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Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Nasa launches spacecraft in first ever mission to deflect asteroid | Asteroids | The Guardian

Nasa launches spacecraft in first ever mission to deflect asteroid

"Spacecraft heads off on 6.8m-mile journey to crash into moonlet Dimorphos in test to see if asteroids can be diverted from collision with Earth

Nasa video shows the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or Dart, spacecraft onboard, on a collision course with moonlet Dimorphos.
Nasa animation shows how spacecraft could deflect asteroid – video

A spacecraft that must ultimately crash in order to succeed lifted off late on Tuesday from California on a Nasa mission to demonstrate the world’s first planetary defence system.

Carried aboard a SpaceX-owned Falcon 9 rocket, the Dart (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft soared into the sky at 10.21pm Pacific time from the Vandenberg US Space Force Base, about 150 miles (240km) north-west of Los Angeles.

The plan is to crash the robot spacecraft into the moonlet Dimorphos at 15,000mph (24,100km/h) and change its path by a fraction. If the mission is successful, it will mean that Nasa and other space agencies could deflect an asteroid heading towards Earth and avert an Armageddon-style impact.

The Dart payload, about the size of a small car, was released from the booster minutes after launch to begin its 10-month journey into deep space, some 6.8 million miles (11 km) from Earth.

Once there Dart will test its ability to alter an asteroid’s trajectory with sheer kinetic force. Cameras mounted on the impactor and on a briefcase-sized mini-spacecraft to be released from Dart about 10 days beforehand will record the collision and beam images of it back to Earth.

The asteroid being targeted by Dart poses no actual threat and is tiny compared with the cataclysmic Chicxulub asteroid that struck Earth 66m years ago, leading to extinction of the dinosaurs. But scientists say smaller asteroids are far more common and pose a greater theoretical danger in the near term.

The team behind Dart chose the Didymos system because its relative proximity to Earth and dual-asteroid configuration make it ideal for observing the results of the impact.

The blast-off was shown live on Nasa TV and on the SpaceX Twitter account.

It is the latest of several Nasa missions in recent years to explore and interact with asteroids, primordial rocky remnants from the solar system’s formation 4.6bn years ago.

Last month, Nasa launched a probe on a voyage to the Trojan asteroid clusters orbiting near Jupiter, while the grab-and-go spacecraft Osires-Rex is on its way back to Earth with a sample collected in October last year from the asteroid Bennu.

The Dimorphos moonlet is one of the smallest astronomical objects to receive a permanent name and is one of 27,500 known near-Earth asteroids of all sizes tracked by Nasa.

Nasa has put the entire cost of the Dart project at $330m, well below that of many of the space agency’s most ambitious science missions."

Nasa launches spacecraft in first ever mission to deflect asteroid | Asteroids | The Guardian

Saturday, November 06, 2021

Opinion | Why We Have to Wave the ‘Bloody Shirt’ of Jan. 6 - The New York Times

Why We Have to Wave the ‘Bloody Shirt’ of Jan. 6

Grant’s presidential campaign in 1868 urged the electorate to “Vote as you shot.”
Library of Congress

"Policy is rational. Politics is not. It takes a story to move voters, an emotional connection that tells them something about themselves and the world in which they live or, alternately, the world in which they would like to live.

Without a story to tell — without a way to make the issues of an election speak to the values of an electorate — even strong candidates with popular policies can fall flat. And the reverse is also true: A divisive figure with unpopular beliefs can go far if he or she can tell the right kind of story to the right number of people.

It’s tempting to treat this reality as evidence of decline, as a sign that in the 21st century we are much less sophisticated than our forebears in democracy and self-government. Somehow, we imagine that the politics of the past was more civil, more genteel, more rational. But it wasn’t. Politics has always been about passion, and the most successful parties in our history have always used that to their advantage.

The Republican Party, in the wake of the Civil War, was not as politically secure as one might think. It won, in 1860, with a minority of the popular vote and needed a unity ticket — with the Tennessee Democratic Unionist and slaveholder Andrew Johnson as vice president — to win in 1864. Republicans did win a majority in Congress that year, but only because the South did not take part in the elections.

For the first two elections after Appomattox, Republicans held their majorities, winning comfortable margins in 1866 and 1868 (and also excluding former rebels from Congress). But Democrats would soon begin to catch up. Although still in the minority, the party gained 37 seats in the House of Representatives in the 1870 midterm elections (when the House was just over half the size it is today).

