Orrin Hatch Calls Obamacare Supporters ‘The Stupidest, Dumbass People I’ve Ever Met’

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is apparently sick of people who support affordable health care.

On Thursday, the Republican politician called supporters of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, “the stupidest, dumbass people I’ve ever met,” according to Salt Lake City station KSTU.

Hatch made the comments during a speech about the recent GOP tax overhaul that repealed the health care law’s individual mandate, according to The Hill.

The insult came after Hatch referred to “that wonderful bill called ‘Obamacare.’”

“Now, if you didn’t catch on, I was being very sarcastic,” he said.

Hatch then called the Affordable Care Act “the stupidest, dumbass bill that I’ve ever seen.”

He added:

“Now, some of you may have loved it. If you do, you are one of the stupidest, dumbass people I’ve ever met. This was one of them — and there are a lot of ’em up on Capitol Hill from time to time.”

Hatch’s comments came the same day the Kaiser Family Foundation released a poll saying the Affordable Care Act was popular with 54 percent of the population.

That’s the highest level of support since the law was enacted in 2010, according to The Hill.

Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock tried to put a Band-Aid on the senator’s Obamacare insults.

“The comments were obviously made in jest, but what’s not a joke is the harm Obamacare has caused for countless Utahns,” Whitlock told KSTU.

In January, the 83-year-old Hatch announced he would retire from the Senate at the end of 2018. He has served in the office since 1977.

You can watch Hatch’s comments below:

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/orrin-hatch-obamacare-supporters-dumbasses_us_5a988eafe4b0a0ba4ad19ef4

7 Things You Need To Know About The Pisces In Your Life

Rowan Chestnut / Unsplash

Let me be the first to admit that I am no astrologer. Ask me to explain why our birthdays affect our personalities, and I won’t be able too. Although there is some science to back up how the particular month you were born in affects your personality (read here & here), there’s just not as much to defend why your particular astrological sign does. Nevertheless, I’m a believer in greater cosmic power. I’ve read a fair share about my zodiac sign, and can conclude that I am 100% a Pisces.

So with it officially being the Pisces birthday month, I’d like to make sure that we all understand the fishes. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m under the impression that we tend to be brushed off as “complicated,” when really, we’re just a fragile, tolerant, and absolutely lovable sign. “Complicated” doesn’t quite do my fellow fishes and I justice, so here’s what it really feels like to be a Pisces, and to have one of us in your life.

1. We are sensitive and emotional. Please be gentle with us.

The Pisces sign is symbolized by two swimming fishes. According to astrology.com, the “water sign is extremely emotional, empathic, and extraordinarily sensitive.”

Out of all the Pisces that I have ever met, this statement holds true. I have not once come across a Pisces that isn’t sensitive. As the extremely intuitive fish that we are, we’re in touch with our feelings and the feelings of others. When there’s a shift in the current, or a change in the tide, we don’t just notice it—we feel it. We’re affected by the energy that surrounds us, as well as our environment. We’re ruled by emotions, and are the sign of heart over mind.

2.  We’re pretty fun and get along with basically everyone

Pisces are innately fun. Because of our perceptive nature, we can get along with anyone; blend into any crowd. We’re always open to new ideas, and we thrive off positive vibes. This makes us a fun friend to go out with, or to have around when you need a shoulder to cry on. We have an incredible ability to read people and relate to them.

3. We may seem a bit lost and indecisive

As fishes, we can sink or swim. Sometimes it takes a Pisces a while to focus and find the right direction. Because we are adaptable, we may aimlessly drift around for a while. To some we may appear lost or distracted, with our head in the clouds. All we really need, however, is someone or something to help ground us and our free spirit.

4. We’re the dreamers, and have vivid imaginations

Pisces are always dreaming. We have vivid imaginations, and we get easily swept away by our own thoughts and desires. To Pisces, the mystical world is more appealing than the real one. We like to escape reality. This is why many of pursue creative professions, allowing us to dream a bit deeper.

5. We need time to ourselves

As dreamers, we need “me time” to get lost in our own fantasies and restore our energy. We like spending time with ourselves just as much as with others, and we enjoy being fully absorbed in a great book or solo activity.

6. We are affectionate, vulnerable, and a little needy

Pisces love to love, and love to be loved. We fall hard, and wear our hearts on our sleeve. We can also be a bit needy, and are easily bruised (I repeat, we’re very sensitive).

7. You’ll find us by the water 

The water is our happy place, and we crave it as much as we need it. Take an unhappy Pisces to the beach, the pool, on a boat ride, or even run them a hot bath. You’ll see the difference.

