Facebook's WhatsApp Fights Fake News by Curbing Message Forwarding - WSJ
Thu, 24 Jan 2019 15:56
Facebook Inc.'s WhatsApp messaging service is limiting users' ability to forward content, seeking to curtail ways the popular platform allows the spread of misinformation and sometimes has led to violence.
The move, which follows months of criticism over the company's response to such incidents, is one of the bigger changes Facebook has made to one of its core services in response to political pressure.
The company said Monday that WhatsApp's more than one billion global users can now only forward material to five individual users or groups at once, down from 20.
The change likely won't be significant for most casual users of WhatsApp but it could be a major one for the hundreds of millions of people in the developing world who use it as a primary source for sharing news, including about local events and elections. In those places, WhatsApp has drastically accelerated the rate at which news'--and in many cases, rumors'--gets circulated among towns and villages.
''This will continue [to] help keep WhatsApp focused on private messaging with close contacts,'' a WhatsApp spokeswoman in India said. WhatsApp in July implemented the restriction on its users in India after a spate of killings linked to messages spread on the service and is now rolling it out globally.
WhatsApp is one of the world's largest messaging services, though it is less popular in the U.S. than in many countries overseas. The encrypted nature of its messages means the platform can't monitor their content and head off swirling rumors or misinformation. Because it is a private messaging service, too, each time a user forwards a message it gets further from its original source, potentially losing context about who wrote it.
For Facebook, the move follows a number of other efforts to stop the spread of misinformation on its social-media platforms, which are increasingly being used by state actors and political campaigns trying to sway public opinion.
The global rollout of the forwarding limit was disclosed in Indonesia, which faces a general election in April.
In part because WhatsApp is so popular in the developing world, it is increasingly important to Facebook's business, which is experiencing slower growth in the U.S. and Europe. The service's two co-founders, who had long opposed efforts to include ads, left the company over the past 18 months. Facebook in August detailed its plans to make money on WhatsApp by selling ads and charging businesses to interact with customers on the service.
WhatsApp's largest market is India, where it says it has more than 200 million users. In a country where many are connecting to the web for the first time via inexpensive smartphones and cheap mobile data, it offers a simple, free means for consumers to send text messages, videos and photos to friends and family.
Many Indians have never sent an email or shopped online, but they have become avid WhatsApp users, bantering with friends and sending heartfelt messages to relatives at all hours of the day.
Indian political parties have also taken to the service, with legions of workers using it to blast out messages to thousands of supporters about coming elections.
But WhatsApp has also been used as a means to spread hoaxes and false news. Last year more than 20 people were killed in India after rumors spread through the service, prompting the company to introduce the restriction.
Separately, New Delhi is pressuring WhatsApp and some other services to let officials track and read encrypted messages in the name of national security, part of the country's wider efforts to constrain global tech giants' power.
WhatsApp has ''pushed back on government attempts to ban or weaken end-to-end encryption and will continue to do so,'' according to a person familiar with the company's thinking.
The platform said in a release it had been testing the forwarding limit for six months and would continue to listen to feedback, opening the door to more changes or a rollback should users revolt. It said it would continue to look for ''new ways of addressing viral content.'' The company saw the number of forwarded messages decrease by about 25% globally during the test period, said a person familiar with the testing.
WhatsApp previously took a series of smaller steps in response to government warnings that it needed to do more to control the spread of misinformation. For instance, it published newspaper ads with tips on how users can decide if a message or chat is real or not. It also started labeling forwarded messages on its platform to help users determine if a friend or relative wrote them.
WhatsApp has said it was ''horrified'' by the Indian violence.
The five-forward limit won't eliminate the ability of users to reach large numbers of people at once, since it allows five messages to WhatsApp groups. Those groups are capped at 256 people so theoretically one person could reach 1,280 users with a message before maxing out.
'--Yoree Koh contributed to this article.
Write to James Hookway at email@example.com and Newley Purnell at newley.purnell @wsj.com
Now Flight Attendants Have to Hustle for Tips - WSJ
Thu, 24 Jan 2019 15:51
They have to herd grumpy passengers, serve drinks, soothe nerves, endure the pain of unpredictable air travel and save lives in an emergency. And now they have to solicit tips and commissions to supplement their pay?
The primary role of flight attendants is passenger safety. But it's becoming more of a sales job. Airlines now incentivize flight attendants to hawk credit cards and peddle food and beverages for tips from passengers.
Some passengers see the changes, particularly tipping, as airline attempts to shift some crew costs from companies to passengers'--one more fee, this time for cabin service.
On Jan. 1 Frontier Airlines began allowing individual flight attendants to collect tips from passengers, something most other airlines discourage. Just like at a coffee shop or taxi cab, buttons for tip amounts appear when Frontier passengers swipe their credit cards. Since Frontier charges for sodas and snacks, the tips can add up. The airline started tipping three years ago and split gratuities among crew members. Now each flight attendant gets to keep his or her own tips.
American, United, Delta, Spirit, Frontier and others have flight attendants making in-cabin pitches for credit cards tied to each airline's frequent-flier program. The card issuer pays commissions at different rates, generally around $50 or more for an approved application.
Airlines won't disclose numbers on the credit-card pitches, but they sell a lot. American says it makes the sales pitch voluntary for its flight attendants, but a majority participate because commissions can add up.
''It's successful because there are people on every flight who want to take advantage of the offer,'' says Jill Surdek, American's vice president of flight service.
Reaction among flight attendants is mixed. While many appreciate the extra income, some believe it downgrades their work. Some worry tipping opens the workforce to more sexual harassment'--an already common problem.
''We don't need people who are charged with keeping peace in the cabin, keeping everyone safe, put in a position where they feel like their compensation is dependent on keeping people happy for the wrong reasons,'' says Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, the largest flight attendants' union, and a United flight attendant.
Several airlines promoting the selling do discourage flight attendants from accepting tips. Instead, they give frequent travelers coupons to hand out to workers in recognition of good service. The coupons earn rewards or enter employees in prize drawings.
At Frontier, flight attendant Jennifer Sala, president of the AFA's Frontier unit, says about half of the workforce likes the tips and has come to rely on the extra income. The other half is offended.
''It's humiliating to us,'' says Ms. Sala, who opposes the tipping. ''I wasn't trained to sell drinks. I was trained to save your life.''
The union contends Frontier changed its tipping policy to pacify flight attendants who have gone without a raise during more than three years of contract negotiations. The union worries Frontier means for the tips to constitute increased income. Frontier denies the tips are connected to the contract.
The tipping screen comes up after a credit-card swipe on tablets used for in-flight sales. Customers see buttons for a 10%, 15% and 20% gratuity, plus an option to enter a customized amount and a button saying you prefer not to tip. Making a selection on that screen takes you to a signature page. Flight attendants who don't want to ask for tips simply tap the prefer-not-to-tip button before handing the tablet to a passenger for signature, Frontier says.
Tipping income is fairly consistent, Ms. Sala says, though flights to vacation destinations like Las Vegas and Cancºn usually carry bigger tippers. Red-eye flights are the worst for tipping. Credit-card sales do much better on flights to and from new cities where passengers haven't had interest in Frontier before.
The tipping program has resulted in ''millions of dollars'' in tips since its inception three years ago, according to Frontier spokesman Jonathan Freed, but the company won't get more specific.
A small number of travelers have for years rewarded flight attendants with small gifts, such as chocolates and gift cards. Mark Rubinstein carries $5 Starbucks gift cards and hands them out to crew members who provide exceptional service or are working on holidays.
''It's just a nominal thing, but the response you get is way out of proportion to what you're giving them,'' says Mr. Rubinstein, a semiretired real estate investor from Detroit.
One flight attendant wrote him a thank-you note on the spot, he says. He typically does it at the end of a flight. ''I'm not looking for special treatment,'' he says.
Frequent fliers complain the credit-card pitches, typically made near the end of flights, interrupt sleep and suspend in-flight entertainment.
''It's very irritating,'' says Anant Khanolkar, a sales executive based in the Boston area who travels frequently. He suggested in a post on the travel message board FlyerTalk that frequent fliers take applications, write ''Please stop doing this'' on the form and turn it in.
Travelers also complain that flight attendants sometimes stray off-script and make inaccurate claims about the deals they are offering. Some say the offer is good only on that flight or that day to pressure sign-ups. Others mistakenly assert a 50,000-mile sign-up bonus will score two tickets anywhere the airline flies. Frequent fliers have complained to American that flight attendants still say the card will get holders Group 1 boarding when it's actually Group 5 under the current boarding regime.
Jason Jones, a mortgage company executive in Austin, Texas, heard one flight attendant on American suggest that each authorized user on an account would get a 50,000-mile bonus. Only one bonus is paid, to the primary cardholder.
''I work in a consumer-lending business where false or misleading statements would be subject to regulatory action,'' he says.
Ms. Surdek at American says she hasn't heard many complaints, but when the company does, it reminds the flight attendant involved to stick to the approved script. She also notes that the applications spell out the rewards in writing.
Many airlines, including American, United and Delta, have dumped onboard duty-free sales. Airlines were unable to compete with the expanded and enticing duty-free malls in airports and the cart of merchandise carried onboard took up space and added weight to aircraft, increasing fuel burn.
Write to Scott McCartney at firstname.lastname@example.org
Corrections & Amplifications Mark Rubinstein is a semiretired real estate investor from Detroit. An earlier version of this article spelled his name incorrectly. (Jan. 23, 2019)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Policy Guy: 'Every Billionaire is a Policy Failure'
Thu, 24 Jan 2019 15:46
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Policy Guy: 'Every Billionaire is a Policy Failure'
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)'s newly-hired policy advisor Dan Riffle has some strong opinions about Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates and other billionaires in the United States, whom he believes should not exist.
Riffle, or ''Every Billionaire Is A Policy Failure'' according to his new Twitter handle, was apparently responsible for Ocasio-Cortez's 70 percent marginal income tax rate on the highest-earning Americans. In response to a Politico tweet reporting the dramatically income high tax proposal, Riffle took personal credit, saying, ''Sorry everyone, my bad. I'll talk her up to 90.''
He later deleted his tweet, despite gaining encouragement from his boss.
Having ð--¥ Twitter game is not a hiring requirement for my policy team, but they bring it anyway '¬¸ https://t.co/qBb1clwhSq
'-- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 5, 2019
A former comms director for former Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and former marijuana lobbyist, Riffle sees the curbing of excessive wealth as not a rational effort, but a ''moral'' one. People like Gates may still be good people in spite of their wealth, but their existence is morally wrong, he says.
''Bill Gates' money hoarding makes him greedy, but maybe he goes 6/6 on the other deadly sins and, on balance, is a good person,'' he tweeted last night. ''Still, he's a policy failure. The acquisition of that much wealth has bad consequences. A moral society needs guardrails against it.''
In another tweet, Riffle said his goal for 2019 is for someone to ask Democratic primary candidates whether it is ''morally appropriate for anyone to be a billionaire.''
''Ta-Nahesi just asked @aoc that question on stage at #MLKNow so we're getting somewhere. She said it isn't btw,'' he tweeted.
Have a tip we should know? email@example.com
A Radiation Oncologist Says Everything You Need To Hear About WiFi And Cancer Risk
Thu, 24 Jan 2019 15:36
Can WiFi cause cancer? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
(Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for Time Warner Cable/AP Images)
Answer by Gary Larson, Medical Director at Procure Proton Therapy Center, PI for Proton Collab Grp-OKC, on Quora:
WiFi operates in the 2 to 5 GHz range -- part of the microwave portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. This is in the same part of the spectrum where cell phones operate so I may refer to WiFi or cellphone electromagnetic radiation interchangeably. These are radio waves -- no different from those used to broadcast television programs, except that they are higher in frequency. They aren't nearly as high a frequency as visible light, and no one worries about getting cancer from visible light (ultraviolet light, on the other hand, causes skin cancer, but this is the minimum energy necessary to cause ionizations that can cause breaks in strands of DNA, which is the mechanism by which cancer cells can be created). There is no credible evidence that non-ionizing radiation has any adverse health effects at all. There is no radiobiologic mechanism that could explain such an association -- and absolutely no scientifically valid evidence that this has ever happened.
I have treated patients with cancer for over thirty years as a board-certified radiation oncologist and I am familiar with every carcinogenic agent known to man. I'll tell you with absolute certainty that radio waves cannot harm you (unless perhaps you were in the path of a multi-megawatt microwave beam, in which case they might cook you. But as far as I know, there is no likelihood that this danger even exists).
There has never been (and will never be) a randomized trial assessing the cause and effect relationship between radio frequency emissions and neoplastic disease. In order to have a randomized study, half of the randomly selected subjects would need to avoid cellphone use and that's not going to happen.
Humans have been exposed to man-made radio frequency radiation for over 100 years and we have always been exposed to microwave radiation from the cosmos.
For example, the latency period for radiation induced malignancies is, on the average, say 20 years, but epidemiologic studies of large groups of people (that only require a few thousand patients to reach statistical significance) exposed to ionizing radiation start showing an increase above baseline by seven years. So conservatively, there should be at least a few excess cases of glioma caused by cellular (or WiFi) electromagnetic radiation by now.
See this reference, which looks at all the reported cases of gliomas caused by ionizing radiation (where we have a plausible explanation for cause and effect). Millions of people have received brain irradiation and only 73 cases of radiation induced gliomas have been reported: A Report on Radiation-Induced Gliomas.
We do have evidence that cellphones (or WiFi) do NOT cause an increase in brain tumors. Look at the time period over which cellphone use became common -- say, over the last twenty years. During that time, the incidence of brain tumors has remained absolutely flat. With over four billion people using cellphones (or WiFi) today, if there was any influence on the development of brain tumors, we would be seeing that by now.
The data from the National Cancer Institute shows no increase in the incidence of primary brain tumors over the period of time that cell phones have been in use.
Say someone found a potential association between carrying coins in your pocket and the
risk of a particular type of tumor. It would set off a frenzy of activity among a group of people who were convinced that this association was real. They would lobby for a law requiring that warning signs be placed on change machines. The effect would snowball until some people would demand that the government stop minting coins.
So let's review:
There is no biologic mechanism to explain why non-ionizing radiation (like the cell phone's emission of radio waves) could induce any type of tumor. We do have a mechanism to explain the association between ionizing radiation and tumor induction, but out of millions of people who have received radiation therapy to their brain, only 73 radiation-induced gliomas have been reported in the world's literature. For radiation-induced neoplasms in general, epidemiologic studies can show an increase in the likelihood of tumors with only a few thousand people over a time period less than ten years. At least something on the order of millions (if not billions) of people have used cell phones for over two decades now and there is no evidence that the incidence of brain tumors has increased over that time period. Now let's get down to why this sort of irrational belief takes hold.
We have essentially no control over whether we live or die -- except that we should avoid dangerous behaviors like smoking, becoming obese, not wearing seat belts, texting while driving, etc. Otherwise, over a trillion cells carry on countless biochemical processes that we have no control over. One out of four people will get cancer. Beyond avoiding foolish behavior, we can't influence that risk.
Since we have this subconscious, ever-present fear of death, we employ magical thinking to give us a false sense of power over it. When we create artificial threats to our survival in our imagination, and then avoid practicing behaviors that make us vulnerable to those threats, we feel we have some power over whether we live or die. These are also known as superstitions.
Primitive cultures made sacrifices to imaginary gods so they wouldn't destroy their village. Children learn to avoid stepping on cracks. The germaphobe may engage in compulsive hand-washing. And some people avoid putting their cell phone right next to their skin.
This question originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:'
Cancer Research: What are the best academic institutions for cancer research in the world? WiFi: What are best practices for setting up home WiFi systems so that they are secure? Health: How strongly do genetics influence health?
Turkey's Erdogan offers support for Venezuela's Maduro - Al Arabiya English
Thu, 24 Jan 2019 15:32
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and offered his support after a Venezuelan opposition leader declared himself interim president, a spokesman for the Turkish president said on Thursday.
''Our president called and extended Turkey's support to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and said 'My brother Maduro! Stand tall, we stand by you!','' Ibrahim Kalin said on Twitter.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president on Wednesday, winning the backing of Washington and many Latin American nations and prompting socialist Maduro, who has led the oil-rich nation since 2013, to break relations with the United States.
SHOW MORELast Update: Thursday, 24 January 2019 KSA 16:47 - GMT 13:47
6 Chicago Public Schools workers fired, 33 removed as hundreds of sex misconduct complaints roll in
Thu, 24 Jan 2019 15:32
Thirty-three workers have been pulled from Chicago Public Schools in the last three months as the number of sexual misconduct complaints against staff and students and filed to the district's new Office of Student Protections since the fall approaches 1,000.
Those 33 staff members are out pending investigations, while four substitute teachers have been blocked from the district, one employee retired after being confronted with allegations and six were fired as a result of investigations, CPS Inspector General Nicholas Schuler told the Board of Education at its monthly meeting on Wednesday.
Schuler's office is investigating 136 complaints from minors against school workers dating back to Oct. 1, with at least five new cases popping up since the start of this year.
Schuler said the complaints ranged from alleged sexual assault to inappropriate texting to ''generally creepy or concerning behavior'' that's more difficult to categorize.
''People are reporting it more regularly,'' Schuler said. ''That's not to say everything is reported.''
The employees removed pending investigations include 12 teachers, eight security guards, five vendor employees, four bus drivers or aides, a dean, lunchroom monitor, custodial worker and a special education classroom assistant.
Police have taken over seven investigations '-- including four involving sex acts '-- and aggravated criminal sexual abuse charges have been filed in two cases. Details on those cases weren't immediately available.
CPS' Office of Student Protections '-- established last summer in the wake of a Chicago Tribune series documenting widespread district mishandling of abuse allegations '-- is probing hundreds of additional cases concerning alleged student-on-student abuse.
The district had received 932 complaints between Sept. 4 and the end of 2018, according to Doug Henning, the new office's interim director. That's up from the 624 complaints that had been filed by late November.
The district said in November that it had dismissed 128 employees after redoing background checks on all workers and volunteers.
CPS CEO Janice Jackson said ''we anticipated there would be an increase in reports of abuse.
''Victims feel more comfortable coming forward because there's more confidence that something will actually be done,'' Jackson said. ''I want them to know they have an ally in me and . . . we encourage them to continue to come forward. It is the most important priority for us.''
Education Board President Frank Clark noted the 55 teachers probed by Schuler's office account for about one-third of 1 percent of the district's roughly 19,000 teachers.
More than 80 percent of the cases reported to the Office of Student Protections '-- 763 cases '-- were student-on-student cases, with 84 cases involving CPS-affiliated adults. Students also reported 85 cases involving adults not involved with the district.
The ''bulk'' of the cases were alleged to have happened off CPS property, Henning said.
Schuler's office has also enlisted outside law firms to help investigate the district's handling of more than 1,000 allegations dating back to 2000, including 18 ''significant'' cases that are being probed by a firm founded by former FBI Director Louis Freeh.
Just 10 cases being handled by Schuler's office came from charter schools, or 7 percent of his caseload.
''My gut feeling is they seem underrepresented on a per-student basis,'' Schuler told board members.
Also on Wednesday, board members renewed a slew of contracts for charter school networks, including a five-year pact with the Noble Network of Charter Schools, whose founder Michael Milkie stepped down amid investigations accusing him of ''a pattern of inappropriate behavior,'' namely dancing with a former student.
Charters had to sign letters agreeing to ''additional terms and conditions,'' including requiring them to notify CPS ''when they have issues involving sex abuse or key personnel so the district can exercise appropriate oversight of those types of claims and make sure they're being investigated,'' CPS general counsel Joe Moriarty told board members.
CPS have officials have declined to describe the other ''terms and conditions'' signed on by charters until they're delivered in February.
Zimbabwe violent protests rise as president Mnangagwa cuts Davos '-- Quartz Africa
Thu, 24 Jan 2019 15:20
Zimbabwe is sliding into a violent meltdown and it's expected to worsen, unless there are some serious interventions.
Days of mass protests have been characterized by violence, looting and heavy-handedness by the police and army. It has led to the deaths and injury of many people, largely in Harare and Bulawayo's high-density areas. According to the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, at least 12 people have been killed and thousands injured.
In addition to placing many urban areas under military siege, the government has also shut down social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook. These are viewed as the avenue through which the opposition and other civil society bodies have been communicating messages of ''anarchy''. The internet has been shut down twice on separate occasions.
President Mnangagwa and the ruling Zanu-PF need to urgently take steps towards forming a government of national unity.
The deadly violence was triggered by president Emmerson Mnangagwa's announcement of steep fuel price hikes on Saturday Jan.9 . Made in the dead of night, the announcement proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back for a largely peaceful, if not somewhat passive, populace that has borne the brunt of two decades of economic meltdown. Mnangagwa's regime increased the prices of fuel by a staggering 150%, making Zimbabwe's fuel among the most expensive in the world. The sharp fuel hike prompted the country's largest trade union body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, and other civil society bodies such as the Crisis Coalition, to call for a three-day mass stay away from work.
The reaction was hardly surprising. Conditions have become fertile for a massive militant mass revolt. Shortages of a lot of goods have become the order of the day. Long fuel queues, and incessant electricity and water cuts have not helped the situation for poverty-weary Zimbabweans.
Mnangagwa, and those he can rally behind him in the ruling Zanu-PF, need urgently to take steps towards forming a government of national unity, as has been done before in the country. This will require the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC-Alliance) to get its act together by behaving maturely. Another urgent step that's needed is that the country's chaotic currency situation needs immediate resolution.
Currency crunchPrior to the deadly protests, Zimbabweans endured a tumultuous few months economically as the country's cash crunch worsened.
Just before professor Mthuli Ncube was appointed minister of finance in September 2018, he said he wanted to phase out the country's quasi-currency, the bond note, nicknamed ''bollars'' by the market. The rationale behind scrapping the bond note was that it was promoting the black market, as individuals were using this quasi-currency to mop up scarce US dollars.
Ncube also argued that Zimbabwe needed to come up with its own proper currency, which could be recognised as legal tender.
The bond note was introduced in the second half of 2016 in a bid to ease the cash squeeze the country was facing as a consequence of using a multiple currency regime which was anchored by the US dollar. But a lack of investment in Zimbabwe, combined with few exports, meant that the US dollar was not readily available on the market.
The bond note was meant to fill the cash gap on the market. Instead, it spawned a flourishing black market last witnessed during Zimbabwe's dark days of hyperinflation in 2008. Dealers, including top government officials, used the quasi-currency to mop up scarce US dollars on the market.
The Zimbabwean government has consistently argued that the bond note is equivalent to the US dollar. But the market has suggested otherwise. Most retailers have a three-tier pricing system '' US dollars, bond notes or Ecocash, the country's mobile money service that is making transactions possible. The reason for providing these options is the shortage of US dollars and the bond notes. Those that are available are largely in the hands of currency speculators.
The bond note's death knell, which was sounded by Ncube, has sparked panic and led to a devaluation of the quasi-currency. This in turn led to retailers increasing their prices of goods and services for people using bond notes.
The knock-on effect is that doctors, teachers and other civil servants are demanding that they be paid in dollars'--not bond notes.
Shortages of foreign currency has also led to companies like Delta, the country's largest brewer, failing to import adequate raw materials for alcohol and soft drinks.
Zimbabwe's largest cooking oil producer, Olivine, has also closed shop, citing a lack of foreign currency to import raw materials for their products.
What needs to be doneTo stem the tide of the current crisis, before it totally overwhelms Mnangagwa and the ruling Zanu-PF, the president needs to immediately cease the brutal onslaught on civilians. In addition, Mnangagwa and his officials have to get off their high horse and facilitate talks that can lead to a government of national unity with the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC-Alliance).
This has proved to be successful before. A government of national unity was formed in the wake of the violent elections in 2008 that plunged the country into chaos. The 2009-2013 government of national unity helped to stabilise the Zimbabwean economy and brought the country back from the brink.
The MDC-Alliance also has to stop fomenting acts of violence that have become the party's hallmark since its leader Morgan Tsvangirai's death in February 2018.
Lastly, Zimbabwe needs to introduce its own currency so the cancerous black market that's been wreaking havoc on the economy can be eliminated.
Tapiwa Chagonda, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Johannesburg
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
Ta-Nehisi Coates - Wikipedia
Thu, 24 Jan 2019 14:09
Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates ( TAH -nÉ- HAH -see KOHTS ; born September 30, 1975) is an American author, journalist, comic book writer, and educator. Coates gained a wide readership during his time as national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he wrote about cultural, social and political issues, particularly regarding African Americans and white supremacy.
Coates has worked for The Village Voice, Washington City Paper, and Time. He has contributed to The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The Washington Monthly, O, and other publications. In 2008 he published a memoir, The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood. His second book, Between the World and Me, was released in July 2015. It won the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction, and was a nominee for the Phi Beta Kappa 2016 Book Awards. He was the recipient of a "Genius Grant" from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 2015. He is the writer of a Black Panther series for Marvel Comics drawn by Brian Stelfreeze.
Early life [ edit ] Coates was born in Baltimore, Maryland. His father, William Paul "Paul" Coates, was a Vietnam War veteran, former Black Panther, publisher and librarian. His mother, Cheryl Lynn (Waters), was a teacher. Coates' father founded and ran Black Classic Press, a publisher specializing in African-American titles. The Press grew out of a grassroots organization, the George Jackson Prison Movement (GJPM). Initially the GJPM operated a Black book store called the Black Book. Later Black Classic Press was established with a table-top printing press in the basement of the Coates family home.
Coates' father had seven children, five boys and two girls, by four women. Coates' father's first wife had three children, Coates' mother had two boys, and the other two women each had a child. The children were raised together in a close-knit family; most lived with their mothers and at times lived with their father. Coates said he lived with his father the whole time. In Coates' family, he said that the important overarching focus was on rearing children with values based on family, respect for elders and being a contribution to your community. This approach to family was common in the community where he grew up. Coates grew up in the Mondawmin neighborhood of Baltimore during the crack epidemic.
Coates' interest in books was instilled at an early age when his mother, in response to bad behavior, would require him to write essays. His father's work with the Black Classic Press was a huge influence: Coates has said he read many of the books his father published.
Coates attended a number of Baltimore-area schools, including William H. Lemmel Middle School and Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, before graduating from Woodlawn High School.
After high school, Coates attended Howard University. He left after five years to start a career in journalism. He is the only child in his family without a college degree. In mid-2014, Coates attended an intensive program in French at Middlebury College to prepare for a writing fellowship in Paris, France.
Career [ edit ] Journalism [ edit ] Coates' first journalism job was as a reporter at The Washington City Paper; his editor was David Carr.
From 2000 to 2007, Coates worked as a journalist at various publications, including Philadelphia Weekly, The Village Voice and Time. His first article for The Atlantic, "This Is How We Lost to the White Man", about Bill Cosby and conservatism, started a new, more successful and stable phase of his career. The article led to an appointment with a regular column for The Atlantic, a blog that was popular, influential, and had a high level of community engagement.
Coates became a senior editor at The Atlantic, for which he wrote feature articles as well as maintaining his blog. Topics covered by the blog included politics, history, race, culture as well as sports, and music. His writings on race, such as his September 2012 The Atlantic cover piece "Fear of a Black President" and his June 2014 feature "The Case for Reparations", have been especially praised, and have won his blog a place on the Best Blogs of 2011 list by Time magazine and the 2012 Hillman Prize for Opinion & Analysis Journalism from The Sidney Hillman Foundation. Coates' blog has also been praised for its engaging comments section, which Coates curates and moderates heavily so that "the jerks are invited to leave [and] the grown-ups to stay and chime in."
In discussing The Atlantic article on "The Case for Reparations", Coates said he had worked on it for almost two years. He had read Rutgers University professor Beryl Satter's book, Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America, a history of redlining that included a discussion of the grassroots organization, the Contract Buyers League, of which Clyde Ross was one of the leaders. The focus of the article was not so much on reparations for slavery, but was instead a focus on the institutional racism of housing discrimination.
In December 2017, the philosopher and activist Cornel West published an editorial in The Guardian with the title: "Ta-Nehisi Coates is the neoliberal face of the black freedom struggle". The premise of the article was that Coates "fetishizes white supremacy" and represents a "narrow racial tribalism and myopic political neo-liberalism" by wrongly casting former President Barack Obama as a successor to figures as Malcolm X as an African-American hero. West believes that Obama should never be compared to civil rights activists, such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., who in their fight against white supremacy spoke out against systemic biases in predatory capitalism and war; according to West, this is because Obama, while he is of the same racial class, is part of the system that the activists should fight against. The same day, West shared the article on Twitter, attracting tweets in response from many others, including hundreds of supporters of Coates. The next day, West's tweet was retweeted by the alt-right white supremacist, Richard Spencer, who indicated tacit agreement with the criticism of Coates. Shortly afterwards, Coates, who had enjoyed a following of over 1.25 million Twitter users, deactivated his Twitter account.
Coates has worked as a guest columnist for The New York Times, having turned down an offer from them to become a regular columnist. He has also written for The Washington Post, the Washington Monthly and O magazine.
Coates left his position as a national correspondent for The Atlantic in July 2018 after a decade with the magazine. In a memo to the staff, the editor in chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, said: "The last few years for him have been years of significant changes. He's told me that he would like to take some time to reflect on these changes, and to figure out the best path forward, both as a person and as a writer."
Author [ edit ] The Beautiful Struggle [ edit ] In 2008, Coates published The Beautiful Struggle, a memoir about coming of age in West Baltimore and its effect on him. In the book, he discusses the influence of his father, a former Black Panther; the prevailing street crime of the era and its effects on his older brother; his own troubled experience attending Baltimore-area schools; and his eventual graduation and enrollment in Howard University. The lack of interpersonal skills and the complexity of Coates's father figure in the book sheds light on a world of absentee fathers. As Rich Benjamin states in a September 2016 article in The Guardian, "Fatherhood is a vexed topic, particularly so for an author such as Coates" and continues with "The Beautiful Struggle makes an enduring genre cliche '' the father-son relationship '' unexpected and new, as well as offering a vital insight into Coates's coming of age as a man and thinker."
Between the World and Me [ edit ] Coates' second book, Between the World and Me, was published in July 2015. The title is drawn from a Richard Wright poem of the same name about a Black man discovering the site of a lynching and becoming incapacitated with fear, creating a barrier between himself and the world. Coates said that one of the origins of the book was the death of a college friend, Prince Carmen Jones Jr., who was shot by police in a case of mistaken identity. In an ongoing discussion about reparation, continuing the work of his June 2014 Atlantic article on reparations, Coates cited the bill sponsored by Rep. John Conyers called "H.R. 40 '' Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act" that has been introduced every year since 1989. One of the themes of the book was what physically affected African-American lives, e.g. their bodies being enslaved, violence that came from slavery, and various forms of institutional racism. In a review for Politico magazine, conservative pundit Rich Lowry stated that while the book is lyrical and powerfully written, "For all his subtle plumbing of his own thoughts and feelings and his occasional invocations of the importance of the individuality of the person, Coates has to reduce people to categories and actors in a pantomime of racial plunder to support his worldview." In a review for Slate, Jack Hamilton wrote that the book "is a love letter written in a moral emergency, one that Coates exposes with the precision of an autopsy and the force of an exorcism".
Black Panther [ edit ] Coates is the writer of the comic book series about the Black Panther drawn by Brian Stelfreeze and published by Marvel Comics. Issue #1 went on sale April 6, 2016, and sold an estimated 253,259 physical copies, the best-selling comic for the month of April 2016.
He also wrote a spinoff of Black Panther titled Black Panther and the Crew which ran for six issues before it was canceled.
We Were Eight Years in Power [ edit ] Coates' collection of previously published essays on the Obama Era, entitled We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy was announced by Random House, with a release date of October 3, 2017. Coates added essays written specially for the book bridging the gaps between the previously-published essays, as well as an introduction and an epilogue. The book's title is a quote from 19th-century African-American congressman Thomas E. Miller of South Carolina, who asked why white Southerners hated African Americans after all the good they had done during the Reconstruction Era. Coates sees parallels between that earlier period and the Obama presidency.
Teaching [ edit ] Coates was the 2012''14 MLK visiting professor for writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He joined the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism as its journalist-in-residence in late 2014.
In 2017, Coates joined the faculty of New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute as a Distinguished Writer in Residence.
Upcoming projects [ edit ] Coates is currently working on several projects. These include America in the King Years which is a television project with David Simon, Taylor Branch, and James McBride about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, based on one of the volumes of the books America in the King Years written by Taylor Branch, specifically At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965''1968. The project will be produced by Oprah Winfrey and air on HBO. He is working on a novel about an African American from Chicago who moves to Paris.
Coates is also set to adapt Rachel Aviv's 2014 New Yorker article "Wrong Answer" into a full-length feature film of the same title, starring Michael B. Jordan with direction by Ryan Coogler.
Continuing his tenure with Marvel Comics, Coates will continue to write the Black Panther title, as well as start a new Captain America title with artist Leinil Yu.
Personal life [ edit ] Coates' first name, Ta-Nehisi, is derived from an Ancient Egyptian language name for Nubia. Nubia is a region along the Nile river located in present-day northern Sudan and southern Egypt. As a child, Coates enjoyed comic books and Dungeons & Dragons.
Coates lived in Paris for a residency. In 2009, he lived in Harlem with his wife, Kenyatta Matthews, and son, Samori Maceo-Paul Coates. His son is named after Samori Ture, a Mand(C) chief who fought French colonialism, after black Cuban revolutionary Antonio Maceo Grajales, and after Coates' father. Coates met his wife when they were both students at Howard University. He is an atheist and a feminist.
With his family, Coates moved to Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn, New York, in 2001. He purchased a brownstone in Prospect Lefferts Gardens in 2016.
In 2016, he was made a member of Phi Beta Kappa at Oregon State University.