Anxious to retain power in Washington, Republicans took every opportunity to pin the late rebellion on their Democratic opponents, north and south. None of it was subtle.

Supporters of Ulysses S. Grant in the 1868 presidential election, for example, urged Unionists to “Vote as you shot.” Likewise, in a speech for Grant, Gen. Ambrose Burnside, referring to violence against Republicans and freed Blacks in the states of the former Confederacy, attacked the Democratic nominee, Horatio Seymour, a former governor of New York, as “emphatically the leader of the new rebellion as Robert E. Lee was of the old.”

Throughout that race, which ended in a modest victory for Grant, as far as the popular vote went, Republicans invoked the memory of the war as a cudgel against their Democratic opponents. They did it again in 1870 to repel the Democratic advance I mentioned and also to help resolve emerging tensions within the party. Republicans might disagree on questions of patronage and economic policy; they could still agree at this point, at least, that the South must stay defeated.

Democrats, and conservative white Southerners in particular, would come to call this the bloody shirt strategy, after an apocryphal story in which Benjamin Butler of Massachusetts used the bloodied shirt of a wounded soldier in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives. “The phrase was used over and over during the Reconstruction era,” writes Stephen Budiansky in “The Bloody Shirt: Terror After Appomattox”: “It was a staple of the furious and sarcastic editorials that filled Southern newspapers in those days, of the indignant orations by Southern white political leaders who protested that no people had suffered more, been humiliated more, been punished more than they had.”

If the bloody shirt enraged Democratic partisans — if the term itself became, as Budiansky writes, “a synonym for any rabble-rousing demagoguery” aimed at “stirring old enmities” — it was because it worked.

The bloody shirt helped President Grant win his 1872 race for re-election, as his supporters and surrogates hammered Democrats as recalcitrant rebels. One cartoon, by the great Thomas Nast, depicts the Democratic presidential nominee, Horace Greeley, reaching across a barren field labeled “Andersonville Prison” — the notoriously deadly Confederate prisoner of war camp — while he makes a plea for sectional unity: “Let us clasp hands over the bloody chasm.” The message was clear: A vote for Greeley was a vote for the rebels who starved their captives to death.

The bloody shirt shaped the 1876 campaign as well. The Republican nominee, Rutherford B. Hayes, counseled his supporter and surrogate James G. Blaine, then a senator from Maine, to use the tactic as much as possible. “Our strong ground is the dread of a solid South, rebel rule, etc., etc.,” he wrote. “I hope you will make these topics prominent in your speeches. It leads people away from ‘hard times’ which is our deadliest foe.”

For a typical expression of this way of campaigning, look to Benjamin Harrison of Indiana (then a candidate for governor, soon to be president of the United States), speaking on behalf of Hayes and the Republican Party. “For one, I accept the banner of the bloody shirt,” he said to a small crowd of veterans, responding to Democratic complaints that he refused to talk substance. “I am willing to take as our ensign the tattered, worn out old gray shirt, worn by some gallant Union hero; stained with his blood as he gave up his life for his country.”

Hayes’s running mate, Representative William A. Wheeler of New York, even went as far as to urge an audience to “Let your ballots protect the work so effectually done by your bayonets at Gettysburg.”

Republicans kept on waving the bloody shirt, kept on tying their candidates to patriotic feeling and memories of the war. It was part of the 1880 campaign on behalf of James Garfield (which he won by a small margin of the popular vote), part of the 1884 race on behalf of Blaine (lost by a small margin) and part of the 1888 effort on behalf of Harrison (who lost the popular vote but won a narrow victory in the Electoral College).

There were, of course, limits to the use of the bloody shirt — no rhetorical flourish could overcome, for example, the electoral headwinds from the panic of 1873, which swept Democrats into a House majority the following year — but that is just to say that there are limits to what any form of rhetoric can do in the face of a poor economy and the pendulum swing of American politics.

What is important is that the Republican Party never took for granted that voters would blame the Democratic Party for its role in the rebellion and vote accordingly. Republican politicians had to make salient the public’s memory of, and anger over, the war. And, I should say, they were right to do so. It was right to wave the bloody shirt in the wake of a brutal, catastrophic war that according to recent estimates claimed close to a million lives. That we, as modern Americans, learn the phrase as a negative is an astounding coup of postwar Southern propaganda.