And that’s a Pisces, in a nutshell. We’re a little complicated to the outside eye, but only in the best way possible. We feel deeply, dream deeply, love deeply. We’re an intense school of fish, and you would be mistaken to not want us around.

Happy Birthday Pisces!

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/olivia-lipski/2018/02/7-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-pisces-in-your-life/

5 Exercises And One Affordable Drink That’ll Help You Blast Belly Fat Fast

They say summer bodies are made in winter.

But someone needs to tell that to the baked mac n cheese I just ate last night, because neither it nor I got the memo. As swimsuit season fast approaches, a lot of us start feeling a little less than confident in what all those Christmas cookies and rich, potato-filled stews did to our bods in the winter months.

I feel you. And while I personally am a proponent of eating stuff you love and working out with the first motivation being health over anything, I can’t blame anyone for wanting to beat the belly bulge a little before sun dress weather hits. Luckily, there are 5 moves and one affordable shake you can incorporate into your routine to get back in tip top shape!

Because all food is good food, let’s start with that drink, shall we?

Okay, here’s what you’ll need to round up:

  • One small cucumber/half of a larger one
  • One lemon
  • 10 mint leaves
  • Ice
  • One teaspoon of ginger

Here’s why they work well together.

Cucumbers are 90% water, and half the battle in losing weight is staying hydrating and staying full. The water content in cucumbers will help you kill two birds with one stone. Lemon is great because it promotes bowel movements and flushes that system right on out. Ginger has a thermogenic effect, which helps burn calories when the body digests food. Mint has been shown to aid in digestion as well. Pop those babies in a blender, pour, and add ice if you so desire.

Read more: http://www.viralnova.com/blast-belly-fat/

Snow causes major disruption across UK

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Media captionLatest BBC Weather forecast with Phil Avery

Flights and trains have been cancelled and drivers stranded as sub-zero conditions continue across the UK.

Rail networks Southeastern, South Western and ScotRail advised people not to travel on their routes on Friday.

Thousands of properties were left without power across the south west of England, south Wales and the Midlands.

The Met Office’s red warning has been lifted but flood warnings remain in place in the south-west and north-east of England.

Services stopped leaving London Waterloo station just before 22:00 GMT with the South Western Railway network shutting down early.

Meanwhile, the RAC says that freezing rain could pose the biggest threat to drivers as black ice forms on roads.

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Media captionPiers Hanson walked down the tracks after receiving clearance from police

There were severe delays to services in Lewisham, south London after passengers stuck on four Southeastern trains “forced open” doors, left the carriages and started walking along the tracks.

The rail company said police and the fire service assisted in helping to restore power on the tracks and get trains moving again.

Major incidents were declared in Wiltshire, Hampshire and Avon and Somerset, as blizzards brought roads to a standstill.

The M62 near Manchester was closed while the military helped police free stranded motorists.

Around 100 cars were stuck on the A505 between Hitchin and Luton but were able to complete their journey after a few hours.

The body of a woman has been found during a search for missing 51-year-old hillwalker Alison Fox, who went walking in the Ochil Hills behind Menstrie, Clackmannanshire, on Thursday afternoon.

A police spokesman said formal identification had not yet taken place but Ms Fox’s family had been informed.

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Media captionNear miss bus driver Charmaine Laurie: “It looked worse on the video”

There are yellow weather warnings for snow, ice and wind in place across the UK throughout Friday and Saturday, with a Scottish warning in force until 23:55 GMT on Monday, but there are no more of the more serious amber alerts currently in place.

Prime Minister Theresa May has thanked everyone “going the extra mile”.

In Scotland the armed forces are transporting vital NHS staff to the hospitals where they work.

Electricity North West says it restored power to 20,000 homes in the north west of England but some rural areas could be without power overnight on Friday.

Image copyright Supt Toby Davies
Image caption Officers had the loan of poles to search for vehicles buried on the A386 in Devon

The Environment Agency has issued 15 flood warnings and 36 flood alerts for coastal areas in the south-west and north-east of England.

Severe flooding has been reported in Penzance, Cornwall, due to high river levels and swollen seas.

The Met Office said the UK has officially broken its record for the lowest temperatures in a 24-hour period in March.

Temperatures in the town of Tredegar in south Wales did not get above -5.2C on Thursday.

Police forces around the UK have told people to travel only if necessary.

There is a warning of black ice on the M6, while some of the worst problems are near Rochdale on the M62 – which is closed as stranded vehicles are cleared – and on the A303 near Ilminster and the A31 in the New Forest.

On the M62, volunteers from Milnrow, Rochdale, took hot drinks, food and blankets to some of those stuck – including a bottle of warm milk for a five-week-old baby.

