters and waged a voter assistance campaign aimed at poor and minority residents, helping Democratic candidates win key spots all over the U.S.
  • Facebook, with the CTCL, was also part of the effort, providing a guide and webinar for election officials, including directions to report “voter interference” to Facebook authorities.
  • The suspicions of Trump supporters who think the presidential election was rigged aren’t likely to be dispelled by the little-explored efforts of the private progressive groups, however legal. 
  • They are among other notable instances of monied interests underwriting public governance and affairs for political ends.

Biden, Trump and the Beltway

VP Biden Met Son's Russian, Ukrainian Associates NY Post
Biden Admin Backs 'Antiracist' Therapy for 'White Educators' City Journal
Cable: U.S. Diplomatic Posts Can Fly BLM Flag Human Events
Pentagon Anti-Extremism Honcho: Trump Support Is Racist Daily Caller
Fusion GPS Losing Fight to Keep Files From Alfa Bank Techno Fog
Commerce Dept.'s Secret Counterintelligence Unit Washington Post

 

Coronavirus Investigations

This week the theory that the COVID-19 pandemic originated with a leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology  seemed to shift from conspiracy to credible. The Wall Street Journal reported on previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence detailing that several of the lab's researchers became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, shortly before the December date when the outbreak was confirmed. Officials familiar with the intelligence expressed differing views about its veracity. The Wall Street Journal also reported on an abandoned Chinese copper mine where the closest known virus to the one that causes COVID-19 emerged back in 2012; it was sampled and studied at the Wuhan lab. Several miners who were exposed while clearing bat guano died. Unanswered questions about the miners’ illness, the viruses found, and the research done has driven leading scientists to demand deeper investigation into the lab and the lab-leak theory.

In a separate article, Just the News reported on the ties between the lab and the National Institutes of Health, for several decades headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci. The article touched on an NIH subagency’s funding of the U.S.-based nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, which funneled hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to the Wuhan lab to study coronaviruses. And CNN reported that the Biden administration had shut down a closely-held State Department effort launched late in the Trump administration to prove the coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab. Now the Biden administration has seemingly done an about-face, ordering a new probe within 90 days.

Other Coronavirus Investigations 

The Texas Mask Mystery Atlantic
Facebook's Plan to Stifle 'Vaccine Hesitancy' Project Veritas

Other Noteworthy Articles and Series

How Hacking Became a Professional Service in Russia
New Yorker
Hacking has diversified into a high degree of specialization. A case is point in the recent Colonial Pipeline attack featuring the “ransomware-as-a-service” provider DarkSide. It and entities like it step in after a victim’s servers have been breached, and its computer systems frozen, to handle the tasks the actual hackers don’t care to, like determining a ransom value, communicating with victim organizations, and arranging the particulars of payment – for a fee. These businesses predominate in Russia because talented Russians have few other outlets to realize and monetize their skills. Though DarkSide’s site went down after the Colonial Pipeline attack, the risks to hackers are generally small provided they target those outside Russia. Russian authorities in fact will sometimes piggyback on hackers’ efforts to collect intelligence.

Extended-Stay Lodging and the Poor Who Live There 
New York Times
Low-income Americans who have fallen on hard times, often with poor credit, and little in savings, frequently find themselves rejected by landlords. This article reports on the plight of the growing cohort of “precariously housed,” and the real estate entrepreneurs who have stepped in to serve them. They provide extended-stay housing – modest accommodations at above-market rates, but with few strings attached – while the tenants struggle to get back on their feet. Extended-stay housing is the modern-day equivalent of the boarding houses and single-room-occupancy hotels of yesteryear once known as “poorhouses.” Some 7.6 million low-income households are struggling to find a long-term place to live, and there are 1.3 million homeless schoolchildren, among whom nearly 100,000 lived in extended-stay housing during the 2018-19 school year.

Life Terms Replacing the Death Penalty, Taxing Legal Defense 
Marshall Project, Dallas Morning News, NBC News, NBC 5
America’s transition from death sentences has created an unintended consequence for reformers: The far greater percentage of individuals serving life sentences relative to those on death row often receive vastly inferior legal representation. This article reports that only 11 states have minimum qualifications for lawyers who represent impoverished people facing a lifetime behind bars. Most states have no rules, or minimal ones, concerning expertise and experience, meaning defendants might find themselves with a lawyer fresh out of law school, or with few trials under the belt. As one expert adds, despite the stakes, which are often irreversible, people facing life sentences have far fewer chances to appeal than those facing capital punishment, and their cases draw far less scrutiny.

Texas: Secret Audio on 'Filthy' Migrant Teen Camp
Reason
More than 4,500 immigrant children and teens are being held in enormous, filthy tents on a military base in Texas without access to basic necessities, including underwear, this article reports, based on interviews, photos, documents, and recordings. The audio reveals the stress the influx of unaccompanied minors has put on the federal government. It also demonstrates that leaders at the shelter are well aware that they are failing to provide basic necessities, including medical care and physical safety, to the children under its supervision. Some staffers have had inappropriate contact with minors. Meanwhile, the shelter itself is not open to the public or press because it is on a military base, nor are other such emergency intake shelters.

Supertaster's Epic Wine Con of Rich Collectors
Hustle
Rudy Kurniawan was secretive about his past. But the gregarious 20-something quickly made his name known by throwing lavish tasting parties attended by Hollywood producers, wealthy bankers, and tech titans. This article reports on how this character with seemingly boundless cash and a knack for finding rare vintages carried out history’s greatest wine fraud. Kurniawan duped wealthy connoisseurs out of anywhere from $35 million to $150 million by reusing classic bottles he had polished off, forging labels, refilling them with mixed cheap wines to mimic their flavor profiles, and re-corking them. Recently released after serving nine years in prison,  Kurniawan is receiving inquiries about working as a wine-tasting consultant, according to his lawyer.



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