The lesson here, for the present, is straightforward. Democrats who want the Republican Party to pay for the events of Jan. 6 — to suffer at the ballot box for their allegiance to Donald Trump — have to tie those events to a language and a narrative that speaks to the fear, anger and anxiety of the public at large. They have to tell a story. And not just once or twice — they have to do it constantly. It must become a fixture of the party’s rhetorical landscape.

And yet, while emotional appeals can move voters, they cannot work miracles. Even the strongest message can’t turn lead into gold. And there’s no rhetoric that can make up for poor performance on the job. A bloody shirt won’t save a party that can’t govern.

Jamelle Bouie became a New York Times Opinion columnist in 2019. Before that he was the chief political correspondent for Slate magazine. He is based in Charlottesville, Va., and Washington. @jbouie"

Opinion | Why We Have to Wave the ‘Bloody Shirt’ of Jan. 6 - The New York Times

Monday, November 01, 2021

Opinion | Facebook’s Metaverse Is No Replacement for the Real World - The New York Times

Metaverse? Are You Kidding Me?!

Amy Osborne/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Just call me an old man, a troglodyte, a Luddite, whatever.

I have no interest in becoming part of a “metaverse.” That is the future Mark Zuckerberg’s troubled Facebook is aiming toward as it renames itself Meta. And what is this metaverse, you may ask? The New York Times explains:

“Mr. Zuckerberg painted a picture of the metaverse as a clean, well-lit virtual world, entered with virtual and augmented reality hardware at first and more advanced body sensors later on, in which people can play virtual games, attend virtual concerts, go shopping for virtual goods, collect virtual art, hang out with each others’ virtual avatars and attend virtual work meetings.”

That sounds absolutely ridiculous. And terrible. As with all new things, they appeal to some, maybe to millions, maybe even to most. But I have had to put my foot down, and I’ve actually been doing it a little at a time for a while now.

I keep telling myself that I must live in the here and now, that social media, in many ways, poisons our capacity to do that.

Don’t get me wrong, social media has many virtues, and I have not and will not turn away from it completely. After carefully curating the people, institutions and outlets that I follow, I now encounter more information than I could ever have imagined, more information than I can process. It is an embarrassment of riches, really.

Furthermore, social media is another publishing platform, and as a person who produces content that is published, social media was another outlet for me. I could publish mini-takes, things too short or insubstantial for a column or a segment of television.

I started my career in journalism as a designer. I still like design. But it’s not a suitable topic for my column here or my television job. So I sometimes post on social media about it.

Keeping up with and connecting with friends and family has never been easier, although I must admit that the most valuable and meaningful social networks to me at the moment are simple text groups.

That said, social media has so much ugliness, so much envy and covetousness, so much misinformation and manipulation, that its prominence in my life, it became clear to me, held more problems than benefits.

I have attempted to reorient myself primarily to the real world (even that feels strange to write). To write more things that I don’t immediately share. To write for the idea and not for viral impact — things that no one may “like” but that I still want to find a way to craft into their clearest form.

I want to share more pictures with the people I love and who love me — and not with the world, to get that world to react. The mere act of considering the response of strangers to personal posts of pictures is perverse. But it begs the question: If they are personal, why are you sharing them with strangers? So I have cut back on that. And I question my intentions more when I have the urge to post.

I even believe that social media was altering my sense of people: how they looked and lived and ate. Everyone was trying to one-up the next person. People too often looked perfect. They went on amazing vacations, lived in immaculate homes and ate exquisite dinners. Some of those photos may well reflect reality. But like most humans, we have our good days and our bad ones. Social media distorts that balance.

Even what is supposed to be positive can become oppressive and annoying, like the torrent of motivational memes and affirmations. Something about it rings hollow. Something about it presents as performative.

I have been pulling back from social media for a while now, using it mostly to advertise my column, TV segments and other ventures I’m involved in.

I must say that I feel like an addict finally getting clean.

I am surprised — and embarrassed that I am surprised — at how meaningful it is to me simply to be more present, to strike up conversations with strangers, not to feel that I need to document my every moment for a voracious virtualness, not to be so immersed in a screen that I miss the sunset.