Responding to a call for help on social media, farmers used their tractor to drive off-duty midwives to a woman who had gone into labour in the remote village of Balgedie, near Kinross which had been cut off by the snow.

In Cumbria, a farmer ran out of feed for his 4,000 hens near Penrith and asked for a route to be cleared.

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Media captionThe BBC’s Sian Lloyd reports from the Vale of Glamorgan
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Commuters in Cardiff were able to walk on a deserted dual carriageway
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Image caption While passengers at London Waterloo rushed to get home before the last train

Commuters ‘almost jubilant’

By BBC transport correspondent Victoria Fritz

The more normal response to this level of travel disruption would be exasperation and even anger amongst marooned passengers.

But after a week of widespread chaos, the mood in Waterloo station on Friday at rush hour is almost jubilant.

The weekend is around the corner and many of the thousands here will be granted a temporary reprieve from doing daily battle with the railways.

The biggest gripe amongst passengers is that there has been precious little information of last minute changes to schedules.

Most are understanding of the extraordinary challenges track and train operators are facing.

Station staff are out in force and briefing passengers when they can. With the weather rapidly closing in, it’s a dash for all to get home before the clock strikes 22:00 GMT.

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Media captionDr Chris Marsh on his 10-mile walk to work

Much of Wales was brought to a standstill, where routine operations were cancelled as health boards made a plea for staff to attend work. Travel conditions in Scotland remain treacherous.

The Premier League has said games are expected to go ahead despite the weather. However, four matches in the Championship and two games in the Scottish Premiership have been cancelled.

Image copyright PA
Image caption A pub landlord in Greater Manchester battles against the snow at his front door

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Media captionIce blocks Birmingham’s canals
Image copyright PA
Image caption But these horses braved the elements at a farm in Snetterton, Norfolk

What is happening with the trains?

Across the UK, more than 20 rail operators are running a reduced service. National Rail has been advising passengers to check their service before travelling. Some train operators urged people not to travel at all.

  • Virgin Trains is not running any services north of Newcastle on Saturday, with their route between Carlisle and Scotland – affecting the London to Glasgow and London to Edinburgh routes – closed with no replacement buses running
  • Arriva Trains Wales has said a limited service will run on Saturday and passengers have been advised only to travel if essential up until Monday morning. There are limited trains between Shrewsbury and Crewe, Crewe and Chester, Chester and Holyhead, Wrexham and Bidston and Swansea and Carmarthen
  • Great Western Railway said there will be a limited timetable with no services between Cheltenham and Paddington, and the North Downs trains have been cancelled
  • Heathrow Express services between London Paddington and Heathrow Airport will run three times an hour
  • East Midlands Trains are running a reduced timetable with no trains between Lincoln Central and Grimsby Town, and between Sleaford and Skegness
  • On the Northern network, there are no services between Leeds and Carlisle/Lancaster, Liverpool and Manchester Airport, and Hazel Grove and Buxton. It warns passengers of possible timetable changes throughout Saturday
  • ScotRail aims to have several of its routes operational from early morning on Saturday but advises passengers to check before they travel
  • CrossCountry is not running trains between Birmingham and the South West and, Birmingham and Cardiff until after 09:00 GMT. No services will operate between Newcastle and Scotland and trains between Reading and Southampton/Bournemouth are not expected to run until mid afternoon
  • Southeastern railway said it will run an amended timetable on Saturday and services will start later after track inspections

How are the airports affected?

Image copyright PA

More than 1,250 flights were cancelled across the UK and Ireland on Friday.

  • Glasgow Airport: Open after “the worst snowfall in its history” but still warns of delays and cancellations
  • Edinburgh Airport: Ryanair will resume its full schedule of flights after a day of cancellations on Friday
  • Dublin Airport: Most flights will start later on Saturday but passengers are urged to check before they travel
  • Cardiff Airport: The airport will be closed until Saturday morning
  • Bristol Airport: There were significant disruptions on Friday and passengers are advised to contact their airline before travelling
  • East Midlands Airport: After a day of cancellations and delays, the airport is expected to be fully operational
  • Leeds Bradford: The airport is open but is experiencing delays
  • Heathrow Airport: The airport advises passengers to check before travelling
  • Gatwick Airport: There are delays and cancellations
  • City Airport: The runway was closed on Friday because of the snow and the airline advises passengers that delays and cancellations could be likely
  • Birmingham Airport: Runway unlikely to reopen before Saturday morning with travellers warned to check with their airline

What is the forecast?

The Met Office says the cold weather could last into next week and possibly the following week.

