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If Teachers Were Packing Heat: Arming Faculty Alarming


      I have been an educator for most of my adult life- middle school, high school, university experience. Nearly 40 years in the classroom. I am also a gun owner (handgun, shotgun and rifle) and have been so since I was 18. I was trained in gun care and use by the NRA in five courses taken from 12 to 18. For most of my adult life (until state law eliminated them) I carried licenses permitting me to use those weapons and my guns were registered with the police.


      Absurd/Dangerous because the costs of training, teacher bonuses, and liability insurance would be extraordinary (and this suggested by a President who has deeply cut federal support to schools).

      Absurd/Dangerous because trained, prepared, practiced, skilled police professional with their minds on the task of protecting their charges in live fire circumstances hit their targets 18 percent of the time.

      Absurd/Dangerous because the school environment, the relationship between teachers, students and parents, will, according to the experienced and the experts, be affected with teachers taking on roles for which they are not prepared and for which they often do not have the temperament. Studies have also shown that not knowing who is armed creates increased tension and hostile interaction particularly with troubled students not less.

      Absurd/Dangerous because in the chaos of a lockdown or an evacuation the chances of wild fire where the innocent are mistaken as a danger by other teachers, security personnel or the police, accidental shootings, and increased panic as those carrying guns are mistakenly identified as shooters.

      Absurd/Dangerous because securing and tracking the weapons will be a serious challenge to ensure that a weapon does not fall into a student's hands either through careless storage, misplacement, or even seizure by students in an altercation with a teacher. And properly secured weapons will not be instantly available in a crisis.

      Absurd/Dangerous because there are teachers who have "lost it" falling under the pressure of a very difficult job and their ready access to a gun is the last thing one would want.


      1) Secure school buildings in the same way municipal buildings are now secured with single entry, scanners and detectors, and electronic surveillance/alarms. Further, classroom should be securable as well with strong doors, strong locks, two way communication systems, and identified safe spots in each room.

      2) Increased security personnel with quick access to guns.

      3) Regular, well developed emergency drills for fire, tornado, shooters shaped around the shelter in place or evacuate models with clear roles for students, faculty, staff, and administration.

      4) Comprehensive national and State Based background checks for ALL purchases of weapons, accessories, ammo etc

      5) A mental health based red flagging system that seeks to identify the potentially violent before they act.

      6) Limit the weapon options. And yes, that means the identification of those guns, accessories and ammunition that are particularly dangerous in mass shooting settings and then taking them off the market, disallowing trading or gifting, and having buy back programs.


      Worth Reading: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-texas-school-a...

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      Pundit Post

      National Gun Reform Gains 75,000 New Volunteers After Florida Massacre



          It is very gratifying to see that the 'Mom's Demand Action' Gun reform organization just gained 75 thousand new volunteers since the mass gun shooting in Parkland, Florida.

          This group, founded as the Florida chapter of the national organization 'Everytown for Gun Safety' (which began as a result of the shockingly heinous gun shooting that killed 20 children between six and seven years old at Sandy Hook Elementary School,) has been a grass roots organization that advocates for gun control since that time.

          Many of the 75,000 recent volunteers are students eager to help since the recent gun shooting that killed 17 people, most of them high school students. As a result, 'Mom's demand Action' has instigated a new offshoot called "Students Demand Action" to accommodate all the young people that are eager to fight against the glut of weapons that can kill so many in a matter of minutes.

          It looks like they'll be getting a lot of help to fend off the self serving attacks of the NRA against those who demand action on gun laws. Kudos to them!

          Attending my first event in Raleigh.

          It's a packed house. Standing room only.

          Since a gunman killed 17 students and adults in Parkland, Florida, last Wednesday, gun violence prevention group Moms Demand Action has seen in a surge in new volunteers ― and it’s eager to mobilize them to support the new student-led movement for gun reform.