I am more empathetic and diplomatic when I disagree with someone in person. Situations that I would have breezed by online, I linger on in person. The world is not perfect. It’s not curated and filtered, and returning to the reality that that imperfection makes the world special has caused a shift in me.

I now regret, though I try not to, years of wasted time in virtual space, doing all the things people told me I should: worrying about engagement, timing posts for optimization, reviewing analytics to figure out which things resonated and which didn’t.

I was continuously carving and crafting an altered, more “likable” image of myself, that in the end I deemed too controlled to be completely true.

So, as Facebook and others move toward the metaverse, I will choose to move toward a truer version of myself, one that lives more fully in the here and now."

Opinion | Facebook’s Metaverse Is No Replacement for the Real World - The New York Times

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

What is the iPad Pro, now that new MacBook Pros are here? - CNET

What is the iPad Pro, now that new MacBook Pros are here?

"Commentary: Is it a laptop replacement? Is it really pro? It's got to be something for a starting price of $799.

What is a Pro device, really?

"Pro" may be the most inconsistently used word in consumer tech. It originally denoted a product for professionals -- duh -- but it's also often used to indicate luxury. Apple's XDR Pro OLED display? That's for professionals. The iPhone 13 Pro? That's an iPhone 13 but just nicer -- although those cameras are really nice.

The term has also meant different things in the same product line. For the past few years, the MacBook Pro was really an improved MacBook Air. The new MacBook Pros unveiled last week, meanwhile, really are for professionals. They're bringing back a bunch of ports, adding freakishly powerful M1 Pro and Max chips and getting a Mini LED display that feels a lot like what the iPad Pro already has. 

So, right, the iPad Pro. It's a hard device to categorize, marketed as both a tablet and a laptop. It's got "Pro" in its name, yet it's hard to immediately grasp how it differs from the nearly identically designed iPad Air (or even other iPads). The 2021 iPad Pro even comes with an M1 chip, from the same family of processors used to power Apple's MacBook Pros. That sounds like they'll be similar, that the MacBook and iPad lines are converging. Not quite.

Is the iPad "Pro" because it can replace your laptop as a daily driver? When you consider there are four iPad subcategories, including a newly improved iPad Mini, who is this for? Using the 12.9-inch iPad Pro for nearly two months has cleared up some of my confusion on where the iPad exists next to MacBooks... and what "pro" on iPad means.

First, the iPad Pro is not a laptop replacement. Second, this is a device for professionals. And that's the point. Being a device that's truly for professionals means not being for everyone else.

Is the iPad Pro your next laptop?

The iPad Pro is a dream machine, one that many people, including me, have fantasized about being a proper laptop replacement. A stylish slate that can attach to a keyboard, and that has Apple Pencil support for notetaking? Yes. Apple's Magic Keyboards, which come with keys and a trackpad, get the iPad Pro within sight of being a feasible daily-driver laptop. Sadly, it's not quite there. 

Hardware isn't the issue. The Magic Keyboard is comfortable enough despite being small, battery life isn't a problem, and the iPad Pro is certainly not lacking in power. The problem is that the iPad Pro runs iPadOS, which is still more similar to a phone's operating system than to a computer's. 

In most cases, the quirks of iPadOS just require simple workarounds. For example: Google Docs. The Google Docs app is clunky compared to the browser experience, as the app requires you to toggle between read and write modes. The solution I quickly found was to access Google Docs via the Safari browser, rather than the app. I had to rethink many small tasks in this way, but after a few days I was able to do almost my whole job on the iPad Pro.

Almost everything. 

Apple iPad Pro M1

The iPad Pro is almost, kind of a laptop.

Scott Stein/CNET

I can do 98% of my work on the iPad Pro, but unfortunately the remaining 2% is crucial. I can write stories fine in CNET's content system, for instance, but often have trouble publishing. Obviously, that's a problem. Similarly, our email client often gives me grief in all sorts of boring but painful ways -- our version of Outlook can copy and paste on computers, but not my iPhone or iPad Pro -- making it unreliable. None of this is Apple's fault. It can't help it if companies build tools to work on computers rather than hybrid operating systems like iPadOS, but the reality is that most companies won't have repurposed internal tools for iPads. 