Up to 50cm (19 inches) of snow is forecast in parts of Dartmoor, Exmoor and uplands parts of south-east Wales accompanied by gales or severe gales in exposed areas.

Gusts of 60-70mph are possible in parts of northern England and Wales.

Up to 10cm (four inches) of snow is forecast in parts of Scotland and northern England, with up to 25cm over the area’s hills.

How has the cold weather affected you? Share your pictures, video and experiences by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

Or use the form below

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43251824

Bernie Sanders To Hold Televised Town Hall On Economic Inequality

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) plans to hold a live, televised town hall on March 19 devoted to exploring the issue of economic inequality.

The town hall, called “Inequality in America: The Rise of Oligarchy and Collapse of the Middle Class,” will take place before a live audience in the auditorium of the U.S. Capitol. It will be broadcast online with the help of the event’s digital media partners, The Guardian, NowThis, The Young Turks and Act.tv.

The 80-minute panel discussion is an attempt to capitalize on the success of Sanders’ January town hall on “Medicare for all” that drew 1.6 million live viewers.

“The goal is twofold: No. 1 is to have a serious discussion on one of the most important issues facing our country, and that is who owns America, who has the power, why the middle class is declining,” Sanders told HuffPost. “We’re going to talk about extreme poverty in America.

“Then we’re going to be talking about where we go from here. How do we create an economy that works for everybody and not just the 1 percent?” 

Sanders has made no secret of his disdain for the superficial habits of mainstream media outlets in general, and television news in particular. He is convinced that the corporate ownership of these operations prevents them from holding accountable the powerful economic forces in the country.

“You tell me how often [the television news] has had serious discussion about the decline of the middle class, the impact of wealth and income inequality, what it means that people like the Koch brothers can spend $400 million on a campaign? Have you ever seen a program about that?” he asked.

But one advantage of Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign is that he now has a social media following large enough to communicate his message directly to a sizable swath of the public.

“What we want to do is to force discussion about issues of importance to the American people that the corporate media, for a dozen different reasons, will not cover,” he said.

Even before the “Medicare for all” town hall, Sanders had dramatically increased his online video presence. Short Facebook videos he has posted explaining health care and tax policies have garnered millions of views. The lengthier digital town hall format allows Sanders to go into greater depth than those short videos.

The program will consist of a four-person panel: Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), filmmaker Michael Moore, and Darrick Hamilton, an economics and urban policy professor at The New School in New York City.

As the panelists discuss what has caused rising economic inequality and how it might be addressed, they will invite guest speakers with specific expertise to join the discussion.

The scheduled guests include Catherine Coleman Flowers, a founder of the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise Community Development Corp., an anti-poverty group; Gordon Lafer, a labor policy expert at the University of Oregon; and Cindy Estrada, a vice president of the United Auto Workers labor union. 

What do we need to do to join the rest of the world in guaranteeing health care for all people, have a livable minimum wage, build the affordable housing, make sure that every kid in this country is able to go to college regardless of his or her income, and how do we rebuild the infrastructure? Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Unlike the “Medicare for all” town hall, which was devoted to a single policy solution, the inequality town hall is expected to be more open-ended in its proposals.

Based on the way Sanders diagnoses the problem, however, the answers he intends to examine most closely are likely to come from the progressive toolkit. That presumably includes policies that Sanders himself has championed: free college tuition, expanded Social Security benefits, paid family leave, a higher minimum wage and rules that strengthen labor unions.

“What do we need to do to join the rest of the world in guaranteeing health care for all people, have a livable minimum wage, build the affordable housing, make sure that every kid in this country is able to go to college regardless of his or her income, and how do we rebuild the infrastructure?” he said of the event’s mission.

Sanders elicited criticism from supporters of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign for his message on class and economic inequality that appeared to sidestep inequalities driven by race, gender and other identities or experiences.

Sanders continues to dispute the criticism, noting his vocal opposition to racial bias in policing and his support for criminal justice reform and women’s reproductive rights.

The Vermont senator’s town hall is likely to address economic hardship in communities of color and the particular solutions that might be needed. Hamilton, Coleman Flowers and Estrada each have expertise in the intersection of racial and economic inequities.

“We would not do an event that did not include a serious discussion about the needs of minority communities,” Sanders said.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-economic-inequality-town-hall_us_5aa0cb2fe4b0d4f5b66d608e

John Oliver Praises Parkland Shooting Survivors for Taking on the Gun Lobby

Yes, John Oliver is back.