          Local chapters of Moms Demand Action have also reported swelling attendance at events over the past few days, with anywhere from two to 10 times the usual number of people showing up at new member meetings, advocacy days and rallies.

          Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, said one of the most encouraging aspects of this influx has been how many new members are young students, mirroring the recent wave of teen activists mobilizing since the Parkland shooting. Students at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School and beyond have been speaking to news outlets, pressuring legislators on social media and organizing national marches to call for lawmakers to take action on gun violence.

          To meet these new members’ needs, Moms Demand Action has just launched a new initiative: Students Demand Action.

          “When Sandy Hook happened, those were babies. They weren’t able to use their voices and express their outrage,” Watts told HuffPost on Tuesday. “These are kids who have come of age as the generation of lockdown drills. Our lawmakers are not standing up to the gun lobby, so our children are having to stand up to gunmen.”

          “It’s going to be up to the next generation to make sure this work gets finished,” said Moms Demand Action’s founder.


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          Pundit Post

              Next to Trump McTurtle has to be the most despicable man in the USA. . I say I don't hate anyone, but these two are pushing that line. I surely hate what they do and what they stand for. I find it nauseating that these two are getting away literally with murder and treason. The main job for these two avaricious a$$holes is to protect America and defend the Constitution of which they have done the exact opposite.

              I'm not even going to search for a pithy sarcastic meme, there's absolutely nothing humorous about these two with the damage they have and are causing. We are under attack and these two are the leaders.

              I am just too angry to continue.


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              Parkland Students Blast "those In Power" For Lack Of Gun Control



                  I have been watching the television coverage of the Parkland students and supporters speaking out at the end of their march today, and I am deeply moved by the passion, motivation and dedication that I am hearing in each and everyone of their speeches.

                  These young people are showing up what the evil in the RW Congress, the NRA, Trump, and uncompromising gun advocates have caused. When one says "how many more must die?" I ask it with them. When another says "We will not be silenced" I feel the "amen" in my heart. Another asks "please, save our lives," and I weep at the hardness that profit over people brings us.

                  They are demanding reforms at the State Capitol rally, and it is time for us all to rise up and demand that the Congress thinks more of our children than they do the $$$ they gain from the NRA.

                  How many more deaths will it take? When teen aged children show us that they care more about human life than our President and our Congress, I have to wonder, who are the grown ups?

                  A memorial in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were shot and killed last week. (Cristobal Herrera / EPA / Shutterstock)

                  Students from the Parkland, Florida, high school where 17 people were killed in a shooting rampage got little sleep as they prepared for a day of meeting with Florida's legislative leaders in Tallahassee

                  A number of students at a Florida high school walked out of their classrooms to remember the 17 students killed last week at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

                  The students at Western High School in Davie, Florida, were also protesting gun violence during the walkout Wednesday morning.

                  Students carried large signs, each listing the name of a school where a shooting has taken place, along with the date of the shooting and the number of dead. Others carried signs with #NeverAgain.

                  Students at schools across Broward and Miami-Dade counties in South Florida planned short walkouts Wednesday, the one week anniversary of the deadly shooting.

                  Kirsten Anderson, a sophomore at Western High, told NBC6 that students will be signing a large banner, which will be taken to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High to offer support to students and teachers.


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                  Pundit Post

                  Can You Hear The Whispers, Donnie? Your White House Is Deserting You.


                      From Bannon to McMaster; Flynn to Manafort; Spicer, Omarosa, Gates, Page, Sessions, Tillerson and more.

                      They all know you are playing a fool's game, one where the liar always loses out. The casino business was a grand adventure, until the money ran out and you had no where to turn. You left Atlantic City with the shirt on your back, an airplane and a few million bucks, having failed in a ridiculous manner so "yuge" that even your Daddy could not rescue you.

                      They all talked about your incompetence then, the dealers, the players, even the housekeeping staff recognized your weaknesses, having born witness to your personal shortcomings on a daily - and sometimes hourly - basis.