Awards [ edit ] 2012: Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism2013: National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism for "Fear of a Black President"2014: George Polk Award for Commentary for "The Case for Reparations"2015: Harriet Beecher Stowe Center Prize for Writing to Advance Social Justice for "The Case for Reparations"2015: American Library in Paris Visiting Fellowship2015: National Book Award for Nonfiction for Between the World and Me2015: Fellow of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation2015: Kirkus prize for nonfiction for Between the World and Me2018: Dayton Literary Peace Prize in Nonfiction for We Were Eight Years in Power2018: Eisner Award for Best Limited Series, for Black Panther: World of Wakanda (with Roxane Gay and Alitha E. Martinez) Bibliography [ edit ] MonographsAsphalt Sketches. Baltimore, Maryland: Sundiata Publications, 1990. OCLC 171149459 Book of poetry.The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2008. ISBN 978-0-385-52684-5 OCLC 638193286Between the World and Me: Notes on the First 150 Years in America. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2015. ISBN 978-0-812-99354-7 OCLC 912045191We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy. One World, October 3, 2017. ISBN 978-0-399-59056-6ComicsBlack Panther (#1'') (2016'')A Nation Under Our Feet (collects issues #1''12)A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1 (tpb, 144 pages, 2016, ISBN 1-3029-0053-6)A Nation Under Our Feet Book 2 (tpb, 144 pages, 2017, ISBN 1-3029-0054-4)A Nation Under Our Feet Book 3 (tpb, 144 pages, 2017, ISBN 1-3029-0191-5)Avengers of the New World (collects issues #13''18, #166''171)Avengers of the New World Book 1 (tpb, 144 pages, 2017, ISBN 1-3029-0649-6)Avengers of the New World Book 2 (tpb, 136 pages, 2018, ISBN 1-3029-0988-6)Black Panther: World of Wakanda (#1''6) (2016) (with Roxane Gay, Yona Harvey)Vol. 1: Dawn of the Midnight Angels (tpb, 144 pages, 2017, ISBN 1-3029-0650-X)Black Panther and the Crew (#1''6) (2017) (with Yona Harvey)Vol. 1: We Are the Streets (tpb, 136 pages, 2017, ISBN 1-3029-0832-4)Black Panther (#1-) (2018'')Captain America (#1-) (2018'')Selected articles"Promises of an Unwed Father". O: the Oprah Magazine. January 2006."American Girl". The Atlantic. January/February 2009. Profile on Michelle Obama."A Deeper Black". Early, Gerald Lyn, and Randall Kennedy. Best African American Essays, 2010. New York: One World, Ballantine Books, 2010. pp. 15''22. ISBN 978-0-553-80692-2 OCLC 320187212"Why Do So Few Blacks Study the Civil War?" The Atlantic. The Civil War Issue. February 2012."Fear of a Black President". Bennet, James. The Best American Magazine Writing 2013. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013. pp. 3''32. ISBN 978-0-231-53706-3 OCLC 861785469"How Learning a Foreign Language Reignited My Imagination: Pardon my French". The Atlantic. Vol. 311, Issue 5. June 2013. pp. 44''45"The Case for Reparations". The Atlantic. June 2014."There Is No Post-Racial America". The Atlantic. July/August 2015."The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration". The Atlantic. October 2015."My President Was Black". The Atlantic. December 2016."The First White President". The Atlantic. October 2017."I'm Not Black, I'm Kanye". The Atlantic. May 2018.Multimediawith Richard Harrington, Nelson George, and Kojo Nnamdi. Hip Hop. Washington, D.C.: WAMU, American University, 1999. OCLC 426123467 Audio conversation recorded January 29, 1999, at WAMU-FM, Washington, D.C.with Stephen Colbert. "Ta-Nehisi Coates". The Colbert Report. June 16, 2014.with Ezra Klein. Vox Conversations: Should America offer reparations for slavery?" Vox. July 18, 2014.The Case for Reparations. Middlebury, Vt.: Middlebury College, 2015. OCLC 904962550 Video of lecture delivered at Middlebury College on March 4, 2015.with Amy Goodman. "Between the World and Me: Ta-Nehisi Coates Extended Interview on Being Black in America". Democracy Now!. July 22, 2015.with Jon Stewart. "Exclusive '' Ta-Nehisi Coates Extended Interview" "Pt. 1" and "Pt. 2". The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. July 23, 2015.References [ edit ] ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi Paul (February 1, 2007). "Is Obama Black Enough?". Time . Retrieved May 12, 2016 . ^ a b c d e f g Gross, Terry (February 18, 2009). "Ta-Nehisi Coates' 'Unlikely Road to Manhood ' ". Fresh Air. NPR . Retrieved August 15, 2015 . The name derives from the Egyptian name of Nubia, ná¸¥sy, for which the vowels are unknown. ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (July 2, 2015). "Brief But Spectacular: Ta-Nehisi Coates". PBS Newshour . Retrieved August 15, 2015 . ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/business/media/ta-nehisi-coates-atlantic.html ^ a b "2015 National Book Awards". National Book Foundation . Retrieved September 18, 2015 . ^ Alter, Alexandra (November 19, 2015). "Ta-Nehisi Coates Wins National Book Award". The New York Times . Retrieved November 19, 2015 . ^ 2016 Book Awards Short List, The Phi Beta Kappa Society. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (September 29, 2015). "MacArthur 'Genius Grant' Winners for 2015 Are Announced". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved October 2, 2015 . ^ a b Gustines, George Gene (September 22, 2015). "Ta-Nehisi Coates to Write Black Panther Comic for Marvel". The New York Times . Retrieved September 22, 2015 . ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (November 23, 2013). "In Defense of a Loaded Word". The New York Times . Retrieved August 15, 2015 . ^ Bodenner, Chris (July 26, 2015). "Between the World and Me Book Club: Your Critical Thoughts". The Atlantic . Retrieved August 15, 2015 . ^ Stated on Finding Your Roots, October 24, 2017 ^ Smith, Jeremy Adam (2009). "Returning to Glory: Ta-Nehisi's Story". The Daddy Shift: How Stay-at-Home Dads, Breadwinning Moms, and Shared Parenting Are Transforming the American Family. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-807-09737-3. OCLC 436443245 . Retrieved September 1, 2015 . ^ a b c d e Pride, Felicia (June 4, 2008). "Manning Up: The Coates Family's Beautiful Struggle in Word and Deed". Baltimore City Paper. Archived from the original on June 6, 2008 . Retrieved August 16, 2015 . ^ "One on 1 Profile: Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates Takes the Next Big Step in His Career". NY1. June 9, 2014. Archived from the original on June 11, 2014 . Retrieved June 12, 2014 . ^ a b Coates, Ta-Nehisi (2008). The Beautiful Struggle. Spiegel & Grau. ISBN 978-0-385-52036-2. OCLC 190784908. ^ a b M. Owens, Donna (January 29, 2015). "Baltimore-born Ta-Nehisi Coates makes his case". The Baltimore Sun . Retrieved August 16, 2015 . ^ "The guest list". Vibe: 50. November 2004. ^ Jefferson, Tara (August 24, 2014). "Ta-Nehisi Coates Presents "Case For Reparations" At City Club of Cleveland". Anisfield-Wolf Book Award . Retrieved August 15, 2015 . ^ a b c d e f g h Smith, Jordan Michael (March 5, 2013). "Fear of a Black Pundit". New York Observer . Retrieved April 5, 2014 . ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (May 2008). " ' This Is How We Lost to the White Man ' ". The Atlantic . Retrieved August 15, 2015 . ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (August 22, 2012). "Fear of a Black President". The Atlantic . Retrieved December 19, 2013 . ^ Levenson, Tom (September 28, 2012). "Notable narrative: "Fear of a Black President", by Ta-Nehisi Coates". Nieman Storyboard . Retrieved December 19, 2013 . ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (June 2014). "The Case for Reparations". The Atlantic . Retrieved November 20, 2014 . ^ Roig-Franzia, Manuel (June 18, 2014). "With Atlantic article on reparations, Ta-Nehisi Coates sees payoff for years of struggle". The Washington Post . Retrieved November 20, 2014 . ^ "Full List '' The Best Blogs of 2011". Time. ^ "2012 Hillman Prize for Opinion & Analysis Journalism: Ta-Nehisi Coates". Sidney Hillman Foundation . Retrieved October 4, 2013 . ^ Garfield, Bob (December 30, 2011). "How to create an engaging comments section". On the media . Retrieved October 4, 2013 . ^ Azi, Paybarah (October 22, 2010). "NPR's guide to blogging: act like Andrew Sullivan, Ben Smith, Ta-Nehisi Coates". WNYC . Retrieved October 4, 2013 . ^ Matias, J. Nathan (October 22, 2012). "The beauty and terror of commenting communities: Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Media Lab". MIT Center for Civic Media . Retrieved October 4, 2013 . ^ Satter, Beryl (2009). Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America (1st ed.). New York, N.Y.: Metropolitan Books. ISBN 978-0-805-07676-9. OCLC 237018885. ^ a b Klein, Ezra (July 19, 2014). "Vox Conversations: Should America offer reparations for slavery?". Vox . Retrieved August 15, 2015 . ^ "Inside the Battle for Fair Housing in 1960s Chicago". The Atlantic. May 21, 2014 . Retrieved August 15, 2015 . ^ a b c West, Cornel (2017-12-17). "Ta-Nehisi Coates is the neoliberal face of the black freedom struggle | Cornel West". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077 . Retrieved 2017-12-20 . ^ "Cornel West: Obama A 'Republican In Blackface,' Black MSNBC Hosts Are 'Selling Their Souls ' ". www.mediaite.com . Retrieved 2017-12-20 . ^ a b c Schuessler, Jennifer (2017-12-19). "Ta-Nehisi Coates Deletes Twitter Account Amid Feud With Cornel West". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved 2017-12-20 . ^ West, Cornel (2017-12-17). ".@tanehisicoates fetishizes white supremacy. His analysis/vision of our world is too narrow & dangerously misleading, omitting the centrality of Wall Street power, US military policies, & the complex dynamics of class, gender, & sexuality in black America". @CornelWest . Retrieved 2017-12-20 . ^ Spencer, Richard ð (2017-12-18). "He's not wrong". @RichardBSpencer . Retrieved 2017-12-20 . ^ "raceAhead: Ta-Nehisi Coates Quits Twitter". Fortune . Retrieved 2017-12-20 . ^ "Ta-Nehisi Coates Deletes Twitter Account". Time . Retrieved 2017-12-20 . ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/business/media/ta-nehisi-coates-atlantic.html ^ George, Lynell (July 9, 2008). "Lessons from Dad". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved April 5, 2014 . ^ Conan, Neal (June 9, 2008). "Struggling with Style '' Ta-Nehisi Coates". Talk of the Nation. NPR . Retrieved August 16, 2015 . ^ Spalter, Mya (February 18, 2009). "Ta-Nehisi Coates' 'Beautiful Struggle' to Manhood". NPR . Retrieved April 5, 2014 . ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (July 2014). "The Littlest Schoolhouse". The Atlantic . Retrieved April 5, 2014 . ^ Benjamin, Rich (September 1, 2016). "The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates review '' subverting white expectations". The Guardian . Retrieved November 24, 2018 . ^ Jennifer Maloney (June 25, 2015). "Random House Moves Up Release of Ta-Nehisi Coates's Book on Race Relations". The Wall Street Journal . Retrieved June 27, 2015 . ^ Kakutani, Michiko (July 9, 2015). "Review: In 'Between the World and Me,' Ta-Nehisi Coates Delivers a Searing Dispatch to His Son". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved February 1, 2017 . ^ Wright, Richard. "Between the World and Me". edhelper.com . Retrieved February 1, 2017 . ^ Stewart, Jon (July 23, 2015). "Exclusive '' Ta-Nehisi Coates Extended Interview Pt. 1". The Jon Stewart Show . Retrieved August 15, 2015 . ^ Goodman, Amy (July 22, 2015). " ' Between the World and Me': Ta-Nehisi Coates Extended Interview on Being Black in America". Democracy Now! . Retrieved September 8, 2015 . ^ Conyers, John (November 20, 1989). "H.R.3745 '' Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act (Introduced in House '' IH)". Library of Congress . Retrieved August 15, 2015 . ^ Conyers, John (January 3, 2013). "H.R.40 '' Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act". Congress.gov . Retrieved August 15, 2015 . ^ Conyers, John. "Issues: Reparations". John Conyers Jr. United States Congressman. Archived from the original on August 29, 2015 . Retrieved August 15, 2015 . ^ Colbert, Stephen (June 16, 2014). "Ta-Nehisi Coates". The Colbert Report . Retrieved August 15, 2015 . ^ a b Gross, Terry (July 13, 2015). "Ta-Nehisi Coates on Police Brutality, the Confederate Flag and Forgiveness". Fresh Air. Transcript. NPR . Retrieved October 27, 2017 . ^ Norris, Michele (July 10, 2015). "Ta-Nehisi Coates Looks at the Physical Toll of Being Black in America". Morning Edition. NPR . Retrieved August 16, 2015 . ^ Lowry, Rich (July 22, 2015). "The Toxic World-View of Ta-Nehisi Coates". Politico . Retrieved November 2, 2015 . ^ Hamilton, Jack (July 9, 2015). "Between the World and Me". Slate . Retrieved November 12, 2015 . ^ Schedeen, Jesse (May 17, 2016). "Black Panther Rules April's Comic Book Sales". IGN. ^ Dockterman, Eliana (January 20, 2017). "Ta-Nehisi Coates Is Expanding the Black Panther Universe with The Crew". Time. ^ Nazaryan, Alexander (May 15, 2017). "Marvel Cancels Ta-Nehisi Coates's Black Panther & The Crew Comic After Two Issues". Time. ^ "We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates" . Retrieved June 21, 2017 . ^ Helm, Angela (August 28, 2017). "The Root 100 No. 1s: Ta-Nehisi Coates Wanted to Be 'the Baddest Motherfucking Writer on the Planet ' ". The Root . Retrieved August 30, 2017 . ^ "Ta-Nehisi Coates is 2012''2013 MLK Visiting Scholar". Massachusetts Institute of Technology . Retrieved October 4, 2013 . ^ Dunkin, Amy (May 1, 2014). "Ta-Nehisi Coates Named Journalist-in-Residence for the Fall Semester". CUNY Graduate School of Journalism . Retrieved August 16, 2015 . ^ "Author Ta-Nehisi Coates to Join Faculty of NYU's Carter Journalism Institute". New York University. January 30, 2017 . Retrieved March 6, 2017 . ^ Kaltenbach, Chris (May 4, 2015). "Md. Film Fest panel to feature David Simon, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Taylor Branch, James McBride". The Baltimore Sun . Retrieved August 15, 2015 . ^ Cep, Casey N. (May 11, 2015). "Telling the Story of Civil Rights: A Conversation in Baltimore". The New Yorker . Retrieved August 15, 2015 . ^ Branch, Taylor (2006). At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965''68 (2006 Hardcover ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-85712-1. OCLC 62118415. ^ Fleming, Jr., Mike (March 5, 2014). "The Wire's David Simon Takes on Oprah-Produced HBO Mini on Martin Luther King". Deadline Hollywood . Retrieved August 15, 2015 . ^ a b "American Library in Paris Visiting Fellowship". American Library in Paris . Retrieved June 12, 2018 . ^ Williams, Brennan (June 8, 2017). "Ryan Coogler And Michael B. Jordan Are Working on a Fourth Film Together". Huffington Post . Retrieved June 8, 2017 . ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (February 28, 2018). "Why I'm Writing Captain America". The Atlantic. ^ "On the Etymology of the Egyptian word Nehesi 'Nubian ' ". 27 November 2014. ^ Morton, Paul. "An Interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates". Bookslut . Retrieved March 31, 2014 . ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (January 11, 2013). "Growing Up in the Caves of Chaos". The Atlantic . Retrieved December 8, 2016 . ^ Smith, Jordan Michael (March 5, 2013). "Fear of a Black Pundit: Ta-Nehisi Coates raises his voice in American media". New York Observer . Retrieved December 19, 2013 . ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (March 2002). "Confessions of a Black Mr. Mom". Washington Monthly . Retrieved August 15, 2015 . ^ "Ta-Nehisi Coates". The Lavin Agency. Archived from the original on August 22, 2015 . Retrieved August 15, 2015 . ^ a b Coates, Ta-Nehisi (January 2006). "Promises of an Unwed Father". O: the Oprah Magazine . Retrieved August 16, 2015 . ^ "The Myth of Western Civilization". The Atlantic. December 31, 2013 . Retrieved July 13, 2015 . ^ "Ta-Nehisi Coates on Twitter". Twitter.com. December 29, 2014 . Retrieved July 13, 2015 . 3. Contemporary feminist critiques (40s''60s) would be awesome, but basically taking what I can get now. #twitterstorians ^ "What Hath Feminism Wrought". The Atlantic. August 31, 2010 . Retrieved July 13, 2015 . ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (May 9, 2016). "On Homecomings". The Atlantic . Retrieved May 11, 2016 . ^ Stack, Liam (May 11, 2016). "Ta-Nehisi Coates Opts Out of Move to Brooklyn After Media Attention". The New York Times. New York . Retrieved May 11, 2016 . ^ "The Phi Beta Kappa Society Installs its 286th Chapter at Oregon State University", The Phi Beta Kappa Society, April 28, 2016. ^ Staff (May 2, 2013). "The Atlantic Wins Two National Magazine Awards". The Atlantic . Retrieved June 10, 2015 . ^ Hartocollis, Anemona (February 15, 2015). "Polk Awards in Journalism Are Announced, Including Three for The Times". The New York Times . Retrieved February 20, 2015 . ^ Fillo, MaryEllen (June 9, 2015). "Journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates Humbly Accepts Award From Harriet Beecher Stowe Center". Hartford Courant . Retrieved June 26, 2015 . ^ Calamur, Krishnadev. " ' Geniuses' Revealed". The Atlantic . Retrieved April 29, 2016 . ^ "2015 Finalists | Kirkus Reviews". Kirkus Reviews . Retrieved 2018-09-26 . ^ "2018 winners". Dayton Peace Prize. September 17, 2018 . Retrieved September 18, 2018 . ^ "Monstress and My Favorite Thing Is Monsters Are Top Winners at 2018 Eisner Awards". External links [ edit ] Ta-Nehisi Coates at The AtlanticAppearances on C-SPAN
BuzzFeed to Cut 15% of Its Workforce - WSJ
Thu, 24 Jan 2019 13:18
BuzzFeed is planning to lay off about 15% of its workforce, according to people familiar with the situation, as the company seeks to reorient itself in a shifting digital-media landscape.
The cuts could affect around 250 jobs, the people said. The firm, among the most high-profile digital-native publishers, also is looking to realign its resources to invest more in promising areas of the business like content licensing and e-commerce, one of the people said.
One impetus for the changes is to get BuzzFeed on the path to profitability and in proper shape as it scouts out potential merger combinations with other digital media players, the people said.
Another driver of the cuts is to help the company avoid raising money again, one of the people said. BuzzFeed has raised about $500 million and was valued at about $1.7 billion following its last funding round in 2016.
Its investors include Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal'--which has invested $400 million'--Andreessen Horowitz, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, RRE Ventures and Hearst Ventures.
Across the industry, online publishers have struggled to sustain fast growth in digital advertising sales and meet the high expectations of their investors, as they run up against the dominance of tech titans such as Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Facebook Inc.
Many firms are now considering deals with rivals to achieve the scale they believe is necessary to compete.
There are signs of growing pressure in the industry. The online publisher Mic recently agreed to sell itself to women-focused publisher Bustle Digital Group for about $5 million. Refinery29, the lifestyle-focused publisher that targets millennial women, laid off 10% of its workforce last fall.
BuzzFeed, for its part, has struggled at times to meet its own ambitious revenue targets and has scaled back its expectations. In 2018, the company basically hit its revenue target of around $300 million, the people familiar with the situation said.
''Unfortunately, revenue growth by itself isn't enough to be successful in the long run. The restructuring we are undertaking will reduce our costs and improve our operating model so we can thrive and control our own destiny, without ever needing to raise funding again,'' BuzzFeed Chief Executive Jonah Peretti said in a memo to staff, confirming the cuts.
Launched in 2006, BuzzFeed was among the leaders of a group of digital upstarts that were adroit with social media and rode a wave of venture capital investment to become magnets for digital audiences. It also was a pioneer in ''native advertising,'' content for advertisers meant to mimic the look and feel of editorial content, but growing that business has become increasingly difficult.
The company began selling ads on automated or ''programmatic'' platforms last year, after resisting those options, and has sought to develop more nonadvertising revenue.
BuzzFeed has been most associated with creating lighthearted content popular with younger consumers on social media, but it has also thrown considerable resources into its news unit, drawing attention especially for its political coverage. In 2018, the company was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in international reporting for stories on a campaign to kill critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the U.K. and elsewhere.
The news unit has been a financial drag on the company and has given rise to some controversies. Still, Mr. Peretti has long stood by the importance of the news unit as a crucial part of its mission and something the distinguishes the site. Last year, BuzzFeed launched a membership model for news, soliciting donations from readers.
Last week, BuzzFeed News found itself the subject of intense scrutiny from media and political observers after it published a story that alleged President Trump directed his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about negotiations to construct a building in Moscow.
A spokesman for special counsel Robert Muellertook the rare step of disputing BuzzFeed's reporting publicly, issuing a statement calling aspects of the report ''not accurate.'' BuzzFeed has said it stands by its reporting.
BuzzFeed has been through other painful rounds of layoffs.
In 2017, the company cut about 100 staffers after missing its revenue target of approximately $350 million by 15% to 20%. The miss led the company to put plans for an initial public offering on hold. In 2016, the company recorded about $250 million in revenue.
The layoffs in 2017 were mostly on the company's business side. Since then, BuzzFeed closed its operations in France and pulled the plug on its in-house podcast production team.
Write to Lukas I. Alpert at firstname.lastname@example.org and Benjamin Mullin at Benjamin.Mullin@wsj.com
Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond arrested - BBC News
Thu, 24 Jan 2019 12:44
Image copyright PA Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has been arrested by police.
Police Scotland confirmed that a 64-year-old man had been charged and said a report would be sent to prosecutors.
It is not yet known what Mr Salmond has been charged with. Police had been investigating following a Scottish government inquiry into complaints of sexual harassment, which he denies.
Mr Salmond, who was first minister from 2007 to 2014, could appear in court later on Thursday.
The news comes two weeks after Mr Salmond was at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, where the Scottish government conceded that its internal investigation of the complaints against him was flawed.
The former first minister had launched a judicial review against the government he once led over how it had handled its inquiry, saying he had been treated unfairly.
The case was focused on the government's processes, not the substance of the complaints - which Mr Salmond has denied.
Alex Salmond's political career Image copyright Reuters Image caption Mr Salmond was twice leader of the SNP, but quit the party in 2018 after taking legal action against the government He was twice leader of the SNP, and led the party into government at Holyrood in 2007Mr Salmond left office after the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, with his former deputy Nicola Sturgeon taking his place in Bute HouseHe returned to Westminster as an MP the following year, but lost his Gordon seat in the snap election in 2017Mr Salmond has since worked as a talk show host on Russian network RTHe quit the SNP when launching his legal action against the Scottish government in 2018
Spain pushes 'decolonisation' footnote in EU no-deal Brexit plans - report - Gibraltar Chronicle
Thu, 24 Jan 2019 12:39
Spain has called on the European Union to recognise its demand for the ''decolonisation'' of Gibraltar in all coming EU legislation for a no-deal Brexit, according to a report in the Telegraph yesterday.
Spanish officials want a footnote to be included in all the EU's no-deal legislative proposals explicitly recognising Spain's sovereignty aspirations over the Rock, the UK newspaper reported.
The Telegraph saw a leaked draft of proposed EU legislation to enable visa-free travel in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit which included the footnote.
The text of the footnote states: ''There is a dispute between the Government of Spain and the government of the United Kingdom concerning sovereignty over Gibraltar.''
''The territory is registered on the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories of the United Nations, subject to decolonisation.''
Officials here were aware of the Spanish move but told the Chronicle the footnote had ''zero'' practical effect.
But the Telegraph said the Spanish demand to include the text '' which must still be formally agreed by the 27 EU governments '' reflected Madrid's determination to use Brexit to advance its sovereignty goals.
With the UK no longer present at EU discussions to veto such moves, other member states are backing Spain.
''They bring it up at every single meeting,'' an EU source with knowledge of the discussions told the Telegraph.
''Every time there is a meeting, their first demand is to recognise the dispute over Gibraltar. And everyone knows this is only just the beginning.''
''While the UK was still in the club, Gibraltar was a spat between two members so the others avoided getting involved.''
''Now it's a spat involving one of their members and an outside party. Begrudgingly or not, they'll always side with Spain.''
Ignacio Molina, an analyst at the Elcano Royal Institute think-tank in Madrid, told the newspaper that Spain would continue to be ''pragmatic'' over negotiations on the future relationship.
''Spain is just trying to show its post-Brexit power and leverage on Gibraltar, with the EU adopting the traditional language of the Spanish diplomacy regarding the controversy,'' he told the Telegraph.
''They also perhaps see what the Irish have achieved with a hardline Europeanised approach to diplomacy.'''POSITIVE MAJORITY'In another development yesterday, the EU's chief negotiator said a no-deal Brexit can only be stopped if British MPs come together around ''a positive majority for another solution.
Michel Barnier's comments appeared to suggest that Brussels would resist extending the two-year negotiation process under Article 50 simply to allow the UK to continue debating its preferred outcome.
The prospect of Britain seeking to remain in the EU beyond the planned date of March 29 was increased after shadow chancellor John McDonnell signalled Labour could back plans for an Article 50 extension to stop no-deal.
But leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg suggested that the UK Government could prevent an extension by shutting down Parliament before MPs have a chance to vote on the plan, under a procedure known as prorogation.
Mr Rees-Mogg also played down suggestions that members of the European Research Group of Eurosceptic Tory backbenchers, which he chairs, might be giving up their rebellion against Mrs May's Withdrawal Agreement a week after consigning it to a 230-vote defeat in the House of Commons.
Restating his opposition to the proposed backstop arrangement to keep the Irish border open, he said: ''As long as the backstop is there I will not vote for this deal.''
''Of course any deal would be better than not leaving at all, but this deal '... is not good enough. It needs fundamental change.''
Mr McDonnell has said it is ''highly likely'' that Labour will back a ''sensible'' cross-party amendment to provide parliamentary time to pass a bill allowing suspension of the withdrawal process if no deal is found by the end of February.
The move, tabled by Labour's Yvette Cooper and Conservative Nick Boles, is one of a number of amendments due for debate next Tuesday.
International Development Secretary Liam Fox warned that some of the proposals put forward by backbenchers presented a ''real danger'' constitutionally.
Accusing some MPs of plotting to stay in the EU, he said such an act would be politically ''calamitous'' and worse for the country than a no-deal Brexit.
The developments came as Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn clashed over Brexit in the House of Commons, with the Labour leader repeating his call for the Prime Minister to rule out a no-deal outcome.
Mrs May denounced Mr Corbyn for refusing to meet her to discuss the way ahead, when he had previously been ''willing to sit down with Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA without preconditions''. Questioning whether Mr Corbyn understood the details of the customs union arrangement Labour is seeking, she told MPs that the opposition leader ''hasn't got a clue''.
But Mr Corbyn retorted: ''The door of her office might be open but the minds are closed and the Prime Minister is clearly not listening.''
Speaking to the EU's European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels, Mr Barnier said that there appeared to be a majority in the Commons opposed to crashing out without a deal.
But he warned: ''Opposing no deal will not stop no deal from happening at the end of March. To stop no deal, a positive majority for another solution will need to emerge.''
''This is the objective of the political consultations that Theresa May has started and we hope, sincerely, that this process will be successful.''
Some leaders of the remaining 27 EU member states had questioned why they would agree to extending Article 50, he said.
''Some of them have said to me that if that question is raised, and they have actually spoken to the UK Government, well why would we do that? What would be the purpose of that and for how long would that be required?''
Mr Barnier repeated his position that the EU was ready to pursue a more ''ambitious'' future relationship with the UK if Mrs May ''modifies'' her red lines, which include departure from the customs union and single market, an end to free movement and withdrawal from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
''If the UK red lines were to evolve in the next few weeks or months, the Union would be ready immediately and open to other models of relationships which are more ambitious,'' said Mr Barnier.
''Each of these models is founded on a balance between rights and obligations.''
''We are open to reworking, if the UK were to modify its red lines, the content and the ambition of the Political Declaration.''
Speaking to the Eurosceptic Bruges Group in London, Mr Rees-Mogg suggested that the Government could use prorogation to block any backbench bills designed to thwart a no-deal Brexit.
Denouncing efforts to put Parliament in charge of the Brexit process as a ''constitutional outrage'', the chair of the backbench Tory European Research Group said: ''Prorogation normally lasts for three days but any law that is in the process before prorogation falls.''
''And I think that would be the Government's answer, that is the Government's backstop.''
Ben Shapiro 'Owns the Libs'...But Who Owns Him? - TYT Network
Thu, 24 Jan 2019 05:37
Ben Shapiro at Politicon on July 30, 2017, in Pasadena, California. Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for Politicon.
By Alex Kotch
Ben Shapiro's been called a conservative '' wunderkind ,'' a '' cool kid's philosopher ,'' and a '' principled gladiator .'' While these types of profiles tend to ascribe some kind of preternatural persuasive skill to Shapiro, the reality is that his path to success has been gilded by a number of conservative billionaires and multimillionaires, many of whom are major Republican political donors.
Two organizations that promote Shapiro'--Turning Point USA and Young America's Foundation (both heavily pro-Trump)'--are propped up with cash from wealthy conservatives. And both groups put Shapiro in the company of racists and Islamophobic figures.
Prominent GOP political donors to these groups include Charles Koch, Education Sec. Betsy DeVos and her family, Robert and Rebekah Mercer, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, prolific GOP megadonor Richard Uihlein, Home Depot cofounder Bernie Marcus, and Wyoming gubernatorial candidate Foster Freiss.
While the funding behind Breitbart News and Shapiro's current platform, The Daily Wire, is well known, a full picture of the money behind Shapiro makes it clear that his career depends on a much larger group of major conservatives than he would perhaps like to admit.
Online Media and Speaking Engagements: Shapiro's path has included a stint at Breitbart News, an ongoing series of speaking gigs at universities, facilitated by Young America's Foundation, and at Turning Point USA events; and his latest venture, website The Daily Wire.
''I've never met the Kochs, DeVos[es], Mercers, Rauner, Uihlein, or Marcus, and I've only met members of the Bradley family and Freiss in passing,'' Shapiro told TYT. ''Not a single one of these people, or any of our funders at Daily Wire, have ever exerted an iota of editorial control. My opinions are my own, and they'll stay that way.''
''Wunderkind'': Ben Shapiro has become one of the most recognized conservatives in America. Here is the network of wealthy conservatives and Republican political donors who have helped his rise to fame.
As the money has piled up, much of it from Trump supporters, Shapiro's '' never-Trump '' stance appears to have softened, something Shapiro denies.
In March 2016, Shapiro resigned from the far-right site Breitbart News, known for its racist and anti-immigrant content and for its financial support from the billionaire Robert Mercer, saying that the site had become far too subservient to Trump for his liking. ''It is now a propaganda platform,'' he told Frontline.
Breitbart News: Shapiro became an editor-at-large for Breitbart News in 2012 and left in 2016. Billionaire Robert Mercer invested $10 million in Breitbart but has reportedly severed ties with the outlet. Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah, are both big GOP donors, and their family foundation has contributed to rightwing nonprofits in Shapiro's funder network.
Following his departure from Breitbart. Shapiro quickly founded the Daily Wire with funding from its owners, brothers Farris and Dan Wilks, Texas fracking billionaires who supported Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. The brothers and their wives combined to donate $15 million to a pro-Cruz super PAC in the early election season.
Shapiro told TYT that his support for Cruz predated his relationship with the Wilks brothers. ''Now, usually, the follow-up question is whether I supported Ted Cruz because they supported Ted Cruz. The obvious answer is no: I backed him all the way back in 2012 when he ran against David Dewhurst.''
Daily Wire: Shapiro's current venture, news and opinion site Daily Wire, was financed with $15 million from the fracking billionaire brothers Farris and Dan Wilks.
'LOOK OUT SNOWFLAKES'
Young America's Foundation (YAF) is a conservative nonprofit founded in 1960 that maintains the Reagan Ranch and books far-right speakers such as Dinesh D'Souza, David Horowitz, Dana Loesch, and Ted Nugent.
YAF has ''Young Americans for Freedom'' student chapters at colleges and universities around the country. The nonprofit helps organize and sponsor campus lectures, and Shapiro is one of YAF's most prolific college speakers. Since 2015, YAF has organized over 35 Shapiro speaking gigs , according to the organization.
In November 2017, YAF announced that it would be the ''exclusive home'' of Shapiro's 2018''2019 college speaking tour, funded by Fred R. Allen. (It's unclear who Fred Allen is, and YAF did not return an inquiry about his identity.) The group announced on July 25 that six universities will host Shapiro this fall with the headline, ''LOOK OUT SNOWFLAKES.''
HUGE ANNOUNCEMENT: Following more than 1300 requests to host @benshapiro on campus, just SIX SCHOOLS were selected for his fall campus lecture tour '¬¸
'-- YAF (@yaf) July 25, 2018
YAF also recently announced sponsored speaking tours for two Daily Wire podcasters, Andrew Klavan and Michael Knowles.
Some YAF speakers, including Shapiro , Horowitz and former YAF speaker Ann Coulter , have faced protests at university speaking engagements due to their previous racist, homophobic, or Islamophobic rhetoric. Shapiro has a history of anti-Islam language.
