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  • Libraries and propaganda
  • Coronavirus and fake news
  • The Doomsday clock and disinformation
  • Sandy Hook hoaxer arrested
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LA Review of Books
As information sources, smartphones are now recognized as primary conduits of cutting-edge propaganda, and the platforms that have best exploited the smartphone (Google, Facebook, Twitter) have by definition failed to perform libraries’ enduring role of maintaining and providing public access to reliable information.

Editor’s Note: News of digitally altered photos in the U.S. National Archives have spotlighted the role of libraries, which is of course not what it used to be. Here Jeremy Braddock looks at things from a historical perspective.

Foreign Policy ($)
Does Russia get too much or too little credit in fueling the Ukraine scandal? As with everything these days, it’s too hard to tell.

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The Globe Post
In the absence of a clear E.U. integration perspective, Albania, Serbia, and North Macedonia have decided to take matters into their own hands and initiate their version of regional cooperation known as “mini Schengen.” Two other Balkan countries, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, have stated their reservations, while Kosovo has rejected the idea altogether.

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The Guardian
As the Democratic candidates for president spent 2019 battling each other in early voting states, Donald Trump’s re-election campaign built a sophisticated social media machine to communicate with conservative voters, grow its email list and fine-tune its messaging.

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Engineering and Technology
An E&T investigation reveals that a prominent British climate change sceptics group is taking advantage of a favourable political environment while strengthening its ties to international supporters and surviving an examination by the Charities Commission. Keen to engage in online climate change debate, the GWPF growing its influence in the engineering and technology sector too.

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Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
As the statement issued today by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists explains: “Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers—nuclear war and climate change—that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond. The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.”

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The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — A third case of a new coronavirus that’s behind deaths in China has been confirmed in Canada by health officials in British Columbia, who say a man in his 40s tested presumptively positive after a business trip to the Chinese city of Wuhan.

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Reuters
KUALA LUMPUR – A Malaysian rights group filed a suit in a domestic court against a Singapore minister on Friday, seeking to challenge his order to attach a correction to an article on its blog that accused the city-state of illegal execution practices.

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Quartz
When the SARS outbreak hit China in 2003, only 6% of the population had access to the internet. Seventeen years later, that number has increased tenfold: more than 61% of the Chinese population are now online, according to the latest government figures.

Editor’s Note: One of the biggest surges in misinformation has been around the coronavirus. In this piece, which was also found in our updated Deepnews Digest on the disease, Quartz explores the subject.

The Diplomat
We’re now 100 seconds to midnight. How can the Asia-Pacific contribute to (or counter) doomsday?

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Press Association
The amount of fake news on Facebook is no better now than it was during the EU referendum, a former Cambridge Analytica employee has suggested.

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The Hill
Michael Zona, a spokesman for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), said that “we’d like to avoid a repeat of the debunked misinformation campaign surrounding taxpayer refunds that happened last year.”

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Foreign Policy ($)
NOWSHERA, Pakistan — When 30-year-old Meher Nigar, a polio vaccinator from Pakistan’s northwestern city of Nowshera, knocked on a woman’s door last April, she was greeted with anger and immediately asked to leave. A month before, another woman had chased Nigar out of the house with a knife, saying that she would not accept her vaccination.

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Ottawa Citizen
As Holocaust survivors gather to commemorate the 75th anniversary of their rescue from the Auschwitz death camp, a wave of glorification of Nazi collaborators and some of the perpetrators of the Holocaust is gaining momentum.

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The Conversation
Artificial intelligence-based (AI) programs are quickly improving at writing convincingly on many topics, for virtually no cost. It’s likely in a few years they’ll be churning out C-grade worthy essays for students.

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Jacobin
Pundits who once decried Joe Biden’s attacks on Social Security are now insisting he never made them, while self-declared “fact-checkers” with an ax to grind are treated like an infallible Ministry of Truth. The anti-Sanders attack machine has taken an Orwellian turn.

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Digiday
By now advertisers are well aware of the shortcomings of the current approach to brand safety. Block lists are blunt instruments that often sacrifice safety for nuance.

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The Conversation
It’s now 75 years since Soviet troops liberated the notorious death camp at Auschwitz and the vast majority of Holocaust survivors are no longer with us. The impact of continuing to research the Holocaust can, therefore, not be underestimated. The further away we move from the events and the more first-hand witnesses we lose, the more disconnected we feel, both individually and as a society.

Editor’s Note: The past week was also International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and several of the articles on the list deal with memory of the Holocaust. Here William Mitchell of Staffordshire University talks about combating the frighteningly high level of Holocaust denial.

Time
There are times when vitally important stories lurk behind the headlines. Yes, impeachment is historic and worth significant coverage, but it’s not the only important story. The recent threat of war with Iran merited every second of intense world interest. But what if I told you that as we lurch from crisis to crisis there is a slow-building, bipartisan movement to engage in one of most significant acts of censorship in modern American history? What if I told you that our contemporary hostility against Big Tech may cause our nation to blunder into changing the nature of the internet to enhance the power of the elite at the expense of ordinary Americans?

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The Citizen
The account injected uncertainty and turmoil into the country’s online debate a month before the wrap-up of a commission investigating systemic government corruption.

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The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Sheriff’s deputies in Lake County, Fla., on Monday arrested a notorious tormentor of the parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, charging him with the unlawful possession of personal identification

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Gulf News
Abu Dhabi: A screenshot of an email claiming that the first case of the Wuhan novel coronavirus has been diagnosed in Abu Dhabi is currently spreading rapidly on WhatsApp.

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Slate
A wiki, largely run by an international cohort of teens, collects fanfic about future hurricanes.

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The Daily Mississippian
As college students in the U.S. anticipated their returns to their respective campuses, 3,000 troops prepared for their deployment to the Middle East following increased threats of retaliatory action by Iran. The Trump Administration followed its pattern of unexpected, and often risky, foreign policy moves by killing Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the second most powerful man in Iran, on Jan. 3 at the Baghdad International Airport in Iraq.

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Jewish Forward
The use and abuse of the memory of the Holocaust for political aims, however shocking, is not new. Few seem able to resist the pull of such a stark morality tale of good vs. evil when constructing their own histories. Until recently, though, Russia was one of the few players in WWII who had managed to skirt the temptation. The Holocaust played a minimal role in Russia’s official World War II memory. After decades of neglect, it entered Russian state memory primarily as a background against which to highlight the heroism of the Red Army. But that is shifting now.

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