                      Yet you always had somebody owning you in the background, for it was always understood that you were incapable of successfully operating any business. Perhaps your father gave you the loan just to get you out of his company, the one that provided you the opportunity to be on a first name basis with the Feds who kept collecting fines from the old man's pockets.

                      Every venture has come with some crisis, some meltdowns more minor than others. While you claim your wealth grew, it certainly appears that it was then, as it is now, the sole efforts of all those connected to you who saved your compensating self, without any assistance from you. In fact, they succeeded despite every stumbling block you ignorantly created by opening your uneducated mouth. They had to succeed, for they would be personally ruined if your latest folly met the same fate as those you had attempted before.

                      It is not difficult to be angry at your latest churlish behavior, Donnie, to be aghast at your latest denial of the truth. To be unable to look at our own child and say "you could grow up and be the President some day" is the legacy you are creating, to no longer be able to respect the Office that you, Donnie, have shown utter disregard - if not outright contempt - for since the day you were sworn in.

                      It seems impossible that you, @realDonaldTrump, have any staffers who believe in you.

                      Lord knows, it could be there are over a hundred million people living in America who are more likely to believe in the Easter Bunny than accept any utterance from you as true.

                      And who could blame them?

                      GS Jade Barrett, Chairman SANE60

                      #resist #indivisible.

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                      Pundit Post

                      James And Kimberly Snead Say Nikolas Cruz Had A 'right To Own' AR-15


                          39 times -- that's how many times the police were called out to this family's house over five years because Nikolas Cruz was out-of-control or violent. Most of us have never called the police to our homes because our children are violent beyond our control, let alone 39 times. This person was a ticking time bomb ready to explode and everyone who knew him should have known.

                          After his mother died, Nikolas moved in with a friend's family, who saw nothing wrong with this young man bringing his weapon arsenal with him. After all, they had guns too, so what's the big deal here? All they insisted was that he had a gun safe -- which he had the key to-- the person whose mother had called the police 39 times about his behavior. With his history, what were they thinking? When videos of him torturing animals were posted by him on the internet, what were these people thinking? This was no well-adjusted human being, and he should have never had access to guns. Period!

                          This makes me question the culture in which we are raised. Why would people allow this without seriously questioning the need for this young man to have weapons capable of killing so many people within minutes.

                          Is the love of guns in our country stronger than some people's love for their own children? It really makes me wonder.

                          Family caring for Nikolas Cruz said he had a 'right to own' AR-15

                          INSIDE EDITION STAFF

                          Feb 20th 2018 12:43PM

                          The family that took in Nikolas Cruz following the death of his mother last year believes the alleged Florida school shooter was within his rights to own a gun, but were unsure of how many firearms he brought into their home when he moved in.

                          James and Kimberly Snead thought their son’s friend Cruz, 19, may have brought with him about five or six guns when he came to live with them in November.

                          “I didn’t know what kind they were,” James Snead told CBS News of the firearms. “It didn’t matter what kind of guns they were. I have guns. I respect guns as long as they’re handled properly, safely.”

                          Cruz was told he must have a gun safe before moving in with the Sneads, but the family wasn’t opposed to his owning whatever guns he wanted.

                          "I knew he had hunting rifles... I knew he had [an] assault rifle, but I knew he used it out hunting," James Snead said. "It’s his right to own a gun."

                          Cruz had been living with the Sneads for about three months when he allegedly used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to kill 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the deadliest school shooting in Florida's history.

                          “The Nik we knew was not the Nik that everybody else seemed to know,” James Snead said.

                          Kimberly Snead agreed, saying: “He pulled one over on us, as well as a lot of people.”

                          The couple believed Cruz to be depressed over the death of his mother, but said there were no other signs of trouble.

                          “We put him on a positive path, trying to heal,” Kimberly Snead told CBS. “And he just blew it... absolutely floored us.”

                          The Florida Department of Children and Families noted in a 2016 report that Cruz suffered from depression, ADHD and autism.

