Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Last Call For Elon-Gated Musk-Rat

Yes, Elon Musk told his engineers to reconfigure Twitter's "For You" feed algorithm to basically include all of billionaire owner Elon Musk's tweets, because it's his $44 billion toy and there's nothing you can do about it, you loser who doesn't have $44 billion.

Late Sunday night, Musk addressed his team in-person. Roughly 80 people were pulled in to work on the project, which had quickly become priority number one at the company. Employees worked through the night investigating various hypotheses about why Musk’s tweets weren’t reaching as many people as he thought they should and testing out possible solutions.

One possibility, engineers said, was that Musk’s reach might have been reduced because he’d been blocked and muted by so many people in recent months. Even before the events of this weekend, Musk’s long stint as Twitter’s main character, both in the run-up to and aftermath of his $44 billion takeover of the company, had led huge numbers of people to filter him out of their feeds.

But there were also legitimate technical reasons the CEO’s tweets weren’t performing. Twitter’s system has historically promoted tweets from users whose posts perform better to both followers and non-followers in the For You Tab; Musk’s tweets should have fit that model but showed up less only about half the time that some engineers thought they should, according to some internal estimates.

By Monday afternoon, “the problem” had been “fixed.” Twitter deployed code to automatically “greenlight” all of Musk’s tweets, meaning his tweets will bypass Twitter’s filters designed to show people the best content possible. The algorithm now artificially boosted Musk’s tweets by a factor of 1,000 – a constant score that ensured his tweets rank higher than anyone else’s in the feed.
Internally, this is called a “power user multiplier,” although it only applies to Elon Musk, we’re told. The code also allows Musk’s account to bypass Twitter heuristics that would otherwise prevent a single account from flooding the core ranked feed, now known as “For You.”

That explains why people opening the app Monday found that Musk dominated the feed, with a dozen or more Musk tweets and replies visible to anyone who followed him and millions more who did not. Over 90 percent of Musk’s followers now see his tweets, according to one internal estimate.

Musk acknowledged his bombardment of the timeline on Tuesday afternoon, posting a version of the popular “forced to drink milk” meme in which one woman labeled “Elon’s tweets” forcibly bottle-feeds another woman labeled “Twitter” while pulling her hair back.

Goodbye, Ms. DiFi

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., will retire from Congress at the end of 2024 after three decades in the Senate and over 50 years in public office, she announced Tuesday.

"I am announcing today I will not run for reelection in 2024 but intend to accomplish as much for California as I can through the end of next year when my term ends," Feinstein said in a statement.

Feinstein, 89, is the oldest sitting senator and the longest-serving senator from her state, having first been elected to the Senate in 1992. She had been under pressure for years from other Democrats in the state to make room for a younger generation of lawmakers. She had also declined the role in the new Congress of president pro tempore, which has traditionally gone to the senior member of the majority party since the mid-20th century.

Her retirement also opens up her Senate seat from California for the first time in decades. A number of House Democrats have either announced 2024 campaign bids for the seat, including Reps. Katie Porter and Adam Schiff. Rep. Barbara Lee also plans to announce a Senate run by the end of the month, a source familiar with the situation confirmed.

Feinstein has worked under five presidential administrations and alongside the two presidents who also served with her in the Senate: Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Biden lauded Feinstein in a statement Tuesday as "a passionate defender of civil liberties and a strong voice for national security policies that keep us safe while honoring our values."

"I’ve served with more U.S. Senators than just about anyone," he said. "I can honestly say that Dianne Feinstein is one of the very best. I look forward to continuing to work with her as she serves out her term."

Feinstein said in her statement that she remains focused on passing legislation to address gun violence, promote economic growth and preserve U.S. lands in her remaining time as a senator. Feinstein said she’s confident Democrats can achieve those goals because of their previous work.

“Even with a divided Congress, we can still pass bills that will improve lives,” she said. “Each of us was sent here to solve problems. That’s what I’ve done for the last 30 years, and that’s what I plan to do for the next two years.”
Already we have three California Dems vying for her seat, and I guarantee you that there will be more. We'll see who steps up.

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Con't

Special Counsel Jack Smith is definitely signaling that crimes have been committed in Trump's classified document scandal, straight out asking a federal judge to nullify attorney-client privilege between Trump and one of his lawyers, Evan Corcoran, because of evidence of commission of a criminal act.
Federal prosecutors overseeing the investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s handling of classified documents are seeking to pierce assertions of attorney-client privilege and compel one of his lawyers to answer more questions before a grand jury, according to two people familiar with the matter, adding an aggressive new dimension to the inquiry and underscoring the legal peril facing Mr. Trump.

The prosecutors have sought approval from a federal judge to invoke what is known as the crime-fraud exception, which allows them to work around attorney-client privilege when they have reason to believe that legal advice or legal services have been used in furthering a crime. The fact that prosecutors invoked the exception in a sealed motion to compel the testimony of the lawyer, M. Evan Corcoran, suggests that they believe Mr. Trump or his allies might have used Mr. Corcoran’s services in that way.

Among the questions that the Justice Department has been examining since last year is whether Mr. Trump or his associates obstructed justice in failing to comply with demands to return a trove of government material he took with him from the White House upon leaving office, including hundreds of documents with classified markings.

Last May, the Justice Department issued a subpoena for any classified documents still in Mr. Trump’s possession, after he had voluntarily turned over an initial batch of material to the National Archives that turned out to include almost 200 classified documents. In June, Mr. Corcoran met with investigators and handed over more than 30 documents in response to the subpoena.

Another lawyer for Mr. Trump, Christina Bobb, then signed a statement asserting that a “diligent search” had been conducted at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s residence and private club in Palm Beach, Fla., and that there were no additional documents bearing classification markings. Ms. Bobb has told investigators and others that Mr. Corcoran drafted the statement, and that she added some caveats to it, seeking to make it sound less ironclad.

But when the F.B.I. searched Mar-a-Lago in August, agents found more than 100 additional classified documents. The affidavit submitted by the Justice Department to obtain the search warrant said that there was “probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction” would be found in the search.

Mr. Corcoran recently appeared before a grand jury in Federal District Court in Washington and is believed to have asserted attorney-client privilege on behalf of Mr. Trump in refusing to answer certain questions related to his representation in the documents investigation, according to three people familiar with the matter
It's the clearest sign yet that federal charges are coming. Whether any will be leveled against Trump himself, well, it certainly seems like it.
Again, the case Smith has to bring, and Merrick Garland has to sign off on, has to be perfect. And even if it is perfect, all Trump needs is one MAGA asshole to acquit him...or just one juror bought off or extorted into a not guilty verdict. 

We'll see.
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