End of Show Mixes: - UKPMX - Gx2 -Oh My Bosh - Danny Loos-Secret Agent Paul-Stepford Wives-PlaceBoing- Dave Courbanou - Able Kirby - Jungle Jones - Chris Wilson - Tom Starkweather - Conan Salada - Future Trash - Phantomville Billy Bon3s
Two outside research groups used data obtained from Silicon Valley giants by the Senate Intelligence Committee to paint a sweeping picture of Russia's online disinformation efforts both before and after the 2016 presidential election in reports released Monday.
Why it matters: "We should certainly expect to see recruitment, manipulation, and influence attempts targeting the 2020 election, including the inauthentic amplification of otherwise legitimate American narratives," said researchers from New Knowledge in the report they provided to the panel.
The groups' findings bolster the public's understanding of the Russian campaign and provide new details on how it operated:
The Internet Research Agency troll farm focused much of its attention on black audiences, creating "an expansive cross-platform media mirage targeting the Black community, which shared and cross-promoted authentic Black media to create an immersive influence ecosystem," per the New Knowledge report. The group's cultivation of sometimes-unsuspecting on-the-ground collaborators was "substantially more pronounced on Black-targeted accounts."It engaged in voter suppression. New Knowledge said that "the suppression narratives were targeted almost exclusively at the Black community on Instagram and Facebook" in the lead-up to the 2016 election. The IRA simultaneously targeted right-leaning audiences with content raising fears of voter fraud.The group's efforts didn't slow down after they became clear to the public. "Surprisingly, these campaigns did not stop once Russia's IRA was caught interfering in the 2016 election. Engagement rates increased and covered a widening range of public policy issues, national security issues, and issues pertinent to younger voters," said researchers from Oxford University's Computational Propaganda Project.The researchers' findings don't necessarily represent those of the Intelligence Committee, which is in the midst of a lengthy investigation into Russian interference.
The big picture: The Oxford researchers also highlighted the ways in which Facebook, Google and Twitter had made it difficult for the Senate panel and researchers to study the campaign.
New Knowledge added they expect Russian efforts to use smaller social media platforms and messaging services as the 2020 election approaches.What they're saying: Senate Intel Chair Richard Burr said in a statement, "This newly released data demonstrates how aggressively Russia sought to divide Americans by race, religion and ideology, and how the IRA actively worked to erode trust in our democratic institutions. Most troublingly, it shows that these activities have not stopped."
"This should stand as a wake up call to us all that none of us are immune from this threat, and it is time to get serious in addressing this challenge," said Senate Intel Vice Chairman Mark Warner in a statement. "That is going to require some much-needed and long-overdue guardrails when it comes to social media."Read the two reports in full:
Documents: Senate Intelligence Committee Publishes Two Reports on Internet Research Agency - Lawfare
Mikhaila Fogel is an associate editor at Lawfare and a research assistant at the Brookings Institution. She previously worked as a legislative correspondent for national security and foreign affairs issues in the Office of Sen. Susan Collins. She holds a bachelor's degree from Harvard College, where she majored in British history and literature and minored in government and Arabic.
NAACP calls for Facebook boycott over racial targeting | Digital - Ad Age
Credit: Jason Alden/BloombergThe National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, one of the oldest U.S. civil-rights organizations, has returned a donation it received from Facebook and is encouraging a week-long boycott starting Tuesday, Dec. 18.
The NAACP urged its members and supporters to log out of Facebook and sister site Instagram in response to a report released Monday which found that Russian hacking of the 2016 election heavily targeted African-Americans.
"Facebook's engagement with partisan firms, its targeting of political opponents, the spread of misinformation and the utilization of Facebook for propaganda promoting disingenuous portrayals of the African American community is reprehensible," NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement.
The NAACP is also asking Congress to further investigate Facebook's involvement in Russian hacking. In a tweet, the Congressional Black Caucus signaled its willingness, writing, "Last year we met with Facebook & other tech companies about this issue. If they can't stop the weaponization of their platforms, then Congress will."
Facebook said in a statement that it has provided thousand of ads to lawmakers and made progress in preventing interference during elections.
African Americans have a strong presence on social media: 70 percent of black U.S. adults use Facebook and 43 percent use Instagram, the Pew Research Center has found. African Americans are more likely to use Facebook to communicate with family and friends daily, Pew's research found. Sixty-three percent use Facebook to communicate with family, and 60 percent use it to communicate with friends at least once a day, compared with 53 percent and 54 percent of the total population, respectively.
EXCLUSIVE: Company Behind Conservative Censoring Has Top Donors With Offices In China - Great American Politics
Jonathon Morgan is a co-founder and CEO of New Knowledge.
New Knowledge is a self-described ''cybersecurity company specializing in disinformation defense for highly visible brands under attack by coordinated disinformation campaigns. Through machine learning and AI we detect threats and provide brand manipulation protection before damage is done.''
Morgan has been relentless in detailing the ''alt-right's'' radical ''racism'' in numerous posts at various outlets, like The Washington Post and The Atlantic, for instance.
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Morgan also believes the ''radical right'' is behind threats of violence, as written by him in a post for Medium.
New Knowledge has listed numerous conservative blogs as ''major threats'' which prompted an in-depth article from The Washington Post.
The company has raised over $12 million and has been behind the censoring (and mass banishment) of conservative blogs and Twitter accounts.
New Knowledge has several top donors, one of which has two offices in China and a large percentage of Chinese directors.
GGV Capital, for example, ''is a multi-stage venture capital firm based in Silicon Valley, Shanghai, and Beijing.''
The other venture capital company backing New Knowledge is Lux Capital. In 2011, former CIA Director under Bill Clinton, James Woolsey, joined Lux as a venture partner.
Along with Morgan, ''a former digital content producer and State Department counterterrorism advisor,'' New Knowledge is led by ''Ryan Fox, a former NSA officer and military intelligence veteran, and Sandeep Verma, who has led engineering teams for Halliburton and BP. Kelly Perdew, a Managing Partner at Moonshots Capital, will also be joining the board of directors.''
Ryan Fox ''spent 15 years at the NSA championing next-generation SIGINT solutions, driven to support national security interests. Prior to his civilian roles as a Counter Terrorism Fellow and NSA Representative European SIGINT partners, he served under U.S. Joint Special Operation Command (JSOC), as a CNO Analyst for the U.S. Army.''
Morgan ''served as an advisor to the White House and State Department, coauthored the ISIS Twitter Census for the Brookings Institution, and develops new technology with DARPA. Jonathon is also a cohost of the surprisingly popular Partially Derivative podcast, all about data and drinking, and a founding member of Data for Democracy, a volunteer platform for data science social impact projects.''
Some of the pages @facebook suspended last week are still up on @instagram. This is likely deliberate, and shows the nuance of Facebook's policies. https://t.co/vLp9ET26H0
'-- Jonathon Morgan (@jonathonmorgan) October 14, 2018
What is the motive of New Knowledge?
Why are they so against conservative blogs and their right to free speech?
We will continue digging to bring you the most accurate information we can find.
The US Senate hired a 2015 startup company, New Knowledge, to analyze the Russian threat that has been inserted in all our social media platforms targeting conservatives and left leaning African-American citizens. New Knowledge lists two founders: Jonathon Morgan a published researcher for the Brookings Institute, Atlantic Council and Washington Post, a former advisor for the State Department where he developed strategies for digital counter-terrorism, and leader for Data For Democracy, an organization targeting white supremacists and far right thinkers with the goal to develop analytics to suppress their blogs. In other words, Mr. Morgan would appear to be heavily leaning toward the left and advocating means to completely obliterate conservative media including blogs. Ryan Fox is the co-founder of New Knowledge. He spent 15 years in the SIGINT Divisions of NSA.
New Knowledge boasts as one of it's prime investors; GGV Capital. With offices in Beijing, Shanghai, and San Francisco, their Managing Partners reflect a who's who of infinitely cyber-secure '' China. Of course the irony is not lost that a dominant China company would invest in a US company whose aim is to create analytics to censor all forms of US Media while blaming Russia.
The other venture capital company backing New Knowledge is Lux Capital. In 2011, former CIA Director under Bill Clinton, James Woolsey, joined Lux as a venture partner.
An obvious question would be why the Senate panel investigating Russian interference in US Social Media would hire a 'startup company' to provide their evidence? And why do all roads always point back to Liberal Progressives?
The UK's Oxford University, and Graphika, a US company whose CEO/founder is Dr. John Kelly, also provided the research for Mueller's team with regard to Russian interference/meddling. Kelly is also CEO of Morningside Analytics '' a parallel to the now defunct Cambridge Analytics formerly based out of the UK. In other words, the information Team Mueller is using to build his case against Russia, is derived from UK based intelligence and analytics organizations. The same UK that created the Trump Dossier.
The New York Times indicates another player in the Mueller Hoax '' Canfield Research Group LLC, whose embedded link goes into clouds '' literally. As in, they don't exist.
And ''Somehow'' both the New York Times and Washington Post managed to secure a copy of the report before it was released'...
The salacious report has been in the making for 3 years '' terminology on the left continues to reference election interference, whereas Russian meddling is probably more likely, and not really uncommon. Obviously, all these US and UK companies with hacktivist hacktivism as their slated specialty are busy meddling wherever they can. And ultimately censorship is the end game.
Deutsche Welle has once again uploaded its hypocrisy in slamming Russia's Putin for hypocrisy. Apparently, Putin is a hypocrite for attending the 100th birthday celebration of Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn who upheld the right of freedom of speech. What was Solzhenitsyn a critic of? Communism, Bolshevik Dictators, Lenin and Stalin. He was born in 1918 when Russia's Tsar and family were brutally murdered and the Bolsheviks ushered in the dictatorship Communist rule destroying Russia's economy and sending society into chaos. Exiled for decades he loved his country and returned to Russia in 1990 becoming a vocal proponent of Vladimir Putin! Solzhenitsyn believed Putin would reinstate Russian Nationalism, freedom and prosperity. His theme when he died was that ''Men Have Forgotten God'' '' a reference to the communist/socialists who are devoutly atheist.
Apparently, DW.com failed miserably to research this friendship and instead used a fake demonization agenda to ridicule Putin. Of course, the fact that Merkel herself was a Communist before she was a Socialist seems to elude the Media.
While the MSM have created innumerable 'Fact Checker' sites to discredit Trump for 'Pinocchio's', they rarely if ever fact check themselves! And recent articles discrediting Trump have suddenly begun to rise from the ashes from a place one might not ordinarily conceive'...
Fox News is now publishing articles and opinion pieces that are just '' well, wrong. 'A Statistician Assistant Professor is weighing in on the cost of the Border Wall'. The fact that she would have absolutely no knowledge of construction costs, engineering, material costs, labor costs, or even what exists already in terms of The Wall, would seem irrelevant. If I was building a house, a store, an office building, I don't think I would hire a 'statistician' and don't know of any contractor that has. But she is '' anti-Trump.
Brennan too is given the opportunity to voice his demand that Trump be killed, and never hold office again, and Fox News glibly reports this as a static fact. What Fox failed to note is that Rand Paul called out Brennan as being mentally unstable and thus his security clearance was revoked. As in, the man worships demons.
So what happened to Fox News?
In 2017 they hired Noah Kotch to be Editor in Chief and Vice President of Digital for Fox News. His background resume reads like a true Liberal: CNN, Washington Post, NBC, and ABC. His appointment would align with the takeover of Fox from the staunchly conservative Ruport Murdoch by his son James and wife Kathryn, also in 2017. Between 2007-2011, Kathryn Murdoch served as Director of Strategy & Communications for the Clinton Climate Initiative. James and Kathryn have a Foundation (no surprise '' legal speak for diversion of money to non-taxable) wherein a link on their foundation website reverts to a page for EDF and an anti-Trump ad. Apparently, James and Kathryn hobnob frequently with the Clintons, most recently at the wedding of two of the next generations most wealthy Indians; Isha Ambami and Anand Piramal. Mz. Ambami's father is worth $66 billion and is Chairman of Reliance Industries. Anand's father is worth a measly $4.3 billion.
Reliance is a massive conglomerate involved in oil, petrochemicals, biotechnology, retail, aerospace, banking, pharmaceuticals, pipelines, media, solar, etc'... and the Murdochs were on the guest list.
Kathryn Murdoch has announced her support for the upcoming platform, The Correspondent, which is slated to be launched soon and will uphold values 'wholly different than those of Fox News', embracing diversity and combating prejudice while supporting 'progressive realities'.
James Murdoch was instrumental in removing O'Reilly and Ailes from their positions in Fox News. He has made it clear that shifting to a more progressive liberal view will be the new Fox News.
The media censorship is expanding brutally. With Blogs more and more becoming the last bastion of anything '' not liberal or socialist leaning. I imagine those venues will be attacked next and their content censored, but then effectively that is already being done by Google. Recently, Google's CEO was sportingly embarrassed when it was revealed that their analytics showed a picture of Trump when typing in a Google search for 'idiot'. Interestingly, when I typed in 'corruption', I got a picture of Hillary.
It will be interesting to see what happens to the last two conservatives employed by Fox: Hannity and Carlson. Will they convert their politics? Will they sell their souls?
The UN Pay Scale for entry level ranges from about $44,000 to $60,400, and the highest grade is roughly $195,000. Not extravagant'... But it doesn't tell the whole story.
Salaries are adjusted higher depending on what country the employee is assigned. New York is ranked an uptick of approximately 67%, therefore the base of $44,000 would automatically adjust up $29,480. If the employee is assigned to Africa, the base is applied. This uptick is called a 'Post Adjustment''. If someone is reassigned to a lower indexed country, the employee can maintain the higher Post Adjustment for six months until the lower rate starts.
They are exempt from taxes. Anyone who speaks a second language is automatically upgraded by 20 months in the pay scale increments. Rental subsidies. If someone is assuming duties above their pay scale and not promoted, they receive a 'special post allowance'. If you are married and/or have dependent children, you receive Dependency allowances. In the US, such allowance is $2929 for the first child and $1025 for secondary child per month. If you are assigned outside your home country, your children are also subsidized by an 'education grant', for the US this amounts to $43,000. If you choose to send your children to a boarding school the cost is 100% absorbed by the UN up to about $15,000.
All travel expenses are picked up 100%, however, if you are ranking officials in the UN your travel expenses are reimbursed 155%. If you are assigned to a less friendly country, you are eligible for a 'hardship allowance'. There is a 'non-removal allowance' which I don't understand and a 'mobility allowance' which is a vacuum of garble.
Home leave is granted every year and is in addition to vacation time, it is typically 12 days. Annual vacation is 30 days, sick days are allowed variably, maternity is 22 weeks, paternity is 8 weeks, 10 official holidays, and adoption leave is open-ended.
Repatriation allowance is available when the employee is required to leave their assignment. Termination allowance is available upon '...termination. And a 'Death Grant' is payable to the spouse and children should the employee die while employed.
Health insurance is picked up 100% for employee and all dependents. Pension plans provide 2/3 paid by UN and 1/3 by employee. Life Insurance is paid by UN, a Special Death Benefit is paid for by UN when the death is a result of employment.
There are roughly 38,000 to 40,000 on the payroll, although the UN isn't exactly sure how many.
Every Taxpayer in the US is paying for this. Every Taxpayer in France and the EU is paying for this.
So. How do you feel about the UN now?
I am writing this as an observation. Not as judge or jury. The US and all its People have been seriously mocked, shamed and derided during the Obama and Bush administrations. There is a cosmic shift taking place, not just in the US, but across parts of Europe, The Middle East, and Russia '' and we need to heed, and realize what is being revealed: Our enemies are our friends '' and our friends are our enemies'...
The Democrats are in a tizzy because Jared Kushner is friends with Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman. As though being friends with Saudi royals is something forbidden and new? So why are the Socialists and Democrats so concerned with demonizing the Saudi's suddenly? What has changed? Because if the Democrats are trying to take down the Saudi Prince, it is a fair bet that conservatives should embrace him?
A cosmic shift.
Saudi Arabia is no different than the US in that it was ruled by a Swamp of elders for decades, the same elders who were quite friendly with the Clintons and helped finance the Clinton Foundation, Pelosi Foundation and a host of others '' tit-for-tat.
The Crown Prince assumed office June 2017, six months after Trump's triumph in winning the Presidential Election. Four months later, the Crown Prince did something that was incredibly defining and barely made media headlines '' he ordered the arrest and confinement of over 500 Saudi businessmen, froze their bank accounts, charged them with corruption and when the evidence was revealed, 95% of those charged made a plea deal. He targeted $800 billion in cash and assets that these businessmen were charged with obtaining through means of corruption. That is roughly equal to the entire amount of US Treasuries held by the Saudis.
He then began the process of remaking Saudi Arabia, slowly, but with a view of creating a solid country as opposed to lining the pockets of solid wealthy elite. In essence, he is Saudi Arabia's Trump.
The move is referred to as The Great Purge and compared to a similar one executed by Putin. I emphasize Soros and anything Rothschild are forbidden from Russia.
Media reports eulogize the fact that the Saudi Crown Prince jailed a number of female activists for 'driving'. What is not reported is the rise of women activists across the Middle East who are members of the Muslim Brotherhood. They advocate for 'women's rights' have championed for political office in Egypt and Turkey and are now positioning themselves in the US. As of our last election, 2 women who advocate for the Sisterhood of the Muslim Brotherhood were elected to the House of Representatives.
Khashoggi, the activist who was recently killed in Turkey was a vocal member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Russia and Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood is considered a terrorist organization, and any member is subject to arrest as a terrorist. Their primary backers are Turkey and Qater. Khashoggi was killed in Turkey. They believe in imperialism, the return of the Ottoman Empire, Sharia Law for ALL, and have called for Jihad against Trump.
Linda Sarsour, a radical vocalist for the Muslim Brotherhood, who was a speaker at the Women's March, and is an advocate of female genital mutilation, helped Ilkhan Omar from Minnesota and Rashid Tlaib from Michigan obtain their seats in the US House this past election cycle. They have announced their demand for Sharia Law and Hajib.
Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, is said to have ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. Huma Abedin, Hillary's right hand, was affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
There is a cosmic shift.
Syria's Assad was against the Muslim Brotherhood and cracked down on their activism in Syria. We are past witness to what was perpetrated against Syria during the Reign of Obama and Clinton. Going after Saudi Arabia '' is aligned and The Swamp is vigilant.
Assad was an ally of the US until 2011 when Obama and the Rothschild constituents decided Assad must go. Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, insisted Assad must go, he had lost legitimacy, Obama issued an edict demanding Assad step down. He didn't. His country was destroyed.
The Swamp is now calling for Prince Mohammed bin Salman '' to stand down. Why? Because a Muslim Brotherhood terrorist was assassinated. Which Swampers are making the call? Rubio, Graham, Bob Corker, Gina Haspel, Chuck Schumer, Bob Menendez, Flake the flake, '... etc. In so doing, they have revealed themselves as The Swamp, and pro-Muslim Brotherhood. The Washington Post has published articles in which they state without denial that the Muslim Brotherhood is a good organization and Trump should not revile their sweet kind agenda of Jihad. Ummm, the opinion pieces were written by Jamal Khashoggi.
We may never agree on the 'customs' of The Middle East, certainly I have no desire to emigrate. But the Middle East is divided. Just like the US. Just like Europe. Just like Canada. And it is important to be able to distinguish who is our friend and who is our enemy.
Trump is a man of 'solution', he fixes things, he's not a band-aide kind of guy. Jared is his behind the scenes fixer. He put together the new trade deal with Mexico and Canada and the press had no idea. The Israeli/Palestinian debacle would be an amazing fix. Put together by the UK after WWI, they were sloppy and didn't consider consequences. 100 years later both sides are a mess. Israel will never concede. The Palestinians want a home. The Saudi Prince has stated that he realizes oil is no longer 'Black Gold' and he wants to diversify his country industrially and for tourism. If Jared, who is now demonized by the media for his friendship with the Crown Prince, can ink a deal whereby we help build their industry, their tit-for-tat would be to build a city for the Palestinians. It could be an incredibly multi-billion dollar win-win for everyone.
In the end, remember, if the Swamp calls them friend'... they are likely our enemy'... and if they call them enemy'... they are likely our friend. And they Reveal themselves as The Swamp when they align against rationale.
Such is the Topsy-Turvy World We Live In.
And in my opinion, I think Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a good guy in the Globalist Agenda.
Canadian officials arrested Huawei's CFO, Meng Wanzhou, for allegedly violating sanctions against Iran. Canada claims they did so at the behest of the US and extradition will follow. But no one in the US seems to have a clue who ordered the arrest, and given that arrests for sanctions violations have never been conducted by the US, the entire scheme seems more than a bit odd, if not a setup, if not falsely reported.
Typically, charges for violations are brought by the Justice Department and involve heavy fines '' not arrests. In this case, HSBC was the favored means of laundering according to reports. HSBC has a history of laundering with the dubious honor of holding the largest sanctions fine as of 2012 at $1.3 billion as part of a prosecution agreement and $665 million in civil penalties. At the time, the customers included Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma. No individual was prosecuted. In 2014, BNP beat the previous honor and agreed to fork over $8.9 billion in penalties after admitting to laundering transactions involving Iran, Sudan and Cuba. NO prosecution of individuals ensued.
Bolton has claimed he was both aware in advance '' and unaware of the arrest. Trump was most emphatically unaware, which begs the questions who, why, and how?
The announcement was parlayed on the same day that Trump announced progress in trade talks with China's Xi Jinping. And thus alludes to the belief that the arrest was an attempt to defrock the positive and tank the stock market. China has been relatively quiet, Xinhau News making no comment today, and yesterday relaying a press release that was the only press release available to all media outlets.
Canada has released partial information given a ban on media was requested and granted on Ms. Wanzhou's request. According to the Canadian government, they state that Wanzhou, who is 'Chinese' is suspected of working for the Chinese government and is a spy. Which would make the Iran sanctions violation a distraction over the real reason for the arrest.
Ren Zhengfei, founder and President of Huawei Technology, is Wanzhou's father. Ren was a member of the Peoples Liberation Party where he worked in the military division as an IT Researcher. He later joined the Communist Party of China.
Due to his military and Party affiliations, India felt Huawei presented a security concern and barred them from winning particular contracts. Other countries have made similar security concern comments, but no one '' did anything. Huawei's attempt to buyout US 3Com was forcibly collapsed due to spying concerns. They have been on the radar and skated.
Hauwei manufactures telecommunications equipment, smartphones, and networking equipment. Allegations have arisen that its equipment could contain 'backdoors' allowing unauthorized surveillance by the Chinese government and the PLA. The company response was that their equipment posed no greater threat than any other company '' which is legal speak for 'everyone's doing it'. As such, miffed, August 2018, they stated that they would pull out of the US market. Not quite so easily done.
Huawei is enmeshed in various partnerships with: Motorola, T Mobile, Honeywell, GE, Deutsche Telekom, Groupe PSA, Symantec, Siemens and others. Well ingrained in equipment throughout the world, it has overtaken Apple in sales of smartphones and is well on its way to being one of the top five cloud computing companies.
Obviously the Iran sanction violation is a media distraction. The gag order is being contested. But given the fact that China is actually being relatively silent regarding the entire situation would indicate that they know considerably more.
The arrest might also be a different backdoor '' a bargaining chip'...
For an arrest to have been made, evidence of the allegations would be necessary. The Justice Department is currently head by Acting Attorney General, Matthew Whitaker, hardly a light weight. He is an avid Trump supporter, and faithful to draining The Swamp.
The media has claimed that William Barr heads the list for Trump's pick for Attorney General, however whether Barr wants the nomination is unclear and confirmation could easily take months, thereby giving Whitaker reign on the possibility of China spygate.
On December 10 and 11 the world governments will come together to sign the UN Migration Pact. So far the US, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Czech Republic, Israel, Australia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Switzerland and Italy have withdrawn approval. Why?
The Pact is an ongoing attempt to globalize governments into the rule of International Law whereby decisions are arbitrated on behalf of a country given ''no state can address migration alone''. Further, the Pact states that data collection will become a strategized goal whereby a global programme will determine a countries national capacity. This data will be reviewed by the UN Statistical Commission annually in cooperation with the World Bank Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development. Migration will no longer be classified as having a refugee status, all migrants will be created equal. And all arms will point back to the global powerhead '' the UN!
Within this Migration Pact, the 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development will be forefront. Migration as a result of Climate Change will ensure the human rights of those affected taking in recommendations from 'state-led' consultants. In so doing all immigrants will receive a work permit, a certificate of nationality, counseling, legal guidance on their rights according to International Law, gender responsive support, training, and a job. As their Human Right.
As Africa sees mass exodus as a direct result of these freebies, African states will likely be more vulnerable and subject to takeover. Land grabs will be more prolific and Green Climate Funds derived from the Paris Accord will suddenly make sense in their diversion. Full circle to a Continent untapped and in need of vast infrastructure improvement in order to adequately cultivate those resources. Ta-Da '' Africa Couped!
In the meantime, the UN will extend their arm of Global Leader. The division of Africa will come under the control and mandate of the UN, and those with insider rule will WIN.
As of 2015, the countries whose ODA (Official Development Assistance) was concentrated in Africa include: Portugal, Ireland, Belgium, and Iceland. The US contributed the greatest dollar amount covering 30% of all contributions to Africa.
The 2030 Agenda, which is lovingly referred to as the New Agenda, states that the means of implementation of a Utopian world will only be able to be accomplished via a 'Global Partnership' whereby global solidarity is paramount. The New Agenda lays out The Addis Ababa Action Agenda as the means to finance the litany of Agendas: '''...a commitment to a new 'social compact' in which countries commit to set up social protection systems, with national spending targets for essential services like health and education. If countries cannot funds these through domestic resources, the international community pledges to provide international assistance.
Countries also agreed to work together to fund infrastructure for energy, transport, and water and sanitation, as well as step-up investments in agriculture and nutrition. There was also a commitment to establish a 'facilitation mechanism' to promote innovation and scientific cooperation, identify technology needs and gaps, and support capacity building on technology.''
Countries will fund these Agendas by committing a percentage of Gross National Income.
Of course, the biggest issue in implementing Addis Ababa was Tax. Therefore, the UN created a new programme entitled, Tax Inspectors Without Borders. They will help countries to collect and audit the implemented tax that will fund the fund that funds that funds the fund within the ODA fund that gives the money to recreate Africa after all the mass exodus of natives and their relocation with freebies across the EU, North and South America.
As of 2018, these Tax Inspectors managed to raise $414 million.
Given that by simple Geographics the EU is the closest land mass for the African exodus, a quota that includes all countries across the globe is necessary in order to disperse according to the UN's determination of 'capacity'. Guidelines will map global sites of entry and the UN will determine the welfare administration of these displaced migrants.
Currently, war and conflicts have been the primary means of achieving exodus. But this was based on refugee status and excluded simple immigrants. These UN provisions would alter that censorship of migration and Open Borders to all. It extends the global power hold that the UN has been ramping up for decades within a body that grossly mismanages its own funds according to their latest audit, is mired in sex trafficking, rape and sexual assaults in Africa, and seems to in reality have 'accomplished' nothing other than to hold countless discussions and make empty meaningless promises.
The New World Order is under the gun and fighting a ravage brawl in its home base of Germany. You just can't make this stuff up!
All of this is being done in the name of ''Mother Earth'', according to the UN. Scottie beam me aboard the Mother Ship '' NOW!
There are Seven major conflicts going on in Africa right now '' and the media is silent. All involve some form of ISIS, Al-Qaeda or Boko Haram. The death toll is well over 400,000 '' in Sudan alone '' and the media hasn't uttered a peep. The war in Myanmar has been ongoing since 1948, Somali since 1991, Nigeria since 1998 and Mali since 2002. The war in Afghanistan remains as the largest number of casualties cumulatively at over 2,000,000 and for 2018 '' 36,000. And not a peep out of the media. Instead they focus on Trump's Tweets and Melania's Christmas decorations and a faded prostitute who can't pay her bills.
In Myanmar, like Syria, the number of small fragmented opposition armies are disjointed and their affiliation a veritable guessing game, however China would appear to be the largest outside player which is likely why no one else wants to become involved.
In 1992, the UN attempted to integrate into the Somalia conflict only to run home a beleaguered failure after suffering significant casualties by 1995. Never returning. In 2006, Islam entered the territory and became the defacto Rebel Group in the form of Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda and ISIL. The UN attempted to integrate Muslims into the government in 2009 as a means of peace, but the people revolted and war re-erupted.
Most of the wars have a similar core '' Islam.
And still, the UN decries '' integration as the answer.
The immigrant invasions precipitated by the Huns and other barbarians ended with the conquest of Rome and ultimately led to The Fall Of The Roman Empire sometime between 450 and 500 AD. Mismanagement allowed the invasions. Ultimately, The Fall ushered in The Dark Ages of chaos, death, famine and disease.
The Turkic people of Asia, Europe and North Africa were forced into migration during the rise of Islam under Muhammad between the 6thand 11thcenturies. Chaos ensued.
In the 19thcentury over 50 million people fled the horrors of Europe and settled in the US as a result of migrant chaos.
Migration has seen the collapse of entire societies. When migrants from Europe began to descend on the US, they came through Ellis Island where they were required to submit to a health examination, legal checks to assure they were not criminals, and a head tax. The Immigration Act of 1891 stated that persons likely to become public charges, persons suffering from certain contagious disease, felons, persons convicted of other crimes or misdemeanors, polygamists, aliens assisted by others by payment of passage would not be admitted. Those who did not comply with these rules were deported.
In 1870 Chinese immigrants were specifically not allowed, only white and blacks were allowed per the Naturalization Act. In 1901 the Anarchist Exclusion Act allowed for the prohibition of an immigrant based on their political beliefs. And in 1907 American women were prohibited from bringing foreign men nto the US as citizens based on marriage.
The Italian Mafia immigrated to the US from Sicily during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Settling in New York and other major cities on the east coast, they immediately banded to create controlled territories where racketeering, smuggling, fraud, money laundering, robbery, etc'... were their mainstay. They were '' immigrants.
Migration caused the riff that is Islamic Pakistani's vs. Buddhist and Hindu Indians. It has NOT resolved.
The Bolsheviks, revolutionized under Lenin, were factioned in Switzerland and Germany while Lenin lived there, and founded the Marxist media outlet, ''Forward''. They followed him back to Russia wherein the Bloody Revolution was instituted and Russia fell to communist rule for decades. Many if not most Bolsheviks '' were immigrants.
For the media to continue to hail the fact that the US was built on immigration is censoring the entire story and virtually rewriting history.
Immigration has led to the fall of Empires since the beginning of history. It has created massive wars, the death of millions, the destruction of homelands, and the loss of societal rule.
The UN and European governments are well aware of this fact and yet it would appear that despite history they embrace the absolute collapse of all of Europe in the coming future as cultures clash, crime spirals out of control, and the military and police are told by their governments to '' stand down. Rape is now considered a 'cultural norm' and dismissed. Sharia Law is upheld. Europe is facing a catastrophic fall parallel to The Great Fall of Rome.
And like every great historical collapse, it is not about The People '' it is about a Revolution built on Communism/Socialism/Power and Evil.
Each successive US President has advocated for the same thing; border wall, illegal stagnation, and retribution for those who attempt to circumvent US Law. And somehow, Trump is the 'demon'. The reality is that Merkel, Macron and May have sold Europe to chaos. I would venture, this is not the will of The People. It is however, the will of the Government, and as such is being actioned. To what gain? TO the absolute fall of Europe as was historically The Fall Of Rome which ushered in a dark age, and the ultimate auto rule of The Vatican as Lord over Kings, Queens, and People.
It does not define the Catholic People, it defines a corrupt Vatican. It does not define a Political People, it defines a corrupt government. A corrupt power block. And it is time, to take back our world. It is time to shift the axis from the imbalance of evil and embrace '' good.
Because in a universe that thrives on good and evil, sometimes, the balance skews. Don't give up. It is more important than ever to fight! Faith! Hope! We will Overcome!
Once again the G20 Summit managed to accomplish nothing more than a 'commitment'. Empty words without action that somehow makes the members feel all cozy. Fair and Sustainable Development with a focus on people. WOW! Wouldn't that equate to the same protocol each and every year wherein the members go home and release statements to their people about what they hope to accomplish by 2030 and 2050 when they are dead and gone'...
Agenda 2014: discuss coordinated growth strategies as well as finalizing agreements on core financial reforms, and actions on tax and anti-corruption.
Agenda 2015: discuss the world's biggest political and security crises, including Syria and the mass migration of refugees
Agenda 2016: discuss climate change, pollution in China, combating nationalist attacks against globalization, tax evasion, support of refugees, international trade, and economic growth
Agenda 2017: discuss, international trade, financial regulation, women's empowerment, migration, digitization, occupation, health and the US withdrawal from the Paris Accord.
But what has changed?
2014 '' nothing.
2015 '' nothing until Trump and Russia put an end to ISIS in 2017
2016 '' climate change? Germany's footprint '' greater, China's footprint '' greater, money spent? Africa where there is no footprint. Tax Evasion? Nothing. Refugees? Crime.
In essence, these meetings are held to give the impression that the UN has some actual authority and change is being made under their auspices when in fact they continue to be a burgeoning bloated waste of money without successes, mired in sex scandals, and wholly non-transparent in financial and asset statements.
The US contributes an amount equal to the total contributions of: Italy, Canada, Germany, UK, and France.
For 2017, the Board of Auditors for the UN identified an unidentified misappropriation in the amount of $1.5 million. They noted over $24 million of goods and services that were not delivered as stated. ''The creation of outstanding commitments where they are not warranted results in overstatement of reported expenditure and inadequate provision for unencumbered balances for the biennium'...''
In laymen's terms this means they were fudging/playing with the books.
The Board of Auditors noted that:
'Gift collections' were not recorded because physical verification was not allowed, the system that tabulated was no longer working, and internal controls were lacking and/or weak. The Board noted that the UN was using temp employees to fill high level leadership positions, and noted shortlistings of unsuitable and unavailable candidates. The Board noted a lack of reporting and oversight mechanisms in delegation of procurement authority. 36% of system contracts were extended beyond the rule of 5 years. There were delays in disbursement of 21% of funds, and noted that their 'anti-corruption and anti-fraud' departments were basically not implemented at all. And finally, the UN's safety and Security Department did not monitor or implement required system policies'...
Their computer systems are so outdated that the Audit Board is required to manually make financial adjustments to their record keeping, a process that is ridiculously expensive, tedious, and subject to error.
In other words, this 'very successful' organization that is supposed to promote peace, women's rights, economic growth, etc.., etc'... runs a bookkeeping system worthy of Vinnie and Co., while spending billions of dollars on their salaries and pensions, immersed in massive accounts of rape and sexual abuse, mired in corruption within their cash flows, missing millions of dollars, '' this organization wants to tell all the countries of the world how to manage their country'...
The report is 276 pages, the first 81 are dedicated to 'recommendations' as a direct result of mismanagement, errors, corruption, and missing money.
The report goes on and on ad nauseum identifying malfunctions within their self health insurance plan that had not been updated since 2000. Funds that are deposited in the wrong account. And admonishing because the Geneva staffing is bursting at the seams with useless staff and desperately is in need of massive streamlining.
This is what happens when politicians run the finances of the world. It ain't pretty. And I want a refund.
The United Nations Headquarters and all additional 'Palaces' are considered sovereign (that nationalist word that is taboo)and not subject to the local laws '' that means they pay no tax. The Headquarters located in opulent downtown Manhattan is comprised of 18 acres of land hosting palatial buildings and guarded by roughly 1500 security guards who are equipped with weapons and handcuffs'... Like Vatican City. In addition, the UN has three subsidiary headquarters located in Geneva, Kenya and Vienna. In 2007, a refurbishment began at the Manhattan office with estimates for the construction topping $3 billion. Land in Manhattan runs approximately $7 million per acre.
The weaponry that a UN Peacekeeping Soldier must carry is not unlike a soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq. However, the gear is considered ''Light Equipment'' and despite tactical gear has resulted in death, stress, and mental issues due to the constant guerrilla attacks'... in their successful peaceful accords. According to the UN, they need heavy equipment!
In the end, this agency is rife in fraud, ensconced in corruption, riddled with mismanagement, and impregnated with a budget that is about nefarious individuals who line their pockets while telling the world how to line theirs so they won't look so bad'...
Theresa May has spent her entire term in office as Prime Minister of the UK trying and failing to implement BREXIT. Nothing else at all marks her tenure of the last 2 ½ years. And still, the supposed deal she executed that was approved by the EU but not her constituents or the people, will likely fail.
The 'Deal' still demands the UK be on the hook with the EU to ante up $39 billion for the privilege of exiting. Trade and borders will remain unaffected. Migration will likely increase as May has announced that she will vote to uphold the UN migration pact. And in the end, the only change will be the ante!
Of course that doesn't include the annual cost to the UK of the 'negotiations' which has been estimated to be about 26 billion pounds. Financial experts have stated that if Parliament fails to approve the current deal the pound will tank upwards of 25%. Sounds a bit like the last tanking initiated under the guidance of George Soros when the Bank of England '' tanked, September 16, 1992.
Did Soros short the pound again?
Since 2014, the UK GDP growth rate has continued to drop. The pedophilia scandal that was purported to involve over 1400 perpetrators and hundreds of thousands of victims '' has stalled. UK crime rates have been on an uptick spike since 2014. The jobs market and earnings growth have dropped.
And Theresa May has spent every single moment of her time in office wearily defeated by the gamers who drew her into the web of BREXIT manipulation. One might feel sorry for her if she were simply a victim, but she chose her allies and bartered the UK.
The European Union, the UN, do the bidding of Soros and the Rothschilds. If a country chooses to defy either, Soros will seek vengeance, create sanctions, and undermine law and the economy. As national conservatives in the EU take root, ramping up antagonist moves becomes more and more a priority for the Soros/Rothschild Cabal. Fake information has become the tagline target as everything anti EU, everything anti-Soros, everything anti-Socialism is targeted as fake information.
Even Facebook has become a target as Soros demands the resignation of Zuckerberg from this mega-conglomerate that has reached an astonishing value estimated to be over $500 billion and utilized by roughly 2.3 billion people monthly. Of course Soros wants control of this power. From his perspective, Zuckerberg is a peon, worthless in his game of thrones.
The question remains, if in fact Soros anticipates BREXIT will fail and the pound will tank, that would also mean he has no more use for the UK as an economy.
In the game of chess, the moves are never random, they are thought out with a future checkmate preconceived. All the pieces are aligned, the opponents moves calculated instinctively. Theresa May had no chess game, she simply moved her pawns randomly in one failed directive, BREXIT, while the queen, bishops, and horsemen yawned.
If BREXIT fails again as predicted, what would be the outcome for The People?
Despite calls for the UK citizens to vote on the BRXIT deal, May has refused citing time. Time. Is that not an age old ploy utilized by politicians in their eye rolling game? Delay until anxiety is so high the people will accept anything'...
While the people of Germany have succumbed to Socialism, the people of the UK have succumbed to the Lords of chaos. Ultimately, both will suddenly awaken and fight for their lives and salvation only to realize that too is all part of the chess game.
BREXIT was a deflection. It gave hope wherein the hope would not be attained, at least not within the same frame that it was created.
The only way to rise above the chessmen is to understand the game, see the reality of who is good and who is evil, and join forces with the likes of William Wallace. Freedom! He may have been a Scotsman, but he represents all men who fight for their country!
Our Universe is created within the absolutes of good and evil. One can not exist without the other, just as light only exists because there is darkness. Our small world is subject to these universal laws. Our genetic makeup predisposes us to certain diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimers, it also predicates down syndrome and intellect. Christians believe that every human's DNA consists of the knowledge of God. It is also accepted that every individual is born with good and evil DNA. Two questions: Could a genetic mutation cause a persons' good and evil balance to be askew? Could that skew be 'genetically modified'?
Thousands of years and every society known to man has created a concept of good and evil representative according to their unique vision. Mythology, Paganism they always depict good vs evil in some form. Christianity has God vs Satan. The American Indians had Ioskeha and Tawiscara as their good and evil symbolism. The forces of these two opponents that battle for eternity can shift wherein an imbalance occurs and Discordia reigns.
Everything on this natural God-made earth was intricately created in a perfect pattern. In the rain forest it is most evident. Every creature, every flora, have a purpose. Disrupt that purpose, extract a single subject matter of the natural flow and the entire rain forest system begins to implode devolving into chaos.
GMO's have are their advocates and their naysayers. Many things on our planet have undergone genetic modification for a century from genetically modified flowers so that we can have flowers in abundance, to genetically modified fruits so we can grow them year round, to fish farms, dairy cow hormones, etc'... But despite the efforts of science, no human life can be created from 'scratch', not even a seed, which is why we have seed banks.
GMO flowers have no scent, GMO fruits lack the same vitamins and minerals, and farm fish have no color, it has to be injected into them. The GMO Yellow Rice was a complete horror as it had little nutrient value. But that hasn't deterred science. They have manipulated weather patterns having no idea what the negative ramifications will be, they have injected us with vaccines without any testing as to the entire cocktail effect, and they now want to inject particles into the atmosphere to black the sun so as to slow global warming.
Back to good and evil.
Every one of us has witnessed people whose balance of evil seems chaotic. Is the imbalance a choice? Does a person have the free will to choose? Or is the discord a genetic mutation that can be modified'... like a flower, like fruit? And will doing so potentially remove a person's soul, like the loss of scent or nutrients?
On the other side of the coin, many of us have personally witnessed people whose balance of good seems phenomenally out of proportion. There are incredibly amazing heroes in our midst that we rarely recognize. Military soldiers. They make 'a choice' within free will to eject themselves into chaos and risk death and torture. They suffer fallout that we now call PTSD. This doesn't mean 'the military' I refer to individuals.
They are a sort of super human in that their balance of good far outweighs their balance of evil.
Science more often than not does not recognize consequences. Science will do nearly anything in order to change the natural course, in order to genetically modify everything God created. Including humans.
If science experimented with humans '' modifying their genetics so as to create a human more good or more evil, what would be the consequence?
Science is infinitely arrogant. Manipulating a person's natural genetics without knowing the extent of the consequences, that person would no longer have free will to choose, nor would that person be able to refer back to their original self. They would in essence become a GMO, a genetically modified organism. But we know that science has been feverishly working for decades to implant AI in humans, to bionically alter humans, to create a super human '' without understanding that such alterations may also result in that human losing their soul.
Evil in this world has shifted to an imbalance. It is out of concordance. It is not natural. To think that 'choosing' evil over good is the only cause seems somewhat short sighted. When our heroes are diluted and evil men and women are praised, certainly the powers of evil have risen beyond their natural evolutionary boundaries and there is something more involved than simply 'choice'. And science, transhumanism, AI, super humans, genetically modified humans seems more and more a possibility.
The future relies on trust.We are living in a crisis of trust - and societies in which citizens can't trust their information sources are vulnerable to collapse. It's no secret that in today's information-rich society, the lines between fact and fiction have blurred.New Knowledge is on a mission to make it easier to monitor and defend against damaging social media security risks and disinformation so the truth will prevail in our public discourse.
We've entered the age of information warIn August 2014, the world was shocked by a gruesome video of journalist James Foley's brutal murder, broadcast on platforms normally reserved for debating the news and sharing family photos. The information was a weapon, deployed from a small army of coordinated social media accounts, intended to infect western media, manipulate public perception, and impact US counter-terrorism policy.
That same month, the gaming community was rocked by a massive harrassment campaign. Tens of thousands of people coordinated high-volume, ruthless attacks against female game developers -- the campaign was so relentless that it's become synonymous with online abuse. This anonymous, leaderless movement also used information as a weapon to manipulate public perception and impact a $75B industry.
Whether terrorists or culture warriors, it was clear to us that these weren't isolated incidents. From our positions in media, technology, and national security, we knew this was a critical vulnerability in the design of our information ecosystem. Using tactics that are cheap, repeatable, and effective, this vulnerability would be exploited by extremists, governments, and eventually corporations conducting computational propaganda that shape buying behavior and even influence democratic elections.
By 2016 we'd developed the disinformation protection tools to track disinformation operations in real time, and were the first organization outside the US intelligence community to identify Russia's campaign to influence the US presidential election. As the information war escalated, we believed it was our responsibility to provide a reliable disinformation solution to national security agencies and corporations.
We formed New Knowledge to defend public discourse.
Reach out to learn more about how New Knowledge can keep your brand safe from damaging disinformation.
A young startup with a timely offer: fighting propaganda campaigns online '' TechCrunch
The prevalence of so-called fake news is far worse than we imagined even a few months ago. Just last week, Twitter admitted there were more than 50,000 Russian bots trying to confuse American voters ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
It isn't just elections that should concern us, though. So argues Jonathon Morgan, the co-founder and CEO of New Knowledge, a two-and-a-half-year-old, Austin-based cybersecurity company that's gathering up clients looking to fight online disinformation. (Worth noting: The 15-person outfit has also quietly gathered up $1.9 million in seed funding led by Moonshots Capital, with participation from Haystack, GGV Capital, Geekdom Fund, Capital Factory and Spitfire Ventures.)