                          Broward County sheriff deputies were called to the home of Cruz’s mother 39 times between 2011 and 2016. Several of those calls were allegedly due to Cruz’s violent outbursts.

                          James Snead said he thought there was only one key to the safe where he made Cruz keep his weapons.

                          He told CBS that he now believes there were two keys and Cruz had the other.

                          “We feel heartfelt sorrow for the families involved,” James Snead said. "As far as being responsible, feeling responsibility, you know, we worked that out and there was nothing different we would have done."

                          Meanwhile, dozens of students and staff who survived the shooting will travel to Washington D.C. Tuesday to advocate gun control and school safety.

                          “I really think they are going to hear us out,” Chris Grady.

                          The senior told the paper that he hopes the trip will bring about “common sense laws like rigorous background checks.”

                          Grady is among the estimated 100 teens and their supporters who will make the 400-mile journey to a rally Wednesday in hopes of speaking with lawmakers about what can be done to evoke change.

                          "I’m not gonna let my daughter’s death go in vain," Andrew Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter, Meadow Pollack, was killed in last week’s shooting, told WSVN-TV. "I promised all these kids that I’ve been talking to that they’re gonna to go school and they’re gonna be safe, and we’re gonna have a movement."

                          Florida Gov. Rick Scott will hold meetings Tuesday with law enforcement, school officials, teachers and mental health professionals about protecting children in schools and preventing those struggling with mental illness from acquiring guns.

                          The gatherings will be broadcast on a livestream.

                          “I have spent the last week in Parkland talking to members of the community, students and families of the victims who are suffering following this horrific shooting," Scott said in a statement. "While there are only three weeks left of the legislative session, we must make changes to keep students safe. A tragedy like what occurred in Broward County must never happen again and swift action is needed now... this is an urgent matter that we must address quickly."


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                          Pundit Post

                          Ethically Bankrupt - Trump’s Miss Universe Gambit


                              Ethically Bankrupt

                              Trump’s Miss Universe Gambit

                              By Ray Cunneff

                              February 20, 2018

                              CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin has written a lengthy piece in The New Yorker that outlines how for years Donald Trump used his Miss Universe beauty pageant to advance his business interests and how his 2013 contest in Moscow may have also helped hand him the presidency.

                              Former contestants claim that Trump selected finalists in Miss Universe pageants based on his business ties with the woman's home country or in countries in which he wished to do business.

                              Rebuffed beauty queens claim that, during his co-ownership of the organization from 1996 to 2015, Trump would mingle among the women and would have his notes about them jotted down, both about their desirability and their home country's desirability, according to a report by The New Yorker.

                              Trump would reportedly meet the women during rehearsals and the women who went on to the broadcast finals were from countries that he had interests in.

                              During Trump's nineteen years with Miss Universe, multiple pageants were hosted in cities where Trump had business ties and several finalists were from countries where television ratings were consistently high.

                              Shi Lim, who competed as Miss Singapore in 2013, told the New Yorker: 'The finalists were picked by Trump. He was really in charge. We called it the Trump card.'

                              Adwoa Yamoah, who competed as Miss Canada in 2012, added: 'He made comments about every girl: "I’ve been to that country.' "We’re building a Trump Tower there."

                              'It was clear the countries that he liked did well. He basically told us he picked nine of the top fifteen.'

                              Preliminary judges tasked with selecting the finalists said they were shocked when their votes were tallied and some women who advanced to the final stage weren't selected by any of the judges.

                              Trump took the pageant to Moscow in 2013 in anticipation of building a Trump Tower there. Before his visit, Trump expressed his interest in meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin and tweeted: "Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow—if so, will he become my new best friend?"

                              Trump's Moscow visit was also mentioned in the Steele Dossier, a significant source of speculation there were links between Trump, his campaign, and Russia going back to at least 2013. But there is also evidence of Trump's Russian financial entanglements going back as far as 2007.

