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UK: All Online Political Campaigning Must Reveal Source – Forbes

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In an attempt to cut down on misinformation, the British government has announced plans to force all online political campaign materials to carry a ‘digital imprint’ showing who’s behind them.

Currently, election leaflets and the like must reveal who created and paid for them, but online political advertiseing is largely unregulated.

But the new digital imprints would apply to all types of campaign content, regardless of the country it’s being promoted from, and across all digital platforms, including social media. They would be required at all times, rather than just during election campaigns.

The imprint should ideally be displayed as part of the digital content, or at least be easily available via a link.

“People want to engage with politics online. That’s where campaigners connect with voters and is why, ahead of elections, almost half of political advertising budgets are now spent on digital content and activity,” says minister for the constitution and devolution Chloe Smith.

“But people want to know who is talking. Voters value transparency, so we must ensure that there are clear rules to help them see who is behind campaign content online.”

The imprint would be required where the content is aimed at helping a particular party, group or individual win an election or referendum; or where it’s created by registered political parties, registered third party campaigners, candidates, holders of elected office and registered referendum campaigners.

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While this applies to both paid and organic digital content, other campaigners will need the imprint for paid digital content only.

The proposals have been welcomed by Facebook.

“We have long called for updated rules for the era of digital political campaigning and so we welcome the government’s consultation,” says head of UK public policy Rebecca Stimson.

“Facebook has led the way on online transparency by requiring all political ads on our platforms to have a ‘paid for by’ disclaimer and placing them into an Ad Library for everyone to see. We look forward to further engaging with the government on this important consultation.”

Who Targets Me, which has been campaigning on political advertising, says the new proposals fall short. The group wants to see a clear definition of what constitutes ‘political’ advertising, a limit on the number of ads permitted, and a blackout period in the 24 hours before voters go to the polls.

“The challenge is that these types of ideas cross regulatory boundaries and there’s no proposal to draw it all together into a single way of approaching campaigning in the digital age,” says the group.

“For example, at the moment, the Committee on Standards in Public Life is consulting on political finance and donations, while the Cabinet Office is consulting on digital imprints, while DCMS works on Online Harms.”

Meanwhile, the proposals have been welcomed by the Electoral Reform Society.

“For too long, our democracy has been wide open to anonymous ‘dark ads’, dodgy donors, and foreign interference online. This won’t solve all that, but it will help to plug one of the many leaks in HMS Democracy,” says chief executive Darren Hughes.

“This move will need to be well-enforced, and with strong sanctions for unscrupulous campaigners. Currently the fines the Electoral Commission can levy are seen as the ‘cost of doing business’. Ministers must not be able to pass the buck to Silicon Valley giants either: we need clear reporting standards so voters, the media and researchers can see who is trying to steer our debate in real time.”

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The two most divisive events in US politics are about to take place at the same time – CNN

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The US President now plans to make a third pick for the nine-person bench on the highest court in the land. He will almost certainly enshrine an unassailable 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, which means that political change launched by any future Democratic presidents and Congress could be undone by the Court’s constitutional interpretations — no matter what the majority of the nation wants.
Appointed for a lifetime, justices can change over the years, sometimes in a way that surprises and annoys the presidents who nominated them. They are also supposed to respect precedent, so it’s impossible to say how the high court will behave on all issues.
But there is now a very real prospect that a woman’s right to an abortion, guaranteed by the 1973 case Roe v. Wade, could be overturned or limited. A conservative-dominated Supreme Court could also roll back future attempts to regulate gun laws, hinder attempts to regulate polluters in the fight against climate change, and embolden challenges to legislation on voting rights and outlawing racial discrimination. And fear is growing among supporters of same sex marriage, only legalized in 2015.
Former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, which allowed millions to buy insurance plans, already looks to be in trouble. The court will hear the Trump administration’s attempt to kill it off after the election. Even if Trump’s latest pick is not yet in place and Chief Justice John Roberts votes to save the law for a third time, a potential 4-4 tie among justices would mean a lower court ruling invalidating it would stand.
Demographic trends in the United States look unappealing for Republicans; there is a strong argument that the country will become more secular, urban, socially liberally, and racially diverse in the next few decades. But a conservative Supreme Court could be a bulwark against political change — one reason why conservatives have spent several generations working toward building this majority and why Democrats will long curse their failure to beat Trump in the 2016 election that opened the way to this extraordinarily important moment.

‘What was then a hypothetical is now a reality’

Two Republican senators so far have said they would oppose taking up a Supreme Court nomination before Election Day — Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. “For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election. Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed,” Murkowski said Sunday. “I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice (Antonin) Scalia. We are now even closer to the 2020 election — less than two months out — and I believe the same standard must apply.”

