National: Ex-CIA chief: Trump staff had enough contact with Russia to justify FBI inquiry | The Guardian

The former CIA director, John Brennan, has said there were enough contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Moscow by last summer to justify further investigation by the FBI. In testimony to the House intelligence committee, Brennan gave the fullest account to date of the scale of the effort to combat Russian operations to affect the outcome of the 2016 elections. He confirmed that the CIA had set up a special group with the NSA and FBI in late July to investigate the extent of Russian intervention in the presidential election. He briefed congressional leaders on the threat and on 4 August he warned Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the Russian intelligence agency, FSB, in a telephone call to stop the meddling, telling him it would backfire. Bortnikov told Brennan he would pass on the message to Vladmir Putin.

National: Richard Clarke: Why the journalists, spies, and politicians warned about Trump’s Russia ties couldn’t believe their eyes | Quartz

As the US Congress, the FBI, and newly appointed special counsel Robert Mueller probe the nest of activities around Russian interference in US politics, a lot of people are asking the same question: Why didn’t we know about all of this before the presidential election? If it turns out that there was a major Russian role in the outcome of the election, much of the US media, some members of Congress, and even leaders in the Obama White House may have to admit that they had fair warning. As with so many other disasters, from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to Hurricane Katrina and the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdowns, a lot of powerful people ignored an expert who very clearly told us what was coming.

National: Why Trump Can’t Stop the Russia Investigation | Time

In May 2016, a Russian military intelligence officer talked too much. Boasting to a colleague, he said that his organization, known as the GRU, was getting ready to cause chaos in the upcoming U.S. presidential election. The officer was “bragging about the systematic attempt… to cause chaos into our electoral cycle,” a senior U.S. intelligence official told TIME for the magazine’s current cover story on the Russian operation. What the officer didn’t know was that U.S. spies were listening. Looking back as part of their effort to uncover the details of the 2016 Russia operation, U.S. investigators now realize the GRU officer’s boast was the first indication they had from their sources that Russia wasn’t just hacking U.S. email accounts to collect intelligence, but was actually planning to interfere in the vote, several senior intelligence officials told TIME.

Editorials: Is Anthony Kennedy ready to put an end to partisan gerrymandering? | Mark Joseph Stern/Slate

Say what you will about Justice Samuel Alito, but the man always thinks ahead. On Monday, Alito dissented in Cooper v. Harris, the landmark 5–3 ruling that united Justice Clarence Thomas and the Supreme Court’s liberals to strike down North Carolina’s racial gerrymander. Frustrated by the progressive result, Alito penned a 34-page broadside lambasting his colleagues for accusing the state of race-based redistricting. North Carolina, Alito insisted, had gerrymandered along partisan lines, not racial ones, in an effort to disadvantage Democrats, not blacks. And partisan gerrymandering, Alito reminded us, does not violate the Constitution.

California: Amid calls for investigation, Los Angeles certifies Skid Row election outcome | KPCC

Skid Row advocates say they hope to pursue “any and all legal action” to help keep their community’s effort to establish a neighborhood council alive. General Jeff Page, speaking for the Skid Row Neighborhood Council formation committee, told KPCC Monday he did not agree with city officials’ decision on Friday to certify last month’s election results, when the Skid Row effort was defeated by less than 100 votes. “It’s a bunch of hogwash,” he said. “Right now we’re in the process of seeking legal representation to stand with us and overcome this travesty.”

Kansas: ACLU seeks sanctions, disclosure of Trump documents | The Kansas City Star

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked a federal court to enable documents from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s November meeting with President Donald Trump to be made public. Kobach earlier this month handed over the documents, which outline a proposed strategic plan for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, under a federal judge’s order. However, he marked the documents as confidential. The ACLU filed a motion with U.S. District Court of Kansas in Kansas City, Kan. late Monday seeking to remove that designation and enable their contents to be shared with the wider public.

Michigan: Stein recount sparks vote to double fees | The Detroit News

Michigan would double fees for long-shot election recounts under legislation approved Tuesday by the state Senate following a partial hand recount of 2016 presidential votes prompted by Green Party nominee Jill Stein. Stein petitioned for a Michigan recount despite receiving less than two percent of the vote in the state’s Nov. 7 election that saw Republican President Donald Trump officially defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton by 10,704 votes. Michigan law required Stein to pay $973,250 for the massive hand recount — $125 per physical and absentee ballot precinct — but Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office estimated the actual cost for the state and local clerks could approach $2 million.

Kenya: Will Jubilee Try Digital Warfare to Ensure Victory in Elections? |

In the run-up to the 2013 elections, the then presidential candidate, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, who had been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, hired the services of a London-based PR firm called BTP Advisers to manage his election campaign. The PR company, whose slogan is, “We deliver campaigns that change hearts and minds”, advised Mr Kenyatta to use aggressive propaganda tactics that cast the ICC as racist and its supporters, including local civil society organisations (which his propagandists dubbed “the evil society”), as puppets of the West.

Lesotho: Bumpy road ahead of Lesotho poll | The Southern Times

While the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has announced determination to deliver a credible election and that they remain on course and faithful to their calendar, extra-mural events pose a serious threat to a free and fairly run electoral process. The electoral body has voiced concern over forecast weather patterns in the country, with citizens put on high alert for the week preceding, during and after elections, due to extreme weather conditions predicted over polling day.

Russia: Election Meddling Part Of A Long History Of ‘Active Measures’ | WAMU

In 1983, an explosive story appeared in an Indian newspaper, The Patriot: the AIDS virus was the result of American biological weapons research. Two years later a Soviet newspaper picked up the thread: The U.S. Army had developed AIDS as a bioweapon at Fort Detrick, Md. Other publications followed suit and by 1986, an East German biology professor was publishing “research” in which he explained that the virus had been tested on service members used as human guinea pigs — who then began spreading it among vulnerable populations. None of it was true. All of it was fiction created by Russian intelligence officers or their allies. But the storyline — that the U.S. government created AIDS — has proven one of the most durable examples of “dezinformatsiya,” as it was known to its practitioners in the Soviet intelligence world.

United Kingdom: How social media filter bubbles and algorithms influence the election | The Guardian

One of the most powerful players in the British election is also one of the most opaque. With just over two weeks to go until voters go to the polls, there are two things every election expert agrees on: what happens on social media, and Facebook in particular, will have an enormous effect on how the country votes; and no one has any clue how to measure what’s actually happening there. “Many of us wish we could study Facebook,” said Prof Philip Howard, of the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, “but we can’t, because they really don’t share anything.” Howard is leading a team of researchers studying “computational propaganda” at the university, attempting to shine a light on the ways automated accounts are used to alter debate online.

Venezuela: As unrest spreads, Maduro presses on with plans to rewrite charter | Reuters

Faced with mounting unrest, Venezuela’s unpopular leftist President Nicolas Maduro vowed on Tuesday to push ahead in July with the formation of a “constituent assembly” to rewrite the constitution before regional elections in December. The South American OPEC member has been racked by strife, with 55 people killed during unrest in the past two months as public anger boiled over due to an economic meltdown that has left many Venezuelans scrabbling to afford three meals a day. In an apparent bid to show the government was seeking a democratic solution, the head of the pro-government electoral council said voting for a controversial “constituent assembly” would be held in late July.