Israelis like to build. Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage. This is not a difficult issue. #settlementsrock
'-- Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) September 27, 2010
Backing YAF is a fleet of billionaire GOP donors from powerful conservative families. The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, named after the in-laws of Betsy DeVos, has directly donated the most to YAF. In 2012, the foundation gave YAF $2 million , and it reportedly gave $6 million from 2009 to 2011. More recently, the donations are smaller; the foundation gave $25,000 in 2014. The affiliated DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative added $1 million in 2012.
The Mercer Foundation donated $100,000 to YAF in 2016, and the Charles Koch Foundation and Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation ( $65,000 in 2015 and $75,000 in 2016) have also contributed directly to YAF.
Young America's Foundation: YAF is a conservative nonprofit that books rightwing speakers and sponsors university student chapters around the country. Shapiro is one of its most in-demand speakers. Funders of the group include the wealthy Mercer, Koch, DeVos, and Bradley families.
In addition to direct contributions from their family foundations, all four families donate to donor-advised fund Donors Trust, which, along with its sister group Donors Capital Fund, masks the identities of its donors and gives money to YAF and other conservative causes. Koch family foundations are some of the biggest donors to Donors Trust.
An even more controversial organization that often books Shapiro at its events is the campus conservative group Turning Point USA, led by the young Trump devotee Charlie Kirk. Shapiro has spoken at various TPUSA events including the recent Young Women's Leadership Summit , the 2017 Student Action Summit , and a Creighton University event hosted by the school's TPUSA chapter.
The right-wing group has been the subject of recent controversy, including meddling in student government elections and a series of staff members who've made racist comments . YAF, which was aligned with TPUSA, circulated an internal memo in May condemning TPUSA for for falsifying numbers, ''Boosting Numbers With Racists & Nazi Sympathizers,'' and ''unethical activity.''
''The long-term damage TPUSA could inflict on conservative students and the Conservative Movement can no longer be ignored,'' wrote YAF Vice President and General Counsel Kimberly Begg.
Despite being a key speaker for YAF, Shapiro went on to speak at the Young Women's Leadership Summit in June, after the memo circulated. Kirk ''does a lot of great work for the country,'' he said in his speech.
TPUSA and YAF share donors the Bradley Foundation and the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation. The student group has also taken in funding from other GOP billionaires including Rauner, Uihlein, Marcus, and Friess.
Turning Point USA: The Trump-aligned TPUSA shares several funders with YAF as well as wealthy GOP donors Richard Uihlein, Bernie Marcus and Foster Friess, as well as Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.
From 2014 to 2016, the Ed Uihlein Foundation gave TPUSA $275,000, according to IRS tax records previously reviewed by this author. The family foundation of Republican Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, a former private equity executive worth an estimated $500 million , donated $150,000 to TPUSA from 2014 to 2015. In 2015, Home Depot cofounder Bernie Marcus's foundation donated $72,600 to TPUSA. The Henry and Lynde Bradley Foundation gave TPUSA $20,000 from 2015 to 2016, and the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation gave $10,000 in 2015. Public records don't reveal Friess' donations to TPUSA, but Bloomberg reported that Freiss , a member of TPUSA's advisory council, gave Kirk a ''five-figure check.''
While Shapiro's statements on Trump are mixed, TPUSA could not be more supportive of the president. TPUSA events often feature speakers from the Trump family, Trump administration officials, and personalities from the president's favorite cable news outlet, Fox News. Shapiro says that this dynamic hasn't affected his rhetoric.
''If you think I've stopped critiquing Trump at TPUSA events, for example, I'd recommend you actually watch my speeches at TPUSA. As for my perspective on Trump, I've always said that I'll call balls and strikes'--and while I've been pleased with a lot of his administration's policies (particularly on judges and the Middle East), even a basic perusal of my work will show that I've been damned critical of him when I think he's wrong (see tariffs or personal failings).''
CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE FULL INTERACTIVE MAP: ''Ben Shapiro's Gilded Path to Prominence''
Alex Kotch is an award-winning investigative reporter whose work has appeared in The Nation, Vice.com, International Business Times, and Sludge. Follow him on Twitter.
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2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis - Wikipedia
Thu, 24 Jan 2019 05:29
Since 10 January 2019, Venezuela has been experiencing a presidential crisis, with unclear leadership and terms of the Venezuelan presidency. The incumbent President Nicols Maduro was named president in the 2018 Venezuelan presidential election; however, the results of that election were disputed, largely because of irregularities in the way the election was called. The dispute came to a head in early 2019 when the National Assembly of Venezuela stated that the results of the election were invalid and declared Juan Guaid" as the acting president, citing several clauses of the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution. National protests were then organized by the opposition against Maduro's election and his ruling coalition.
Shortly after the National Assembly's declaration, various Venezuelan groups, foreign nations, and international organizations made statements supporting either side of the conflict. The Organization of American States (OAS) and the European Union expressed support for the National Assembly.
On 13 January, Guaid" was briefly detained by Venezuelan security forces, with each side claiming the other party was responsible; Maduro's supporters claimed the arrest was staged while Guaid" called the arrest an attempt to stop the National Assembly from assuming power.
Maduro's government states that the actions taken against him are "the results of imperialism perpetrated by the United States and allies" that put Venezuela "at the centre of a world war". The Venezuelan opposition justifies its actions, stating that both the national and international community must unite behind a transitional government that will guarantee humanitarian aid, bring the restoration of Venezuela's rule of law, and have the ability to hold democratic elections.
Background [ edit ] Since 2010, Venezuela has been suffering a socioeconomic crisis under Nicols Maduro (and briefly his predecessor Hugo Chvez), as rampant crime, hyperinflation and shortages diminish quality of life. As a result of discontent with the government, for the first time since 1999, the opposition was elected to hold the majority in the National Assembly following the 2015 parliamentary election. Following the 2015 National Assembly election, the lame duck National Assembly, consisting of Bolivarian officials, filled the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, the highest court in Venezuela, with Maduro allies. The tribunal quickly stripped three opposition lawmakers of their National Assembly seats in early 2016, citing alleged "irregularities" in their elections, thereby preventing an opposition supermajority which would have been able to challenge President Maduro. The tribunal then approved several actions by Maduro and granted him more powers. As protests mounted against Maduro in 2017, he called for a constituent assembly that would draft a new constitution that would replace the 1999 Venezuela Constitution of his predecessor, Hugo Chvez. Many countries considered the election a bid by Maduro to stay in power indefinitely, and over 40 countries stated that they would not recognize the National Constituent Assembly. The Democratic Unity Roundtable'--the opposition to the incumbent ruling party'--also boycotted the election claiming that the Constituent Assembly was "a trick to keep [the incumbent ruling party] in power." Since the opposition did not participate in the election, the incumbent Great Patriotic Pole, dominated by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, won almost all seats in the assembly by default. On 8 August 2017, the Constituent Assembly declared itself to be the government branch with supreme power in Venezuela, banning the opposition-led National Assembly from performing actions that would interfere with the assembly while continuing to pass measures in "support and solidarity" with President Maduro, effectively stripping the National Assembly of all its powers.
In the May 2018 elections, the incumbent President Nicols Maduro was re-elected among various irregularities, which led many to believe that the elections were invalid. Paired with views of Maduro's leadership being an ineffective dictatorship, many politicians both internally and internationally did not believe Maduro was legitimately elected. In the months leading up to his inauguration on 10 January 2019, Maduro was encouraged to not continue as president by nations and bodies including the Lima Group (excluding Mexico), the United States, and the OAS, with this pressure being increased as the new National Assembly of Venezuela was sworn in on 5 January 2019. The National Assembly was disavowed by Maduro in 2017 and is seen as "the only democratically elected institution left in the country".
Minutes after Maduro took oath, the Organization of American States approved a resolution in a special session of its Permanent Council in which Maduro was declared illegitimate as President of Venezuela, urging that new elections be summoned. Maduro's election was supported by Russia, China, and the ALBA. Internally, Maduro has received the support of the pro-government Constituent Assembly, while Guaid" is backed by the pro-opposition National Assembly.
Beginning of crisis [ edit ] Reports of defections [ edit ] The first major signs of impending crisis showed when a Supreme Court Justice and Electoral Justice seen as close to Maduro defected to the United States just a few days before 10 January inauguration. The justice, Christian Zerpa [es] said that Maduro is "incompetent" and "illegitimate".
It was also reported at the time of the inauguration that United States intelligence had learned that one of Maduro's close top officials and Minister of Defense, Vladimir Padrino L"pez, had requested for Maduro to step down, threatening to resign if Maduro did not. However, Padrino L"pez would later pledge loyalty to Maduro, stating he would give his life for him and the Bolivarian revolution. During a cadena nacional issued by Maduro on 15 January 2019, Padrino L"pez swore loyalty to Maduro, stating directly to him that members of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela (FANB) "are willing to die to defend that Constitution, those people, those institutions and you as supreme magistrate, president of Venezuela ... We are not an imperialist, colonialist FANB, we are a liberating FANB".
Military disavowals of Maduro [ edit ] On 17 January, a group of Venezuelan ex-army and police officers in Peru announced their support for Guaid", saying that they do not recognise Maduro as their president or leader. Around this time it was also reported that though the currently serving military swore allegiance to Maduro, many had spoken to exiled and defected soldiers to express their will to not suppress any uprising that could oust Maduro, secretly supporting Guaid". The National Assembly offered amnesty for military defectors.
Early on 21 January, at least 27 soldiers of the National Guard mutinied against Maduro in San Jos(C) de Cotiza; they were stationed near Miraflores Palace. It is reported that they kidnapped four security staff and stole weaponry from a post in Petare, and posted videos on social media promising the military would fight against the government for the people of Venezuela. In the area, rioting and arson began in the streets through the night; tear gas was used on civilian protestors. Several hours later, the fighting having continued until daylight, they were all taken by authorities. Five were injured and one person died in the mutiny: a civilian woman who was confused for a protester was killed by members of a colectivo, who also stole her phone. The mutiny, termed a "failed coup", has been compared by the BBC to the El Junquito massacre from just over a year earlier (15 January 2018), which resulted in the death of rebel leader 'scar P(C)rez.
International recognition [ edit ] Multiple countries and supranational bodies joined the National Assembly in rejecting the legitimacy of Maduro retaining power, with several cutting diplomatic ties to Venezuela and even more calling for Maduro to step down or be removed. Others, such as ALBA, have supported Maduro and called on the opposition to accept his reelection. Maduro responded to the accusations levied against him by denouncing them as "US imperialism" and compared the alleged foreign interference to colonialism.
Open cabildo [ edit ] Agreement approved by the National Assembly to declare the usurpation of the presidency by Nicols Maduro on 15 January.
Juan Guaid", the newly appointed President of the National Assembly of Venezuela, began motions to form a transitional government shortly after assuming his new role in the National Assembly on 5 January 2019; stating that whether Maduro began his new term on the 10th or not, the country would not have a legitimately elected president. On behalf of the National Assembly, he stated that the country had fallen into a de facto dictatorship and had no leader, declaring that the nation face a state of emergency. It was in this statement that he first called for "soldiers who wear their uniforms with honor to step forward and enforce the Constitution [and asking] citizens for confidence, strength and to accompany us on this path".
Juan Guaid" surrounded by members of the opposition during an open cabildo on 11 January 2019
He then announced that he would hold an open cabildo on 11 January. This was hosted as a rally in the streets of Caracas, and here the National Assembly announced that Guaid" was assuming the role of acting president under the Constitution of Venezuela, also announcing plans to remove President Maduro.
The open cabildo also had provisions to allow for leaders of other political parties, trade unions, women, and the students of Venezuela to be given a voice. Other parties did not speak of their divide, but of what they saw as a failed Bolivarian revolution that needed to end. The students were represented by student president of the Universidad Central de Venezuela, Rafaela Requesens, and Marlon Daz. Requesens specifically called for unity, for Venezuelans of all political affiliations to work with the international bodies who supported them in order for Maduro to step down. Jos(C) Elas Torres of the Unified Venezuelan Workers' Federation read a manifesto of their beliefs and declared his allegiance to Guaid".
Maduro's initial response to the cabildo was to call the opposition a group of "little boys", describing Guaid" as "immature". More threateningly, the Minister for Prison Services, Iris Varela, said that she had already picked out a prison cell for Guaid" and asked him to be quick naming his cabinet so she could prepare prisons for them as well.
National Assembly declares Guaid" president [ edit ] Following Guaid"'s speech, the National Assembly initially released a press statement saying that Guaid" had taken the role of acting president. A later statement replaced this one and the position of Guaid" was clarified, reinforcing that he was recognized as acting president but that the legislature also needed to re-assume their power. This motion was not considered a coup d'(C)tat based on the acknowledged "illegitimacy" of Maduro by many governments, and the constitutional processes that the National Assembly were following. Specifically, they invoked Articles 233, 333, and 350. On this day, Guaid" received a letter from the President of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice of Venezuela in exile, which is based in Panama, requesting him to become acting president of Venezuela.
Guaid" announced change, and nationwide protests to be held on 23 January, inciting a slogan chant of S, se puede! This date is the same day as the removal of Marcos P(C)rez Jim(C)nez in 1958. The National Assembly worked with the Venezuelan Liberation Front to create a plan for the protests and marches, organizing a unified national force. It was also revealed on 11 January that plans involved offering incentives for the armed forces to disavow Maduro.
The Organization of American States was the first to give official support to this action, stating that "[they] welcome the assumption of Juan Guaid" as interim President of Venezuela in accordance with Article 233 of the Political Constitution. You have our support, that of the international community and of the people of Venezuela". Later on that day, Brazil and Colombia gave their support to Guaid" as acting president of Venezuela.
Venezuelan political experts, like David Smilde from the Washington Office on Latin America, suggested that it would enrage Maduro, who already called the National Assembly traitors for not attending his inauguration, and who might arrest or attack more of its members. A friend of Guaid", in response, said that they were aware of the risks but believed it needed to be done to allow democracy to reappear in Venezuela.
Support [ edit ] Map showing countries recognizing Juan Guaid" in green and Nicols Maduro in red.
Various countries and organizations began to reaffirm their support for the National Assembly, seen as the "only legitimate democratic body" in Venezuela. Businesses also took the introduction of a potential new government as a sign to stop discussions and negotiations with Maduro since they were now able to access a government with democratic backing. These organizations included the Venezuela Creditors Committee, a fund bank that can give loans to the ailing nation and which could not finalize an agreement with Maduro in 2017, and all of the other businesses represented by the OFAC union. These include Electricidad de Caracas, providing electrical power to the capital and surrounding areas, and PDVSA, the nation's largest oil and gas company, which is, in turn, the nation's largest industry.
The Catholic Church in Venezuela, organized by the Episcopal Conference of Venezuela, released a statement by Monsignor Ovidio P(C)rez Morales on 15 January 2019 saying "The Church in Venezuela, united to its Bishops in communion with the Pope, declare the socialist-communist regime illegitimate and stand in solidarity with the Venezuelan people to rescue democracy, freedom and justice. Trusting in God, they support the National Assembly".
On 15 January, US President Donald Trump was reported to be deliberating over whether to officially recognize Guaid" as the President, which he did on 23 January. On 17 January two members of the US House of Representatives introduced legislation (the Venezuela TPS Act of 2019) that, if passed, would give temporary protected status to all Venezuelans in the country, preventing their deportation. It is a bipartisan bill introduced by a Democrat and a Republican.
President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani declared Maduro illegitimate shortly after the inauguration ceremony and met with opposition figures, with Tajani facing death threats following his actions.
When receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on 22 January 2019, famed Venezuelan composer Gustavo Dudamel said in his acceptance speech that the star should belong to Venezuela and that "tomorrow [23 Jan. 2019] is a crucial day [and] the voice of the masses must be heard and respected", referring to the planned national protest on that date and giving his support to it.
Lima Group [ edit ] On 11 and 12 January, several nations of the Lima Group began to release statements independent from the international body. These documents all included their nations' agreement to not recognize Maduro and were focused on clarifying individual stances on non-interventionism regarding a separate territorial dispute between Venezuela and Guyana. Despite this, the Maduro government, via several vice presidential press releases, claimed that these countries had "rectified" themselves to support him as president. They had not, with the non-intervention statements seen as a concession to prevent rash action by Maduro after he broadly threatened the group. The Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, gave a different statement to the vice presidential office, saying that Venezuela had received diplomatic notices from some Lima Group countries about the original dispute. Panama restated the group's original ninth point, highlighting issues of International Law. Colombia's statement reiterated the group's resolution and pledged to support "the restoration of democracy and constitutional order in Venezuela", as well as saying that they do not have a position on the territorial dispute. Arreaza defied his government by refuting the claims that the Lima Group recognized Maduro's government, as well as doubling Maduro's 48-hour demand period for non-intervention for the remaining countries after it expired. He also promoted peaceful diplomatic discussion with neighboring countries. The group'--except for Mexico, which called for non-intervention in Venezuelan internal affairs'--continued to back the Guaid" government, with the Foreign Minister of Chile pledging "unlimited support".
Detention of Guaid" [ edit ] On 13 January 2019, Guaid" was detained by the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN), but was released 45 minutes later. The SEBIN agents who intercepted his car and took him into custody were subsequently fired from their positions. The Information Minister, Jorge Rodrguez, says that the agents did not have instructions and the arrest was orchestrated by Guaid" as a "media stunt" to gain popularity; BBC correspondents say that it appeared to be a genuine ambush and was used to send a message to those who oppose Maduro.Luis Almagro, head of the OAS, condemned the arrest, which he called a "kidnapping", while Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, also denounced it, referring to it as an "arbitrary detention".
Two journalists were also detained on-air while covering SEBIN's actions towards Guaid": Beatriz Adrin of Caracol Televisi"n and Osmary Hernndez of CNN.
Guaid" defines himself as president [ edit ] In a speech after his detention, Guaid" said that Rodrguez's admission that the intelligence agents acted independently showed how the government had lost control of its security forces, also calling Miraflores (the presidential house and office) "desperate". In a later announcement on 13 January, Guaid" declared himself as acting president, his most direct claim to the position.
On 23 January, Guaid" was sworn in as Interim President.
PDVSA bonds [ edit ] With the prospects of Maduro leaving power, which could bring both stability and a more trustworthy government other nations will loan to, confidence saw an assessable increase in the nation, with tangible financial benefits like an increase in value of bonds for PDVSA, the country's major oil and gas company (which is state-owned but backs Guaid"), which went up 5% in January 2019. Investors have said that the bonds would double in value when Maduro leaves office.
23 Enero: Presidency claim [ edit ] On 23 January, millions of Venezuela protested across the country in support of Guaid", with a few hundred attending a protest in support of Maduro outside Miraflores.
The opposition protest march began its route at Avenida Francisco de Miranda, a major street in Caracas, which was planned for a 10:00 AM start but was delayed for 30 minutes due to rain. At one end was a stage, this part of the street blocked off, where Guaid" spoke during the protest and declared himself president, swearing himself in. It was reported that the National Guard used tear gas on gathering crowds before the protest began to disperse them. Another area of the capital was blocked off at Plaza Venezuela, a large main square, with armored vehicles and riot police on hand before protestors arrived.
Violence [ edit ] It was reported on social media that by mid-day, two people were killed in protests in San Crist"bal, Tchira, and four in Barinas. Photographic reports published showed that the some protests grew violent, resulting in injuries to protesters and security alike. By the end of the day, at least 13 people were killed.
[ edit ] Governments [ edit ] United States Vice President Mike Pence sent a video of support to the nation on the morning of 23 January. This is one of the reasons why Maduro and his supporters criticized the coup as being planned by the United States. In one speech on the day, Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza said "nobody knows [who Guaid" is], but he's being pushed to say that he is the new president by the U.S." The United States was the first nation to give their recognition after Guaid" was sworn in, with Donald Trump, Pence, and Marco Rubio sending their support and solidarity as well as the official recognition. After this announcement, other countries followed suit, but Maduro also expelled all Americans from Venezuela, saying all US diplomats must leave within 72 hours; Guaid" said that they should stay. Maduro called the US the "gringo empire", and said he would not continue relations with them. A US official said that if the Venezuelan armed forces start massacring civilians, they would intervene.
On 23 January 2019, the European Union issued a declaration stating: "The EU fully supports the national assembly as the democratically elected institution whose powers need to be restored and respected".
[ edit ] Despite the blocks in Venezuela, by midday local time, the Twitter hashtag "#23Ene" '-- shorthand for "23 de Enero", Spanish for 23rd January '-- was trending worldwide. Later in the day, 5 of the top 10 trends were protest-related: "Venezuela", "Juan Guaid"", "#23Ene", "#GritemosConBrio", and "Guaido".
It was reported in the late evening that Instagram had removed the "Verified" label from Maduro's account, instead placing one on Guaid"'s account. The latter's description had also been updated to include the claim of "President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela".
Censorship [ edit ] Several sources reported that the internet access to Wikipedia (in all languages) was blocked in Venezuela. The block was reported after Guaid"'s page on the Spanish Wikipedia was updated to add his claim of acting president and the edit war that followed, with 37 edits and reverts in just over two hours. The block mainly affects the users of CANTV, the national telecommunications company and largest provider of the country. Several media outlets have suggested that Wikipedia directly or indirectly was taking sides with either group.
Later on 21 January, the day of a National Guard mutiny in Cotiza, internet access to some social media like Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube was reported to be blocked for CANTV users.
In the late evening of 22 January, it was reported that Twitter and Instagram were completely blocked in the country, possibly to suppress organization of the protests happening the next day.
During 23 January protests, widespread internet outages were reported with Wikipedia,Google Search, Facebook, Instagram and many other social media platforms being affected.
Public opinion [ edit ] A telephone survey of 1,000 registered voters in Venezuela by Venezuelan pollster Hercon resulted with 79.9% of respondents agreeing with Maduro leaving the presidency. Regarding the National Assembly, 68.8% of respondents rated their work as being positive while 15.6% rated their actions as negative. When asked if they agreed with the National Assembly swearing in Guaid" as interim president, 68.6% agreed with Guaid" being interim president while 19.4% disagreed.
Surveys of 900 people between 19 and 20 January by Meganlisis showed that 81.4% of respondents hoped that Guaid" would be sworn in on 23 January while 84.2% supported a transitional government to replace Maduro's government.
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Microsoft Teams with Establishment 'NewsGuard' to Create News Blacklist | Breitbart
Thu, 24 Jan 2019 05:20
Without consulting with its users, Microsoft has installed an establishment media browser extension, purportedly designed to rate the accuracy of news websites, as a default extension on mobile versions of its Edge browser. In practice, it creates a news blacklist by warning users away from sites including Breitbart News, The Drudge Report, and the Daily Mail.The browser extension, called ''Newsguard,'' presents users with a red warning label if they navigate to a website that it judges to be unreliable. A ''green'' rating is given to websites that NewsGuard considers trustworthy.
A number of pro-Trump websites, including Breitbart News, are given a ''red'' rating by the extension.
The website of the conservative-leaning British newspaper The Daily Mail, which has the third-highest circulation in the U.K., is also given a ''red'' rating. Newsguard says the site ''fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability.''
WikiLeaks, which has never had to retract a story due to false or misleading information, is also given a ''red'' rating.
Among the websites given a ''green'' rating is BuzzFeed, which was recently humiliated for publishing alleged details about the ongoing Mueller investigation that were contradicted by the speial prosecutor himself. BuzzFeed did not retract the story, and even led with it on its frontpage '... after Mueller contradicted it.
But in Newsguard's view, BuzzFeed ''regularly corrects or clarifies errors.''
Many of the websites that recently fed the fake news feeding frenzy against students of Covington Catholic high school in Kentucky, who were falsely accused of taunting a left-wing Native American agitator, are also given a ''green'' rating. These include CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.
Also ''green'' '-- Media Matters, the Clintonite Democrat website that regularly publishes hit-jobs against conservative media publications and personalities.
Rolling Stone, the magazine infamous for publishing a hoax rape allegation against members of a University of Virginia fraternity in 2015 is also given a ''green'' rating. Newsguard says the outlet has ''consistently published well-researched, factual information about contemporary American culture.''
Some left-wing sources are given ''red'' ratings by Newsguard. However, they tend to be on the anti-establishment side of Democratic politics: ShareBlue and the Daily Kos, for example, both have ''red'' ratings. Salon and the Huffington Post, however, do not.
It shouldn't be surprising that Newsguard has a bias against independent and anti-establishment media though: the team behind the browser extension include top neocons and members of America's foreign policy establishment, including Trump-hating former CIA director Michael Hayden, and former members of the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations.
Update '-- Microsoft replied to Breitbart News with the following statement:
''Microsoft is partnering with NewsGuard to offer the NewsGuard browser extension on Microsoft Edge, and a feature in Microsoft Edge mobile apps for iOS and Android to help our customers evaluate news sources. Across both the browser and the apps, NewsGuard is optional and customers need to take action if they want to use the feature.'' '' a Microsoft spokesperson
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter, Gab.ai and add him on Facebook. Email tips and suggestions to email@example.com.
Ocasio-Cortez was only Democrat to vote 'no' on bill to reopen government because it would fund ICE | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 24 Jan 2019 03:41
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the ONLY Democrat to vote 'no' on a bill to reopen the government because it contained funding for ICE Ocasio-Cortez was the only one of 224 House Democrats to vote against the bill The freshman rep explained her decision in a since-deleted Instagram story She wrote: 'We didn't vote with the party because one of the spending bills included ICE funding and our community felt strongly about not funding that' Ocasio-Cortez campaigned on abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, which is tasked with deporting undocumented migrants ByMegan Sheets For Dailymail.com
Published: 21:41 EST, 23 January 2019 | Updated: 21:41 EST, 23 January 2019
Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was the only House Democrat to vote against a bill that would end the government shutdown on Wednesday (above). The freshman lawmaker said she voted against the bill because it included funding for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency
Freshman Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was the only House Democrat to vote against a bill to end the longest government shutdown in US history on Wednesday.
The liberal lawmaker said she deviated from her party because she didn't want to allocate any funding for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), which she called to eliminate during her campaign.
In a since-deleted Instagram story, Ocasio-Cortez wrote: 'Most of our votes are pretty straightforward, but today was a tough/nuanced call.
'We didn't vote with the party because one of the spending bills included ICE funding, and our community felt strongly about not funding that.'
The bill ultimately passed 229 to 184, with only six Republicans voting in favor. If passed by the Republican-held Senate, the bill would fund the federal government through February 28.
Wednesday marked the 33rd day of the partial government shutdown as the president and Democratic lawmakers remain locked in a battle over Trump's demand for a $5.7billion border wall.
Meanwhile, the 800,000 federal employees who have gone without pay during the shutdown will see their second missed paycheck on Friday.
In a since-deleted Instagram story (above), Ocasio-Cortez wrote: 'Most of our votes are pretty straightforward, but today was a tough/nuanced call. We didn't vote with the party because one of the spending bills included ICE funding, and our community felt strongly about not funding that.' The bill ultimately passed 229 to 184, with only six Republicans voting in favor
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (@RepAOC) explains why she voted "NO" on Passage of H.J.Res. 28 [Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019] in a video posted to her Instagram story pic.twitter.com/DjpS7KcwVP
'-- Graham MacGillivray (@GWMacGillivray) January 23, 2019Conservative media seized on Ocasio-Cortez' decision to vote against the bill and reminded that she had voted in support of another bill earlier this month that included funding for ICE.
At the time, right-wing pundits called the Bronx progressive a hypocrite for calling to abolish ICE, the agency tasked with arresting and deporting undocumented immigrants, while voting to fund it.
Trump rejected that bill because it didn't meet his demand for border wall funding.
Ocasio-Cortez has been a powerful voice on the congressional floor in her first month in office.
She's taught a seminar to her fellow House Democrats on how to utilize social media, she led a march of freshman lawmakers to Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell's office to demand an end to the government shutdown.
The Democratic socialist stunned the country last summer when she beat sitting Rep Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary.
Her meteoric rise on the political scene took place on the backdrop of the Trump administration's widely-criticized zero-tolerance immigration policy, and thus her desire to de-fund ICE was at the core of her campaign.
However, Ocasio-Cortez has hardly spoken on the issue since becoming a sitting member of Congress.
'MAGA hat boys' reportedly filmed harassing girls before stand-off with Native American man
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 22:11
A video has emerged on social media reportedly showing the Covington Catholic High School boys 'harrassing' young women, said to have taken place before the viral moment with the Native American protestor happened.
A young woman posted a video to Twitter on Monday of a group of white boys in MAGA hats yelling at her and her friends as they walk past, alleging that the boys are the same ones who harrassed elderly Native American protestor Nathan Phillips at the Indiginous People's March in Washington on Saturday.
In the video, the group can be heard saying the words 'Make America Great Again', and also yelling incoherantly.
In a tweet, the woman who goes by the name 'linds' on Twitter wrote:
The Covington Catholic boys harrassed my friends and I before the incident with Nathan Phillips even happened. I'm tired of reading things saying they were provoked by anyone else other than their own egos and ignorance
The Covington Catholic boys harrassed my friends and I before the incident with Nathan Phillips even happened. I'm tired of reading things saying they were provoked by anyone else other than their own egos and ignorance ð¤...ð¼''¸ pic.twitter.com/utdPFii92D
'-- linds (@roflinds) January 21, 2019The video has now gone viral with nearly 50,000 retweets and 140,000 likes. After the original video, 'linds' then posted a series of other tweets, giving it more context:
This video is short because we walked by and were surprised to be yelled at. I took my phone out to send it to my friends back home for a laugh. I simply could not ignore the media saying they were provoked so I posted it ð¤·ð¼''¸
'-- linds (@roflinds) January 22, 2019Also for those asking the full details, the interaction wasnt very complicated. We walked by, they started yelling, we asked them how old they were, they replied "old enough", kept yelling, and we rolled our eyes and kept walking. ð¤·ð¼''¸
'-- linds (@roflinds) January 22, 2019Last thing, for people wondering what they yelled, all we specifically heard was "MAGA", "Build the Wall", and some people say they hear "slut" at the end of the video ð¤·ð¼''¸ ok it's past my bedtime goodnight twitter
'-- linds (@roflinds) January 22, 2019The video, alleging that the group of teenagers are from the same group as those seen harrassing Nathan Phillips, seems to contradict the claim that the students were simply reacting in retaliation to harrassment they'd received themselves from the Black Isrelites.
In a statement, Nick Sandmann, the boy seen infamously facing up to Nathan Phillips, said:
I cannot speak for everyone, only for myself.
But I can tell you my experience with Covington Catholic is that students are respectful of all races and cultures. We also support everyone's right to free speech.
Covington Catholic High School also released a statement on Saturday:
We will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.
Since the video went viral, the New York Post reports that photographs of students from the school in 'blackface' have emerged, after being posted to their official YouTube page in 2012.
indy100 has contacted Covington Catholic High School for comment.
More: Students in MAGA hats harass Native American protester
More: Mother of MAGA hat boy blames 'black Muslims' for her son's actions
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H.R. 703: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to make public the names and addresses of foreign persons contributing $50,000 or more to certain tax-exempt organizations and to require disclosure of foreign campaign contributions.
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 18:50
Posted by u/congressbot6 hours ago Introduced: Sponsor: Rep. Michael Conaway [R-TX11]
This bill was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means which will consider it before sending it to the House floor for consideration.
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Moscow court upholds arrest in absentia of wanted UK financier
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 18:48
All Russian Politics & Diplomacy World Business & Economy Military & Defense Science & Space Emergencies Society & Culture Sport Press Review You can filter your feed, by choosing only interesting sections.
On a subject:
William Browder (C) AP Photo/Francisco Seco
MOSCOW, January 23. /TASS/. The Moscow City Court upheld the arrest in absentia of Hermitage Capital Founder William Browder on Wednesday on charges of forming a criminal syndicate, TASS reported from the site.
"The ruling of the court of first instance is upheld, while the appeal by the defense is dismissed," the judge announced.
On December 21, 2018, Moscow's Tverskoy District Court sanctioned Browder's arrest in absentia. TASS earlier reported that Browder had been charged in absentia with forming a criminal network that incurred damages to the state to the tune of 10 bln rubles ($151 mln).
Browder is charged under Part 1 of Section 210 of Russia's Criminal Code ("Organizing a crime syndicate"). The Russian Prosecutor General's Office said Browder would be put on an international wanted list, and his assets would be impounded and later fully confiscated.
Twice convictedBrowder was convicted in absentia in Russia twice. On July 11, 2013, Moscow's Tverskoy District Court found him guilty of large-scale tax evasion to the tune of 522 mln rubles (about $8 million at the current exchange rate) and sentenced him to nine years in jail. That verdict also barred him from doing business for two years.
In July 2014, Russia put Browder on an international wanted list. The Russian Prosecutor General's Office has repeatedly asked Interpol to issue an arrest warrant for him.
On December 29, 2017, Moscow's Tverskoy District Court sentenced Browder to nine years behind bars in absentia, having found him guilty of tax evasion again, this time to the tune of more than 3 bln rubles ($45.3 mln) and bankruptcy fraud. His business partner Ivan Cherkasov was handed a similar prison sentence. The court also upheld a lawsuit against Browder and Cherkasov for 4.2 bln rubles ($63.4 mln) and barred them from doing business in Russia for three years.
In other media
E.U. Fines Mastercard $650 Million Over Fees Merchants Were Forced to Pay - The New York Times
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 18:47
Business | E.U. Fines Mastercard $650 Million Over Fees Merchants Were Forced to Pay By preventing retailers from paying the lowest payment-processing fees possible, the credit card company hurt sellers and consumers alike, antitrust regulators said.
Image Mastercard barred merchants from shopping around for banks offering lower transaction fees in other countries. Credit Brian Snyder/Reuters The European Commission has fined Mastercard 571 million euros, or around $650 million, for breaching antitrust rules by raising payment-processing fees artificially, leading to higher prices for retailers and consumers.
The penalty, announced on Tuesday after a six-year investigation by European antitrust regulators, involves the fees banks charge merchants when purchases are made with credit cards.