After several months off, the irascible Brit returned to the desk of Last Week Tonight for its fifth season premiere. He began by addressing the heartbreaking events of Parkland, Florida, wherein a MAGA hat-wearing 19-year-old armed with a legally purchased AR-15 assault rifle targeted the students and faculty of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, taking 17 lives in a hail of gunfire.

These events are now so familiar, we basically automatically know how each side will play out: thoughts and prayers, fuck your thoughts and prayers, its a mental health problem, yeah, but its also a gun problem, and then someone says nows not the time to talk about gun control, and then everybody moves on until it inevitably happens again, said Oliver.

He added: But this time felt slightly different because when the nows not the time argument came out, the kids from that school said, You know what? Yes it fucking is.

In the wake of the massacre, the teen survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been calling out the empty rhetoric of obfuscating talking-head charlatans like Tomi Lahren and gun lobby flunkies like President Trump, who somehow managed to make the tragedy all about himself. This is a generation of kids who were born after Columbine, who will no longer accept mass shootings as their new reality, and who are outraged by the governmental apathy and indifference.

They say that no laws couldve been able to prevent the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS! screamed MSD High student Emma Gonzalez at a recent rally.

We call BS, echoed Oliver. It is a little ironic that the people who are acting with the most maturity in this horrifying situation arent even old enough to say the word bullshit in front of their parents. Those kids have already announced a march next month, and in doing so theyre challenging adults to participate in a real conversation about gun violence.

Whether or not President Trumpwho partied at a Mar-a-Lago disco bash mere hours after visiting wounded survivors of the Parkland shootingwill participate in that dialogue is anybodys guess.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/john-oliver-praises-parkland-shooting-survivors-for-taking-on-the-gun-lobby

The Vatican Hosts a Hackathon

In recent years, organizations have used hackathons to find code-enabled solutions for everything from the opioid crisis to gerrymandering. It's hard to imagine a field where a hack day hasn't been utilized to solve one problem or another. But tomorrow a group of budding entrepreneurs, developers, and technologists will be making hackathon history: participating in the first-ever codefest in Vatican City.

The event, VHacks, is bringing together 120 students for a 36-hour hackathon aimed at finding technological solutions for three global issues the Catholic Church hopes to address: social inclusion, interfaith dialogue, and assistance for migrants and refugees.

The seed of the idea sprouted last year when Jakub Florkiewicz, a student at Harvard Business School, met the Reverend Eric Salobir, founder of Optic, the first Vatican-affiliated think tank on technology and Monseigneur Lucio Ruiz from the Vatican's Secretariat for Communication. Salobir had helped organize hackathons through Optic before, in San Francisco and Paris, but he was thinking of coordinating one at the church's enclave in Rome. "In the past couple of years, the Vatican has been in a period of transformation initiated by Pope Francis, including in terms of using digital technologies and digital media," Salobir says. "This is the first [hackathon] at the Vatican, so it is very symbolic."

In his tenure, Francis has embraced social media—he has 17 million Twitter followers and more than 5 million devotees on Instagram—and even spoke last year at TED, the conference famous for drawing flocks of thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and technologists. But he’s also openly discussed the peril of technology. In his second encyclical, Laudato Si’, released in 2015, Francis directly addressed technology’s influence and implications in a lengthy chapter titled, "The roots of the ecological crisis." In it, he asked that the church focus on the "dominant technocratic paradigm and the place of human beings and of human action in the world" and examine the globalization of that paradigm.

Because technological applications can have international impacts, the organizers of the hackathon focused on soliciting participants from universities and programs around the world, looking for candidates from different backgrounds and faiths. "A key message on this event is collaboration and working together on the issues we all experience," Florkiewicz says. "Even if it’s facilitated by the Vatican as a religious institution, it’s a completely non-religious event."

Salobir agrees. "The point is not just to use it for the parishioners or the congregations, but to use technology for a broader purpose, to help society," he says, noting the church also works with institutions like schools and hospitals to bring aid to as large a constituency as possible.

But as society continues to question whether technology is the problem or the solution, the participants of VHacks have a big task ahead of them.

"We don’t expect anyone to solve such difficult issues," says Florkiewicz, "but I hope we can inspire both clerics and lay people to see this as an innovative model for engaging the younger generation with the problems."

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/vatican-hackathon-2018/

False news spreads faster than truth online thanks to human nature

The rapidity with which falsity travels has been proverbial for centuries: “Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it,” wrote Swift in 1710. Yet empirical verification of this common wisdom has been scarce — to our chagrin these past few years as lies in seven-league boots outpace a hobbled truth on platforms seemingly bespoke for this lopsided race.

A comprehensive new study from MIT looks at a decade of tweets, and finds that not only is the truth slower to spread, but that the threat of bots and the natural network effects of social media are no excuse: we’re doing it to ourselves.

