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Conspiracy of Silence? Cummings’ Consultancy Paid Vast Sums to Vote Leave AI Firm

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Conspiracy of Silence? Cummings' Consultancy Paid Vast Sums to Vote Leave AI Firm

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The prime ministers chief adviser has declined to explain the reason for the payments to Faculty, made in instalments over two years, and the firm itself is also remaining tight-lipped on the question.

A private company owned and controlled by Dominic Cummings paid over a quarter of a million pounds to Faculty, the artificial intelligence firm that worked on the Vote Leave campaign, The Guardian has revealed.

Faculty made headlines earlier in 2020 when it was given a central role in the governments response to the coronavirus crisis, conducting data modelling to help officials respond to the pandemic in all, at least 13 Whitehall contracts worth around 3 million have been awarded to the company. In all, its worked on more than 30 projects with public bodies since 2016, although the firm dismisses suggestions it received any preferential treatment from the prime ministers chief adviser, and claims all work its conducted for the government had been won fairly and properly through tender and procurement processes.

However, Faculty also received payments from Dynamic Maps, Cummings private consultancy firm one company document seen by The Guardian indicates it reaped almost 260,000 from Dynamic Maps 2018 2019 alone, a year after it was set up by Cummings to provide information technology consultancy activities.

Faculty was founded in 2014 as a fellowship and mentoring startup called ASI Data Science, which seconded physics and maths PhD graduates from top universities with a client company that might subsequently hire them. If they were recruited, ASI received a fee.

Cummings, whos often written on his blog about the benefits of using science, technology, data and artificial intelligence to improve decision-making in government, recruited Faculty to work on Vote Leave in 2016.

After Cummings was appointed chief adviser to Boris Johnson in 2019, Ben Warner, a Faculty data scientist who worked with him on Vote Leave, was hired as a Downing Street data adviser to No 10 his brother Marc is the cofounder and chief executive of Faculty. The companys shareholders also include two current and former Conservative ministers John Nash, minister for schools 2013 2017, and his successor Theodore Agnew. Its services are known to have been employed by PR firm Hanbury, which was co-founded September 2016 by Paul Stephenson, Vote Leaves director of communications, and is currently helping recruit of special advisers for Downing Street.

A nameless Department of Health source told The Guardian Marc Warner frequently bragged about being close with Cummings in meetings, and strongly implied he had the personal support of the prime ministers chief adviser.

A Downing Street spokesperson said all contracts awarded to Faculty followed proper procurement procedures.

On becoming a special adviser, Cummings started a new job and gave up any commercial roles; the necessary steps have rightly been taken to wind down his previous company. Special advisers have no role in authorising the expenditure of public funds, they added.

Ironically, The Scott Trust, which owns of The Guardian, is the sole investor in GMG Ventures, an early stage independent venture capital fund set up to invest in start-ups at the intersection of media and technology thats also a minority shareholder in Faculty.



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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories – KTVZ

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories - KTVZ

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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York are calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to create a new bipartisan committee focused on election integrity and schedule hearings to reassure Americans over a process President Donald Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine.

There is growing anxiety among Democrats, and some Republicans, that Trump will not only continue to sow doubt over the legitimacy of the coming election but throw the subsequent count into chaos by declaring victory before all the votes can be tallied, including the millions that will arrive by mail.

In a letter to McConnell, Sanders and Schumer quote back the Kentucky senator’s own words, in which he attested to the reliability of mail-in voting by citing its successes in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, which have been using the system for years.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of mail-in voting, promoted conspiracy theories questioning election security, called on supporters to act as unsanctioned “poll watchers,” and suggested that the absence of a clear result by the evening of November 3 would in some way cast doubt on the eventual outcome. Key allies in powerful positions, like Attorney General Bill Barr, have followed suit. Barr has persisted in puffing up a debunked claim that ballots received by mail would somehow strip the sender of their privacy — ignoring well-established safeguards.

By escalating the matter now, Sanders and Schumer are responding to growing concern, in partisan and nonpartisan spaces, that Americans are not adequately prepared for the potential of a longer-than-usual wait for results or Trump’s willingness to short-circuit the democratic process if he smells defeat.

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress must come together to ensure that we have a free and fair election where every vote is cast and counted without intimidation,” Sanders told CNN, “where no one has to put his or her health in danger to cast a ballot, and where we have full confidence in the results.”

The proposed hearings would invite a cross-section of election officials from across the country to testify to the security and reliability of mail-in, early- and in-person voting — subjects on which Sanders and Schumer, again, referenced McConnell’s own words.

“Despite the clear security of our vote-by-mail system, some have continued to undermine it with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud,” they wrote. “As you have correctly said, people ‘can vote early, you can vote on Election Day, or you can drop it in the mail,’ and that voters should ‘not worry about your vote not counting.’”

The minority leader and Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also want more detailed discussion about the fraught hours, or days, after the polls close and a real-time watch of the election horse race potentially swings from one candidate to another.

“We know a number of states may well be counting ballots for a period of time after Election Day, and that those votes may be determinative in this election,” the senators wrote to McConnell. “To avoid disinformation, conspiracy theories, and suspicion about results, we must understand the likely timeline for this process.”

The letter goes on to reference the recent war games-style preparations conducted by a group called the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan gathering of operatives and academics that made headlines when some of the outcomes of their exercises — including “both street-level violence and political impasse” — were reported on in late July.

“A bipartisan group of experts and officials have studied multiple scenarios where the outcome of the election was not immediately known. Some of these scenarios resulted in unrest and even violence,” Sanders and Schumer wrote, suggesting the Senate should elevate similar discussions and familiarize the public with the uncertainties ahead. “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS supported Caputo, with a statement that called him a critical, integral part of the presidents coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no immediate statement from the White House.

Attempts to reach Caputo were unsuccessful.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called on Azar to fire Caputo, accusing the spokesman of trying to interfere with CDC reports to the medical and scientific community, as well as the public at large. And Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Azar himself to resign, citing interference with the CDC as one example of what he termed the administration’s failures.

Officials at CDC have privately complained of recent efforts by political appointees at main HHS to try to edit or press for changes in the agency’s weekly MMWR publications, a go-to resource for public health professionals.

MMWR articles are technical, but they reveal telling details. One published earlier this year noted that while Trump’s travel restrictions dramatically reduced travel from China in February, nothing was being done at that time to restrict travel from Italy and Europe, where the coronavirus was spreading widely and rapidly. Analysis of virus samples from hard-hit New York in March suggested it was introduced there from Europe and other parts of the U.S., the CDC article reported.

Caputo is an unswerving Trump loyalist. His recent book, The Ukraine Hoax, claims the presidents phony impeachment was rooted in a vast conspiracy.

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS…

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS...

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My RSS Feedunwinona:

This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS and Polio narrative (among others), only we’re seeing it escalated to weeks and months instead of years or decades.

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