We talked earlier this week with Morgan, a former digital content producer and State Department counterterrorism advisor, to learn more about his product, which is smartly using concerns about fake social media accounts and propaganda campaigns to work with brands eager to preserve their reputation. Our chat has been edited lightly for length and clarity.
TC: Tell us a little about your background.
TC: How did that experience lead to you focusing on tech that tries to understand how social media platforms are manipulated?
TC: When ISIS was employing techniques to jam conversations into social media, conversations that were elevated in the American press, we started trying to figure out how they were pushing their message. I did a little work for the Brookings Institution, which led to some work as a data science advisor to the State Department '-- developing counterterrorism strategies and understanding what public discourse looks like online and the difference between mainstream communication and what that looks like when it's been hijacked.
TC: Now you're pitching this service you've developed with your team to brands. Why?
JM: The same mechanics and tactics used by ISIS are now being used by much more sophisticated actors, from hostile governments to kids who are coordinating activity on the internet to undermine things they don't like for cultural reasons. They'll take Black Lives activists and immigration-focused conservatives and amplify their discord, for example. We've also seen alt-right supporters on 4chan undermine movie releases. These kinds of digital insurgencies are being used by a growing number of actors to manipulate the way that the public has conversations online.
We realized we could use the same ideas and tech to defend companies that are vulnerable to these attacks. Energy companies, financial institutions, other companies managing critical infrastructure '-- they're all equally vulnerable. Election manipulation is just the canary in the coal mine when it comes to the degradation of our discourse.
TC: Yours is a SaaS product, I take it. How does it work?
JM: Yes, it's enterprise software. Our tech analyzes conversations across multiple platforms '-- social media and otherwise '-- and looks for signs that it's being tampered with, identifies who is doing the tampering and what messaging they are using to manipulate the conversation. With that information, our [customer] can decide how to respond. Sometimes it's to work with the press. Sometimes it's to work with social media companies to say, ''These are disingenuous and even fraudulent.'' We then work with the companies to remediate the threat.
TC: Which social media companies are the most responsive to these attempted interventions?
JM: There's a strong appetite for fixing the problem at all the media companies we talk with. Facebook and Google have addressed this publicly, but there's action taking place between friends behind closed doors. A lot of individuals at these companies think there are problems that need to be solved, and they are amendable to [working with us].
The challenge for them is that I'm not sure they have a sense for who is responsible for [disinformation much of they time]. That's why they've been slow to address the problem. We think we add value as a partner because we're focused on this at a much smaller scale. Whereas Facebook is thinking about billions of users, we're focused on tens of thousands of accounts and conversations, which is still a meaningful number and can impact public perception of a brand.
TC: Who are some of your customers?
JM: We [aren't authorized to name them but] we sell to companies in the entertainment and energy and finance industries. We've also worked with public interest organizations, including the Alliance for Securing Democracy.
TC: What's the sales process like? Are you looking for shifts in conversations, then reaching out to the companies impacted, or are companies finding you?
JM: Both. Either we discover something or we'll be approached and do an initial threat assessment to understand the landscape and who might be targeting an organization and from there, [we'll decide with the potential client] whether there's value in them in engaging with us in an ongoing way.
TC: A lot of people have been talking this week about a New York Times piece that seemed to offer a glimmer of hope that blockchain platforms will move us beyond the internet as we know it today and away from the few large tech companies that also happen to be breeding grounds for disinformation. Is that the future or is ''fake news'' here to stay?
JM: Unfortunately, online disinformation is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Advances in AI mean that it will soon be possible to manufacture images, audio and even video at unprecedented scale. Automated accounts that seem almost human will be able to engage directly with millions of users, just like your real friends on Facebook, Twitter or the next social media platform.
New technologies like blockchain that give us robust ways to establish trust will be a part of the solution, if they're not a magic bullet.
Advisory Council '' Alliance For Securing Democracy
Advisory Council Nick Nigro 2018-06-24T19:04:12+00:00 Mike Chertoff was U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009. There, he worked to strengthen U.S. borders, provide intelligence analysis, and protect infrastructure. He increased the Department's focus on preparedness ahead of disasters, and implemented enhanced security at airports and borders. Following Hurricane Katrina, Chertoff helped to transform FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) into an effective organization. He also served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals Judge from 2003''05. He co-founded the Chertoff Group, a risk-management and security consulting company, and works as senior of counsel at the Washington, DC law firm Covington & Burling.
Toomas Hendrik Ilves was elected president of the Republic of Estonia in 2006 and in 2011. During his presidency, Ilves was appointed to serve in several high positions in the field of information and communication technology in the European Union. He previously served as minister of foreign affairs and as the ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to the United States and Canada in Washington. Ilves was also a member of the Estonian Parliament, as well as a member of the European Parliament, where he was vice president of the Foreign Affairs Committee. He now co-chairs the World Economic Forum working group The Global Futures Council on Blockchain Technology. He is currently a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
David J. Kramer joined Florida International University's Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs as a senior fellow in the Vaclav Havel Program for Human Rights and Diplomacy in May 2017. Before moving to Miami, Kramer had worked in Washington, DC for 24 years, most recently as senior director for Human Rights and Democracy with The McCain Institute for International Leadership. Before that, he served for four years as president of Freedom House. Prior to that, he was a senior transatlantic fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the United States. Kramer served eight years in the U.S. Department of State during the George W. Bush administration, including as assistant secretary of state for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs; professional staff member in the Secretary's Office of Policy Planning; and senior advisor to the undersecretary for Global Affairs. Kramer is a member of the board of directors of the Halifax International Security Forum and a member of the advisory council for the George W. Bush Presidential Center's Human Freedom Project.
William Kristol is the editor at large of the influential political journal, The Weekly Standard. Before starting that magazine in 1995, Kristol served in government, first as chief of staff to Secretary of Education William Bennett during the Reagan administration, and then as chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle in the George H. W. Bush administration. Kristol has also served on the board of the Project for the New American Century (1997''2005) and the Foreign Policy Initiative (2009''17). Before coming to Washington in 1985, Kristol taught government at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University.
Rick Ledgett has four decades of experience in intelligence, cybersecurity, and cyber operations, including 29 years with the National Security Agency where he served as deputy director from January 2014 until his retirement in April 2017. In that capacity he was responsible for providing foreign intelligence and protecting the nation's most important national security-related networks. Rick is a senior visiting fellow at The MITRE Corporation, a director on the Board of M&T Bank, serves as a trustee on the Board of the Institute for Defense Analyses, and is a member of several corporate advisory boards.
Michael McFaul served for five years in the Obama administration, first as special assistant to the president and senior director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House from 2009 to 2012, and then as U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation from 2012''14. He is currently professor of political science, director, and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and the Peter and Helen Bing senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1995. He is also an analyst for NBC News and a contributing columnist to The Washington Post.
Michael Morell was acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency in 2011 and again from 2012 to 2013, and had previously served as deputy director and director for Intelligence at the Agency. In his over thirty years at the CIA, Morell played a central role in the United States' fight against terrorism, its initiatives to halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and its efforts to respond to trends that are altering the international landscape '-- including the Arab Spring, the rise of China, and the cyber threat. He was one of the leaders in the search for Osama bin Laden and participated in the deliberations that led to the raid that killed bin Laden in May 2011. He has been with Beacon Global Strategies as a senior counselor since November 2013.
Ana Palacio is an international lawyer specializing in international and European Union law. Ms. Palacio is a Member of the Council of State of Spain and is the Founding Partner of the law and public affairs firm Palacio y Asociados.
Between 1994 and 2002, Ms. Palacio was a Member of the European Parliament, where she chaired the Legal Affairs and Internal Market Committee as well as the Citizens Rights, Justice and Home Affairs Committee. She participated as member of the Presidium of the Convention for the Future of Europe (2001-2003) in the debate and drafting of the European Constitution. In 2002, Ms. Palacio became the first woman to serve as Foreign Affairs Minister of Spain (2002-2004). She was a Member of the Spanish Parliament (2004 to 2006), where she chaired the Joint Committee of the Two Houses for European Union Affairs. She has been Senior Vice-President and General Counsel of the World Bank Group and Secretary General of ICSID (2006-2008), and she has been a member of the Executive Committee and Senior Vice-President for International Affairs of AREVA (2008-2009).
She is a member of the Board of Enags (Spanish gas system), Pharmamar (biotechnology), and AEE Power (energy infrastructure). She is a member of the International Advisory Boards of Investcorp (a world-leading manager of alternative investments) and Office Ch(C)rifien des Phosphates '' OCP '' (fertilizers); and of the Governing Council of the Instituto de Empresa (business school). She is a member of the Board as well as of the Executive Committee of the Atlantic Council of the United States. Further, Ms. Palacio serves as member of the External Advisory Board of the US former Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz's Energy Futures Initiative, of the Advisory Board of the Sandra Day O'Connor Justice Prize and of the Board of Trustees of the Institute for Human Sciences. She has recently been appointed as member of the Global Leadership Foundation.
Ms. Palacio publishes regularly in periodicals and journals. In particular, she maintains a monthly column at Project Syndicate. She is a visiting professor at the Edmund E. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She is also a recurrent participant and speaker at international conferences and fora, most recently giving evidence on post-Brexit foreign and defense cooperation before the UK House of Lords' European Union External Affairs Sub-Committee.
In 2016, Ms. Palacio was presented with the Sandra Day O'Connor Justice Prize for extraordinary contributions to the rule of law, justice and human rights by the O'Connor School of Law at Arizona State University, and was awarded the insignia of Officier of the Order of the Legion of Honor of the French Republic.
John Podesta served as Chair of Hillary for America. Prior to joining Hillary Clinton's campaign he served as Counselor to President Barack Obama.
In 2008, he served as co-chair of President Obama's transition team, where he coordinated the priorities of the incoming administration's agenda, oversaw the development of its policies, and spearheaded its appointments of major cabinet secretaries and political appointees.
He is the former Chair of the Washington, D.C.-based think tank Center for American Progress and the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Prior to founding the Center in 2003, Podesta served as White House Chief of Staff to President William J. Clinton.
He also recently served on the President's Global Development Council and the UN Secretary General's High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
Additionally, Podesta has held numerous positions on Capitol Hill, including counselor to Democratic Leader Sen. Thomas A. Daschle (1995-1996).
A Chicago native, Podesta is a graduate of Knox College and the Georgetown University Law Center, where he is currently a visiting professor of law.
He is the author of The Power of Progress: How America's Progressives Can (Once Again) Save Our Economy, Our Climate and Our Country.
Mike Rogers is a former member of Congress, officer in the Army, and FBI special agent. In the U.S. House he chaired the Intelligence Committee, becoming a leader on cybersecurity and national security policy, and overseeing the 17 intelligence agencies' $70 billion budget. Today Mike is a CNN national security commentator, and hosts and produces CNN's ''Declassified.'' He serves as Chief Security Adviser to AT&T, sits on the board of IronNet Cybersecurity and MITRE Corporation, and advises Next Century Corporation and Trident Capital. He is Distinguished Fellow and Trustee at Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, and a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center at Harvard University.
Kori Schake has served in various policy roles including at the White House for the National Security Council, at the Department of Defense for the Office of the Secretary and Joint Chiefs of Staff, and at the State Department for the Policy Planning Staff. During the 2008 presidential election, she was senior policy advisor on the McCain''Palin campaign. She is now a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. She is the editor, with Jim Mattis, of the book Warriors and Citizens: American Views of Our Military. She teaches at Stanford, is a contributing editor covering national security and international affairs at The Atlantic, columnist for Foreign Policy magazine, and a contributor to War on the Rocks.
Julianne ''Julie'' Smith served as the deputy national security advisor to the U.S. vice president from 2012 to 2013, acting national security advisor to the vice president in 2013, and principal director for European and NATO policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the Pentagon. Smith is currently senior fellow and director of the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.
Admiral James Stavridis, U.S. Navy (Ret.) served as commander of European Command and as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe from 2009 to 2013. He commanded U.S. Southern Command in Miami from 2006''09 and commanded Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, conducting combat operations in the Arabian Gulf in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom from 2002''04. He was a strategic and long-range planner on the staffs of the Chief of Naval Operations and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He has also served as the executive assistant to the secretary of the navy and as senior military assistant to the secretary of defense. He is now dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and chairman of the U.S. Naval Institute board of directors.
Jake Sullivan served in the Obama administration as national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden and director of Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State, as well as deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He was the senior policy advisor on Secretary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. He is now a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Martin R. Flug visiting lecturer in law at Yale Law School.
Nicole Wong served as deputy U.S. chief technology officer in the Obama administration, where she focused on internet, privacy, and innovation policy. Prior to her time in government, Nicole was Google's vice president and deputy general counsel, and Twitter's legal director for products. She frequently speaks on issues related to law and technology. Nicole chairs the board of Friends of Global Voices, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting citizen and online media projects globally. She also sits on the boards of WITNESS, an organization supporting the use of video to advance human rights, and the Mozilla Foundation, which promotes open internet. Nicole currently serves as an advisor to the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley, Harvard Business School Digital Initiative, the Democratic National Committee Cybersecurity advisory board, Refactor Capital, and the Albright Stonebridge Group.
Jonathon Morgan is the founder and CEO of New Knowledge, a technology company that provides disinformation defense to brands and national security customers. He is also the founder of Data for Democracy, a policy, research, and volunteer collective with nearly 4,000 members that's bridging the gap between technology and society. Prior to founding New Knowledge, Jonathon published research about extremist groups manipulating social media with the Brookings Institution, The Atlantic, and the Washington Post, presented at NATO's Center of Excellence for Defense Against Terrorism, the United States Institute for Peace, and the African Union. He also served as an adviser to the US State Department, developing strategies for digital counter-terrorism. Jonathon regularly provides expert commentary about online disinformation for publications such as NYT, NBC, NPR, and Wired, and has published op-eds about information warfare and computational propaganda for CNN, The Guardian, and VICE.
How Unwitting Americans Encountered Russian Operatives Online
Image About a dozen people protested against what they called the threat of radical Islam in Houston in May 2016. They were met by a much larger crowd of counterprotesters. Both sides were organized by Russian groups. Credit Credit Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle They were politically active Americans scattered around the country, dedicating their spare time to the 2016 presidential campaign or various causes. And the seeming fellow activists who called them to rallies via Facebook, or joined in the free-for-all on Twitter, appeared unremarkable.
Except that their English sometimes seemed a little odd.
''We are looking for friendship because we are fighting for the same reasons,'' someone purporting to be with an online group calling itself Blacktivist wrote via Twitter to the Rev. Dr. Heber Brown III, a Baltimore pastor, in April 2016. ''Actually we are open for your thoughts and offers.''
In late October 2016, in Nederland, Tex., the Texas Nationalist Movement got a Facebook message from someone representing a group called Heart of Texas, which planned to organize rallies in favor of Texas secession on the eve of the election. But on a follow-up call, ''something was off,'' said Daniel Miller, the president of the Texas Nationalist Movement.
Despite their wariness, neither Dr. Brown nor Mr. Miller had any inkling of what was really behind those odd encounters. Heart of Texas and Blacktivist were phony groups, part of a sweeping Russian disinformation campaign that was funded with millions of dollars and carried out by 80 people operating out of St. Petersburg, Russia.
The Russian attempt at long-distance choreography was playing out in many cities across the United States. Facebook has disclosed that about 130 rallies were promoted by 13 of the Russian pages, which reached 126 million Americans with provocative content on race, guns, immigration and other volatile issues.
An indictment filed in court on Friday by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the election, laid out for the first time, in riveting detail, how Russia carried out its campaign on social media. And while the indictment did not suggest any involvement by President Trump or his associates, it did say many Americans engaged with the Russian trolls without knowing who or where they really were.
''Some defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities,'' the indictment said. Among others, it said, the Russians contacted ''a real U.S. person affiliated with a Texas-based grass-roots organization,'' who advised them to focus their efforts on ''purple states like Colorado, Virginia and Florida.''
The indictment did not name the activist, but Mr. Miller said in an interview that the mention had set off a slightly unnerving guessing game in his state as to who the helpful Texan might be. It was not him, he said.
''Every organization in Texas that's been politically involved over the last few years is sort of eyeing the other ones,'' said Mr. Miller, whose group decided not to endorse the Heart of Texas rallies. ''Mueller's team needs to clarify this.'' (A spokesman for Mr. Mueller declined to comment.)
Sometimes the Russian efforts fell flat. Dr. Brown had challenged Blacktivist on Twitter because it seemed to be an out-of-town group, yet it was calling for a Baltimore rally to mark the anniversary of the death of Freddie Gray, who sustained a fatal injury while in police custody. The pastor had no idea just how far out of town.
''The way you're going about this is deeply offensive to those of us who are from Baltimore and have been organizing here all our lives,'' Dr. Brown wrote to the stranger.
Seemingly chastened, Blacktivist replied, ''This must be really wrong. I feel ashamed.''
The pastor replied: ''Post a public apology. Cancel the event and take your cues from those working locally.''
The Heart of Texas group had more success with a Houston rally to ''Stop the Islamization of Texas,'' which provoked an angry confrontation in May 2016. United Muslims of America, another Russian creation, called its own rally to ''Save Islamic Knowledge'' for the same time and place, outside the Islamic Da'wah Center.
A dozen people who turned out for the first event, some carrying rifles, Confederate flags and a banner saying ''White Lives Matter,'' faced off across a street with a far larger crowd of counterprotesters. The police kept the crowds apart, and there was no trouble at the event, which was caught on video.
Later, on social media, some puzzled participants complained that no one from Heart of Texas, which had about 250,000 likes on Facebook, had shown up for the group's own rally.
But the online pitches reached a big audience. In written answers to questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee, Facebook said some 338,300 people saw the announcements of rallies promoted by the bogus pages '-- and 62,500 said they planned to attend one. Those numbers are modest against the background of the entire presidential campaign, but they show that the Russians were able not just to attract Americans to their ersatz groups but actually manipulate their actions.
''The fact that they got people to show up at real-world events is impressive,'' said Renee DiResta, the head of policy at Data for Democracy, a nonprofit that has studied the Russian activity. ''What we have is an engine for reaching people and growing an audience, which is fantastic. But this shows that it can be used for very shady purposes.''
Video How do bots and trolls work to infiltrate social media platforms and influence U.S. elections? We take a closer look at these insidious online pests to explain how they work. Published On Oct. 31, 2017Facebook's vice president for advertising, Rob Goldman, said on Twitter on Friday, ''I have seen all of the Russian ads and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was *NOT* the main goal'' '-- a statement that President Trump retweeted.
But Mr. Mueller's indictment repeatedly states that the Russian operation was designed not just to provoke division among Americans but also to denigrate Hillary Clinton and support her rivals, mainly Mr. Trump. The hashtags the Russian operation used included #Trump2016, #TrumpTrain, #MAGA and #Hillary4Prison, and one Russian operative was reprimanded for ''a low number of posts dedicated to criticizing Hillary Clinton,'' the indictment says.
A glance at the Russian posts supports the idea that they focus on candidates. Heart of Texas ran an unflattering portrait of Mrs. Clinton with the tag ''Pure Evil''; posted a fake photo of her shaking hands with Osama bin Laden; and paired her with Adolf Hitler as a supporter of gun control. Mr. Trump was shown surrounded by police officers wearing Trump hats and grinning outside a fake cage with Mrs. Clinton inside.
While most of the Americans duped by the Russian trolls were not public figures, some higher-profile people were fooled. The indictment mentions the Russian Twitter feed @TEN_GOP, which posed as a Tennessee Republican account and attracted more than 100,000 followers. It was retweeted by Donald Trump Jr.; Kellyanne Conway, the president's counselor; Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser; and his son, Michael Flynn Jr.
They have expressed no regret that they were apparently taken in by the Russian operatives. Instead, since Friday's indictment, Donald Trump Jr., like his father, has pointed mainly to the fact that it did not accuse the president or his associates of assisting the Russian operation.
Jeremy Bowers contributed research.
Read the special counsel's indictment against 13 Russians and three companies here.
Organizations (21)These are groups of technologists, technology-minded folk, or those using technology to help activists.
Code for America The godmother of modern Civic Technology, Code for America has helped hundreds of activists and civic governments for over a decade. "We help government deliver services to the public better using the tools and practices of the digital age. And we organize a network of people dedicated to spreading these practices in government for the benefit of all Americans. Since 2011, we've worked with thousands of tech industry professionals to help 100+ local governments serve their communities better. Now we're working with government to make the most of our tax dollars to help millions of underserved Americans." Join DevProgress DevProgress is an Open Source community dedicated to building tools for progressive organizing. Created by the DNC as a resource for Hillary 2016 campaign, DevProgress built a collection of tools and sites to support Hillary for America. DevProgress is going to continue on as an Open Source community dedicated to building tools for progressive organizing. It will continue being affiliated with the DNC. The projects that DevProgress take on are largely driven by what the DevProgress developer community is interested in working on, and what the DNC thinks would be nice to have. Anyone can sign up here: devprogress.us. Join Ragtag Ragtag is a team of tech-generation volunteers and activists working to support progressive causes and organizations. We are not affiliated with the DNC, though we are still good friends. :) Ragtag works on projects that range from building software, to writing how-to guides, to providing in-person tech support for organizers and activists in their communities. Ragtag's project ideas come from group members, and from requests from external groups. Sign up to join at ragtag.team/join. Orgs and other groups can get in touch with Ragtag about getting help with projects or tech support by heading to ragtag.team/connect. Join Tech Solidarity Tech Solidarity is intended to bring the tech world together with the local communities where it lives to discuss practical steps we can take in the face of a Trump administration, while there is still ample time to prepare and plan. We'll operate on the assumption that Trump means what he says, and that he will work to implement the policies he campaigned on, including mass deportations, "extreme vetting" of immigrants and visitors, and a registry of Muslim Americans. Together we hope we can find ways to minimize the impact of these policies, help people defend their rights (and fight back), and lobby the companies we work to stop collecting and storing sensitive data wherever possible. Join Beta NYC BetaNYC is a civic organization dedicated to improving lives in New York through civic design, technology, and data. We envision an informed and empowered public that can leverage civic design, technology, and data to hold government accountable, and improve their economic opportunity. Join DataKind DataKind couples data scientists with non-profits to address their analytical, visualization, and modeling needs. From evening or weekend events to multi-month projects, all are designed to provide social organizations with the pro bono data science skills they need to address a range of issues across education, poverty, health, human rights, the environment and cities. Join Data For Democracy Data for Democracy is a community of data people volunteering on social impact projects. It is a virtual organization that operates through Slack and Github. Current project areas include election transparency, analysis of online communities and the extreme right, campaign spending, and more. Join Data Refuge DataRefuge is building refuge for federal climate and environmental data vulnerable under an administration that denies the fact of ongoing climate change at Data Rescue events across America. It is an opportunity for civic hackers, scientists, activists, and volunteers of all kinds to to identify, back-up, and help to preserve at-risk climate and environmental data resources before they are suppressed from public view and use. Join Tech Resistance The tech community at its best stands for openness, inclusion, collaboration and innovation. These values stand in stark contrast to the kind of world the Trump Administration is trying to create. As members of the tech community we commit to resisting the Trump Administration's efforts to divide, to silence, to persecute and to oppress. We will resist by harnessing our unique skills and resources behind efforts to promote truth, engage citizens, hold elected officials accountable, and push for justice. Join Progressive Coders Network Volunteer coders behind Bernie Sanders' 2016 campaign cemented the role of volunteer tech in politics. Hundreds of coders created online tools for his campaign, boosting the movement by engaging millions of people to vote, volunteer, and inform themselves about the issues. We're building on that momentum and creating a sustainable network of volunteers: creating open-source tools for the progressive movement; helping progressive campaigns compete without needing millions of dollars in funding; enabling them to champion a platform centered in social and economic justice without big money's influence. Join Code Corps We help people build simple software that solves hard problems. Here's our plan: We're matching developers and designers, project managers and marketers '' any and every talent '' to ambitious projects that need their help. We're educating and training, developing and encouraging people who build public software. We want to help projects be successful and people to do their best work. We're building a crowdfunding platform to support ongoing work. We aim to keep funders engaged in projects and connected to the teams they're supporting. We're developing tools to help people collaborate on, organize, and even distribute their work. We're listening closely to hear what needs built, and then building it. Join Tech For Justice Tech For Justice® is an initiative to accelerate the development of technology applications and processes that improve access to justice in human rights, legal aid, and the environment. We aim to support those who need critical help more efficiently, and change processes that no longer serve the people. Technology provides communities with the ability to gather around targeted problems. Join Trans*H4CK We shift the ways trans*, gender non conforming, agender and non binary people live by creating technology that economically empowers, improves access to social services, promotes gender safety and community sustainability, while bringing visibility to trans* tech innovators and entrepreneurs. Join Tech for Campaigns Tech for Campaigns (TFC) is a community where world class tech talent and progressive, centrist political campaigns in need of volunteer man-power come together. The promise is not only different political outcomes but the sustained engagement of people concerned with the direction America is going. Join Tech Workers Coalition We are a coalition of workers in and around the tech industry, labor organizers, community organizers, and friends. We are organizing for activism, civic engagement and education in the Bay Area. We work in solidarity with existing movements towards social justice, workers rights, and economic inclusion. Join WTF Volunteer Switchboard Mid-term elections are just around the corner. It's time to be extraordinary. Volunteer Switchboard is our first project:Connecting talented volunteers to opportunities to win elections.Wondering what you can do to stop Trump? Join Catchafire Catchafire connects social good organizations with pro bono professionals who want to donate their skills Join Debug Politics Debug Politics hosts events aimed at converting the tech community's frustration with politics into meaningful action. Let's use our talents as developers, designers, and technologists to find innovative ways to make a real difference. Join The Digital Service Thousands of people go to work every day to defend our rights, protect at-risk populations and organizations, and provide opportunities and resources for those in need.Whether you care about immigration, civic engagement, education, jobs, or the environment, there are lawyers, non-profits and activists who are working to solve problems and they need your help. Connect with the people who have dedicated their lives to serving the people, and be of service to them. Join Project 501 Project 501 matches non-profit organizations with talented professionals who want to donate their skills. Skill-based volunteer projects offer meaningful opportunities for volunteers to make an impact. Join Techs and Balances We are a community of 100+ Engineers, Designers, and Product Managers devoted to building tools that make a positive impact - from standalone apps to integrations and enhancements for existing organizations and movements. We do not charge for our services, though we do pursue creative ways to capitalize projects for devops, server costs, and so on as needed ( e.g. patrons, donors, crowdfunding). Join
One of my favorite projects to work on is the Global Data Ethics Project (GDEP) because I learn so much, every single day, while engaging with the awesome community of humans that are helping to build and support GDEP. The Global Data Ethics Project helps to frame the principles and inform the questions that need to be asked when we leverage people's data to build, map, collect, visualize anything
The best thing about D4D is the community.
Data for Democracy is the most welcoming, helpful and safe virtual space I have ever participated in. The org does such an outstanding job fostering positive community collaboration that I often find myself asking "What would D4D do?" in collaborative situations, and I'm thankful for every single one of you for the effort put forth in all of the posts, and for the care taken every day in all of the interactions that contribute to the awesomeness that is D4D.Find Margeaux @cheapwebmonkey
The Radical Right and the Threat of Violence '' Jonathon Morgan '' Medium
Twitter profile photos from extremist alt-right accountsEarlier this week I shared a story on Twitter about anti-Semitism in Donald Trump's campaign. The tweet was picked up by a prominent ''alt-right'' personality, and within a few minutes dozens of other white supremacists rallied to attack me, defend their candidate, and outline their vision for a society free of ''Jewish control.''
While this little eruption might have been noteworthy nine months ago, swarms of unapologetic racists are now commonplace on social media. Formerly relegated to the fringes of society, the alt-right is now part of the political mainstream. This modern incarnation of the white nationalist movement, made up of neo-Nazis and white separatists, enjoyed the national spotlight recently as Hillary Clinton accused Donald Trump of openly campaigning for their support. Many in the media have rightly expressed concern that a major party candidate seems to pander (or at least ''dog whistle'') to the far right fringe. Indeed, Trump has many ties to white supremacists on social media, and prominent white nationalists like former Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke are strongly supportive of the Trump campaign. But the truth is that, while the influence of this type of bigotry on our political process is alarming, the real threat posed by the alt-right goes far beyond any candidate's unsavory political base.
The growing size and increasing radicalization of the white nationalist movement are indicators of a much more dangerous trend. With its vulnerable population, extremist ideology, and capacity for violence, the alt-right is a breeding ground for terrorism.
Terrorism, and the Path to RadicalizationSince the rise of ISIS, researchers, law enforcement, and the intelligence community have tried to understand how the group succeeds in inspiring people around the world to commit so-called ''lone wolf'' attacks, or travel to Syria to join their makeshift caliphate. This process, in which seemingly normal people become intoxicated with extremist ideology and are molded into terrorists, is often referred to as the ''path to radicalization,'' and it's now well understood.
Many have followed this path, from different countries, and social classes, but they're linked by common vulnerabilities''--'each feel ostracized from society, believe themselves to be victimized, and are attracted to violence. ISIS recruiters and propagandists exploit these vulnerabilities with narratives of strength and warmth, simultaneously empathizing with the alienated and disaffected while also promising power and belonging through righteous violence against their oppressors. ISIS sells potential recruits on the idea that they can fight injustice and find honor by taking back what is rightfully theirs.
An ISIS recruiting video. Warning: contains graphic footage.Though the similarities are not immediately obvious, for decades in the United States, white, working class communities have also become vulnerable to radical ideology. Described eloquently by author J.D. Vance in his lauded new book, Hillbilly Elegy, these communities in the South and rural Northeast are at the center of a growing social and cultural crisis. They've been rocked by a dramatic uptick in divorce, rampant drug overdoses, rising rural death rates, and a suicide epidemic. All this against a backdrop of increasing political irrelevance due to rural population decline and outright contempt from the wealthy.
According to researchers, these are also the communities with the highest levels of racism in the United States, and also overwhelmingly support Donald Trump for president.
This is not to say that all Donald Trump supporters are racist, or that all rural white voters are extremists''--'in fact that is almost certainly not the case. However it's not hard to see why these communities feel ostracized, disempowered, and angry.
Fortunately current white nationalist leaders like David Duke and William Johnson are ineffective, and have largely failed to inspire the kind of unity and commitment that propels ISIS supporters to large-scale terrorist attacks, but communities infected by the alt-right are fertile ground in which extremism can, and has taken root.
And while racism is not the same thing as radical extremism, former radical Islamists have drawn direct ties between the ISIS brand of religious extremism and racism, and there are clear parallels between the radicalization process of jihadist extremists and the growing extremism of the far right in the United States. Put bluntly in this VICE documentary about the Klu Klux Klan in Mississippi, Steve Howard, the local KKK chapter's Imperial Wizard, says:
''In some ways we can relate to Islamic extremists, just like we are Christian extremists, because they're fighting a holy war and so are we.''Growing Evidence on Social MediaLike ISIS, the alt-right is active on social media. In a recent research paper measuring alt-right on Twitter, J.M. Berger found a 600% increase in followers for prominent white nationalist accounts, even as ISIS activity has dramatically declined.
There are many factions within the alt-right, but in examining these white nationalists on social media, it's clear there are two primary groups: garden variety racists, who complain about mixed-race couples, are proud of their Scots-Irish heritage, and use hashtags like ''#WhiteWomenAreMagic,'' and violent extremists, who call for genocide against Jews, the killing of Muslims and African-Americans, and even threaten to lynch President Obama.
These are not idle threats, nor is this a small fringe group, as many in the media on both the left and right would understandably like to believe.
Individuals ideologically aligned with extremist white nationalists are responsible for repeated incidents of online and offline violence''--'from the high-profile hacking of comedian Leslie Jones' website, to the murder of a Lebanese man in Tulsa, OK, to the stabbing of a mix-raced couple in Olympia, WA to, most horrifically, the mass shooting at a Charleston, SC church by white supremacist Dylann Roof. In fact, until the nightclub shootings in Orlando, white extremists had committed more attacks and killed more Americans than jihadist extremists since 9/11.
Instead of chasing these extremists and their sympathizers back into the shadows, the recent increase in attention has only emboldened the alt-right. Jared Taylor, the editor of the white nationalist publication American Renaissance, openly cheered Hillary Clinton's attacks on the group. David Duke mentioned Donald Trump as his inspiration for seeking a Senate seat in Louisiana, while Duke's former organization, the KKK, is openly recruiting in Indiana, New York, and California. Meanwhile in Houston, an armed group of confederate-flag waiving white nationalists blockaded offices of the local NAACP chapter.
Measuring the Alt-Right's RadicalizationDisturbingly, the social media activity of these hate groups suggests that the threat of violence is increasing. White nationalists' online presence continues to grow, and after surveying a network of over 27,000 Nazi apologists, KKK members, and separatists, it's clear that these groups are becoming measurably more radicalized every month.
Even though they typically hide their real identities behind the anonymity afforded by social media, alt-right Twitter users nevertheless clearly communicate their political affiliations. Using machine-learning algorithms to interpret the language in Twitter profile descriptions, and computer vision algorithms to identify pro-Nazi symbols in profile avatars, my colleagues at New Knowledge and I identified over 3,500 radical extremists amongst the larger network of 27,000 accounts that are associated with the alt-right.
Many hundreds of users display the swastika, while others choose alternative symbols associated with hate groups, such as the Celtic cross, Iron cross, and insignia of the Nazi paramilitary group, Schutzstaffel, also known as the SS.
Swastikas dedicated by our computer vision algorithm, discovered in the alt-right network on TwitterMany others explicitly declared their allegiance to neo-Nazi and white separatist movements in the text of their profiles by proclaiming ''white pride,'' or explicitly identifying themselves as ''white nationalists.'' Almost everyone in the alt-right network is an enthusiastic and vocal supporter of Donald Trump, through the core group of extremists is more likely to mention their race, white nationalism, and national socialism than any presidential candidate.
On the left, words found most often in the larger network of alt-right Twitter profiles. On the right, words found most often in white extremist profiles.Most importantly, analyzing the tweets of this core group of 3,500 extremists reveals a warped, dangerous worldview that openly advocates for murder and genocide.
Using recent advances in machine-assisted text analysis, we then quantified this racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, and violent perspective based on the context in which authors use relevant keywords. For example, in typical English, like a mainstream newspaper article, the word ''Jewish'' is statistically similar to words like ''Muslim'' and ''Christian.'' Meaning that mainstream authors usually rely on the word ''Jewish'' to describe someone or something religious.
On the contrary, in tweets by white extremists, the word ''Jewish'' is used in a totally different context, where it is statistically similar to words like ''communist,'' ''homosexual,'' ''anti-white,'' and ''satanic.''
White extremists are therefore more likely to use the word ''Jewish'' to signify something they hate, rather than as a religious description. This is no surprise, but it provides an objective metric for understanding how the white extremist perspective diverges from the mainstream.
Imagine two poles at either end of a spectrum that spans from the moderate middle to the potentially violent, radicalized fringe''--'this metric places a community somewhere on that spectrum. It's a kind of radicalization score, and those who score highly are ideologically similar to the most violent, dangerous alt-right extremists on Twitter.
When the radicalization score is applied to tweets from the broader alt-right network, it's clear that the entire white nationalist community is embracing an increasingly extreme ideology. The social media content of white nationalists in July was 25% more radicalized than it was in January, and the rate of radicalization is increasing exponentially.
The increasingly radicalized rhetoric of the alt-right on Twitter, measured.Of course the alt-right is not a single group, but is comprised of many communities, joined by their shared belief in white supremacy. As this graphic shows, small factions are scattered across the larger white nationalist network.
27,000 Alt-Right supporters on TwitterSome communities, like the ''#BlueHand'' movement, relentlessly and aggressively promote Islamaphobia, whereas other communities rail against diversity, which they describe as ''#WhiteGenocide.'' Still other communities align themselves with neo-Nazis and engage in Holocaust denial''--'largely focused on a recent pro-Hitler documentary called The Greatest Story Never Told''--'while some instead choose the white supremacist groups with roots in the United States like the Klu Klux Klan. There is plenty of overlap between these communities, and almost everyone in the alt-right revels in bizarre conspiracy theories, such as the idea that President Obama founded ISIS''--'a theory recently made popular by Donald Trump''--'or that Black Lives Matter activists are terrorists.
Regardless of what type of white nationalism the individual communities prefer, almost all of them show signs of adopting the kinds of dangerous, radical ideologies.
Looking more closely at one of these communities in particular, it's possible to see the journey from casual racism to a more extremist typically associated with violence.
An Alt-Right community on the path to radicalizationThis community of 5,225 users is tightly clustered inside the larger network, indicating a high degree of communication between its members. The tweets published by members of this community indicate a perspective that is 63% radicalized, and that has become increasingly radicalized over time.
Community radicalization over timeA closer look at the individual tweets published by members of this group in January, and then in July, illustrates this trend. In January, the word ''Jewish'' hardly appears. When it does, the context reveals an undercurrent of casual, but not aggressive, racism.
By July, the tone has changed. The word ''Jewish'' appears in tweets from hundreds of different accounts, and its usage implies a belief in large-scale conspiracy, racial antagonism, and even explicit support for Adolf Hitler.
Now, in September, the march toward radicalization shows no signs of stopping, as campaign rhetoric intensifies during the last leg of a polarizing presidential election.
Dark Times AheadThe extremist alt-right is a barrel of gunpowder, waiting for someone to light a match.
It's also not going anywhere. The radical alt-right has so far failed to engender the kind of devotion seen in supporters of other extremist groups, but Donald Trump and his campaign have normalized the hate and conspiracy theories that fuel this movement. His rhetoric has emboldened the alt-right, and this election cycle has dramatically elevated its visibility. The economic and social conditions that led to the decline of rural white communities aren't changing anytime soon, and as the number of alt-right converts grows at an alarming rate, these groups seem increasingly inclined to violent rhetoric and radicalized ideology.
It's only a matter of time before more charismatic and ruthless leaders replace uninspiring figures like David Duke and Jared Taylor, harness this increased capacity for violence, and elevate the radicalized alt-right from a marginalized hate group to full-blown terrorism.
A Trump supporter responding to his candidate's speculation that the election might be ''rigged.''
Militia Groups and the ''Rigged Election'' '' Jonathon Morgan '' Medium
Using Facebook activity to find armed militia supporters who are engaging with Donald Trump's claims of a rigged election.Faced with probable defeat, Donald Trump is now claiming the election is rigged (it's not). While election officials spent Monday trying to reassure the public that US democracy is intact, Trump surrogates doubled down on their candidate's accusations, warning of widespread voter fraud, and suggesting that supporters revolt.
The message is resonating. Over 100,000 people commented or reacted to Trump's recent Facebook posts about election rigging. Though at rallies some of Trump's supporters insist the tough talk is not a call to violence, others discussed armed rebellion and assassination, and buried amongst the supporters who engaged with the candidate's message on Facebook are at least 210 people who are involved with armed militia groups.
Arkansas, Arizona, Mississippi, and California have the most active militia supporters who have also interacted with Donald Trump's Facebook posts about rigged elections.Though not always violent, armed, anti-government militias are common in the United States. The Southern Poverty Law Center counts 276 such militia groups. Last year an armed militant group seized a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, and just last week ''The Crusaders,'' a group of three men in Kansas, were arrested for plotting a terrorist attack on a mosque and apartment complex used primarily by Somali refugees. The Crusaders' attack, planned for the day after the presidential election, was intended to cause a ''bloodbath'' that they hoped would start a religious war.
The Facebook pages of the men behind The Crusaders'-- Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright, and Patrick Stein''--'turn up connections to other militias in Kansas and across the country. A closer look at militia activity across Facebook reveals that, while many restrict their activity to closed, private communities, over 240 militia groups keep active, public Facebook pages*.
It's on these public pages that supporters who have commented or reacted to Trump's Facebook posts about rigged elections discuss how they view the upcoming election, the US government, and rebellion.
Comment from a Trump supporter on a militia group's Facebook pageComment from a Trump supporter on a militia group's Facebook pageComment from a Trump supporter on a militia group's Facebook pageOver 32,000 different Facebook users have commented or reacted to a post on one of the 246 public pages maintained by militia groups, with most of the that activity occurring in the past few months.
The number of militia Facebook page comments per month, captured from 246 pages that are publicly accessible and have been active in the last year.When Donald Trump tells people the election is rigged, they believe him. Some of those people already believe it's their duty to take up arms against a tyrannical government. But it's almost impossible to rig an election. Claiming otherwise is irresponsible and dangerous.
*The search for militia Facebook pages was limited to public pages created for armed, non-professional fighting units. I removed pages that were setup in protest, hadn't posted at least once in 2016, are dedicated to historical societies or reenactment groups, or were setup as a joke, like the many ''anti-zombie'' militia pages.
How the 'Alt-Right' Came to Dominate the Comments on Trump's Facebook Page - The Atlantic
The alt-right is a radicalized subculture. While it most likely does not represent the values of most Trump supporters, let alone most Americans, this relatively small, hyperactive extremist group has effectively exploited the social mechanics of platforms like Facebook and Twitter to amplify its message, influence voters, and normalize its radical ideology. Over the course of the campaign the alt-right succeeded in spreading divisive rhetoric--and the comments section of Trump's official Facebook page increasingly resembled the hateful views it promoted.
We can measure the degree to which the alt-right's radical ideology has been normalized amongst Trump supporters on Facebook by taking language from their comments and comparing it to language of suspected white nationalists online.
For an earlier investigation into far-right radicalism on Twitter for The Washington Post, we used machine learning to identify 3,500 possible white nationalists based on the language in Twitter users' profile descriptions and pro-Nazi symbols in their avatars. We then dissected the racist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, and often violent language used by these accounts. (Many have since been suspended by Twitter.)
Analyzing the context in which these accounts used keywords relevant to hate speech, and comparing that context to mainstream language found in a dataset of over 100 billion words published on Google News, makes it possible to identify distinctive patterns. Other bodies of text'--for example, the comments left on Trump's Facebook page'--can then be compared to these two benchmarks, to assess the extent to which they resemble one more than the other.
For example, in most newspaper articles, the word ''Jewish'' is used in a similar way to words like ''Muslim'' and ''Christian,'' to describe religion.
In tweets by white nationalists, the word ''Jewish'' is used in a similar way to words like ''communist,'' ''homosexual,'' and ''leftist.'' In other words, ''Jewish'' often appears in contexts similar to words for other groups of people white nationalists don't like.
The language used in the comments section of Trump's Facebook page initially resembled that used by newspapers. For example, here is a typical comment from early 2016. Its author uses the word ''Jewish'' to describe his religion.
''I love Pope Frances [sic]! He took on a very Holy Name and I love Him! But once again I am Jewish but the Pope is still Blessed!''
By October, that changed. Facebook commenters on Trump's page began to use words like ''Jew'' and ''Jewish'' to describe the mainstream media, Hillary Clinton, and other common punching bags for Trump's campaign. They used ''Jewish'' in the same way white nationalists use the word ''Jewish''''--'as an epithet.
For example, one commenter writes, ''The Rothschild Jewish owned main stream [sic] media will begin to die tonight when Trump only speaks with honest journalists online after the debate. Best way to end corrupted media, ignore them.''
Articles by Jonathon Morgan | The New York Times, The Guardian, CNN Journalist | Muck Rack
Dados comprovam: Rºssia tamb(C)m interferiu nas elei§µes intermedirias norte-americanas gazetadopovo.com.br '-- Desde as elei§µes presidenciais norte-americanas de 2016, influenciada por agentes russos atrav(C)s de uma campanha de desinforma§£o nas redes sociais, plataformas como Twitter e Facebook adotaram algumas medidas para solucionar o problema. Milhares de perfis falsos, com um sem-fim de seguidores, tiveram suas pginas desativadas no Facebook, por exemplo, e n£o puderam ser restabelecidas facilmente.
Opinion | Russians Meddling in the Midterms? Here's the Data nytimes.com '-- Since the 2016 United States presidential election, which Russian operatives influenced through a coordinated campaign of disinformation on social media, platforms like Twitter and Facebook have taken steps to address the problem. Thousands of ''sock puppet'' personas with hundreds of thousands of followers have been taken down on Facebook, for example, and cannot easily be rebuilt. Twitter has reduced the risk that propaganda is spread through automated accounts, or bots.
Trump's Militia Pardon is Another Blow to Federal Law Enforcement justsecurity.org '-- News that President Donald Trump has pardoned two cattle ranchers who committed arson on public lands should alarm anyone who is committed to our legal institutions, particularly federal law enforcement. On Tuesday, Trump pardoned Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven Hammond, who were convicted for arson on public lands in 2012. Following their convictions, they were sentenced to three months and 12 months in prison, despite facing statutory mandatory-minimum sentences of five years.