The study, published today in Science, looked at the trajectories of more than 100,000 news stories, independently verified or proven false, as they spread (or failed to) on Twitter. The conclusion, as summarized in the abstract: “Falsehood diffused farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information.”

Image: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

But read on before you blame Russia, non-chronological feeds, the election or any other easy out. The reason false news (a deliberate choice in nomenclature to keep it separate from the politically charged “fake news”) spreads so fast is a very human one.

“We have a very strong conclusion that the spread of falsity is outpacing the truth because human beings are more likely to retweet false than true news,” explained Sinan Aral, co-author of the paper.

“Obviously we didn’t get inside the heads of the people deciding to retweet or consume this information,” he cautioned. “We’re really just scratching the surface of this. There’s been very little empirical large scale evidence one way or the other about how false news spreads online, and we need a lot more of it.”

Still, the results are robust and fairly straightforward: people just seem to spread false news faster.

It’s an unsatisfying answer, in a way, because people aren’t an algorithm or pricing model we can update, or a news outlet we can ignore. There’s no clear solution, the authors agreed — but that’s no reason why we shouldn’t look for one.

A decade of tweets

The study, which co-author Soroush Vosoughi pointed out was underway well before the current furor about fake news, worked like this.

The researchers took millions of tweets from 2006 to 2017 and sorted through them, finding any that related to one of 126,000 news stories that had been evaluated by at least one of six fact-checking organizations: Snopes, PolitiFact, FactCheck.org, Truth or Fiction, Hoax Slayer and About.com.

They then looked at how those news stories were posted and retweeted using a series of measures, such as total tweets and retweets, time to reach a threshold of engagement, reach from the originating account and so on.

These patterns form “cascades” with different profiles: for instance, a fast-spreading rumor that’s quickly snuffed out would have high breadth but little depth, and low virality.

The team compared the qualities of cascades from false news stories and true ones, and found that, with very few exceptions, false ones reached more people, sooner, and spread further.

And we’re not talking a few percentage points here. Some key quotes:

  • Whereas the truth rarely diffused to more than 1000 people, the top 1% of false-news cascades routinely diffused to between 1000 and 100,000 people.
  • It took the truth about six times as long as falsehood to reach 1500 people.
  • Falsehood also diffused significantly more broadly and was retweeted by more unique users than the truth at every cascade depth.
  • False political news also diffused deeper more quickly and reached more than 20,000 people nearly three times faster than all other types of false news reached 10,000 people.

Every way that mattered, false reports moved faster and reached more people, usually by multiples or orders of magnitude.

Because no article about a study like this would be complete without a chart, the above shows truth in green and false stories in red — with false stories outpacing truth at every turn. (E and F show the time it takes to reach a certain popularity, so lower is “better.”)


Before we go on to the reasons why and the researchers’ suggestions for remedies and future research, we should address some potential objections.

Maybe it’s just bots? Nope. The researchers ran bot-detection algorithms and carefully removed all obvious bots, studying their patterns separately, then testing the data with and without them present. The patterns remained. “We did find that bots do spread false news at a slightly higher rate than true news, but the results still stood. Bots don’t explain the difference,” said Vosoughi.

“Our results are contrary to some of the hype recently about how important bots are to the process,” Aral said. “Not to say they aren’t important, but our research shows they aren’t the main driver.”

Maybe the fact-checking sites are just biased? No fact checker can be completely without bias, but these sites agreed on the veracity of stories more than 95 percent of the time. A systematic bias across half a dozen sites obsessed with objectivity and documentation begins to verge on conspiracy theory. Not convinced?

“We were very conscious of the potential for selection bias from starting with the fact checking organizations,” Aral said. “So we created a second set of 13,000 stories that were fact checked independently — all new stories. We ran that data and found very similar results.”

Three MIT undergrads were the ones independently verifying the 13,000-story data set, agreeing on veracity over 90 percent of the time.

Maybe false news spreaders just have large, established networks? Quite the contrary. As the paper reads:

One might suspect that structural elements of the network or individual characteristics of the users involved in the cascades explain why falsity travels with greater velocity than the truth. Perhaps those who spread falsity “followed” more people, had more followers, tweeted more often, were more often “verified” users, or had been on Twitter longer. But when we compared users involved in true and false rumor cascades, we found that the opposite was true in every case.

In fact, people spreading false news…

  • had fewer followers
  • followed fewer people
  • tweeted less often
  • were verified less often
  • had joined later

“Falsehood diffused farther and faster than the truth despite these differences, not because of them,” the researchers write.