                              The persistent reports of collusion eventually helped propel Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.

                              The controversial report by former MI-6 British spy Christopher Steele contains accusations that Trump had prostitutes take 'golden showers', or urinate, on a bed that President Barack Obama and Michelle slept in while they were visiting the country.

                              Steele also claimed that Russia had worked to discover Trump's 'personal obsessions and sexual perversion in order to obtain suitable 'kompromat', or "compromising position", which could be used against him.

                              Steele concluded that the Kremlin had not only “been cultivating, supporting, and assisting” Donald Trump for at least five years, but also had compromised the tycoon “sufficiently to be able to blackmail him.”


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                              Pundit Post

                              Well Done NRA.......You've Awoken Your Worst Nightmare


                                  There's a rule about assumptions........more often than not those who make such assumptions end up being the Ass in that rule. Now as I write this there is reporting on another shooting, at another school, a school in the US...details are sparse at best from local reporting but it does appear that one 7th Grader shot his or herself........at a school in the US.

                                  Isn't the first time such an incident in American history and at present it certainly will not be the last. As I scrolled through prior posts on any given mass shooting and proceeding massacre I came across one from over two years ago.......oh where does the time go....

                                  Isn't it amazing to think that for some of us our time here on Yabberz has been longer than some gun violence victims...........let that sink in. For those of you who have been here longer than 17 months......you have been a member here longer than Jashun Ingram......He only made it to 17 months before he and three others were shot dead. I am sure not many people will have heard of Jashun.....I came across this story when writing this post and thought that it is important to show a face or a name particularly those who die in the shadows of a national, avoidable tragedy.

                                  Here he is....

                                  Just a kid, no enemies nor any time to make an enemy of anyone. Bang. Dead. Buried.


                                  17-month-old boy among 3 killed in shooting outside home

                                  By: Matt Johnson

                                  Updated: Jan 25, 2018 - 7:09 PM

                                  DOOLY COUNTY, Ga. - A 17-month-old boy is among three people killed in a shooting in middle Georgia early Thursday morning.

                                  “I miss my grandbaby, whoever did this, they need to pay, pay dearly,” said grandmother Bessie Ingram.

                                  There is pain and anger in the small town of Byromville after authorities say they found three people shot dead, including the little boy.

                                  His grandmother said his name was Jashun Ingram and that there is no excuse for his death.

                                  I remember in a conversation with another asking the specific question and posing a scenario. I asked this person what he would say to a parent of that other mass murder of children at their school desks, Sandy Hook and how that person could explain that his 2nd Amendment Right was more important than their child's life and to explain how that shooter in that incident got the gun in question.........


                                  Multiple mass shootings since and a host of victims with a host of countries feeling the pain and the US bereft of thought and leaderless as the control of those who sell the Gundamentalism of the 2nd Amendment and their complete and total control of the fortitude of all those who bow at the feet of those mountains of dollars.

                                  Of course those who are caught between a funeral hearse and cortege and cashing those cheques from their paymasters are as usual playing out the usual parade of utterly repugnant defences of owning what are simply instruments of death.......It's called an 'Assault' rifle for a reason, to kill. Ask those who survived that sprint for their lives about the nuances of what that actually feels like.

                                  It appears that of all the lessons learned from another notorious mass shooting, at an American school, American children being hunted down and executed....Columbine. Back then the killings were blamed upon violent music and violent movies and violent rap music........

                                  Those most pathetic of excuses are getting a 21st Century reboot.......The killer culture of violent movies and games and music and pornography and a serious lack of prayer throughout American schools........

                                  When the argument on owning an AR-15 becomes even more difficult to mount by those who like to play Soldiers with Jerry from Accounts because his wife left him because he beat her and he was armed......is boiled down to societal ills and Jesus refusing to help because no one prays to him in schools anymore.....