Information Operations are a Cybersecurity Problem: Toward a New Strategic Paradigm to Combat Disinformation justsecurity.org '-- Disinformation, misinformation, and social media hoaxes have evolved from a nuisance into high-stakes information war. State actors with geopolitical motivations, ideological true believers, non-state violent extremists, and economically-motivated enterprises are able to manipulate narratives on social media with ease, and it's happening each and every day.
Exigent Circumstances: iOS 12's USB Restricted Mode and Warrantless iPhone Access justsecurity.org '-- Apple recently confirmed the introduction of a new feature called ''USB Restricted Mode'' in the latest version of the iPhone's mobile operating system, iOS 12. If enabled in the user's settings, USB Restricted Mode will disable data transfer from the iPhone over the Lightning cable once the phone has been locked for an hour unless the phone's password is entered.
The Facebook hearings remind us: information warfare is here to stay | Renee Diresta and theguardian.com '-- Mark Zuckerberg's congressional hearings this week feels like the culmination of months of scandals, but this is the beginning, not the end. In the wake of revelations about abuse of their platforms, and under threat of regulation not just in Europe but also in the US, Facebook and the other social media companies are scrambling to fix vulnerabilities in their policies and products.
The Bots That Are Changing Politics motherboard.vice.com '-- Editor's note: This essay is drawn from discussions and writings around a June 2017 convening organized and led by Samuel Woolley, Research Director of the new DigIntel Lab at the Institute for the Future, alongside fellow bot experts* Renee DiResta, John Little, Jonathon Morgan, Lisa Maria Neudert, and Ben Nimmo. The symposium was held at Jigsaw, the Google / Alphabet think-tank and technology incubator.
Crafting projects, Islam, and Russian propaganda '' Data for Democracy '' Medium medium.com '-- We spent last Friday night combing through Jonathan Albright's dataset of posts from five Russian-linked Facebook pages, trying to track down related Instagram accounts. Most of the accounts associated with those Facebook pages have been removed, but through that research we uncovered several Pinterest pages that we now believe were tied directly to Russia's 2016 influence operations.
Facebook and Google need to own their role in spreading misinformation -- and fix it cnn.com '-- Jonathon Morgan is the CEO of New Knowledge , a cognitive security startup, and founder of Data for Democracy , a global volunteer tech collective. Previously he advised the White House and State Department during the Obama administration about combating terrorist propaganda online. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. (CNN) Every day we learn more about the scale and effectiveness of Russian influence operations during the 2016 US election.
OPINI'N: Facebook y Google tienen que aceptar que promueven la desinformaci"n expansion.mx '-- Hubo una (C)poca en la que esta clase de difusi"n democrtica de ideas era la gran promesa de internet, un sitio en el que la informaci"n flua libremente, sin las restricciones tradicionales de los gobiernos o las empresas de medios. Sin embargo, internet no es una democracia. La informaci"n est bajo control de un grupo de empresas de medios que no quiere ayudar a que sus usuarios compartan informaci"n, sino que quieren lucrar con su atenci"n.
Interview: Simon Rogers, Data Editor at Google partiallyderivative.com '-- We interviewed Simon Rogers about data journalism, ethics, and the future of interactive, immersive storytelling. Simon is currently the Data Editor for Google, was the creator of the Guardian'¬'s Datablog, and authored Facts Are Sacred.
S1E33: Data of the Impossible partiallyderivative.com '-- The data of colliding atoms, baby universes and the foundation of our existence. We talk with internationally renowned researchers Dr. Kyle Cranmer, one of experimental particle physicists responsible for discovering the elusive Higgs Boson, and Dr. Lee Smolin, one of the theoretical physicists behind Loop quantum gravity, and author of The Trouble With Physics, and Time Reborn. This episode doesn't get too technical (we're not physicists after all), but it'll still blow your freakin' mind.
The P-Value Civil War partiallyderivative.com '-- This week Chris and Vidya discuss the p-value civil war in science. What a nerdy debate about p-values shows about science '-- and how to fix it
Learning Everything Else partiallyderivative.com '-- This week Chris talks about learning everything they don't teach you in grad school, bootcamps, or MOOCs. Make a Difference We started a community for data people who want to find impactful projects and meet collaborators. Check out Data for Democracy, and come hang out with us! Sponsors! We'd also of course like to thank this week's sponsors, Veera and Periscope Data. Veera is a data synthesis platform that makes working with data easier and more fun. Check out Veera, and go be a data superhero!
Breitbart under Bannon: Breitbart's comment section reflects alt-right, anti-Semitic language salon.com '-- This article was originally published by The Southern Poverty Law Center. As President Trump is pressured to substantively respond to the rise in anti-Semitic incidents since his election, a new analysis reveals that Breitbart News under Trump's chief strategist Stephen Bannon fostered a comment section - a sample of Breitbart's readership - that increasingly reflected language specific to the white nationalist "alt-right" movement, including anti-Semitic sentiment.
How the 'Alt-Right' Came to Dominate the Comments on Trump's Facebook Page theatlantic.com '-- Over the course of the campaign, the comments left on the president's official Facebook page increasingly employed the rhetoric of white nationalism. The alt-right is a radicalized subculture.
Origin Story '' Data for Democracy medium.com '-- The question I'm asked most often by data scientists is: "How can I help?" Now, more than ever, this is the attitude we need. Data people have a lot to offer. We're driven by a passion to find the truth. We understand how information can be used to make better decisions and improve our communities.
How Breitbart Under Bannon Fueled Anti-Semitism alternet.org '-- Not idle threats, but language used by those who advocate for violence against minorities and are openly pro-Nazi. As President Trump is pressured to substantively respond to the rise in anti-Semitic incidents since his election, a new analysis reveals that Breitbart News under Trump's chief strategist Stephen Bannon fostered a comment section - a sample of Breitbart's readership - that increasingly reflected language specific to the white nationalist "alt-right" movement, including anti-Semitic sentiment.
White Nationalist Robocall from the Future medium.com '-- This week I got another robocall from a white nationalist group, this time claiming to be from the year 2029. Seriously. It describes a world where Hillary Clinton's actions have led to mass starvation and a world government run by the Jews.
Militia Groups and the ''Rigged Election'' medium.com '-- Faced with probable defeat, Donald Trump is now claiming the election is rigged ( it's not). While election officials spent Monday trying to reassure the public that US democracy is intact, Trump surrogates doubled down on their candidate's accusations, warning of widespread voter fraud, and suggesting that supporters revolt.
These charts show exactly how racist and radical the alt-right has gotten this year washingtonpost.com '-- Regardless of who triumphs at the ballot box, the biggest winner of this presidential election may be the alt-right: a sprawling coalition of reactionary conservatives who have lobbied to make the United States more "traditional," more "populist" and more white.
The Radical Right and the Threat of Violence '' Jonathon Morgan '' Medium medium.com '-- Earlier this week I shared a story on Twitter about anti-Semitism in Donald Trump's campaign. The tweet was picked up by a prominent "alt-right" personality, and within a few minutes dozens of other white supremacists rallied to attack me, defend their candidate, and outline their vision for a society free of "Jewish control."
Digging into the Bush Emails goodattheinternet.com '-- Write an awesome description for your new site here. You can edit this line in _config.yml. It will appear in your document head meta (for Google search results) and in your feed.xml site description.
A Massive, Pro-Le Pen Disinformation Campaign Hits Twitter, 4chan, and the Mainstream MediaBy Kris Shaffer, CE Carey, and Ben Starling.
Twitter users have started to notice something strange in the lead up to this Sunday's presidential election in France. Hashtags like #SortonsMacron (Get Macron out), #RejoignezMarine (Join Marine [Le Pen]), #Macrongate, and #Bayrougate have at various times begun to trend on Twitter. The Digital Forensics Research Lab has reported that so far, these hashtag trends have remained relegated to relatively isolated groups of Twitter accounts ' including actual individuals, sockpuppets, and bots. However, over the past few days, we have been monitoring activity on a variety of platforms and are finding that the disinformation efforts are ramping up on Twitter and 4chan in particular, and starting to enter the mainstream media, as well as Wednesday evening's presidential debate. This is a significant, coordinated, online effort to sway the election in favor of the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, just like we observed in the US presidential election and the Brexit vote in the UK.
TwitterOver the past 24 hours, we have streamed and analyzed over 1 million tweets relating to the French election. (Search terms include multiple spellings of both Le Pen's and Macron's surnames, and the hashtags #LeDebat2017, #2017LeDebat, and #Presidentielle2017.) Here's what we found. (Though please note that out of respect for individuals' privacy, we will not be publishing personally identifiable information of any specific Twitter users.)
Who's tweeting?In our million-tweet database, we found a number of highly prolific accounts. 5% of users accounted for a full 40% of the tweets. The most prolific account tweeted 1668 times in the roughly 24 hours of data ' that's faster than a single (re)tweet per minute, all day with no sleep. While that's humanly possible for a highly motivated tweeter, we manually watched this and several other high-volume accounts during the day yesterday, and for several of these accounts, the tweets were coming through in bursts too fast for an individual to keep up with them, suggesting automation rather than a highly active human. These accounts also feature other traits consistent with automated bots: overly patriotic banner images, profile pictures stolen from elsewhere on the web, a recent join date combined with a high volume of tweets, etc. It's clear, then, that a significant amount of content ' particularly among the highest-volume accounts ' is coming from bots.
Few of these high-volume accounts are tweeting original content, however. Almost all of them are either retweeting content from ''catalyst'' accounts, replying to tweets of others with a single, repeated message (usually a meme or a picture with text), or quoting tweets of others and appending a single, repeated message to each.
What are they tweeting?Perhaps surprisingly after the US presidential election and the Brexit vote (in which the bots were heavily in favor of the right-wing options), we encountered both pro-Le Pen and pro-Macron bots. We also encountered a get-out-the-vote bot that seemed to favor neither candidate.
However, in spite of there being bots on both sides, we also found evidence of a significant disinformation campaign aimed at the discrediting of Macron and encouraging votes for Le Pen. In the following graphic, we can see the bigrams (two-word phrases, after common words like a, an, the; la, le, les; etc. have been removed) that are most distinctive of tweets that mention on candidate or the other.
Most characteristic bigrams in over one million tweets from May 4''5.There are several findings to note in this analysis. First, there is significant English-language content in tweets about this election. The election is international news, but this is a new phenomenon. Over the first few hours of tweets, the most distinctive phrases in tweets about Le Pen contained significant English and Spanish, but Macron's most distinctive phrases were almost exclusively in French (see graphic below). The increase in English is a new occurrence.
Most characteristic bigrams from over 400,000 tweets from May 4.It's also worth noting that the tweets are generally dominated by French-language content. By our rough estimates, about 80% of the tweets are written in French, just 20% in English. That the most distinctive content for each candidate tends to be more commonly in English is suggestive. Without further, more detailed analysis, it's hard to say for sure, but it's possible that English-language tweeters are at least trying to drive the narrative for each candidate, or introduce new narratives. Whether or not they will be successful is another matter, but after Trump/Clinton and Brexit, we don't take anything for granted anymore, and recommend taking every even potential attempt at disinformation or narrative control seriously.
There has also been a significant shift in the content dominating these tweets. Last night, tweets about Macron focused on Barack Obama's endorsement of his candidacy, while tweets about Le Pen seemed dominated by her being struck with an egg at a campaign event. This morning (US East Coast time), however, tweets about Macron have shifted significantly, now focusing on his supposed corruption, including tax evasion via an account in the Cayman Islands.
This corruption charge, dubbed #Macrongate by some, is a deliberate disinformation campaign, one that has spread through multiple social media channels, amplified by bots and ''influencers'', even making it onto the debate stage, and now the French courts. Just today it was compounded by an alleged dump of emails from the Macron campaign, reported in international mainstream media ' too big for the media to ignore, but too late for anyone to examine closely for content or authenticity, and minutes before the campaign blackout began, after which point candidates are not permitted to respond until the polls open.
#MacrongateWhen we saw 4chan and pol (the ''politically incorrect'' board on 4chan) pop up in the list of most distinctive phrases in tweets mentioning Le Pen, it grabbed our attention. We'd already seen references to Le Pen rising from relative obscurity on 4chan in April to the top 10 bigrams over the past few days. 4chan played an instrumental role in Trump's election, as they produced and audience-tested many anti-Clinton memes and fed the ones with the best responses into the The_Donald subreddit, which at the time was being monitored by the Trump campaign for material to recirculate in more mainstream social media channels.
We looked specifically at the 2000+ tweets in our archive mentioning 4chan. While it's a drop in the bucket on Twitter, these tweets turned out to be the key to a big controversy. According to BuzzFeed writer, Ryan Broderick, 4chan users have been propagating a (now debunked) claim that Macron is using an offshore bank account in the Cayman Islands to evade French taxes. Following up on this story, Broderick also found evidence that Reddit users were purposefully repeating identical phrases about this conspiracy theory in order to ''Google bomb'' ' to feed false, verbatim content into sites Google mines to feed their search engine algorithm, in the hopes that they can influence the phrases that Google uses to autocomplete searches beginning with ''Macron''.
Though 4chan is full of confusion over the authenticity of the claim, or whether its authenticity is even relevant, the story propagated there and on Reddit has made its way around other social media channels and has made its way into mainstream French media. Marine Le Pen referenced it in the debate, accusing Macron of using a tax haven. During the debate, #Bahamas was a trending hashtag on Twitter, as a result. The effect has been that Macron has had to answer for this claim in interviews, much like Barack Obama had to answer questions about his birth certificate and Hillary Clinton about her email server, and it detracts from Macron's ability to stay on message even if it is false. In a close election, even if the majority of voters believe the story to be false, the fact that it affects his campaign message may be enough to tip the scales towards his opponent.
Enter the botsAs the #Macrongate ''story'' entered public discourse in France, pro-Le-Pen Twitter bots have taken to amplifying it. For example, one disinformation post about this story, ''Are Emmanuel Macron's Tax Evasion Documents Real?'' (on GotNews, not linked from this post for ethical reasons) was the top non-Youtube URL shared on 4chan during the period under investigation. In our Twitter dataset, it was shared 1186 times by 1066 unique accounts. Upon manual inspection, the top sharers of this article demonstrate multiple bot-like traits (see above). What's more telling is 306 of the 1066 accounts which tweeted/retweeted the GotNews article are in the top 1% of accounts when ranked by tweet volume. In other words, the most active bots are disproportionately sharing links to disinformation. While the more generic ''Get Macron out'' and ''Join Marine'' campaigns analyzed by DFRLab ultimately proved unsuccessful, it seems the tax evasion disinformation campaign has gained traction, and right-wing bot-nets are seeking to capitalize on it, keeping the false story in public discourse as much as possible leading into Sunday's election.
Narrative controlIt's becoming clear that the goal here is not the truth, nor even believability. (Remember #pizzagate?) The goal of these disinformation networks is to control the narrative. Keep the ball on the other end of the field and take lots of shots, even bad ones. Control the ball, keep your opponent on the defensive, and they can't work their own offense. And who knows, they might slip up and let the game winning shot through. That's the playbook of these disinformation networks.
So what do we do? Demand the truth. Ignore the latest unconfirmed email dump from WikiLeaks. Learn what a bot looks like. Check any unsubstantiated claim with multiple reliable sources. Better yet, treat those unsubstantiated claims with scorn to begin with. And go on the offensive. Push the truth. Repeat it over and over. Share it as aggressively as the bots spread their disinformation. Demand high standards from journalists, and when they fail to meet them, find something else to read. And demand that the platforms who enable the spread of disinformation and hate online be held accountable.
The web is ours. Democracy is ours. It's time we took them both back.
M ark Zuckerberg's congressional hearings this week feels like the culmination of months of scandals, but this is the beginning, not the end. In the wake of revelations about abuse of their platforms, and under threat of regulation not just in Europe but also in the US, Facebook and the other social media companies are scrambling to fix vulnerabilities in their policies and products.
Facebook, as Zuckerberg stated during the hearing, is making changes to the data that can be obtained via the API, the digital interfaces through which third parties can interact with and extract data from the platform: verifying the IDs of people buying issue ads and verifying the owners of pages with large audiences. Despite these changes, there is nothing that any one platform can do on their own that will solve disinformation, online radicalization, conspiracy theories or fake news. Information warfare is our new reality.
You'll never fully solve security. It's an arms race
''You never fully solve security. It's an arms race,'' Zuckerberg said in a phone call with press last week, and reiterated again in today's hearings. ''I'm confident that we're making progress against these adversaries, but they're very sophisticated.''
Security is indeed an arms race, and one that the social media companies appear to be losing. The investigation stemming from Russian manipulation in the election of 2016 was not the first time that Facebook and the other social media platforms have missed important signals or been forced to quickly make reactive changes in response to public outrage.
Again and again, these platforms have been used to manipulate public discourse '' from Isis blanketing the internet with terrorist propaganda to groups of online gamers harassing journalists. The largely laissez-faire system is ill-equipped to manage manipulative behaviors at any kind of systemic level. The mainstream public pays attention to coverage of the latest bad actor for a bit, but the news cycle quickly moves on. Although coverage of specific skirmishes waxes and wanes, the broader war is our new reality '' because the way we share information has fundamentally changed.
When Facebook was founded in 2004, only 63% of Americans regularly used the internet, and those that did reported that the internet helped them access a broader variety of political views. Now, in 2018, nearly 90% of Americans use the internet and the majority of Americans get their news from social media. Today, personalized news feeds, curated by algorithms, produce information ''filter bubbles'' that amplify users' existing political bias instead of introducing them to multiple points of view. A generation of young people in high school and college has replaced socializing face to face with screen time. Digital media are becoming more central to how we communicate and understand the world, even as we're recognizing the systemic flaws in our information ecosystem.
Zuckerberg faces Congress: the biggest highlights from day two '' videoIn his testimony, Zuckerberg told Congress that the company is making changes to address ''fake news, foreign interference in elections and hate speech''. While it is encouraging that Facebook has finally accepted the serious threats facing the platform, the problems with our information ecosystem go beyond politics and policy.
A House committee report detailed how Russian propagandists tried to undermine confidence in the US energy industry. Three UK economists recently revealed how social media automation can depress stock prices, and groups of online trolls are even manipulating movie reviews. And, as Zuckerberg himself pointed out, even as Facebook takes steps to defend itself against these types of attacks, ''there are people in Russia whose job it is to try to exploit our systems and other internet systems '... they're going to keep on getting better at this, and we need to invest in getting better at this, too.''
Facebook's CEO was under the bright lights on Tuesday, but prior hearings have rightly involved Twitter and Google as well. As every aspect of our existence moves online, we cede more of our day to day lives to an environment that's dominated by a small number of very large, powerful companies that are largely unregulated and unpoliced. Disinformation migrates from one to the next.
As Senator John Kennedy put it during Tuesday's hearing: ''Our promised digital utopia, we have discovered, has minefields.'' We'll need to invent new systems for defending ourselves, new partnerships between media companies, government and researchers, and new approaches to educating ourselves about how information moves from one account to another online. This is an enormous, complex problem that took decades to create, and it will take decades to solve. It's only the beginning.
Renee DiResta is the Head of Policy for Data for Democracy, and a Mozilla Fellow in Media, Misinformation and Trust. Jonathon Morgan is the CEO of New Knowledge, a technology company that defends brands against disinformation, and the founder of Data for Democracy
A new bombshell report released on Wednesday night alleges that Democrats used "similarly deceptive tactics" in the Alabama Senate race last year as Russia used in the 2016 elections.
"The secret project, carried out on Facebook and Twitter, was likely too small to have a significant effect on the race, in which the Democratic candidate it was designed to help, Doug Jones, edged out the Republican, Roy S. Moore," The New York Times reported.
The Times notes that the methods implored by Democrats concern some who fear that they "taint elections in the United States."
"The project's operators created a Facebook page on which they posed as conservative Alabamians, using it to try to divide Republicans and even to endorse a write-in candidate to draw votes from Mr. Moore," The Times continued. "It involved a scheme to link the Moore campaign to thousands of Russian accounts that suddenly began following the Republican candidate on Twitter, a development that drew national media attention."
The New York Times obtained an internal report on the Democrat's operation, which stated it "experimented with many of the tactics now understood to have influenced the 2016 elections."
"We orchestrated an elaborate 'false flag' operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet," the report added.
The Times report states that the operation had a "budget of just $100,000, in a race that cost approximately $51 million," as the publication tried to downplay the impact of the operation.
However, mainstream media outlets, including The Times, have repeatedly hyped Russia's efforts in the 2016 elections to use social media to create division.
How much money did Russia's troll farm spend on Facebook ads? $100,000.
The notion that Democrats' deception operation was designed to have "almost no impact" no the race is nearly impossible to prove, especially considering the fact that "when Election Day came, Mr. Jones became the first Alabama Democrat elected to the Senate in a quarter of a century, defeating Mr. Moore by 21,924 votes in a race that drew more than 22,800 write-in votes. More than 1.3 million ballots were cast overall."
The Times notes that the Democrats' operation "got started as Democrats were coming to grips with the Russians' weaponizing of social media" to create division between Americans during the 2016 elections.
"I know there were people who believed the Democrats needed to fight fire with fire," said Ren(C)e DiResta, a computational propaganda researcher. "It was absolutely chatter going around the party."
Democrats also sought to keep the identities of those who were funding Jones' campaign a secret. Last year, The Daily Wire reported:
The mystery super PAC that has poured more than $4 million into Alabama's special Senate election on Tuesday is controlled by two of the Democrat's largest super PACs '-- both of which are funded by Democratic megadonor George Soros.
While Jones tries to appear detached from Washington special interests, a Politico report published late Monday revealed that mystery super PAC Highway 31 "is a joint project of two of the largest national Democratic super PACs '-- Senate Majority PAC and Priorities USA Action."
This is a breaking news story, refresh the page for updates.
Secret Experiment in Alabama Senate Race Imitated Russian Tactics - The New York Times
Image An Alabama resident waved to passing cars while holding a Doug Jones sign outside the candidates' headquarters last year. Credit Credit Maura Friedman for The New York Times As Russia's online election machinations came to light last year, a group of Democratic tech experts decided to try out similarly deceptive tactics in the fiercely contested Alabama Senate race, according to people familiar with the effort and a report on its results.
The secret project, carried out on Facebook and Twitter, was likely too small to have a significant effect on the race, in which the Democratic candidate it was designed to help, Doug Jones, edged out the Republican, Roy S. Moore. But it was a sign that American political operatives of both parties have paid close attention to the Russian methods, which some fear may come to taint elections in the United States.
One participant in the Alabama project, Jonathon Morgan, is the chief executive of New Knowledge, a small cyber security firm that wrote a scathing account of Russia's social media operations in the 2016 election that was released this week by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
An internal report on the Alabama effort, obtained by The New York Times, says explicitly that it ''experimented with many of the tactics now understood to have influenced the 2016 elections.''
The project's operators created a Facebook page on which they posed as conservative Alabamians, using it to try to divide Republicans and even to endorse a write-in candidate to draw votes from Mr. Moore. It involved a scheme to link the Moore campaign to thousands of Russian accounts that suddenly began following the Republican candidate on Twitter, a development that drew national media attention.
''We orchestrated an elaborate 'false flag' operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet,'' the report says.
Mr. Morgan said in an interview that the Russian botnet ruse ''does not ring a bell,'' adding that others had worked on the effort and had written the report. He said he saw the project as ''a small experiment'' designed to explore how certain online tactics worked, not to affect the election.
Mr. Morgan said he could not account for the claims in the report that the project sought to ''enrage and energize Democrats'' and ''depress turnout'' among Republicans, partly by emphasizing accusations that Mr. Moore had pursued teenage girls when he was a prosecutor in his 30s.
''The research project was intended to help us understand how these kind of campaigns operated,'' said Mr. Morgan. ''We thought it was useful to work in the context of a real election but design it to have almost no impact.''
The project had a budget of just $100,000, in a race that cost approximately $51 million, including the primaries, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Image Workers hung a United States flag in preparation for a Roy Moore rally held in Midland City, Ala. Credit Carlo Allegri/Reuters But however modest, the influence effort in Alabama may be a sign of things to come. Campaign veterans in both parties fear the Russian example may set off a race to the bottom, in which candidates choose social media manipulation because they fear their opponents will.
''Some will do whatever it takes to win,'' said Dan Bayens, a Kentucky-based Republican consultant. ''You've got Russia, which showed folks how to do it, you've got consultants willing to engage in this type of behavior and political leaders who apparently find it futile to stop it.''
There is no evidence that Mr. Jones sanctioned or was even aware of the social media project. Joe Trippi, a seasoned Democratic operative who served as a top adviser to the Jones campaign, said he had noticed the Russian bot swarm suddenly following Mr. Moore on Twitter. But he said it was impossible that a $100,000 operation had an impact on the race.
Mr. Trippi said he was nonetheless disturbed by the stealth operation. ''I think the big danger is somebody in this cycle uses the dark arts of bots and social networks and it works,'' he said. ''Then we're in real trouble.''
Despite its small size, the Alabama project brought together some prominent names in the world of political technology. The funding came from Reid Hoffman, the billionaire co-founder of LinkedIn, who has sought to help Democrats catch up with Republicans in their use of online technology.
The money passed through American Engagement Technologies, run by Mikey Dickerson, the founding director of the United States Digital Service, which was created during the Obama administration to try to upgrade the federal government's use of technology. Sara K. Hudson, a former Justice Department fellow now with Investing in Us, a tech finance company partly funded by Mr. Hoffman, worked on the project, along with Mr. Morgan.
A close collaborator of Mr. Hoffman, Dmitri Mehlhorn, the founder of Investing in Us, said in a statement that ''our purpose in investing in politics and civic engagement is to strengthen American democracy'' and that while they do not ''micromanage'' the projects they fund, they are not aware of having financed projects that have used deception. Mr. Dickerson declined to comment and Ms. Hudson did not respond to queries.
The Alabama project got started as Democrats were coming to grips with the Russians' weaponizing of social media to undermine the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton and promote Donald J. Trump.
Mr. Morgan reached out at the time to Ren(C)e DiResta, who would later join New Knowledge and was lead author of the report on Russian social media operations released this week.
''I know there were people who believed the Democrats needed to fight fire with fire,'' Ms. DiResta said, adding that she disagreed. ''It was absolutely chatter going around the party.''
But she said Mr. Morgan simply asked her for suggestions of online tactics worth testing. ''My understanding was that they were going to investigate to what extent they could grow audiences for Facebook pages using sensational news,'' she said.
Mr. Morgan confirmed that the project created a generic page to draw conservative Alabamians '-- he said he couldn't remember its name '-- and that Mac Watson, one of multiple write-in candidates, contacted the page. ''But we didn't do anything on his behalf,'' he said.
Image Reid Hoffman at the LinkedIn offices in Sunnyvale, Calif., in 2017. He financed the experiment in the Alabama Senate race. Credit Jason Henry for The New York Times The report, however, says the Facebook page agreed to ''boost'' Mr. Watson's campaign and stayed in regular touch with him, and was ''treated as an advisor and the go-to media contact for the write-in candidate.'' The report claims the page got him interviews with The Montgomery Advertiser and The Washington Post.
Mr. Watson, who runs a patio supply company in Auburn, Ala., confirmed that he got some assistance from a Facebook page whose operators seemed determined to stay in the shadows.
Of dozens of conservative Alabamian-oriented pages on Facebook that he wrote to, only one replied. ''You are in a particularly interesting position and from what we have read of your politics, we would be inclined to endorse you,'' the unnamed operator of the page wrote. After Mr. Watson answered a single question about abortion rights as a sort of test, the page offered an endorsement, though no money.
''They never spent one red dime as far as I know on anything I did '-- they just kind of told their 400 followers, 'Hey, vote for this guy,''' Mr. Watson said.
Mr. Watson never spoke with the page's author or authors by phone, and they declined a request for meeting. But he did notice something unusual: his Twitter followers suddenly ballooned from about 100 to about 10,000. The Facebook page's operators asked Mr. Watson whether he trusted anyone to set up a super PAC that could receive funding and offered advice on how to sharpen his appeal to disenchanted Republican voters.
Shortly before the election, the page sent him a message, wishing him luck.
The report does not say whether the project purchased the Russian bot Twitter accounts that suddenly began to follow Mr. Moore. But it takes credit for ''radicalizing Democrats with a Russian bot scandal'' and points to stories on the phenomenon in the mainstream media. ''Roy Moore flooded with fake Russian Twitter followers,'' reported The New York Post.
Inside the Moore campaign, officials began to worry about online interference.
''We did have suspicions that something odd was going on,'' said Rich Hobson, Mr. Moore's campaign manager. Mr. Hobson said that although he did not recall any hard evidence of interference, the campaign complained to Facebook about potential chicanery.
''Any and all of these things could make a difference,'' Mr. Hobson said. ''It's definitely frustrating, and we still kick ourselves that Judge Moore didn't win.''
When Election Day came, Mr. Jones became the first Alabama Democrat elected to the Senate in a quarter of a century, defeating Mr. Moore by 21,924 votes in a race that drew more than 22,800 write-in votes. More than 1.3 million ballots were cast over all.
Many of the write-in votes went to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Condoleezza Rice '-- an Alabama native and former secretary of state '-- certain popular football coaches and Jesus Christ. Mr. Watson drew just a few hundred votes.
Mr. Watson noticed one other oddity. The day after the vote, the Facebook page that had taken such an interest in him had vanished.
''It was a group that, like, honest to God, next day was gone,'' said Mr. Watson.
''It was weird,'' he said. ''The whole thing was weird.''
Jonathan Martin and Rachel Shorey contributed reporting.
Russia's most inflammatory social media misinformation posts weren't paid advertisements, according to a new report commissioned by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Accounts run by the Russian-backed Internet Research Agency (IRA) '-- at the center of Russia's online efforts to interfere in U.S. presidential and congressional elections '-- saw far more traction with organic social media posts that purported to come from average American citizens, researchers said.
The report sheds light on the scale and scope of Russian social media campaigns, which have long been discussed in terms of ad spend and promoted posts. Facebook and Twitter first disclosed Russian-bought ads last fall, revealing posts paid for in rubles and ratcheting up the number of users who saw the advertisements in the months that followed.
The companies subsequently tweaked their advertising platforms to prevent such abusive targeting.
But, "the most far reaching IRA activity is in organic posting, not advertisements," Oxford researchers said in the report, which was released Monday.
"Facebook now focuses on ad transparency, while disabling the API for public posts ... However, in this report we found that the IRA's political ad activity has not particularly increased over time, while organic post activity has."
IRA accounts leveraged divisive social issues and inflammatory images to garner tens of millions of social media impressions, the report says. The IRA posted memes and images that frequently "expressed tolerance of extremist views," targeted marginalized groups like immigrants, African-Americans and LGBTQ communities. The accounts sought to pit groups against each other and stir online debate.
Facebook provided researchers with roughly 3,300 ads, and more than 180,000 organic posts produced by IRA pages across Facebook and Instagram. Twitter provided the researchers with more than 8 million tweets across 3,800 accounts.
The report, one of two that were released Monday, is the most comprehensive study yet of the misinformation efforts. Researchers at Oxford University's Internet Institute reviewed data provided by Facebook, Twitter and Google to determine the targets and tactics of the Russian-backed accounts.
The IRA and Political Polarization in the United States '' The Computational Propaganda Project
The IRA and Political Polarization in the United StatesRussia's Internet Research Agency (IRA) launched an extended attack on the United States by using computational propaganda to misinform and polarize US voters. This report provides the first major analysis of this attack based on data provided by social media firms to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI).
This analysis answers several key questions about the activities of the known IRA accounts. In this analysis, we investigate how the IRA exploited the tools and platform of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube to impact US users. We identify which aspects of the IRA's campaign strategy got the most traction on social media and the means of microtargeting US voters with particular messages.
We provide an overview of our findings below:
Between 2013 and 2018, the IRA's Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter campaigns reached tens of millions of users in the United States.Over 30 million users, between 2015 and 2017, shared the IRA's Facebook and Instagram posts with their friends and family, liking, reacting to, and commenting on them along the way.Peaks in advertising and organic activity often correspond to important dates in the US political calendar, crises, and international events.IRA activities focused on the US began on Twitter in 2013 but quickly evolved into a multi-platform strategy involving Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube among other platforms.The most far reaching IRA activity is in organic posting, not advertisements.Russia's IRA activities were designed to polarize the US public and interfere in elections by:campaigning for African American voters to boycott elections or follow the wrong voting procedures in 2016, and more recently for Mexican American and Hispanic voters to distrust US institutions;encouraging extreme right-wing voters to be more confrontational; andspreading sensationalist, conspiratorial, and other forms of junk political news and misinformation to voters across the political spectrum.Surprisingly, these campaigns did not stop once Russia's IRA was caught interfering in the 2016 election. Engagement rates increased and covered a widening range of public policy issues, national security issues, and issues pertinent to younger voters.The highest peak of IRA ad volume on Facebook is in April 2017 '-- the month of the Syrian missile strike, the use of the Mother of All Bombs on ISIS tunnels in eastern Afghanistan, and the release of the tax reform plan.IRA posts on Instagram and Facebook increased substantially after the election, with Instagram seeing the greatest increase in IRA activity.The IRA accounts actively engaged with disinformation and practices common to Russian ''trolling''. Some posts referred to Russian troll factories that flooded online conversations with posts, others denied being Russian trolls, and some even complained about the platforms' alleged political biases when they faced account suspension.Read the full report here.
Download the appendices here.
Philip N. Howard, Bharath Ganesh, Dimitra Liotsiou, John Kelly & Camille FrancÌ§ois, ''The IRA, Social Media and Political Polarization in the United States, 2012-2018.'' Working Paper 2018.2. Oxford, UK: Project on Computational Propaganda. comprop.oii.ox.ac.uk. 46 pp.
Christopher Steele: Hillary Clinton was preparing to challenge 2016 election results - Washington Times
British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who wrote the Democrat-financed anti-Trump dossier, said in a court case that he was hired by a Democratic law firm in preparation for Hillary Clinton challenging the results of the 2016 presidential election.
He said the law firm Perkins Coie wanted to be in a position to contest the results based on evidence he unearthed on the Trump campaign conspiring with Moscow on election interference.
His scenario is contained in a sealed Aug. 2 declaration in a defamation law suit brought by three Russian bankers in London. The trio's American attorneys filed his answers Tuesday in a libel lawsuit in Washington against the investigative firm Fusion GPS, which handled the former British intelligence officer.
In an answer to interrogatories, Mr. Steele wrote: ''Fusion's immediate client was law firm Perkins Coie. It engaged Fusion to obtain information necessary for Perkins Coie LLP to provide legal advice on the potential impact of Russian involvement on the legal validity of the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential election.
''Based on that advice, parties such as the Democratic National Committee and HFACC Inc. (also known as 'Hillary for America') could consider steps they would be legally entitled to take to challenge the validity of the outcome of that election.''
The Democrats never filed a challenge, but Mr. Steele's answer suggested that was one option inside the Clinton camp, which funded Mr. Steele's research along with the Democratic National Committee.
The U.S. intelligence community concluded that Moscow interfered in the election by hacking Democratic Party computers and stealing emails that it released via WikiLeaks.
No Trump associate has been charged with collusion.
In a previous court filing in a second case in April-May 2017, Mr. Steele said his job was to find links between Trump associates and Moscow.
Hired by Fusion in June 2016, he wrote a 17-memo dossier alleging a ''extensive conspiracy'' between the two, which two years later hasn't been proven publicly by special counsel Robert Mueller or Congress.
In his most recent London court filing, Mr. Steele is defending against a libel lawsuit by citing a discredited story about a computer server, Trump Tower and a Russian bank.
The suit was brought by three Russian oligarchs who control Moscow's Alfa Bank. Mr. Steele, under the dossier heading of election interference, accused them of paying cash bribes to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The bankers '-- Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan '-- also sued Fusion GPS.
The case was dismissed by a D.C. Superior Court judge. Lawyers filed an appeal in U.S. District Court and attached Mr. Steele's August declarations given in the London court.
''Internet traffic data suggested that a computer server of an entity in which the Claimants have an interest, Alfa Bank, had been communicating with a computer server linked to the Trump Organization,'' Mr. Steele stated.
His goal was to show that his unverified dossier was correct when he wrote of an ''extensive conspiracy.''
But the server story has fallen into the ''fake news'' category by most accounts.
When it began appearing on social media in 2016, some online sleuths looked at the server's IP address and other data. They traced the server to a location outside Philadelphia that spewed marketing spam.
A Trump Organization official told The Washington Times last year that some of the spam went to Alfa Bank employees who perhaps stayed in Trump hotels. That's how Alfa turned up in some emails.
The New York Times investigated and said the FBI basically came to the same conclusion.
Mr. Steele didn't mention the server theory in the dossier itself.
Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn R. Simpson did try to sell the idea to the Justice Department, despite The New York Times' finding. He met with then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr.
Trying to prompt an investigation, Mr. Simpson told him the Times story was wrong and the server was used for direct communication, according to Mr. Ohr's notes turned over to Congress.
In his court filing, Mr. Steele sought to show cronyism between Trump and the bank by noting that Alfa hired then-private attorney Brian Benczkowski to investigate the server allegation.
Mr. Benczkowski is now assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, having won Senate confirmation in a near-party line vote.
Fusion GPS, in defending against the Russians' libel lawsuit, depicts the three men as corrupt Putin cronies.
Mr. Steele faces a second defamation suit in London, this one from Russian entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev, owner of XBT Holdings and provider of computer servers to thousands of clients.
In his final December 2016 dossier memo, Mr. Steele accused Mr. Gubarev of actually performing the hacking on Democratic computers under duress from Russian intelligence. He said in a court filing that the allegation came from unsolicited call-ins.
Mr. Gubarev said the allegations are made up. In Florida, he also is suing BuzzFeed, the news website that published the entire dossier in January 2017.
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Ministry of Truthiness
Der Spiegel says top journalist faked stories for years | World news | The Guardian
The German news magazine Der Spiegel has been plunged into chaos after revealing that one of its top reporters had falsified stories over several years.
The media world was stunned by the revelations that the award-winning journalist Claas Relotius had, according to the weekly, ''made up stories and invented protagonists'' in at least 14 out of 60 articles that appeared in its print and online editions, warning that other outlets could also be affected.
Relotius, 33, resigned after admitting to the scam. He had written for the magazine for seven years and won numerous awards for his investigative journalism, including CNN Journalist of the Year in 2014.
Earlier this month, he won Germany's Reporterpreis (Reporter of the Year) for his story about a young Syrian boy, which the jurors praised for its ''lightness, poetry and relevance''. It has since emerged that all the sources for his reportage were at best hazy, and much of what he wrote was made up.
WELT (@welt)Claas Relotius: Er hat sein Talent missbraucht https://t.co/W7htj1oOJQ pic.twitter.com/KtZAsHwMOZ
December 19, 2018The falsification came to light after a colleague who worked with him on a story along the US-Mexican border raised suspicions about some of the details in Relotius's reporting, having harboured doubts about him for some time.
The colleague, Juan Moreno, eventually tracked down two alleged sources quoted extensively by Relotius in the article, which was published in November. Both said they had never met Relotius. Relotius had also lied about seeing a hand-painted sign that read ''Mexicans keep out'', a subsequent investigation found.
Other fraudulent stories included one about a Yemeni prisoner in Guantanamo Bay, and one about the American football star Colin Kaepernick.
In a lengthy article, Spiegel, which sells about 725,000 print copies a month and has an online readership of more than 6.5 million, said it was ''shocked'' by the discovery and apologised to its readers and to anyone who may have been the subject of ''fraudulent quotes, made-up personal details or invented scenes at fictitious places''.
The Hamburg-based magazine, which was founded in 1947 and is renowned for its in-depth investigative pieces, said Relotius had committed journalistic fraud ''on a grand scale''. It described the episode as ''a low point in Spiegel's 70-year history''. An in-house commission has been set up to examine all of Relotius' work for the weekly.
The reporter also wrote for a string of other well-known outlets, including the German newspapers taz, Welt and the Frankfurter Allgemeine's Sunday edition. Die Welt tweeted on Wednesday: ''He abused his talent''.
Relotius told Spiegel he regretted his actions and was deeply ashamed, the magazine said. ''I am sick and I need to get help,'' he was quoted as saying.
Moreno, who has worked for the magazine since 2007, risked his own job when he confronted other colleagues with his suspicions, many of whom did not want to believe him. ''For three to four weeks Moreno went through hell because colleagues and those senior to him did not want to believe his accusations at first,'' Der Spiegel wrote in an apology to its readers. For several weeks, the magazine said, Relotius was even considered to be the victim of a cunning plot by Moreno.
''Relotius cleverly rebuffed all the attacks, all of Moreno's well-researched pieces of evidence '... until there came a point when that didn't work any more, until he finally couldn't sleep any more, hunted by the fear of being discovered,'' the magazine wrote.
Relotius, it added, finally gave himself up last week after being confronted by a senior editor.
In his confession to his employer, he said: ''It wasn't because of the next big thing. It was fear of failing. My pressure to not be able to fail got ever bigger the more successful I became.''
The magazine, which is one of Germany's most prominent news organisations, is now trying to rescue its reputation amid fears a magazine already challenged by the problems in the German newspaper industry will struggle to recover.
''All [his] colleagues are deeply shattered,'' the magazine wrote. In particular, it said, in the Society department, where he worked, ''[his] colleagues are astounded and sad '... the affair feels like a death in the family.''
Celebrated 33-Year Old German Journalist Adds A Line To His Resume: Fraudster : NPR
A reporter with the German publication Der Spiegel has admitted to fabricating material in news stories. picture alliance via Getty Image hide caption
toggle caption picture alliance via Getty Image A reporter with the German publication Der Spiegel has admitted to fabricating material in news stories.
picture alliance via Getty Image You could say he was a wunderkind.
Four years ago, Claas Relotius was named CNN's Journalist of the Year. Earlier this month, the 33-year old Der Spiegel writer was celebrated as Germany's top reporter.
On Wednesday, his rising star came crashing down as a lengthy article in his own magazine outlined repeated falsification in his reporting. In fact, the piece said Relotius is "not a reporter," and that "he tells fairy tales whenever he pleases." The article continues: "truth and lies are confused in his texts, because some stories are clean ... others completely invented."
Relotius, who has admitted to faking some of his reporting, had written dozens of articles for Der Spiegel since 2011. According to a Q&A also published by the magazine Wednesday, Relotius identified 14 specific stories that included fictional dialogues, "character collages" and other incorrect or misleading details. He is no longer employed there.
"I'm sick, and I have to get help now," an apologetic and embarrassed Relotius said in an interview with Der Spiegel, which has over six million online subscribers.
But his admission of guilt was apparently hard-won. On Dec. 3 '' the same day he received the German press award '' an Arizona woman raised the first questions surrounding his reporting and his profile of vigilante border guards in the southern U.S.
As Der Spiegel reports, Juan Moreno, his co-reporter on the story, started to investigate Relotius' work, despite his repeated claims of honesty and other colleagues' incredulity that their acclaimed coworker could be lying. Moreno returned to Arizona to re-interview people Relotius claimed to have spent time with. Some of his "sources" insisted they had never met him.
After being confronted, Relotius finally admitted to the fraud last week.
Relotius' Arizona story wasn't his only falsified work about the United States. A 2017 piece about a rural Minnesota town's love of President Trump opened with a striking anecdote about a sign at the city's entrance that read "Mexicans keep out." Der Spiegel now says the sign never existed. Two residents of the town posted an article Wednesday outlining other fabrications in the piece.
Here's more context about Claas Relotius' fabricated portrayal of Fergus Falls, MN. Hope that it helps shed light on how our community and the rural narrative overall has been affected. https://t.co/i5uCBHdh3G
'-- Michele Anderson (@micheleeamn) December 19, 2018Later that same year, Relotius reportedly invented a phone interview with Colin Kaepernick's parents for a profile of the football star's political activism.
"I tend to want to be in control," Relotius told Der Spiegel, adding that if he wasn't able to report a story to his satisfaction, he felt the urge to create a forgery. The magazine notes that while his stories were fact checked, there was "a basic trust that the editors at home give him." Relotius has also written for a number of other news outlets, although it wasn't immediately clear if that work also contained falsehoods.
Der Spiegel, which apologized to anyone who was inaccurately portrayed in their writer's stories, announced that a committee would investigate the fraud. It also acknowledged that although Relotius had admitted to some untruths, the full extent of his deception might not yet be known.
"Can one believe him?" the magazine asks. "Couldn't there clearly be more?"
Updated 10:02 am PST, Sunday, December 16, 2018 A KiwiBot delivery robot caught on fire at UC Berkeley on Dec. 14, 2018.
A KiwiBot delivery robot caught on fire at UC Berkeley on Dec. 14, 2018.
Photo: ALEXANDRA STASSINOPOULOS/STAFF Photo: ALEXANDRA STASSINOPOULOS/STAFF
A KiwiBot delivery robot caught on fire at UC Berkeley on Dec. 14, 2018.
A KiwiBot delivery robot caught on fire at UC Berkeley on Dec. 14, 2018.
Photo: ALEXANDRA STASSINOPOULOS/STAFF This story originally appeared on The Daily Californian.