Mastercard, regulators said, forced merchants to use only banks in their home countries when processing payments, a requirement that prevented them from shopping for lower fees at banks in other European countries.
The retailers passed the cost of the higher fees on to consumers, leaving them to pay more for their purchases, the commission said.
''By preventing merchants from shopping around for better conditions offered by banks in other member states, Mastercard's rules artificially raised the costs of card payments, harming consumers and retailers in the E.U.,'' Margrethe Vestager, the union's competition commissioner, said in a statement.
Mastercard, which did not contest the penalty, said in a statement that it had long ago dropped the practice at issue.
''This decision relates to historic practices only, covers a limited period of time of less than two years and will not require any modification of Mastercard's current business practices,'' the statement said.
Mastercard added that the size of the fine was ''consistent with the amount previously disclosed by Mastercard that would be taken as a charge'' in the fourth quarter of 2018.
When a consumer buys goods with a credit or debit card, the seller's bank pays a fee to the cardholder's bank. This so-called interchange fee, based on a percentage of a purchase's total, is passed on to the retailer.
In Europe, Mastercard required retailers' banks to apply the interchange-fee rates charged by banks in the country where the retailers were. Even if, for some reason, a retailer used a bank in a different country where rates were lower, those rates did not apply.
The European Commission noted that, as with other business expenses, the cost of the fees helped drive up prices paid by all consumers, even those who did not use cards.
The commission's investigation found that retailers who accepted Mastercard paid more in bank-service fees than they would have if they had been free to shop around.
A regulation introduced in December 2015 capped interchange fees between countries within the European Economic Area, which includes European Union countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Such fees cannot exceed 0.2 percent of the value of a transaction if a debit card is used, or 0.3 percent if a credit card is used.
The commission noted that Mastercard had cooperated with the inquiry, prompting a 10 percent reduction in the amount it was ultimately fined.
'Amie Tsang is a general assignment business reporter based in London, where she has covered a variety of topics, including the gender pay gap, aviation and the London Fatberg. @ amietsang
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EU fines Mastercard; Why climate change worries BofA | American Banker
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 18:46
Receiving Wide Coverage ...Case closedThe European Union fined Mastercard '¬570.6 million ($648.2 million), claiming that the company artificially raised the interchange fees it charged to process card payments inside the bloc. Mastercard, which said last month that it expected a $650 million fine, is planning to take a charge against its fourth quarter earnings. The company got a 10% fine reduction for cooperating with the EU's investigation and admitting it infringed EU competition rules.
''By preventing merchants from shopping around for better conditions offered by banks in other member states, Mastercard's rules artificially raised the costs of card payments, harming consumers and retailers in the EU,'' competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said. Financial Times, New York Times
New horizonsFormer Fannie Mae CEO Timothy Mayopoulos is joining mortgage software startup Blend Labs as president, ''becoming one of the highest-profile executives to jump into the financial-technology sector.'' Blend enables consumers to apply for a mortgage via mobile phone and automatically fills in the customer's financial information through outside data sources. Clients include Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp, ''making it one of the more prominent fintech startups seeking to work with banks rather than compete against them.''
Speaking of which, Bill Ready, PayPal's chief operating officer, said big banks and fintech firm shouldn't be afraid of working together. ''I think partnering with those banks is a huge opportunity to move much more quickly in a way that lifts the entire ecosystem versus saying it has to be a zero-sum game,'' Ready said on CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. ''There's a much greater objective here than saying let's split the pie that exists today. There's a much broader opportunity in the future that we can work together to go create.''
Wall Street JournalNow is not the timeLower interest rates may not be enough to persuade consumers to buy a home and lift the market out of the doldrums. ''More significantly for the housing market's future are other factors: Persistent price increases have put homes out of reach for many people, while changes in the tax law have reduced the advantages of homeownership over renting. The share of households who believe it is a good time to buy a house has fallen to the lowest level since 2008, according to the University of Michigan's survey of consumers.''
On Tuesday the National Association of Realtors said existing home sales dropped 6.4% in December from November and 10.3% compared to a year ago, falling to their lowest level in three years.
But help may be on the way for some prospective borrowers: the return of unconventional mortgages. ''A flavor of mortgage once panned for its role in the housing meltdown a decade ago is making a comeback. These loans, aimed at buyers with unusual circumstances such as those who can't provide the standard proofs of income, are growing rapidly even as rising interest rates and higher home prices crimp demand for mortgages.''
ElsewhereClimate change fearsPresident Trump is still casting doubt on the science behind climate change while his administration rolls back rules designed to stop it, but corporate America is worried about the impact it could have on their businesses. That includes Bank of America and Visa, according to CDP, a U.K. nonprofit that collects information on firms' environmental impact.
"Bank of America reported that 4% of its U.S. real estate-secured loans are in flood zones, almost all of them residential. 'Increased flood incidence and severity could lead to our clients defaulting on their mortgage payments if, for example, flood insurance premiums become unaffordable,' the company wrote. 'Clients may also find themselves in a negative equity situation due to housing values being impacted when insurance costs rise.'''
Visa, meanwhile, warned of the risk of pandemics and armed conflicts, which could cause fewer people to travel and reduce the number of cross-border transactions.
Financial TimesTime to goJustin Gmelich, chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs' fixed income, currencies and commodities (FICC) business and one of its most senior executives, is retiring, the bank said. The announcement comes ''just days after it reported another bruising quarter in fixed income trading,'' when revenue fell 18%. Goldman reportedly will not be naming a replacement.
Going roboU.K. digital wealth manager Nutmeg said it has received £45 million in funding from investors including Goldman Sachs, ''making the investment bank the latest major group to take a stake in the so-called robo-advice sector in the U.K.'' Nutmeg is the country's largest robo-advice company, according to the paper, with more than £1.5 billion in assets under management.
Quotable ''Fintech seems to be the place where the action is.'' '-- Former Fannie Mae chief Timothy Mayopoulos on joining mortgage software startup Blend Labs.
Tweede Brexitreferendum komt dichterbij '' maar met welke vraag? | De Volkskrant
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 18:42
Pro EU campagnevoerders protesteren buiten bij het Britse Parlement in Londen. Beeld EPA Oppositieleider Jeremy Corbyn koestert nog steeds grote bedenkingen bij een nieuwe volksraadpleging, maar zal zich niet langer verzetten tegen de druk vanuit zijn eurogezinde fractie, zo is dinsdag duidelijk geworden.
Labour hangt daarom volgende week een amendement aan Mays Brexitvoorstel waarin staat dat er een stemming over een referendum moet komen als May niet tegemoet komt aan Labours eisen. Het is een manier om na te gaan of er een Kamermeerderheid bestaat voor deze uitweg. Nu is dat nog niet het geval, maar dat kan snel veranderen als een No Deal vrijwel onvermijdelijk wordt. Alleen de regering kan een wetsvoorstel voor een referendum indienen. Zo'n twintig leden van de Conservatieve fractie zijn v""r.
Voor voorstanders van het Britse lidmaatschap van de Europese Unie, zowel op het eiland als ook op het continent, lijkt een herkansingsreferendum de laatste mogelijkheid om Brexit te voorkomen. Maar de kans is wel groot dat een tweede stembusgang de verdeeldheid zal verdiepen.
Kans op Remain-stem toegenomen Corbyn heeft steeds gevreesd dat er met name in Noord-Engeland een gevoel van verraad wortel schiet bij Labour-stemmers die in 2016 voor een vertrek hebben gestemd als de uitslag v""r Brexit via een nieuw referendum wordt teruggedraaid. Maar nadat zijn motie van wantrouwen tegen de regering vorige week geen Kamermeerderheid kreeg, en er dus niet op korte termijn parlementsverkiezingen komen, moest hij haast wel overstag. Op het partijcongres was immers een motie aangenomen waarin een referendum de tweede na te streven optie is na verkiezingen.
Premier May is tegen een nieuw referendum dat volgens haar de Britse samenleving nog verder zal ontwrichten. De kans op een Remain-stem is toegenomen, omdat er in vergelijking met drie jaar geleden meer jongeren zullen stemmen dan ouderen. Een belangrijke factor zal ook het medialandschap zijn nu invloedrijke kranten als The Daily Mail en The Evening Standard hoofdredacteuren hebben die voor het Europese lidmaatschap zijn en daar campagne voor voeren.
Wanneer het Britse parlement inderdaad voor een nieuw referendum kiest, zal de Europese Unie de Brexit moeten uitstellen. Dat zal een hoop nieuwe vragen oproepen, waaronder: wat te doen met de Britse kiezers bij de Europese verkiezingen in mei?
Ondertussen zal in Westminster een enorme discussie ontstaan over de aard van het referendum. Wanneer de inzet Mays akkoord zal zijn, bestaat de kans dat het land bij een afwijzing precies even ver is als nu. Wat willen de kiezers dan wel? Hetzelfde geldt bij een herhaling van het 2016-referendum. Het werd indertijd duidelijk dat ruim 17,4 miljoen Britten niet langer deel uit wilden maken van de EU, maar wat ze dan wel wilden, dat is nog steeds een vraag.
Misleiding en valse beloftenDaarom hebben onderzoekers van het Institute for Government, behorend tot University College London, geconcludeerd dat een fijnmaziger referendum geboden is. Ironisch zal dat het Alternative Vote-systeem zijn dat door de Britse kiezers bij een ander referendum, acht jaar geleden, is afgewezen. Kiezers hebben dan de keuze uit drie opties '' No Deal, Mays Deal of Remain '' waarbij ze ook een tweede keuze op kunnen geven die gaat meetellen zodra de minder populaire optie afvalt en er een tweestrijd volgt.
Op zo'n manier bestaat er een iets beter beeld van wat er bij het volk leeft. Nadeel is dat er weinig ervaring is met deze manier van stemmen. Twee jaar geleden hadden de inwoners van Puerto Rico de keuze uit drie antwoorden in een volksraadpleging over de vraag of het land een volwaardige staat van de VS moest worden, echt onafhankelijk moest worden of tevreden was met de huidige status van overzees territorium. In Nieuw-Zeeland konden burgers via een referendum in twee delen een keuze maken uit drie vlaggen. Verder is het nooit uitgeprobeerd.
Een voordeel van een nieuw referendum is dat kiezers nu wel een beter idee hebben waar hun keuze toe zal leiden. Voorstanders van Brexit zullen erop wijzen dat de economische rampen zijn uitgebleven en dat de huidige problemen vooral te maken hebben met incompetentie van hun leiders. Tegenstanders van Brexit vinden dat kiezers op basis van misleiding en valse beloften een verkeerde keuze hebben gemaakt, die onvermijdelijk heeft geleid tot de huidige impasse.
Vast staat dat een verkiezingscampagne zeer bitter en hard zal worden, ondanks pogingen van de kiescommissie om beter te letten op hoe de strijdende partijen met de waarheid omgaan. Tegenstanders zullen The People's Vote, of The Public Vote zoals Corbyn het noemt, presenteren als een strijd tegen de eurogezinde elite die alsnog haar zin wil doordrukken. 'Tell Them Again', zal het motto zijn. Brexiteer van het eerste uur Nigel Farage heeft gezegd zich te verheugen op een nieuwe campagne.
Wat zijn de opties?1. De vraag van 2016 nog een keer
Moet het Verenigd Koninkrijk lid blijven van de Europese Unie of de Europese Unie verlaten?
Blijft lid van de Europese Unie / Verlaat de Europese Unie
Het begon drie jaar geleden allemaal nadat ruim 17,4 miljoen Britten verklaarden niet langer deel uit wilden maken van de EU. Je zou diezelfde vraag nog een keer kunnen stellen, om te kijken of de moeizame onderhandelingen hen van mening hebben doen veranderen. Nadeel is dat je niets bent opgeschoten in het geval er weer voor Brexit wordt gestemd.
2. Stemming over de Brexitdeal van May
Het Verenigd Koninkrijk moet akkoord gaan met de deal die premier May met de EU heeft gesloten?
Voor / tegen
Het kan natuurlijk zijn dat het parlement de deal van May niet wil, maar het volk wel. Daar kom je achter door de Lagerhuis-stemming gewoon onder het hele volk te houden. Nadeel is dat je nog steeds niet weet wat de Britten dan w(C)l willen wanneer ze het akkoord wegstemmen.
3. Nieuwe aanpak: drie keuzes
Het Verenigd Koninkrijk moet akkoord gaan met de deal die premier May met de EU heeft gesloten?
Het Verenigd Koninkrijk moet geen deal sluiten met de EU
Het Verenigd Koninkrijk moet in de EU blijven
Er zijn nu grofweg drie mogelijke uitkomsten van het Brexitproces: of de deal van May, of een harde Brexit zonder akkoord of in de EU blijven. Je kunt die keuze natuurlijk aan het volk voorleggen. Nadeel is dat de kans bestaat dat geen van de voorstellen meer dan 50 procent van de stemmen krijgt, en er vervolgens een ingewikkelde rekensom met tweede keuzes begint.
Was Genghis Khan history's greenest conqueror? | MNN - Mother Nature Network
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 17:35
The Mongol invasion scrubbed nearly 700 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere, according to surprising new research.
GENGHIS GREEN: The founder of history's largest contiguous empire cooled the planet while taking a body count. (Photo: Wiki Commons/public domain)
Genghis Khan's Mongol invasion in the 13th and 14th centuries was so vast that it may have been the first instance in history of a single culture causing man-made climate change, according to new research out of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology, reports Mongabay.com.
Unlike modern day climate change, however, the Mongol invasion cooled the planet, effectively scrubbing around 700 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere.
So how did Genghis Khan, one of history's cruelest conquerors, earn such a glowing environmental report card? The reality may be a bit difficult for today's environmentalists to stomach, but Khan did it the same way he built his empire '-- with a high body count.
Over the course of the century and a half run of the Mongol Empire, about 22 percent of the world's total land area had been conquered and an estimated 40 million people were slaughtered by the horse-driven, bow-wielding hordes. Depopulation over such a large swathe of land meant that countless numbers of cultivated fields eventually returned to forests.
In other words, one effect of Genghis Khan's unrelenting invasion was widespread reforestation, and the re-growth of those forests meant that more carbon could be absorbed from the atmosphere.
"It's a common misconception that the human impact on climate began with the large-scale burning of coal and oil in the industrial era," said Julia Pongratz, who headed the Carnegie Institution research project. "Actually, humans started to influence the environment thousands of years ago by changing the vegetation cover of the Earth's landscapes when we cleared forests for agriculture."
Pongratz's study, which was completed with the help of her Carnegie colleague Ken Caldeira, as well as with German colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, measured the carbon impact of a number of historical events besides just the Mongol invasion, including the Black Death in Europe, the fall of China's Ming Dynasty and the conquest of the Americas.
What all of these events share in common is the widespread return of forests after a period of massive depopulation, but the longevity of the Mongol invasion made it stand out as having the biggest impact on the world's climate.
"We found that during the short events such as the Black Death and the Ming Dynasty collapse, the forest re-growth wasn't enough to overcome the emissions from decaying material in the soil," explained Pongratz. "But during the longer-lasting ones like the Mongol invasion ... there was enough time for the forests to re-grow and absorb significant amounts of carbon."
The 700 million tons of carbon absorbed as a result of the Mongol invasions roughly equals the amount of carbon global society now produces annually from gasoline.
Though Genghis Khan's legacy as one of the world's cruelest conquerors isn't likely to change because of the unintended "green" consequences of his invasions, Pongratz hopes that her research can lead to land-use changes that someday might alter how future historians rate our environmental impact.
"Based on the knowledge we have gained from the past, we are now in a position to make land-use decisions that will diminish our impact on climate and the carbon cycle. We cannot ignore the knowledge we have gained," she said.
Was Genghis Khan history's greenest conqueror?
The Mongol invasion scrubbed nearly 700 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere, according to new research.
Discover Glioblastoma (GBM) Treatment Plans | Optune®
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 17:18
When you or your loved one receives a GBM diagnosis, you may feel overwhelmed with information. In addition to what your healthcare team may have shared, you may be doing research yourself, and friends and family may send you things they've read.
It may be a lot to take in. But when you're ready, it's important to get organized and take the time to talk to your doctor and learn as much as you can about what treatments may work for you, including Optune.
Here are some topics that other GBM patients and their caregivers found important when learning more about Optune.
1. How would Optune fit into my treatment plan?
If you have newly diagnosed GBM, Optune would be used together with chemotherapy* after you have had surgery and radiation with chemotherapy.
If you have recurrent GBM and continued treatment with radiation or chemotherapy is not an option, Optune is used alone.
* Temozolomide (TMZ), also known as Temodar®.
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After talking through your treatment plan, your doctor will prescribe Optune.
It's important to note that your doctor must be certified to prescribe Optune. If your doctor is not certified, he or she may refer you to another doctor who is certified. There are more than 700 certified treatment centers in the United States. Visit Find an Optune doctor to locate one near you.
From your first question about Optune and throughout treatment, the nCompass' team provides customized support based on your needs.
3. What kind of support does Novocure offer?
The award-winning nCompass program provides you with complete support every step of the way. We support you from the beginning by:
Answering questions about Optune and how it works Helping to minimize your cost for Optune , regardless of your financial situation Getting you started by delivering Optune in-person, providing training, and sharing useful tips on how to incorporate Optune into your daily life Providing ongoing support by troubleshooting technical issues 24/7 (via phone), reordering supplies, and offering travel resources Learn more about patient and caregiver support here.
4. How will Optune fit into my daily life?
Continuous treatment with Optune can be received almost anywhere. If your doctor says it's okay, you can use Optune while you go about your daily routine at work, while traveling, and at social functions.
In order for Optune to work properly, you will need to keep your head shaved while using Optune. However, loose-knit head coverings, including hats, caps, beanies, wraps, or wigs can all be worn over the arrays.
Optune [Instruction for Use]. Novocure 2016. Join Marcia as she shares her journey with Optune
Watch now What is Optune® approved to treat?Optune is a wearable, portable, FDA-approved device indicated to treat a type of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in adult patients 22 years of age or older.
Newly diagnosed GBM If you have newly diagnosed GBM, Optune is used together with a chemotherapy called temozolomide (TMZ) if:
Your cancer is confirmed by your healthcare professional AND You have had surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible Recurrent GBM If your tumor has come back, Optune can be used alone as an alternative to standard medical therapy if:
You have tried surgery and radiation and they did not work or are no longer working AND You have tried chemotherapy and your GBM has been confirmed by your healthcare professional Who should not use Optune?Optune is not for everyone. Talk to your doctor if you have:
An implanted medical device (programmable shunt), skull defect (missing bone with no replacement), or bullet fragment. Optune has not been tested in people with implanted electronic devices, which may cause the devices not to work properly, and Optune has not been tested in people with skull defects or bullet fragments, which may cause Optune not to work properly A known sensitivity to conductive hydrogels (the gel on the arrays placed on the scalp like the ones used on EKGs). When Optune comes into contact with the skin, it may cause more redness and itching or may rarely cause a life-threatening allergic reaction Do not use Optune if you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant. It is not known if Optune is safe or effective during pregnancy.
What should I know before using Optune? Optune should only be used after receiving training from qualified personnel, such as your doctor, a nurse, or other medical staff who have completed a training course given by Novocure', the maker of Optune.
Do not use any parts that did not come with the Optune Treatment Kit sent to you by Novocure or given to you by your doctor Do not get the device or transducer arrays wet If you have an underlying serious skin condition on the scalp, discuss with your doctor whether this may prevent or temporarily interfere with Optune treatment What are the possible side effects of Optune?Most common side effects of Optune when used together with chemotherapy (temozolomide, or TMZ) were low blood platelet count, nausea, constipation, vomiting, tiredness, scalp irritation from the device, headache, seizure, and depression.
The most common side effects when using Optune alone were scalp irritation (redness and itchiness) and headache. Other side effects were malaise, muscle twitching, fall and skin ulcers.
Talk to your doctor if you have any of these side effects or questions.
Please click here to see the Optune Instructions for Use (IFU) for complete information regarding the device's indications, contraindications, warnings, and precautions.
On this site, patient and healthcare professional videos as well as all images labeled as Optune users, caregivers, or healthcare professionals depict actual patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals. All other depictions of patients and caregivers are actor portrayals. Patient images reflect the health status of the patients at the time each photo was taken.
There's little evidence that digital detoxes improve mental health '-- Quartz
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 16:54
With New Year's resolutions in full swing, many people may have chosen to cut down on their tech use'--or even give it up altogether. The growing popularity of such ''digital detoxes'' is encouraged by a slew of negative findings about the effects of technology use, alongside claims that such action can help reduce stress and help people become more ''present'' and compassionate.
But frequent use of technology and social media isn't a problem in itself. Despite reported claims, there's currently little scientific evidence that digital detoxes have any benefits. In fact, giving up your devices completely could have its own unintended negative consequences.
One of the reasons that digital detoxes seem good for us is the misconception that technology is inherently harmful. There are numerous studies that link excessive technology use with poorer sleep, increased depressive symptoms, and higher levels of anxiety.
But while studies ask participants questions about how much they use technology and how depressed or anxious they are, they are unable to explain the direction of any effect. Essentially, we cannot tell if they use social media because they are depressed, or they are depressed because they use social media. And, of course, many other factors might explain why a person feels depressed or anxious.
Most studies also rely on self-reported estimates of technology use, which often don't reflect reality. Studies that rely on people self-reporting may get inaccurate information. Interestingly, when time in front of a screen is measured automatically by an application or device, depression and anxiety severity aren't associated with total smartphone usage.
Research often tends to treat all technology use as equal. This assumption overlooks the fact that we have a different experience with each kind of technology we use. For example, mindlessly scrolling Instagram is very different to chatting on WhatsApp, or using a fitness tracker.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), the UK body representing doctors who specialize in children, recently argued that screen time is not ''toxic'' to health and that the evidence for harm is overstated. But negative findings continue to have a greater influence on public opinion as they appear more frequently in the popular press. This can sometimes lead to a vicious cycle where research responds directly to ''hoax'' media claims. The results then generate even more alarming headlines.
Meanwhile, there's little evidence that digital detoxes actually have any benefit. The majority of what exists is based on anecdotes rather than scientific studies. Some arguments might seem sensible, such as that giving up technology may encourage people to be more physically active. But again, no research has demonstrated that this is actually true.
Giving up technology also means giving up the good things about it. For example, smartphones and social media help people communicate and socialize, which is known to increase happiness. So it's not surprising that some studies have found complete withdrawal from social media can have adverse consequences such as lower satisfaction, boredom, feelings of social pressure, and fear.
While giving up a digital existence for a short time may let people reconnect with other aspects of their lives, this is often a temporary state that is impossible to maintain. Most people will simply return to prior habits that have become an essential part of everyday life.
Age-old concernsPeople have always been concerned about almost every mass-adopted technology invented, and social media and smartphones are no different. But the idea that screen-based technologies are harming society continues to be a source of considerable debate surrounded by questionable evidence and media hype. As more research is completed, it's important that findings are presented carefully to prevent further misinterpretation and fear-mongering.
When it comes to digital detoxes, there is unlikely to be anything seriously wrong with stepping away from technology for the majority of people. But the notion that they're a ''good idea,'' or that they have any lasting effects, is yet to be supported by science. In fact, seeing as there's little evidence to suggest that technology is inherently bad, it might be that digital detoxes have no problem to solve in the first place.
While the evidence we do have is patchy from decades of bad practice, the truth is slowly emerging with improved methods. This is starting to suggest that technology use is not harmful in itself. As politicians consider the impact, they should be mindful of these developments.
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
Chris Brown: US singer released in Paris rape inquiry - BBC News
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 16:40
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The singer has several previous convictions for violence US singer Chris Brown has been released without charge in Paris after being questioned on suspicion of rape, French police say.
An investigation into the alleged incident is continuing, the Paris prosecutor's office said.
The star and two other men were arrested on Monday after a 24-year-old woman alleged she was assaulted in a hotel in the city earlier this month.
After his release, Brown took to social media to deny any wrongdoing.
"I want to make it perfectly clear, this is false," he wrote on Instagram, alongside a picture that said: "This bitch lyin'."
He added in all-capitals: "I wanna make it perfectly clear...this is false," before going on to say it was "against my character and morals".
Brown's lawyer, Raphael Chiche, said the R&B singer "energetically" professed his innocence and intended to sue for defamation.
The two men arrested with Brown, identified by French media as a bodyguard and a friend, have also reportedly been released.
The alleged incident is said to have occurred at the luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel on 15 January.
This isn't the singer's first encounter with the law - he has a number of previous, high-profile convictions for violence.
He received five years probation and a community service order for assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Rihanna, in his car in 2009.
In 2016, he was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after a woman told police he had threatened her with a gun.
He was later freed, and his lawyer said the accusations against Brown were "demonstrably false".
Is Robert Mueller Investigating the Seth Rich Murder?
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 16:20
I can't answer that question with certainty, but here's an email that I sent this afternoon to an assistant U.S. attorney in Brooklyn:
pertaining to Aaron Rich, brother of Seth Rich.
The special counsel apparently was/is investigating whether Wikileaks made payment to Aaron in exchange for Seth leaking Democratic National Committee emails to Wikileaks. Obviously, that could be relevant to the motive for Seth Rich's murder. It might also explain Aaron's statement in his lawsuit that he was working with ''state and federal law enforcement officials'' as opposed to DC law enforcement alone.
Any such subpoenas almost certainly would have been served by the FBI agents assigned to work for the special counsel. I would therefore like to know whether the FBI's search for records included records related to the foregoing subpoenas. Thank you in advance for your assistance.
There are some obvious reasons why Mueller would be interested in Aaron Rich's financial records. I can't divulge all of my sources, but Matt Couch and others have openly alleged that Wikileaks directed payment to the Rich brothers via eBay and PayPal, further claiming that they received the tip from Julian Assange. Mueller, meanwhile, is charged with determining whether the Trump campaign ''colluded'' with the Russians, which would include determining whether the Russians hacked the DNC. Any competent investigator would want to determine whether the DNC emails were hacked by the Russians versus hacked or leaked by someone else, e.g., Seth Rich.
That begs a question: If Mueller knows whether Wikileaks directed payment to Aaron, then why hasn't he said anything one way or another? Perhaps because the answer might undermine the very basis for his investigation. After all, there's not much need for a special counsel if the Russians were not responsible for the hacking / leaking.
Of course, it's also possible that Mueller obtained Aaron's financial records and found no evidence of a payment from Wikileaks, but I find that increasingly unlikely. As time passes, it looks all the more like Aaron and his lawyers are trying to hide all evidence pertaining to Wikileaks. Consider the headline of my June 11, 2018 post: ''Why won't Seth Rich's brother authorize Wikileaks to tell what it knows?'' Three months later, the crickets are still chirping.
NOTHING TO SEE HERE. MOVE ALONG.
In an August 20, 2018 email to Meryl Governski, one of Aaron's attorneys, I asked whether Aaron was referring to the FBI when describing ''federal law enforcement officials'' in his lawsuit. She never answered. I also sent another email to her on August 20:
Per the article below, the Democratic National Committee served its lawsuit on Wikileaks via Twitter. I'm wondering why your client has not tried to subpoena Wikileaks via Twitter. I'm also wondering why your client has not served subpoenas on eBay for payments into the accounts of companies controlled by Mr. Rich. [my client] would have issued his own subpoenas by now, but he does not wish to consent to the jurisdiction of the D.C. court.
The response came from her boss, Michael Gottlieb. Here's our email exchange that evening:
Gottlieb: You have sent two emails today (one copied below) purporting to ask us questions regarding the lawsuit our client Aaron Rich filed against the Washington Times, [my client], Mr. Couch, and America First Media in the District of Columbia, Case No. 1:18-cv-00681-RJL. Do you currently represent any party in that action? If so, which party do you represent? Do you contend that you are authorized to continue acting on behalf of a party in this litigation notwithstanding that you are not admitted to practice in D.C. and you withdrew your motion to appear pro hac vice? Or perhaps you are now authorized to practice law in D.C. If that is the case, please let us know.
Clevenger: I still serve as [my client]'s personal attorney, and I am involved directly or indirectly in all of his cases. I'm not sure why any of that matters. The first question pertained to a case in NY, not DC. The other question, frankly, was for purposes of my blog. If you and your client were serious about getting answers, you wouldn't be dragging your feet and making excuses. Your bluff has been called, and I think you know it.
Gottlieb: Thank you for confirming in writing that you continue to practice law in D.C. without authorization to do so.
Clevenger: Yeah, go ahead and file that complaint against me. We've already established that you like to talk tough'... and then do nothing. By the way, coordinating my client's representation in multiple jurisdictions is not ''practicing law'' in DC. And when your client's case craters (like the related cases in NY did), I'll probably be handling the malicious prosecution claims against you and your firm.
A little background: After I first questioned why Aaron had not authorized Wikileaks to tell what it knows, his lawyers claimed that they were going to get to the bottom of things by issuing their own subpoena for Wikileaks. They never did, instead offering excuses about the difficulty of serving Wikileaks overseas. That's why I asked them about serving the subpoena via Twitter, as the DNC had done. (Of course, if Aaron had just authorized Wikileaks to reveal what it knows, as I suggested in the first place, then no subpoena would have been necessary.)
If the DNC lawyers were so gung ho to serve Wikileaks via Twitter, you may be wondering why Aaron's lawyers are so reluctant. The DNC lawyers knew that Wikileaks would ignore their lawsuit because no U.S. court could reach Wikileaks or its assets. In other words, serving the lawsuit was an empty gesture to make it appear that the DNC was serious when it was not. In marked contrast, a subpoena from Aaron would have some very real consequences: it would waive all confidentiality agreements between him and Wikileaks, allowing Julian Assange to do what he has wanted to do all along, i.e., tell what he knows.
If Aaron is really interested in revealing the truth, he should have authorized Wikileaks, eBay, and PayPal to reveal what they know a long time ago. As I explained in my June 11, 2018 post, however, Aaron's lawyers seem to have a different objective in mind, and I think it's part of a larger litigation strategy being coordinated by the DNC. Specifically, I believe the DNC has been coordinating a stream of frivolous lawsuits designed to (1) keep the ''Russian collusion'' narrative alive at least through the mid-term elections, and (2) intimidate or discredit anyone who dares to question that narrative. (If you doubt that there is a desire to silence people, take a look at this June 1, 2018 piece in the left-wing publication Salon: ''Can lawsuits slow the tide of right-wing conspiracy theory?'')
The smoke-and-mirrors strategy follow a pattern: a high-profile Democratic law firm files a lawsuit making bold claims, the media hypes the lawsuit, the Democratic lawyers act as if they are prosecuting the case aggressively'... and then they allow the case to stagnate or die. In Aaron's case, for example, his lawyers initially insisted that they wanted to begin discovery as soon as possible, and they immediately subpoenaed the private Twitter communications of my client and me in an apparent attempt to intimidate us, yet they could never get around to subpoenaing Wikileaks, eBay, or PayPal about the alleged payoff. We struck back hard, and they've been quiet ever since.
Similarly, Joel and Mary Rich (parents of Aaron and Seth) generated great fanfare by suing my client, Fox News, and a Fox producer in New York for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit claimed that my client and the other defendants knowingly peddled a false story, i.e., that Seth and Aaron were responsible for leaking emails from the DNC. On August 2, 2018, U.S. District Judge George Daniels (a Clinton appointee) dismissed the case for failure to state a claim. The Riches did not appeal, probably because their lawyers knew the case was frivolous, and my client plans malicious prosecution lawsuits against the lawyers in the near future.
In late May, Brad Bauman, a self-described spokesman for the Rich family, sued my client and several other defendantsin D.C., claiming that my client defamed him by stating that Bauman had been ''assigned'' by the DNC to represent the Rich family. Thus far Bauman, who describes himself as a Democratic ''political communications consultant,'' has not been able to explain how he was defamed the statement that he was ''assigned'' by the DNC. (My client says Joel Rich was the person who told him that Bauman was assigned by the DNC). I suspect my client will soon be dismissed from that case as well.
Or consider the DNC lawsuit itself, which was filed in April. President Trump mocked the lawsuit from the outset, noting that his lawyers would finally have an opportunity to examine the email server that the DNC famously refused to share with the FBI, and that case really does look like a Kamikaze attack. Why would the DNC want President Trump's lawyers digging through all of its records?
I checked the docket this evening, and nothing substantive has happened in that case since it was filed. I suspect the DNC will try to dismiss it some time after the November elections.
After my June 11 blog post, Aaron's lawyers were beside themselves. They accused me of anti-Semitism in court papers because I had used the term ''oily shysters'' in my blog post to describe some of their dirty and unethical tactics. I say if the shoe fits, wear it.
There is absolutely nothing anti-Semitic about the term ''shyster,'' and I think Aaron's lawyers already knew that. For a good laugh and a good explanation, look at ''Shyster, Shyster, Shyster'' by Jonah Goldberg, a (Jewish) writer for National Review. The term arose in New York in the 1800s, but its Germanic origin had nothing to do with Jews. As best I can tell, accusations of anti-Semitism arise when unscrupulous left-wing shysters are trying to deflect attention from their shysterly ( or is it ''shysterious''?) behavior.
Gottlieb, et al. originally had not objected to my application to appear pro hac vice in the D.C. federal court. After the ''oily shyster'' blog post, however, they changed course and filed an opposition to my motion. I filed a blistering response, but given my history with the ''dirtiest federal courthouse in America,'' I opted to withdraw my pro hac motion.
As if things weren't weird enough, Aaron's lawyers then insisted that my response be stricken from the court record, apparently because they were embarrassed by it. I've never even heard of a request like that. Fortunately, my client rejected their request, and my response is still part of the court record. In the interest of documenting shysterly behavior, and for the amusement of my readers, I have uploaded a copy of my response.