                                  Think that one over.......A bunch of kids listening to three staff and fourteen peers being executed......I am sure that some of them resorted to prayer.....Did Jesus turn around and think ''oh now they want me......well f*** them''......because regardless of prayer being in school or not....your version of Jesus is a chilling one and is a very disturbing interjection being put forward by Republicans and talking heads.


                                  I mean all those violent video games and movies and the severe lack of Jesus in American schools are the very same violent video games and movies and that severe lack of Jesus in every other school in developed nations...................Their kids get home safe and sound and not a bullet hole to be seen. That's the corner they have now backed themselves into with revisiting those old cultural ruby red herrings.

                                  Seriously overlooked is the amount of money spent upon America's need to have the ability to kill any human being around the world.....the most advanced and most deadly army on earth. Put God in the classroom and completely ignore that those who call for God also feed that superiority complex of military might and applaud that ability to spill blood, see life as lesser.

                                  That is the mistake made in the most recent tragedy by those who view life as lesser than the right to own an AR-15............The silent majority have had enough. They have witnessed enough, seen enough innocents killed.

                                  The condescension from those who see the raw anger and emotion from those who survived as nothing more than some upset kids. They lived to tell the tale and they will be heard as this latest attack is on those who are more connected than ever before and they will take their lead from themselves and not be spoken down to by those who pat them on the head with insulting excuses and talk of it being a result of a rapper saying 'fuck' on a song.

                                  These people will vote in 2020......

                                  They will will be organised......



                                  And coming for the NRA and those who take their blood soaked dollars....

                                  Well Done NRA.......You've Awoken Your Worst Nightmare

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                                  Pundit Post

                                  Where America Gets Its Health Coverage


                                      You know how Trump frequently says, "Most people don't know this...", but da da da? Well, I recently discovered something I suspect most people don't know. In a meeting with the HR Department at my company, I learned that my company is self insured for health insurance. We pay an insurance company to administer our plan, but the cost and risk is born solely by the company. Not the insurance company. The HR manager told me that actually most large companies self insure for healthcare, as it takes the profit motive out of health insurance.

                                      This is exactly what a universal single payer system does. In fact, my HR manager said the difference between what most large corporations in USA do related to funding healthcare cost and what Amazon, JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway are launching is that the latter is even taking over the administration function and completely cutting them middle man out of healthcare for their companies.

                                      Over forty-seven percent of Americans are currently covered by an employer based health care system, all of which are very similar to mini universal single payer plans. These employers pay on average 83% of the cost of health care for their employees. They in turn get to deduct the cost on their income tax returns, so the federal government, in essence kind of subsidizes these mini single payer health care plans.


                                      The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that in 2016, about 155 million people (or about 57 percent of the population under age 65) got health coverage through their job, or a family member’s job. That’s an awful lot of us.

                                      Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP covers 39.7% of Americans for health insurance. These programs are covered, of course, almost completely by taxpayers, albeit inadequately funded. Another 9% of Americans are covered by the ACA, which is highly subsidized by taxpayers.

                                      So when you combine self insured employer based plans that are subsidized by income tax deductions, Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP which are funded by taxpayers, and the ACA which is funded by taxpayers, 90% of Americans are currently covered by some form of government subsidized health insurance.

                                      A universal single payer health care system would be way more efficient than the piecemeal single payer system we currently have. The only thing that prevents us from providing quality affordable health care for all Americans regardless of their level of income, is that republicans/conservatives promote that it would be socialism, which is bad, even though that is what we are currently doing, only in a grossly inefficient manner.

                                      Although the 10% with no coverage at all is the most at-risk group, even the 40% who are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP and the ACA are somewhat at risk because those programs are inadequately funded. The 47% who are covered by their employers are the most stable, but the problem there is that if they are laid off or retire before they are eligible for Medicare, they put themselves at risk.

                                      So WHY is universal single payer not the best way to provide health care coverage for Americans?