Describing the robot as a "hero" and a "legend," UC Berkeley students expressed their grief on Facebook as news of a fallen KiwiBot reached the campus community.
About 2 p.m. Friday, a KiwiBot '-- one of the more than 100 robots that deliver food throughout the campus and city '-- caught fire outside the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union.
According to Sasha Iatsenia, head of product at Kiwi, the company is still working with UCPD to investigate the cause of the fire. Nothing like this has ever happened before, Iatsenia said.
UCPD could not be reached for comment as of press time.
MORE: A coffee snob tried SF's new robot cafe and didn't hate it
Footage from the scene shows one person putting out the flames with a fire extinguisher. The fire drew a small crowd of curious onlookers, and videos of a slowly blackening KiwiBot were soon thereafter uploaded to Facebook's Overheard at UC Berkeley page.
ALSO: Cal chancellor Carol Christ announces project to increase campus diversity
Garnering more than 300 reactions and more than 90 comments within an hour of uploading, the video of the robot in flames made waves on the page. Students have called for a moment of silence, suggesting finals week may have finally gotten to the robot as well.
While the KiwiBot may have been scorched, Iatsenia assured The Daily Californian that it was not delivering a meal when it caught fire '-- no one saw their order lost.
3D-printed heads let hackers '' and cops '' unlock your phone | TechCrunch
There's a lot you can make with a 3D printer: from prosthetics, corneas, and firearms '-- even an Olympic-standard luge.
You can even 3D print a life-size replica of a human head '-- and not just for Hollywood. Forbes reporter Thomas Brewster commissioned a 3D printed model of his own head to test the face unlocking systems on a range of phones '-- four Android models and an iPhone X.
Bad news if you're an Android user: only the iPhone X defended against the attack.
Gone, it seems, are the days of the trusty passcode, which many still find cumbersome, fiddly, and inconvenient '-- especially when you unlock your phone dozens of times a day. Phone makers are taking to the more convenient unlock methods. Even if Google's latest Pixel 3 shunned facial recognition, many Android models '-- including popular Samsung devices '-- are relying more on your facial biometrics. In its latest models, Apple effectively killed its fingerprint-reading Touch ID in favor of its newer Face ID.
But that poses a problem for your data if a mere 3D-printed model can trick your phone into giving up your secrets. That makes life much easier for hackers, who have no rulebook to go from. But what about the police or the feds, who do?
It's no secret that biometrics '-- your fingerprints and your face '-- aren't protected under the Fifth Amendment. That means police can't compel you to give up your passcode, but they can forcibly depress your fingerprint to unlock your phone, or hold it to your face while you're looking at it. And the police know it '-- it happens more often than you might realize.
But there's also little in the way of stopping police from 3D printing or replicating a set of biometrics to break into a phone.
''Legally, it's no different from using fingerprints to unlock a device,'' said Orin Kerr, professor at USC Gould School of Law, in an email. ''The government needs to get the biometric unlocking information somehow,'' by either the finger pattern shape or the head shape, he said.
Although a warrant ''wouldn't necessarily be a requirement'' to get the biometric data, one would be needed to use the data to unlock a device, he said.
Jake Laperruque, senior counsel at the Project On Government Oversight, said it was doable but isn't the most practical or cost-effective way for cops to get access to phone data.
''A situation where you couldn't get the actual person but could use a 3D print model may exist,'' he said. ''I think the big threat is that a system where anyone '-- cops or criminals '-- can get into your phone by holding your face up to it is a system with serious security limits.''
The FBI alone has thousands of devices in its custody '-- even after admitting the number of encrypted devices is far lower than first reported. With the ubiquitous nature of surveillance, now even more powerful with high-resolution cameras and facial recognition software, it's easier than ever for police to obtain our biometric data as we go about our everyday lives.
Those cheering on the ''death of the password'' might want to think again. They're still the only thing that's keeping your data safe from the law.
LibreRouter: Powering community networks with free and open hardware | APNIC Blog
Community networks have become vital in enabling unserved or underserved communities to access the online information and services they need. Typically, community network infrastructure is built on consumer grade off-the-shelf hardware, which has its firmware flashed, hacked and modified to serve the needs of a community network.
This kind of modification became much more difficult in the wake of a 2014 United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation [PDF] that required wireless infrastructure vendors to secure their products against any software modification. The regulation has since been rolled back, but while in effect it had a global impact, with many manufacturers implementing this protection, even on devices used outside the US.
In response to this software lockdown, a group of hackers and engineers with experience in deploying community networks around the globe got together and decided that they should build their own router. And so, the LibreRouter project was born.
Figure 1 '-- The LibreRouter in testing.
Addressing community needsThe team saw the LibreRouter project as an opportunity to address the particular needs of community networks, while also addressing the shortcomings of off-the-shelf devices.
Nicols Pace, member of Argentina's AlterMundi and member of the Liberouter team, says that this was an opportunity for communities to design a router that fit their needs. ''Don't design from the computer desk, design from the community on. Because it's their need that you need to fulfil, not the manufacturer's need''. From their work within communities, the team identified some guiding principles. They are:
Approachability: To enable geek-free wireless mesh networks.Efficiency: To be able to scale without impacting speed.Robustness: Devices should be rock solid. Especially in remote areas, taking a device to be repaired is a lengthy and involved process.Affordability: Routers will be sold for an affordable price.The router also needed to be suited to the conditions of rural communities, such as remoteness, limited digital skills, limited or no electricity, low budgets, and limited line of sight and/or available spectrum allocation. Nicols also identified cultural specifics as a consideration: ''Who runs the community? Who owns infrastructure? [Is it] managed by one or by many or by everyone? Also, what do they want to do with the infrastructure?''
As the project progressed, the team identified reparability as an additional key requirement, especially when networks are built in areas that are difficult to reach and where resources are scarce. ''If they do break, the devices need to be repairable by the communities, with parts that are available to them'', Nicols says.
The hardware '' LibreRouterWith these requirements in mind, the team designed LibreRouter as an open hardware device, meaning that users can learn how it works and make modifications as they wish. Nicols explains: ''the most common case would be if it breaks, they can understand why it's broken and repair it and search for replacement parts and replace them''.
With proprietary hardware, ''the designs were still available more or less, because you could reverse engineer them, or because they were structurally simple to figure them out'... but having the blueprints allows innovation'', he adds.
Figure 2 '-- The latest prototype of the Librerouter.
The LibreRouter hardware features:
2 x multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) 22 5 Ghz radios, with power amplification for long-range point-to-point links. The radios are capable of 300 Mbps throughput without degradation.A 2.4 Ghz radio for client devices/hotspot capability.Mini PCIe ports for expansion.Lightning protection hardware, capable of withstanding five to six lightning strikes before replacement is required.Powered by battery, solar or mains power.Future plans for the router include a TV White Space (TVWS) frequency shifter and a low-bandwidth high-gain radio for the creation of a low-power control lane.
Full hardware specifications can be found here [PDF].
Software '' LibreMesh, LimeApp and LibreNet6The LibreRouter runs the LibreMesh software, which is layered on top of OpenWRT. LibreMesh creates mesh networks using a two-layered architecture, featuring Better Approach To Mobile Adhoc Networking '' Advanced (BATMAN-ADV) and BMX6 routing protocols. The aim of LibreMesh is to simplify mesh network configuration, including automation of IP address assignment and mesh DNS configuration. Since it's open source, LibreMesh may also be modified or customized by anyone.
LibreMesh-powered networks may be monitored and managed using the LimeApp.
Figure 3 '-- The Libremesh software simplifies mesh network configuration.
LibreNet6 is a VPN that can interconnect LibreMesh-powered networks. It is expected that this feature will be particularly useful in allowing members of the community to provide remote assistance and troubleshooting.
Supply and demandThe LibreRouter is currently a prototype, but has performed well in tests so far. Prototype LibreRouters are currently being used in community networks in Mexico, Argentina, Canada and Spain.
A recent survey of interest was taken, and the LibreRouter received interest from over 40 communities worldwide, including community networks in Thailand, Singapore and India. Based on the survey results, the LibreRouter team expect a demand for over 2,500 routers in the next two years. A promising start!
Want to get involved?You can get involved in the LibreRouter project by:
Translating interfaces, documentation and more to your languageContributing codeContributing to hardware designLetting the LibreRouter team know if you want one (or more!)The views expressed by the authors of this blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of APNIC. Please note a Code of Conduct applies to this blog.
There's no minimum per order, so if you wanted to order a single bottle of soda just to see the pod in action, you can.
Nuro Earlier this year, the startup Nuro announced its intention to deliver Kroger groceries autonomously in Arizona. While that's already started, it's now time for the program to rely on Nuro's own autonomous delivery pods.
Nuro announced Tuesday that its unmanned delivery pods have been let loose in Scottsdale, Arizona, as part of its autonomous delivery pilot program with Kroger. The pilot has been running since August, but earlier stages relied on modified Toyota Priuses with vehicle operators. Now the whole shebang will operate without human input, although some Priuses will remain in operation.
Here's how it works. Customers can place delivery orders for groceries from a single Fry's Food Stores location (7770 East McDowell Rd.), and they can choose to have it delivered by self-driving vehicle. The delivery can take place the same day or the next day, and it costs a flat fee of $6 for delivery, with no minimum for the order itself. When the pod arrives, the customer will head outside, plug a code into a screen on the side of the vehicle and retrieve their groceries. Then, the pod will scoot along to the next location.
"Our autonomous delivery pilot with Nuro over the past few months continues to prove the benefit of the flexible and reliable technology," said Yael Cosset, Kroger's chief digital officer, in a statement. "Through this exciting and innovative partnership, we are delivering a great customer experience and advancing Kroger's commitment to redefine the grocery experience by creating an ecosystem that offers our customers anything, anytime, and anywhere."
Thus far, Nuro estimates that it's completed approximately 1,000 grocery deliveries since the program began, and with the addition of Nuro's own dedicated delivery vehicle, that number should rise pretty quickly going forward.
Apple confirms some iPad Pros ship slightly bent, but says it's normal - The Verge
Apple has confirmed to The Verge that some of its 2018 iPad Pros are shipping with a very slight bend in the aluminum chassis. But according to the company, this is a side effect of the device's manufacturing process and shouldn't worsen over time or negatively affect the flagship iPad's performance in any practical way. Apple does not consider it to be a defect.
The bend is the result of a cooling process involving the iPad Pro's metal and plastic components during manufacturing, according to Apple. Both sizes of the new iPad Pro can exhibit it. The iPad Pro ranges in price from $799 for the base 11-inch model up to $1,899 for a fully-loaded 12.9-inch device with 1TB of storage and LTE connectivity.
The response comes after some customers on social media and several on the MacRumors forums have claimed their iPad Pros developed a small curve or bend without any mistreatment or abnormal stress being exerted on the metal casing. There are posts from people who believe it happened gradually over the course of normal, everyday use '-- or after transporting the iPad Pro in a backpack. And I've seen others from folks who are insistent their iPad came that way out of the box.
Apple is now saying that in some cases, the latter is true. And I can personally vouch for that: my 11-inch iPad Pro showed a bit of a curve after two weeks. Apple asked if I would send it their way so the engineering team could take a look. But the replacement 11-inch iPad Pro I received at Apple's Downtown Brooklyn store exhibited a very slight bend in the aluminum as soon as I took off the wrapper.
An 11-inch iPad Pro exhibited a very slight bend right out of the box.It's an issue that seems to be more pronounced on the LTE model, as there's a plastic strip that breaks up the iPad's flat aluminum sides; it's where the antenna line divides two sections of metal that some users have noticed a bend. Apple did not say the perceived flaw is strictly limited to the cellular iPad Pro, however, and some buyers of the Wi-Fi model also claim to have encountered it. Even if only cosmetic, the issue is out of character for Apple, which has rooted its reputation in manufacturing devices with best-in-industry fit and finish.
Those who are annoyed by the bend shouldn't have any trouble exchanging or returning their iPad Pro at the Apple Store or other retailers within the 14-day return window. But it's not clear if swaps will be permitted outside that policy. I've asked Apple if it has communicated with stores about the issue, as I've read some accounts of employees telling people it's accidental damage and warrants an AppleCare+ claim (and deductible) to replace. That shouldn't be the case for a slight bend. Apple also says it has not seen a higher-than-normal return rate for the 2018 iPad Pro so far.
MacRumors This controversy arose after a viral video from JerryRigEverything saw the popular YouTuber fold the newest iPad Pro in half with seemingly very little effort. Some have criticized the video as a stunt for views and as biased against Apple. Most tablets '-- both from Apple and other companies '-- will bend if you intend on bending them. They're thin devices with a lot of surface area. The 11-inch iPad Pro weighs barely over one pound. And two months in, I haven't seen any reports of iPad Pros failing as a result of the manufacturing quirk or bending to anywhere near the same catastrophic degree as that video. Apple says that concerns over the iPad Pro's structural rigidity are unfounded and that it stands by the product.
Apple says that concerns over the iPad Pro's structural rigidity are unfounded
That confidence suggests that this is not a repeat of the ''bendgate'' controversy that surrounded the iPhone 6 Plus and prompted the company to conduct media tours of its product-testing facilities in 2014. Its next iPhone switched over to a sturdier aluminum. But flex in the iPhone 6 Plus' chassis was likely a factor in the so-called ''touch disease'' that later led units to fail due to unresponsive touchscreens. Apple eventually launched a repair program over the issue. So it has every interest in trying to assure consumers that this time, the fuss is over nothing.
Lost faith in Facebook after data leakages, breaches and too much noise? Here's a guide to breaking up with the social network and its photo-sharing app for good.
Image Credit Credit Minh Uong/The New York Times You may have decided enough is enough: It's time to delete Facebook.
There have been months '-- or is it years now? '-- of bad news about the social network. In October, Facebook revealed that a security vulnerability exposed up to 50 million accounts to being hijacked by hackers. Through the vulnerability, a hacker could take over your account '-- meaning anything you ever posted on Facebook, or even apps that you connected with using your Facebook account, could have been infiltrated.
''People's privacy and security is incredibly important, and we're sorry this happened,'' the company said at the time. ''It's why we took immediate action to secure people's accounts and fix the vulnerability.''
The breach followed a scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, the voter-profiling firm that got its hands on the private data belonging to millions of Facebook users. More recently, The New York Times reported that Facebook gave other technology companies more intrusive access to users' personal data than it had previously disclosed.
Maybe you are just tired of the partisan yammering and updates from the six-degrees-of-friends.
I have some firsthand experience with all of this. After the disclosure of Facebook's breach, I felt my trust in the social network was broken. So I pulled out my data from Facebook and purged the account. What I found out about the process: The more you have integrated Facebook into your life, the more time-consuming it will be to delete it.
To make account deletion as painless as possible, here is a step-by-step guide. I also included steps on breaking up with Instagram, Facebook's photo-sharing app, for those looking for a cleaner getaway.
Step 1: Assess what you might loseBefore you commit to breaking up with Facebook, it's important to handicap the potential collateral damage. Some products and services are deeply integrated with Facebook and could become difficult to use without the social networking account.
The quickest way to test the waters is to deactivate your Facebook account, which is essentially an account suspension that can immediately be reversed. To deactivate, you simply click through your settings and select ''Manage Your Account.'' Then click the button marked ''Deactivate your account.''
When I did that, I noticed I could no longer run Instagram ads to promote my dog's Instagram account because the advertising tools are directly tied to Facebook. So if you are a business owner who advertises products on Instagram, deleting Facebook would cut off that marketing channel.
Deactivating my account also broke access to apps and websites that I used my Facebook account to sign up for. I found I could no longer easily get into Pinterest because I had used my Facebook account to register for the virtual scrapbooking service. To regain access, I reactivated my Facebook account and then went into my Pinterest settings. Once there, I disconnected the Pinterest account from Facebook and reset my Pinterest password. Then I logged back in to Pinterest with my email address instead.
For other apps, like Spotify and ChefSteps, I similarly disconnected the apps from my Facebook account. Then I reset the passwords for those services to regain access with my email address.
Doing all of that was a pain. But the exercise was worth it to ensure I wouldn't break my accounts for other sites.
Step 2: Download your data Image Now that I knew I could safely delete Facebook, I started pulling my data out of the social network. That means any personal information that I had collected in my account, including my photos, message transcripts and friends list, and that I did not already have copies of elsewhere.
To help with this, Facebook offers a comprehensive tool called Download Your Information, which can be found in the site's settings. Using this tool, you can decide what types of data you want to grab.
I requested a copy of all my data. Facebook took about an hour to assemble all the information into one file that measured about 700 megabytes. The file took about 10 minutes to download, and the information was organized into folders for different types of data, like photos, search history and messages.
Pulling your information off Facebook doesn't mean you are removing it from the company's servers, though. More on that in a bit.
Step 3: Hit the delete button After making sure I had a copy of all the Facebook data I cared about, it was time to do the deed. In Facebook's settings menu, I clicked the button ''Your Facebook information'' and then clicked ''Delete Your Account and Information.''
Finally, I clicked on the blue ''Delete Account'' button. A prompt popped up asking for my password. Then a box showed up warning that deletion was permanent. I wasn't fazed '-- and hit the button.
Step 4: Resist getting back togetherBut wait. After hitting delete, my Facebook account was not actually erased, despite all the hoops I had jumped through. The site said that my account was scheduled for permanent deletion after 30 days, and that if I logged in again, I would have the option to cancel the deletion request.
This grace period is here so people can change their minds. In addition, the entire deletion process may take up to 90 days to purge all backups of your data from the company's servers, according to Facebook. In other words, be patient.
Step 5: Delete Instagram If you also want to get away from Facebook's clutches by removing your Instagram account, that process is much easier. That's because Instagram is not nearly as wide-reaching as Facebook; you don't use your Instagram account to log in to other apps, for instance.
Here are the steps: Inside the photo app's settings, you can select an option to download a copy of your data. From there, Instagram will email a link to download the file. This process took about 10 minutes for my account. Then you can visit the Delete Your Account webpage and click through the buttons to kill your account.
I confess I did not personally follow through with this. I kept my Instagram account because I like keeping in touch with friends there.
Step 6: Ensure there is no trackingAfter ending a romantic relationship, have you ever blocked your ex on Facebook so that he or she can't follow you around? You should do the same after breaking up with Facebook to make sure the site stops tracking your browsing activities.
Be extra thorough about eliminating tracking methods that Facebook and other sites use to follow you. That includes clearing your web cookies, resetting your advertising identifier and installing a tracker blocker. For these steps, follow my previous guide about fighting targeted ads to safeguard your smartphone, tablet or computer.
After I completed these steps myself, there was no sense of closure as I had expected. That's probably because I knew I might end up reversing the Facebook deletion for the sake of writing instructive articles like this one. I have 30 days to decide.
Brian X. Chen is the lead consumer technology writer. He reviews products and writes Tech Fix, a column about solving tech-related problems. Before joining The Times in 2011 he reported on Apple and the wireless industry for Wired. @ bxchen
Poland signs 20-year liquefied natural gas deal with US | News | DW | 19.12.2018
Poland is seeking to reduce its dependence on Russia and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline for its LNG supplies. The deal should provide for 15 percent of Poland's daily gas needs over the next 20 years.
The deal announced on Wednesday between Poland's state gas company PGNiG and Port Arthur LNG, part of Sempra Energy, is just one of several the EU state has signed with US gas suppliers in recent weeks.
The agreement is for the supply of 2.7 billion cubic meters (95.3 billion cubic feet) per year of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Poland over a 20-year period. LNG is gas super-chilled to liquid form for shipment by sea.
The deal comes as both the US and Poland seek to limit the dominance of Russia's Gazprom Nord Stream 2 pipeline supplying gas directly to Germany, bypassing Ukraine's pipeline system.
Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz met with US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan in Warsaw on Wednesday and described Germany's support for Nord Stream 2 as "anti-European." He said the project was "harmful to the security of all of the European Union."
Czaputowicz also criticized Austria for failing to allow EU discussion of Nord Stream 2 during the Vienna government's six-month presidency.
US gas exports
"This agreement marks an important step toward Poland's energy independence and security," US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said.
In recent weeks, Poland has also signed long-term deals for gas with US supplier Cheniere in Houston Texas, as well as Venture Global Calcasieu Pass and Venture Global Plaquemines, both in Louisiana.
In July, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to work towards shipping more US gas to Europe. After a meeting at the White House, US President Donald Trump said: "The European Union wants to import more liquefied natural gas, LNG, from the United States and they're going to be a very very big buyer."
Juncker said the EU would build more terminals to import LNG. There are currently about 30 LNG terminals in Europe.
jm/msh (AP, Reuters)
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Facebook data sharing: Netflix, Spotify had access to private messages - Vox
As the media continues to uncover more and more information about ongoing privacy issues regarding Facebook '-- both its intentional data sharing and its unintentional leaks '-- the New York Times has published a new bombshell report: Facebook has spent years giving major corporations, including the Times itself, invasive access to its users' content and contact information, much more than it has previously disclosed.
As detailed in documents obtained by the Times, Facebook gave companies like Netflix and Spotify access to its users' private Facebook messages, in addition to an extensive range of other personal data.
And as the most eye-popping quote from the Times report reveals:
Facebook allowed Microsoft's Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users' friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users' private messages.
The social network permitted Amazon to obtain users' names and contact information through their friends, and it let Yahoo view streams of friends' posts as recently as this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of sharing years earlier.
In all, the Times reports that between 2010 and 2018, Facebook gave more than 150 companies access to the personal data of its users. The range of intentionally shared data includes private messages, the identities of people in those messages, users' contact information, friend lists, and even the content of friends' posts.
''Facebook has never sold its user data,'' write Gabriel J.X. Dance, Michael LaForgia, and Nicholas Confessore. ''Instead, internal documents show, it did the next best thing: granting other companies access to parts of the social network in ways that advanced its own interests.'' In some cases, these features could be activated by Facebook's partner companies without the knowledge or permission of Facebook's users.
Spokespeople at some of Facebook's partner companies said the companies didn't even know they had such broad privileges. But the Times reports that many of the companies '-- including the Times itself '-- had access to the information up until 2017.
Currently, Spotify still has the ability to access users' Facebook Messenger content in order to allow people to share music through the platform.
The Times report is the latest example of many this year in which Facebook has failed to disclose the extent of its intentional data sharing, despite ongoing public scrutiny, congressional hearings, legal wrangling, and media watchdogging.
You can read the full report here.
As Facebook Raised a Privacy Wall, It Carved an Opening for Tech Giants - The New York Times
For years, Facebook gave some of the world's largest technology companies more intrusive access to users' personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules, according to internal records and interviews.
The special arrangements are detailed in hundreds of pages of Facebook documents obtained by The New York Times. The records, generated in 2017 by the company's internal system for tracking partnerships, provide the most complete picture yet of the social network's data-sharing practices. They also underscore how personal data has become the most prized commodity of the digital age, traded on a vast scale by some of the most powerful companies in Silicon Valley and beyond.
The exchange was intended to benefit everyone. Pushing for explosive growth, Facebook got more users, lifting its advertising revenue. Partner companies acquired features to make their products more attractive. Facebook users connected with friends across different devices and websites. But Facebook also assumed extraordinary power over the personal information of its 2.2 billion users '-- control it has wielded with little transparency or outside oversight.
Facebook allowed Microsoft's Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users' friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users' private messages.
The social network permitted Amazon to obtain users' names and contact information through their friends, and it let Yahoo view streams of friends' posts as recently as this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of sharing years earlier.
Facebook has been reeling from a series of privacy scandals, set off by revelations in March that a political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, improperly used Facebook data to build tools that aided President Trump's 2016 campaign. Acknowledging that it had breached users' trust, Facebook insisted that it had instituted stricter privacy protections long ago. Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, assured lawmakers in April that people ''have complete control'' over everything they share on Facebook.
But the documents, as well as interviews with about 50 former employees of Facebook and its corporate partners, reveal that Facebook allowed certain companies access to data despite those protections. They also raise questions about whether Facebook ran afoul of a 2011 consent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission that barred the social network from sharing user data without explicit permission.
[Here are five takeaways from The Times's investigation.]
In all, the deals described in the documents benefited more than 150 companies '-- most of them tech businesses, including online retailers and entertainment sites, but also automakers and media organizations. Their applications sought the data of hundreds of millions of people a month, the records show. The deals, the oldest of which date to 2010, were all active in 2017. Some were still in effect this year.
In an interview, Steve Satterfield, Facebook's director of privacy and public policy, said none of the partnerships violated users' privacy or the F.T.C. agreement. Contracts required the companies to abide by Facebook policies, he added.
Still, Facebook executives have acknowledged missteps over the past year. ''We know we've got work to do to regain people's trust,'' Mr. Satterfield said. ''Protecting people's information requires stronger teams, better technology and clearer policies, and that's where we've been focused for most of 2018.'' He said that the partnerships were ''one area of focus'' and that Facebook was in the process of winding many of them down.
Facebook has found no evidence of abuse by its partners, a spokeswoman said. Some of the largest partners, including Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo, said they had used the data appropriately, but declined to discuss the sharing deals in detail. Facebook did say that it had mismanaged some of its partnerships, allowing certain companies' access to continue long after they had shut down the features that required the data.
With most of the partnerships, Mr. Satterfield said, the F.T.C. agreement did not require the social network to secure users' consent before sharing data because Facebook considered the partners extensions of itself '-- service providers that allowed users to interact with their Facebook friends. The partners were prohibited from using the personal information for other purposes, he said. ''Facebook's partners don't get to ignore people's privacy settings.''
Data privacy experts disputed Facebook's assertion that most partnerships were exempted from the regulatory requirements, expressing skepticism that businesses as varied as device makers, retailers and search companies would be viewed alike by the agency. ''The only common theme is that they are partnerships that would benefit the company in terms of development or growth into an area that they otherwise could not get access to,'' said Ashkan Soltani, former chief technologist at the F.T.C.
Mr. Soltani and three former employees of the F.T.C.'s consumer protection division, which brought the case that led to the consent decree, said in interviews that its data-sharing deals had probably violated the agreement.
''This is just giving third parties permission to harvest data without you being informed of it or giving consent to it,'' said David Vladeck, who formerly ran the F.T.C.'s consumer protection bureau. ''I don't understand how this unconsented-to data harvesting can at all be justified under the consent decree.''
Details of the agreements are emerging at a pivotal moment for the world's largest social network. Facebook has been hammered with questions about its data sharing from lawmakers and regulators in the United States and Europe. The F.T.C. this spring opened a new inquiry into Facebook's compliance with the consent order, while the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are also investigating the company.
Facebook's stock price has fallen, and a group of shareholders has called for Mr. Zuckerberg to step aside as chairman. Shareholders also have filed a lawsuit alleging that executives failed to impose effective privacy safeguards. Angry users started a #DeleteFacebook movement.
This month, a British parliamentary committee investigating internet disinformation released internal Facebook emails, seized from the plaintiff in another lawsuit against Facebook. The messages disclosed some partnerships and depicted a company preoccupied with growth, whose leaders sought to undermine competitors and briefly considered selling access to user data.
Image Richard Allan, a Facebook vice president, testifying before Parliament last month next to Mr. Zuckerberg's vacant seat. The company is under fire from both American and European lawmakers. Credit Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images As Facebook has battled one crisis after another, the company's critics, including some former advisers and employees, have singled out the data-sharing as cause for concern.
''I don't believe it is legitimate to enter into data-sharing partnerships where there is not prior informed consent from the user,'' said Roger McNamee, an early investor in Facebook. ''No one should trust Facebook until they change their business model.''
An Engine for GrowthPersonal data is the oil of the 21st century, a resource worth billions to those who can most effectively extract and refine it. American companies alone are expected to spend close to $20 billion by the end of 2018 to acquire and process consumer data, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
Few companies have better data than Facebook and its rival, Google, whose popular products give them an intimate view into the daily lives of billions of people '-- and allow them to dominate the digital advertising market.
Facebook has never sold its user data, fearful of user backlash and wary of handing would-be competitors a way to duplicate its most prized asset. Instead, internal documents show, it did the next best thing: granting other companies access to parts of the social network in ways that advanced its own interests.
Facebook began forming data partnerships when it was still a relatively young company. Mr. Zuckerberg was determined to weave Facebook's services into other sites and platforms, believing it would stave off obsolescence and insulate Facebook from competition. Every corporate partner that integrated Facebook data into its online products helped drive the platform's expansion, bringing in new users, spurring them to spend more time on Facebook and driving up advertising revenue. At the same time, Facebook got critical data back from its partners.
The partnerships were so important that decisions about forming them were vetted at high levels, sometimes by Mr. Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer, Facebook officials said. While many of the partnerships were announced publicly, the details of the sharing arrangements typically were confidential.
Image Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's second-in-command, at a Senate hearing in September. The data-sharing deals were vetted at senior levels, sometimes by her and Mr. Zuckerberg, Facebook officials said. Credit Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images By 2013, Facebook had entered into more such partnerships than its midlevel employees could easily track, according to interviews with two former employees. (Like the more than 30 other former employees interviewed for this article, they spoke on the condition of anonymity because they had signed nondisclosure agreements or still maintained relationships with top Facebook officials.)
So they built a tool that did the technical work of turning special access on and off and also kept records on what are known internally as ''capabilities'' '-- the special privileges enabling companies to obtain data, in some cases without asking permission.
The Times reviewed more than 270 pages of reports generated by the system '-- records that reflect just a portion of Facebook's wide-ranging deals. Among the revelations was that Facebook obtained data from multiple partners for a controversial friend-suggestion tool called ''People You May Know.''
The feature, introduced in 2008, continues even though some Facebook users have objected to it, unsettled by its knowledge of their real-world relationships. Gizmodo and other news outlets have reported cases of the tool's recommending friend connections between patients of the same psychiatrist, estranged family members, and a harasser and his victim.
Facebook, in turn, used contact lists from the partners, including Amazon, Yahoo and the Chinese company Huawei '-- which has been flagged as a security threat by American intelligence officials '-- to gain deeper insight into people's relationships and suggest more connections, the records show.
Some of the access deals described in the documents were limited to sharing non-identifying information with research firms or enabling game makers to accommodate huge numbers of players. These raised no privacy concerns. But agreements with about a dozen companies did. Some enabled partners to see users' contact information through their friends '-- even after the social network, responding to complaints, said in 2014 that it was stripping all applications of that power.
As of 2017, Sony, Microsoft, Amazon and others could obtain users' email addresses through their friends.
Image One of Facebook's device partners was Huawei, a Chinese company flagged as a security threat by United States intelligence. Credit Wang Zhao/Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images Facebook also allowed Spotify, Netflix and the Royal Bank of Canada to read, write and delete users' private messages, and to see all participants on a thread '-- privileges that appeared to go beyond what the companies needed to integrate Facebook into their systems, the records show. Facebook acknowledged that it did not consider any of those three companies to be service providers. Spokespeople for Spotify and Netflix said those companies were unaware of the broad powers Facebook had granted them. A Royal Bank of Canada spokesman disputed that the bank had any such access.
Spotify, which could view messages of more than 70 million users a month, still offers the option to share music through Facebook Messenger. But Netflix and the Canadian bank no longer needed access to messages because they had deactivated features that incorporated it.
These were not the only companies that had special access longer than they needed it. Yahoo, The Times and others could still get Facebook users' personal information in 2017.
Yahoo could view real-time feeds of friends' posts for a feature that the company had ended in 2011. A Yahoo spokesman declined to discuss the partnership in detail but said the company did not use the information for advertising. The Times '-- one of nine media companies named in the documents '-- had access to users' friend lists for an article-sharing application it also had discontinued in 2011. A spokeswoman for the news organization said it was not obtaining any data.
Facebook's internal records also revealed more about the extent of sharing deals with over 60 makers of smartphones, tablets and other devices, agreements first reported by The Times in June.
Facebook empowered Apple to hide from Facebook users all indicators that its devices were asking for data. Apple devices also had access to the contact numbers and calendar entries of people who had changed their account settings to disable all sharing, the records show.
Apple officials said they were not aware that Facebook had granted its devices any special access. They added that any shared data remained on the devices and was not available to anyone other than the users.
Yet Facebook has an imperfect track record of policing what outside companies do with its user data. In the Cambridge Analytica case, a Cambridge University psychology professor created an application in 2014 to harvest the personal data of tens of millions of Facebook users for the consulting firm.
Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, a nonprofit privacy research group, said that Facebook would have little power over what happens to users' information after sharing it broadly. ''It travels,'' Ms. Dixon said. ''It could be customized. It could be fed into an algorithm and decisions could be made about you based on that data.''
400 Million ExposedUnlike Europe, where social media companies have had to adapt to stricter regulation, the United States has no general consumer privacy law, leaving tech companies free to monetize most kinds of personal information as long as they don't mislead their users. The F.T.C., which regulates trade, can bring enforcement actions against companies that deceive their customers.
Besides Facebook, the F.T.C. has consent agreements with Google and Twitter stemming from alleged privacy violations.
Facebook's agreement with regulators is a result of the company's early experiments with data sharing. In late 2009, it changed the privacy settings of the 400 million people then using the service, making some of their information accessible to all of the internet. Then it shared that information, including users' locations and religious and political leanings, with Microsoft and other partners.
Facebook called this ''instant personalization'' and promoted it as a step toward a better internet, where other companies would use the information to customize what people saw on sites like Bing. But the feature drew complaints from privacy advocates and many Facebook users that the social network had shared the information without permission.
The F.T.C. investigated and in 2011 cited the privacy changes as a deceptive practice. Caught off guard, Facebook officials stopped mentioning instant personalization in public and entered into the consent agreement.
Under the decree, the social network introduced a ''comprehensive privacy program'' charged with reviewing new products and features. It was initially overseen by two chief privacy officers, their lofty title an apparent sign of Facebook's commitment. The company also hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to assess its privacy practices every two years.
But the privacy program faced some internal resistance from the start, according to four former Facebook employees with direct knowledge of the company's efforts. Some engineers and executives, they said, considered the privacy reviews an impediment to quick innovation and growth. And the core team responsible for coordinating the reviews '-- numbering about a dozen people by 2016 '-- was moved around within Facebook's sprawling organization, sending mixed signals about how seriously the company took it, the ex-employees said.
Critically, many of Facebook's special sharing partnerships were not subject to extensive privacy program reviews, two of the former employees said. Executives believed that because the partnerships were governed by business contracts requiring them to follow Facebook data policies, they did not require the same level of scrutiny. The privacy team had limited ability to review or suggest changes to some of those data-sharing agreements, which had been negotiated by more senior officials at the company.
Facebook officials said that members of the privacy team had been consulted on the sharing agreements, but that the level of review ''depended on the specific partnership and the time it was created.''
In 2014, Facebook ended instant personalization and walled off access to friends' information. But in a previously unreported agreement, the social network's engineers continued allowing Bing; Pandora, the music streaming service; and Rotten Tomatoes, the movie and television review site, access to much of the data they had gotten for the discontinued feature. Bing had access to the information through last year, the records show, and the two other companies did as of late summer, according to tests by The Times.
Image Facebook continued the access for Pandora, the music-streaming service, and other companies even after an F.T.C. agreement led to an official change in policy. Credit Shannon Stapleton/Reuters Facebook officials said the data sharing did not violate users' privacy because it allowed access only to public data '-- though that included data that the social network had made public in 2009. They added that the social network made a mistake in allowing the access to continue for the three companies, but declined to elaborate. Spokeswomen for Pandora and Rotten Tomatoes said the businesses were not aware of any special access.
Facebook also declined to discuss the other capabilities Bing was given, including the ability to see all users' friends.
Microsoft officials said that Bing was using the data to build profiles of Facebook users on Microsoft servers. They declined to provide details, other than to say the information was used in ''feature development'' and not for advertising. Microsoft has since deleted the data, the officials said.
Compliance QuestionsFor some advocates, the torrent of user data flowing out of Facebook has called into question not only Facebook's compliance with the F.T.C. agreement, but also the agency's approach to privacy regulation.
''There has been an endless barrage of how Facebook has ignored users' privacy settings, and we truly believed that in 2011 we had solved this problem,'' said Marc Rotenberg, head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an online privacy group that filed one of the first complaints about Facebook with federal regulators. ''We brought Facebook under the regulatory authority of the F.T.C. after a tremendous amount of work. The F.T.C. has failed to act.''
According to Facebook, most of its data partnerships fall under an exemption to the F.T.C. agreement. The company argues that the partner companies are service providers '-- companies that use the data only ''for and at the direction of'' Facebook and function as an extension of the social network.
But Mr. Vladeck and other former F.T.C. officials said that Facebook was interpreting the exemption too broadly. They said the provision was intended to allow Facebook to perform the same everyday functions as other companies, such as sending and receiving information over the internet or processing credit card transactions, without violating the consent decree.
When The Times reported last summer on the partnerships with device makers, Facebook used the term ''integration partners'' to describe BlackBerry, Huawei and other manufacturers that pulled Facebook data to provide social-media-style features on smartphones. All such integration partners, Facebook asserted, were covered by the service provider exemption.
Since then, as the social network has disclosed its data sharing deals with other kinds of businesses '-- including internet companies such as Yahoo '-- Facebook has labeled them integration partners, too.
Facebook even recategorized one company, the Russian search giant Yandex, as an integration partner.
Facebook records show Yandex had access in 2017 to Facebook's unique user IDs even after the social network stopped sharing them with other applications, citing privacy risks. A spokeswoman for Yandex, which was accused last year by Ukraine's security service of funneling its user data to the Kremlin, said the company was unaware of the access and did not know why Facebook had allowed it to continue. She added that the Ukrainian allegations ''have no merit.''
Image The Russian company Yandex, which has been accused of funneling information to the Kremlin, had access to Facebook data as recently as last year. Credit Mikhail Metzel/TASS, via Getty Images In October, Facebook said Yandex was not an integration partner. But in early December, as The Times was preparing to publish this article, Facebook told congressional lawmakers that it was.
An F.T.C. spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the commission agreed with Facebook's interpretation of the service provider exception, which is likely to figure in the F.T.C.'s ongoing Facebook investigation. She also declined to say whether the commission had ever received a complete list of partners that Facebook considered service providers.
But federal regulators had reason to know about the partnerships '-- and to question whether Facebook was adequately safeguarding users' privacy. According to a letter that Facebook sent this fall to Senator Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat, PricewaterhouseCoopers reviewed at least some of Facebook's data partnerships.
The first assessment, sent to the F.T.C. in 2013, found only ''limited'' evidence that Facebook had monitored those partners' use of data. The finding was redacted from a public copy of the assessment, which gave Facebook's privacy program a passing grade over all.
Mr. Wyden and other critics have questioned whether the assessments '-- in which the F.T.C. essentially outsources much of its day-to-day oversight to companies like PricewaterhouseCoopers '-- are effective. As with other businesses under consent agreements with the F.T.C., Facebook pays for and largely dictated the scope of its assessments, which are limited mostly to documenting that Facebook has conducted the internal privacy reviews it claims it had.
How closely Facebook monitored its data partners is uncertain. Most of Facebook's partners declined to discuss what kind of reviews or audits Facebook subjected them to. Two former Facebook partners, whose deals with the social network dated to 2010, said they could find no evidence that Facebook had ever audited them. One was BlackBerry. The other was Yandex.
Image Steve Satterfield, Facebook's director of privacy and public policy, said the sharing deals did not violate privacy rules because the partners functioned as extensions of the social network. Credit Isopix/REX/Shutterstock Facebook officials said that while the social network audited partners only rarely, it managed them closely.
''These were high-touch relationships,'' Mr. Satterfield said.
Matthew Rosenberg contributed reporting. Research was contributed by Grace Ashford, Susan C. Beachy, Doris Burke and Alain Delaqu(C)ri¨re.
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Let's Clear Up a Few Things About Facebook's Partners | Facebook Newsroom
By Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Director of Developer Platforms and Programs
Today, we're facing questions about whether Facebook gave large tech companies access to people's information and, if so, why we did this.
To put it simply, this work was about helping people do two things. First, people could access their Facebook accounts or specific Facebook features on devices and platforms built by other companies like Apple, Amazon, Blackberry and Yahoo. These are known as integration partners. Second, people could have more social experiences '' like seeing recommendations from their Facebook friends '' on other popular apps and websites, like Netflix, The New York Times, Pandora and Spotify.
To be clear: none of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people's permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC.
How did people use these features?People used these features in many different ways, including through:
Apps that allowed people to access their Facebook account on their Windows Phone deviceNotifications about their activity on Facebook that they could turn on while they were using Safari or other browsers''Social hubs'' that consolidated their feeds across Facebook, Twitter, and other servicesMessaging integrations that allowed people to recommend things like songs from Spotify to friendsSearch results in Bing and elsewhere based on public information their friends sharedTools that helped them find friends on Facebook by uploading their contacts from email providers like YahooWe've been public about these features and partnerships over the years because we wanted people to actually use them '' and many people did. They were discussed, reviewed, and scrutinized by a wide variety of journalists and privacy advocates.
But most of these features are now gone. We shut down instant personalization, which powered Bing's features, in 2014 and we wound down our partnerships with device and platform companies months ago, following an announcement in April. Still, we recognize that we've needed tighter management over how partners and developers can access information using our APIs. We're already in the process of reviewing all our APIs and the partners who can access them.
Who are these integration partners and why did Facebook work with them?People want to use Facebook features on a variety of devices and products, many of which we don't support ourselves. This was particularly true early in our history, before Android and iOS became the predominant ways people use the internet on their phones. Text-only and feature phones were widely popular. Across the industry, companies like Facebook partnered with other companies to build integrations. Take the Blackberry Hub app as an example. People using Blackberry devices could log into Facebook using this feature, allowing them to see the same Facebook News Feed they would see if they logged in from a desktop computer. The data we provided allowed the person to access their own account on Blackberry. Blackberry couldn't use any of the information for its own purposes.
Facebook has had similar integration partnerships over the years with Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo and other companies, which were overseen by our partnerships and product teams. These partners built many kinds of integrations, including mobile versions of Facebook and social feed hubs, which aggregated feeds from Facebook and other companies. We've shut down nearly all of these partnerships over the past several months, except with Amazon and Apple, which people continue to find useful and which are covered by active contracts; Tobii, an integration that enables people with ALS to access Facebook; and browser notifications for people who use Alibaba, Mozilla and Opera.
Does this mean these companies got access to my Facebook information if I didn't authorize it? Our integration partners had to get authorization from people. You would have had to sign in with your Facebook account to use the integration offered by Apple, Amazon or another integration partner.
What was instant personalization and how did it work?Instant personalization is a product we offered with select partners from 2010 to 2014 that involved public information on Facebook, and it's different from the types of partnerships we've described above. With instant personalization, people could link their Facebook account with other services like Rotten Tomatoes or Yelp to see public information their friends shared. When searching on Bing for articles about an upcoming trip to Europe, you could get results based on what your friends had shared publicly. People could turn off instant personalization at any time.
Did partners get access to messages?Yes. But people had to explicitly sign in to Facebook first to use a partner's messaging feature. Take Spotify for example. After signing in to your Facebook account in Spotify's desktop app, you could then send and receive messages without ever leaving the app. Our API provided partners with access to the person's messages in order to power this type of feature.
Why did some partners have access to data as late as 2017, even after instant personalization was shut down?Instant personalization only involved public information, and we have no evidence that data was used or misused after the program was shut down. However, we shouldn't have left the APIs in place after we shut down instant personalization. We've taken a number of steps this year to limit developers' access to people's Facebook information, and as part of that ongoing effort, we're in the midst of reviewing all our APIs and the partners who can access them. This is important work that builds on our existing systems that track APIs and control who can access to them.
Brainwashing of the USA
Samuel Dank Millennia note
As an old millennial (36), I have a unique position umungst
current living generations. We are cynics who want to love AOC but know she’s a
distraction. We refused to vote Trump but at best we only tepidly supported
Clinton or in my case hated Her.
That vantage point is why I love your suggestion of brain
washing younger generations, and why I know it’s already underway. The
distrust of the insurance industry, the poverty pushing premiums and
copays/deductibles and the disillusionment with Obama have all made us desire
some form of sicioalized medicine or better regulation/deregulation. We are not
that perturbed by climate change since all the dire predictions we heard in the
90s have proven bogus or social engineering - hole in ozone and smog
anyone? But health care is actually high on the priority of many of us
older millennials looking at candidates. The older we get and the more broke we
become because of student loans and inflation, the more we will look at
healthcare as the only place where we can realistically get reform via
representation in Congress. Our classical liberalism, and growing libertarianism
make the change in healthcare more increasingly a reality because The
conservative boomers are dying and Gen Xers my generation and others who
are slightly more liberal and or progressive, or more fiscally conservative and
smaller government oriented are taking over the electorate as majority
demographic by voting percentage.
In short if we were brainwashed into radically changing
healthcare for the better I predict my generation or the younger millennials
will get that done.
Long winded. Sorry.