As far as things Apple can control, the biggest item on my iPad wish list is the ability to dual-screen with an external display. At the moment you can mirror the iPad Pro's screen on an external display, but you can't extend one screen into the next. Given the tablet's power, and its USB-C input, this feels like something Apple could (and eventually will) unlock with a software update rather than a hardware limitation. 

Many had hoped that real multimonitor support would come with iPadOS 15, which hit iPads in September. That wasn't the case. Instead, iPadOS15 offers a few other improvements that make the iPad Pro smoother to work with: It makes multitasking more convenient, integrates widget support for the homepage and adds a nifty feature that lets you bring up Notes with a diagonal swipe from one of the corners if you're using an Apple Pencil.

iPad Mini and 9th Gen iPad

iPad Mini, iPad Air, iPad Pro 12.9-inch: a progression of sizes.  

Scott Stein/CNET

The quality of the display and processor

iPadOS15's updates definitely improve the iPad Pro experience -- as unexciting as widgets are in 2021, I found them particularly helpful -- but don't radically change it. But that's the point: You shouldn't buy the iPad Pro expecting it to be a laptop. 

It goes back to that fuzzy word, Pro. Pro doesn't mean "the best version of," it means "for professionals." The iPad Pro is like the XDR Pro display in that sense. Many of us see that monitor's $6,000 price tag and scoff, while a set of creative professionals see it as an alternative to industry-level monitors that run into the five figures. They don't see a fancy screen, they see a device that solves a problem. Same with the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, which can be configured up to $6,000.

There are many professionals who look at the iPad Pro and see a problem it'll help solve. They could be creatives who see the 2021 iPad Pro's extra processing power and RAM, which help to make apps like Procreate, LumaFusion and Photoshop run more smoothly. They could even be tennis players, some of whom apparently love an app that takes advantage of the iPad Pro's lidar cameras. 

The MacBook Pro still doesn't have a touchscreen, or work with a Pencil stylus, or have the iPad's advanced cameras. The iPad Pro is that art and photo tool, more than anything. The rest? Maybe you need to consider something else. That means if you don't already know how it'll make you more productive, you're probably better off getting an iPad Air, Mini or a regular ol' iPad. 

Or, very possibly, a Mac."

What is the iPad Pro, now that new MacBook Pros are here? - CNET

DJI Action 2: Some Deal Breaking Flaws

Saturday, September 18, 2021

A Spy in Your Pocket: How Phone Hacking by Mercenary Spyware Firms Threaten Global Privacy

 In Part 2 of our interview with Ronald Deibert, director of the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, he describes how they discovered a massive security flaw that was being exploited by the Israeli-based NSO Group to infect Apple iPhones and other devices with its Pegasus spyware. Deibert also describes how people can try to protect their devices from such security exploits, and the push to halt sales of this type of spyware. Deibert is the author of “Reset: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society.”
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we bring you Part 2 of our conversation about this epic Apple correction that has been made. Apple has released an emergency software update to fix a security flaw in its iPhones and other products researchers found was being exploited by the Israeli-based NSO Group to infect the devices with its Pegasus spyware. Over 1.65 billion Apple products in use around the globe were vulnerable to the spyware since at least March. Apple said vulnerable devices could be hacked by receiving a malicious PDF file that users didn’t even have to click. It’s known as a “zero-click” exploit.

The flaw was discovered by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, which found the hack in the iPhone records of a Saudi political activist. Earlier this year, a massive data leak revealed Pegasus software had targeted the phones of thousands of journalists, activists and political figures around the world for foreign governments and NSO Group clients.

So, we’re continuing our conversation now with Ronald Deibert. He is the director of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. His book is called Reset: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society.

So, let’s continue, Ron. If you could talk about, first of all, what this “zero-click” exploit is, for laypeople who can’t even understand that, but how so many phones, iPhones, iPads, got infected, and how people can protect themselves?…”

Saturday, August 14, 2021

iJustine Interview: Tech, Relationships, Jiu-Jitsu, Setting Boundaries, ...

Google Infringed on Patents Owned by Sonos, a Trade Judge Says

Google Infringed on Patents Owned by Sonos, a Trade Judge Says

“Sonos is seeking to ban the import of several Google products that are made in China. The preliminary finding will now be reviewed by the full United States International Trade Commission.