                                      Major sources of healthcare coverage in the U.S. ( )

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                                      Pundit Post

                                          Although Putin denies it, and Trump backs him up, it has been proven that Russia interfered in our 2016 U.S. election, and officials tell us they will continue to do so. The result is that now many state officials are working on strategies to impede the Russians in their goals.

                                          Recently, 13 Russian Nationalists and 3 Russian companies have been indicted for tampering with American elections, so Trump and Putin's denials just seem not only false, but ridiculous to anyone who is paying attention.

                                          One Department of Home Security cyber-security official voiced frustration saying " “The Russians got close enough, and we anticipate it could be different, or worse, the next time around,”

                                          The midterms are coming, and Russia is ready. We know they spread disinformation on social media, hacked American political organizations, and in almost half of our states tried to infiltrate voting equipment vendors, political parties and at least one local election board.

                                          These attacks by Russia have exposed serious national security vulnerabilities in our election infrastructure. Yet despite this threat, the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress have simply ignored, even refused, for over a year now, to pursue the facts and defend our democracy.

                                          They have been exposed. They must be ousted from our government. We must support our states' governors in their quest to keep the Russians from changing THIS election. And we must vote!

                                          Image result for pictures of trump and putin
                                          Dustin VolzRussia Looms Large as U.S. Election Officials Prep for 2018

                                          4 MIN READA pair of conferences usually devoted to staid topics about election administration were instead packed with sessions dedicated to fending off election cyber attacks from Russia or others, as federal authorities tried to portray confidence while pleading with some states to take the threat more seriously.

                                          “Everyone in this room understands that what we are facing from foreign adversaries, particularly Russia, is real,” Chris Krebs, a senior cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), told an audience of secretaries of state, who in many states oversee elections. Russia, he added, is “using a range of tools against us.”

                                          The department said last year that 21 states had experienced initial probing of their systems from Russian hackers and that a small number of networks were compromised. Voting machines were not directly affected and there remains no evidence any vote was altered, officials say.

                                          While virtually all 50 states have taken steps since the 2016 election to purchase more secure equipment, expand the use of paper ballots, improve cyber training or seek federal assistance, according to groups that track election security, some officials at the conferences expressed an added sense of urgency.

                                          That is because the meetings came immediately after U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller unsealed an indictment accusing 13 Russians and three Russian companies of conducting a criminal conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 election.

                                          The charges alleged a sophisticated multi-year operation carried out by a Russian propaganda factory to use false personas on social media to boost Donald Trump’s campaign. Russia has repeatedly denied it attempted to meddle.

                                          “Loud and clear I hear that the biggest threat is this campaign of disinformation as opposed to the election process itself,” said Denise Merrill, Connecticut’s secretary of state, a Democrat.

                                          DHS has taken the lead on working with states to improve voting machine security, but no federal agency is specifically responsible for combating online propaganda.

                                          Several secretaries of state said they needed more rapid notification from federal partners about not just attempts to breach voting systems but disinformation campaigns as well.

                                          “I don’t want to find out about propaganda two years later, after I elect my congressman,” said Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, in an interview while clutching his own printed copy of the 37-page indictment.

                                          Frustration boiled over at times among the secretaries of state, some of whom criticized a classified briefings U.S. intelligence agencies held with them over the weekend as largely unhelpful.

                                          Federal officials, they said, continued to provide inadequate information to states about the nature of the Russian cyber threat and how to protect against it.

                                          “I would have thought that behind closed doors, I would have heard, ‘This is why this has to be classified.’ And I heard none of it,” said West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner, a Republican. Still, other secretaries of state and election directors said relationships with DHS had improved dramatically compared with a year ago.

                                          Speaking on a panel and attempting to quell frustration, Robert Kolasky, another DHS cybersecurity official, stressed that U.S. intelligence officials were genuinely worried about how Russia or others may attempt to interfere in 2018.

                                          “There are reasons we are worried that things could become more serious,” Kolasky said. “The Russians got close enough, and we anticipate it could be different, or worse, the next time around,” he said.


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