Mineral extraction in the province of Nord-Kivu, DRC: present situation and analysis of environmental questions | WRM in English
Reseau CREF (Network for Conservation and Rehabilitation of Forest Ecosystems) is a platform of organizations working on governance of natural resources in the province of North Kivu. Among others, it intervenes in the governance of the mining sector through its program ''Mines and Hydrocarbons''.
Context of the province of North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo
Security situationFor a decade, the province of North Kivu has been continuously facing several challenges related to the security situation. The operations that have been launched continue '' except for some (1) ''without significant impact to this day, so that murders, massacres, abductions and kidnapping of citizens interritoires (administrative areas in DRC) and towns across the province continue. Until now, more than 400 people have been reported to have been killed by machete or axe, which also has humanitarian consequences such as displacements, illnesses'...
This situation is made worse by the lack of governance that favours the proliferation of conflicts and, in addition, militias. This lack of governance is at the root of the human rights violations in the mining zones and leads to the population being deprived of their wealth and to environmental destruction.
The different agreements that were signed in the context of improving stability in the region of the Big Lakes (4) remain ''dead letters'' and do not guarantee lasting peace.
Decentralisation and election processesThe Constitution of the DRC from February 18, 2006, demands a decentralisation with the objective of good management of State affairs. Linked to this decentralization is the further dividing up of RDC from 11 into 24 provinces. A publicity campaign about the new provinces has already been launched but the regulations still await effective implementation. Although the province of North Kivu was not directly affected by this process (6), it will be affected by the consequences given the investment costs to set up and maintain the institutions of these additional provinces which will require fairly substantial resources from the national governmental budget, etc.
The Democratic Republic of Congo in general and especially the province of North Kivu will be engaged in an election process during all of 2015 and 2016. The lack of security observed in a part of the province continues to be one of the major challenges to hold peaceful elections.
Moreover, some political parties and groups of the opposition have conditioned their participation in the elections on some prerequisites including a dialogue to discuss issues related to the electoral calendar and to stop the slide towards a third mandate of the present President of the DRC.
Context of mining in the province of North KivuFor a decade, mining in the Province of North Kivu is done without respect for human rights of local communities and environmental norms. It also contributes to deforestation in the region. Indeed, apart from the problems related to human rights in mining and the perpetration of conflicts, environmental issues have not raised concerns among the stakeholders involved in the mining activities in the Province of North Kivu.
It should be also noted that even in the zones where semi-industrial mining is practiced and where the operators seem to have means to put in place best policies of social and environmental management the consequences to the environment are always harmful.
Present situation in the zones of artisanal miningIn the Province of North Kivu, mining is taking place in the territoires of Walikale, Masisi, Rutshuru, Lubero and Beni In the territoire of Lubero and Beni, the mining is for gold, diamonds, wolfram, cassiterite, coltan'... Mining is predominantly artisanal in the mines of Lubero (Manguredjipa, Bunyatenge et Kasugho) and in the mines in the territoire of Beni (Cantine, Mabalako, '...).
On the other hand, in the Walikale territoire, artisanal mining is also the predominant practice in the majority of the mining sites, except for the mine of Bisie (the big mine in the area) that is moving towards industrial production and is run by the company MPC/Alpha Mine. It is important to note that MPC/Alpha Mine are two separate companies, the first is from South Africa and the other from Canada and both are in the process of working together to extract cassiterite in the aforementioned Bisie mine. The extracted minerals in the Walikale territoire continue to be wolfram, gold, cassiterite, diamonds, coltan'...
One single mining site has been identified in the territoire of Rutshuru, which is the mine of SOMIKIVU that extracts pyrochlore. The mining takes place in a part of the Ruthsuru river. And finally, in theterritoire of Masisi, mining is also artisanal and semi-industrial with the Congolese company ''SMB'' and here the boom for coltan can be seen.
It should be noted that at certain mining sites including those at the Bisie mine in the Walikale territoire, there is a conflict between local communities and/or artisanal miners, and the companies that hold the mining concessions.
There has been an attempt of coming to agreements and sort out the differences but the divergences persist among all stakeholders.
b. The review process of the legal framework: the mining code of 2002
This process that has started with work done at the level of each group (government, companies and civil society), resulted in a draft version that was submitted to the parliament.
This review process has not been finished yet as divergences continue between the stakeholders (government, companies and civil society) and because of the delay in putting the issue on the agenda of the Lower House of the Congolese parliament.
Current situation of mining in the province of North Kivu
It is well-known that the Congolese people live the paradox of the countries rich in mineral resources but the local population facing extreme poverty.
The province of North Kivu, where this is certainly the case, has been experimenting with different initiatives of traceability and transparency aimed at providing benefits to local communities from the resources of which their subsoil is so plentiful.
Indeed, since minerals in DRC, and particularly those in the East (North Kivu, South Kivu), are object of illicit and illegal extraction, several initiatives have been set up to bring to an end the mafia circuits but also to break the link between the conflicts and the extraction of these minerals.
The mining productsThe mining in the Province of North Kivu is mainly for gold, cassiterite, coltan, diamonds, tourmaline, pyrochlore, wolfram'... These minerals are extracted through artisanal mining by groups of diggers known as cooperatives that sell to processing entities (desks) through traders (middlemen).
It is important to highlight that those operators are obliged to comply with certain requirements of transparency and traceability so their products can be sold.
About the organization and functioning of the SectorThe mining sector in the province of North Kivu is nowadays submitted to several requirements aimed at ending the link between the conflicts and mineral extraction. These initiatives are being experimented with even though they have not been able to put an end to the fraud and smuggling in the mining sector.
Efforts are made by the Congolese government to qualify and validate certain mining sites as providing responsible products into supply chains but this must go hand in hand with an efficient monitoring to dismantle all the mafia networks that continue to profit from those mineral resources.
In Walikali, there are 61 mining sites identified; 7 have been qualified and validated as 'green' and the artisanal operators have regrouped in mining Cooperatives. These are cooperatives that manage the extraction activities in these places, including the cooperatives CEMIKA, COMIDE, COMID, COMIMPA, COCABI, COMIDER.
In Masisi, of the 33 identified mining sites, the most important of which are located around Rubaya for coltan, around Ngungu and Mahanga for wolfram and cassiterite, 17 mining sites were qualified as ''green'', of which 12 are for coltan, one for wolfram and 4 for cassiterite, with only one recognized mining Cooperative (COOPERAMMA).
In Lubero territoire, 6 mining sites of coltan, wolfram and cassiterite were qualified and validated ''green'', this means, ready for mining activities. These are the following mining sites: Masingi, Mambilee, Kigali, Etaeto gauche, Malimbenze and Etaeto droite.
Impacts of miningSocial impactsMining in the Province of North Kivu is at the root of several problems as a consequence of bad management in the sector that, instead of being the base for a sustainable development, has created frustrations and misery among local chiefs and people.
On the one hand, this extraction has created a small economy facilitating commercial trade between a group of people and, on the other hand, the same extraction is done without any respect for human and environmental rights.
The flagrant violations at this time related to the access to these mining resources result from the fact that mining titles overlap with areas already covered by other titles and/or used by local operators.
The problem of formalizing mining operations in particular and of good governance in general in the mining sector that continues to be dominated by artisanal mining in a big part of the province of North Kivu cause other violations of human rights such as arbitrary arrests, acts of torture, violence against women and children.
Just as civil and political rights are violated at the mining sites in the Province of North Kivu, socio-economic rights also represent huge problems.
Not having access to the better schools, to quality health care or even the absence of road infrastructure, remains a nightmare for the populations living in the mining zones. This remains the reality despite the recognition of decentralization in the constitution in the Democratic Republic of Congo [that was meant to address such issues of lack of infrastructure and educational and health services].
Environmental impactsThere are links between mining and environmental factors. Mining today in the Province of Nord Kivu has an impact on the environment. Among these fragmentation of the forest, the destruction of biotopes, deforestation, and the degradation of water quality.
Like in other countries where mining is taking place, the DR Congo has felt the need to introduce provisions related to the management and the protection of the mining environment in the new Mining Code and its implementing regulations. These are aimed at encouraging mining operators to take measures to, if not eliminating the environmental effects of the mining activities, and at least to mitigate these as much as possible.
Unfortunately, we are witnessing an extraction that does not respect these provisions, both in Lubero as well as in Walikale, Beni, Masisi et Rutshuru.
The Masisi territoire, for example, continues to be one of the zones with much deforestation and this is visible in the grazing projects that have invaded these areas.
The few forests left in Masisi that were in the process of recuperation are now being ravaged by mining activities at several mining sites.
At the mining sites of the Lubero territoire, artisanal mining that violates environmental norms is known in the zone under a local name called ''sakasaka method''. This means that the wood is cut, the remaining vegetation are cleared, the soil is dug up without respecting any environmental norm.
Finally, in the zones of artisanal mining for gold (mining site of Umate -, Walikale -, Beni Maguredjipa), the use of mercury to extract the gold continues being destructive for the environment, first because of the water pollution and the destruction of the soil; and there are even consequences for the climate with the disturbance of the seasonal rainfall.
Organization and functioning of the mining sector in North KivuThe administrative organization of the mining sector in the province of North Kivu follows the Congolese mining code and regulation.
For example, the mining services which represent the division of the mines, as well as the ministry of mines are in the same administrative organization.
The offices of CEEC (7) for the control and certification of minerals are also in place although the officers are few and are unable to cover all the mining sites. The SAESCAM (8) which is a technical service of the Ministry of Mines in charge of the supervision of the artisanal miners is in place in certain mining zones, although they face serious problems in these zones.
Conclusions and perspectives
At this time, when responses are being sought to the issues of mineral extraction in the East of DRC and in the region of the Big Lakes, through adoption of measures and policies to address conflict minerals, we suggest that more attention be paid also to the environmental issues and social impacts.
The extractive industries, and local artisanal miners must do more in relation to social responsibility of the mining companies, but also respect other provisions of the mining code related to environmental protection.
Environmental issues should be considered a mandatory consideration to secure acceptance of the supply of minerals by processors and final consumers.
Reseau CREF (http://www.reseaucref.org/)
Democratic Allied Forces '' Liberation army of UgandaArmed Forces of the Democratic Republic of CongoObservation Mission of the United Nations for the Stabilization of CongoThe countries of the African region of the Big Lakes are Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Ruanda, Tanzania and UgandaDecentralized territorial entitiesBecause of being already an entire province as a result of the division of Kivu in 1988 (a division test)CEEC: Center of Evaluation, Expertise and Certification (State service)SAESCAM: Service for Assistance and Supervision of Small Scale Mining
China and Russia band together on controversial heating experiments to modify the atmosphere | South China Morning Post
China and Russia have modified an important layer of the atmosphere above Europe to test a controversial technology for possible military application, according to Chinese scientists involved in the project.
A total of five experiments were carried out in June. One, on June 7, caused physical disturbance over an area as large as 126,000 sq km (49,000 square miles), or about half the size of Britain.
The modified zone, looming more than 500km (310 miles) high over Vasilsursk, a small Russian town in eastern Europe, experienced an electric spike with 10 times more negatively charged subatomic particles than surrounding regions.
Operation Z machine: China's next weapon in the nuclear 'arms race'In another experiment on June 12, the temperature of thin, ionised gas in high altitude increased more than 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit) because of the particle flux.
The particles, or electrons, were pumped into the sky by Sura, an atmospheric heating facility in Vasilsursk built by the former Soviet Union's military during the cold war.
The Sura base fired up an array of high-power antennas and injected a large amount of microwaves into the high atmosphere. The peak power of the high frequency radio waves could reach 260 megawatts, enough to light a small city.
Zhangheng-1, a Chinese electromagnetic surveillance satellite, collected the data from orbit with cutting-edge sensors. The pumping and fly-by required precise coordination to achieve effective measurement.
When Zhangheng approached the target zone, for instance, the sensors would switch to burst mode to analyse samples every half-second, much faster than usual, to increase data resolution.
Storm clouds continue to brew over Sky River rain-making projectThe results were ''satisfactory'', the research team reported in a paper published in the latest issue of the Chinese journal Earth and Planetary Physics.
''The detection of plasma disturbances '... provides evidence for likely success of future related experiments,'' the researchers said.
Professor Guo Lixin, dean of the school of physics and optoelectronic engineering at Xidian University in Xian and a leading scientist on ionosphere manipulation technology in China, said that the joint experimentation was extremely unusual.
''Such international cooperation is very rare for China,'' said Guo, who was not involved in the experiment. ''The technology involved is too sensitive.''
The sun and cosmic rays produce a large amount of free-flying, positively charged atoms known as ions at altitudes from 75km to 1,000km in the Earth's upper atmosphere. The layer, or ionosphere, reflects radio waves like a mirror. The ionosphere allows radio signals to bounce long distances for communication.
The militaries have been in a race to control the ionosphere for decades.
The Sura base in Vasilsursk is believed to be the world's first large-scale facility built for the purpose. Up and running in 1981, it enabled Soviet scientists to manipulate the sky as an instrument for military operations, such as submarine communication.
High-energy microwaves can pluck the electromagnetic field in ionosphere like fingers playing a harp. This can produce very low-frequency radio signals that can penetrate the ground or water '' sometimes to depths of more than 100 metres (328 feet) in the ocean, which made it a possible communication method for submarines.
Changing the ionosphere over enemy territory can also disrupt or cut off their communication with satellites.
We are not playing God. We are not the only country teaming up with the Russians
Chinese researcher involved in the experiment
The US military learned from the Russian experiment and built a much larger facility to conduct similar tests.
The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, or HAARP, was established in Gakona, Alaska, in the 1990s with funding from the US military and the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency.
The HAARP facility could generate a maximum 1 gigawatt of power, nearly four times that of Sura.
China is now building an even larger and more advanced facility in Sanya, Hainan, with capability to manipulate the ionosphere over the entire South China Sea, according to an earlier report by the South China Morning Post.
There have been concerns that such facilities could be used to modify weather and even create natural disasters, including hurricanes, cyclones and earthquakes.
The ultra-low frequency waves generated by these powerful facilities could even affect the operation of human brains, some critics have said.
Beijing and Taipei team up in space to track earthquakesBut Dr Wang Yalu, an associate researcher with the China Earthquake Administration who took part in the study in June, dismissed such theories.
''We are just doing pure scientific research. If there is anything else involved, I am not informed about this,'' she said in an interview.
The earthquake administration was involved because the Zhangheng-1, launched in February, was the first Chinese satellite capable of picking up precursory signals linked to earthquakes. It is operated by the Chinese military and has served both civilian and defence uses.
In the China-Russian experiment, researchers found that even with a small power output of 30MW, the radio beam could create a large abnormal zone. But they also found that the effects dropped sharply after sunrise, as the man-made perturbation easily became lost in the noise created by sunlight.
''We are not playing God. We are not the only country teaming up with the Russians. Other countries have done similar things,'' said another researcher who was involved in the project and asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Chang'e 4 launches China's bid to be first on dark side of the moonThe Sura facility has also conducted joint research with France and the United States, according to papers published in academic journals.
The National Centre for Space Studies, a French government agency under the supervision of the ministries of defence and research, has deployed the micro satellite Demeter to monitor Sura's radio emissions.
The Defence Meteorological Satellite Programme run by the US Department of Defence also contributed fly-by data in several heating experiments conducted at the Russian site before 2012.
The countries were willing to collaborate in part because many scientific and technical problems remain to be solved, the Chinese researcher said.
Such international cooperation is very rare for China. The technology involved is too sensitive
Professor Guo Lixin
For example, though there is general consensus that human disturbances can cause the irregularities, how they happened and why remains a subject of debate, with different research teams providing varied explanations.
Professor Gong Shuhong, a military communication technology researcher at Xidian University, formerly the Radio School of the Central Military Committee, said he had been closely following the Russia-China heating experiment.
''The energy emitted was too low to trigger a global environmental event,'' he said. ''Human influence is still very small compared to the power of Mother Nature. But the impact to a small region is possible.''
In theory, a butterfly flapping its wings might be amplified in a sophisticated weather system and cause a storm in a distant location several weeks later.
''Such studies must strictly follow ethical guidelines,'' Gong said. ''Whatever they do, it must not cause harm to the people living on this planet.''
Africa's Expatriate Wealthy Demand UN Climate Change Billions'... | Helena
More clarity into the UN Climate Change Pact has been revealed '' perhaps somewhat inadvertently by Deutsche Welle. For all intents and purposes, Africa has already fallen. China, the EU and to a lesser extent the US have taken over the five largest cities including; Congo's Kinshasa, Nigeria's Lagos, Egypt's Cairo, Tanzania's Dar es Salaam and Angola's Luanda. According to the EU, these cities face 'extreme risks' from climate warming. And funds need to be made available immediately to mitigate the losses that the EU might encounter as they have ramped up business exploitation for over a decade'...or two.
Luanda: A valuable port city, the official language is Portuguese. They host a Chinese community, a Latin American community and of course, a sizable Portuguese community. While 53% of locals live in poverty, lack clean drinking water, have limited electricity, and live in squalor housing, luxury construction for the wealthy is booming! The government has solicited a Chinese firm to build what they call 'social housing'. The 53% slum population will be removed from the streets and housed in these facilities so that additional renovation, infrastructure and luxury housing construction can continue for the wealthy expatriates.
Kinshasa: Located along the second largest river in Africa, The Congo, primary language is '' French. Affluent residential and commercial areas and three universities are flanked by an ever shifting slum community. Every year, as wealthy development inside the city continues unabated, the slums are shifted to the outer periphery. The UN has a headquarters in Kinshasa and as recently as 2016 deployed 'peacekeeping troops' to stabilize unrest. NGO's play a prominent role in the local government, including the Belgium Development Agency. China has an $8.5 billion loan outstanding for infrastructure development. Corruption is rampant, poverty is rife, and war is a constant '' to eliminate the undesirables and allow room for the new wealth.
Dar es Salaam: The city experienced one of Africa's fastest urbanization rates as businesses were opened and prospered, growth in the construction sector with multi-story building, bridges and roads. Tanzanian Banks headquartered in the city started to run more proper,and the Dar es Salaam stock exchange expanded. The Harbor proved to be the most important in Tanzania and prominent for entrepot trade with landlocked countries like eastern Rwanda, Burundi and Zambia. The CBD skyline hosts tall buildings, among them the 35-floor PSPF Tower, finished in 2015, and the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) Tower, currently under construction. Diplomats and expatriates revel in the white sands of Oysterbay and Coco Beach. According to the UN, 70% of locals live in slums. But not to worry, with squash courts, white sand beaches, a darts club, golf, soccer and fitness clubs throughout the wealthier sectors, the city is insulated from the riff raff.
Lagos: 2/3 of the cities population live in slums'...
Do you see the pattern yet? Need I say more?
In other words, Africa has been systematically developed by China and the EU for a wealthy expatriate contingent. That contingent desires better infrastructure, water, power, and retail in order to sustain their lifestyle. The local population will ultimately be housed in barracks where they will not defray the views, and will be available for labor at the behest of the lords and ladies. These countries all host a largess youth population averaging over 50% of the entire population, making the labor force more valuable. They have a huge emigration population residing in the US, EU, and UK, while the wealthier residents that live in these cities come from the US, the UK, and the EU.
This is '' the shift.
Macron, Merkel and May allow unlimited migrants to take over their flailing countries, while their own wealthy emigrate to Africa and then demand that their cities and townships meet the standards to which they are accustomed while providing a largess slave labor force at their disposal. All, provided for via the Climate Change, Global Warming Hoax demanding $100 billion annually to fund '' their colossal compounds in the continent most affected by global warming '' Africa.
They have sold their countries, their people, to the ravages of immigrant terrorists while moving to the same continent that the immigrants are fleeing. Albeit with a purse of $100 billion paid for by you '' and '' I. Sure, open the borders to more illegal ravaging. The end game has been in play for possibly two or three decades. The resources, the climate, the beaches, were always the draw. But how to rid these lavish sultan cities of the scourge?
And if you thought this was a 'white supremacy' racist agenda, think again'... Obama.
Bijan Kian, board member of the U.S. Export-Import Bank and Michael Flynn, former National Security Advisor.
A former business partner of President Donald Trump's first national security advisor, Michael Flynn, and another man have been indicted on conspiracy charges related to efforts to smear and win the extradition of an exiled Turkish cleric at the behest of the government of Turkey.
That conspiracy allegedly included a scathing op-ed article that Flynn wrote about the cleric, Fethullah Gulen, which was published on Election Day 2016.
Bijan Kian, 66, and Kamil Alptekin were charged in U.S. District Court in Eastern Virginia with acting as unregistered agents of the Turkish government, according to court documents made public Monday.
Alptekin, a 41-year-old Turkish national who currently is in Turkey, also was charged with four counts of making false statements to the FBI, according to the indictment, issued by a grand jury last Wednesday.
Kian, an Iranian-American who is a resident of San Juan Capistrano, California, appeared Monday morning in court in Alexandria, Virginia, and was released without bail. Kian served on Trump's transition team, in the division related to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
From 2006 through 2011 he was a board member of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
The indictment offers new details about Flynn's work advancing the interests of the Turkish government, even as he remained one of the most outspoken and politically polarizing boosters of Trump's presidential campaign.
Click here to read the indictment
The two men are accused by federal authorities of attempting to "covertly and unlawfully" influence U.S. politics and public opinion in favor of extraditing Gulen, who was blamed by Turkey's president, Recep Erdogan, for an attempted coup in 2016. Cabinet-level officials in Turkey approved the budget for the project, according to prosecutors.
"The defendants sought to discredit and delegitimize the Turkish citizen in the eyes of politicians," the court filing said.
Flynn's firm, which had been hired by Alptekin's Netherlands-based company, was part of that alleged effort.
Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, has denied that he was behind the efforts to overthrow the Turkish government. On Sunday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed that the U.S. was "working on" extraditing Gulen to Turkey, The New York Times reported. Cavusoglu said that Trump made the comment to Erdogan during the recent G-20 summit in Argentina.
The release of the indictment comes a day before Flynn, a 60-year-old retired lieutenant general, is due to be sentenced in federal court in Washington for making false statements to FBI agents.
Flynn has been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigations.
A spokesman for the special counsel's office referred CNBC's questions to federal prosecutors in Virginia.
Flynn last year pleaded guilty to lying about his conversations in late 2016 with the then-Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.
But Mueller's team also noted in a sentencing memo earlier this month that Flynn also made false statements to the Justice Department related to work his company did "for the principal benefit of the Republic of Turkey" soon after the 2016 coup attempt.
Flynn and his company were paid $530,000 for their Turkey-related work.
The indictment says that Flynn, identified as "Person A," and Kian founded a company that offered clients services based on Flynn's "national security expertise."
Kian and Alptekin then allegedly secretly conspired to influence American politicians and public opinion about Gulen, when the cleric's extradition was being sought by Turkey. The Justice Department was resisting that request.
According to the indictment, Kian and Alptekin worked at the direction of the government of Turkey. But they tried to conceal that by having Alptekin's firm, rather than the Turkish government, serve as the client of Flynn's company, according to court documents.
In his subsequent op-ed for The Hill, Flynn labeled Gulen a "shady Islamic mullah," and "a radical Islamist" '-- and compared him to Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini and to Osama bin Laden.
"We should not provide him safe haven," Flynn wrote of Gulen. "In this crisis, it is imperative that we remember who our real friends are."
The op-ed was published Nov. 8, 2016 '-- the same day as the presidential election '-- and was a direct result of the conspiracy, according to the indictment.
On Nov. 4, 2016, Kian emailed Alptekin about the op-ed, saying, "I just left [Person A]. The arrow has left the bow! ... This is a very high profile exposure one day before the election," according to the indictment. Attached to that email was a draft of Flynn's op-ed.
The op-ed contained the same description of Khomeini sitting under an "apple tree" that Kian had made in emails and a draft version of the op-ed, the indictment noted.
After the 2016 election, Alptekin told NBC News that he was not affiliated with the Turkish government, and that his hiring of the Flynn Intel Group had nothing to do with the Turkish government.
Flynn served as Trump's national security advisor for less than a month. He resigned under pressure in February 2017, after lying to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of his contacts with Kislyak.
The indictment says that while Flynn was national security advisor, and for a month or so thereafter, lawyers for Flynn's firm tried to determine if the firm and its employees needed to register as agents of foreign governments based on their work in the effort to discredit Gulen.
Kian and Alptekin "knowingly provided false information to [Flynn's firm's] attorneys in an effort to hide from the attorneys '-- and ultimately from the [Justice Department's Foreign Agents Registration Act] unit '-- the involvement of Turkish government officials in the project," the indictment says.
If convicted, Kian faces a maximum of 15 years in prison, according to a Justice Department press release. Alptekin's charges add up to a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison.
Read the full indictment below:
Turkey '' Patriot Missile System and Related Support and Equipment | The Official Home of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency
WASHINGTON, December 18, 2018 - The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Turkey of eighty (80) Patriot MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missiles (GEM-T) missiles, sixty (60) PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $3.5 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.
Turkey has requested the possible sale of four (4) AN/MPQ-65 Radar Sets, four (4) Engagement Control Stations, ten (10) Antenna Mast Groups (AMGs), twenty (20) M903 Launching Stations, eighty (80) Patriot MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missiles (GEM-T) missiles with canisters, sixty (60) PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles, and five (5) Electrical Power Plant (EPP) III. Also included with this request are communications equipment, tools and test equipment, range and test programs, support equipment, prime movers, generators, publications and technical documentation, training equipment, spare and repair parts, personnel training, Technical Assistance Field Team (TAFT), U.S. Government and contractor technical, engineering, and logistics support services, Systems Integration and Checkout (SICO), field office support, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The total estimated program cost is $3.5 billion.
This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a key NATO Ally on the front lines of the fight against terrorism. Turkey is a member of and critical enabling platform for the Defeat-ISIS campaign and continues to be an essential element of our National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy efforts to compete against great powers in both Europe and the Middle East. The TPY-2 radar site that Turkey hosts is important to the European Phased Adaptive Approach and to efforts to protect Allies and partners against growing Iranian ballistic missile threats. This sale is consistent with U.S. initiatives to provide key allies with modern systems capable of being networked to defend against regional instability. The proposed sale will enhance Turkey's interoperability with the United States and NATO, making it a more valuable partner in an increasingly important area of the world.
Turkey will use Patriot to improve its missile defense capability, defend its territorial integrity, and deter regional threats. The proposed sale will increase the defensive capabilities of the Turkey military to guard against hostile aggression and shield NATO Allies who might train and operate within Turkey's borders. Turkey should have no difficulty absorbing this system into its armed forces.
The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
The prime contractors will be Raytheon Corporation in Andover, Massachusetts, and Lockheed-Martin in Dallas, Texas. The purchaser requested offsets. At this time offset agreements are undetermined and will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and contractors.
Implementation of this proposed sale will require approximately 25 U.S. Government and 40 contractor representatives to travel to Turkey for an extended period for equipment de-processing/fielding, system checkout, training, and technical and logistics support.
There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.
This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.
All questions regarding this proposed Foreign Military Sale should be directed to the State Department's Bureau of Political Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, email@example.com.
U.S. State Department personnel being evacuated from Syria - U.S. official
FILE PHOTO: Syrian Democratic Forces and U.S. troops are seen during a patrol near Turkish border in Hasakah, Syria November 4, 2018. REUTERS/Rodi Said/File Photo
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - All U.S. State Department personnel are being evacuated from Syria within 24 hours, a U.S. official told Reuters, after the White House said it had started withdrawing U.S. forces.
The official said the U.S. plans to pull military forces out of the country once the final stages of the last operation against Islamic State is complete, and that the time-frame for the troop pullout is expected to be between 60 to 100 days.
The decision came after a phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan on Friday. ''Everything that has followed is implementing the agreement that was made in that call,'' the official said.
Reporting by Sarah Dadouch; Editing by Dominic Evans
'Donald's Right': Putin Welcomes U.S. Withdrawal From Syria - The New York Times
Europe | 'Donald's Right': Putin Welcomes U.S. Withdrawal From Syria Image ''Donald's right, and I agree with him,'' President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said of President Trump's decision to withdraw American forces from Syria. Credit Credit Yuri Kochetkov/EPA, via Shutterstock MOSCOW '-- President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Thursday welcomed President Trump's announcement of a withdrawal of American troops from Syria, calling it ''the right decision.''
Mr. Trump said on Wednesday that he was ordering the withdrawal because the United States military had achieved its goal of defeating the Islamic State militant group in Syria. But the move caught many by surprise, including some of his military and diplomatic advisers.
It has also drawn criticism, even among Republicans, for abandoning Kurdish allies in the fight against the Islamic State and for aiding the geopolitical ambitions of Iran and Russia in the Middle East. Speaking at his annual news conference, which typically runs for several hours, Mr. Putin said he broadly agreed that the Islamic State had been defeated in Syria.
''Donald's right, and I agree with him,'' Mr. Putin said.
The Russian leader expressed skepticism, however that American forces would actually withdraw, as the United States had announced a pullout from Afghanistan by 2014 but still has forces in that country today.
''We don't see any signs yet of the withdrawal of U.S. troops,'' he said. ''How long has the United States been in Afghanistan? Seventeen years? And almost every year they say they're pulling out their troops.''
Regarding Syria, he said, Mr. Trump made the right decision because the American troops are in the country illegally, never having been invited by the Syrian government, as Russian forces were.
The United States had backed opponents of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, though the approximately 2,000 American troops in the country have mostly avoided direct combat with the Russian-backed Syrian Army and its proxies. In February, American soldiers repelled an attack on their position by forces that included Russian citizens working for a Russian security contracting company.
Russia and the United States have observed a ''de-conflicting'' agreement to avoid direct engagement between their armed forces.
My name is Brian Kolfage, I have a verified blue check facebook page as a public figure and I'm a triple amputee veteran.Please Follow my facebook page for updates in addition to Gofundme. https://www.facebook.com/Brian.Kolfage.jr/ or email me at Bkolfage@gmail.com
The campaign is set to the MAX that Gofundme has at the moment... working to get it raised. Please read entire statement below before emailing questions. A majority of Americans who voted to elect President Donald J Trump voted for him to Make America Great Again. President Trump's main campaign promise was to BUILD THE WALL. And as he's followed through on just about every promise so far, this wall project needs to be completed still.
As a veteran who has given so much, 3 limbs, I feel deeply invested to this nation to ensure future generations have everything we have today. Too many Americans have been murdered by illegal aliens and too many illegals are taking advantage of the United States taxpayers with no means of ever contributing to our society.
I have grandparents who immigrated to America legally, they did it the correct way and it's time we uphold our laws, and get this wall BUILT!It's up to Americans to help out and pitch in to get this project rolling.
''If the 63 million people who voted for Trump each pledge $80, we can build the wall.'' That equates to roughly 5Billion Dollars, even if we get half, that's half the wall. We can do this. Democrats are going to stall this project by every means possible and play political games to ensure President Trump doesn't get his victory. They'd rather see President Trump fail, than see America succeed. However, if we can fund a large portion of this wall, it will jumpstart things and will be less money Trump has to secure from our politicians.
This won't be easy, but it's our duty as citizens, just as the greatest generation did with war bonds. This needs to be shared every single day by each of you on social media. We can do it, and we can help President Trump make America safe again!
Contact all the media and ask them to run this story. We are working hard to make this happen but we cannot do it without the mainstream media.
' How do you know this is not a scam? I'm using my real name, my real information, you can contact me and hold me accountable. People who try to scam you will not be upfront with their information, they will hide and not use their name. I have a public figure Facebook page with a blue check mark issued by facebook that verifies my identity. I'm a retired United States Air Force member who was wounded in Iraq, and lost 3 limbs. I have a website BrianKolfage.com where you can verify more about me. I will respond. I've been on Fox News many times, you can see I'm credible and a real person. The Gary Sinise Foundation also built me and my family a home. Do your research before donating, and contact me if you have any questions.
' How will we get the funds to the right place? We have contacted the Trump Administration to secure a point of contact where all funds will go upon completion. When get this information secured we will update. We have many very high level contacts already helping.
' Republican Representative Steven Palazzo of Mississippi is introducing legislation to direct the Treasury Department to issue government savings bonds which would allow us to fund the wall this method. This is just one option, there are others on the table being discussed.
' 100% of your donations will go to the Trump Wall. If for ANY reason we don't reach our goal we will refund your donation. ' We are working with a law firm on a legal document that will bind the government to using the funds for the border wall itself, nothing else. ' We will hold all funds and not release a single penny until we have all legal aspects covered to ensure our money goes only to the wall. ' If we don't reach our goal or come significantly close we will refund every single penny. LET'S GET THIS WALL BUILT! And make America Safe Again! UPDATE #1We turned public comments off, if you want to comment make a donation. There was too much spam going on and it takes away from our message and objective.
Amid Gridlock In Congress, Trump Vows 'The United States Military Will Build The Wall!' | Daily Wire
With his demand that Congress pony up $5 billion for "the wall" riding off into the sunset, President Trump on Wednesday repeated his pledge that the U.S. military will build the southern border barrier.
Trump's vow comes amid reports that he was forced to withdraw his demand for wall funding as lawmakers once again are gridlocked on a budget to keep the government up and running. With few cards to play, the president has turned to the military, a strategy he first laid out earlier this month.
In addition, Trump said Mexico will be paying for the new wall "indirectly," as he claims a new North America trade agreement with America's two neighbors will generate enough revenue for construction.
"Mexico is paying (indirectly) for the Wall through the new USMCA, the replacement for NAFTA!" Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. "Far more money coming to the U.S. Because of the tremendous dangers at the Border, including large scale criminal and drug inflow, the United States Military will build the Wall!"
Mexico is paying (indirectly) for the Wall through the new USMCA, the replacement for NAFTA! Far more money coming to the U.S. Because of the tremendous dangers at the Border, including large scale criminal and drug inflow, the United States Military will build the Wall!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018Trump also vowed that "one way or another, we will win on the Wall!"
"In our Country, so much money has been poured down the drain, for so many years, but when it comes to Border Security and the Military, the Democrats fight to the death. We won on the Military, which is being completely rebuilt. One way or the other, we will win on the Wall!" he wrote.
In our Country, so much money has been poured down the drain, for so many years, but when it comes to Border Security and the Military, the Democrats fight to the death. We won on the Military, which is being completely rebuilt. One way or the other, we will win on the Wall!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018On December 11, Trump vowed that if Congress wouldn't fund the wall, he'd turn to the U.S. military.
''People do not yet realize how much of the Wall, including really effective renovation, has already been built,'' he wrote. "If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall. They know how important it is!''
....People do not yet realize how much of the Wall, including really effective renovation, has already been built. If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall. They know how important it is!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2018After his December 11 statement, though, Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said, "to date, there is no plan to build sections of the wall."
"However, Congress has provided options under Title 10 U.S. Code that could permit the Defense Department to fund border barrier projects, such as in support of counter drug operations or national emergencies," Davis said.
For their part, soon-to-be House Speaker Rep. Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer remained divisive, preemptively blaming Republicans for a government shutdown.
"Republicans still control the House, the Senate and the White House, and they have the power to keep government open," they said in a joint statement. "Our country cannot afford a Trump Shutdown," the Democrats said, adding that Trump "knows full well that his wall proposal does not have the votes to pass the House and Senate and should not be an obstacle to a bipartisan agreement."
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"One has to free
oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental
policy. We redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.”
- Ottmar Edenhofer, Co-Chair U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change working group on Mitigation of Climate Change from 2008 to 2015.
Wereld toont geen klimaatambitie meer - De Standaard - Blendle
By Meadow ClarkWinter-related deaths in Wales '' called excess winter deaths '' almost doubled in just one year. Could the same thing happen in the United States?
Experts are blaming a couple things for this unfortunate phenomenon but are they really just pushing an agenda? And, what is the ''elephant in the room'' that the media is clearly ignoring?
Excess winter deaths in Wales''Excess winter death'' numbers are the ratio of deaths from the months of December through March with the idea that they are attributed to winter. It's a term I see more in European reports than in North America.
BBC recently reported:
Excess winter deaths in Wales almost doubled in 2017-18 '' rising from 1,850 the year before to 3,400.
Public health experts said adverse weather and influenza were to blame for the increase, hitting older people in particular.
Experts said it was the highest number of excess deaths since the winter of 1975.
But officials said spikes in winter deaths were not uncommon '' with eight peaks over the past 40 years.
Across England and Wales, there were 50,100 excess deaths last winter.
However, this is half the number of excess deaths recorded in the winter of 1950 '' when there were 106,400 extra winter deaths. (source)
Keep in mind that the 2010s, 1970s, and 1950s ALL have something in common as it relates to winter deaths, but it's not necessarily climate change or influenza.
The elephant in the room '' Why People Are DyingUnfortunately, the increase of deaths during winter months has been politicized and exploited for two major agendas: pro-vaccine pushing and climate change fanatics.
The loud cries of these frenetic and urgent agendas snuff out the cries of those who need help in the winter.
The simple reason being'...
People cannot afford to provide heat for themselves!
Shelter is one thing, but it can only reduce exposure from the elements so much. Whether a vulnerable person dies through sickness or extreme temperature, these deaths may have been indirectly caused by the inability to pay energy costs.
In fact, this old report from The Guardian nails it.
It came out when UK excess winter deaths rose by a third in 2012-2013. The emphasis was on poverty and the inability to provide heat.
Perhaps that report came out before climate change bullying reached a fever pitch.
1950 was the worst year for excess winter deathsAs the BBC report pointed out, the winter of 1950 was among the worst for excess deaths.
According to Economics Help, national debt, austerity, and rationing were peaking during that time.
Interestingly, the graphs provided by Economics Help show a correlation between national debt and the rise of winter deaths. Correlation does not equal causation nor does national debt necessarily mean abject poverty for everyone. It's just an informational puzzle piece to gain context for what was going on at the time.
2010 saw economic changes '' and excess winter deaths And here, we see the same pattern where the economic changes match the rise of excess winter deaths in the 2010s.
I'm just speculating, but the 1950s graph could be a sign that in an effort to tackle debt, perhaps many government programs were cut or bursting at the seams, or taxes spiked dramatically and thus, it could have been a very hard winter when national debt in the UK was at its highest. Employment was reportedly starting to go back up in 1950 but there are other reasons why times were still difficult.
1975 was also a record time for excess winter deaths.The BBC noted that 1975 was also a record time for excess winter deaths. Again, check out these graphs showing the inflation and economic instability right at that time:
Do you see a pattern??Dear UK readers '' please feel free to chime in about this topic since I'm looking at it from the outside.
I'm just pointing these things out, however, to show that there is more depth to the problem of winter deaths than the broad brush of ''climate change did it!''
The media is reporting that climate change will continue to take more lives in the future, but'...
''Climate Change'' is not a roving murderer'...Times are a-changin' all right, but not necessarily because of the climate'...
It is radically changing job landscapes, unemployment, economic hardship, evaporating pensions, anti-woodstove laws and exorbitant energy costs that are fueling these unnecessary and tragic deaths. I'm assuming taxes are burdensome, too.
So it's a little frustrating when I see reports blaming the inanimate climate change for causing deaths or ''failed flu jabs'' when readers may see a pattern if they look at the post-War economy and rising winter deaths.
It is a shame that many elderly people are shivering in unheated houses and unsurprisingly wind up with pneumonia.
Pneumonia, by the way, is the main reason for puffed up flu death numbers in the United States. Check out our report where we thoroughly debunked the claims that 80,000 Americans died from the flu. The UK government notes that pneumonia is among the largest contributor to excess winter deaths.
But, an undernourished immune system of someone who can't even keep warm under the blankets is honestly an emergency survival situation that many people live through every day.
This is a long way to go just to say that it would seem that the government is fully aware of the rise in cold weather-related deaths during times when economic hardship and energy costs are obscenely high.
Preventing Winter-Related Death, The Prepper's WayFirst, make sure you have a winter bug-out bag in your vehicle at all times. Make sure it includes supplies for the possibility of being stuck inside your vehicle as well. Always carry spare socks and if you're spending extended periods outdoors, some toe warmers.
Additionally, take every measure possible to remain warm inside the house. Similar to the UK, energy prices in the U.S. and Canada are unbearable. So it's almost impossible to have the heat on at a comfortable level, yet there are other things to do to remain warm. Flannel lined jeans, thermal wear, leggings, doubling up on socks and fingerless gloves are all options that I have frequently utilized. Here are some more ideas for staying warm with less heat.
I don't take the same chances I did in my 20s. It may sound insignificant but I blow dry my washed hair in the winter no matter what time of day and I even change my socks to keep dampness from setting in. I actually only wash my hair 1/2 or 1/3 as much as in the summer. But I do wash my hands like a fiend and as a result, I keep the flu at bay.
Be sure to check out these rockin' Flu Preventatives and Flu Remedies and stay tuned for more winter survival help!
What do you think of the excess winter deaths in Wales?Do you see it happening in the U.S.? Why do you think winter deaths aren't as emphasized in the U.S. as they are in Wales? Sound off below and tell us how you are staying warm!
EU stelt besluit over controversile auteursrechtrichtlijn uit | Spreekbuis
Binnen het Europees parlement kon geen akkoord worden bereikt, omdat de deelnemers het niet eens waren over een aantal kwesties, waaronder het controversile artikel 13.
Met Artikel 13 worden internetbedrijven zoals Facebook, Twitter en YouTube gedwongen te betalen voor het werk van kunstenaars en journalisten dat op hun sites door gebruikers wordt gepubliceerd en filtersystemen te gebruiken om auteursrechtelijk beschermde inhoud zonder toestemming te blokkeren.
Artikel 13 is een belangrijk thema geweest in het lobbywerk van internetreuzen, zoals Google en YouTube. Zij beweren dat onder deze nieuwe regels "platforms inclusief YouTube gedwongen zouden worden om het overgrote deel van de uploads uit Europa en meningen in Europa voor inhoud ge¼pload te blokkeren door de onzekerheid en complexiteit van auteursrechtelijke eigendom ".
Diverse Europese broadcasters en andere rechthebbenden hebben de YouTube-campagne veroordeeld. Enkele toonaangevende Franse tv-zenders noemden het een 'massale en ongekende campagne van desinformatie', waarbij Google en YouTube 'wederom een 'grens overgingen bij het misbruiken van hun dominante positie ".
Jurisch expert Menno Weij schreef vorige week een Spreekbuis.nl-blog over Artikel 13 en uploadfilters. Deze is hier te lezen.
Onzorgvuldigheden of inhoudelijke feedback? Meld het ons.
Sebastiaan Timmerman wint Theo Koomen Award 2018 Bart van Leeuwen: 'De muziek is het belangrijkst' >>
Jean-Claude 'Drunker' misses a step and takes a tumble | Daily Mail Online
Jean-Claude Juncker was once again seen struggling to navigate a small set of stairs at a key international summit today.
The European Commission President, who last week told the Prime Minister the EU would offer no further concessions on her Brexit deal, was photographed seemingly losing his balance and having to be held and helped by a pair of aides.
It is the latest of several high-profile events, including a NATO summit, at which the politician has looked unsteady on his feet.
Today the 64-year-old was attending the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe summit, at the Spanish horse riding school in the Hofburg palace in Vienna, Austria.
The summit of European and African leaders focused on the crucial matters of economic development and migration, which have come to be among the EU's defining challenges in the wake of mass migration from North Africa and the Middle East triggered by the Syrian civil war.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (in grey shirt and grey tie) stumbles as he arrives at the welcome dinner of the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe at the Spanish Horse Riding School of the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria, today
A female aid with an 'EC' branded bag is seen seemingly leaning her body weight against Mr Juncker to steady him, as a man supports his upper body from behind
The Commission President, who earns more than 300,000 Euros a year plus significant allowances and undisclosed expenses, seems to right himself in the next photograph
The woman to his left continues valiantly to check her phone while helping Mr Juncker as he seems to stumble again on his way to dinner
Later at the event Mr Juncker, whose previous job was as Prime Minister of Luxembourg (pop: 590,000), seemed in high spirits, high-fiving, kissing and hugging fellow world leaders.
He shared an enthusiastic high-five with Croatia 's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and then shared a hug and a clinch with Estonia's Prime Minister Juri Ratas - all without leaving his seat at the dinner.
It is not the first time the well-remunerated politician's health and habits have been called into question.
President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker (right) shares a high five with Croatia 's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic at a dinner organized by the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe at the Spanish horse riding school in the Hofburg palace in Vienna
Mr Juncker closed his eyes as he shared this seated hug with Estonia's Prime Minister Juri Ratas
Wrapping his left arm around the Prime Minister's neck and continuing to shake his right hand, Mr Juncker continues to speak closely with Estonia's Prime Minister Juri Ratas
This July t he European Commission President was attending a dinner at the NATO summit in Brussels attended by US President Donald Trump and a number of other world leaders.
Mr Juncker was seen stumbling and swaying to the extent that the presidents of Finland and Ukraine, among others, had to help keep the 63-year-old upright.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also stepped in to guide Juncker.
Footage from the summit also shows him struggling to make it up some steps and being held by the arm, at times by two other people.
Juncker took a remarkably long time to descend from a podium after a photoshoot with the other world leaders in July
In May of last year he was reportedly 'drunk and bumping into furniture' at a UN Peace Summit during critical talks.