A Google Home smart speaker.
Dave Paresh/Reuters

OAKLAND, Calif. — Google infringed on speaker-technology patents held by Sonos and should not be allowed to import products that violate Sonos’s intellectual property, a judge said in a preliminary finding by the United States International Trade Commission that was released on Friday.

In January 2020, Sonos sued Google in federal court and in front of the United States International Trade Commission, a quasi-judicial body that decides trade cases and can block the import of goods that violate patents. Google later filed a countersuit against Sonos, claiming that Sonos was infringing on its patents.

Sonos had asked the commission to block imports of Google Home smart speakers, the company’s Chromecast systems and its Pixel phones and computers. Those products are made in China and shipped to the United States.

The brief ruling did not explain why the judge, Charles E. Bullock, believed Google had violated the Tariff Act of 1930, which aims to prevent unfair competition through actions such as the import of products that infringe on U.S. patents, trademarks or copyrights.

The judge’s ruling is not the last word. The full commission has to consider whether to accept or reverse his decision for a final ruling, which is scheduled to take place on Dec. 13. If an import ban is imposed, it wouldn’t take effect for 60 days — well after the holiday shopping season.

José Castañeda, a spokesman for Google, said the company does not use Sonos’s technology. “We disagree with this preliminary ruling and will continue to make our case in the upcoming review process,” he said.

On Wednesday, Eddie Lazarus, Sonos’s chief legal officer, called Google a “serial infringer” of Sonos patents. On a conference call with analysts, he estimated that Google had infringed on more than 150 patents owned by Sonos, although it raised issues only with five patents to the commission. The case in front of the commission is just “the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

On Friday, Mr. Lazarus said in a statement, “This decision reaffirms the strength and breadth of our portfolio, marking a promising milestone in our long-term pursuit to defend our innovation against misappropriation by Big Tech monopolies.”

Sonos has said that Amazon is also violating its patents — a charge that Amazon denies. Sonos executives have said it pursued legal action against only Google because it did not know if it could sue two tech giants at the same time.

Sonos pioneered the market for home speakers that can be controlled by a smartphone and can synchronize music wirelessly between different speakers throughout the house. In recent years, Google, Amazon and Apple have pushed into the market for voice-controlled speakers. Sonos also offers speakers that use the Google Assistant software or Amazon’s similar Echo technology to control the device.

Sonos and Google are also locked in legal disputes over patents in California and Texas as well as France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Sonos’s share price rose 6 percent in after-hours trading on Friday.

Daisuke Wakabayashi covers technology from San Francisco, including Google and other companies. Previously, he spent eight years at The Wall Street Journal, first as a foreign correspondent in Japan and then covering technology in San Francisco. @daiwaka

Monday, August 02, 2021

A one-man scam Pac’: Trump’s money hustling tricks prompt fresh scrutiny The ex-president has built an arsenal of groups staffed with ex-officials and loyalists seemingly aimed at sustaining his political hopes for a comeback

‘A one-man scam Pac’: Trump’s money hustling tricks prompt fresh scrutiny

“Donald Trump’s penchant for turning his political and legal troubles into fundraising schemes has long been recognized, but the former US president’s money hustling tricks seem to have expanded since his defeat by Joe Biden, prompting new scrutiny and criticism from campaign finance watchdogs and legal analysts.

Critics note Trump has built an arsenal of political committees and nonprofit groups, staffed with dozens of ex-administration officials and loyalists, which seem aimed at sustaining his political hopes for a comeback, and exacting revenge on Republican congressional critics. These groups have been aggressive in raising money through at times misleading appeals to the party base which polls show share Trump’s false views he lost the White House due to fraud.

Just days after his defeat last November, Trump launched a new political action committee, dubbed Save America, that together with his campaign and the Republican National Committee quickly raked in tens of millions of dollars through text and email appeals for a Trump “election defense fund”, ostensibly to fight the results with baseless lawsuits alleging fraud.

The fledgling Pac had raised a whopping $31.5m by year’s end, but Save America spent nothing on legal expenses in this same period, according to public records. Run by Trump’s 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Save America only spent $340,000 on fundraising expenses last year.

In another move, Trump last month announced he was filing class-action lawsuits against Facebook, Google and Twitter, alleging “censorship” due to bans by the platforms after the 6 January Capitol attack that Trump helped stoke. But the move prompted several legal experts to pan the lawsuits as frivolous and a fundraising ploy.