Rob Sanders on Twitter: "Threatening acts of violence against educational institutions in Kentucky is a felony and we don't take it lightly no matter the circumstances. #KYcrime ðºð¸"
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 16:00
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Cond(C) Nast to Put All Titles Behind Paywalls by Year-End - WSJ
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 15:27
Magazine publisher Cond(C) Nast said it would put all its titles behind paywalls by the end of the year, a move that underscores how critical it has become for major publishers to generate revenue beyond advertising.
Cond(C) Nast, which publishes magazines including Vogue, GQ and Bon App(C)tit, lost $120 million in 2017. The company, a unit of closely held Advance Publications Inc., expects to return to profitability by 2020. It also expects to rely on advertising for only half of its revenue by end-2022, down from 70% last year, Chief Executive Bob Sauerberg said last summer.
Last November, Cond(C) Nast said Mr. Sauerberg would step down from his position after a new global CEO is named to oversee both Cond(C) Nast and Cond(C) Nast International. A search is under way.
Cond(C) Nast currently has three titles behind metered paywalls that allow access to four free articles each month: The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Wired.
''When you put a price tag on something, that must mean you have confidence in the product,'' said Pamela Drucker Mann, Cond(C) Nast's chief revenue and marketing officer, who pushed for the paywalls. She said she didn't expect any of the titles going behind a paywall to lose digital audiences.
Monica Ray, Cond(C) Nast's executive vice president of consumer marketing, said she expected subscription revenues to significantly increase over the next few years. She said the advantage of a metered paywall is that it enables casual readers to access up to a certain number of articles and post them to social media, building digital audience.
''In a sense, everything is free and nothing is free, depending on your consumption during a defined time period,'' Ms. Ray said.
The New Yorker, which debuted a metered paywall in November 2014, generated about $115 million in paid subscription revenue in 2018, up 69% from $68 million in 2015, people familiar with the matter said. That revenue includes consumers who subscribed to the digital and print editions, although subscribers today no longer have the option of subscribing solely to the print magazine. The New Yorker's regular renewal price for a print and digital bundle is currently moving to $149 a year from $119 a year. The magazine will publish 47 issues this year.
Wired, a tech magazine, followed with a metered paywall in February 2018, and Vanity Fair in April. Both titles have a regular renewal rate for print and digital of $30 a year, although both are rolling out a new regular renewal rate of $49 annually. Wired promises advertisers a paid audience of 900,000, while Vanity Fair promises a paid audience of 1.2 million.
Ms. Ray said it wasn't clear what form the paywalls would take for each of the other titles, which include Glamour, Self, Teen Vogue, the tech website Ars Technica, and Them, which serves the LGBTQ community.
Bon App(C)tit's website, for example, has a lot of recipes. ''We may take a different approach with recipes,'' Ms. Ray said. ''And Architectural Digest has an incredible archive of photos. If you're decorating your apartment, maybe that archive is desirable to you.''
Matt Lindsay, president of the consulting firm Mather Economics LLC, said that approximately 91% of digital readers consume four or fewer articles each month from the same magazine, and that this group accounts for 55% of all digital article pages read.
The cases of the New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Wired have shown metered paywalls don't necessarily affect traffic negatively. The New Yorker's online audience last month was up 12% from December 2015, about a year after the paywall was first installed, according to measurement firm Comscore Inc. Wired and Vanity Fair, which both launched a paywall less than a year ago, saw their online audience grow by 12% and shrink by 3% respectively compared with the month before the launch.
''The concern with a metered paywall is that you'll lose advertising revenue,'' said Mr. Lindsay. He noted, however, that paid subscribers may be worth more to advertisers because it's an engaged audience.
Cond(C) Nast is considering charging advertisers a premium for access to those subscribers, said Chris Mitchell, chief business officer for Cond(C) Nast's culture division, which includes the New Yorker, Wired and Vanity Fair.
Write to Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chrome Extension Manifest V3 could end uBlock Origin for Chrome - gHacks Tech News
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 15:24
Google is working on the Chrome extension manifest version 3 at the moment which defines the capabilities of Chrome's extensions platform.
The updated manifest is available as a draft currently that anyone may access. Draft means that it is not set in stone yet and that things may change. Google will release the updated version of the manifest eventually though and make it mandatory after a transitional period.
Interested users and extension developers may follow the tracking bug, issue 896897, on the Chromium Bugs website.
Raymond Hill, known as Gorhill online, the author of the popular content blockers uBlock Origin and uMatrix, voiced his concern over some of the planned changes; these changes, if implemented as proposed currently, remove functionality that the extensions use for content blocking.
Google plans to remove blocking options from the webRequest API and asks developers to use declarativeNetRequest instead. One of the main issues with the suggested change is that it made to support AdBlock Plus compatible filters only and would limit filters to 30k.
Hill mentioned on Google's bug tracking site that the change would end his extensions uBlock Origin and uMatrix for Google Chrome. While it would be possible to switch to the new functionality, it is too limiting and would cripple existing functionality of the content blocking extensions.
If this (quite limited) declarativeNetRequest API ends up being the only way content blockers can accomplish their duty, this essentially means that two content blockers I have maintained for years, uBlock Origin ("uBO") and uMatrix, can no longer exist.
The new API would limit content blockers for Chrome-based browsers and eliminate options to create new and unique content blocking extensions. All that would be left are AdBlock Plus like filtering extensions that would all offer the same blocking functionality.
While there would still be adblockers for Chrome, the limit of 30,000 network filters would make even those less capable than before. EasyList, a very popular blocking list, has 42,000 filters and if users add other lists used for other purposes, e.g. social blocking, that number would increase even more.
You can follow the discussion on uBlock Origin's GitHub page as well.
Closing WordsCould this have been Google's plan all along? Create a web browser and use it to combat the use of content blockers? Block some annoying ads, allow basic content blockers, and block any other form of content blocking to make sure that Google's advertising business improves again?
Some users would certainly move to Firefox if uBlock Origin, uMatrix, and other content blockers would no longer work in Chrome-based browsers. Even if millions would migrate, it would still leave Chrome dominate the entire desktop browser market.
It will also be interesting to see how Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, and other Chromium-based browser developers react to the change, if it passes the way it is proposed right now.
Now You: What is your take on this?
Chrome Extension Manifest V3 could end uBlock Origin for Chrome
The proposed update of the Chrome Extension Manifest to version 3 could end the content blocker uBlock Origin and others for Chrome.
Ghacks Technology News
Is Big Tech Merging With Big Brother? Kinda Looks Like It | WIRED
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 15:19
A friend of mine, who runs a large television production company in the car-mad city of Los Angeles, recently noticed that his intern, an aspiring filmmaker from the People's Republic of China, was walking to work.
When he offered to arrange a swifter mode of transportation, she declined. When he asked why, she explained that she ''needed the steps'' on her Fitbit to sign in to her social media accounts. If she fell below the right number of steps, it would lower her health and fitness rating, which is part of her social rating, which is monitored by the government. A low social rating could prevent her from working or traveling abroad.
China's social rating system, which was announced by the ruling Communist Party in 2014, will soon be a fact of life for many more Chinese.
By 2020, if the Party's plan holds, every footstep, keystroke, like, dislike, social media contact, and posting tracked by the state will affect one's social rating.
Personal ''creditworthiness'' or ''trustworthiness'' points will be used to reward and punish individuals and companies by granting or denying them access to public services like health care, travel, and employment, according to a plan released last year by the municipal government of Beijing. High-scoring individuals will find themselves in a ''green channel,'' where they can more easily access social opportunities, while those who take actions that are disapproved of by the state will be ''unable to move a step.''
Big Brother is an emerging reality in China. Yet in the West, at least, the threat of government surveillance systems being integrated with the existing corporate surveillance capacities of big-data companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon into one gigantic all-seeing eye appears to trouble very few people'--even as countries like Venezuela have been quick to copy the Chinese model.
Still, it can't happen here, right? We are iPhone owners and Amazon Prime members, not vassals of a one-party state. We are canny consumers who know that Facebook is tracking our interactions and Google is selling us stuff.
Yet it seems to me there is little reason to imagine that the people who run large technology companies have any vested interest in allowing pre-digital folkways to interfere with their 21st-century engineering and business models, any more than 19th-century robber barons showed any particular regard for laws or people that got in the way of their railroads and steel trusts.
Nor is there much reason to imagine that the technologists who run our giant consumer-data monopolies have any better idea of the future they're building than the rest of us do.
Facebook, Google, and other big-data monopolists already hoover up behavioral markers and cues on a scale and with a frequency that few of us understand. They then analyze, package, and sell that data to their partners.
A glimpse into the inner workings of the global trade in personal data was provided in early December in a 250-page report released by a British parliamentary committee that included hundreds of emails between high-level Facebook executives. Among other things, it showed how the company engineered sneaky ways to obtain continually updated SMS and call data from Android phones. In response, Facebook claimed that users must "opt-in" for the company to gain access to their texts and calls.
The machines and systems that the techno-monopolists have built are changing us faster than they or we understand. The scale of this change is so vast and systemic that we simple humans can't do the math'--perhaps in part because of the way that incessant smartphone use has affected our ability to pay attention to anything longer than 140 or 280 characters.
As the idea of a ''right to privacy,'' for example, starts to seem hopelessly old-fashioned and impractical in the face of ever-more-invasive data systems'--whose eyes and ears, i.e., our smartphones, follow us everywhere'--so has our belief that other individual rights, like freedom of speech, are somehow sacred.
Being wired together with billions of other humans in vast networks mediated by thinking machines is not an experience that humans have enjoyed before. The best guides we have to this emerging reality may be failed 20th-century totalitarian experiments and science fiction. More on that a little later.
The speed at which individual-rights-and-privacy-based social arrangements collapse is likely to depend on how fast Big Tech and the American national security apparatus consummate a relationship that has been growing ever closer for the past decade. While US surveillance agencies do not have regular real-time access to the gigantic amounts of data collected by the likes of Google, Facebook, and Amazon'--as far as we know, anyway'--there is both anecdotal and hard evidence to suggest that the once-distant planets of consumer Big Tech and American surveillance agencies are fast merging into a single corporate-bureaucratic life-world, whose potential for tracking, sorting, gas-lighting, manipulating, and censoring citizens may result in a softer version of China's Big Brother.
These troubling trends are accelerating in part because Big Tech is increasingly beholden to Washington, which has little incentive to kill the golden goose that is filling its tax and political coffers. One of the leading corporate spenders on lobbying services in Washington, DC, in 2017 was Google's parent company, Alphabet, which, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, spent more than $18 million. Lobbying Congress and government helps tech companies like Google win large government contracts. Perhaps more importantly, it serves as a shield against attempts to regulate their wildly lucrative businesses.
If anything, measuring the flood of tech dollars pouring into Washington, DC, law firms, lobbying outfits, and think tanks radically understates Big Tech's influence inside the Beltway. By buying The Washington Post, Amazon's Jeff Bezos took direct control of Washington's hometown newspaper. In locating one of Amazon's two new headquarters in nearby Northern Virginia, Bezos made the company a major employer in the area'--with 25,000 jobs to offer.
Who will get those jobs? Last year, Amazon Web Services announced the opening of the new AWS Secret Region, the result of a 10-year, $600 million contract the company won from the CIA in 2014. This made Amazon the sole provider of cloud services across ''the full range of data classifications, including Unclassified, Sensitive, Secret, and Top Secret,'' according to an Amazon corporate press release.
Once the CIA's Amazon-administered self-contained servers were up and running, the NSA was quick to follow suit, announcing its own integrated big-data project. Last year the agency moved most of its data into a new classified computing environment known as the Intelligence Community GovCloud, an integrated ''big data fusion environment,'' as the news site NextGov described it, that allows government analysts to ''connect the dots'' across all available data sources, whether classified or not.
The creation of IC GovCloud should send a chill up the spine of anyone who understands how powerful these systems can be and how inherently resistant they are to traditional forms of oversight, whose own track record can be charitably described as poor.
Amazon's IC GovCloud was quickly countered by Microsoft's secure version of its Azure Government cloud service, tailored for the use of 17 US intelligence agencies. Amazon and Microsoft are both expected to be major bidders for the Pentagon's secure cloud system, the Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative'--JEDI'--a winner-take-all contract that will likely be worth at least $10 billion.
With so many pots of gold waiting at the end of the Washington, DC, rainbow, it seems like a small matter for tech companies to turn over our personal data'--which legally speaking, is actually their data'--to the spy agencies that guarantee their profits. This is the threat that is now emerging in plain sight. It is something we should reckon with now, before it's too late.
In fact, big tech and the surveillance agencies are already partners. According to a 2016 report by Reuters, Yahoo designed custom software to filter its users' emails and deliver messages that triggered a set of search terms to the NSA.
The company's security chief quit in protest when he learned of the program. ''Yahoo is a law-abiding company, and complies with the laws of the United States,'' the company said in a statement, which notably did not deny the activity, while perhaps implying that turning over user data to government spy agencies is legal.
While Google has stated that it will not provide private data to government agencies, that policy does not extend beyond America's borders. At the same time as Yahoo was feeding user data to the NSA, Google was developing a search engine called Dragonfly in collaboration with the Communist Party of China. In a letter obtained by The Intercept, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told a group of six US senators that Dragonfly could have ''broad benefits inside and outside of China'' but refused to release other details of the program, which the company's search engine chief, Ben Gomes, informed Google staff would be released in early 2019.
According to the documents obtained by The Intercept, Dragonfly would restrict access to broad categories of information, banning phrases like ''human rights,'' ''student protest,'' and ''Nobel Prize'' while linking online searches to a user's phone number and tracking their physical location and movements, all of which will presumably impact social ratings or worse'--much worse, if you happen to be a Uighur or a member of another Muslim minority group inside China, more than 1 million of whom are now confined in re-education camps. China's digital surveillance net is a key tool by which Chinese authorities identify and track Muslims and others in need of re-education.
Google is also actively working with the US intelligence and defense complex to integrate its AI capacities into weapons programs. At the same time as Google was sending its letter about Dragonfly to Congress, the company was completing an agreement with the Pentagon to pursue Project Maven, which seeks to incorporate elements of AI into weaponized drones'--a contract that is expected to be worth at least $250 million a year.Under pressure from its employees, Google said in June that it would not seek to renew its Project Maven contract when it expires in 2019.)
It doesn't take a particularly paranoid mind to imagine what future big-ticket collaborations between big-data companies and government surveillance agencies might look like, or to be frightened of where they might lead. ''Our own information'--from the everyday to the deeply personal'--is being weaponized against us with military efficiency,'' warned Apple chairman Tim Cook during his keynote speech to the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Brussels. ''Taken to the extreme this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you may know yourself. Your profile is a bunch of algorithms that serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into harm.''
Cook didn't hesitate to name the process he was describing. ''We shouldn't sugarcoat the consequences,'' he said. ''This is surveillance.''
While Apple makes a point of not unlocking its iPhones and SmartWatches even under pressure from law enforcement and surveillance agencies, companies like Google and Facebook that earn huge profits from analyzing and packaging user data face a very different set of incentives.
Amazon, which both collects and analyzes consumer data and sells a wide range of consumer home devices with microphones and cameras in them, may present surveillance agencies with especially tempting opportunities to repurpose their existing microphones, cameras, and data.
The company has already come under legal pressure from judges who have ordered it to turn over recordings from Echo devices that were apparently made without their users' knowledge. According to a search warrant issued by a judge trying a double-murder case in New Hampshire, and obtained by TechCrunch, the court had ''probable cause to believe'' that an Echo Fire picked ''audio recordings capturing the attack'' as well as ''events that preceded or succeeded the attack.'' Amazon told the Associated Press that it would not release such recordings ''without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us,'' a response that would appear to suggest that the recordings in question exist.
Under what, if any, conditions Amazon would allow government spy agencies to access consumer data or use the company's vast network of microphones and cameras as a surveillance network are questions that remain to be answered. Yet as Washington keeps buying expensive tools and systems from companies like Google and Amazon, it is hard to imagine that technologists on both ends of these relationship aren't already seeking ways to further integrate their tools, systems, and data.
The flip side of that paranoid vision of an evolving American surveillance state is the dream that the new systems of analyzing and distributing information may be forces for good, not evil. What if Google helped the CIA develop a system that helped filter out fake news, say, or a new Facebook algorithm helped the FBI identify potential school shooters before they massacred their classmates? If human beings are rational calculating engines, won't filtering the information we receive lead to better decisions and make us better people?
Such fond hopes have a long history. Progressive techno-optimism goes back to the origins of the computer itself, in the correspondence between Charles Babbage, the 19th-century English inventor who imagined the ''difference engine'''--the first theoretical model for modern computers'--and Ada Lovelace, the brilliant futurist and daughter of the English Romantic poet Lord Byron.
''The Analytical Engine,'' Lovelace wrote, in one of her notes on Babbage's work, ''might act upon other things besides number, where objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations, and which should be also susceptible of adaptations to the action of the operating notation and mechanism of the engine. Supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.''
This is a pretty good description of the principles of digitizing sound; it also eerily prefigures and predicts the extent to which so much of our personal information, even stuff we perceive of as having distinct natural properties, could be converted to zeros and ones.
The Victorian techno-optimists who first envisioned the digital landscape we now inhabit imagined that thinking machines would be a force for harmony, rather than evil, capable of creating beautiful music and finding expressions for ''fundamental relations'' of any kind according to a strictly mathematical calculus.
The idea that social engineering could help produce a more efficient and equitable society was echoed by early 20th-century American progressives. Unlike 19th- and early 20th-century European socialists, who championed the organic strength of local communities, early 20th-century American progressives like Herbert Croly and John Dewey put their faith in the rise of a new class of educated scientist-priests who would re-engineer society from the top down according to a strict utilitarian calculus.
The lineage of these progressives'--who are not identical with the ''progressive'' faction of today's Democratic Party'--runs from Woodrow Wilson to champions of New Deal bureaucracy like Franklin D. Roosevelt's secretary of the interior, Harold Ickes. The 2008 election of Barack Obama, a well-credentialed technocrat who identified very strongly with the character of Spock from Star Trek, gave the old-time scientistic-progressive religion new currency on the left and ushered in a cozy relationship between the Democratic Party and billionaire techno-monopolists who had formerly fashioned themselves as government-skeptical libertarians.
''Amazon does great things for huge amounts of people,'' Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer told Kara Swisher of Recode in a recent interview, in which he also made approving pronouncements about Facebook and Google. ''I go to my small tech companies and say, 'How does Google treat you in New York?' A lot of them say, 'Much more fairly than we would have thought.'''
Big Tech companies and executives are happy to return the favor by donating to their progressive friends, including Schumer.
But the cozy relationship between mainstream Democrats and Silicon Valley hit a large-sized bump in November 2016, when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton'--in part through his mastery of social media platforms like Twitter. Blaming the election result on Russian bots or secret deals with Putin betrayed a shock that what the left had regarded as their cultural property had been turned against them by a right-wing populist whose authoritarian leanings inspired fear and loathing among both the technocratic elite and the Democratic party base.
Yet in the right hands, progressives continued to muse, information monopolies might be powerful tools for re-wiring societies malformed by racism, sexism, and transphobia. Thinking machines can be taught to filter out bad information and socially negative thoughts. Good algorithms, as opposed to whatever Google and Facebook are currently using, could censor neo-Nazis, purveyors of hate speech, Russian bots, and transphobes while discouraging voters from electing more Trumps.
The crowdsourced wisdom of platforms like Twitter, powered by circles of mutually credentialing blue-checked ''experts,'' might mobilize a collective will to justice, which could then be enforced on retrograde institutions and individuals. The result might be a better social order, or as data scientist Emily Gorcenski put it, ''revolution.''
The dream of centralized control over monopolistic information providers can be put to more prosaic political uses, too'--or so politicians confronted by a fractured and tumultuous digital media landscape must hope. In advance of next year's elections for the European Parliament, which will take place in May, French Ppresident Emmanuel Macron signed a deal with Facebook in which officials of his government will meet regularly with Facebook executives to police ''hate speech.''
The program, which will continue through the May elections, apparently did little to discourage fuel riots by the "gillets jaunes," which have set Paris and other French cities ablaze, even as a claim that a change in Facebook's local news algorithm was responsible for the rioting was quickly picked up by French media figures close to Macron.
At root, the utopian vision of AI-powered information monopolies programmed to advance the cause of social justice makes sense only when you imagine that humans and machines ''think'' in similar ways. Whether machines can ''think,'' or'--to put it another way, whether people think like machines'--is a question that has been hotly debated for the past five centuries. Those debates gave birth to modern liberal societies, whose foundational assumptions and guarantees are now being challenged by the rise of digital culture.
To recap some of that history: In the 17th century, the German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz amused himself with thinking about the nature of thinking. His most eloquent modern American popularizer, the UC Berkeley philosopher John Searle, asked Leibnitz's essential question like this:
Imagine you taught a machine to speak Chinese and you locked it in a room with a man who did not speak Chinese. Then you had the machine produce cards with Chinese words and sentences on them, and the man took the cards and slid them out of the room through a slot. Can we say, Searle asks, that there's anyone or anything in the room that understands Chinese?
If you believe, like Searle and Leibnitz, that the answer is no, you understand thinking as a subjective experience, a biological process performed by human brains, which are located in human bodies. By definition, then, the human brain is not a machine, and machines can't think, even if they can perform computational feats like multiplying large numbers at blinding speeds.
Alan Turing gave an elegant answer to the Leibnitz/Searle question when he said that the only true mark of consciousness is the ability to think about oneself. Since you can build machines that fix their own problems'--debug themselves'--these machines are innately self-aware, and therefore there's nothing stopping them from evolving until they reach HAL-like proportions.
What does the history of thinking about thinking have to do with dreams of digitally mediated social justice? For Thomas Hobbes, who inspired the social-contract theorist John Locke, thinking was ''nothing more than reckoning,'' meaning mathematical calculation. David Hume, who extended Hobbes' ideas in his own theory of reason, believed that all of our observations and perceptions were nothing more than atomic-level ''impressions'' that we couldn't possibly make sense of unless we interpreted them based on a utilitarian understanding of our needs, meaning the attempt to derive the greatest benefit from a given operation.
If, following Locke and Hume, human beings think like machines, then machines can think like human beings, only better. A social order monitored and regulated by machines that have been programmed to be free of human prejudice while optimizing a utilitarian calculus is therefore a plausible-enough way to imagine a good society. Justice-seeking machines would be the better angels of our nature, helping to bend the arc of history toward results that all human beings, in their purest, most rational state, would, or should, desire.
The origin of the utilitarian social calculus and its foundational account of thinking as a form of computation is social contract theory. Not coincidentally, these accounts evolved during the last time western societies were massively impacted by a revolution in communications technology, namely the introduction of the printing press, which brought both the text of the Bible and the writings of small circles of Italian and German humanists to all of Europe. The spread of printing technologies was accompanied by the proliferation of the simple hand mirror, which allowed even ordinary individuals to gaze at a ''true reflection'' of their own faces, in much the same way that we use iPhones to take selfies.
Nearly every area of human imagination and endeavor'--from science to literature to painting and sculpture to architecture'--was radically transformed by the double-meteor-like impact of the printing press and the hand mirror, which together helped give rise to scientific discoveries, great works of art, and new political ideas that continue to shape the way we think, live, and work.
The printing press fractured the monopoly on worldly and spiritual knowledge long held by the Roman Catholic Church, bringing the discoveries of Erasmus and the polemics of Martin Luther to a broad audience and fueling the Protestant Reformation, which held that ordinary believers'--individuals, who could read their own Bibles and see their own faces in their own mirrors'--might have unmediated contact with God. What was once the province of the few became available to the many, and the old social order that had governed the lives of Europe for the better part of a millennium was largely demolished.
In England, the broad diffusion of printing presses and mirrors led to the bloody and ultimately failed anti-monarchical revolution led by Oliver Cromwell. The Thirty Years' War, fought between Catholic and Protestant believers and hired armies in Central and Eastern Europe, remains the single most destructive conflict, on a per capita basis, in European history, including the First and Second World Wars.
The information revolution spurred by the advent of digital technologies may turn out to be even more powerful than the Gutenberg revolution; it is also likely to be bloody. Our inability to wrap our minds around a sweeping revolution in the way that information is gathered, analyzed, used, and controlled should scare us. It is in this context that both right- and left-leaning factions of the American elite appear to accept the merger of the US military and intelligence complex with Big Tech as a good thing, even as centralized control over information creates new vulnerabilities for rivals to exploit.
The attempt to subject the American information space to some form of top-down, public-private control was in turn made possible'--and perhaps, in the minds of many on both the right and the left, necessary'--by the collapse of the 20th-century American institutional press. Only two decades ago, the social and political power of the institutional press was still so great that it was often called ''the Fourth Estate'''--a meaningful check on the power of government. The term is rarely used anymore, because the monopoly over the printed and spoken word that gave the press its power is now gone.
Why? Because in an age in which every smartphone user has a printing press in their pocket, there is little premium in owning an actual, physical printing press. As a result, the value of ''legacy'' print brands has plummeted. Where the printed word was once a rare commodity, relative to the sum total of all the words that were written in manuscript form by someone, today nearly all the words that are being written anywhere are available somewhere online. What's rare, and therefore worth money, are not printed words but fractions of our attention.
The American media market today is dominated by Google and Facebook, large platforms that together control the attention of readers and therefore the lion's share of online advertising. That's why Facebook, probably the world's premier publisher of fake news, was recently worth $426 billion, and Newsweek changed hands in 2010 for $1, and why many once-familiar magazine titles no longer exist in print at all.
The operative, functional difference between today's media and the American media of two decades ago is not the difference between old-school New York Times reporters and new-media bloggers who churn out opinionated ''takes'' from their desks. It is the difference between all of those media people, old and new, and programmers and executives at companies like Google and Facebook. A set of key social functions'--communicating ideas and information'--has been transferred from one set of companies, operating under one set of laws and values, to another, much more powerful set of companies, which operate under different laws and understand themselves in a different way.
According to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, information service providers are protected from expensive libel lawsuits and other forms of risk that publishers face. Those protections allowed Google and Facebook to build their businesses at the expense of ''old media'' publishers, which in turn now find it increasingly difficult to pay for original reporting and writing.
The media once actively promoted and amplified stories that a plurality or majority of Americans could regard as ''true.'' That has now been replaced by the creation and amplification of extremes. The overwhelming ugliness of our public discourse is not accidental; it is a feature of the game, which is structured and run for the profit of billionaire monopolists, and which encourages addictive use.
The result has been the creation of a socially toxic vacuum at the heart of American democracy, from which information monopolists like Google and Facebook have sucked out all the profit, leaving their users ripe for top-down surveillance, manipulation, and control.
Today, the printing press and the mirror have combined in the iPhone and other personal devices, which are networked together. Ten years from now, thanks to AI, those networks, and the entities that control them'--government agencies, private corporations, or a union of both'--may take on a life of their own. Perhaps the best way to foresee how this future may play out is to look back at how some of our most far-sighted science fiction writers have wrestled with the future that is now in front of us.
The idea of intelligent machines rising to compete with the human beings who built them was seldom considered until Samuel Butler's Erewohn, which was published in 1872. Riffing on Darwin, Butler proposed that if the species can evolve to the detriment of the weak, so could machines, until they would eventually become self-sufficient. Since then, science fiction has provided us with our best guides to what human societies mediated or run by intelligent machines might look like.
How precisely the machines might take over was first proposed by Karel Capek's R.U.R., the 1921 play that gave us the term robot. Interestingly, Capek's automatons aren't machines: They emerge from the discovery of a new kind of bio-matter that differs from our own in that it doesn't mind abuse or harbor independent desires. In the play, the humans are degenerates who stop procreating and succumb to their most selfish and strange whims'--while the robots remain unerring in their calculations and indefatigable in their commitment to work. The machines soon take over, killing all humans except for a single engineer who happens to work and think like a robot.
In the play's third act, the engineer, ordered by the robots to dissect other robots in order to make them even better, is about to take the knife to two robots, a male and a female, who have fallen in love. They each beg for the other's life, leading the engineer to understand that they have become human; he spares them, declaring them the new Adam and Eve. This soulful theme of self-awareness being the true measure of humanity was taken up by dozens of later science fiction authors, most notably Philip K. Dick in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which became the film Blade Runner.
Yet even classic 20th-century dystopias like Aldous Huxley's Brave New World or George Orwell's 1984 tell us little about the dangers posed to free societies by the fusion of big data, social networks, consumer surveillance, and AI.
Perhaps we are reading the wrong books. Instead of going back to Orwell for a sense of what a coming dystopia might look like, we might be better off reading We, which was written nearly a century ago by the Russian novelist Yevgeny Zamyatin. We is the diary of state mathematician D-503, whose experience of the highly disruptive emotion of love for I-330, a woman whose combination of black eyes, white skin, and black hair strike him as beautiful. This perception, which is also a feeling, draws him into a conspiracy against the centralized surveillance state.
The Only State, where We takes places, is ruled by a highly advanced mathematics of happiness, administered by a combination of programmers and machines. While love has been eliminated from the Only State as inherently discriminatory and unjust, sex has not. According to the Lex Sexualis, the government sex code, ''Each number has a right towards every other number as a sex object.'' Citizens, or numbers, are issued ration books of pink sex tickets. Once both numbers sign the ticket, they are permitted to spend a ''sex hour'' together and lower the shades in their glass apartments.
Zamyatin was prescient in imagining the operation and also the underlying moral and intellectual foundations of an advanced modern surveillance state run by engineers. And if 1984 explored the opposition between happiness and freedom, Zamyatin introduced a third term into the equation, which he believed to be more revolutionary and also more inherently human: beauty. The subjective human perception of beauty, Zamyatin argued, along lines that Liebniz and Searle might approve of, is innately human, and therefore not ultimately reconcilable with the logic of machines or with any utilitarian calculus of justice.
In We, the rule of utilitarian happiness is embodied in the Integral, a giant computing machine/spaceship that will ''force into the yoke of reason other unknown beings that inhabit other planets, perhaps still in a wild state of freedom.'' By eliminating freedom and all causes of inequality and envy, the Only State claims to guarantee infinite happiness to humankind'--through a perfect calculus that the Integral will spread throughout the solar system.
In reality, sexual relationships are a locus of envy and inequality in the Only State, where power rests in the hands of an invisible elite that has removed itself somewhere beyond the clouds. But the real threat to the ideal of happiness incarnated in the Integral is not inequality or envy or hidden power. It is beauty, which isn't rational or equal, and at the same time doesn't exclude anyone or restrict anyone else's pleasure, and therefore frustrates and undermines any utilitarian calculus. For D-503, dance is beautiful, mathematics is beautiful, the contrast between I-330's black eyes and black hair and white skin is also beautiful. Beauty is the answer to D-503's urgent question, ''What is there beyond?''
Beauty is the ultimate example of human un-freedom and un-reason, being a subjectivity that is rooted in our biology, yet at the same time rooted in external absolutes like mathematical ratios and the movement of time. As the critic Giovanni Basile writes in an extraordinarily perceptive critical essay, ''The Algebra of Happiness,'' the utopia implied by Zamyatin's dystopia is ''a world in which happiness is intertwined with a natural un-freedom that nobody imposes on anyone else: a different freedom from the one with which the Great Inquisitor protects mankind: a paradoxical freedom in which there is no 'power' if not in the nature of things, in music, in dance and in the harmony of mathematics.''
Against a centralized surveillance state that imposes a motionless and false order and an illusory happiness in the name of a utilitarian calculus of ''justice,'' Basile concludes, Zamyatin envisages a different utopia: ''In fact, only within the 'here and now' of beauty may the equation of happiness be considered fully verified.'' Human beings will never stop seeking beauty, Zamyatin insists, because they are human. They will reject and destroy any attempt to reorder their desires according to the logic of machines.
A national or global surveillance network that uses beneficent algorithms to reshape human thoughts and actions in ways that elites believe to be just or beneficial to all mankind is hardly the road to a new Eden. It's the road to a prison camp. The question now'--as in previous such moments'--is how long it will take before we admit that the riddle of human existence is not the answer to an equation. It is something that we must each make for ourselves, continually, out of our own materials, in moments whose permanence is only a dream.
David Samuels is a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine. He is a longtime contributor to Harper's, N+1 and The New Yorker.
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Links Amsterdam wil pas voor illegalen | Binnenland | Telegraaf.nl
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 14:57
Korting op fiets, cursussen en sport
Updated 1 uur geleden
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BIJ1-leider Sylvana Simons.
AMSTERDAM - GroenLinks in Amsterdam, de grootste fractie in de gemeenteraad, lanceert samen met de raadsfracties BIJ1 en DENK een plan voor een stadspas voor ongedocumenteerden. Die moeten met de lokale identiteitspas toegang krijgen tot tal van voorzieningen.
BIJ1-leider Sylvana Simons.
In Amsterdam leven ruim 10.000 mensen zonder papieren en geen toegang hebben tot bijvoorbeeld zorg en onderwijs. Met de stadspas krijgen ze die rechten wel, zo luidt het initiatiefvoorstel, en kan aanspraak worden gemaakt op tal van armoede- en kortingsregelingen.
Het gaat om mensen die hier zijn gekomen op een toeristenvisum, of na een lange migratieroute en asielaanvraag. Zij blijven vaak bewust onder de radar. "Ze werken contractloos als schoonmaker of in restaurants, wonen in te duur verhuurde woningen en zijn kwetsbaar voor uitbuiting en misbruik," zegt GroenLinksraadslid Femke Roosma.
Volgens GroenLinks komen hun basale mensenrechten in het geding, zoals het recht op onderdak, zorg en onderwijs.
Het plan kan overigens niet op een meerderheid in de raad rekenen en is al bij voorbaat kansloos.
New York en ParijsAmsterdam kent al een zogenoemde Stadspas waarmee kinderen, minima en ouderen toegang krijgen tot voorzieningen als de bibliotheek, maar ook korting kunnen krijgen op een nieuwe fiets, cursussen en sportactiviteiten.