Mr Juncker was said to be 'very visibly p**ed' during talks over Cyprus, which has been split between Greece and Turkey for decades, in Geneva in May 2017.
A diplomat also said that the 62-year-old's familiar behaviour with some young aides was 'embarrassing'.
A source told The Sun: 'He was bumping around into things, and going up to junior members of staff for conversations. It was odd behaviour, and a little bit embarrassing for everyone'.
And this July he was branded an alcoholic who binges on gin and leaving his deputy to govern, in an explosive new account by Brussels insider Jean Quatremer - a French journalist who has covered the EU for years - in The Spectator.
He said he had heard from sources across Europe that the EU politician is 'a little too fond of the bottle' adding that one former minister told him: 'When a bailiff brings him a glass of water at a council of ministers, we all know it's gin.'
Mr Juncker has repeatedly denied claims that he is an alcoholic and insisted that his sometimes shambolic appearance is down to chronic back pain known as sciatica.
He hit back at reports of his drinking in Mr Quatremer's story and denied the allegations when speaking to reporters.
Asked directly if alcohol played a role in his stumbling at NATO, he said: 'I'm really impressed by the interest some people are taking in these not even marginal issues and I am asking for respect.'
He added: 'I had sciatica and moreover I had cramps in my legs' adding that he 'laughed at the pettiness' of what was being said about him.
WHAT IS SCIATICA? The term sciatica describes the painful symptoms when the sciatic nerve, which runs from your hips to your feet, is irritated due to something pressing or rubbing on it.
The most common cause of sciatica is a slipped disc '' which is when a soft cushion of tissue between the bones of your spine pushes out.
Other causes include a back injury, spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the part of your spine where nerves pass through) and spondylolisthesis (when one of the bones in your spine slips out of position).
Sciatica usually gets better in four to six weeks, but it can last longer.
If you have sciatica, your bottom, backs of your legs and/or feet and toes may feel painful (the pain may be stabbing, burning or shooting); tingly (like pins and needles), numb and/or weak.
These symptoms may be worse when moving, sneezing or coughing.
There may also be back pain, but it is usually not as severe as the pain in your bottom, legs and feet.
Doctors can treat sciatica by suggesting exercises and stretches or prescribe painkillers that help with nerve pain.
They might also refer you for physiotherapy or psychological support to help you cope with the pain.
Source: NHS England
France prepares chemical weapon in Paris to keep Yellow Vest rioters away | Daily Mail Online
France prepares 'last resort' chemical weapon that can be smothered around Paris to keep Yellow Vest rioters away from key buildings as anti-Macron protests continueFrench security forces could smother centre of Paris with debilitating powder Chemical can be spread across area of size of six football pitches in ten secondsPolice desperate after five weekends of 'Yellow Vest' rioting around France Paris alone saw 168 arrests with police using water cannon, batons and tear gas ByPeter Allen In Paris for MailOnline
Published: 03:38 EST, 17 December 2018 | Updated: 05:13 EST, 17 December 2018
French security forces are ready to smother the centre of Paris with a 'last resort' chemical weapon in a bid to keep protesters away from key buildings, it has emerged.
Astonishing revelations about the debilitating powder '' which can be spread across an area the size of six football pitches in just ten seconds '' highlights the increasing desperation of President Emmanuel Macron's administration as it faces up to a law and order crisis.
The country has been hit by five straight weeks of violence sparked by the Yellow Vests protest movement that has seen national monuments including the Arc de Triomphe ransacked.
French riot Police disperse demonstrators with tear gas during a protest of the Yellow Vests movement against rising costs of living they blame on high taxes in Paris on Saturday
There were 168 arrests in Paris on Saturday alone as the demonstrators '' who are named after their high visibility jackets '' fought running battles with police, who responded with water cannon, baton charges and tear gas.
Now senior officers have confirmed that some of the 14 armoured cars deployed by gendarmes contained 'a radical device that was only to be used as a last resort' against their own citizens.
A gun-like distributor on the vehicles' turrets can spray the powder over 430,500 sq. ft. in ten seconds, Marianne magazine reports.
The high-density noxious product contains the same power as 200 tear gas grenades, and is designed to knock people out indiscriminately in an emergency.
A source at the Paris police prefecture said: 'If a large crowd forced barriers through the security perimeter, then the powder would be used as a last resort in order to stop them.'
France has been hit by five straight weeks of violence by the Yellow Vests protest movement that has seen national monuments including the Arc de Triomphe ransacked
There were 168 arrests in Paris on Saturday alone as the demonstrators fought running battles with police, who responded with water cannon, baton charges and tear gas
But it is sure to raise concerned questions among civic rights groups, as well as monitoring organisations, including the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, of which France is a member.
Colonel Richard Carminache, of the Gendarmerie, confirmed that the controversial devices had 'never been used in cities to my knowledge.'
Each distribution would result in 'a highly concentrated teargas cloud, the equivalent of 200 grenades in one go,' said Col. Carminache, who added: 'It's best to run to get out'.
Teargas is classed as a chemical weapon, and is actually banned from warzones, in line with international agreements.
Yet French gendarmes and police '' who have been criticised during the latest law and order crisis for acts of extreme violence against civilians '' use it constantly.
In Britain, teargas use is heavily restricted, and never used indiscriminately against large crowds containing men, women and children, as happens in France.
LIVE. Koning houdt ontslag regering-Michel II in beraad | Binnenland | Nieuws | HLN
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Bonne ann(C)e, Google, Facebook! France to tax tech giants from 1 Jan ' The Register
Nation becomes the latest to go it alone as EU talks stallFrance will start levying charges on tech giants from 1 January 2019, making it the latest nation to go it alone on a digital sales tax.
Finance minister Bruno Le Maire said the tax '' which will cover advertising revenues, platforms and the resale of personal data '' is expected to raise '¬500m (£450m) in its first year.
The decision comes as European Union talks on a similar levy have stalled, facing opposition from Ireland, Sweden and Denmark.
UK.gov fishes for likes as it prepares to go solo on digital sales tax READ MORE There is a global effort to change the way taxation works for digital companies '' in a bid to ensure these firms pay their fair share '' that is being led by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
But these discussions are going at an even slower rate, which spurred EU nations to push for an interim measure. The initial proposal was a 3 per cent levy on firms with a global annual turnover of '¬750m and annual EU revenue of at least '¬50m.
However, amid concerns about flaws in the plan and repercussions from the US, the EU talks failed to progress and it became clear there would be no agreement before the self-imposed deadline of the end of the year.
Efforts to swing the balance included narrowing the focus of the tax, so it didn't include a levy on the sale of users' data, leaving just online advertising sales and digital marketplaces.
That would have kept the likes of Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon within scope, but others, like market research firms, slipped through the net.
France's proposed tax will bring them all back in scope in the nation. It isn't clear whether it would remove them again if an EU-wide tax is agreed upon, which the French minister said was still the goal.
Le Maire said his nation would work with fellow tax proponent Germany to push for a unanimous decision by March 2019.
The UK has also decided to go it alone on a digital sales tax, but is currently consulting on the plans '' which will see a 2 per cent charge on the UK revenues of parts of digital businesses that derive "significant value" from British users.
But this will not come into force until April 2020, and the government has been clear it will no longer apply if an "appropriate" global solution is agreed on. ®
Facebook moet eisen gilets jaunes helpen betalen - De Standaard - Blendle
Theresa May is talking about a second referendum today; she will tell MPs that it would do "irreparable damage" to our democracy.
As the prime minister faces incoming fire over her return from Brussels last week empty-handed, and the clock ticking down to exit day without an apparent plan B, does she protest too much about another vote?
It is certainly a sign of how the so-called "People's Vote" has gained currency in the past couple of weeks, that arguing against it as a way to break the deadlock is the prime minister's main message coming out of the failed summit.
Weeks ago only a marginal issue, now dozens of Labour MPs are backing another vote, as well as the SNP, Liberal Democrats, and smaller parties.
But the real battle is, of course, for Conservative support, otherwise it's not a runner.
:: What are the next options for Brexit?
Image: Caroline Lucas (L), Chuka Umunna, and Justine Greening back a second referendumOnly around ten Tory MPs have publicly stated their support for a second vote, but I'm told that a sizeable group of Europhile ministers and MPs are waiting in the wings to see if it emerges as the most likely option and would, with various degrees of reluctance, eventually give it their backing.
Many of them have deep doubts about how it would work, what the question would be, how to address the claim that it is a betrayal of the result in 2016, and crucially, whether the outcome would be any different.
But if no other option can command a majority in parliament, they believe it is swiftly becoming a likely outcome and feel confident that some in cabinet share their views.
Sam Gyimah, the universities minister who resigned his post in protest at Theresa May's Brexit deal last month, says he has discussed a second referendum with cabinet ministers.
He articulated the concerns of many Tories in a brutal tweet last night, warning that the prime minister may leave parliament staring down the barrel of no deal by running down the clock.
Downing St has stopped selling the PMs flawed deal. Instead we have displacement activity designed to distract from last weeks failed renegotiation. And a concerted attempt to discredit every plausible alternative as they run down the clock. This is not in the national interest.
'-- Sam Gyimah MP (@SamGyimah) December 17, 2018With little immediate sign of how Mrs May can secure the required concessions from Brussels to win parliamentary support for her deal, two of the prime minister's senior allies were yesterday forced to deny they were planning for a second vote.
Is it on the cards? For supporters of the idea, there are huge obstacles to making a second referendum happen.
Legislation would need to pass Parliament, and currently neither the government nor Labour currently support it.
Image: MPs will vote on whether or not they approve the withdrawal agreementThere is also the question of time - it took seven months to get the legislation through for the 2016 poll, and extending Article 50 would undoubtedly be required.
Many MPs, both Labour and Conservative, are deeply nervous about the cries of betrayal which could flow from it.
If "Remain" is an option, they point out that it could win, but on a lower turnout than in 2016.
The question asked would also be highly contested.
Image: Pro-remain protesters take part in a rally rejecting the Brexit deal on November 14One senior member of the shadow cabinet, who is currently withholding support for the idea, has warned colleagues against putting the option of "no deal" to the public and making that into the default Brexit option.
What has the potential to swing the dial is that members of the cabinet are now publicly advocating free votes in parliament, to test the levels of support for different options - including a second referendum.
The idea, raised on the cabinet's conference call last Monday, was knocked back by the prime minister, who, I'm told, said it would lead to "game playing in parliament."
But yesterday the Brexiteer International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, Education Secretary Damian Hinds and this morning both Amber Rudd and the Business Secretary Greg Clark all backed the idea.
Mrs May, a Downing Street source confirms to me today, is still not keen.
But it is difficult for a prime minister with limited support in her party, to argue against giving parliament the final say.
To most of her enemies on her backbenches and her coalition partners the DUP, a second referendum, and possibility of thwarting Brexit, is the worst of all worlds.
If there is any way through the impasse, the prime minister, talking up the risks of a second referendum, can only hope that her best chance of eventually getting a deal through parliament is that Brexiteers will fear leaving the EU slipping from their grasp.
Brexit: What will happen if MPs reject Theresa May's deal? - BBC News
Image copyright PA It feels like Westminster is tumbling towards a political crisis without modern precedent.
On Tuesday 11 December, the House of Commons will conclude five days of debate with a vote on a government motion to approve the EU withdrawal agreement and accompanying political declaration. The terms of the UK's departure from the EU.
But at the moment, it looks as if Theresa May faces an incredibly hard job getting it passed.
She leads a government with a working majority of just 13. Only seven Tory rebels are needed to defeat it.
But according to the latest number-crunching by BBC researchers, 81 Tory MPs have said they object to the deal Mrs May hopes to sign off with EU leaders on Sunday.
With Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and even perhaps the DUP set to vote against the motion too, the withdrawal agreement looks set to be torpedoed in the Commons.
Between now and then Theresa May will exhaustively insist the deal is in the national interest and the only way of ensuring Brexit happens.
But if the withdrawal agreement is defeated, what happens then?
Leave without a dealThe default position in that scenario would be for the UK to leave without a deal.
Under both EU law and the UK's Withdrawal Act, Brexit day is chiselled into the diary for 11pm on 29 March, 2019.
That's when the EU Treaties will stop applying to the UK.
If Parliament rejects the deal, the same Withdrawal Act sets out what the government must do next.
Ministers would have up to 21 days to make a statement to the Commons on "how it proposes to proceed".
The government would then have a further seven days to move a motion in the Commons, allowing MPs to express their view on the government's course of action.
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption Radio 4 The World at One asks: What will happen if Parliament rejects the Brexit plan?Crucially though, this would not be opportunity for MPs to throw a road-block in the way of a no-deal Brexit if that's what the government wanted to happen.
Whatever motion the government brings back to Parliament will now have to be amendable, after MPs backed a change to it tabled by Conservative MP Dominic Grieve.
MPs are hoping this will allow them to vote to rule-out a no-deal Brexit.
The government would find it hard to ignore such a vote - but it would not carry the legal force to stop the UK leaving without a deal next March.
Instead, the government would have to put new legislation before Parliament and secure the approval of MPs if it did not want the UK to leave without a deal.
As the clerk of the House of Commons, Sir David Natzler, told a committee of MPs last month, "there is no House procedure that can overcome statute. Statute is overturned by statute."
Have another go Image copyright PA Image caption Sir David Natzler (seated, front left) says MPs could vote again But in addition to the rigid legal position there would be the frenzied political reality.
The maximum three-week window between the government's deal being defeated and the requirement on ministers to propose a way forward would see several alternative scenarios come into play.
The prime minister could make a second attempt at getting the withdrawal deal through the Commons.
Sir David Natzler said, in procedural terms, that would be possible.
"The words might be the same but the underlying reality would be self-evidently be different", Sir David said.
Brussels might be persuaded to tweak the political declaration on the future relationship to meet the concerns of MPs.
Switch to 'Plan B'Theresa May could try to return to Brussels to renegotiate the Northern Irish "backstop" - the main sticking point for many MPs. The government has long insisted this is not an option, because the EU has said the existing deal is final and there is no alternative.
Might Brussels give Mrs May some leeway if she loses the vote by a narrowish margin?
Some MPs hope she could get behind another version of Brexit at this point. There is support on the Tory benches for a membership of the European Free Trade Area, which would see the UK staying closely linked to the EU, like Norway.
This would not be a straightforward move - and would require extensive renegotiation, even if the EU was prepared to contemplate it, and the extension of Article 50, delaying Brexit day.
Then there is Labour's proposal for a permanent customs union - Mrs May has always ruled that out, but if enough MPs get behind it, it might be an option, although, again, it would need Article 50 to be extended to allow for more talks.
Theresa May resignsUnlikely, given her track record of doggedly ploughing on against the odds - but if she is defeated by a heavy margin on 11 December she may feel she has no other option. There would then be a Tory leadership contest, which would turn into a fight to the death between the Leave and Remain wings of the party, with profound effects on the future of Brexit and, indeed, the country.
Theresa May is ousted by her own MPsJacob Rees-Mogg's band of Brexiteers famously failed to reach the magic 48 letters of no confidence in the PM to trigger a leadership contest last month.
But if she tries to cling on after a significant defeat on 11 December, more MPs could add their names to the list, forcing a no-confidence vote that she might struggle to win.
Another referendum Image copyright Getty Images MPs might suddenly shift in large numbers towards the idea of another referendum to break the Parliamentary impasse and open the possibility of stopping Brexit.
At the moment, about eight Tory and 44 Labour MPs have publicly committed to another referendum.
Theresa May is dead set against another referendum and it's hard to see an alternative Tory leader picking up that baton.
But the Labour leadership has said all options should remain on the table (including another referendum) and the SNP and Lib Dems say there should be one too.
However, a second referendum can only happen if the government brings forward legislation to hold one and a majority in the Commons supports it. There would have to be legislation. The rules for referendums are set out by the Political Parties, Elections & Referendums Act 2000.
The Electoral Commission's recommendation is that there should be six months between the legislation being passed and referendum day.
This could be shortened but, realistically, not by all that much. The UCL Constitution Unit, a research centre on constitutional change, suggests that could be 22 weeks.
So for the referendum to happen there would have to be a delay to Brexit - and that would require all 27 EU member states and the UK to agree.
A general election Image copyright Getty Images This is Labour's preferred outcome to the deal being rejected.
But as Dr Jack Simson Caird from the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law says, "with the ticking clock of Article 50 it's very difficult to see that this represents a solution to the problem" of a deadlocked parliament.
That will be the other critical factor at play.
Unless the government asks for an extension to the negotiating period - ie Brexit being delayed - the time for parliament and the government to agree a way forward is incredibly tight. The clock won't wait.
There are two routes to a general election through the Fixed Term Parliament Act.
Two-thirds of MPs could vote for one. This is the quickest route - a poll could be held as soon as 25 working days later.
Alternatively MPs could go for a no confidence motion in the government - Labour has said they will table such a motion if Mrs May loses on 11 December.
This is a straight majority rather than requiring two thirds of MPs to vote for it.
This gives two weeks for someone to demonstrate they can command a majority in the Commons. If that does not happen, the 25 working days countdown to a general election kicks in.
Any election now would be on the existing constituency boundaries. The new ones have to be approved by the Commons and the Lords. And that has been put on hold until after Brexit.
'Negotiated no deal'Another idea that has been floated is a "negotiated no deal" in the which the UK would ask the EU for a (paid) one year extension of membership before leaving on World Trade Organisation terms.
Some Brexiteers might like the idea but it's hard to see Parliament supporting such a move - with or without an explicit vote.
Because Parliament will have to come to a view.
As Maddy Thimont Jack, from the Institute for Government think tank says: "We do have Parliamentary sovereignty and there are clear ways for Parliament to express a very strong political view.
"I cannot see how a government can get through a legislative programme, for no deal, for example, if you don't have the support of Parliament."
Theresa May might have neutralised the chance of defeat in the Commons if she had found a Parliamentary consensus for the Brexit she planned to negotiate right at the start of the process.
Instead, she faces a fraught few days and a vote that will define the country's future for many years.
Right now, it looks like the government's deal cannot get through the Commons.
But the mood in Westminster could shift quickly in the current pandemonium.
Which part of Ireland stays in the EU, Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland? - Quora
Both Republic of Ireland and United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland - the guys in red) used to be members of European Union until 23rd June 2016 referendum and UK's choice to leave EU, thus bringing England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland out of it.
Out of these five the only remaining member is Republic of Ireland.
Scotland is on the verge of (Br)exiting UK and re-joining EU.
The republic of Ireland is not a part of Great Britain, and will continue to be member of EU. Northern Ireland is a part of Great Britain and will leave EU. This constitutes one of the major problems brexit is causing. There is a large amount of people and goods crossing the border between these two parts of Ireland every day, without formalities. The introduction of strict passport control and customs regulations on goods crosing the border, will have a profound negative effect on the area.
100 days to Brexit: EU, UK act to cushion no-deal chaos
LONDON (AP) '-- The European Union marked 100 days until Brexit on Wednesday by triggering an action plan to ensure planes can still fly and money can still flow between Britain and the bloc in the increasingly likely event that the U.K. leaves the EU without a divorce deal.
The British government, struggling to break a political logjam over Brexit, released immigration plans that it said will ''take back control'' of the country's borders '-- but which opponents warn will batter the economy by shutting out everyone but highly paid professionals.
The EU measures, announced a day after Britain ramped up its own no-deal planning, are intended to alleviate ''major disruption'' to people and businesses in case squabbling U.K. politicians fail to ratify a withdrawal agreement between Britain and the bloc.
European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis called the contingency plan ''an exercise in limiting damage.''
Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, but it's unclear whether lawmakers will approve the divorce agreement Prime Minister Theresa May's government has negotiated with the bloc. May postponed a vote in Parliament last week because the deal faced heavy defeat. It has been rescheduled for mid-January, but opposition remains strong across the political spectrum.
Leaving without a deal risks plunging the British economy into recession and sparking chaos at the borders, as four decades of economic alignment and open markets evaporate.
The EU plan includes temporary one- to two-year measures to allow some U.K.-EU financial services to continue and a 12-month provision to keep planes flying between Britain and the bloc.
But Dombrovskis stressed that the measures ''cannot replicate the benefits of the withdrawal agreement, and certainly it cannot replicate the benefits of EU membership.''
Britain's no-deal preparations include putting 3,500 soldiers on standby, chartering boats to bring in goods and stockpiling medicines. The government called them sensible precautions, but opposition politicians accused May of trying to scare lawmakers into supporting her Brexit deal.
''No-deal would be a disaster for our country and no responsible government would ever allow it,'' Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said.
Most members of Parliament dislike both May's Brexit deal and the prospect of leaving the EU without an agreement, but they are deeply divided about what to do instead, and the country's political debate has grown increasingly bad-tempered as Brexit day approaches.
Corbyn was forced to deny calling May a ''stupid woman'' in the House of Commons on Wednesday, after he was caught appearing to mutter the insult during a fiery debate.
''I did not use the words 'stupid woman' about the prime minister or anyone else, and am completely opposed to the use of sexist or misogynist language in absolutely any form at all,'' Corbyn said.
In a bid to regain some of its vanished political momentum, the British government published long-awaited plans for a post-Brexit immigration system that will end the automatic right of EU citizens to live in the U.K.
''We're going to bring an end to free movement,'' May said. ''We will do that in a way that enables us to reduce net migration but enables us to ensure that the brightest and best can be attracted to the United Kingdom.''
She said that ''in the future coming here will be based on your contribution, not on the country you come from.''
The government proposal places no limit on the number of well-paid, skilled immigrants who can settle in Britain, but puts curbs on ''low-skilled'' workers, who would only be able to get one-year working visas.
The government plan suggests setting a salary threshold that immigrants will have to meet in order to be given the right to settle in Britain.
An independent body advising the government has suggested 30,000 pounds ($38,000) a year '-- above the median U.K. wage and more than the starting salary for nurses, paramedics, junior doctors and many other professions.
Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers '-- an umbrella group for Britain's state-funded health care system '-- said the health sector was ''deeply concerned'' about the proposal.
''High skills does not equal high pay,'' she told the BBC.
The government said the exact salary threshold would be decided after public consultation.
The rules will not apply to more than 3 million EU citizens currently living in Britain. The government has said they can stay, even if the U.K. leaves the bloc without an agreement on future relations. The EU, in its no-deal plans, urged member states to extend the same right to more than 1 million resident British nationals.
Immigration was a major factor behind Britain's 2016 vote to leave the EU, and May has made ending free movement and cutting net immigration by more than half to below 100,000 people a year her key Brexit goals.
But that has put her at odds with many business leaders. Big chunks of Britain's economy, from agriculture to health care, have come to depend on European workers, more than 1 million of whom have moved to Britain in the last 15 years. Businesses fear that choking off the flow of lower-skilled workers could lead to acute employee shortages.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, a fierce opponent of Brexit, said the immigration proposals would ''devastate'' the Scottish economy,
''It's beyond me that any U.K. prime minister would want to have as her legacy turning the U.K. inwards and making it less open and welcoming to people from the rest of the world,'' Sturgeon said.
The longer the political impasse drags on, the more worried British businesses get. The country's five leading business groups said in a rare joint statement that businesses ''have been watching in horror'' as the prospect of a disorderly Brexit grew more likely.
Organizations including the British Chambers of Commerce and the Confederation of British Industry urged lawmakers to ''return to their constituencies over Christmas and talk to their local business communities.''
''We hope that they will listen and remember that when they return to Parliament, the future course of our economy will be in their hands,'' the groups said.
Cook reported from Brussels. Associated Press writer Danica Kirka in London contributed to this report.
Follow AP's full coverage of Brexit at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit
Boys can have periods too, children to be taught in latest victory for transgender campaigners
S chool children will be taught that "all genders" can have periods in new sex education lessons, in a victory for transgender rights campaigners.
The advice to teachers was approved by Brighton & Hove City Council as they try to tackle stigma around menstruation.
The new advice follows a council report which said: "Trans boys and men and non-binary people may have periods", adding that "menstruation must be inclusive of all genders".
Bins used for menstruation products will be provided in all toilets for children, according to the report.
It also calls for transgender students and pupils to be provided with additional support from a school nurse if needed.
The report recommends that "language and learning about periods is inclusive of all genders, cultures, faiths and sexual orientations. For example; 'girls and women and others who have periods'".
Brighton & Hove City Council said in a statement: "By encouraging effective education on menstruation and puberty, we hope to reduce stigma and ensure no child or young person feels shame in asking for period products inside or outside of school if they need them.
"We believe that it's important for all genders to be able to learn and talk about menstruation together'... Our approach recognises the fact that some people who have periods are trans or non-binary."
T he same council also recently released a "Trans Inclusion Schools Toolkit" to help teachers treat gender identity sensitively.
It asks teachers to be respectful and inclusive of children who are questioning their gender, and tells them that purposefully not referring to children by their preferred pronoun or name can constitute harassment.
The toolkit also recommends schools adopt a non-gendered uniform so all children feel included, and to reduce bullying.
Tory MP David Davies told The Mail on Sunday that it was "insanity" for teachers to tell pupils that transgender boys can have periods.
He said: "Learning about periods is already a difficult subject for children that age, so to throw in the idea girls who believe they are boys also have periods will leave them completely confused."
However, leading doctors have previously recommended that primary school children are taught about LGBT issues.
Earlier this year, the Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health (RCPCH) urged minister go further in their guidance on sex and relationship classes, which will become compulsory from 2020.
Draft Government recommendations say schools are free to determine how they address lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues, ensuring teaching is ''sensitive and age-appropriate''.
The Royal College said: ''There needs to be a clear statement that LGBT people and relationships are part of teaching about healthy relationships in primary school. This can be demonstrated in relation to families - but also it is helpful to children to learn the meaning of terms such as lesbian, gay and bisexual''.
Primary and secondary school kids to be taught about LGBTQ+ issues under radical new plans - Independent.ie
The document, which has been seen by Independent.ie, calls for the current curriculum to be updated Picture: Arthur CarronPrimary and secondary school children will be taught about gay, lesbian and transgender relationships under radical new plans for the State's sex education programme.
A draft report from the Oireachtas Education Committee recommends a major overhaul of sex education taught in both primary and secondary schools.
The document, which has been seen by Independent.ie, calls for the current curriculum to be updated to take into account the significant changes in change Irish society.
Its says the sex education programme should be ''fully inclusive of LGBTQ+ relationships and experiences including sexual orientation, gender identity and the spectrums thereof''.
''Consideration should be given to the inclusion within curriculums of LGBTQ+ specific sexual health issues and the presentation of LGBT relationships without distinction as to their heterosexual counterparts,'' it adds.
The draft says the updated curriculum should be taught in primary schools in an ''age and developmentally appropriate manner''.
It adds that the programme should give consideration to the ''significant and welcome changes that have taken place in Ireland in order to produce a gender equality-based, inclusive, holistic, creative, empowering and protective curriculum''.
It also calls for the introduction of a system for monitoring and recording incidences of homophobic or transphobic bullying which would be overseen by the Department of Education.
Primary and secondary school teachers would also have to provide classes on sexual consent under the reforms.
A specific curriculum on sex education for people with intellectual disabilities, which would classes on sexuality and contraception, is also proposed.
The document also recommends changing legislation to ensure schools, such as those owned by the Catholic Church, are required to teach the new sex education programme even if it is against their ethos.
It says ''clarity and direction'' should be given by the Department of Education on how schools and colleges, under religious patronage, should implement the new programme so that ''all children and young people are treated equally''.
The committee notes there was a consensus from witness around the need for more education on pornography and abortion in schools. However, the draft report does not make recommendation on either issue.
More training and resources would be given to schools and teachers as part of the overhaul of the sex education curriculum.
In her forward to the document, Education Committee chair Fiona O'Loughlin says: ''the curriculum needs to be inclusive of all students and to give a voice to LGBTQ+ students and those with special intellectual needs who are often overlooked in this area.''
''To achieve this, the curriculum must be reviewed, to reflect today's society and must be delivered in a consistent manner to all students and from an earlier age so that it becomes embedded in our children's social development,'' she adds.
The Committee is due to discuss the draft report today before signing off on a final version which will be sent to Education Minister Joe McHugh.
Army officers told to refer to combat soldiers as 'infanteers' | Daily Mail Online
Don't say Rifleman, it is 'too gender specific': Army officers told to refer to combat soldiers as 'infanteers' despite no women asking to join unitsInstructions in policy document tells top brass to use the term 'infantry soldier'Any military training manuals that use gender-specific language to be pulpedHowever, none of 9,000 females in Army has asked to transfer to a combat unitByMark Nicol Defence Correspondent For The Mail On Sunday
Published: 20:49 EST, 15 December 2018 | Updated: 04:48 EST, 16 December 2018
Senior Army officers have been ordered to refer to infantrymen as 'infanteers' or 'infantry soldiers' to avoid offending women '' despite not a single female expressing interest in joining a combat unit.
The instructions, detailed in a policy document seen by The Mail on Sunday, also tells top brass to use 'infantry soldier' instead of rifleman and 'mortar operator' rather than mortarman.
They add that any military training manuals that use gender-specific language will have to be pulped.
Senior Army officers have been ordered to refer to infantrymen as 'infanteers' or 'infantry soldiers' to avoid offending women
The orders follow the announcement by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson earlier this year that women will be allowed to join infantry regiments and Special Forces units.
However, none of the 9,000 females in the Army has asked to transfer to a combat unit.
The cash-strapped Ministry of Defence has lavished millions of pounds on TV recruitment campaigns intended to boost the number of women and ethnic minorities in the Army, as well as building separate female accommodation blocks.
One officer, who asked to remain anonymous, said: 'We've paid for adverts, built new barrack blocks and even changed how we are supposed to speak and what we read. But the truth is that at officer level and among women already serving, they're simply not interested in joining the infantry.
The orders follow the announcement by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson earlier this year that women will be allowed to join infantry regiments and Special Forces units
'If would-be female infanteers existed in the Army, they would have come across by now.
'We have to hope that the recruiters have better luck finding women from outside the Armed Forces to join the infantry. If they don't, it will seem like we've gone to a lot of trouble for not much of a result.'
The non-gender specific terminology will come into effect immediately at the Infantry Battle School (IBS) in Brecon, Mid-Wales, despite no women being scheduled to take part in any courses there.
The Doctrine and Concepts policy document reads: 'Gender specific terms are to be removed from all doctrine, policy, orders and instructions at the SCHINF [School of Infantry] and their use discouraged.
'The IBS is to ensure gender specific terms are removed from the next edition of Infantry Platoon Tactics and the Brecon Battle Book.'
A spokesman for the MoD last night confirmed the changes, but said they would not apply to historic gender-specific ranks such as guardsman.
Amy Schumer Takes Credit For Tanking The Super Bowl Halftime Show | Daily Wire
No one wants to play with Maroon 5 during the 2019 Super Bowl halftime show, and Amy Schumer believes that's at least partially her doing.
According to TMZ, the comedienne believes she started a "domino effect" when she lambasted Maroon 5 back in October, pleading with the top 40 band to drop the NFL gig because the league was "conspiring" to lock out former second-string 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick over his anti-racism protests.
"No one is stepping up to perform." Schumer told the entertainment news program.
Schumer also claimed that the NFL's difficulty in finding a national act to perform during the championship game's halftime show is evidence that her pledge not to star in any Super Bowl commercials had ripple effects.
"The snooty lil digs about me in stories about the Super Bowl halftime talent is such a yawn," Schumer said. "All out of touch white guys annoyed by me standing up for what I believe is right."
"I have done 2 Super Bowl commercials in the last couple years and I'm so stupid thinking my opinion would matter right? Well guess what? I may have made a difference. No one is stepping up to perform," she continued.
Then she patted herself on the back for her continued wokeness.
"Maybe they wouldn't have anyway. But at least I tried to help out and do what other people are too greedy or afraid to. Would you do that to stand up for people of color?" Schumer said. "I may have made an impact. You can write about sports and even be the best at it but what have you done to help the marginalized or under represented?"
"I will continue to do everything I can. Even with all the snide little white sports writer making cutting remarks," the comedienne concluded.
That's giving herself a lot of credit. The NFL is struggling with twin problems: "woke" artists who feel their careers won't survive performing during the halftime show because it'll open them up to social justice warrior criticism, and "unwoke" fans who feel the league has wrapped itself up too tightly in the ongoing controversy over Kaepernick's protests.
Both problems are showing signs of resolution. The Redskins are reportedly considering signing the out-of-work Kaepernick to serve as their quarterback, and the former-49er is reportedly working on settling his "collusion" lawsuit against the NFL which suggested that NFL team owners conspired with the federal government, including with President Donald Trump, to lock Kaepernick out of the league even though there were available quarterback jobs.
As for the viewers, the NFL knows it has to attract a big audience for its yearly blockbuster, having lost nearly 10% of its market-share last year as viewers tuned out of both the games and the political protests.
Maroon 5 has yet to name their "special guests," but the NFL reportedly has contingency plans in case another high-profile act fails to materialize before the first week of February.
But at least Amy Schumer feels good about herself.
BRITAIN: Insane Education Guideline Says 'All Genders' Can Have Periods | Daily Wire
In yet another blatant attack on science, a newly-approved education guideline in the United Kingdom says that all genders can menstruate, not just girls.
The new guidelines from the Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities, and Equalities Committee of the Brighton & Hove City Council advocate a "period positive approach" when talking about menstruation to students, an approach that basically teaches children the exact opposite of what actually happens, according to LifeSiteNews.
The guidelines state that students as young as age eight and nine will be taught "age and development appropriate period education within a planned programme of relationships and sex education." It also calls for "single gender sessions" when "appropriate and with careful management" while suggesting that inclusive language when referring to "girls and women and others who have periods."
"By encouraging effective education on menstruation and puberty, we hope to reduce stigma and ensure no child or young person feels shame in asking for period products inside or outside of school if they need them," the city council explained in a statement. "Our approach recognises the fact that some people who have periods are trans or non-binary."
Tory MP David Davies told The Telegraph that the guidelines are "insanity."
"Learning about periods is already a difficult subject for children that age, so to throw in the idea girls who believe they are boys also have periods will leave them completely confused," said Davies.
As noted by LifeSiteNews, the cities of Brighton and Hove have been pushing an extreme transgender agenda for some time now. Back in October, the school released a "Trans Inclusion Schools Toolkit" that compared not calling someone by their preferred pronoun to harassment while calling for "safeguarding procedures" for parents who refuse to endorse their child's gender identity.
"In 2016, the Brighton & Hove City Council angered parents by sending them a letter telling them to 'please support your child to choose the gender they most identify with,'" reports the outlet. "The letter went to parents with kids as young as four."
The new guidelines echo the words spoken by Angela Ponce, the first trans Miss Universe contestant from Spain, who recently said that a woman does not have to have a vagina.
"Having a vagina does not make me a woman," Ponce said. "I am a woman and already was before my birth. Because my identity is here [points at her head], not down there. This determines my being a woman."
While Britain has gotten on board with the transgender agenda in nearly every way, where even the Church of England is now hosting special baptisms to support newfound gender identities, the country's former colony of Australia is fiercely resisting it. Recently, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected a movement to create "non-binary" government documents for trans people.
''A Liberal-National Government will never remove gender from birth certificates, licenses and passports '' who are Labor kidding? Get real," said Morrison on Twitter. "This is the problem with Labor, obsessed with nonsense like removing gender from birth certificates rather than lower electricity prices, reducing tax for hard-working families and small businesses."
While the Trump administration here in the United States has been fighting the transgender movement by disallowing them from the military and by recognizing gender by a person's genitalia at birth, teachers still face harsh censoring if they so much as use the wrong pronoun when addressing a trans student.
Just this month, a teacher in Virginia lost his job because he refused to call a transgender student by their preferred pronoun.
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By steamrolling local taxi operations in cities all over the world and cultivating cheerleaders in the business press and among Silicon Valley libertarians, Uber has managed to create an image of inevitability and invincibility. But the company just posted another quarter of jaw-dropping losses '-- this time over $1 billion, after $4.5 billion of losses in 2017. How much is hype and how much is real?
The notion that Uber, the most highly valued private company in the world, is a textbook ''bezzle'' '-- John Kenneth Galbraith's coinage for an investment swindle where the losses have yet to be recognized '-- is likely to come as a surprise to its many satisfied customers. But as we'll explain, relying on the extensive work of transportation expert Hubert Horan, Uber's investors have been buying your satisfaction in the form of massive subsidies of services. What has made Uber a good deal for users makes it a lousy investment proposition. Uber has kept that recognition at bay via minimal and inconsistent financial disclosures combined with a relentless and so far effective public-relations campaign depicting Uber as following the pattern of digitally based start-ups whose large initial losses transformed into strong profits in a few years.
Comparisons of Uber to other storied tech wunderkinder show Uber is not on the same trajectory. No ultimately successful major technology company has been as deeply unprofitable for anywhere remotely as long as Uber has been. After nine years, Uber isn't within hailing distance of making money and continues to bleed more red ink than any start-up in history. By contrast, Facebook and Amazon were solidly cash-flow positive by their fifth year.
The fact that this glorified local transportation company continues to be a financial failure should come as no surprise. What should be surprising is that the business press still parrots the fond hope of Uber's management that the company will go public in 2019 at a target valuation of $120 billion. That's well above its highest private share sale, at a valuation of $68 billion. And Uber's management and underwriters will no doubt hope that the great unwashed public looks past the fact that more recently, SoftBank bought out insiders at a valuation of $48 billion, and its offer was oversubscribed. Why should new money come in at a price more than double where executives and employees were eager to get out?
Uber has never presented a case as to why it will ever be profitable, let alone earn an adequate return on capital. Investors are pinning their hopes on a successful IPO, which means finding greater fools in sufficient numbers.Uber is a taxi company with an app attached. It bears almost no resemblance to internet superstars it claims to emulate. The app is not technically daunting and and does not create a competitive barrier, as witnessed by the fact that many other players have copied it. Apps have been introduced for airlines, pizza delivery, and hundreds of other consumer services but have never generated market-share gains, much less tens of billions in corporate value. They do not create network effects. Unlike Facebook or eBay, having more Uber users does not improve the service.
Nor, after a certain point, does adding more drivers. Uber does regularly claim that its app creates economies of scale for drivers '-- but for that to be the case, adding more drivers would have to benefit drivers. It doesn't. More drivers means more competition for available jobs, which means less utilization per driver. There is a trade-off between capacity and utilization in a transportation system, which you do not see in digital networks. The classic use of ''network effects'' referred to the design of an integrated transport network '-- an airline hub and spoke network which create utility for passengers (or packages) by having more opportunities to connect to more destinations versus linear point-to-point routes. Uber is obviously not a fixed network with integrated routes '-- taxi passengers do not connect between different vehicles.
Nor does being bigger make Uber a better business. As Hubert Horan explained in his series on Naked Capitalism, Uber has no competitive advantage compared to traditional taxi operators. Unlike digital businesses, the cab industry does not have significant scale economies; that's why there have never been city-level cab monopolies, consolidation plays, or even significant regional operators. Size does not improve the economics of delivery of the taxi service, 85 percent of which are driver, vehicle, and fuel costs; the remaining 15 percent is typically overheads and profit. And Uber's own results are proof. Uber has kept bulking up, yet it has failed to show the rapid margin improvements you'd see if costs fell as operations grew.
Size also reduces flexibility. As professor Amar Bhide, author of the classic The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses, stated:
Many giga-businesses have no clue, when they start, about how they will become behemoths '-- think Microsoft developing Basic for the Altair in 1975, Sam Walton starting a country store, and Hewlett and Packard selling audio-oscillators. But being small, they can experiment to figure out what is profitably scaleable and make radical changes if necessary. Which is why not having deep pockets to start with is a blessing not a curse. Sure there are some fledgling companies, like Google and Amazon that happen to start in the right direction and being darlings of venture capitalists or Wall Street propels them ahead faster. But these are the exceptions. Otherwise money just bloats them and makes them hard to change direction.
But, but, but '-- you may say '-- Uber has established a large business in cities over the world. Yes, it's easy to get a lot of traffic by selling at a discount. Uber is subsidizing ride costs. Across all its businesses, Uber was providing services at only roughly 74 percent of their cost in its last quarter. Uber was selling its services at only roughly 64 percent of their cost in 2017, with a GAAP profit margin of negative 57 percent. As a reference point, in its worst four quarters, Amazon lost $1.4 billion on $2.8 billion in sales, for a negative margin of 50 percent. Amazon reacted by firing over 15 percent of its workers.
Uber defenders might argue that that's a big improvement from 2015, when revenues only covered 43 percent of costs, and the GAAP margin was negative 132 percent. But as we'll discuss in more detail, this reduction in how much Uber spends to get each average dollar of revenue didn't come from improved efficiency, but was due to almost entirely to cutting driver pay. The transportation company appears to have hit the limit of how much it can squeeze drivers, since churn has increased.
Uber has raised an unprecedented $20 billion in investor funding '-- 2,600 times more than Amazon's pre-IPO funding. This has allowed Uber to undercut traditional local cab companies, whose fares have to cover all costs, as well as have more cars chasing rides than unsubsidized operators can. Recall that for any transportation service, there is a trade-off between frequency of service and utilization. Having Uber induce more drivers to be on the road to create fast pickups means drivers on average will get fewer fares.
If Uber were to drive all competitors out of business in a local market and then jack up prices, customers would cut back on use. But more important, since barriers to entry in the taxi business are low, and Uber lowered them further by breaking local regulations, new players would come in under Uber's new price umbrella. So Uber would have to drop its prices to meet those of these entrants or lose business.
Moreover, Uber is a high-cost provider. A fleet manager at a medium-scale Yellow Cab company can buy, maintain, and insure vehicles more efficiently than individual Uber drivers. In addition, transportation companies maintain tight central control of both total available capacity (vehicles and labor) and how that capacity is scheduled. Uber takes the polar opposite approach. It has no assets, and while it can offer incentives, it cannot control or schedule capacity.
The only advantage Uber might have achieved is taking advantage of its drivers' lack of financial acumen '-- that they don't understand the full cost of using their cars and thus are giving Uber a bargain. There's some evidence to support that notion. Ridester recently published the results of the first study to use actual Uber driver earnings, validated by screenshots. Using conservative estimates for vehicle costs, they found that that UberX drivers, which represent the bulk of its workforce, earn less than $10 an hour. They would do better at McDonald's. But even this offset to the generally higher costs of fleet operation hasn't had an meaningful impact on Uber's economics.
But, you may argue, Uber has all that data about rides! Certainly that allows it to be more efficient than traditional cabs. Um, no. Local ride services have backhaul problems that no amount of cleverness can remedy, like taking customers to the airport and either waiting hours for a return fare or coming back empty, or daily urban commutes, where workers go overwhelmingly in one direction in the morning rush and the other way in the evening. Similarly, Uber's surge pricing hasn't led customers to change their habits and shift their trips to lower-cost times, which could have led to more efficient utilization. If Uber had any secret sauce, it would have already shown up in Uber revenues and average driver earnings. Nine years in, and there's no evidence of that.
Uber also has much higher overhead costs: vastly better-paid employees, in prime office space, engaged in activities that a local cab company either rarely or never has to handle, like driver recruitment (Uber has recruitment centers), public relations and advertising, litigation, airfare, and other costs of running a global operation.
And Uber ought to have a higher cost of capital than a mature business that has (or at least had) pretty stable revenues and operations.
Uber has gone to some length to avoid publishing financial information on a consistent basis over time, a big red flag. One telling example: In late 2016, Uber targeted a share offering to high-end retail investors, which were presumably even dumber money than the Saudis that had invested in its previous round. Nevertheless, both JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank turned down the ''opportunity'' to market Uber shares to their clients, even though this could jeopardize their position in a future Uber IPO. Why? The ''ride sharing'' company supplied 290 pages of verbiage, but not its net income or even annual revenues.
In keeping, while Uber presented a full profit-and-loss statement for the first and second quarters of 2018, it gave only three line-items for the last quarter, when its margins worsened.
While Uber has reduced its negative gross margin over time, those improvements have come mainly from squeezing driver compensation, so that they now net less per hour on average than taxi operators.Through 2015, 80 percent of fares went to drivers. In its early years, Uber gave drivers high payouts to attract good drivers and also offered drivers incentives to buy cars. Uber cut that to as low as 68 percent, then partially reversed it as driver turnover became acute to its current, roughly 70 percent level. In 2017, Uber's margin as reported using GAAP was a negative 57 percent. It would have stayed at the negative triple-digit level absent the driver pay-throttling.
The pay cuts have led to more driver turnover, which leads to higher managerial costs. And it is degrading service quality. A comment on an article about Uber's third-quarter earnings:
I needed a ride from Burbank to LAX on a Thursday morning around 5:45 AM. I requested a car the night before. At pickup time there wasn't a Lyft or Uber within 20 miles. When I did get one the driver said that at the rate they are being paid it wasn't worth getting out of bed early anymore.
