February 15, 2018


Report: Alleged school shooter trained with "Republic of Florida" white supremacists (fAST cOMPANY, 2/15/18)

Nikolas Cruz, who allegedly killed 17 people at a Florida high school on Wednesday, trained with a white supremacist group called Republic of Florida, the group's leader, Jordan Jereb, told the Anti-Defamation League Thursday.

Jereb said Cruz was "part of our organization" and took part in "paramilitary" training with the group in the Tallahassee area. "He probably used that training to do what he did yesterday," Jereb said. "Nobody I know told him to do that, he just freaked out."

The ADL called on the group after seeing self-described Republic of Florida members claiming on 4chan that Cruz had been a member. The ADF says ROF describes itself as a "white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics." The group wants to create a "white ethnostate" in Florida, ADF said.

Mass shootings are getting deadlier. And the latest ones all have something new in common: The AR-15 (Matt Pearce, FEB 14, 2018, la tIMES)

As of this week, seven of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history have all happened since 2007. The Parkland massacre is now the eighth-deadliest attack.

The nation's mass-shooting problem seems to be getting worse. And the latest, most serious shootings all seem to have one new thing in common: the AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle.

The AR-15 typically has large magazines, shoots rounds at higher velocities than handguns, and leaves more complex wounds in victims.

In each one of the older shootings on the 10-deadliest list -- including the 2007 attack on Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., that left 32 victims dead -- the shooters carried handguns. (The exception is the 1984 San Ysidro massacre, where the gunman also used a shotgun and an Uzi semiautomatic carbine.)

But in all of the latest incidents -- Newtown, Conn., in 2012; San Bernardino, Calif., in 2015; Orlando, Fla., in 2016; Las Vegas, 2017; Sutherland Springs, Texas, 2017 -- the attackers primarily used AR-15 semiautomatic rifles.

FBI investigating whether Russian money went to NRA to help Trump (PETER STONE AND GREG GORDON, January 18, 2018, McClatchy)

The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.

FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia's central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.

It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections.

It's unclear how long the Torshin inquiry has been ongoing, but the news comes as Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller's sweeping investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including whether the Kremlin colluded with Trump's campaign, has been heating up.


EACH NEW BREAKING news situation is an opportunity for trolls to grab attention, provoke emotions, and spread propaganda. The Russian government knows this. Fake-news manufacturing teenagers in Macedonia know this. Twitter bot creators know this. And thanks to data-gathering operations from groups like the Alliance for Securing Democracy and RoBhat Labs, the world knows this.

In the wake of Wednesday's Parkland, Florida school shooting, which resulted in 17 deaths, troll and bot-tracking sites reported an immediate uptick in related tweets from political propaganda bots and Russia-linked Twitter accounts.  [...]

While RoBhat Labs tracks general political bots, Hamilton 68 focuses specifically on those linked to the Russian government. According to the group's data, the top link shared by Russia-linked accounts in the last 48 hours is a 2014 Politifact article that looks critically at a statistic cited by pro-gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety. Twitter accounts tracked by the group have used the old link to try to debunk today's stats about the frequency of school shootings.

Another top link shared by the network covers the "deranged" Instagram account of the shooter, showing images of him holding guns and knives, wearing army hats, and a screenshot of a Google search of the phrase "Allahu Akbar." Characterizing shooters as deranged lone wolves with potential terrorist connections is a popular strategy of pro-gun groups because of the implication that new gun laws could not have prevented their actions. On Thursday President Trump tweeted as much: "So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior."

Meanwhile, some accounts with large bot followings are already spreading misinformation about the shooter's ties to far-left group Antifa, even though the Associated Press reported that he was a member of a local white nationalist group. 

Posted by at February 15, 2018 3:33 PM