De gemeenteraadsfracties van GroenLinks, BIJ1 en DENK willen laten onderzoeken of die is uit te breiden naar een pas voor alle Amsterdammers, ongeacht verblijfsstatus of papieren. In steden als New York, Parijs, Barcelona en Bern bestaat al iets dergelijks.
KansloosHet plan is overigens op voorhand al kansloos. De PvdA, D66 en de VVD hebben al aangegeven dat ze tegen zijn, waarmee de kans van slagen nihil is omdat de gemeenteraad niet zal instemmen met het voorstel. Volgens D66 zouden alle extra's een verkeerd signaal afgeven.
Dagelijks tijdens de lunch het laatste nieuws in je inbox?Ongeldig e-mailadres. Vul nogmaals in aub.
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Why were there no US government shutdowns before 1976? - Quora
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 14:55
a q d o R b c y T Z W U i x k k i E b g u a y t
Laws changed.In 1974, Congress enacted the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act. This piece of legislation passed both House and Senate easily (it went unopposed in the Senate). Before this, there was no formal budgeting process.
Here's how the current system works:
1) The President submits a budget to Congress. This usually gets submitted in February.2) The Congressional Budget Office (which was also created by the 1974 law) crunches the numbers on the budget and posts its analysis, usually in March.3) Congress passes a budget resolution, which actually doesn't need to be signed by the President because it is a "continuing resolution."4) Appropriation bills get written up to formalize spending the money. These must be approved by the President.Prior to 1974, the CBO didn't exist, nor did the budget resolution - so budgets were highly ad-hoc affairs that generally lacked coherence, cobbled together from various laws that could come into being independently of each other. It's only now that the US has a formal budgeting process (and therefore a formalized budget) that government shutdowns are really possible.
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Because whatever their ideological differences (and there were many), both sides believed in the democratic principle of majority rule. To succeed, you must get a majority of people on your side. In the past, House leaders would threaten, cajole and outright bribe people to come on board and support some law. It wasn't pretty, but it worked after a fashion and when you lost, you lost.Now about 30 Republican members of the House now think they have a better idea: government by extortion. In other words, winning elections, passing laws? None of that matters. What matters is getting your way regardless of the means.
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The Presidential Power of Veto: Where Did it Come From? | Owlcation
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 14:52
Updated on December 21, 2017
Bill has advanced degrees in education and political science. He has been a political science teacher for over 25 years.
The American presidency, called one of the most powerful offices in the world, was the creation of the framers of the Constitution at the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. This Convention, often referred to as the ''Constitutional Convention'' imbued the presidency with selected powers. One of those powers, and perhaps the most famous of them, is the power of veto, the president's power to reject bills passed by Congress.
A veto is a political weapon; it allows the president to slow down and even kill a bill passed by the Congress. The word ''veto'' is Latin, which means ''I forbid.'' The veto is a part of the checks and balances system created by the constitutional framers to limit the powers of Congress, but also to ensure presidential cooperation in carrying out the law. In this essay I look at where the framers of the Constitution got the idea of a presidential veto. Later, I will provide a more modern assessment of the presidential veto since it was created.
Source The Veto in EuropeThroughout European history, the veto power was exercised in various forms by rulers or elites within a government. In Rome, the tribal leaders of the plebes (the ''tribunes'') had the power to reject legislation from the Roman Senate. In medieval England, the King of England was the supreme lawmaker, but governed through agents such as judges and councils like the ''Privy Council.'' By the 14th century, a Parliament was regularly meeting and advising the crown with written bills on their recommended legislation. Over time, the king lost the authority to make laws and slowly was reduced to ether approving them or rejecting them. His method of rejecting an act of Parliament was to refuse to give the "royal assent."
In 1597 Elizabeth I refused the royal assent to most parliamentary bills. James I, though he rejected no bills in 1606, told the people it was an act of his grace that he spared them. Charles I refused the royal assent for a militia bill which some have said precipitated the 1643 revolution (Parliament enacted the bill anyway). The last English monarch to refuse the royal assent was Queen Anne in 1707.
George Clinton (1739-1812) was the first governor of New York under New York's 1777 Constitution. The New York governor was a model for the power of veto later given to the American president. | Source The Veto in AmericaDuring the Colonial Era of American history, colonial assemblies made laws that could be vetoed by the royal governor (in royal colonies he had an absolute veto, that is, a veto with no override). Also, both Parliament and the monarch could veto colonial legislation. However, vetoes from across the Atlantic were rare. It is estimated that over 80 percent of laws passed by the colonies went untouched by the king and Parliament.
Over time, the governor's and Crown's use of the veto became a grievance to the colonials. When Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence ''He [King George III] has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good'' and ''He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance'' He was expressing two grievances on the veto power.
During and after the Revolutionary War, most states sought to subordinate their governors (if they had one) to their legislatures. After 1778 and until the Constitutional Convention, no state gave its executive the sole power of veto. Earlier, New York's 1777 Constitution provided an exception in giving their governor broad powers, including a shared veto power.
The New York Constitution allowed for a Council of Revision, made up the governor and judges. This Council had ten days after a bill was passed to consider and revise it. A majority of this council could also veto a bill and return that bill to the house of origin with the objections. The legislature could override the veto with a 2/3 vote of both houses. The New York Constitution of 1777 was the model for the state of Massachusetts' 1780 constitutional executive veto and was probably the most important document in shaping the veto powers that would later be given to the American presidency in the US Constitution.
Queen Anne (1665 1714) was the last monarch of England to veto an act of Parliament. English monarchs vetoed parliamentary bills by refusing to grant the royal assent. | Source The Veto and the Constitutional ConventionOne of the questions considered early at the Constitutional Convention was whether or not the new government would have an executive. It was early decided that the new government would have an executive and that it would be a single executive (as opposed to executive committees which they had used under the Confederation Congress). When the issue of the executive's powers over legislation was considered, several questions pertaining to the veto were broached:
Would the president veto with a council or alone?Could the veto be overridden? And if so, by how much?Could the veto power be held by other members of the national government?Could the executive (or the Congress) veto state laws?In the end, the framers of the Constitution decided that the veto would be the sole property of the president and this veto would be a qualified one, and not absolute like it had been under the royal governors. Should the president veto an act of Congress, he would also have to offer a veto message to the Congress, explaining why he rejected the legislation. And, like the New York arrangement, the legislature could override the president's veto with a 2/3 vote. Finally, they decided that the presidential veto would be limited to national laws and could not be used to strike down state laws.
AssessmentIn the end, the framers wanted the president to be sufficiently energetic; however, they also did not want a tyrant. They gave the president a formidable weapon against legislation he opposes. But the power is not absolute: Congress can surmount this presidential weapon if a sufficient number of them unite to oppose him.
(C) 2010 William R Bowen Jr
Facecrimes and 1984 | Futurist.com: Futurist Speaker Glen Hiemstra
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 14:42
Facecrimes and 1984I noticed a news item the other day about the TSA having trained special personnel to wander airports and ask travelers innocuous questions, and then to watch their face expressions when they respond. Questions like, ''where are you going,'' or ''going on a vacation?'' The TSA believes they can train observers to notice ''micro face expressions.'' If your face expression is suspicious you will be taken aside for extra security screening or questioning.
Even though in an earlier career I taught courses in nonverbal communication, I found this newest security measure worrying.
And, today a Daily Kos blogger noted the connection to Orwell's 1984 '' the idea of there being ''facecrimes.'' He quotes from the book'...Part 1, Chapter 5:
''He did not know how long she had been looking at him, but perhaps for as much as five minutes, and it was possible that his features had not been perfectly under control. It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself'--anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.''
Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, consultant, blogger, internet TV show host and founder of Futurist.com. To arrange for a speech contact Futurist.com.
About Glen HiemstraGlen Hiemstra is the founder and owner of Futurist.com. An internationally respected expert on future trends, long-range planning and creating the preferred future, Glen has advised professional, business, and governmental organizations for two decades.
Denver Teachers Vote To Authorize A Strike : NPR
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 13:55
Teachers in Denver Public Schools voted to authorize a strike late Tuesday. Jenny Brundin/CPR News hide caption
toggle caption Jenny Brundin/CPR News Teachers in Denver Public Schools voted to authorize a strike late Tuesday.
Jenny Brundin/CPR News The teachers union in Denver has voted to approve a strike that could begin as soon as Jan. 28. It would be the first time the city has seen a teacher strike in almost 25 years.
The Denver Classroom Teachers Association finished voting late Tuesday after more than a year of negotiations between the union and the district, which have failed to yield an agreement.
"Denver teachers overwhelmingly agreed to strike," said Rob Gould, the union's lead negotiator, at a press conference Tuesday. He unveiled that 93 percent of members had voted to go ahead with strike plans. "They're striking for better pay. They're striking for our profession. And they're striking for Denver students."
In the event of a strike, schools would remain open, according to the city's school superintendent, Susana Cordova. Substitute teachers would be paid double the normal rate, up to $250 a day, to cover classes while teachers are striking.
The union encouraged parents to continue sending their children to school during the strike. A union-authored FAQ document being shared on Facebook claims that "one major goal of the strike is for school buildings to be shut down as a demonstration of the essential labor performed by educators." Without teachers to staff buildings, "the district will be obliged to close schools if safety becomes an issue."
Denver Public School teachers gather in the district's bargaining room on Thursday, Jan. 17. Jenny Brundin/CPR News hide caption
toggle caption Jenny Brundin/CPR News Denver Public School teachers gather in the district's bargaining room on Thursday, Jan. 17.
Jenny Brundin/CPR News A big reason teachers are striking? A pay incentive system that Denver voters funded in 2005. The system grants certain teachers bonuses for working in high-poverty schools and in hard-to-staff content areas, such as secondary special education. Union leaders say the system keeps base salaries lower for more teachers. To fix this, they propose reducing some incentive bonuses, raising base salaries and giving teachers more opportunities to work toward higher pay through professional development.
But reducing incentive payouts is a sticking point for the district. Leaders claim that the bonuses help attract and retain teachers at high-poverty schools. Superintendent Susana Cordova has said that these bonuses are a top priority.
The district offered to raise salaries by 10 percent between this year and next. But by the time of the strike vote, the district and union budget proposals differed by $8 million.
The Denver Classroom Teachers Association represents over 5,600 educators in Denver's district-run schools, which serve about 71,000 students. An additional 21,000 students attend district-authorized charter schools, which would not be involved in the strike. Over half of Denver students are Latino, and approximately 67 percent qualify for free- or reduced-lunch programs.
This would be the first strike for Denver teachers since 1994, when they walked off the job for five days in pursuit of salary increases, more influence on curriculum decisions and improvements in working conditions.
The drama in Colorado comes on the heels of a strike by Los Angeles teachers, which began on Jan. 14. Educators in Oakland, Calif., are also weighing a strike. In Virginia, thousands of teachers plan to demonstrate at the state Capitol, calling for an increase to teacher pay as the legislature considers tax breaks for Amazon, which is building a new headquarters in Arlington.
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Ukraine's Shape-Shifter Takes the Stage Again | Need to Know | OZY
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 13:42
OZY Newsmakers: Deep dives on the names you need to know.
After wild corruption marred the 2004 Ukranian elections, Yulia Tymoshenko urged people to grab the cheapest pieces of orange cloth they could find, tear them into ribbons and put them everywhere they could '-- a symbol of solidarity with the losing candidate, her ally and then-friend Viktor Yushchenko. Soon, hundreds of thousands were filling the streets of the capital city, Kiev, for the Orange Revolution. And each day, they were fed rousing speeches from Tymoshenko, whose anti-establishment heroism and defining blond halo braid caused the Western media to soon dub her the Joan of Arc of Ukraine.
The analogy to the martyred saint has only proven more apt with time. Because although those protests ended with Tymoshenko's ascension from a lowly parliamentarian and former energy minister to prime minister of Ukraine, the years since have seen critics trying to burn her at the stake.
Indeed, Tymoshenko, 58, may be the most embattled and most persistent politician in a nation defined by being embattled and persistent for the past two decades. But while she has faced numerous political setbacks, polls for months have had her as the clear front-runner in Ukraine's presidential elections in March. And with Ukraine caught in a near-constant geopolitical tug of war, it is fitting that Ukraine may just elect the woman known for her oscillating ties between Russia and the West.
Her inconsistencies are as numerous as her nicknames: the ''Gas Princess,'' ''goddess of the Revolution'' and the ''Princess Leia of Ukranian politics,'' to name a few.
''Today we are entering a new era '-- an era of success, of happiness, of enlightenment. Today we begin Ukraine's journey toward real and powerful greatness,'' Tymoshenko said when announcing her candidacy Tuesday while also acknowledging her critics. ''I've made my mistakes. Maybe sometimes I'm wrong, but I'm wrong sincerely.''
Tymoshenko has experienced about as wild a ride in politics as can be imagined. After being named by Forbes as the third most powerful woman in the world in 2005, she was sacked just eight months into her tenure as Ukraine's first female PM by President Yushchenko. Still, she persisted, touring the nation, building a groundswell of grassroots support and reclaiming her PM post from 2007 until 2010 '-- when she first ran for the presidency, lost and then was thrown in prison by the new government for corruption charges her allies said were political retribution. Finally freed in 2014 after protestors led a political revolt, she ran for president again, only to lose to now-president Petro Poroshenko.
The unpopularity of Poroshenko, says former CIA deputy director and OZY columnist John McLaughlin, may be Tymoshenko's biggest asset this time around. But her shape-shifting nature leaves many puzzled. ''It has always been hard to get a fix on where Tymoshenko stands on the issues plaguing Ukraine '-- her fluid positions and history allow her to be all things to all people there,'' says McLaughlin.
Tymoshenko is currently running as a pro-Western candidate, urging Ukraine to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and to have close relations with the European Union. It suits the mood of a nation locked in a low-scale war with Russia since its larger neighbor's 2014 invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. But in the past, Tymoshenko has sidled up to Vladimir Putin '-- most notably by deciding not to condemn Russia's decision to seize Georgia in 2008 and by awarding gas contracts to Moscow that Russia has been able to use since to bully Ukraine economically and politically. If she does win, her allegiances will have deep ramifications not just for Ukraine, but also for an unsteady Europe.
Conflicting ties have marked Tymoshenko's political and personal life. Born Yulia Hrihyan, she grew up in what was then called Dnipropetrovsk, a Russian-speaking part of central Ukraine under the grasp of the Soviet Union (she spent years as a politician speaking mostly in Russian before finally making Ukranian a part of her repertoire). The daughter of a single mother '-- her father abandoned them '-- she graduated as both an engineer and an economist from Dnipropetrovsk State University. Despite her lowly start, she became rich in the notoriously ruthless and corrupt gas business. Her business partner, Pavlo Lazarenko, was later convicted in the U.S. of money laundering and embezzlement from the Ukrainian Treasury.
It's just one of the many contradictions of Tymoshenko, whose inconsistencies are as numerous as her nicknames: the ''Gas Princess,'' ''Goddess of the Revolution'' and the ''Princess Leia of Ukranian Politics,'' to name a few. While promising to grow the Ukrainian economy, she simultaneously pledges to take on big banks, reverse gas tariffs and restore factories (despite no clear path for said factories to have economic viability). While promising to achieve peace with Russia, she also plans to strengthen European ties, particularly by joining NATO, an effort Putin almost certainly would try to stymie '-- perhaps by force.
While her positions may seem untenable, her political strength remains with the majority-making demographics of retirees and the disgruntled, low-income Ukrainians to whom she's promised higher pensions and increased social supports. In any case, she has shed her former selves before, and nobody will be surprised should she shed them again. And, as McLaughlin notes, Tymoshenko ''is a dynamic and charismatic character who just might be able to jumpstart progress on things like the long-stalled military conflict with Russia.''
Take note of the missing halo braid she once sported '-- a look that first helped spur her saintly reputation. The braid is now gone, and the message is clear: This is a new Tymoshenko, a reformer '... or, if we're getting technical, Tymoshenko the reformer turned insider turned reformer once again.
Read more: Is this church the next staging ground for Russia-Ukraine tensions?
Nick Fouriezos , OZY Author
Does Journalism Have a Future? | The New Yorker
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 13:40
In an era of social media and fake news, journalists who have survived the print plunge have new foes to face. The more desperately the press chases readers, the more it resembles our politics.
Illustration by Erik CarterThe wood-panelled tailgate of the 1972 Oldsmobile station wagon dangled open like a broken jaw, making a wobbly bench on which four kids could sit, eight legs swinging. Every Sunday morning, long before dawn, we'd get yanked out of bed to stuff the car's way-back with stacks of twine-tied newspapers, clamber onto the tailgate, cut the twine with my mother's sewing scissors, and ride around town, bouncing along on that bench, while my father shouted out orders from the driver's seat. ''Watch out for the dog!'' he'd holler between draws on his pipe. ''Inside the screen door!'' ''Mailbox!'' As the car crept along, never stopping, we'd each grab a paper and dash in the dark across icy driveways or dew-drunk grass, crashing, seasonally, into unexpected snowmen. ''Back porch!'' ''Money under the mat!'' He kept a list, scrawled on the back of an envelope, taped to the dashboard: the Accounts. ''They owe three weeks!'' He didn't need to remind us. We knew each Doberman and every debt. We'd deliver our papers'--Worcester Sunday Telegrams'--and then run back to the car and scramble onto the tailgate, dropping the coins we'd collected into empty Briggs tobacco tins as we bumped along to the next turn, the newspaper route our Sabbath.
The Worcester Sunday Telegram was founded in 1884, when a telegram meant something fast. Two years later, it became a daily. It was never a great paper but it was always a pretty good paper: useful, gossipy, and resolute. It cultivated talent. The poet Stanley Kunitz was a staff writer for the Telegram in the nineteen-twenties. The New York Times reporter Douglas Kneeland, who covered Kent State and Charles Manson, began his career there in the nineteen-fifties. Joe McGinniss reported for the Telegram in the nineteen-sixties before writing ''The Selling of the President.'' From bushy-bearded nineteenth-century politicians to baby-faced George W. Bush, the paper was steadfastly Republican, if mainly concerned with scandals and mustachioed villains close to home: overdue repairs to the main branch of the public library, police raids on illegal betting establishments'--''Worcester Dog Chases Worcester Cat Over Worcester Fence,'' as the old Washington press-corps joke about a typical headline in a local paper goes. Its pages rolled off giant, thrumming presses in a four-story building that overlooked City Hall the way every city paper used to look out over every city hall, the Bat-Signal over Gotham.
Most newspapers like that haven't lasted. Between 1970 and 2016, the year the American Society of News Editors quit counting, five hundred or so dailies went out of business; the rest cut news coverage, or shrank the paper's size, or stopped producing a print edition, or did all of that, and it still wasn't enough. The newspaper mortality rate is old news, and nostalgia for dead papers is itself pitiful at this point, even though, I still say, there's a principle involved. ''I wouldn't weep about a shoe factory or a branch-line railroad shutting down,'' Heywood Broun, the founder of the American Newspaper Guild, said when the New York World went out of business, in 1931. ''But newspapers are different.'' And the bleeding hasn't stopped. Between January, 2017, and April, 2018, a third of the nation's largest newspapers, including the Denver Post and the San Jose Mercury News, reported layoffs. In a newer trend, so did about a quarter of digital-native news sites. BuzzFeed News laid off a hundred people in 2017; speculation is that BuzzFeed is trying to dump it. The Huffington Post paid most of its writers nothing for years, upping that recently to just above nothing, and yet, despite taking in tens of millions of dollars in advertising revenue in 2018, it failed to turn a profit.
Even veterans of august and still thriving papers are worried, especially about the fake news that's risen from the ashes of the dead news. ''We are, for the first time in modern history, facing the prospect of how societies would exist without reliable news,'' Alan Rusbridger, for twenty years the editor-in-chief of the Guardian, writes in ''Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now.'' ''There are not that many places left that do quality news well or even aim to do it at all,'' Jill Abramson, a former executive editor of the New York Times, writes in ''Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts.'' Like most big-paper reporters and editors who write about the crisis of journalism, Rusbridger and Abramson are interested in national and international news organizations. The local story is worse.
First came conglomeration. Worcester, Massachusetts, the second-largest city in New England, used to have four dailies: the Telegram, in the morning, and the Gazette, in the evening (under the same ownership), the Spy, and the Post. Now it has one. The last great laying waste to American newspapers came in the early decades of the twentieth century, mainly owing to (a) radio and (b) the Depression; the number of dailies fell from 2,042 in 1920 to 1,754 in 1944, leaving 1,103 cities with only one paper. Newspaper circulation rose between 1940 and 1990, but likely only because more people were reading fewer papers, and, as A. J. Liebling once observed, nothing is crummier than a one-paper town. In 1949, after yet another New York daily closed its doors, Liebling predicted, ''If the trend continues, New York will be a one- or two-paper town by about 1975.'' He wasn't that far off. In the nineteen-eighties and nineties, as Christopher B. Daly reports in ''Covering America: A Narrative History of the Nation's Journalism,'' ''the big kept getting bigger.'' Conglomeration can be good for business, but it has generally been bad for journalism. Media companies that want to get bigger tend to swallow up other media companies, suppressing competition and taking on debt, which makes publishers cowards. In 1986, the publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle bought the Worcester Telegram and the Evening Gazette, and, three years later, right about when Time and Warner became Time Warner, the Telegram and the Gazette became the Telegram & Gazette, or the T&G, smaller fries but the same potato.
Next came the dot-coms. Craigslist went online in the Bay Area in 1996 and spread across the continent like a weed, choking off local newspapers' most reliable source of revenue: classified ads. The T&G tried to hold on to its classified-advertising section by wading into the shallow waters of the Internet, at telegram.com, where it was called, acronymically, and not a little desperately, ''TANGO!'' Then began yet another round of corporate buyouts, deeply leveraged deals conducted by executives answerable to stockholders seeking higher dividends, not better papers. In 1999, the New York Times Company bought the T&G for nearly three hundred million dollars. By 2000, only three hundred and fifty of the fifteen hundred daily newspapers left in the United States were independently owned. And only one out of every hundred American cities that had a daily newspaper was anything other than a one-paper town.
Then came the fall, when papers all over the country, shackled to mammoth corporations and a lumbering, century-old business model, found themselves unable to compete with the upstarts'--online news aggregators like the Huffington Post (est. 2005) and Breitbart News (est. 2007), which were, to readers, free. News aggregators also drew display advertisers away from print; Facebook and Google swallowed advertising accounts whole. Big papers found ways to adapt; smaller papers mainly folded. Between 1994 and 2016, years when the population of Worcester County rose by more than a hundred thousand, daily home delivery of the T&G declined from more than a hundred and twenty thousand to barely thirty thousand. In one year alone, circulation fell by twenty-nine per cent. In 2012, after another round of layoffs, the T&G left its building, its much reduced staff small enough to fit into two floors of an office building nearby. The next year, the owner of the Boston Red Sox bought the newspaper, along with the Boston Globe, from the New York Times Company for seventy million dollars, only to unload the T&G less than a year later, for seventeen million dollars, to Halifax Media Group, which held it for only half a year before Halifax itself was bought, flea-market style, by an entity that calls itself, unironically, the New Media Investment Group.
The numbers mask an uglier story. In the past half century, and especially in the past two decades, journalism itself'--the way news is covered, reported, written, and edited'--has changed, including in ways that have made possible the rise of fake news, and not only because of mergers and acquisitions, and corporate ownership, and job losses, and Google Search, and Facebook and BuzzFeed. There's no shortage of amazing journalists at work, clear-eyed and courageous, broad-minded and brilliant, and no end of fascinating innovation in matters of form, especially in visual storytelling. Still, journalism, as a field, is as addled as an addict, gaunt, wasted, and twitchy, its pockets as empty as its nights are sleepless. It's faster than it used to be, so fast. It's also edgier, and needier, and angrier. It wants and it wants and it wants. But what does it need?
The daily newspaper is the taproot of modern journalism. Dailies mainly date to the eighteen-thirties, the decade in which the word ''journalism'' was coined, meaning daily reporting, the jour in journalism. Early dailies depended on subscribers to pay the bills. The press was partisan, readers were voters, and the news was meant to persuade (and voter turnout was high). But by 1900 advertising made up more than two-thirds of the revenue at most of the nation's eighteen thousand newspapers, and readers were consumers (and voter turnout began its long fall). ''The newspaper is not a missionary or a charitable institution, but a business that collects and publishes news which the people want and are willing to buy,'' one Missouri editor said in 1892. Newspapers stopped rousing the rabble so much because businesses wanted readers, no matter their politics. ''There is a sentiment gaining ground to the effect that the public wants its politics 'straight,' '' a journalist wrote the following year. Reporters pledged themselves to ''facts, facts, and more facts,'' and, as the press got less partisan and more ad-based, newspapers sorted themselves out not by their readers' political leanings but by their incomes. If you had a lot of money to spend, you read the St. Paul Pioneer Press; if you didn't have very much, you read the St. Paul Dispatch.
Unsurprisingly, critics soon began writing big books, usually indictments, about the relationship between business and journalism. ''When you read your daily paper, are you reading facts or propaganda?'' Upton Sinclair asked on the jacket of ''The Brass Check,'' in 1919. In ''The Disappearing Daily,'' in 1944, Oswald Garrison Villard mourned ''what was once a profession but is now a business.'' The big book that inspired Jill Abramson to become a journalist was David Halberstam's ''The Powers That Be,'' from 1979, a history of the rise of the modern, corporate-based media in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Halberstam, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his reporting from Vietnam for the New York Times, took up his story more or less where Villard left off. He began with F.D.R. and CBS radio; added the Los Angeles Times, Time Inc., and CBS television; and reached his story's climax with the Washington Post and the New York Times and the publication of the Pentagon Papers, in 1971.
Halberstam argued that between the nineteen-thirties and the nineteen-seventies radio and television brought a new immediacy to reporting, while the resources provided by corporate owners and the demands made by an increasingly sophisticated national audience led to harder-hitting, investigative, adversarial reporting, the kind that could end a war and bring down a President. Richard Rovere summed it up best: ''What The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Time and CBS have in common is that, under pressures generated internally and externally, they moved from venality or parochialism or mediocrity or all three to something approaching journalistic excellence and responsibility.'' That move came at a price. ''Watergate, like Vietnam, had obscured one of the central new facts about the role of journalism in America,'' Halberstam wrote. ''Only very rich, very powerful corporate institutions like these had the impact, the reach, and above all the resources to challenge the President of the United States.''
There's reach, and then there's reach. When I was growing up, in the nineteen-seventies, nobody I knew read the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Wall Street Journal. Nobody I knew even read the Boston Globe, a paper that used to have a rule that no piece should ever be so critical of anyone that its ''writer could not shake hands the next day with the man about whom he had written.'' After journalism put up its dukes, my father only ever referred to the Globe as ''that Communist rag,'' not least because, in 1967, it became the first major paper in the United States to come out against the Vietnam War.
The view of the new journalism held by people like my father escaped Halberstam's notice. In 1969, Nixon's Vice-President, Spiro Agnew, delivered a speech drafted by the Nixon aide Pat Buchanan accusing the press of liberal bias. It's ''good politics for us to kick the press around,'' Nixon is said to have told his staff. The press, Agnew said, represents ''a concentration of power over American public opinion unknown in history,'' consisting of men who ''read the same newspapers'' and ''talk constantly to one another.'' How dare they. Halberstam waved this aside as so much P.R. hooey, but, as has since become clear, Agnew reached a ready audience, especially in houses like mine.
Spiro who? ''The press regarded Agnew with uncontrolled hilarity,'' Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., observed in 1970, but ''no one can question the force of Spiro T. Agnew's personality, nor the impact of his speeches.'' No scholar of journalism can afford to ignore Agnew anymore. In ''On Press: The Liberal Values That Shaped the News,'' the historian Matthew Pressman argues that any understanding of the crisis of journalism in the twenty-first century has to begin by vanquishing the ghost of Spiro T. Agnew.
For Pressman, the pivotal period for the modern newsroom is what Abramson calls ''Halberstam's Golden Age,'' between 1960 and 1980, and its signal feature was the adoption not of a liberal bias but of liberal values: ''Interpretation replaced transmission, and adversarialism replaced deference.'' In 1960, nine out of every ten articles in the Times about the Presidential election were descriptive; by 1976, more than half were interpretative. This turn was partly a consequence of television'--people who simply wanted to find out what happened could watch television, so newspapers had to offer something else'--and partly a consequence of McCarthyism. ''The rise of McCarthy has compelled newspapers of integrity to develop a form of reporting which puts into context what men like McCarthy have to say,'' the radio commentator Elmer Davis said in 1953. Five years later, the Times added ''News Analysis'' as a story category. ''Once upon a time, news stories were like tape recorders,'' the Bulletin of the American Society of Newspaper Editors commented in 1963. ''No more. A whole generation of events had taught us better'--Hitler and Goebbels, Stalin and McCarthy, automation and analog computers and missiles.''
These changes weren't ideologically driven, Pressman insists, but they had ideological consequences. At the start, leading conservatives approved. ''To keep a reporter's prejudices out of a story is commendable,'' Irving Kristol wrote in 1967. ''To keep his judgment out of a story is to guarantee that the truth will be emasculated.'' After the Times and the Post published the Pentagon Papers, Kristol changed his spots. Journalists, he complained in 1972, were now ''engaged in a perpetual confrontation with the social and political order (the 'establishment,' as they say).'' By 1975, after Watergate, Kristol was insisting that ''most journalists today . . . are 'liberals.' '' With that, the conservative attack on the press was off and running, all the way to Trumpism'--''the failing New York Times,'' ''CNN is fake news,'' the press is ''the true enemy of the people'''--and, in a revolution-devouring-its-elders sort of way, the shutting down of William Kristol's Weekly Standard, in December. ''The pathetic and dishonest Weekly Standard . . . is flat broke and out of business,'' Trump tweeted. ''May it rest in peace!''
What McCarthy and television were for journalism in the nineteen-fifties, Trump and social media would be in the twenty-tens: license to change the rules. Halberstam's Golden Age, or what he called ''journalism's high-water mark,'' ended about 1980. Abramson's analysis in ''Merchants of Truth'' begins with journalism's low-water mark, in 2007, the year after Facebook launched its News Feed, ''the year everything began to fall apart.''
''Merchants of Truth'' isn't just inspired by ''The Powers That Be''; it's modelled on it. Abramson's book follows Halberstam's structure and mimics its style, chronicling the history of a handful of nationally prominent media organizations'--in her case, BuzzFeed, Vice, the Times, and the Washington Post'--in alternating chapters that are driven by character sketches and reported scenes. The book is saturated with a lot of gossip and glitz, including details about the restaurants the powers that be frequent, and what they wear (''Sulzberger'''--the Times' publisher'--''dressed in suits from Bloomingdale's, stylish without being ostentatiously bespoke, and wore suspenders before they went out of fashion''), alongside crucial insights about structural transformations, like how Web and social-media publishing ''unbundled'' the newspaper, so that readers who used to find a fat newspaper on their front porch could, on their phones, look, instead, at only one story. ''Each individual article now lived on its own page, where it had a unique URL and could be shared, and spread virally,'' Abramson observes. ''This put stories, rather than papers, in competition with one another.''
This history is a chronicle of missed opportunities, missteps, and lessons learned the hard way. As long ago as 1992, an internal report at the Washington Post urged the mounting of an ''electronic product'': ''The Post ought to be in the forefront of this.'' Early on, the Guardian started a New Media lab, which struck a lot of people as frivolous, Rusbridger writes, because, at the time, ''only 3 per cent of households owned a PC and a modem,'' a situation not unlike that at the Guardian's own offices, where ''it was rumored that downstairs a bloke called Paul in IT had a Mac connected to the internet.'' A 1996 business plan for the Guardian concluded that the priority was print, and the London Times editor Simon Jenkins predicted, ''The Internet will strut an hour upon the stage, and then take its place in the ranks of the lesser media.'' In 2005, the Post lost a chance at a ten-per-cent investment in Facebook, whose returns, as Abramson points out, would have floated the newspaper for decades. The C.E.O. of the Washington Post Company, Don Graham, and Mark Zuckerberg shook hands over the deal, making a verbal contract, but, when Zuckerberg weaseled out of it to take a better offer, Graham, out of kindness to a young fella just starting out, simply let him walk away. The next year, the Post shrugged off a proposal from two of its star political reporters to start a spinoff Web site; they went on to found Politico. The Times, Abramson writes, declined an early chance to invest in Google, and was left to throw the kitchen sink at its failing business model, including adding a Thursday Style section to attract more high-end advertising revenue. Bill Keller, then the newspaper's editor, said, ''If luxury porn is what saves the Baghdad bureau, so be it.''
More alarming than what the Times and the Post failed to do was how so much of what they did do was determined less by their own editors than by executives at Facebook and BuzzFeed. If journalism has been reinvented during the past two decades, it has, in the main, been reinvented not by reporters and editors but by tech companies, in a sequence of events that, in Abramson's harrowing telling, resemble a series of puerile stunts more than acts of public service.
Who even are these people? ''Merchants of Truth'' has been charged with factual errors, including by people Abramson interviewed, especially younger journalists. She can also be maddeningly condescending. She doffs her cap at Sulzberger, with his natty suspenders, but dismisses younger reporters at places like Vice as notable mainly for being ''impossibly hip, with interesting hair.'' This is distracting, and too bad, because there is a changing of the guard worth noting, and it's not incidental: it's critical. All the way through to the nineteen-eighties, all sorts of journalists, including magazine, radio, and television reporters, got their start working on daily papers, learning the ropes and the rules. Rusbridger started out in 1976 as a reporter at the Cambridge Evening News, which covered stories that included a petition about a pedestrian crossing and a root vegetable that looked like Winston Churchill. In the U.K., a reporter who wanted to go to Fleet Street had first to work for three years on a provincial newspaper, pounding the pavement. Much the same applied in the U.S., where a cub reporter did time at the Des Moines Register, or the Worcester Telegram, before moving up to the New York Times or the Herald Tribune. Beat reporting, however, is not the backstory of the people who, beginning in the nineteen-nineties, built the New Media.