Uber's other way of making its margins less terrible has been ditching its worst operations. But even then, Uber's new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi effectively admitted that Uber isn't profitable in any market when you factor in corporate overheads. Uber has been frantically adding new business like Uber Eats and scooter rentals to keep its growth story alive. Uber not only tacitly admits that they aren't covering their costs, it refuses to give any detail about these operations beyond their revenues and does not discuss what it would take for them to turn the corner.
But what about driverless cars? Let's put aside that some enthusiasts like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak now believe that fully autonomous cars are ''not going to happen.'' Fully autonomous cars would mean Uber would have to own the cars. The capital costs would be staggering and would burst the illusion that Uber is a technology company rather that a taxi company that buys and operates someone else's robot cars.
Uber has succeeded in getting the business press to treat its popularity as the same as commercial success. A few tech reporters, like Eric Newcomer of Bloomberg, have politely pointed out that Uber's results fall well short of other tech illuminati prior to going public. The pitch that dominance would produce profits is demonstrably false and Uber seems unable to come up with a new story. There's every reason to think that investors, not local cab companies, will wind up being Uber's biggest roadkill.
Uber Is Headed for a Crash Promoted links by Taboola 5 mins ago
Martha McSally, who just lost to Kyrsten Sinema, is Arizona's next new senator '' and will face another election in 2020
NEWS: Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey will appoint fellow Republican Rep. Martha McSally to the Senate, he said Tuesday. She will fill the seat long-held by John McCain. Republican Jon Kyl is vacating the seat on 12/31.
'--@WaPoSean 24 mins ago
Arkansas's onerous and confusing new Medicaid work requirement is going great
Almost 17,000 Arkansans have now lost their health insurance due to the state's experimental work requirement for certain low-income adult Medicaid beneficiaries, according to a monthly report released by the state Department of Human Services on Monday.
The state terminated coverage for another 4,655 beneficiaries due to noncompliance with the work rule in early December, adding to the 12,277 who were cut off and locked out of Medicaid from September to November. Those people were enrollees in the Arkansas Works program, the state's approach to Medicaid expansion. Arkansas Works provides low-income adults with marketplace insurance plans through private carriers such as Blue Cross or Ambetter, but their premiums and other cost-sharing are paid by Medicaid.
However, those who lost coverage due to the work requirement in 2018 '-- including those who just lost it in December '-- may regain their insurance as soon as Jan. 1
Beto, Biden lead PredictIt's odds for Dems in 2020
Google to Build $1 Billion NYC Campus, No Tax Incentives Required
By Jake Swearingen
There's about to be a lot more Googlers in Manhattan.
We've normalized Trump in large part because his threats rarely pan out
It's not even 8 am and the president has already publicly pressured the Fed chair, a witness in an investigation into him, and social media companies he wants to look the other way on Russian interference. And it doesn't even feel strange anymore.
'--@matthewamiller 8:23 a.m.
Old man yells at cloud
Facebook, Twitter and Google are so biased toward the Dems it is ridiculous! Twitter, in fact, has made it much more difficult for people to join
@realDonaldTrump '--@realDonaldTrump 8:14 a.m.
Trump administration picks more punishment for students (especially minorities) over doing anything about guns
President Trump's commission on school safety has recommended revoking a federal guideline directing schools not to punish minority students at higher rates, a stricture that some Republicans and other activists feared has led schools to avoid punishing potentially violent students.
The commission, formed after the school shooting Feb. 14 that killed 17 people in Parkland, Fla., largely sidesteps making any recommendations to tighten access to firearms, falling far short of what Democrats and most education policy officials say is necessary to reduce the frequency of gun-related violence.
The 177-page report, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and will be released publicly Tuesday afternoon, does recommend that individual states or districts consider arming school personnel, either teachers or law-enforcement officials present in school buildings, particularly in rural areas where supplemental help would take longer to arrive.
Trump remains determined to shut down the government over his wall, let federal workers pay for it
Congressional Republicans struggled Monday to find a way to persuade President Trump to back off a public threat to shut down the government over border wall money, staying largely in the dark over the impasse that could halt pay for hundreds of thousands of federal workers by the end of the week.
At the White House, Trump has remained disinclined to support even stopgap measures that would keep federal government operations running for a week or two, told by his closest advisers that he would have even less leverage when Democrats take control of the House next month. Trump is also bolstered by support of rank-and-file Border Patrol agents, whose union leader told the president in a recent Oval Office conversation that they would back a wall-induced shutdown if the dispute came to that point.
There's a new Russia angle to Mueller's investigation into efforts to meddle in his investigation
Months after President Trump took office, Russia's disinformation teams trained their sights on a new target: special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Having worked to help get Trump into the White House, they now worked to neutralize the biggest threat to his staying there.
The Russian operatives unloaded on Mueller through fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter and beyond, falsely claiming that the former FBI director was corrupt and that the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election were crackpot conspiracies. One post on Instagram '-- which emerged as an especially potent weapon in the Russian social media arsenal '-- claimed that Mueller had worked in the past with ''radical Islamic groups.''
7:06 a.m.foreign interests
Poland's Judicial Purge Fails, But Nationalists' Fight With the E.U. Isn't Over
By Jonah Shepp
Though they've backed down for now, agreeing to reinstate Supreme Court judges, Polish nationalists are looking to European Parliament elections.
''It's baffling that they can '... decide to protect another country's economy vs. protect our constitutional rights''
A Round Rock speech pathologist is suing the school district she once worked with, saying a contract amendment that forced her resignation is unconstitutional.
Bahia Amawi had contracted with Pflugerville ISD to provide bilingual language pathology services and speech therapy for children under 5 since 2009. But in August, her contract renewal came with a new clause demanding that she not boycott Israel.
In a lawsuit filed against the district and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Amawi says the clause violates her First and 14th Amendment rights.
Advertisers Dump Tucker Carlson After He Said Immigrants Make U.S. 'Dirtier'
By Adam K. Raymond
Among those no longer advertising on his show are NerdWallet and the company that makes BowFlex.
Enslaved Muslims in China are sewing sportswear sold in the U.S.
Barbed wire and hundreds of cameras ring a massive compound of more than 30 dormitories, schools, warehouses and workshops in China's far west. Dozens of armed officers and a growling Doberman stand guard outside.
Behind locked gates, men and women are sewing sportswear that can end up on U.S. college campuses and sports teams.
This is one of a growing number of internment camps in the Xinjiang region, where by some estimates 1 million Muslims are detained, forced to give up their language and their religion and subject to political indoctrination '...
The Associated Press has tracked recent, ongoing shipments from one such factory inside an internment camp to Badger Sportswear, a leading supplier in Statesville, North Carolina.
Your right to bear nunchucks has been restored in New York
Thwack! Federal judge strikes down NY ban on nunchucks, says it's unconstitutional under Second Amendment.
As questions swirl about his credibility, former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone settled a defamation suit seeking $100 million in damages on Monday for publishing false and misleading statements on InfoWars.com, a far-right website known for promoting conspiracy theories.
The agreement requires Mr. Stone to run ads in national newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, apologizing for making defamatory statements about a Chinese businessman who is a vocal critic of Beijing. It also requires Mr. Stone to publish a retraction of the false statements on social media. Doing so exempts him from paying any of the damages.
About that booming economy '...
The number of homeless Americans crept up in 2018, marking the second year in a row that homelessness in the U.S. has increased, according to a new government report '...
The HUD figures are based on a national one-night count conducted every year, which found 550,000 homeless in January 2018.
Overall, homelessness is still down significantly compared to a decade ago. And given the small size of the overall increase in 2018 '-- 0.3 percent '-- the Trump administration described the level of homelessness as ''largely unchanged'' from the previous year.
Russian disinformation teams tried to link Mueller to ''radical Islamic groups'' on Instagram
Months after President Trump took office, Russia's disinformation teams trained their sights on a new target: special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Having worked to help get Trump into the White House, they now worked to neutralize the biggest threat to his staying there.
The Russian operatives unloaded on Mueller through fake accounts on Facebook, Twitter and beyond, falsely claiming that the former FBI director was corrupt and that the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election were crackpot conspiracies. One post on Instagram '-- which emerged as an especially potent weapon in the Russian social media arsenal '-- claimed that Mueller had worked in the past with ''radical Islamic groups.''
Punching holes in the safety net is big business
Maximus does it all, holding contracts for everything from job training to child support enforcement to health care enrollment. In a 2014 business presentation, the company claimed to have a hand in the cases of roughly 59 percent of America's Medicaid clients. Among companies providing both social programs and paperwork support, it ''is likely the largest,'' says Daniel Hatcher, a legal scholar at the University of Baltimore and author of The Poverty Industry. Though Maximus is barely known to the taxpayers who underwrite the programs it helps run in 41 states and for multiple cities and counties and the Social Security Administration, as of September 2017 it had nearly $2.5 billion in annual revenue and 20,400 employees on four continents.
Indeed, the company is so interwoven into public benefits at the local, state, and federal levels, Hatcher says, ''that they are almost becoming government.'' And with the Trump administration gunning to overhaul the American safety net, Maximus is poised to get much bigger.
It's nearly 2019 and no English legal scholar has explained to me why Paddington Bear had no legal representation when he was wrongfully accused of theft.
'--@cjane87 health care
Some Conservatives Aren't Celebrating This Texas Ruling Against the ACA
By Sarah Jones
As much as conservatives hate the ACA, they know they can't get rid of it without an alternative. And they still don't have one.
12/17/2018war on christmas
war on christmas
Donald Trump Hates Christmas Parties
By Olivia Nuzzi
Making Christmas great again was a pillar of his campaign, but White House hosting duties have sparked a war on Christmas inside his own heart.
An in-depth investigation of residents navigating the choppy waters of American immigration policy
This legal, ethical and moral question of whether to help immigrant or agent is a recurring theme in Roma, as a Times reporter and photographer discovered while living here this year. The pair stayed off and on in a house The Times rented half a block from the Rio Grande from July to October. They found that whether to aid immigrants or agents often triggered debates, sometimes within families.
When Thalia Munoz spotted a group of immigrants camped with three small children in a field opposite her porch, she didn't immediately call la patrulla fronteriza, as the Border Patrol is known.
''My husband and I were sitting outside debating: Do you call or not call?'' said Munoz, 76, a hospital administrator.
An important changing of the guard
With Lamar Alexander's retirement, SHERROD BROWN ascends to the chairmanship of the ''White Senators with Extremely Black Names'' caucus
'--@WesleyLowery 2018 midterms
Unlike Obama, Trump's Response to Midterm Defeat Was to Double Down
By Ed Kilgore
Obama took responsibility for his party's defeat and at least offered negotiations with the opposing party. Trump: not so much.
The Teachers' Strike Wave May Be Coming to Los Angeles
By Sarah Jones
Around 50,000 L.A. public school educators and allies marched over the weekend, and next month the district might see its first strike in 30 years.
Not many people are going to be sympathetic to Les Moonves's plight
Breaking: Les Moonves ''will not receive any severance payment'' from CBS, the company's board of directors says. ''We have determined that there are grounds to terminate for cause, including his willful and material misfeasance, violation of company policies,'' etc.
Scooters and hoverboards add to Dutch cycle lane hell | World news | The Guardian
Police union chief says it is impossible to keep lanes safe due to variety of vehicles and rules
Cycle paths in Amsterdam have become increasingly overcrowded in recent years.Photograph: Ahavelaar/GettyA rapid rise in the number of scooters, e-bikes, mini electric cars and hoverboards in the Netherlands and the complexity of regulations on their use is making it impossible to keep the country's cycle lanes safe, the leader of the Dutch police union has warned.
Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Rotterdam are rushing through different rules about the sort of vehicles allowed on their increasingly crowded lanes, leaving everyone confused, it is claimed.
On Tuesday Amsterdam announced that slower mopeds, known as a snorfiets, would be banned from the bike paths from April. Utrecht is introducing a similar ban at the end of the next year.
But Bir² cars, four-wheeled electric vehicles with two seats side by side and a top speed of 34 mph, can still be driven on cycle lanes anywhere in the country.
The explosion in the variety of vehicles on the roads is already said to be a threat to public safety. In 2017, for the first time, the traffic death toll in the Netherlands was higher among cyclists than among occupants of cars.
The Dutch central bureau of statistics found that 57 e-bike riders were killed. The figure was up by 17 on 2016, accounting for more than one in four of all cyclist deaths.
''It is impossible for the police to maintain it,'' said Gerrit van de Kamp of the ACP police union. ''I wonder whether citizens themselves know what the situation is in traffic. Police officers do not always know it either. It is a completely unclear situation.''
Cycle paths in the main cities of the Netherlands have become intolerably overcrowded in recent years, particularly during the rush-hour periods, and the range of vehicles on them has increased.
In the past decade, the number of mopeds in the Netherlands has more than doubled to about 720,000. Since the 1 July, the four major cities have been allowed to implement their own rules.
On 8 April 2019 mopeds will no longer be welcome on most bike paths within Amsterdam's A10 ring road, and Utrecht is set to follow, but Rotterdam has said it will continue to give them access as they are too slow for the fast traffic on the city's roads.
Amsterdam has produced a digital map for moped drivers, as they are allowed on the cycle paths in some parts of the city, but not in others. But the Dutch police union's president told the FD newspaper that the municipality had created a confusing mess of policies.
''If you make rules, you also have to think about their enforcement,'' Van de Kamp said.
The changing nature of transport in the Netherlands became a national talking point this autumn following the deaths of four children who were in an electric cargo bike known as a Stint.
The children were hit by a train on a level-crossing. Stints became popular in recent years with schools and nurseries after the government approved them in 2012, but were banned after the tragedy in Oss, a town in the south of the country.
'Justice' is Merriam-Webster's word of the year for 2018 | Fox News
It's the job title for members of the U.S. Supreme Court, the name of a former judge's current-affairs TV show '' and one of the enduring goals of American democracy.
Now ''justice'' is also this year's word of the year, as selected by the dictionary people at Merriam-Webster.
This year, the word was consistently among the top 20 or 30 looked up by visitors to Merriam-Webster's website, editor-at-large Peter Sokolowski told the Associated Press.
Searches for ''justice'' are up nearly 75 percent this year over last year, on a website that garners more than 100 million page views a month and offers definitions for nearly a half-million words, Sokolowski said.
To be considered for word of the year, an entry has to spark both a high volume of online traffic and a significant year-over-year increase in lookups, he said.
Usages that were common during 2018 included ''racial justice,'' ''obstruction of justice,'' ''social justice,'' and ''Justice Department,'' Sokolowski told the AP.
On Saturday, Fox News' Jeanine Pirro, host of ''Justice with Judge Jeanine,'' spoke of ''the politics of justice.''
"We are in a dark and dangerous place in America tonight, where politics is driving our system of justice, instead of Lady Justice being blind to politics," Pirro said in her opening statement.
President Trump's tweets have contributed to the dictionary site's lookup totals, Sokowloski noted.
On Aug. 1, for example, when Trump tweeted his wish for then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop the Mueller investigation, Trump referred to ''obstruction of justice,'' prompting 900 percent spike in lookups for the phrase over the same date in 2017.
Other words that saw increases in lookups this year include "maverick" (after Sen. John McCain died); "respect" (after Aretha Franklin died); "Excelsior" (after comic book creator Stan Lee died); and "nationalism" (after President Trump declared himself a nationalist).
Merriam-Webster's selection of ''justice'' as its word of the year follows Oxford Dictionaries' recent selection of ''toxic," and Dictionary.com's choice of "misinformation."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Mystery surrounds Port Colborne pedophile cabal | Toronto Sun
Using children as sexual playthings, pimping at least one of them out, using them all for carnal gratification.
In Port Colborne, people suspected that a 55-year-old man and some of his associates weren't quite right.
Their fears were never articulated until community services became involved and contacted the Niagara Regional Police.
''People suspected something wasn't right,'' one longtime resident of the area told The Toronto Sun. ''But it was happening on the other side of the tracks so most turned a blind eye.''
Now, nine men and one woman from the area have been arrested and charged with a slew of sex crimes against children.
The suspected ringleader '-- who cannot be named because it might identify the victims '-- allegedly engaged in the depraved doings for at least two decades, cops say.
And he allegedly brought in others to take part in the sick games.
Sources told the Toronto Sun that the suspected ringleader '-- accused of three counts of incest '-- was pimping out his mentally challenged, underage daughter.
Because of the sensitive nature of the ongoing investigation, Niagara Regional Police (NRP) are being tight-lipped.
Sgt. Paul Koscinski, of the NRP's Special Victims Unit, added because of family associations, not all the suspects are being identified.
''So far there are eight victims who have come forward and we believe there are more,'' Koscinski said. ''We are leaving the door open.''
He said so far, there have been 10 arrests in the wide-ranging investigation.
''Not all of the accused are relatives but they all had associations,'' Koscinski said, adding that those charged didn't work together but instead were around the families the victims.
Most of the victims were underage girls except for one male victim.
''You didn't want those people around your kids,'' one man said. ''If they were your neighbours then it was time to move.''
And what of the suspects?
One man, Clem Laroche, 78, and charged with sexual assault is a local gadfly who ran for council in 2003. He came last with 154 votes.
Most of those charged are men with the exception of Susan Leitch, 44, of Renfrew, who is charged with the sexual exploitation of a person with a disability.
Only Leitch and a Welland man, Bruno Morin, 56, who is charged with sexual assault are not from Port Colborne, a town of 18,000 at the gate of the Welland Canal.
There is little information on the rest of the suspects.
Also charged in the probe:
Gerald ''Butchy'' Fleming, 52, Port Colborne: Sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a person with a disability. Failing to comply with recognizance.
William Vorstenbosch, 50, Port Colborne: Sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a person with a disability.
Shayne Ayres, 70, Port Colborne: Two counts of sexual assault.
Christopher Gordon Brown, 56, Port Colborne: Sexual assault, sexual exploitation of a person with a disability and human trafficking.
Joseph Verreault, 54, Port Colborne: Sexual assault.
Martin Johnston, 64, Port Colborne: Sexual assault.
Suspected ringleader, 55, Port Colborne. Sexual Assault (6 counts); Sexual Interference (4 counts); Sexual Exploitation (4 counts); Invitation to Sexual Touching (4 counts); Sexual Exploitation of a Person with a Disability; Incest (3 counts); Corrupting Children (4 counts); Fail to Provide Necessaries of Life (4 counts); Forcible Confinement (4 counts); Assault with a Weapon; Assault (4 counts) and Uttering Death Threats.
If you are a victim or have any information regarding this investigation contact Niagara Regional Police or Crime Stoppers.
Second woman claims billionaire perv Jeffrey Epstein 'directed' her to have sex with Alan Dershowitz - NY Daily News
A second alleged trafficking victim of Jeffrey Epstein says the billionaire pedophile "directed" her to have sex with Alan Dershowitz '-- a claim the prominent attorney adamantly denies.
The revelation regarding Sarah Ransome's allegations against the 80-year-old lawyer who represented the notorious sex offender is included in a public transcript available in Manhattan Federal Court.
Ransome has sued Epstein and his alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell, saying they trafficked her for sex from 2006 to 2007, while she was in her 20s.
During a Nov. 7 hearing on Ransome's case, Maxwell's attorney Laura Menninger mentioned the explosive allegation against Dershowitz.
"(Ransome) has alleged not only that my client ran a sex trafficking organization but she claims also that she was directed by my client and the Epstein defendants to have sex with third parties, including Alan Dershowitz, for example," Menninger said.
Ransome alleges in her suit that even as Epstein used an army of powerful attorneys '-- including Dershowitz '-- to fight a sex trafficking investigation in Florida, he continued "transporting young females" in New York.
Dershowitz furiously denied he'd ever met Ransome, who now lives in Barcelona, and said that "none of this happened." He slammed her as mentally unstable and said she'd bizarrely claimed to be in possession of a video of President Trump engaging in pedophilia and sex tapes of both Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Ransome is unwell and being manipulated by her high-powered attorney David Boies, Dershowitz said.
"The villain here is David Boies, who is exploiting a crazy woman in order to get revenge against me," Dershowitz said.
Dershowitz, a noted Harvard Law professor, said Boies is furious about bar charges Dershowitz filed against him. Details of the charges were unavailable and neither side would go into detail. Dershowitz added that he eagerly awaited an opportunity to sue Ransome for defamation.
"Alan Dershowitz's absurd attacks on me are consistent with his pattern of attacking every lawyer who has represented women who have accused him of sexual abuse," Boies said.
"This is simply a pattern where he thinks if he is loud enough and crazy enough it will distract attention from what he's done."
Virginia Roberts was the first alleged Epstein victim to claim that he directed her to have sex with Dershowitz. Dershowitz insists he also has never met Roberts, who now lives in Australia.
Roberts alleged that Maxwell recruited her for Epstein in 1998, when she was 15 years old and working a summer job at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. Roberts sued Maxwell for defamation, claiming the media heiress smeared her by denying the disturbing sex scheme.
They settled the case last year. Dershowitz is now seeking to have documents in the case, which he says would clear his name, unsealed.
The Epstein case has received new scrutiny following a Miami Herald investigation that revived questions about the legal slap on the wrist the billionaire received from then-Southern Florida U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta.
In a new letter filed in Manhattan Federal Court, Dershowitz's attorney writes that the law professor has been the victim of "selective leaking" intended to smear his good name.
"Once again, Mr. Dershowitz '' who has conscientiously and expeditiously pressed, through the judicial process, for disclosure of all documents in the case '' has been the victim of one-sided and selective leaking of materials," attorney Andrew Celli wrote.
Dershowitz '' who recently lamented he'd become persona non grata on Martha's Vineyard for his support of Trump '' says that Roberts is the likely leaker.
She alleged in 2014 that Epstein "trafficked" her to Dershowitz and Prince Andrew for sex '' a claim that has since been stricken from the record.
"The allegation is utterly false and defamatory: Mr. Dershowitz has never even met Ms. Roberts . . . records prove that Mr. Dershowitz could not have abused Ms. Roberts because he was not present in the places where she claims such abuse occurred," Celli wrote.
Prince Andrew also denied the allegation. Roberts settled her claims against Epstein in 2015.
The Herald's investigation highlighted the unusually cozy relationship between Epstein's legal team and Acosta, who gave the sex offender a generous plea deal. Epstein only served 13 months in a private wing of the Palm Beach County jail despite ample evidence he'd orchestrated an international sex trafficking operation, the Herald reported.
Jeffrey Epstein (second from left) in custody in Florida in 2008 (Uma Sanghvi / AP)
Epstein, a hedge fund manager with a mansion on the Upper East Side and a private Caribbean island, was once friends with the likes of Bill Clinton, Kevin Spacey and Woody Allen, among other celebs and business titans.
"I've known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side," Trump said of Epstein in 2002.
The new scrutiny of the Epstein case prompted Dershowitz to tell Axios that the billionaire had once let him and his family stay at his Palm Beach home.
"He lent us his house once. And I was there, my grandchildren were there, my daughter was there, and we all got massages," Dershowitz told the site.
"It was therapeutic. I had a therapeutic massage with an old old Russian. . . . Believe me, if I had known that anything improper had ever taken place in that house, I never would have allowed my children, my grandchildren, my wife, my daughter-in-law, my son, to have spent time there."
Secret Santa Scams Enhanced
Kid Rock Follows Tyler Perry's Lead and Pays Off Christmas Layaway's at Nashville Walmart
Earlier this week, we brought you the story of actor Tyler Perry paying over $430,000 in Layaway for two of his local Atlanta area Walmart customers. Well it seems the gift of giving is continuing to spread this Christmas season.
Kid Rock, has now followed suit, after firing off this tweet.
@tylerperry Great idea! I followed your lead and paid off the layaway at my local Walmart in Nashville. Merry Christmas and God Bless You!
'-- Kid Rock (@KidRock) December 7, 2018Kid Rock tweeted out ''Great Idea! I followed your lead and paid off the layaway at my local Walmart in Nashville. Merry Christmas and God Bless You.
It's times like these that make you not only proud to be an American, but proud to be a human being. We also love the fact that Kid Rock posted ''Merry Christmas'' in his tweet, which is the true meaning of the Holiday Season.
Perry stated he was trying to be anonymous, but he got caught and left this video on his Twitter account.
Matt Couch is the founder of America First Media and a Contributor for the DC Chronicle. You can follow him on Twitter @RealMattCouch
Support America First Media
America First Media is not bought and paid for Media, we are 100% Crowd Funded Independent Media reporting what the Mainstream Media refuses. If you like what we do, please contribute today.
War on Guns
Over One Million Gun Owners Refuse to Obey Ban, No One Turning in Magazines '' GOV'T SLAVES
New Jersey '-- Unless you've been under a rock lately, then you've likely seen the unprecedented push by all levels of government to separate law abiding Americans from their guns. No, this is not some conspiracy theory. The president himself ushered in a new level of gun control doing what his liberal predecessor even refused to do by banning bump stocks. However, as states across the country seek to limit the ability of innocent people to defend themselves, people are disobeying.
In May, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law that reduced the maximum capacity of ammunition magazines from 15 rounds to 10. Citizens immediately sued the government, citing the unconstitutional nature of the ban, but they failed.
''New Jersey's law reasonably fits the State's interest in public safety and does not unconstitutionally burden the Second Amendment's right to self-defense in the home,'' the court wrote in their decision. ''The law also does not violate the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause because it does not require gun owners to surrender their magazines but instead allows them to retain modified magazines or register firearms that have magazines that cannot be modified.''
AG Gurbir Grewal applauded the ruling on Twitter stating: ''This just in: for months, individuals have been challenging NJ's limits on large capacity magazines'--a sensible law to address mass shootings. Today, the court of appeals upheld the law. Big win for public safety and law enforcement safety!''
This month, citizens were given a December 11 deadline on their new ban on standard capacity magazines. The law effectively turned one million law abiding gun owners into criminals, literally over night if they failed to turn in the magazines.
Somehow, New Jersey lawmakers thought insane individuals who want to carry out mass shootings would be lining up to turn in their 15 round magazines as anyone caught with one of these banned magazines is now committing a fourth-degree felony. However, even the law abiding citizens are choosing to disobey'--and that's a good thing.
According to Ammoland.com, who says they spoke with multiple police departments throughout the state, no one has turned in their magazines.
According to the report:
Two sources from within the State Police, who spoke to AmmoLand on condition of anonymity, told AmmoLand News that they both do not know of any magazines turned over to their agency and doubted that any were turned in. They also stated that the State Police also engaged the AG's office for guidance on how to respond to inquiries such as ours. They were unaware if the Attorney General has returned to their request for guidance.
All the local police departments that AmmoLand contacted stated that they have not had any magazines turned into them.
AmmoLand has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with The New Jersey State Police to get an official count of the number of magazines turned in by New Jersey citizens. We will update the story if our FOIA request is fulfilled.
This act of disobedience is the only way that law-abiding citizens can effectively and peacefully fight back against the gun grabbers. And so far, it has been effective.
As TFTP has reported, we've seen similar acts of disobedience from other states like Illinois. In Effingham County, IL, the town board voted in April to order its employees not to enforce any laws that would ''unconstitutionally restrict the Second Amendment'' to the U.S. Constitution.
Effingham County State's Attorney Bryan Kibler said the measure is meant to act as a warning shot to tell the state legislature that the county does not want unnecessary gun control measures, or for the sale of firearms to be jeopardized. The resolution states:
''The Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms is guaranteed as an Individual Right under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and under the Constitution of the State of Illinois, and; the Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms for defense of Life, Liberty, and Property is regarded as an Inalienable Right by the People of Effingham County, Illinois, and the People of Effingham County, Illinois, derive economic benefit from all safe forms of firearms recreation, hunting, and shooting conducted within Effingham County using all types of firearms allowable under the United States Constitution.''
Board member David Campbell told Fox News that the county ''decided it's time for someone to take a hard stand.'' Indeed, as we've noted time and again, rights are preserved and gained when good people make a stand and refuse to obey bad laws.
This article first appeared at The Free Thoughts Project.
VIDEO - WHAM! - LAST CHRISTMAS - SHITTYFLUTED - YouTube
On this episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask, Ren(C)e DiResta, the head of policy at Data for Democracy, talks with Recode's Kara Swisher about how disinformation is spread on social media platforms and what can be done about it.
You can read a write-up of the interview here or listen to the whole thing in the audio player above. Below, we've posted a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.
If you like this, be sure to subscribe to Too Embarrassed to Ask on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Kara Swisher: Hi, I'm Kara Swisher, editor at large at Recode, and you're listening to Too Embarrassed to Ask, coming to you from the Vox Media podcast network. This is the show where we answer all of your embarrassing questions about consumer tech and the week's news. You can send us your questions on Twitter with the #TooEmbarrassed. We also have an email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. Reminder, there are two Rs and two Ss in embarrassed, in case you cannot spell.
Today on Too Embarrassed to Ask I'm here in the studio with Renee DiResta, who does a lot of things. So she has a lot of titles. We're going to go through them now. She's the head of policy at the nonprofit Data for Democracy, the director of research at the startup New Knowledge, and also was a founding adviser at the Center for Humane Technology, which is the group behind the Time Well Spent movement, and also one of the most ironic names for something, Humane Technology. Okay, we're going to talk about that and more. Renee is an expert on a lot of important issues on the internet today, including disinformation and social media manipulation, which is an area that I'm hugely interested in, as are many people. We're going to talk about all that. Renee, welcome to the show.
Renee DiResta: Thanks for having me.
So, I want to get a little bit of your background first, and then we'll get to some questions I have. This is a lot of stuff, so parse it all down for us, to break it all down.
Yeah, so Data for Democracy is a data-science collective. There's about 3,000 members. It is much bigger than just disinformation. There's channels in there where people are looking at vehicular traffic fatality data, where people are looking at gerrymandering, voter registration. It's just a collective of data scientists who are interested in using their skills to make a difference in the world, mostly social good projects.
One of the channels in there is related to disinformation and misinformation. When we started realizing the extent to which this was a problem, I began doing some advising in Congress. At the time, I was actually working at a supply chain logistics company that I helped found. It got to be a little bit difficult explaining why I worked in supply chain logistics, but also this was like my passion project, so we decided that we would spin up a policy team at Data for Democracy whereby we could do a little bit of lobbying and advocacy work as independent techies, basically.
New Knowledge is a company that builds detection and mitigation technologies specifically for manipulated narratives. So, there is social listening where brands will get alerted to ... They have 500 mentions of Coca-Cola, for example. What New Knowledge does is we ascertain whether or not those mentions are organic or if they're a kind of coordinated campaign to impact the reputation of the brand.
We're shocked. There's a lot of companies popping up, Zignal, there's a whole bunch of people now doing ...
Most recently, I think ... Yeah, there's a lot ...
We'll talk about that because we're going to be talking later today about something else. Then the Center for Humane Technology, which is my favorite name of a group.
I'm just an adviser there. My area of interest is mostly kind of societal implications for a lot of the ...
Rather than individual ones.
Exactly, rather than individuals.
But of course, since societies are comprised of individuals, these two things are related. So, I spend a lot of time talking with Tristan about ways that we see specific design features consistently popping up time and time again across platforms being misused or co-opted in an abusive way, and thinking about what are the better ways that the technologies could perhaps have that ethical design more clearly built in on an individual level.
Right, and what's your background? You're a data scientist?
I have a computer science degree. I worked on Wall Street. I've had a bunch of different ...
Right, but how did you get into this area?
How did I get into that?
Yeah, so in 2013, I had my first kid. I started looking at ... You know, you have to do that preschool thing here, you've got to get them on a list a year early. I didn't want to be in a preschool with a bunch of anti-vaxxers, candidly, and I ... California Department of Public Health ...
There's not that many.
Well, you'd be surprised.
Yeah, I have kids.
Yeah, California Department of Public Health had the preschool data sets and I just downloaded them and started looking at clustering and ...
Interesting areas in which ... Yeah, I mean, some of the schools actually had vaccination rates in like 35 percent.
Yeah. You think that it's normal '-- and overall population level it is, cluster-wise it's not.
Good for you.
This is actually a great analogy to disinformation and how it's targeted, right? It's really the vulnerable populations that we look at. I got involved ...
So, you downloaded the data?
Yeah, I downloaded the data, made a couple drafts.
So, there were vaccinated children near your children. Okay.
Yeah, it was an important thing for me.
I just felt like being in communities of people who had completely different values ...
Who believe in science? Yes.
Right. Exactly, I wanted to be around people who believe in science. But what came out of that was actually the measles outbreak. The Disneyland measles outbreak happened in January. I had published my analysis of California's immunization problems in November, and I called my congressman. Literally, did that thing. Called David Chiu, called Mark Leno at the time, and said, ''Why aren't we introducing legislation to do something about this?'' They said, ''Senator Pan up in Sacramento is.''
And so I started doing analysis of the social media conversation around the bill because it was polling at 85 percent positive, and when the legislators were taking polls in their district and they were saying, ''Why are we seeing 99 percent, or why is it overwhelmingly negative? Why am I being harassed? Why am I getting death threats? Why am I having memes made of myself when I express support for this bill?'' So, the way I got into all of this was really starting to dig into what was happening with that conversation.
So, the abuse of social media for ...
The abuse of social media. Now, at the time it wasn't really bots, it was more of the manufactured consensus concealing identity. At the time it was more like weaponizing the kind of tools that people use for marketing, or turning everything into a marketing campaign. Ironically, at the time, Devin Nunes, who is now one of the top conspiracy pushers in Congress, one might argue.
One doesn't have to argue. Go ahead and say it, right?
Please don't. He's a crackpot.
He is. He's a crackpot, but ironically he is one of the first people who had come out and said, ''I'm really seeing this marked shift where my constituency used to be 10 percent telling me that the government was listening to their radio and communicating ... You know the aliens are communicating with them, and now it's like 90 percent. Like, what has happened to my district?'' So, this is something that politicians ...
Devin Nunes has happened to his district, but that's another issue. Thank you, Devin, for ... It takes a crackpot to know one. So, you got interested in this issue, and it was largely manufactured outrage or manufactured ...
Yep, manufactured outrage, manufactured consent.
Which affects people.
It does. Then right around the same time I met Jonathon Morgan, who's the founder of New Knowledge, and we met because we were asked to do some analysis of extremist content on social media, specifically ISIS. Jonathon was one of the authors of the ISIS Twitter census, where they really went in there ... And the same kind of work that Gilad Lotan and I had done on mapping at the anti-vax conversation, and the way that they were using affinity marketing and co-opting hashtags and trying to grow their numbers, trying to look a lot bigger than they were. Jonathon was doing very similar types of analysis on ISIS, and on violent extremism.
There were a lot of parallels in how the technology was being used. The conspiracy theorists were relying on these new algorithmic amplifications, megaphones, the ease of connecting with each other to spread their message, and ISIS was building a virtual caliphate, which, both things at the time, were largely being run completely undisturbed because nobody could convince the social platforms that this was worth our time.
That's because they're using them exactly the way they were built.
Do you know what I mean? So let's start talking about disinformation first. Talk about what that means, because a lot of this is disinformation, the idea of disinformation.
Yeah, it maybe helps to give the taxonomy. So misinformation is something that's just accidentally wrong, it's the kind of stuff that your grandma will send you in an email.
I get those, yeah.
It's what Snopes used to do, before it became a political tool. Disinformation is misinformation with an agenda, it's quite deliberately done, it has a really clear agenda that it's looking to push. It's looking to either spread a message to increase societal divisions ... It's used as a tool. It's a tactic of information warfare. It's not accidental at all, it's quite deliberate.
And so, how does it exist on the internet today? You were talking initially about that they were using existing tools. They started the original hashtags and things like that, and now in a more automated sense.
So, disinformation, it's probably helpful to talk about it in the context of Russia, because that's probably the example that most people have readily available. The Russian troll, the internet research agency activities did exactly what we saw with ISIS and with conspiracy theorists: The goal is to blanket the internet so they are everywhere, the message is everywhere. And that's because repetition really matters. Because you're trying to manufacture consensus, you want people to believe that there's huge percentages of the population who have a particular opinion, because you're trying to sway hearts and minds.
Sure, like, ''If I see all this ...''
Right, exactly, ''I see it everywhere, it must be real, people must be thinking this, it's not just me.'' And so it normalizes it. So, what we saw, there was fake accounts on Twitter. And fake means two things, sometimes fake can mean automated, meaning it's a bot, and sometimes fake means an account that's just not what it's represented as, and oftentimes, the best ones are run by real people, because they develop a persona. So it's a persona ...
And then it's just bots reinforcing it.
And the bots reinforce it with the ''Likes.'' And that's because we're accustomed to looking at signals '-- like number of stars, number of retweets '-- so the algorithm uses those as signal, and people use those heuristics. So that's how it operates on Twitter.
Similarly on Facebook. Groups, the creation of Groups, the creation of Pages. So you run an ad, you find people who are sympathetic to your point of view, oftentimes that ad is tied to either a Group that they want you to join, a Page that they want you to like, or it's actually gonna push you out to a third-party website. At which point the Facebook tracking pixel will recognize that you've engaged and spent time with the content on that site, so that they can then re-target you in the future. If they push you into a Group then you've effectively got an entire community around you of people who you think are just like you, who you think have the same interests as you, but some percentage of them are not what they seem to be. Some percentage of them are in there to convey a particular point of view.
On Google, it's really YouTube that's probably the biggest culprit.
Right, 100 percent.
Yeah, on YouTube it's, again, the pushing of content, but content in a different medium. They had Vine accounts, they Tumblr accounts, they had a promotion for Pok(C)mon Go.
It's hard on Snapchat.
It's almost impossible. You can't do ...
I think it's less because it's much more fleeting.
It's curated. It's also curated.
The stuff they allow, the discovery is all their choices, versus ...
So nothing gets on there.
And then the fleeting stuff just doesn't, it doesn't stick.
It doesn't stick, which is interesting. It's designed like that, which is what I want to talk about.
So when you talk about this, you talk about the social networks, that they aren't paying attention to it, can you talk about that? Because I think, I feel that '-- and I think you're 100 percent right '-- but their stance, you know, Mark being in Congress is like, ''Oh, we take a broader responsibility now.'' Can you talk about that responsibility, and the lack of responsibility, really?
Yeah, I really think there's been an evolution since November 2016. I will say that had Trump not won the election it's not totally clear to me that we'd be having the conversation in quite the same way.
No, yeah, 100 percent.
Which is sad, because it's actually really not a partisan issue. The Russia activity, very much was, they quite clearly had a preferred candidate, and that is absolutely undeniable, but the Russians were one actor operating in this space. Like I've said, there's a number of others, both on the right and on the left, that are just domestic ideologues using social platforms to push an agenda.
So I think the responsibility piece, it's tied up in a lot of internet culture. Back in the '90s there's the ads model, the idea that information should be free, and so supporting it with ads is a great way to ensure that everyone has access. There were a lot of really noble principles underlying the structural flaws that exist today.
When we were dealing with the ISIS stuff, there was the EFF, arguing for, if you take down ISIS content, it's a slippery slope. You might accidentally capture the content of someone who is mocking ISIS, or debunking ISIS.
You saw that the other day, I think it was, Sarah Frier at Bloomberg had a great piece that ''shrubbery,'' because Bush.
Right, because of Bush, yes. The beans, I think, was another one. So there's these interesting ... And for a long time we've had the sense that because of American commitment to free speech, a false positive is a terrible thing, actually terrible thing, as opposed to a false positive as something that can be remedied, and we can put frameworks in place to deal with those, to have transparency, to have things like ...
So it begins with a laudable thing.
It does. I think a lot of it begins with a laudable thing, with a real commitment to free speech. What that became, though, that plus the combination of some legislative things, like Communications Decency Act, section 230, that act was created so that they were indemnified from the content on their platform. We didn't want them sued out of existence because some people posted some terrible things. But it gave them the right to moderate as they saw fit. What they chose to use it for, the way the norm was set, so that you had the regulation, but then you have the norms. The way the norms was set, it was really much more around like, ''Well, we're just not gonna moderate anything, because we're indemnified.'' So you had this sort of free-for-all.
Twitter was perhaps the best possible ... You really saw this, it was very very much in your face, in their complete unwillingness, their absolute ineptitude when it came to policing harassment. Harassment is one of the things that we do see people use to either amplify a point of view or suppress a point of view, right? Because you can effectively use your speech, particularly automated speech, to harass other people off the platform, thereby silencing their speech. But that was not an argument that was very well received.
For a very long time. I think we're finally starting to come around.
Why is that? Why do you think that is? Besides they were, ''First Amendment!'' I think it's because they're all men, and they don't get harassed that much. Honestly, I think it's the lack of diversity. I had several people at Twitter, ''Oh, I never got bothered.'' I'm like, ''And?''
Yeah, it is remarkable. I personally had pictures of my baby used to harass me, to try to intimidate me into being quiet, pushing them into harassment hashtags, and the response I got from the company was, ''Well that looks like a conversation.'' I was like, ''No, it doesn't.''
No, it doesn't.
''I don't know what universe that looks like a conversation in.''
''I don't know how you talk to people, but that's not how I talk to them.''
It was definitely a series of interesting interactions over there in particular. Now, I think now that they have seen that this is actually a geopolitical issue, that the stakes are extremely high here, there is no way to avoid dealing with it, because there are regulators on both sides of the pond who are saying, ''We're gonna do something about this if you don't.''
So I think the credible threat of regulation plus the terrible press cycles, plus the internal employee revolts, perhaps not from management, but a lot of the internal employees saying, ''What did we do here?'' I think you saw that even on Twitter on election night, a lot of employees quite publicly wondering, ''What did we do here? What happened?''
Right. But they continue to do it. So who's most at risk when these things run rampant, from your perspective?
Sometimes ... the demographics are really interesting. The platforms know that better than anybody else. Actually, it's interesting because we don't see it quite as much on the outside. It's very hard. We can gauge production of content, we can see prevalence of narrative, we can see consumption of content through things like CrowdTangle and other analytics platforms that increase transparency about who's reading, about what is being read. We don't have as much visibility into who's reading it.
So, we have to use these sort of little signals, like if we're looking at the sizes of particular groups on Facebook growing over time, that's something that we can see. There have been a number of articles done by investigative journalists that really dig into the boomer phenomenon, actually, the idea that boomers are running a lot of the Twitter groups and are really running a lot of the groups that are led by kind of like a charismatic one or two people who then say, ''Everybody amplify this message,'' and then they all go and tweet from their accounts.
I think that the question of demographically who's most impacted, I can say with regard to the Russia scenario, African-Americans were really targeted. There was a ton of just proliferation of content, Black Lives Matter-related content, but just a little bit off, just a little bit more extreme than you would normally see, just pushing the Overton window ever so slightly, trying to normalize it for that audience.
Explain the Overton window to people.
The Overton window is the collection of societally acceptable political opinions. I hope that that's an accurate definition. Thinking back on my Poli Sci 101. So, shifting the Overton window or expanding the Overton window means increasing or changing the types of positions, political positions, that are considered mainstream or that are considered respectable, some things that we're willing to discuss.
What we saw was most of the Russian content was related to societally divisive issues. There were some LGBT pages. They were pro LGBT, the content was pro LGBT, but they were being targeted at anti LGBT people to kind of gin up outrage. There were the Black Lives Matter pages that used a lot of very extreme rhetoric and talking about police.
To scare people.
Yeah. So, there is of course that tension and that problem that is very real and deserves attention, but what they were doing was just blanketing the channels.
Making the group seem unreasonable.
Exactly. Making the group seem unreasonable, and also taking things that were sort of sensationalized in ways that were ...
And make them worse.
Right. Because you don't want to have to work hard for every impression. This is, again, marketing 101. You want to create content that people are gonna organically share and is the kind of thing that if you create something, give it a sensationalist click-baity type headline, and push it into a group that has ... Their groups had about 100, 200,000 people in them. These were not small Facebook groups. But then they would be picked up by groups that were even larger, like The Other 99%, which I think has a couple million followers, was sharing content from this fake page. Blacktivist, that had a couple hundred thousand followers.
So, this information, hundreds of millions people saw it.
Just keeps going. So, the 2018 midterms are coming up. Just how screwed are we?
I think we really need better information sharing. I've been kind of beating that drum for a while. I think that what that means ... Somebody said, ''Does that mean that our privacy's gonna go out the window?'' No, that's not what it means at all. It's information sharing in the sense of like tactical information sharing, threat detection. We're seeing this anomalous behavior. We're seeing this bizarre content. We're seeing this blog that magically appeared yesterday.
Right. Which they can do with child pornography. They do it with a lot of things. They share a lot of online resources.
So, this is where we're advocating for ... Each of the platforms has great visibility into their own platform, and then third-party researchers have information and signal from across the platforms. So we're looking at dissemination patterns and trends, and we're saying, ''Hey, we think this isn't authentic. You have a second-order thing here. You've got devise IDs, you've got IP addresses. You have a number of other signals that we don't have access to.''
So, this combination of researchers, platforms and then government, I would say, is kind of the third piece of this where they actually do have information. People knew that Russia was using social networks long before the 2016 election. That information wasn't necessarily communicated in a very effective way.
I agree. Today they were just having meetings where they feel the government's not even slightly ...