Battles ahead

The two most divisive, tumultuous events in American politics — a Supreme Court nomination battle and a presidential election — are about to take place at the same time.
The President is expected to name his nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg this week. He has promised to name a woman, and Republicans will rush to try to get her onto the bench either before November’s election or shortly afterwards.
Democrats are furious, rightly accusing Republicans of gross hypocrisy: In 2016, when conservative Justice Scalia died in February of that year —months before the election — Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell refused to even consider then-President Barack Obama’s nominee, saying voters should ultimately decide who should get to fill the vacant seat. Now, with a Republican in the White House and the election just 44 days away, McConnell is refusing to apply the same principle.
The Kentucky senator’s power play four years ago turned out to be one of the shrewdest and most ruthless moves in modern American politics, paving the way for the court’s conservative majority. There’s little Democrats can do to stop McConnell pressing ahead. Even if Joe Biden wins the election and Democrats win back the Senate in November, McConnell could still plow onward to confirm Trump’s pick in a lame duck session of Congress before new lawmakers arrive in January.
That prospect has some Democrats — who believe the chance of building a liberal majority on the nation’s top bench has been stolen from them, are thinking of nuclear options — like expanding the size of the court itself if they win back the Senate.
The sudden Supreme Court fight could also have unpredictable knock-on effects on the election itself. It will allow Trump to try to take the focus off the pandemic and to solidify his standing among evangelical and socially conservative voters who might frown at his morals — but for whom a conservative Supreme Court is a life and death voting issue. But reviving the fight over abortion in the nominating battle may alienate suburban women voters Trump needs to win a second term (they are already moving away from him) and vulnerable Republican senators might prefer not take a stand on an issue that could anger the moderates they need for survival. Meanwhile, the vacancy has already electrified the left and could drive more Biden voters to the polls.

‘Nobody’s buying this’

Sweeping UN sanctions have now been placed on Iran — according to the US and literally nobody else. As other signatories to the Iran nuclear deal point out, the Trump administration’s invocation this weekend of sanctions from the JCPOA holds little legal power, since the US quit that very same deal more than two years ago. “The whole world is saying that nothing special has happened. Mr. (US Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo’s fantasy, he is fantasizing this. He wants to make everyone believe this but nobody’s buying this,” said Iranian Foreign Minister spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh at a Sunday press briefing in Tehran. But the question is how far the US might go to enforce that “fantasy.”

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Vaughn Palmer: 'The best way forward is to put politics behind us,' says Horgan – Vancouver Sun

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Article content continued

“This has not been a time of instability in government,” she told reporters in blasting Horgan for calling an election that was as unnecessary as it was irresponsible. “This has been a time of unbelievable co-operation and collaboration for the people of B.C.”

The Greens (including Weaver) provided the NDP with the necessary support on every confidence measure over three years and counting.

“We have adhered to every part of that (CASA) agreement,” insisted Furstenau. “But what that agreement didn’t stipulate was absolute total obedience to the NDP.”

Absolute total obedience to the NDP.

There, I suggest, is what Horgan actually seeks with this election call: an obedient legislative majority that he can bend to his will, as surely as he has already stifled those skeptics in the party and government who questioned the wisdom of an early election.

“The final decision rests with me and me alone,” Horgan told reporters Monday. “I take full responsibility for it.”

In one breath, he insisted that he wasn’t presuming he would win the landslide suggested by the opinion polls: “I am not taking anything for granted.”

In another breath, he made it sound as if victory was already in the bag: “I have never been more confident that this is the time to ask British Columbians where they want to go.”

Then came a real thigh-slapper: “The best way forward is to put politics behind us,” said Horgan.

Right. Nothing like double-crossing your allies and springing an unnecessary election in the midst of a global pandemic to put politics behind us.

vpalmer@postmedia.com 

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AGAR: SCOTUS debate's bitter politics makes its way up to Canada – Toronto Sun

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Article content continued

Anything else is opinion, and that opinion is shrill and self-centred.

There is nothing that says a president has to give up the responsibility even a day before being replaced.

Precedent is that 14 presidents have appointed judges in their last year and it has happened that a president has made an appointment after losing an election but before leaving office.

The issue should not be based on what one thinks of Trump. The issue is bigger than that.

So many Canadians weighed in on this in a partisan fashion that it is alarming how much the supposedly “American style” of bitter partisan politics has taken stronghold here.

That some politicians have a different position and a supposedly whole new set of principles (this is from both the left and the right) that they expressed when Obama was president is no reason to give up on what is right.

Because Senator Mitch McConnell argues that Obama shouldn’t and Trump should appoint in similar circumstances is an opportunity for us all to point out what a hypocrite he is, not to try to use him to frame our own partisanship.

Politicians are what they are and by nature they are partisan. Shouldn’t the rest of us at least try to be better than that?

The point of law is that it has to be as clear and unequivocal as it can be.

There is a process to change law. We can lobby our elected representatives. We can vote.

But it seems that the more we in the public insist that politics is a team sport outside political parties, the more the “us and them” mentality is free territory for our leaders to act in the interest of themselves and their supporters even more than they always have.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is guilty of various ethical breaches but to his supporters that is just noise from complaining conservatives because Justin is their guy.

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Who cares about character when your team is winning?

It is the sort of thinking that leads people to believe that because they have a strong moral sense – a subjective thing – that they are right, that burning and looting and general law-breaking is not only justified but called for.

Perhaps we are not so much increasingly partisan as we are narcissistic. Sounds a lot like Donald Trump.

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