So why does false news spread quicker?

On this count the researchers can only speculate, although their speculation is of the justified, data-backed sort. Fortunately, while the large-scale spreading of false news is a new and relatively unstudied phenomenon, sociology and psychology have more to say elsewhere.

“There’s actually extensive study in human communications in why certain news spreads faster, not just a common sense understanding of it,” explained Deb Roy, the third co-author of the paper. “It’s well understood that there’s a bias to our sharing negative over positive news, and also a bias to sharing surprising over unsurprising news.”

If people are more likely to spread news that’s novel (which is “almost definitional,” Roy said) and also news that’s negative (the “if it bleeds, it leads” phenomenon), then all that remains to be seen is whether false news is more novel and more negative than true news.

Photo: SuperStock/Getty Images

The researchers analyzed a subset of users and their histories to compare the novelty of false versus true rumor tweets. They found that indeed, “false rumors were significantly more novel than the truth across all novelty metrics.”

Looking at word choice and the emotions associated with them, the researchers then found that false rumors created replies expressing surprise and disgust — while the replies to truths resulted in sadness, anticipation, joy and trust.

The implications seem clear, though they can only be made official through further experimentation. At present the researchers have established that false news propagates faster, and false news is more novel and negative. Another experiment will have to prove that false news propagates faster because it is more novel and negative.

What can we do about it?

If humans are responsible for the spread of false news, what hope do we have? Well, don’t lose hope, this is an old problem and people have been dealing with it for centuries, as Swift showed us. Just maybe not on this scale.

“Putting millions — or, overall across platforms, billions of people in a position to play an active real time role in news distribution is new,” said Roy. “There’s a lot more science to be done to understand networked human behavior and how that intersects with communicating news and information.”

Roy said he liked to frame the question as one of health. And in fact Jack Dorsey just last week used the same metaphor during a lengthy tweetstorm — citing Roy’s nonprofit company Cortico as the source for it.

Roy and others are working on building what he called health indicators for a system like Twitter, but obviously also for other online systems — Facebook, Instagram, forums, you name it. But he was quick to point out that those platforms are just part of what you might call a holistic online health approach.

For instance, Aral pointed out issues on the economic side: “The social media advertising system creates incentives for spreading false news, because advertisers are rewarded for eyeballs.” Cutting false news means making less money, a choice few companies would make.

“There’s a short-term profit hit from stopping news from spreading online,” Aral admitted. “But there’s also a long-term sustainability issue. If the platform becomes a wasteland of false news and unhealthy conversations, people may lose interest altogether. I think Facebook and Twitter have a true long-term profit maximizing incentive.”

But if the problem is with people as well as algorithms and ad rates, what can be done?

“What you want is for people to pause and reflect on what they’re doing, but boy is that hard, as every behavioral economist knows,” said Roy. But what if you make it easy and ubiquitous?

“When you go to the grocery store,” Aral said, “the food is extensively labeled. How it’s produced, where it came from, does it have nuts in it, etc. But when it comes to information we don’t have any of that. Does this source tend to produce false information or not? Does this news outlet require 3 independent sources or just one? How many people contributed to the story? We don’t have any of that information about the news, only the news as it’s presented to us.”

He mentioned that Vosoughi (who modestly or absent-mindedly neglected to mention it on our separate call) had designed an algorithm that could give a good indication of the truthfulness of stories before they spread on Twitter. Why don’t companies like Facebook and Google do something like this with all their data, their experts in machine learning and language, their comprehensive histories of sites and stories, activity and engagement?

There’s a lot of talk, but action seems a bit harder to come by. But Roy cautioned against looking for a magic bullet from the likes of Twitter or Facebook.

“There’s a lot of focus on the platforms,” he said. “The platform is super important, but there’s also the content producers, advertisers, influencers and then of course there’s the people! The kind of policy changes or interventions, or tools, that allow for regulation or change for each of those is going to look different, because they all have different roles.”

“That’s good,” he noted, “because it’ll keep researchers like us humming along for a long time.”

So will the data set, which the researchers are releasing (with Twitter’s consent) for anyone to experiment on or verify the current results. Expect further work in this area soon.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/08/false-news-spreads-faster-than-truth-online-thanks-to-human-nature/

Trump shows gun control hypocrisy in wake of latest school shooting

PARKLAND, FL – FEBRUARY 15: Kristi Gilroy (R), hugs a young woman at a police check point near the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were killed by a gunman yesterday, on February 15, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested the suspect after a short manhunt, and have identified him as 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz.
Image: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Displaying a cognitive dissonance that’s become common with him, President Donald Trump on Thursday made a reference to the alleged mental instability of the young man accused of the deadly Parkland, Florida school shooting. 