Jonah Peretti started out soaking up postmodern theory at U.C. Santa Cruz in the mid-nineteen-nineties, and later published a scholarly journal article about the scrambled, disjointed, and incoherent way of thinking produced by accelerated visual experiences under late capitalism. Or something like that. Imagine an article written by that American Studies professor in Don DeLillo's ''White Noise.'' Peretti thought that watching a lot of MTV can mess with your head'--''The rapid fire succession of signifiers in MTV style media erodes the viewer's sense of temporal continuity'''--leaving you confused, stupid, and lonely. ''Capitalism needs schizophrenia, but it also needs egos,'' Peretti wrote. ''The contradiction is resolved through the acceleration of the temporal rhythm of late capitalist visual culture. This type of acceleration encourages weak egos that are easily formed, and fade away just as easily.'' Voil , a business plan!
Peretti's career in viral content began in 2001, with a prank involving e-mail and Nike sneakers while he was a graduate student at the M.I.T. Media Lab. (Peretti ordered custom sneakers embroidered with the word ''sweatshop'' and then circulated Nike's reply.) In 2005, a year the New York Times Company laid off five hundred employees and the Post began paying people to retire early, Peretti joined Andrew Breitbart, a Matt Drudge acolyte, and Ken Lerer, a former P.R. guy at AOL Time Warner, in helping Arianna Huffington, a millionaire and a former anti-feminist polemicist, launch the Huffington Post. Peretti was in charge of innovations that included a click-o-meter. Within a couple of years, the Huffington Post had more Web traffic than the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. Its business was banditry. Abramson writes that when the Times published a deeply reported exclusive story about WikiLeaks, which took months of investigative work and a great deal of money, the Huffington Post published its own version of the story, using the same headline'--and beat out the Times story in Google rankings. ''We were learning that the internet behaved like a clattering of jackdaws,'' Rusbridger writes. ''Nothing remained exclusive for more than two minutes.''
Pretty soon, there were jackdaws all over the place, with their schizophrenic late-capitalist accelerated signifiers. Breitbart left the Huffington Post and started Breitbart News around the same time that Peretti left to focus on his own company, Contagious Media, from which he launched BuzzFeed, where he tested the limits of virality with offerings like the seven best links about gay penguins and ''YouTube Porn Hacks.'' He explained his methods in a pitch to venture capitalists: ''Raw buzz is automatically published the moment it is detected by our algorithm,'' and ''the future of the industry is advertising as content.''
Facebook launched its News Feed in 2006. In 2008, Peretti mused on Facebook, ''Thinking about the economics of the news business.'' The company added its Like button in 2009. Peretti set likability as BuzzFeed's goal, and, to perfect the instruments for measuring it, he enlisted partners, including the Times and the Guardian, to share their data with him in exchange for his reports on their metrics. Lists were liked. Hating people was liked. And it turned out that news, which is full of people who hate other people, can be crammed into lists.
Chartbeat, a ''content intelligence'' company founded in 2009, launched a feature called Newsbeat in 2011. Chartbeat offers real-time Web analytics, displaying a constantly updated report on Web traffic that tells editors what stories people are reading and what stories they're skipping. The Post winnowed out reporters based on their Chartbeat numbers. At the offices of Gawker, the Chartbeat dashboard was displayed on a giant screen.
In 2011, Peretti launched BuzzFeed News, hiring a thirty-five-year-old Politico journalist, Ben Smith, as its editor-in-chief. Smith asked for a ''scoop-a-day'' from his reporters, who, he told Abramson, had little interest in the rules of journalism: ''They didn't even know what rules they were breaking.'' In 2012, BuzzFeed introduced three new one-click ways for readers to respond to stories, beyond ''liking'' them'--LOL, OMG, and WTF'--and ran lists like ''10 Reasons Everyone Should Be Furious About Trayvon Martin's Murder,'' in which, as Abramson explains, BuzzFeed ''simply lifted what it needed from reports published elsewhere, repackaged the information, and presented it in a way that emphasized sentiment and celebrity.'' BuzzFeed makes a distinction between BuzzFeed and BuzzFeed News, just as newspapers and magazines draw distinctions between their print and their digital editions. These distinctions are lost on most readers. BuzzFeed News covered the Trayvon Martin story, but its information, like BuzzFeed's, came from Reuters and the Associated Press.
Even as news organizations were pruning reporters and editors, Facebook was pruning its users' news, with the commercially appealing but ethically indefensible idea that people should see only the news they want to see. In 2013, Silicon Valley began reading its own online newspaper, the Information, its high-priced subscription peddled to the information (C)lite, following the motto ''Quality stories breed quality subscribers.'' Facebook's goal, Zuckerberg explained in 2014, was to ''build the perfect personalized newspaper for every person in the world.'' Ripples at Facebook create tsunamis in newsrooms. The ambitious news site Mic relied on Facebook to reach an audience through a video program called Mic Dispatch, on Facebook Watch; last fall, after Facebook suggested that it would drop the program, Mic collapsed. Every time Facebook News tweaks its algorithm'--tweaks made for commercial, not editorial, reasons'--news organizations drown in the undertow. An automated Facebook feature called Trending Topics, introduced in 2014, turned out to mainly identify junk as trends, and so ''news curators,'' who tended to be recent college graduates, were given a new, manual mandate, ''massage the algorithm,'' which meant deciding, themselves, which stories mattered. The fake news that roiled the 2016 election? A lot of that was stuff on Trending Topics. (Last year, Facebook discontinued the feature.)
BuzzFeed surpassed the Times Web site in reader traffic in 2013. BuzzFeed News is subsidized by BuzzFeed, which, like many Web sites'--including, at this point, those of most major news organizations'--makes money by way of ''native advertising,'' ads that look like articles. In some publications, these fake stories are easy to spot; in others, they're not. At BuzzFeed, they're in the same font as every other story. BuzzFeed's native-advertising bounty meant that BuzzFeed News had money to pay reporters and editors, and it began producing some very good and very serious reporting, real news having become something of a luxury good. By 2014, BuzzFeed employed a hundred and fifty journalists, including many foreign correspondents. It was obsessed with Donald Trump's rumored Presidential bid, and followed him on what it called the ''fake campaign trail'' as early as January, 2014. ''It used to be the New York Times, now it's BuzzFeed,'' Trump said, wistfully. ''The world has changed.'' At the time, Steve Bannon was stumping for Trump on Breitbart. Left or right, a Trump Presidency was just the sort of story that could rack up the LOLs, OMGs, and WTFs. It still is.
In March, 2014, the Times produced an Innovation Report, announcing that the newspaper had fallen behind in ''the art and science of getting our journalism to readers,'' a field led by BuzzFeed. That May, Sulzberger fired Abramson, who had been less than all-in about the Times doing things like running native ads. Meanwhile, BuzzFeed purged from its Web site more than four thousand of its early stories. ''It's stuff made at a time when people were really not thinking of themselves as doing journalism,'' Ben Smith explained. Not long afterward, the Times began running more lists, from book recommendations to fitness tips to takeaways from Presidential debates.
The Times remains unrivalled. It staffs bureaus all over the globe and sends reporters to some of the world's most dangerous places. It has more than a dozen reporters in China alone. Nevertheless, BuzzFeed News became more like the Times, and the Times became more like BuzzFeed, because readers, as Chartbeat announced on its endlessly flickering dashboards, wanted lists, and luxury porn, and people to hate.
The Guardian, founded as the Manchester Guardian in 1821, has been held by a philanthropic trust since 1936, which somewhat insulates it from market forces, just as Jeff Bezos's ownership now does something similar for the Post. By investing in digital-readership research from the time Rusbridger took charge, in 1995, the Guardian became, for a while, the online market leader in the U.K. By 2006, two-thirds of its digital readers were outside the U.K. In 2007, the Guardian undertook what Rusbridger calls ''the Great Integration,'' pulling its Web and print parts together into a single news organization, with the same editorial management. It also developed a theory about the relationship between print and digital, deciding, in 2011, to be a ''digital-first organization'' and to ''make print a slower, more reflective read which would not aspire to cover the entire waterfront in news.''
Rusbridger explains, with a palpable grief, his dawning realization that the rise of social media meant that ''chaotic information was free: good information was expensive,'' which meant, in turn, that ''good information was increasingly for smaller elites'' and that ''it was harder for good information to compete on equal terms with bad.'' He takes these circumstances as something of a dare: ''Our generation had been handed the challenge of rethinking almost everything societies had, for centuries, taken for granted about journalism.''
Has that challenge been met? The Guardian's own success is mixed. As of 2018, it was in the black, partly by relying on philanthropy, especially in the U.S. ''Reader revenue,'' in the form of donations marked not as subscriptions but as voluntary ''memberships,'' is expected to overtake advertising revenue before long. Raising money from people who care about journalism has allowed the Guardian to keep the Web site free. It's also broken some big stories, from the Murdoch-papers phone-hacking scoop to the saga of Edward Snowden, and provided riveting coverage of ongoing and urgent stories, especially climate change. But, for all its fine reporting and substantive ''Long Reads,'' the paper consists disproportionately of ideologically unvarying opinion essays. By some measures, journalism entered a new, Trumpian, gold-plated age during the 2016 campaign, with the Trump bump, when news organizations found that the more they featured Trump the better their Chartbeat numbers, which, arguably, is a lot of what got him elected. The bump swelled into a lump and, later, a malignant tumor, a carcinoma the size of Cleveland. Within three weeks of the election, the Times added a hundred and thirty-two thousand new subscribers. (This effect hasn't extended to local papers.) News organizations all over the world now advertise their services as the remedy to Trumpism, and to fake news; fighting Voldemort and his Dark Arts is a good way to rake in readers. And scrutiny of the Administration has produced excellent work, the very best of journalism. ''How President Trump Is Saving Journalism,'' a 2017 post on Forbes.com, marked Trump as the Nixon to today's rising generation of Woodwards and Bernsteins. Superb investigative reporting is published every day, by news organizations both old and new, including BuzzFeed News.
By the what-doesn't-kill-you line of argument, the more forcefully Trump attacks the press, the stronger the press becomes. Unfortunately, that's not the full story. All kinds of editorial decisions are now outsourced to Facebook's News Feed, Chartbeat, or other forms of editorial automation, while the hands of many flesh-and-blood editors are tied to so many algorithms. For one reason and another, including twenty-first-century journalism's breakneck pace, stories now routinely appear that might not have been published a generation ago, prompting contention within the reportorial ranks. In 2016, when BuzzFeed News released the Steele dossier, many journalists disapproved, including CNN's Jake Tapper, who got his start as a reporter for the Washington City Paper. ''It is irresponsible to put uncorroborated information on the Internet,'' Tapper said. ''It's why we did not publish it, and why we did not detail any specifics from it, because it was uncorroborated, and that's not what we do.'' The Times veered from its normal practices when it published an anonymous opinion essay by a senior official in the Trump Administration. And The New Yorker posted a story online about Brett Kavanaugh's behavior when he was an undergraduate at Yale, which Republicans in the Senate pointed to as evidence of a liberal conspiracy against the nominee.
There's plenty of room to argue over these matters of editorial judgment. Reasonable people disagree. Occasionally, those disagreements fall along a generational divide. Younger journalists often chafe against editorial restraint, not least because their cohort is far more likely than senior newsroom staff to include people from groups that have been explicitly and viciously targeted by Trump and the policies of his Administration, a long and growing list that includes people of color, women, immigrants, Muslims, members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community, and anyone with family in Haiti or any of the other countries Trump deems ''shitholes.'' Sometimes younger people are courageous and sometimes they are heedless and sometimes those two things are the same. ''The more 'woke' staff thought that urgent times called for urgent measures,'' Abramson writes, and that ''the dangers of Trump's presidency obviated the old standards.'' Still, by no means is the divide always or even usually generational. Abramson, for instance, sided with BuzzFeed News about the Steele dossier, just as she approves of the use of the word ''lie'' to refer to Trump's lies, which, by the Post's reckoning, came at the rate of more than a dozen a day in 2018.
The broader problem is that the depravity, mendacity, vulgarity, and menace of the Trump Administration have put a lot of people, including reporters and editors, off their stride. The present crisis, which is nothing less than a derangement of American life, has caused many people in journalism to make decisions they regret, or might yet. In the age of Facebook, Chartbeat, and Trump, legacy news organizations, hardly less than startups, have violated or changed their editorial standards in ways that have contributed to political chaos and epistemological mayhem. Do editors sit in a room on Monday morning, twirl the globe, and decide what stories are most important? Or do they watch Trump's Twitter feed and let him decide? It often feels like the latter. Sometimes what doesn't kill you doesn't make you stronger; it makes everyone sick. The more adversarial the press, the more loyal Trump's followers, the more broken American public life. The more desperately the press chases readers, the more our press resembles our politics.
The problems are well understood, the solutions harder to see. Good reporting is expensive, but readers don't want to pay for it. The donation-funded ProPublica, ''an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism with moral force,'' employs more than seventy-five journalists. Good reporting is slow, good stories unfold, and most stories that need telling don't involve the White House. The Correspondent, an English-language version of the Dutch Web site De Correspondent, is trying to ''unbreak the news.'' It won't run ads. It won't collect data (or, at least, not much). It won't have subscribers. Like NPR, it will be free for everyone, supported by members, who pay what they can. ''We want to radically change what news is about, how it is made, and how it is funded,'' its founders state. Push-notifications-on news is bad for you, they say, ''because it pays more attention to the sensational, exceptional, negative, recent, and incidental, thereby losing sight of the ordinary, usual, positive, historical, and systematic.'' What will the Correspondent look like? It will stay above the fray. It might sometimes be funny. It's slated to d(C)but sometime in 2019. Aside from the thing about ads, it sounds a lot like a magazine, when magazines came in the mail.
After we'd shoved the last, fat Worcester Sunday Telegram inside the last, unlatched screen door, we'd head home, my father taking turns a little too fast, so that we'd have to clutch at one another and at the lip of the tailgate, to keep from falling off. ''Dad, slow down!'' we'd squeal, not meaning it. Then he'd make breakfast, hot chocolate with marshmallows in the winter, orange juice from a can of frozen concentrate in the summer, and on my plate I'd make wedges of cantaloupe into Viking ships sailing across a sea of maple syrup from the Coast of Bacon to Pancake Island. After breakfast, we'd dump the money from the tobacco tins onto the kitchen table and count coins, stacking quarters and nickels and dimes into wrappers from the Worcester County Institution for Savings, while my father updated the Accounts, and made the Collection List.
Going collecting was a drag. You had to knock on people's doors and ask your neighbors for money'--''Telegram! Collecting!'''--and it was embarrassing, and, half the time, they'd ask you in, and before you knew it you'd be helping out, and it would take all day. ''So long as you're here, could you hold the baby while I take a quick shower?'' ''Honey, after this, could you bring my mail down to the post office on that cute little bike of yours?'' I came to understand that the people who didn't leave the money under the mat hadn't forgotten to. They just liked having a kid visit on Sunday afternoon.
The death of a newspaper is sometimes like other deaths. The Mrs. and the Miss, a very, very old woman and her very old daughter, lived in a crooked green house on top of a rise and wore matching housecoats and slippers. The Miss followed the Mrs. around like a puppy, and, if you found them in the parlor reading the paper, the Mrs. would be poring over the opinion pages while the Miss cut pictures out of the funnies. ''The Miss can't think straight,'' my father said. ''Her head's scrambled. So be gentle with her. Nothing to be afraid of. Be sure to help them out.'' Once when I biked over there, the Miss was standing, keening, noise without words, sound without sense. The Mrs. wasn't moving, and she wasn't ever going to move again. I called for help and held the Miss's hand, waiting for the wail of sirens. I didn't know what else to do. '...
An earlier version of this story misstated the subtitle of Christopher B. Daly's book ''Covering America.'' It also misstated the Huffington Post's advertising revenue.
Q&A: Impact of Supreme Court decision on transgender troops
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 13:40
WJ Wire In this Jan. 7, 2019 photo, The Supreme Court is seen in Washington,. The Supreme Court is allowing the Trump administration to go ahead with its plan to restrict military service by transgender men and women while court challenges continue. The high court on Tuesday reversed lower-court orders preventing the Pentagon from implementing its plans. The high court for now declined to take up cases about the plan. The cases will continue to move through lower courts. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.
WASHINGTON (AP) '-- A sharply divided Supreme Court is allowing the Trump administration to go ahead with its plan to restrict military service by transgender men and women while court challenges continue.
The high court split 5-4 on Tuesday in issuing orders allowing the plan to take effect for now, with the court's five conservatives greenlighting it and its four liberal members saying they wouldn't have.
Some questions and answers about what the high court did:
Q: What's the impact on transgender men and women currently serving in the military?
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A: That depends on the individual's circumstances. In short, though, the justices cleared the way for the Trump administration to require that transgender troops serve as members of their biological gender unless they began a gender transition under less restrictive Obama administration rules.
Until a few years ago service members could be discharged from the military for being transgender. That changed in 2016 when the Obama administration began allowing transgender men and women already serving in the military to undergo gender transition if they were diagnosed with gender dysphoria, distress associated with their biological gender.
The military has said more than 900 men and women have received that diagnosis. They can continue to serve after transitioning.
The Trump administration's policy would essentially freeze that number, however. Once the policy takes effect, currently serving transgender troops who didn't previously step forward and obtain a gender dysphoria diagnosis will have to serve in their biological gender. A 2016 survey estimated that about 1 percent of active-duty service members, about 9,000 men and women, identify as transgender.
Q: What's the impact on transgender men and women not yet in the military but who want to join?
A: Individuals who have transitioned from their biological gender won't be allowed to enlist under the Trump administration's policy. That's a shift. Under previous court orders, transgender individuals had been allowed to enlist in the military since Jan. 1, 2018. Still, advocacy groups had said that process was slow, with only a handful of individuals thought to have completed the process.
Q: What did the Supreme Court say in allowing the Trump administration's policy to take effect for now?
A: Not much. The order from the court was brief and procedural, with no elaboration from the justices.
Q: What happens next?
A: That's up to the Trump administration and courts. While the Trump administration has the go-ahead to implement its policy for now, it's unclear how quickly that will happen. Court challenges will continue, and the cases could eventually get back to the Supreme Court on the merits of the case, whether the Trump administration policy is legal. It's very unlikely, however, that would happen before the Supreme Court recesses for the summer in late June.
Q: Does the Supreme Court's action reflect anything about its current makeup?
A: Not necessarily. When Justice Anthony Kennedy retired last year and was replaced by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the assumption was that the court would move to the right and become more conservative. But Kennedy biographer Frank Colucci said he doesn't think Tuesday's outcome would necessarily have been any different if Kennedy had remained on the court.
Kennedy was deferential to the authority of the president, particularly in the military context, Colucci said. As an appeals court judge in 1980 Kennedy wrote a decision upholding Navy regulations that resulted in the discharge of gay and lesbian sailors. Kennedy wrote that finding the regulations constitutional was ''distinct from a statement that they are wise.''
Not much is known about Kennedy's views on transgender issues. As a Supreme Court justice, he sided in 2016 with more conservative colleagues in agreeing to put on hold a ruling in favor of a transgender high school student challenging his school board's bathroom policy. But the court never reached a decision in the case after the Trump administration pulled back federal guidance advising schools to let transgender students use the bathroom of their chosen gender.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.
Twitter | Google Cloud
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 13:34
Twitter is in the business of helping people share information and find out what's happening around the world. And with people tweeting more and more every day, the data produced by these tweets starts to add up.
Twitter knew this meant they needed more storage and more compute power. To keep processing massive amounts of data 24/7, the social media platform was expecting to transfer over 300 petabytes of data storage to the cloud.
To determine if a migration of this scale would even be possible, Twitter had a rigorous cloud evaluation process. After months of in-depth analysis, Twitter engineers found Google Cloud to be the best fit for Twitter's needs because it provided flexibility in storage and compute scaling in both dimensions independently while also providing access to a high-speed network.
Once you actually aggregate up the network differences and the savings from having more flexible resources, then the difference [with Google Cloud] was dramatic.
Director of Data Infrastructure, Twitter
With help from Google Cloud, Twitter has been able to move into a new hybrid cloud strategy. Watch the video to learn more about how Google Cloud and Twitter are working together to better serve tweeters everywhere, now and in the future.
Google, Facebook spend big on U.S. lobbying amid policy battles | Reuters
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 13:33
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's Google disclosed in a quarterly filing on Tuesday that it spent a company-record $21.2 million on lobbying the U.S. government in 2018, topping its previous high of $18.22 million in 2012, as the search engine operator fights wide-ranging scrutiny into its practices.
FILE PHOTO - The outside of the Google offices is seen in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar
In its filing to Congress on Tuesday, Facebook Inc disclosed that it also spent more on government lobbying in 2018 than it ever had before at $12.62 million. That was up from $11.51 million a year ago, according to tracking by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
Google's spent $18.04 million on lobbying in 2017, according to the center's data.
Google and Facebook declined to comment beyond their filings.
U.S. lawmakers and regulators have weighed new privacy and antitrust rules to rein in the power of large internet service providers such as Google, Facebook and Amazon.com Inc. Regulatory backlash in the United States, as well as Europe and Asia, is near the top of the list of concerns for technology investors, according to financial analysts.
Microsoft Corp spent $9.52 million on lobbying in 2018, according to its disclosure on Tuesday, up from $8.5 million in 2017 but below its $10.5 million tab in 2013.
Apple Inc spent $6.62 million last year, compared to its record of $7.15 million in 2017, according to center data going back to 1998.
Apple and Microsoft did not respond to requests to comment. A filing from Amazon was expected later on Tuesday.
Google disclosed that new discussion topics with regulators in the fourth quarter included its search technology, criminal justice reform and international tax reform. The company is perennially among the top spenders on lobbying in Washington along with a few cable operators, defense contractors and healthcare firms.
Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai, who testified in December before a U.S. House of Representatives panel for the first time, has said the company backs the idea of national privacy legislation. But he has contested accusations of the company having a political bias in its search results and of stifling competition.
Susan Molinari, Google's top U.S. public policy official, stepped down to take on an advisory role this month.
Facebook said discussing ''election integrity'' with national security officials was among its new lobbying areas in the fourth quarter. The filing said the company continued to lobby the Federal Trade Commission, which is investigating its data security practices.
Reporting by Paresh Dave; Additional reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Sonya Hepinstall
Los Angeles teachers head back to school after reaching deal
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 13:32
The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.
LOS ANGELES (AP) '-- Tens of thousands of Los Angeles teachers planned to return to work Wednesday after voting to ratify a deal between their union and school officials, ending a six-day strike in the nation's second-largest district.
''I voted 'yes,' to approve,'' said second-grade teacher Wendy Perez. ''I think the union negotiated in good faith, and I'd like to believe the district did too.''
A crowd of teachers roared its approval after the tentative deal was announced at City Hall following a 21-hour bargaining session.
While all votes hadn't been counted by Tuesday night, union President Alex Caputo-Pearl said preliminary balloting showed educators overwhelmingly approving the proposal.
''A vast supermajority are voting 'yes''...therefore, ending the strike and heading back to schools tomorrow,'' he said.
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Mayor Eric Garcetti, accompanied by leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles and the LA Unified School District, called it an ''historic agreement'' that will usher in a ''new day'' for public education in the city.
The deal came as teachers in Denver voted to go on strike as soon as next Monday. More than 5,000 educators would be affected. The main sticking point is increasing base pay and lessening teachers' reliance on one-time bonuses for having students with high test scores or working in a high-poverty school.
In Oakland, California, some teachers called in sick last week as part of an unofficial rally over their contract negotiations, which also hinge partly on a demand for smaller class sizes.
Teachers hoped to build on the ''Red4Ed'' movement that began last year in West Virginia and moved to Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado and Washington state. It spread from conservative states with ''right to work'' laws that limit the ability to strike to the more liberal West Coast with strong unions.
In Los Angeles, thousands of boisterous educators and their supporters cheered as the tentative contract agreement was announced earlier in the day.
The deal includes a 6 percent pay hike and a commitment to reduce class sizes over four years, according to statements from the district and the union.
It will also add more than 600 nursing positions over the next three school years, which pleased Perez. Teachers had complained that some schools only had a nurse on campus one day a week, she said.
''It was a matter of time before a student got very sick, with no nurse around,'' said Perez. ''We've got kids with peanut allergies, asthma, diabetes. We need nurses.''
Additional counselors and librarians are also part of the planned increase in support staff.
The new contract also eliminates a longstanding clause that gave the district authority over class sizes, officials said. Many schools will see a class size reduction of about four students in three years '-- though 90 high-needs campuses will see six fewer students per class during that time.
Those reductions were the main reason teacher Charles Pak voted to ratify '-- but he said he was happy with the deal as a whole.
''We got almost everything we asked for, just about,'' said Pak, who teaches 8th grade English. ''So I think the strike was positive overall.''
District Superintendent Austin Beutner said he was delighted the deal was reached. But he hinted that financial challenges remained.
''The issue has always been how do we pay for it?'' Beutner said. ''That issue does not go away now that we have a contract. We can't solve 40 years of underinvestment in public education in just one week or just one contract.''
Under the agreement, the district, the union and the mayor's office will work jointly to ''advocate for increased county and state funding'' for Los Angeles schools, according to the UTLA summary.
The district maintained that the union's demands could bankrupt the school system, which is projecting a half-billion-dollar deficit this budget year and has billions obligated for pension payments and health coverage for retired teachers.
The Board of Education was expected to move quickly to ratify the deal, which would expire at the end of June 2022.
Kelly Maloney said students at the downtown Los Angeles high school where he teaches English told him they're ready to return to normal after spending a week in large groups supervised by small numbers of substitute teachers.
''They're bored,'' he said of his 12th grade pupils. ''Going back is going to be a big transition for everyone'-- students, administrators, teachers.''
Associated Press writers Brian Melley, John Antczak and John Rogers contributed to this report.
Follow Weber at https://twitter.com/WeberCM .
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Sony to move Europe headquarters to avoid Brexit disruption - BBC News
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 13:28
Image copyright Getty Images Sony will move its European headquarters from the UK to the Netherlands to avoid disruptions caused by Brexit.
The company said the move would help it avoid customs issues tied to Britain's exit from the EU.
Despite the move, Sony won't shift personnel and operations from the existing UK operations.
It is the latest Japanese company to flag a move to the continent in response to Brexit.
And on Tuesday appliance maker Dyson announced it was moving its headquarters to Singapore, from Malmesbury in Wiltshire, although it said it had nothing to do with Brexit.
The UK is on course to leave the European Union in March, but the two sides have yet to strike a deal.
On a recent trip to the UK, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed concern over a no-deal Brexit.
He said it could hurt Japanese companies, which employ up to 150,000 people in the UK.
Electronics firms switch offIn a statement Sony said the move would mean "we can continue our business as usual without disruption once the UK leaves the EU. All our existing European business functions, facilities, departments, sites and location of our people will remain unchanged from today."
Sony spokesperson Takashi Iida said the move would make Sony a "company based in the EU" so the common customs procedures will apply to Sony's European operations after Britain leaves the bloc.
Sony's rival Panasonic has already moved its headquarters to Amsterdam, mostly because of tax issues potentially created by Brexit.
Both companies say the decision is unlikely to have a major impact on jobs in the UK.
Image copyright Getty Images When Panasonic announced its move, it said "fewer than approximately 10" people would be affected out of a staff of 30.
Bank withdrawalSeveral Japanese firms, including Nomura Holdings, Daiwa Securities and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, have said they plan to move their main EU bases out of London.
Japanese bank Norinchukin announced earlier this month that it would set up a wholly-owned subsidiary in the Netherlands in response to Brexit and other economic changes in Europe.
Hitting the brakes A number of Japanese carmakers have also expressed concern over the impact of a hard Brexit.
Toyota has warned that a no-deal Brexit would affect investment and would temporarily halt output at its plant in Burnaston.
Honda has already planned a six day halt in April to plan for "all possible outcomes caused by logistics and border issues".
Talk about highway speed limit on Autobahn has Germans all fired up | Euronews
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 13:10
BERLIN '-- A leaked proposal to impose universal speed limits on the Autobahn is causing outrage among car-loving Germans.
The country's transport minister, Andreas Scheuer, has said the idea "goes against all common sense." But prominent Green Party lawmaker Cem Ozdemir defended the proposal Tuesday, calling it an "act of reason."
Germany is one of the few countries in the world that doesn't impose speed limits on its beloved Autobahn highways.
The idea '-- still very much just a notion '-- would limit speeds on the country's highways to 80 mph. Proponents say this would reduce air pollution, help fight climate change and reduce the number of car accidents.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert sought to smooth the waves created by the leaked report, saying Monday that a government-appointed committee examining various proposal isn't finished yet.
Meet the woman who brought bare-breasted 'Mariannes' to France's 'gilets jaunes' protests | Euronews
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 12:56
Among the sea of yellow vests at the anti-government protests that have been sweeping across France in recent months, there are often splashes of red '-- an ode to the symbol of the French Republic, Marianne.
From placards to red caps, the image of Marianne, who is viewed in the country as the personification of liberty, is frequently drawn upon by protesters.
In the most striking example, a group of bare-breasted demonstrators, wearing red-hooded jackets and silver body paint, last month faced off silently with riot police in the heart of the demonstrations.
The architect of the action, French-Luxembourgish nude performance artist Deborah de Robertis, spoke to Euronews about why Marianne is being used by gilets jaunes.
Why Marianne?De Robertis is known for staging high-profile pieces of nude performance art, drawing upon famous historic paintings.
''My work as an artist rethinks our conception of the feminine nude'', she tells Euronews of her past performances, which include exposing her genitals in front of the famous Origin of the World painting at Paris' Musee d'Orsay.
De Robertis says she was keen to show solidarity with the gilets jaunes movement by taking inspiration from the famous ''Liberty Leading the People'' painting by French Romantic artist Eug¨ne Delacroix.
The artist said she wanted to create a "feminist version" of Marianne, who is often used as a symbol for values such as truth and justice, in the streets "where history was going on."
Women ''are the ones who get cancelled from history. For me it was very important to create an image where they are in the [front] line.''
An image that defines a movementIn what has become one of the most recognised images of the months-long gilets jaunes movement, De Robertis and four other 'Mariannes' stood in a ''v'' formation in front of riot police.
''To stand in front of the police was a way to protest against police violence and use them as our tool to create a strong political and feminist picture of resistance,'' she said.
She told Euronews of the meaning behind the meticulously planned image.
''Under the media gaze, our naked breasts take them [the police] hostage and make them instruments of our political action and not the other way around.
''Our motionless bodies merge to create an image of resistance. The posture of our bodies was meant to imitate, like a deforming mirror, the military postures. Silver is the colour of our breasts '-- metal, weapons.''
''The straight back, in the front line, we embody with pride the great female presence in the revolt movement.''
Has Marianne changed the movement?De Robertis believes her interpretation of Marianne has helped to elevate the position of female gilets jaunes.
While women have always been part of the protests, she says that until recently they had been sidelined.
''At the time when I did it, the question of women was very discreet. There were a lot of articles in the media questioning the place of women,'' she said.
Since the action, she believes women have become more prominent within the movement, often using the symbol of Marianne to show off their presence.
''We, 'Marianne Guiding the People', are forever part of the history of this social revolt as women, feminists, citizens who advocate social and political equality''.
Trump Tower Moscow: Rudy Giuliani Said There Were ''No Plans.'' Here They Are.
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 12:51
politics The Money Trail Rudy Giuliani claims the Moscow tower was barely more than a notion. ''There were no drafts. Nothing in the file.'' Documents obtained by BuzzFeed News tell a different story.
By Azeen Ghorayshi
Posted on January 22, 2019, at 4:53 p.m. ET
BuzzFeed News; Wikimedia; Getty Images; Trump Tower rendering provided to BuzzFeed NewsThe plan was dazzling: a glass skyscraper that would stretch higher than any other building in Europe, offering ultra-luxury residences and hotel rooms and bearing a famous name. Trump Tower Moscow, conceived as a partnership between Donald Trump's company and a Russian real estate developer, looked likely to yield profits in excess of $300 million.
The tower was never built, but it has become a focal point of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Trump's relationship with Russia in the lead-up to his presidency.
The president and his representatives have dismissed the project as little more than a notion '-- a rough plan led by Trump's then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, and his associate Felix Sater, of which Trump and his family said they were only loosely aware as the election campaign gathered pace.
On Monday, his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said ''the proposal was in the earliest stage,'' and he went on to tell the New Yorker that ''no plans were ever made. There were no drafts. Nothing in the file.''
However, hundreds of pages of business documents, emails, text messages, and architectural plans, obtained by BuzzFeed News over a year of reporting, tell a very different story. Trump Tower Moscow was a richly imagined vision of upscale splendor on the banks of the Moscow River.
A long-held dream Trump had for 30 years tried to extend his real estate empire to Moscow. He even wrote about it in his book The Art of the Deal. But he never found the right opportunity '-- until 2013, when he visited Russia to host the Miss Universe pageant. ''TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next,'' he tweeted after the event.
Want to support more reporting like this? Become a BuzzFeed News member today. Provided to BuzzFeed News The tallest skyscraper in Europe Two years later, a vision had emerged. Trump Tower Moscow was to be much more than just another upscale apartment building. It was to be a vast '-- and vastly lucrative '-- undertaking that would elevate the Russian capital's skyline and extend the perimeter of the New York developer's influence.
By September 2015, a New York architect had completed plans for a bold glass obelisk 100 stories high, to be topped by a gleaming, cut-diamond''like shape emblazoned on multiple sides with the Trump logo.
''The building design you sent over is very interesting,'' the Russian real estate developer Andrey Rozov wrote to Cohen in September 2015, ''and will be an architectural and luxury triumph. I believe the tallest building in Europe should be in Moscow, and I am prepared to build it.''