Right. I think the kind of blame there goes both ways in that when the government did make the outreach under the Obama administration to deal with the ISIS stuff, there was a lot of stonewalling. So, I think it does have to be ... There's the fallout from the Snowden revelations. I think that we really need to see the restoration, that we're on the same side here.
For 2018, this is absolutely critical. There is so much distrust in the country on everything as it is. Half the country feels that the presidential election was illegitimate. I don't think that we're in a place societally where feeling that our midterms are also illegitimate is ... We don't want to be there. And there's already a lot of campaigns under way to just erode trust in voting, in candidates, in platforms, and people, and your neighbors. It's gonna be a challenge.
You're a professor? What is your ...
No, I have a bachelor's degree.
Bachelor's degree. All right.
In computer science and political science.
So, one of the things that's happening is a lot of academics have been studying all kinds of things. I just was reading one ...
Yes, the real academics.
The real academics. But reading one about how the phone listening in on you thing is not true, but it's gone all over the internet. There's a piece of disinformation.
Right. I think I saw that, I saw that come out today. I haven't had a chance to read it.
Yeah, but it's not true. Of course it's not true. It's craziness.
But talk about this idea of societal ... because people are so addicted to technology individually and everyone recognizes that and realizes it creates bad feelings, it creates unhappiness, it creates all kinds of things. You were talking about a bigger societal issue. Can you talk about that concept?
I think there's a few things at work here. There's erosion of trust. The mere fact that we know that these campaigns are under way, if you go on Twitter now, you'll see people accusing other people of being bots. It doesn't matter if they're actually bots or not. ''Bot'' is just a great way to dismiss someone who doesn't agree with you. ''Fake news,'' same thing. The president himself kind of took that term, co-opted it and made it meaningless. It means ''things I don't like on the internet'' now.
The way that we relate to each other, the way that we relate to truth ... You need to have a shared basis of fact in order to create good policy. You can disagree about what to do with those facts, you can disagree about how to weigh those facts, how to weight them when you think about cost/benefit analysis as you're designing a policy, but we used to all at least agree that people were acting in good faith and that researchers were legitimate and that there was such a thing as expertise. I think that that's kind of gone out the window now.
We have people like Tom Nichols writing books called ''The Death of Expertise.'' I think that there's a profound division there. I think that one of the things that's challenging for people '-- and I wrote about this today '-- is you search for something. We've acclimated to the idea that the internet is a great place to find information. I don't think that's true today the way that it perhaps once was because of the proliferation and the ease with which you can spread manipulated narratives.
Now we have situations where last week there was a very sad story that happened on Facebook where a baby died. The parents chose not to get the Vitamin K shot, which is something that facilitates clotting, and the baby died. And the parents, as the story came to light, were members of many Facebook anti-vaccine groups. When you search for Vitamin K, if you're a new parent, you're a pregnant person, you search for Vitamin K, what you find is this void where scientists and doctors aren't out there writing posts about how critical Vitamin K is. So, what comes to the top is the information put out by ideologues and extremists.
So, we had this situation. We see it with cancer, we see all sorts of cancer quackery popping up. Really basic things that deeply impact people on a personal level.
Where they're looking for real information.
Yes. They're looking for real information. Entirely outside of politics, this is having an impact on us societally in terms of things like health.
I was arguing with people at YouTube because I was looking for Anti-Defamation League, I've told this story a number of times, and the top 20 videos were anti-Semitic. And when you look on Google, when you look up Anti-Defamation League, you find Anti-Defamation League. You find good material on anti-Semitism. When you go on YouTube, you get the opposite. And I was like, ''You have this company that owns you named Google, why can't your search yield the videos I'm looking for, not the videos I'm not looking for?'' Which proved the point.
Right. And that's because their algorithm is designed not to optimize for facts or for ranking the world's information, which is or used to be Google's mission statement. It's more of it's an entertainment platform. It's just that as people choose to consume information in video form now '-- and the platforms, by the way, are absolutely involved in pushing that. Facebook, Twitter, all of them created or acquired their own video platforms. Instagram just announced that it's competing with YouTube now, right?
Yes, it is.
So, this push towards consuming information in the form of video means that even though YouTube didn't necessarily want to be an information platform, it is there.
We were talking about responsibility a little bit earlier. I believe that when you build the algorithms that recommend content to people, you have a responsibility to surface good information. I'm surprised that this is a controversial position.
I agree. You don't feed bad meat to people in the store, you get in trouble. You do, but then you get in big trouble.
Let me ask, this is a question from one of our readers. A. Panzera wanted to ask about two things, I'm gonna summarize them. One was whether using people to sway people's opinions, even in a seemingly harmless way, is a form of warfare, which I think you called it. Another question is how easily someone who's in a position of power can manipulate data on the web. A. Panzera asks, ''How do you bring democracy and justice to the Wild West of social media?'' Would you call it Wild West, or how do you ...
Maybe in the last year it's gotten a little better, I think, as they've made some steps to kind of rein in the mass harassment on Twitter or the clickbait headlines, gaming the algorithm to achieve top billing on Facebook. I think that part of it is also, for a while, one of the social norms on the internet was that you didn't pick fights. Not the ''Don't feed the trolls,'' but even like when your batty aunt sends you the hoax, you just kind of ignore it. I do think there's something to be said at this point for people pushing back within their own communities, because there's a lot of evidence that shows that trust in community, trust in the people that you actually know can have an impact.
So, saying, ''Hey, maybe you want to fact-check that,'' or, ''Hey, I found this article that seems to be false information,'' just kind of presenting it more compassionately than like, ''You're a fucking idiot,'' just doing it a little more graciously within the communities is an option.
Right. So, being nicer. That's really essentially what you're saying.
Civility, yeah. That's sort of broken down. Again, I feel like an old person saying that.
They don't know if it's coming back, I have to tell you. When does it come back? Why? In what format?
I don't have an answer to that question. We really don't know. I really feel that the toxic, the amplification of the most toxic content, the most toxic impulses is, to some extent it is a problem of algorithms, what is surfaced, what is volunteered to us, but then on the other it is, yeah, it's just ...
People are people. I was just looking at the Alan Dershowitz thing yesterday. Did you see that? He said people were mean to him on Martha's Vineyard.
Oh, I remember seeing that. People were mean to him on Martha's Vineyard, his community was shunning him. Well, I mean, that's sort of, that's always been done.
Yeah, exactly. It was interesting how quickly people came with responses and it was immediately all about the immigrant kids. It's like, ''Oh, you're getting shunned. What about the babies?'' It was really like, ''Whoa,'' just making fun of this idiot for saying something so stupid has turned ugly real fast and it was being used, it was fascinating to watch. And it was all real, it was all true. He did say it and he looked like an idiot. But then it was used in ways I agree with, but it was a really interesting issue.
So, when you think about the societal sickness, then '-- I hate to say that '-- what happens in a society that's addicted like this, besides becoming an episode of ''Black Mirror''?
I think ... that is such a hard question. One of the things that the platforms are looking at now is this notion of healthy discourse. What are the metrics for healthy discourse? You could argue kind of better late than never. I think Twitter was the one who started this. They've got five teams, all academics. I know some of the foundations are also working on thinking about how do we quantify this, what are the types of interactions that we see and can we predict things like dog piles that are gonna be used to silence someone, can we predict things like who to surface.
Twitter is particularly a strong example because at least on Facebook you're kind of opting in. You're opting in to the friends that you have. You're opting in to the Groups that you join. Most of the Groups have moderators, whereas Twitter is very much more this kind of roiling crowd that's always angry about something.
So, the thoughts around how do we surface constructive conversation, I think right now they've gone very much to kind of like almost a keyword moderation. I'll click into the little gray box '-- you know, they're calling it grayboxing now, grayboxing, shadowbanning '-- I'll click into the gray box and sometimes there's just somebody who used profanity in their reply to me which is not directed at me, but it had the profanity. So there's, I think, a challenge: how do you not overly sanitize conversation? How do you not inadvertently digitally tone-police people, so to speak, while at the same time, recognizing that the gray box is actually a very valuable tool for, perhaps, the restoration of civility in conversation?
Sure, yeah. It'll be difficult. Is AI helpful in solving these issues? Because they always keep shooting that out. Talk about that issue. How do you get that?
I would say yes. I would say it does have value. I think that I might kind of divert from some other folks at CHT on this particular issue, and the reason that I do think it's valuable is because, at scale, I don't think you can do this with human moderation.
Then you'd need 10 million.
They were talking about hiring 10,000, I think. Susan [Wojcicki] would just get one of them and I said, ''You need 10 million.''
I don't see any way that you do this with individual people. Also, I feel like we've seen evidence now that people who do that stuff with that job have serious psychological damage. They're looking at all sorts of terrible things on the internet, not just mean words. I mean, there's some really nasty shit that shows up on these platforms.
Using AI as a way to flag ... I think that there's an interesting opportunity here where we come up with a framework where first pass is done by the AI. I mean, it already is right now. Let's be honest, right?
Right. If there's a pass at all.
If there's a pass at all, but first pass is done by the AI and then you kind of flag things for further review. That's where you have your people who are presumably trained. One of the things that we have seen '-- we talked about this and me in particular, because I am in the U.S., from a very U.S.-centric point of view '-- but then you see these horror stories about literal lynch mobs killing people in India because of hoaxes that appear on WhatsApp.
Which is encrypted, so it's hard for them to control.
Yes. And so there is this ...
What do they do? What does Facebook do?
Nothing. Well, they tried sending people out to talk about how they were seeing hoaxes and, very sadly, one of the people whose job it was to debunk the hoaxes was one of the people who got killed because a hoax started about him. So this is a terrible situation. I do think that community involvement, people who speak the language, people who understand the nuance of the slang, otherwise you do wind up with these situations where campaign ads are pulled down because they say ''bush,'' even though they're talking about Bush's Beans, right? This is a huge problem.
I think that we've delayed way too long on beginning to solve it, and right now, again, it's going to be a combination of people who have really been studying this and talking about this for a very, very long period of time, working with the platforms to try to come up with frameworks that work. AI? Not the answer.
Just the beginning of the answer.
AI is the beginning of the answer. AI is the first flag and then we have to wait and see. I don't think AI has the capability right now to do what we need to do in a short term.
So talking from the center, you mentioned the Center, you were a founding adviser. Again, I want to get back to this idea of what you do, what are the things you do. So can you give some insight? Like, do you think you're spending your time with technology well? Talk about yourself, what addictions that you could kick? You have a kid. I do that all the time.
I do. I've got two kids. I've got a 4-and-a-half-a-year old.
I talk about Fortnite almost continually.
Yeah, my 4-and-a-half-a-year old, he loves YouTube. And the reason he loves YouTube is because when he was very small, he really had a thing for garbage trucks. Loved garbage trucks.
Yeah, they all do. Boys.
I don't know why. I don't understand what it is about garbage trucks, but there was this video that I found on YouTube, literally an hour long. Somebody filmed garbage trucks across the country.
I know that video.
You've seen this video, right? They've set it to metal and he loved that video and that took us into Blippi and then, with the Blippi channel ... And this is great content. This is really useful content, both from the standpoint of, like, as a parent, I want to take a shower, you know?
Unfortunately '-- right, leaving with the garbage trucks '-- the problem is now, at 4 and a half, he understands that he can click this button and get away from the garbage trucks and get away from Blippi and then this is how I find myself dealing with, like, unboxing videos which target children, which is just ... This is not the biggest problem the world faces but, in my house, there's a problem because then it turns into, ''I want that toy, I want to watch someone play with Play-Doh.'' I'm like, ''You could play with your own Play-Doh.'' ''No, I don't want to. I want to watch somebody else play with Play-Doh,'' and I'm like, this is the craziest thing. This is like Twitch for 4 year olds with Play-Doh. Just play with your own Play-Doh.
So there is that element where now we're like, ''Okay, you only get two 22-minute episodes. I prefer you to be on Netflix which is sanitized, so I don't find you looking at God knows what on YouTube.'' I believe that there's a balance, there's a responsible way to use it, but the problem is the Autoplay on YouTube in particular is really destructive in our house because it mean that unless I was in the room at the minute that the video was rolling, I would have to have a fight about how he just wanted to watch to the end.
I myself, outside of my little boy, I do that thing where you pick up your phone and you pick it up for a purpose and you're like, ''I'm going to send an email to this person,'' and you see the red button, the red dot on some app and you're like, ''Oh, there's that red dot.'' And then you're four apps in before you realize that you just never did the thing that you actually picked up the phone to do. So I do notice the intentionality being a little bit amiss. I wouldn't say I'm addicted. I do believe I'm very much more easily distracted and that makes me uncomfortable.
Right, right. Well, it's there to distract you, like there's just one more thing that's ...
Yeah, well, everything's competing for attention. This is the challenge, right?
This one really does get ... I can turn off the television. It's hard to turn off the phone. You know what I mean? I can actively turn off the television.
Well, it's the pushes also. I get the push notifications even though I try to turn most of them off. You know, you glance down ...
You know what I got that I actually thought was very helpful from a technological standpoint? I got a Ringly bracelet. My husband got it for me when I had our second baby and it has his number and the daycare number and the preschool number, and so if one of those three people is calling me or texting me, it will buzz. So it just gives me a little, tiny nudge on the wrist. There's no screen, there's nothing for me to push or turn off. It just lets me know, ''Somebody important just called. You should probably pay attention to that.''
Pay attention. Or texted you.
Yeah, because that's the one area where I'm like ... When you have two little kids, you need to be reachable.
Right, right. Yeah, you need to be reachable for everything, just so you know. It goes on and on and on and on.
So let's finish up talking about things people can do in all these areas, on disinformation, on the use of the phones, on civility. Give me one tip for each of those, because you're in all these areas.
Yeah, disinformation is, really, they're preying on your confirmation bias, right? When the content is being pushed to you, it's something that you want to see, so take the extra second to do the fact-check, even if it confirms your worst impulses about someone you absolutely hate before you hit the retweet button, before you hit the reshare button. Just take the extra second until we get to a point where we don't all have to do that all the time, every minute of every day.
So somebody comes in '-- Hillary Clinton, the emails, if you're that side '-- it's not true that he said this ...
But, yeah, I think this is the benefit of the doubt factor. I think we've kind of lost that entirely at this point. Everything is the worst thing that anyone possibly could've done until five minutes later when the next worst thing comes up again. It leaves people in a constant state of stress and emotional upheaval. It's not healthy.
On the addiction front ... Gosh, I would say turn off notifications. Get yourself something that doesn't have a screen so that you get the alerts that you need. That's really been instrumental for us. And there was a third thing that you asked? There's disinformation ...
Civility. I think, again, it goes back to ... What I try to do, I follow a lot of Republicans across the spectrum, including some Trump Republicans, and I try to do the same thing on the left. I feel like it just gives me some perspective.
I try to read content to not agree with their point of view, but understand their point of view. I do think that there's something to be said for that. I was part of a fellowship program that was sponsored by both the Bush and Clinton foundations and I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with what I would now call moderate Republicans, reasonable Republicans, and I felt like there were a lot of things that we disagreed on but, as people, there was a fundamental underlying respect for kind of shared humanity in the conversation.
Sure, sure. I think the problem is the nutjobs on both sides.
I get just as much from the left as the right.
The other day, I was literally like, ''You've got to be kidding me,'' and I expect better from the left, obviously. But then I'm like, ''No, you're using the same tactics,'' which is interesting.
What do you think the impact of Trump is on this, because he's such an active social media ... Wait, if he got kicked off of Twitter, he'd have nowhere to go, wouldn't he? He's never going to get kicked off Twitter, but that's the difference ...
Well, Fox will continue to push the debates.
Yeah, I know, but it's not the same thing.
But it's not the same thing. Well, the question is one of the things that's an interesting question ...
Doesn't work on Facebook. I guess YouTube.
The way that the intelligence communities think about leaving hostile content up online, letting the ISIS accounts stay, for example, was are you getting more information than you otherwise would? What's the cost-benefit of having that information? So if the people on the left are not going to watch Fox News or watch the areas where the President is speaking, is it perhaps better, almost, that they have this accessibility where they can just go click into his account, read it and be done?
You know, more and more people get their information, get their news from social media rather than actually going out and picking up a newspaper, so this is ...
So is he the symptom or the cause? Because he's the most perfect example ...
I think he's definitely exacerbating the symptoms, unfortunately. I think that the particularly belligerent, constantly hostile, constantly outrageous tone that he prefers is deeply harmful.
Does it wear off? Get tiresome after a while, it's like a TV show?
I think that the fatigue is actually a problem, right? You don't want to get so fatigued that you check out, because that's how disinformation works. That's how the ''I can't tell what's true anymore, I don't trust the people around me anymore, the effort to find the truth is so arduous that I'm not going to bother,'' and then in more authoritarian countries, ''The government is what it is and ...''
And people zone out.
And people zone out.
From their outrage, anyway. Well, there's lots of outrage and we'll see where it goes. Let's hope we get better news next time we talk about this. We'll see what happens. Maybe everyone throws their phone in the river or something.
Do you think?
No. It'll be attached to your head and then you'll be literally, it's like an episode of ''Black Mirror,'' but a real bad one.
This has been another great episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask. Thanks again to Ren(C)e DiResta for joining me on the show and I hope your kids are going to school with vaccinations.
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VIDEO - Gender pay gap may persist for 200 years, report finds
The Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit group formed after the 2012 Connecticut shooting, is training students to spot warning signs in other would'be shooters and to anonymously report concerns through a mobile app. Courtesy Sandy Hook Promise hide caption
toggle caption Courtesy Sandy Hook Promise The Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit group formed after the 2012 Connecticut shooting, is training students to spot warning signs in other would'be shooters and to anonymously report concerns through a mobile app.
Courtesy Sandy Hook Promise Six years after 26 children and educators were killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut by a troubled 20 year old, a group of parents is stepping up its efforts to make sure it doesn't happen again.
"Sandy Hook Promise," a non-profit anti-gun violence group formed after the attack, is training students around the nation to spot warning signs in other would''be shooters, and to anonymously report concerns through a mobile app. The Say Something Anonymous Reporting System soft launched earlier this year, and is now rolling out in earnest; SHP says the total number of school districts using it will jump from about 150 to more than 600 next month.
The app allows students to type in a description of what they saw or heard, and attach photos, videos or screenshots for example, of a social media post. Tips get triaged at a national call center by professional crisis counselors, who can immediately involve local police and/or school officials. The counselors can also message back and forth with the tipster.
Students say they're more likely to report their concerns on an app, than to go in person to tell a teacher or administrator. Success of actually preventing school shootings is difficult to measure, but school officials say they are already benefiting from the tips coming in.
Federal data show how much is at stake. In more than 80 percent of school shootings someone else knew about the plan, but didn't say anything, a U.S. Secret Service study found. In nearly 60 percent, more than one person knew. And it was almost always kids.
"I literally think about it all the time ... [how] Sandy Hook could have been prevented and my little Daniel could be at home with me where he should be," says Sandy Hook Promise co-founder Mark Barden. The 2012 shooting that killed his 7-year-old son, was one of those cases in which red flags were abundant. The shooter's preoccupation with violence can be traced back to grade school, and steadily worsened through his teenage years, when he became a loner obsessed with mass murders, according to a report by the Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate.
"I mean that kind of story keeps playing itself out, and we just keep knocking head against wall, [saying] 'the warning signs are there, the warning signs are there,'" Barden sighs. "We know it's preventable."
SHP uses private funding and government grants to provide the app to schools for free, along with training and education.
At The Morgan School in Clinton, Conn. earlier this month, SHP trainer Debra D'Angelo gave the high-schoolers a kind of crash course in recognizing red flags, that might not be explicit.
Threats can be opaque, D'Angelo explained, like: "They will regret they ever met me," or "You'd be better off without me."
"It doesn't actually say the words 'I'm going to fill in the blank,'" she explains. "But these are threats, because the words intend harm."
She implores students to be vigilant and report whatever doesn't seem right, whether a comment overheard in the school bathroom, or a post seen online. The idea is to change cultural norms around reporting, much like it was changed around drunk driving.
"You are our eyes and ears," D'Angelo tells the students. "We need you."
Being able to report anonymously '' and privately-- with a smart phone app '' is a game changer for students like Becca Arribas Cockley.
"I think a lot of people don't want to be like the snitch of the school," she says.
Fellow senior Daniel Radka agrees. A few years ago, he heard a kid threatening to shoot up the school, but was too afraid to tell a teacher.
"I didn't want it to get back to the kid that I had reported him," Radka says. "And I didn't want other people to know because it was kind of a joke, and I didn't know if that was cause enough to tell anyone."
Eventually, Radka says he told his mom, who told the school. (As it turned out, it was not a real threat.) But even telling a parent is hard for some kids, Radka says. Having an app is way more in kids' comfort zone.
"It's kind of like the difference between making a phone call and text," he says. "You don't have to deal with that person face to face. You don't have to talk to that person. You say what you want to say, and then you're off the hook."
Students are also encouraged to use the app to report someone who may be at risk of hurting themselves, something Arribas Cockley says she's seen in several classmates, including one who was posting "Life sucks right now" and "I feel like no one cares."
"She did it multiple times, and I was like I was like 'Ooooh. This doesn't seem right,'" Arribas Cockley says.
Kirk Carpenter, superintendent of the Aztec Municipal School District in New Mexico says tips about suicide concerns are among the most common, and have already proven invaluable. In one recent case, crisis counselors were able to connect with a student who was planning to take her life, and engage her in a series of messages through the app. Carpenter was also able to see the dialog in real time.
"I remember exactly where I was watching this take place, and it still gives me chills because a life was saved that night," he says.
School officials helped identify the student, and local police were immediately notified.
"Authorities were able to knock on the door and take that student from home before any act that could have been fatal," Carpenter says. "And they were able to get that student into the hands of people who could help her."
SHP says tips have also come in about shooting threats, and police have intervened before any violence took place.
"It's hard to measure prevention, and prove a negative," says Barden, but the app is "absolutely" preventing violence.
The "Say Something" app is one of more than a dozen now on the market, some costing several hundred dollars a month.
In Michigan, the OK2SAY app is state-funded. Officials there say they too have prevented shootings, for example, after someone reported that a student posted a photo of a pistol on social media with the caption "don't go to school," that student was arrested and suspended.
Michigan is one of about eight states that now have or are about to launch statewide reporting systems.
"I would say that the interest in school-based tip lines is really taking off," says Michael Planty, senior center director at RTI International, who is researching best practices for tip line systems through a grant through the National Institute of Justice. "There's good reason to believe that they're promising," he says.
But so far, the successes have been more about stopping suicides and bullying, than foiling school shootings. Professor Sheldon Greenberg, from the Johns Hopkins School of Education Division of Public Safety Leadership, says that's unlikely to change.
"We shouldn't raise the expectation too high." he says, "In regards to active shooters, the dots aren't always going to be put together as easily as people think they could be."
Even when a solid lead is reported, the response can easily fall short '-- as happened earlier this year in Parkland, Fla. Authorities did get tips about the shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but failed to adequately follow up.
"There's nothing more heartbreaking," says Susan Payne, who founded Safe2Tell, an anonymous tip line developed after the Columbine shooting in Colorado, that's now also a mobile app.
Payne worries some new systems being peddled to schools may not follow best practices. For example, she believes tips should be fielded by law enforcement, who have the tools to investigate more quickly than crisis counselors.
"We assume everybody is [... ] going to have this right, they're going to know how to do this," she says, "but this is an emerging field." She says it's easy for schools to get caught up in the frenzy to get a system in place as soon as possible. Sometimes schools will be eager to "check the box" to say they have a tip line in place, Payne says, "but not all systems meet the standard of care."
Some also question whether anonymous reporting apps are too prone to abuse. Systems that offer confidentiality instead, can deter prank reports, and intentionally false accusations that are just meant to get another kid in trouble. They would also make it easier to hold offenders accountable.
But others worry that eliminating anonymity will have a chilling effect on reporting, including Clinton Public Schools Superintendent Maryann O'Donnell.
"I'm not worried about being swamped with [frivolous or malicious] calls," O'Donnell says. She'd rather have too much information, than too little. "We prefer to know and be able to work through it with kids."
Superintendent Carpenter agrees that the rewards of anonymous systems far outweigh the risks. He says responders are well trained to vet the tips that come in.
"We've had a couple hoaxes," he says. "And if some kids misuse it, we can deal with that. But the bottom line is that we have seen nothing but great benefit out of this."
Ultimately, the benefit cannot be measured only by how many planned shootings may have been foiled, advocates say. No one will ever know, for example, if a case of bullying or depression that was nipped in the bud, might have otherwise escalated into the next national tragedy.
"I just think about all these little towns that we don't know the names of, because a horrible tragedy didn't happen there," says Sandy Hook Promise's Mark Barden. "I get goosebumps just talking about it, because it's the tragedy I will live with for the rest of my life, and it's also the tragedy now that other families won't have to live with."
VIDEO - Black Voters Say Democrats Need To Do More In 2018 Midterms To Win Their Support : NPR
Koya Graham did not vote for president in 2016 and says she has no regrets. Asma Khalid /NPR hide caption
toggle caption Asma Khalid /NPR Koya Graham did not vote for president in 2016 and says she has no regrets.
Asma Khalid /NPR When Koya Graham turned 18, the first thing she did was register to vote.
And, year after year, the Cleveland native faithfully voted for Democrats '-- that is, until the 2016 presidential election.
"I'm not interested anymore," Graham told NPR in the Spring of 2016. "I don't see any immediate, significant changes happening."
And Graham was not alone. It's been estimated that millions of people who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 stayed home in 2016. A recent analysis in The New York Times puts the exact figure at 4.4 million '-- and approximates that an outsized number of those non-voters (36 percent) were black.
Black voter turnout fell seven percentage points in the last election, plummeting from 66.6 percent in 2012 to 59.6 percent in 2016, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Many analysts say a natural drop-off was expected in the post-Barack Obama era. But the 2016 voter turnout for African-Americans was not just lower than the Obama years, it was even slightly lower than the 2004 election between George W. Bush and John Kerry.
One key question this political season is whether African-Americans still feel they have a home in the Democratic Party '-- a party that has relied on their votes for decades.
Graham, now 38, insists she has no regrets for bypassing the election.
She said the Trump presidency has kind of turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
"I think for our people, for my people, this is probably the best thing that could have happened," she said at a coffee shop in Cleveland. "The veil has been lifted."
Graham said the country's underbelly of racism is being exposed. "We've always had our blinders on ... and even though it's unfortunate where we are now, I'm glad that it has happened because America is being seen for the country that it is."
Kelton Latson, another non-voter NPR first met in 2016, agrees.
"Now people can wake up," he said. "Black people have been voting for over 50 years, and nothing has ever changed. Our communities still look the same. We're still at the bottom of the economic poll."
Latson didn't vote in 2016 and said a number of his friends didn't vote either, for similar reasons. The 26-year-old '-- who likes to quote Malcolm X and sports the activist's signature style of horn rimmed glasses '-- said he has no intention of voting in 2018. He no longer sees voting as an effective way to change the system, he said '-- but adds that his apathy toward voting is a personal opinion and perhaps voting works for other people.
"I'm not saying you shouldn't vote," Latson said. "You just need to be more cautious with your vote and stop being willing to just throw a ballot out there off of emotion."
Kelton Latson, 26, didn't vote for president in 2016 and has no intention of voting in the 2018 election. Asma Khalid/NPR hide caption
toggle caption Asma Khalid/NPR Kelton Latson, 26, didn't vote for president in 2016 and has no intention of voting in the 2018 election.
Asma Khalid/NPR Voting '-- but still frustrated
The frustration isn't limited to non-voters. Even some young African-Americans who cast a ballot in 2016 and are working within traditional party politics say Democrats seem to take black votes for granted. And they're tired of that relationship.
"They just kind of expect us to jump on board," said Ifeolu Claytor, a 23-year-old working with the Ohio Young Black Democrats. "And that's something that needs to change, clearly, cause black millennials will just stay at home. It's not 1980 where people are still kind of fresh, like, 'oh, our parents just got the right to vote.'"
Ifeolu Claytor, 23, (right) and Gabrielle Jackson, 28, (far left) check out a social media voting video on Esosa Osa's phone. All three are members of the Northeast Ohio Young Black Democrats. Asma Khalid/NPR hide caption
toggle caption Asma Khalid/NPR Ifeolu Claytor, 23, (right) and Gabrielle Jackson, 28, (far left) check out a social media voting video on Esosa Osa's phone. All three are members of the Northeast Ohio Young Black Democrats.
Asma Khalid/NPR Claytor also said the party seems too focused on courting middle class white voters.
"Focusing on WASPy [white anglo-saxon protestant], middle class issues is not going to win in 2018 or 2020," he said.
Claytor added that a lot of black people feel left behind by the Democratic Party: They want to hear more about criminal justice reform and wealth disparity from politicians.Gabrielle Jackson, the president of the Northeast Ohio Young Black Democrats, said she understands Claytor's frustration, but that the situation is improving.
"We've had almost every gubernatorial candidate ... come talk to us about our issues," she said. "[In 2016] Democrats didn't do that. They refused to talk to us in a lot of cases... These people are recognizing that in order to win, you cannot ignore us, and if you do, you will lose."
Convincing the base
Part of voter turnout is about speaking to the issues that matter most to voters. But another key component is mobilization.
In both the Virginia gubernatorial race and the Alabama senate race in 2017, black voters were specifically courted and mobilized; and post-election analysis suggests black voters, particularly black women, were key to the Democrats' victories in both states.
"In Alabama, we knocked on about 500,000 doors," said Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of BlackPAC, a superPAC that worked with partners on the ground to mobilize voters. "We talked to people on their doors. Both in Alabama and Virginia '-- ran canvass programs where people from the community were out talking to their neighbors."
The lesson from the Alabama mobilization strategy was that you can never have too much voter contact '-- organizers contacted voters early and often, they weren't merely dropping off pamphlets three weeks before election day. And a bulk of the outreach was done on a grassroots level.
According to Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University, Democrats need to critically reconsider whether their traditional mobilization efforts are sufficient.
Part of the problem, she said, is that because black voters are considered a base voter for the Democratic party '-- meaning there's an assumption that an overwhelming majority of African-Americans will vote Democratic '-- they are often overlooked.
"There is a tendency for the Democratic Party to focus on other groups where the margin is actually going to be more narrow," Gillespie said.
And as a result, Gillespie sees, even loyal Democrats feel there's a tendency to "paper over" concerns that matter most to black voters.
"It's not just a 2016 problem. It's not just a 2018 problem," she said. "It is the type of thing that sparked the candidacy of Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988... it was the kind of thing that precipitated Maxine Waters threatening to walk out of the DNC in 2000... it was the kind of thing that spurred Al Sharpton's candidacy in 2004."
There's an assumption that black voters don't need to be persuaded to vote for Democrats. But Shropshire said they do.
"Black voters, in particular, want to understand how Democrats are going to address a whole range of racial justice issues, and so running away from those issues is a non-starter," she said.
Beyond traditional Democratic policies around the economy and healthcare, some of the voters NPR talked to say they want to hear candidates talking about criminal justice reform or racial tension.
"The anti-Trump sentiment is not enough, we have to tell people what to vote for, who to vote for," said Quentin James, founder of Collective PAC, an organization working to get black candidates into elected office.
In 2016, despite the dip in turnout, African-Americans still overwhelmingly voted Democrat, so there's no realistic assumption they will shift to the Republican party en masse this November.
Shropshire said the fear is that they'll just stay home.
VIDEO - Trump Biographer: President's Entire Campaign Was Likely a 'Criminal Conspiracy'
Tim O'Brien'--who penned a 2005 biography about Donald Trump'--said Sunday that the emerging raft of legal documents reveal that Donald Trump's presidential campaign was likely a ''criminal conspiracy" that commited "criminal acts."
During MSNBC's Joy AM host Joy Reid asked O'Brien to comment on the growing scandals and investigations surrounding the president, including the special counsel Robert Mueller's probe, hush money payments and a defamation lawsuit by Summer Zervos.
''What we've learnt from this raft of legal documents that have landed in our lap over the last couple of weeks is that there's the very real possibility that the Trump campaign was a criminal conspiracy from its beginnings and that bled into the Trump transition, where various criminal acts might have been committed,'' O'Brien said. ''Now you have the Trump White House dealing with the consequences of all these.''
The biographer and columnist then goes on to dissect Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani's distraction-based defense strategy.
''When you have Rudy Giuliani as the carnival barker, distracting people, focusing only on campaign finance issues, focusing inaccurately on campaign finance issues. It distracts from the larger halo of illegality hanging over this entire Trump team,'' O'Brien continued.
''Trump and his advisers have put out three defenses in the wake of Cohen's sentencing memo. That Michael Cohen cannot be trusted'--he is a dishonest narrator'--that he was giving the president advice and it wasn't the other way around, and none of it had anything to do with the election.''
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at White House in Washington on December 15, 2018. On Sunday, Tim O'Brien, who wrote a biography on Trump, pointed out that the president's entire campaign was like a "criminal conspiracy." Getty/Yuri Gripas-Pool
''You can pick apart on the fact pattern in all three of those things. Specifically, it had nothing to do with the election and that it was Cohen taking advice from Trump, rather than Trump being the architect of most of these issues,'' the biographer added.
Earlier this week, Cohen, Trump's former attorney, was sentenced to 36 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to multiple federal crimes, including lying to Congress, campaign finance violations and tax fraud. Although Cohen said he knew paying hush money to women who claimed to have affairs with the then-presidential candidate in the lead up to the 2016 election ''was wrong'', he asserted he did so under instruction from Trump.
''Today is one of the most meaningful days of my life. The irony is that today I get my freedom back,'' Cohen said in court. ''Blind loyalty to this man led me to choose a path of darkness over light.''
VIDEO - Senate Intelligence Reports On Russia Detail Broad Disinformation Plan : NPR
A Facebook posting, released by the House intelligence committee, for a group called "Secured Borders." It and others like it were created by Russian specialists posing as Americans. Jon Elswick/AP hide caption
toggle caption Jon Elswick/AP A Facebook posting, released by the House intelligence committee, for a group called "Secured Borders." It and others like it were created by Russian specialists posing as Americans.
Jon Elswick/AP Two new reports produced for Senate investigators say that Russian influence efforts infected every major social media platform, extensively targeted African-Americans and amounted to what researchers called a "propaganda war against American citizens."
The reports, which were drawn up by private cybersecurity firms on behalf of the Senate intelligence committee, offer the most comprehensive look yet at Russia's online influence operations.
They are based on information provided by the panel and the social media companies themselves.
The reports confirm the U.S. spy agencies' overarching conclusions that Russia's efforts ahead of the 2016 election aimed to sow discord, hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump.
They also echo a warning that U.S. officials have been giving for months: that Moscow's nefarious online activity did not end on Election Day but rather continue to target Americans to this day.
The reports offer new details on the activities of the Internet Research Agency, the Kremlin-backed troll farm based in St. Petersburg, Russia, that drove Moscow's online operations.
That entity and 13 of its employees have been charged as part of Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Strategy to divide
The data in the reports "demonstrates how aggressively Russia sought to divide Americans by race, religion and ideology, and how the IRA actively worked to erode trust in our democratic institutions," said the committee's Republican chairman, Richard Burr.
The panel's top Democrat, Mark Warner, said the reports indicate that "these attacks against our country were much more comprehensive, calculating and widespread than previously revealed."
One of the reports, compiled by researchers at the cybersecurity firm New Knowledge, says the IRA's most prolific efforts on Facebook and Instagram targeted African-Americans.
"The degree of integration into authentic black community media was not replicated in the otherwise right-leaning or otherwise left-leaning content," the report concludes.
The goal, it says, appears to have been "developing black audiences and recruiting black Americans as assets."
The New Knowledge report also challenges statements from Facebook and Twitter regarding the IRA's efforts to suppress voters.
It says the troll farm had a three-pronged approach on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to suppress voters: malicious misdirection, such as "text-to-vote scams"; candidate support redirection, such as voting for a third party; and turnout depression, such as, "stay at home on Election Day, your vote doesn't matter."
Instagram was a bigger platform than known
The Internet Research Agency, one of a web of companies allegedly controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has reported ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, in St. Petersburg, Russia. Dmitri Lovetsky/AP hide caption
toggle caption Dmitri Lovetsky/AP The Internet Research Agency, one of a web of companies allegedly controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has reported ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Dmitri Lovetsky/AP The new research also points to the previously underappreciated prominence of the IRA's use of Instagram. It notes that IRA posts on the photo-sharing platform received 187 million engagements, which dwarfed the 76.5 million engagements that IRA posts received on Facebook.
And the study notes that as media coverage in the U.S. zeroed in on the IRA's operations on Facebook and Twitter, the group shifted much of its activities to Instagram.
"Instagram engagement outperformed Facebook, which may indicate its strength as a tool in image-centric memetic (meme) warfare," the report says. "Our assessment is that Instagram is likely to be a key battleground on an ongoing basis."
The second report was drawn up by researchers with the Computational Propaganda Project at Oxford University and the analytical firm Graphika.
It says the IRA's activities targeting the U.S. began on Twitter in 2013 but quickly expanded to a broader effort that included activities on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, among others.
The IRA's efforts, the report says, did not stop after it was called out for its interference in the 2016 election. And it notes that spikes in the IRA's advertising and organic activity match up with important dates in U.S. politics, crises and international events.
Russian influence operatives not only sought to turn up the volume on political controversies online. They also, in some cases, helped organize rallies in the real world at which Americans turned up to protest in person.
VIDEO - OPUS 107 Russians are Coming NOT! - YouTube
On Friday, HBO revealed the trailer for its upcoming film Brexit, a Toby Haynes-directed drama about the 2016 Vote Leave campaign that ''goes behind the scenes, revealing the personalities, strategies and feuds of the Leave and Remain campaigns,'' according to HBO.
Set to premiere on HBO and the United Kingdom's Channel 4 on January 19, Brexit aims to be a dramatic retelling of the highly advanced political campaign that encouraged Brits to vote to leave the European Union '-- a campaign whose tactics, motivations, and repercussions are yet to be fully understood.
The film, an international co-production with BBC Studios, Channel 4, and House Productions, stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the man who spearheaded that campaign: Dominic Cummings.
Cummings, whom the trailer introduces by saying ''Meet the man behind Brexit,'' was the campaign director for Vote Leave from its creation in October 2015, and is credited with coming up with the slogan ''Take back control.'' (Observer columnist Nick Cohen recently called him ''the most important contemporary figure 99 percent of the population have never heard of.'')
In the trailer, Cummings appears to stoke racial resentment, asking, ''Is it immigration? You can be honest. Is it race? Which countries don't you like?'' '-- while writing ''Turkey'' on a door covered in notes and explaining the Leave movement as about a desire to ''return to a time when we knew our place.''
The trailer references the advanced, questionable data tactics the campaign employed, with Cumberbatch's Cummings discussing ''hacking the electoral system'' and building a social media strategy that ''will re-stack the odds in our favor.''
The film's timing is controversial, with the UK deeply divided over how to leave the EU, and whether the decision to do so was undertaken fairly.
A number of Brits have taken to Twitter to express their anger at the film. Carole Cadwalladr, a journalist who has conducted extensive investigations into Vote Leave, compared it to the UK making a film about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election as it unfolds.
How dare you make money from a criminal activity that its investigations are still ongoing!!!!
'-- Minoo Osborne (@MinooOsborne) December 15, 2018What investigation?As Brexit negotiations crawl to a standstill, details of the tactics the Leave campaign used are still being uncovered. There is no single ''investigation'' into the campaign as there is with Donald Trump, although Cadwalladr, among others, has suggested that Britain needs its own Mueller-style inquiry.
Fair Vote UK is preparing to launch a legal challenge over the government's refusal to hold an inquiry into the ''irregular and unlawful conduct'' that may have influenced the result, including Russian disinformation and breaches of electoral spending laws.
The Leave campaign has been investigated, however, by the UK Electoral Commission over its use of funds and data. In July, an Electoral Commission probe found that Vote Leave had broken electoral law, exceeding its £7 million spending limit by funneling money through another pro-Brexit group, BeLeave. (The official leave and remain campaigns were limited in what they were allowed to spend.)
With the referendum resulting in a narrow 51.9 percent victory for Leave, some argue that this overspending could have been decisive. (One conservative MP has made multiple allegations over the Remain campaign's spending, but these have all been rejected by the Electoral Commission).
Brits in the Remain camp have also drawn attention to the £2.7 million the Leave campaign spent on data services from Aggregate IQ, a Canadian digital marketing firm linked to Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Chris Wylie has claimed that the firm helped ''cheat'' the Brexit vote, along with the US presidential election, though Facebook last month claimed there was no evidence that data was used in UK campaigns.
Cummings, the man at the heart of HBO's film, has refused to appear before a House of Commons committee inquiry into fake news, which has also summoned the former head of Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nix.
VIDEO - Trump working on extraditing Erdogan foe Gulen, Turkish foreign minister claims
President Donald Trump is working on extraditing exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, a longtime target of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the country's foreign minister claimed on Sunday.
"In Argentina, Trump told Erdogan they were working on extraditing Gulen and other people," Mevlut Cavusoglu said Sunday at a conference in Doha, referring to the G20 summit where the leaders met two weeks ago.
NBC News reported last month that the White House was looking for ways to remove Gulen from the U.S. in order to placate Turkey over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, according to two senior U.S. officials and two other people briefed on the requests.
Trump administration officials asked federal law enforcement agencies to examine legal ways of removing the exiled cleric in an attempt to persuade Erdogan to ease pressure on the Saudi government, the four sources said.
Gulen, 77, has become a contentious figure in Turkey after Erdogan accused him of orchestrating an attempted military coup in 2016 from his Pennsylvania compound. Gulen denies having any role in the putsch.
Special counsel Robert Mueller disclosed more details earlier this month of former national security adviser Michael Flynn's efforts to cover up the extent of his ties to the government of Turkey while he was a top official on Trump's campaign and transition.
The documents specifically state that a key component of Flynn's work for Turkey involved the government's efforts to remove Gulen from the U.S. Flynn began working for Turkey about a month after the failed July 2016 coup.
NBC News previously reported that Mueller's team was looking into whether Flynn met with senior Turkish officials in December 2016 about a possible deal under which Flynn would be paid to orchestrate the return of Gulen to Turkey once in the White House.
Flynn's false statements about his connections to Turkey were included in his plea agreement with Mueller announced in December 2017. He faces up to six months in prison when he is sentenced on Dec. 18.
U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson '-- who was released in October after spending nearly two years in detention in Turkish detention '-- was initially charged with, among other things, helping supporters of Gulen.
Brunson's detention prompted a prolonged diplomatic spat between the two countries.
VIDEO - FBI, CIA Told WaPo They Doubted Key Allegation In Steele Dossier | Zero Hedge
FBI and CIA sources told a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter that they didn't believe a key claim contained in the "Steele Dossier," the document the Obama FBI relied on to obtain a surveillance warrant on a member of the Trump campaign.
The Post's Greg Miller told an audience at an October event that the FBI and CIA did not believe that former longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen visited Prague during the 2016 election to pay off Russia-linked hackers who stole emails from key Democrats, reports the Daily Caller's Chuck Ross.
"We've talked to sources at the FBI and the CIA and elsewhere '-- they don't believe that ever happened," said Miller during the October event which aired Saturday on C-SPAN.
We literally spent weeks and months trying to run down... there's an assertion in there that Michael Cohen went to Prague to settle payments that were needed at the end of the campaign. We sent reporters to every hotel in Prague, to all over the place trying to - just to try to figure out if he was ever there, and came away empty. -Greg Miller
Ross notes that WaPo somehow failed to report this information, nor did Miller include this tidbit of narrative-killing information in his recent book, "The Apprentice: Trump, Russia, and the Subversion of American Democracy."
Miller also admits that the dossier's broad claims are more closely aligned with reality, but that the document breaks down once you focus on individual claims.
Steele, using Kremlin sources, claimed in his dossier that Cohen and three associates went to Prague in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin officials for the purpose of discussing "deniable cash payments" made in secret so as to cover up "Moscow's secret liaison with the TRUMP team."
Cohen's alleged Prague visit captured attention largely because the former Trump fixer has vehemently denied it, and also because it would seem to be one of the easier claims in Steele's 35-page report to validate or invalidate.
Debate over the salacious document was reignited when McClatchy reported April 15 that special counsel Robert Mueller had evidence Cohen visited Prague. No other news outlets have verified the reporting, and Cohen denied it at the time.
Cohen last denied the dossier's allegations in late June, a period of time when he was gearing up to cooperate with prosecutors against President Donald Trump. Cohen served as a cooperating witness for prosecutors in both New York and the special counsel's office. -Daily Caller
Cohen's attorney and longtime Clinton pal Lanny Davis vehemently denied on August 22, one day after Cohen pleaded guilty in his New York case - that Cohen had never been to Prague, telling Bloomberg "Thirteen references to Mr. Cohen are false in the dossier, but he has never been to Prague in his life."
VIDEO - Tasting the World's First Test-Tube Steak - YouTube