Trump’s new legal stratagem raised red flags, in part because he teamed up with America First Policy Institute (AFPI), a non-profit group led by ex-White House official Brooke Rollins. At a press briefing with Trump, Rollins publicly told supporters they could “join the lawsuit” by signing up on a website,, a claim belied by details on the website which featured a red button with the words “DONATE to AFPI”.

“Donald Trump is a one-man scam Pac,” said Paul S Ryan, vice-president of policy and litigation with Common Cause. “Bait-and-switch is among his favorite fundraising tactics,” Ryan stressed, noting that Trump’s Save America Pac told “supporters he needed money to challenge the result of an election he clearly lost”, and then wound up not spending any on litigation last year.

“Now he’s at it again, with frivolous lawsuits filed [in July] against Facebook, Twitter and Google, accompanied by fundraising appeals,” Ryan added. “This time he’s got the unlimited dark money group America First Policy Institute in on the racket.”

Other experts voice strong concerns about Trump’s tactics with Save America

“The president deceived his donors. He asked them to give money so he could contest the election results, but then he spent their contributions to pay off unrelated debts,” said Adav Noti, a former associate general counsel at the Federal Election Commission and now chief of staff at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center.

Noti added: “ That’s dangerously close to fraud. If a regular charity – or an individual who didn’t happen to be president of the United States – had raised tens of millions of dollars through that sort of deception, they would face a serious risk of prosecution.”

Such concerns have not deterred Trump’s fundraising machine from expanding further with the launch of a super Pac, Make America Great Again Action, which can accept unlimited donations. Both the Super Pac and Save America are run by Trump’s ex campaign manager Lewandowski, who did not return calls seeking comment.

The Super Pac has reportedly hosted at least two events for mega donors at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and in Dallas, but it’s not known how much has been hauled in so far.

Both Pacs are seen as vehicles for Trump to raise more funds to influence 2022 congressional races, where he has vowed to try to defeat several politicians such as the anti-Trump Republican Liz Cheney who voted to impeach him this year after the Capitol attack.

Campaign filings for the first six months of 2021 reveal that Trump’s political groups led by Save America raised $82m dollars, an unprecedented total for an ex president. Save America banked most of the funds while spending some to pay for Trump’s travel and other expenses, instead of challenging election results in states like Arizona despite Trump’s false claims of fraud there.

Veteran campaign finance analysts say that the bevy of Trump-linked groups launched since his defeat raise new questions about his motives and political intentions

“Trump’s aggressive fundraising, using a variety of committees and surrogates, raises questions about whether his continual hints at running in 2024 is primarily a ploy for donations,” said Sheila Krumholz, who leads the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. “Trump may be more interested in fundraising than actually running, especially given how unprecedented his post-loss fundraising is.”

Besides Trump’s fundraising pitches for his new Pacs and non-profits, some major Republicans groups have collaborated in fundraising appeals since his defeat, and keep piggybacking on his allure to the party base, despite Trump’s repeated falsehoods that the election was stolen

In the eight weeks post-election, for instance, the RNC, the Trump campaign and Save America reportedly raised about $255m, but only spent a small fraction on lawsuits.

Further, Trump’s cachet with small donors is still exploited by party allies including the National Republican Senatorial Committee, (NRSC) the fundraising arm for Republican senators.

For instance, the NRSC in July email fundraising pitches touted a free Trump T-shirt for a limited number of donors writing checks from $35 to $5,000 to “protect the America First Majority”.

Similarly, the RNC in a 19 July email alert rolled out a money pitch to become an “official 2021 Trump Life Member” for donors who chipped in $45 or more by midnight.

Charlie Black, a longtime Republican operative, said that Republicans committees realize that Trump’s “name has the most popular appeal to the grassroots, so naturally they’re going to try to figure out ways to use his brand where they can to raise more funds”.

But legal analysts caution that Trump’s fundraising modus operandi with his various new Pacs and non-profits are different, and carry clear risks for unwitting donors and US campaign finance laws.

“Our nation’s campaign finance and anti-fraud laws have proven no match for Trump’s schemes,” said Ryan of Common Cause. “So my one piece of advice for Trump supporters is donor beware!”