Though just last year he signed a bill that made it easier for those with mental illnesses to obtain guns. 

Speaking to the American public from the White House, Trump said of the fallout, “We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health.”

The comments echoed those that Trump made Thursday morning (where else?) on Twitter, calling the alleged shooter “mentally disturbed.”

But even as he lamented the mental health of the alleged shooter, Trump failed to mention that one year ago, he rolled back an Obama Administration regulation that would add the names of around 75,000 individuals declared incapable of managing their own financial affairs to the federal background check list.

While it’s unlikely the regulation would have directly blocked the Parkland shooter from obtaining a gun — it depended largely on data from the Social Security Administration and it doesn’t appear, so far, that the Parkland shooter met the criteria of the regulation — it does show a president whose words are at odds with his actions.

This isn’t the first time Trump has brought up the mental stability of a mass shooter. In October 2017, after a man opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas, killing dozens of people and injuring hundreds, Trump called the shooter “a sick man, a demented man, lot of problems.”

And yet Trump’s only action on guns as president was to weaken a relatively minor gun regulation that would have kept a group of mentally ill citizens from buying guns. 

In fact, Trump didn’t mention guns at all in the speech nor did he address the fact that the Florida shooter used an AR-15 assault rifle, the same rifle used in several other mass shootings, and that he bought the gun legally

If there’s one thing Trump has been consistent on, it’s his insistence there’s no need for gun control, something that came up during the 2016 presidential campaign thanks to one of his more incendiary comments (which is saying something). 

So, as the nation tries to move forward from yet another tragedy (and one that claimed the lives of innocent students, once again), we’re left to try and make sense of Trump’s views. Though he offered words of comfort on Thursday, the comfort feels thin as he continues to ignore the glaring issues that have led to a numbing cycle of gun violence. 

When his only direct action runs counter to the safety and protection he promises us as a nation — and to our children, who he directly addressed in Thursday’s brief speech — all those words simply ring empty, hollow platitudes that do nothing to actually make us safer.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/15/trump-mental-health-guns-parkland-school-shooting/

Teachers start powerful #ArmMeWith movement to speak out against guns in classrooms

In the wake of yet another tragic school shooting, teachers have started an eye-opening movement on social media to let the world know what preventative measures really need to be taken seriously to protect students.

In response to the recent mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, President Trump suggested that some teachers receive gun training so they can be armed in their classrooms. But rather than adding more guns to educational environments, teachers are using the hashtag #ArmMeWith to share far more peaceful resources they wish to be armed with, such as school supplies, mental health resources and funding, impactful changes in curriculum, and stronger gun control legislation.

The movement was started by two educators: Brittany Wheaton, a teacher in Utah, andOlivia Bertels from Kansas. Both 27-year-olds met through Instagram, according to Buzzfeed, and eagerly asked the online teacher community to share their personal thoughts on how to ensure the safety and proper education of students.

Teachers across the U.S. have been using the hashtag.

One high school English teacher requested a “curriculum that tells the truth, the ability to teach the truth, a society that believes the truth, and political leaders who make laws based on the truth.”

Others asked to be armed with more on-site mental health professionals, like school counselors and social workers, as well as self-care classes, bullet-proof glass, an enhanced library, and a range of other resources that focus on the physical, mental, and emotional care of students and faculty members.

#Armmewith is a movement by @thesuperheroteacher and @missbertels_ and I invite you to join in! Skip through my pics and post your own (I’ve included a blank template) or go to goo.go/52XggF to print your own out! . . . The Arm Me With movement is to make our leaders aware of what teachers really need in the classroom. As some of you know, I’m a gun owner and I can shoot a gun, but I do not believe guns belong anywhere near a classroom. Teachers have enough burdens and the classroom is an unpredictable place. Also teachers are outnumbered by kids 30:1 oftentimes. Guns are not the solution here, and I think they’d be catastrophic. Please flip through my ideal solutions and feel free to use the blank picture to create your own solution! . . . . . . #armwithme #schoolsafetynow #educatorsagainstgunviolence #teachersofinstagram #teachersfollowteachers

A post shared by The Whimsical Teacher (@the_whimsical_teacher) on

“Since teachers are the individuals in the classroom when it happens, I like to think we know what’s best for our students,” Wheatontold Buzzfeed. “If you’re an educator, you know that [more guns] is not a solution to stopping the violence that’s happening in our schools.”

For those looking to participate in the movement, Wheaton has shared a blank #ArmMeWith template that can be downloaded and filled out. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/23/armmewith-twitter-teachers-guns/