''First class luxury'' BuzzFeed News; Google MapsAccording to a finalized letter of intent signed by Donald Trump on Oct. 28, 2015, the tower would have ''approximately 250 first class, luxury residential condominiums.''
It would be located in Moscow City, a former industrial complex outside of the city center that has since been converted into an ambitious commercial district clustered with several of the tallest skyscrapers in Europe.
Its hotel portion would feature ''approximately 15 floors'' and contain ''not fewer than 150 hotel rooms,'' the letter of intent stated. The building would feature a luxury spa and fitness center, a commercial component ''consistent with the overall luxury level of the Property,'' and an office space ''consistent with Class A luxury office properties,'' as well as ''luxury'' parking.
Spa by Ivanka Sergey Alimov / Getty ImagesAs with most of Trump's other big real estate ventures, the plan was for a local developer '-- Rozov '-- to build Trump Tower Moscow. Trump's team would provide the glittering name and would manage the building's operations, such as restaurants and bars.
The Trump team would also have the option to ''brand all or any portion of the spa or fitness facilities'' as ''The Spa By Ivanka Trump,'' according to the plans. If they exercised that option, Ivanka or one of her representatives would choose all interior design elements for the spa and health club.
Other Spas by Ivanka Trump offer a clue as to what it might have looked like. At the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, the 10,000-square-foot spa and fitness center offers ''a carefully orchestrated spa experience'' designed to produce ''a fresh, authentic and purposeful visit.'' Guests are invited to enjoy ''an immersion lounge, reflective of local culture and craftsmanship,'' specialized massage treatments called ''curated rituals,'' ''aspirational quotes,'' a Himalayan salt chamber, a waterfall, and hallways, curtains, and floors in her signature color of rose gold.
Putin's perks Provided to BuzzFeed NewsThe top residence of the Moscow tower, enjoying a view without equal in all the continent, was to be a gleaming penthouse, the most luxurious property in a seriously luxurious building.
A show-stopping apartment like that could have been marketed for $50 million. But as BuzzFeed News reported in November, Trump's fixers planned not to sell it '-- but to give it away for free, to none other than Vladimir Putin himself. Two US law enforcement officials confirmed that Cohen discussed the idea with an aide to Putin's press secretary.
The hope was that the lavish gift would help grease the wheels, and in the process entice more Russian elites to move in. ''My idea was to give a $50 million penthouse to Putin and charge $250 million more for the rest of the units,'' Felix Sater told BuzzFeed News in November. ''All the oligarchs would line up to live in the same building as Putin.''
Provided to BuzzFeed NewsThe Oct. 28 letter of intent, signed by Trump and Rozov.
An eye on the bottom line The plans included detailed financial arrangements. According to the signed letter of intent, Trump's company would get a $4 million up-front payment '-- a quarter when the licensing agreement was executed, another quarter when they finalized a location for the tower, and the other half either a week before the project's groundbreaking or two years after the execution of the licensing agreement, whichever came first.
From there on out, Trump's company would also get a cut of all the condominium sales at the tower, the agreement stated. From the total selling price of each unit, his company would get 5% for sales up to $100 million, 4% for the next bracket up to $250 million, 3% for anything between that and $500 million, 2% for anything up to $1 billion, and thereafter, a solid cut of 1%. For commercial and office spaces, it would get a 3% cut of all the rent. It'd get another 3% of sales on food and beverages, spa and fitness center use, and conference fees.
The deal also stipulated how much Trump's management company would get paid for running operations at Trump Tower Moscow over 25 years. For the first five years, it would get 3% of all revenue generated by operating the hotel per month. Over the next two decades, it'd receive a flat 4%. In addition, the management company would also receive a monthly ''incentive fee'' '-- an additional 20% of the gross operating profit for the hotel '-- subject to annual negotiations.
The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment on this story, nor did Giuliani, Rozov, Ivanka Trump, or the White House. A spokesperson for the special counsel declined to comment.
Frequent updates Trump has many times denied having any business interests in Russia. But last year, BuzzFeed News revealed that negotiations over the tower lasted at least through June 2016, just a few weeks before Trump clinched the Republican nomination. The special counsel has since confirmed this fact, saying in a court filing that Cohen discussed the plan multiple times with the Trump Organization and asked Trump and a senior campaign staffer about traveling to Russia.
Last November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about when the deal ended. Trump then struck a new note, defending his involvement in the Moscow project during the election: ''There was a good chance that I wouldn't have won,'' he told reporters, ''in which case I would have gotten back into the business, and why should I lose lots of opportunities?''
BuzzFeed News reported on Thursday that Trump received at least 10 updates about the plans, and then directed Cohen to lie to Congress about when those negotiations ended in order to obscure his own involvement. Mueller's office issued a statement Friday saying that ''BuzzFeed's description of specific statements to the Special Counsel's Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen's Congressional testimony are not accurate.'' BuzzFeed News stands by its story and the two law enforcement sources who informed it.
Giuliani has since acknowledged the plan went on longer than previously stated. ''It's our understanding that it '-- that they went on throughout 2016,'' Giuliani told CNN. ''Weren't a lot of them, but there were conversations. Can't be sure of the exact date. But the president can remember having conversations with him about it.''
He then told the New York Times that Trump remembers discussing the project with Cohen up until November 2016, when Trump was elected president. ''It was all going from the day I announced to the day I won,'' Trump said, according to Giuliani.
He has since backtracked, stating that his comments on Trump Tower Moscow were ''hypothetical and not based on conversations I had with the president.''
A great lifetime goal Provided to BuzzFeed NewsSadly for luxury-loving Muscovites, the tower project never came to be. It's not entirely clear why the deal fell through, but today on the bend of the Moscow River, on the edge of the Presnensky District and only a few miles from the Kremlin, there is no Ivanka-branded salt chamber and no Trump-approved luxury parking.
By the time Donald Trump signed the project's letter of intent, he was four months into his presidential campaign '-- running for the highest office in America while conducting private business negotiations with a hostile nation.
Today that choice has produced controversy and possible legal risk. But back then, it seemed to be pure upside.
''Let's make this happen and build a Trump Moscow,'' Sater wrote to Cohen shortly beforehand. ''And possibly fix relations between the countries by showing everyone that commerce & business are much better and more practical than politics. '... Help world peace and make a lot of money, I would say that's a great lifetime goal for us to go after.''
Provided to BuzzFeed NewsAnthony Cormier, Jason Leopold, Tanya Kozyreva, and Chris Geidner contributed to this story.
The Latest: Argentine bank president says economy healing
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 12:47
WJ Wire Singer and co-founder of RED Bono, 2nd right, gestures to Afsaneh Mashayekhi Beschloss, founder of RockCreek, Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of IMF and Rwanda President Paul Kagame, from left, as he arrives for the "Closing the Financing Gap" session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.
DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) '-- The Latest on the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (all times local):
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has touted the benefits of two recent ''mega deals'' in trade. He said Japan, the European Union and the United States must work together to reform the World Trade Organization, notably on rules about government subsidies.
Abe's speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, marked his return to the elite gathering after five years.
He referred to the Trans-Pacific Partnership wrapped up next year and the looming entry into force on Feb. 1 of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership agreement.
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Abe urged a Davos conference hall to ''rebuild trust toward the system for international trade.''
The allusion to government subsidies and call for a trading system that protects intellectual property rights amounted to a reference to China, which the Trump administration has castigated for failing to be transparent on its government subsidies and for swiping intellectual property.
Bono, who has been a prominent campaigner on development issues for decades, says capitalism is not immoral: ''It's amoral.''
Speaking at the World Economic Forum, the U2 frontman said capitalism has taken more people out of poverty than ''any other ism'' but that ''it is a wild beast and if not tamed it can chew up a lot of people on the way.''
Those who have not benefited from capitalism are, he said, driving ''the politics in our home towards populism.''
Bono also said that he's had a change of heart with regard to the International Monetary Fund, an institution he once considered to be the ''Great Satan'' for its ''bullying of junior economies.''
Heaping praise on IMF managing director, Christine Lagarde, Bona said the IMF has changed.
The development community, he said, values Lagarde's ''tough mindedness'' but he added he would still be on her ''case.''
Guido Sandleris, president of the Central Bank of Argentina, says the country is ''much better prepared'' for the challenge of a slowdown in global trade and the rise in interest rates in major economies, following its recession.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum, Sandleris said Argentina had previously not been strong enough to cope with those twin challenges amid high inflation at home and big fiscal and trade deficits. As a result, President Mauricio Macri negotiated a $56 billion stand-by financing facility with the International Monetary Fund.
Though the deficits are heading in the right direction, Sandleris said inflation remains too high.
Sandleris defended the government's belt-tightening measures and said protests in the country are more to do with the recession '-- the economy is expected to shrink further this year '-- than any anger against the IMF.
Hong Kong's Beijing-backed chief executive says she's ''quite worried'' that the rules-based system that has governed global trade for decades is under threat.
Speaking Wednesday at the World Economic Forum at the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Carrie Lam said any diminution in the traditional rules could lead to rising political tensions around the world.
She said Hong Kong has prospered ''on the basis of free and open trade.''
Worries over the future of the rules governing global trade have been stoked over the past couple of years, certainly since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump. His administration has taken particular umbrage against China and the two have imposed tariffs on each other that has raised concerns of a full-scale trade war.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.
In Congo, the Tshisekedi no one had expected takes power
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 12:46
WJ Wire FILE - This Nov. 23, 2018, file photo shows Felix Tshisekedi of Congo's Union for Democracy and Social Progress opposition party, at a press conference in Nairobi, Kenya. Congo's Constitutional Court early Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, declared the election of Tshisekedi as president, rejecting challenges to the vote by runner-up Martin Fayulu, who had alleged fraud. Tshisekedi, son of the late, charismatic opposition leader Etienne, is now set to be inaugurated on Tuesday.(AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)
The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) '-- Felix Tshisekedi has emerged from his father's shadow to become Congo's next president. For decades that post eluded his father, the venerated opposition politician, Etienne, whose death in 2017 helped catapult his son into the limelight.
The passage of power from father to son is a familiar story in Congo, where President Joseph Kabila took office at age 29 after the assassination of his father, Laurent, in 2001. He stayed on two years beyond his mandate amid delayed elections that finally took place on Dec. 30.
Now Tshisekedi, 55, is taking over after a disputed vote, with his inauguration on Thursday marking troubled Congo's first democratic transfer of power since independence in 1960 from Belgium.
Many Congolese say his surprise victory is one the largely untested opposition leader did not earn.
Runner-up Martin Fayulu on Sunday lost a court challenge to election results despite presenting leaked data from Congo's electoral commission showing he easily won. Fayulu has declared himself the only legitimate president, but Congolese largely have not heeded his call for peaceful protests.
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Fayulu and his supporters have accused Kabila of making a backroom deal with Tshisekedi when the ruling party's candidate did poorly in the vote. Fayulu, an opposition lawmaker and businessman who is outspoken about cleaning up Congo's sprawling corruption, has been seen by some as a bigger threat to Kabila and his allies.
Tshisekedi ''was somebody who would compromise and somebody they felt they could work with because he wasn't saying he would launch an investigation into Kabila,'' said Andrew Edward Tchie, research fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
His presidency will essentially be ''a continuation of the regime,'' Tchie said. Even if Fayulu had been declared the winner ''it would have been the same thing,'' given that Kabila's ruling coalition won a majority of the National Assembly.
Tshisekedi, who was largely quiet after the election, has not addressed the allegation of a secret deal. He told supporters after the court's declaration of his victory that ''the Congo that we are going to form will not be a Congo of division, hatred or tribalism. It will be a reconciled Congo, a strong Congo that will be focused on development, peace and security.''
Nobody thought the electoral process would be peaceful, Tshisekedi has said, and no one thought an opposition candidate would win.
After division among African leaders over the disputed vote, some have congratulated Tshisekedi and urged Congolese to move on in the interest of stability after decades of rebel-led turmoil that have left millions dead.
Until his surprise victory, Tshisekedi's most notable political act had been briefly supporting Fayulu as the candidate of an opposition coalition last year but then breaking away within a day to pursue the presidency himself.
Tshisekedi, the father of five, quietly built his career in the shadow of his father, taking over Congo's most prominent opposition party only a year after his death.
He had been named the Union for Democracy and Social Progress party's national secretary in 2008, and was elected a national deputy in 2011 to the city of Mbujimayi in Kasai Oriental province. He later won a National Assembly seat and in 2016 became the party's vice secretary.
The party's supporters are nicknamed ''the fighters'' for their outspoken following. When they speak of Tshisekedi or the UDPS, there is usually mention of his charismatic father.
''Etienne left us the agreement (for Kabila to leave), now Felix is going to be president,'' said one supporter, Jean-Baptiste Lay.
Etienne Tshisekedi's death came at a fragile moment for Congo. He was deeply involved in efforts to persuade Kabila to agree to step down amid sometimes deadly protests over the election delay.
The 84-year-old had formed the country's first opposition party in 1982 against the longtime dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko and briefly served several times as prime minister.
Tshisekedi went into exile in 2000 after clashes with Kabila's father, who took power after Mobutu's ouster. He made a triumphant return in 2003 as Joseph Kabila was early in his rule. He lost to Kabila in the 2011 presidential election amid allegations of vote-rigging and declared himself president in protest.
When he died in Belgium, Kabila's government was so wary of the impact on people the return of his body to Congo could cause that until now they have blocked it from coming home.
Felix Tshisekedi, the only one of six sons to enter politics, doesn't have his father's fire, some observers have said. Questions remain about his abilities and qualifications. Some Belgian media have questioned the veracity of his diploma, but Congolese law says a candidate can either submit a diploma or serve a certain amount of time as a politician to qualify to run for president.
As Congo's incoming leader inherits the troubled country, he will look to his father's legacy. One of his first things Tshisekedi will do once sworn in, a spokesman said, is finally allow his father's body to come home for burial.
Associated Press writers Saleh Mwanamilongo in Kinshasa, Congo and Mathilde Boussion in Johannesburg contributed.
Follow Carley Petesch on Twitter at https://twitter.com/carleypetesch
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Bitcoin's Proof-of-Work Algorithm Needs Replacing, Argues BIS Study - CoinDesk
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 11:44
The proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm used by bitcoin and some other cryptocurrencies is not viable in the long-term and needs to be replaced, argues a new study from the Bank of International Settlements (BIS).
BIS, considered to be the central bank of central banks, published a research report on Monday, saying that PoW '' which uses a network of powerful computers to secure the network '' is ''extremely expensive'' and the only solution is to ''depart'' from using the algorithm.
Author of the report, Raphael Auer, a principal economist for the monetary and economic department at the BIS says that there are two fundamental economic limitations of the algorithm.
First, bitcoin is vulnerable to double-spending or 51 percent attacks, hence it requires ''extremely expensive'' protection based on PoW.
Second, as the system stops awarding bitcoin as block rewards to miners, the algorithm will not be able to generate transaction fees ''in line with the goal of guaranteeing payment security.''
''Simple calculations suggest that once block rewards are zero, it could take months before a bitcoin payment is final, unless new technologies are deployed to speed up payment finality,'' he suggests.
Auer, therefore, suggests that blockchain tech developments are needed to speed up payment finality and to keep the liquidity of cryptocurrencies intact.
''Second-layer solutions such as the Lightning Network might help,'' he says, ''but the only fundamental remedy would be to depart from proof-of-work, which would probably require some form of social coordination or institutionalization.''
But the lightning network is also not without its concerns, he says. For example, there is a trade-off between efficiency and centralization with the scaling solution. Such solutions, are ''no magic bullets, as they face their own scaling issues,'' he says. As of Jan. 3, 2019, 362 of a total of 544 committed bitcoins were associated with a single website, meaning two thirds of lightning capacity at the time was controlled by one entity, the paper states.
Auer believes that it is important to look at the bigger picture and answer how the crypto ecosystem can complement and improve upon the existing monetary and financial ecosystem rather than replacing it.
''The current technology seems unlikely to replace the current monetary and financial infrastructure. Instead, the question is rather how the technology might complement existing arrangements.''
Back in September, the BIS published another report on the crypto markets indicating that ''their valuations, transaction volumes and user bases react substantially to news about regulatory actions'' as they remain largely unregulated.
BIS image via Shutterstock
California auditor: UC President's office hid $175 million
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 02:29
A scathing state audit Tuesday accused University of California President Janet Napolitano's office of hiding tens of millions of dollars in reserves '-- even from its own board of regents '-- and creating a secret spending plan, while also padding the salaries and benefits of her staff.
The eye-popping report comes as UC plans to hike tuition this fall and has already prompted one UC regent, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, to publicly request a reversal of that increase.
State Auditor Elaine Howle found that UC's central office had accumulated more than $175 million in reserves that it failed to disclose, including money it collects from campuses, for a series of systemwide initiatives from boosting the university's carbon footprint to bolstering its cybersecurity.
''It's like they had appropriations and kept the change, kept it in some slush account,'' said Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, who requested the audit last year along with Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco.
In another startling finding, the auditor accused Napolitano's office of intercepting a confidential survey that the auditor sent to individual campuses about the quality and cost of services they received from the central office, causing campus officials to soften their responses.
For years, state lawmakers have been clashing with the university system over its opaque finances and escalating costs amid calls for belt-tightening by Gov. Jerry Brown. Tension between the state and the prestigious university system has mounted since the recession, when UC repeatedly hiked tuition to backfill state budget cuts and turned away record numbers of California high school seniors while admitting higher-paying, out-of-state and international students.
UC disputes some of the new findings. It says the size of the reserve is $38 million, not $175 million, and that the report ''fundamentally and unfairly mischaracterizes UCOP's budget processes and practices in a way that does not accurately capture our current operations nor our efforts and plans for continued improvement.''
The audit cited extensive problems with financial management at UC's central office, including the following findings:
Administrative spending shortly after Napolitano took control increased by roughly $80 million, or 28 percent, between 2012-13 and 2015-16, but the central office doesn't have a reliable or consistent way to track such expenditures;It received significantly more money than it needed in each of the four years reviewed by the auditor, but asked for increases in future funding based on inflated budgets from previous years;It paid executives a total of $3.7 million in fiscal year 2015-16 '-- $700,000 more than other top-paid executives at comparable state agencies '-- and spent at least $21.6 million in employee benefits, including contributions to supplemental retirement savings plans.''This report describes a breathtaking lack of transparency about how UC '-- which is a state institution '-- spends state money,'' said David Snyder, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, a Bay Area-based non-profit that fights for open and accountable government. ''How much money UC actually has is of paramount importance, not just for students but for all Californians.''
Last week, the state auditor also dinged California State University for hiring new managers at a rapid rate and not being able to justify the number of new hires.
Brown did not comment on the findings, but state lawmakers '-- who will hold a hearing on the matter next Tuesday '-- were quick to react.
''The UC has constantly blamed us for not funding them enough,'' Ting said, ''while at the same time sitting on a pile of money they could use to solve their own problems.''
Newsom, who is running for governor, threw cold water on plans to raise tuition, calling it ''outrageous and unjust to force tuition hikes on students while the UC hides secret funds.''
''The audit must serve as a wake-up call for the Board of Regents, as a catalyst for serious soul-searching within the UC's administration, and demands a reboot of the relationship between the system and its governing body,'' he said in a statement.
The regents in January passed a $336 increase in tuition and fees '-- the first hike in six years '-- a 2.7 percent rise. One student leader said he hoped the report, while troubling, doesn't become an excuse for the Legislature to cut back on its support.
''I agree that this stuff needs to be above board,'' said Ralph Washington, Jr., a UC Davis graduate student and president of the UC Student Association, ''but I'm not sure if this is a justification that there's plenty of money and the state Legislature doesn't need to do more to help out students at the UC.''
The auditor also recommended a major change for a university system that largely operates independently of the Legislature: Instead, lawmakers would directly allocate the budget for the Office of the President's operations. The report also suggests that the UC Board of Regents hire an outside firm to help it monitor a three-year ''corrective action plan.''
In a six-page response, Napolitano wrote that the audit report erroneously claimed that her office failed to publicly disclose ''tens of millions in surplus funds.'' She also disputed the finding that UCOP's budgeting practices were misleading.
''In fact, UCOP's budget and financial approaches reflect strategic, deliberate and transparent spending and investment in UC and state priorities,'' she wrote.
The auditor said Napolitano's office hasn't been able to ''provide evidence that refuted our conclusion'' that the office didn't publicly disclose the tens of millions in surplus funds.
In a separate letter to the auditor, Board of Regents Chairwoman Monica Lozano and Regent Charlene Zettel said they agreed with most of the report's recommendations, apart from those that would undermine UC's autonomy. They stressed the report did not diminish their confidence in the Napolitano's leadership.
One student leader at UC Berkeley said he was disturbed by the finding that Napolitano's office interfered in a survey of campuses. Campus statements that were initially critical of the Office of the President were revised, the auditor said, and quality ratings shifted to be more positive. In response, the president's office said it facilitated ''coordination processes'' to ''get the auditors accurate information.''
''That's disappointing on a lot of levels,'' said Andr(C) Luu, external affairs vice president for UC Berkeley's student government. ''At the end of the day there's a reason students are consistently disappointed in the decisions that UCOP makes.''
Viacom acquires completely free, ad-based TV streaming service 'Pluto TV' - 9to5Mac
Wed, 23 Jan 2019 02:27
As the streaming TV market continues to evolve, Viacom today announced that it has acquired streaming service Pluto TV for $340 million. As reported by Variety, the deal is expected to close this quarter.
Sylvania HomeKit Light StripIn a statement, Viacom CEO Bob Bakish touted that combining Pluto TV's infrastructure with Viacom's content will result in new opportunities for consumers:
''Today marks an important step forward in Viacom's evolution, as we work to move both our company and the industry forward,'' said Viacom CEO Bob Bakish in a statement. ''Pluto TV's unique and market-leading product, combined with Viacom's brands, content, advanced advertising capabilities and global scale, creates a great opportunity for consumers, partners and Viacom.''
Pluto TV is a video streaming service that has grown in popularity over recent years. It offers a slick Apple TV app and access to ''over 100 live channels and 1000's of movies.'' Currently, Pluto TV is completely free and ad-based, but it's unclear if that will continue under Viacom's ownership. The app draws 12 million month users.
Viacom's acquisition of Pluto TV comes as the launch of Apple's own streaming service nears. Further, NBC also recently announced that it will launch an ad-supported video streaming service next year.
You can try Pluto TV on the Apple TV here.
Subscribe to 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news:
The Aachen Treaty: Germany and France become all but a single state | UK Column
Tue, 22 Jan 2019 19:37
Following David Scott's initial analysis and spoken commentary on the Aachen Treaty, which the German Government has trumpeted includes "the design of the European Defence Union", below is a translation of the full French text of the treaty. Terms in [square brackets] are supplied by UK Column. Terms in (round parentheses) are original to the text of the treaty.
Readers with French (or using a translation machine) may also wish to read this analysis of the full text by an alert Frenchman, with key sentences marked in bold and commented upon.
To the extent that the structures below may appear to duplicate EU structures that have existed since EEC days, one can make sense of that apparent reduplication by viewing the current effort as a constitutionalisation of two major trends of the late twentieth century EU: the corporatisation agenda and the regionalisation agenda.
Readers should bear in mind when considering this treaty that since 2010, France and the United Kingdom have been operating as all but a single state on matters of defence and security, as only the UK Column reported at the time. Britain is expressly included in the EU's multifarious defence acronym schemes (henceforth to be called "Defence Union" by at least the German Government, it seems) as a "third country" in EU defence arrangements. Hence, much or all of the treaty below may be found to apply to Britain, including the reference in Article 4 to "expanding common defence programmes to partners" and the reference in Article 6 to joint military "stabilisation operations in third countries". In signing the Lancaster House Accords with the French Government, Her Majesty's Government may have signed an accord with the structure described below.
PreambleThe French Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany,
Recognising the historic success of the reconciliation between the French and German peoples to which the Treaty of 22 January 1963 between the French Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany on Franco-German co-operation made an exceptional contribution, and from which was born an unprecedented network for bilateral relations between their civil societies and their public authorities at all levels;
Convinced that the time has come to elevate their bilateral relations to a higher level and to prepare for the challenges facing the two States and Europe in the 21st century, and to converge their economies and social models, to foster diversity, and to bring their societies and their citizens closer together;
Convinced that the close friendship between France and Germany has been decisive in and remains an indispensable element of a united, effective, sovereign and strong European Union;
Committed to deepening their co-operation on European policy in order to promote Europe's unity, effectiveness and cohesion, while keeping this co-operation open to all the Member States of the European Union;
Committed to the founding principles, rights, freedoms and values ''of the European Union, which defend the rule of law throughout the European Union and promote it abroad;
Committed to working for a bottom-up social and economic convergence within the European Union, to strengthen mutual solidarity and to promote the constant improvement of living and working conditions in accordance with the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights, including paying particular attention to women's empowerment and gender equality;
Reaffirming the European Union's commitment to an open, equitable and rules-based global marketplace, with access based on reciprocity and non-discrimination and governed by high environmental and social standards;
Conscious of their rights and obligations under the United Nations Charter;
Firmly committed to a rules-based international order and multilateralism, of which the United Nations is the central element;
Convinced that prosperity and security can only be achieved by acting urgently to protect the climate and preserve biodiversity and ecosystems;
Acting in accordance with their respective national constitutional and legal rules and within the legal framework of the European Union;
Recognising the fundamental role of the devolved co-operation of [French and German] municipalities, [French] d(C)partements, [French] R(C)gions, [German] L¤nder, the [French] Senate and the [German] Bundesrat [Senate], as well as that of co-operation between the Charg(C) d'Affaires Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Germany for Cultural Affairs (as laid down in the Treaty on Franco-German Co-operation) and the competent French Ministers;
Recognising the essential role of the co-operation between the Assembl(C)e Nationale and the Deutscher Bundestag, particularly within the scope of their interparliamentary agreement of 22 January 2019, which constitutes an important dimension of the close links between the two countries,Are agreed as follows:
CHAPTER 1. European affairs Article 1The two States will deepen their co-operation on European policy. They will promote an effective, strong, common foreign and security policy and will strengthen and deepen Economic and Monetary Union. They will strive to complete the Single Market and strive to build a competitive Union founded upon a strong industrial base, which will serve as a basis for prosperity, promoting economic, taxation and social convergence, as well as sustainability in all its dimensions.
Article 2The two States will consult regularly at all levels before the major European [Union] deadlines, seeking to establish common positions and to agree co-ordinated ministerial speeches. They will co-ordinate on the transposition of European [Union] law into their national law.
CHAPTER 2. Peace, security and development Article 3The two States will deepen their co-operation on foreign policy, defence, external and internal security and development, while striving to strengthen Europe's autonomous [i.e. separate from NATO] capacity for action. They will consult each other in order to define common positions on any major decision affecting their common interests and to act jointly in all cases where such is possible.
Article 4(1) Pursuant to the commitments binding them under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty of 4 April 1949 and Article 42 (7) of the [Maastricht] Treaty on European Union of 7 February 1992 '-- as amended by the Treaty of Lisbon of 13 December 2007 amending the [Maastricht] Treaty on European Union and the Treaty Establishing the European Community '-- the two States will, convinced of the inseparability of their security interests, increasingly converge their objectives and policies on security and defence, thereby strengthening the collective security systems of which they form part. They will afford each other aid and assistance by every means at their disposal, including armed force, in case of armed aggression against their territories. The territorial scope of the second sentence of this paragraph shall correspond to that of Article 42 (7) of the [Maastricht] Treaty on European Union.
(2) The two States shall act jointly in all cases where possible, in accordance with their respective national rules, with a view to maintaining peace and security. They will continue to develop Europe's efficiency, coherence and credibility in the military field. In doing so, they commit themselves to strengthening Europe's capacity for action and to invest jointly to make good its capacity shortcomings, thus strengthening the European Union and the North Atlantic Alliance.
(3) The two States undertake to strengthen further the co-operation between their armed forces with a view to establishing a common culture and joint deployments. They will intensify the development of common defence programmes and will expand them to partners. In doing so, they intend to promote the competitiveness and consolidation of the European defence industrial and technological base. They support the closest possible co-operation between their defence industries, on the basis of mutual trust. The two States will develop a common approach to arms exports as regards joint projects.
(4) The two States will establish the Franco-German Defence and Security Council as the political body to manage these reciprocal commitments. This Council will meet at regular intervals at the highest level.
Article 5The two States will extend the co-operation between their ministries of foreign affairs, including their diplomatic and consular missions. They will exchange senior staff. They will establish exchanges within their Permanent Representations to the United Nations at New York, particularly between their Security Council teams; their Permanent Representations to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation; and their Permanent Representations to the European Union, as well as between the bodies of the two States that are responsible for co-ordinating European [Union] action.
Article 6In the area of ''internal security, the governments of the two States will further reinforce their bilateral co-operation in the fight against terrorism and organised crime, as well as their judicial co-operation and co-operation in intelligence and police matters. They will implement common training and deployment measures and will create a common unit for stabilisation operations in third countries.
Article 7The two States commit themselves to establishing an ever closer partnership between Europe and Africa by strengthening their co-operation on private sector development, regional integration, education and vocational training, gender equality and women's empowerment, with the aim of improving socio-economic prospects, sustainability, good governance and conflict prevention, crisis resolution '-- including peacekeeping '-- and the management of post-conflict situations. The two States will establish an annual policy dialogue on international development policy to intensify the co-ordination of policy planning and implementation.
Article 8(1) Within the framework of the United Nations Charter, the two States will co-operate closely in all bodies of the United Nations. They will closely co-ordinate their positions, as part of a wider effort of consultation among EU Member States having a seat on the UN Security Council and in accordance with the positions and interests of the European Union. They will act in concert to promote to the United Nations the EU's positions and commitments to global challenges and threats. They will do their utmost to achieve a unified European Union position in the appropriate bodies of the United Nations.
(2) The two States undertake to continue their efforts to conclude intergovernmental negotiations on the reform of the United Nations Security Council. The admission of the Federal Republic of Germany as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council is a priority of Franco-German diplomacy.
CHAPTER 3. Culture, teaching, research and mobility Article 9The two States recognise the decisive role played by culture and the media in strengthening Franco-German amity. Accordingly, they are determined to create for their peoples a shared space of freedom and opportunity, as well as a common cultural and media space. They will develop mobility and exchange programmes between their countries, in particular for young people within the scope of the Franco-German Youth Office, and will define quantified objectives in these areas. In order to foster ever closer links in all areas of cultural expression, including through integrated cultural institutes, they will put in place specific programmes and a digital platform especially for young people.
Article 10The two States will bring their education systems closer together by developing the mutual learning of each other's languages; adopting, in accordance with their [respective] constitutional structure, strategies to increase the number of students studying the partner's language, acting to achieve the mutual recognition of diplomas, and to establish Franco-German excellence tools for research, vocational education and training, as well as integrated dual Franco-German programmes under the auspices of higher education.
Article 11The two States will promote the networking of their education and research systems as well as their funding structures. They will continue the development of the Franco-German University and will encourage French and German universities to participate in networks of European universities.
Article 12The two States will establish a Common Citizenship Fund to encourage and support citizens' initiatives and twinning between cities, with the aim of bringing their two peoples closer together.
CHAPTER 4. Regional and cross-border co-operation Article 13(1) The two States recognise the importance of cross-border co-operation between the French Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany in order to strengthen the links between citizens and businesses on both sides of the border, including the essential role played by local authorities and other local actors in this respect. They intend to facilitate the removal of obstacles in border areas in order to implement cross-border projects and to facilitate the daily life of the inhabitants of these areas.
(2) To that end, in accordance with the respective constitutional rules of the two States and within the limits of European Union law, the two States will endow local and regional authorities with border-area and cross-border entities such as Eurodistricts, having appropriate powers, dedicated resources and accelerated procedures to overcome obstacles to the implementation of cross-border projects, particularly in the economic, social, environmental, health, energy and transport fields. If no other means allows them to overcome these obstacles, then appropriate legal and administrative provisions, including derogations [from the otherwise applicable stipulations of EU or national law], may also be granted. In such a case, it will be up to the two States to adopt the appropriate legislation.
(3) The two States remain committed to preserving high standards in the areas of employment law, social protection, health and safety, and environmental protection.
Article 14The two States will set up a Cross-Border Co-operation Committee, comprising stakeholders such as the [national] State and local authorities, parliaments and cross-border entities such as Eurodistricts and, where necessary, interested Euroregions. This Committee shall be responsible for co-ordinating all aspects of cross-border area oversight between the French Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany; for defining a common strategy for the selection of priority projects; and for monitoring the difficulties encountered in border areas; for making proposals for remedying them, as well as for analysing the impact of new legislation on border areas.
Article 15The two States are committed to the goal of bilingualism in border areas and will support border communities in developing and implementing appropriate strategies.
Article 16The two States will facilitate cross-border mobility by improving the interconnectedness of digital and physical networks between themselves, including rail and road links. They will work closely in the field of innovative, sustainable and universally accessible transport, in order to develop common approaches or standards for the two States.
CHAPTER 5. Sustainable development, climate, environment and economic affairs Article 17The two States will encourage devolved co-operation between local authorities in non-border areas. They pledge to support the initiatives launched by such local authorities that are implemented in those territories.
Article 18The two States will work to strengthen the implementation process of multilateral instruments relating to sustainable development, global health, and the protection of the environment and climate, particularly the Paris Agreement of 12 December 2015 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To this end, they will act in close partnership to formulate common approaches and policies, particularly by putting in place mechanisms for the transformation of their economies and by promoting ambitious actions to combat climate change. They will ensure the mainstreaming of climate protection into all policies, including regular cross-cutting exchanges between the governments in key sectors.
Article 19The two States will advance the energy transition in all relevant sectors and will, to this end, develop their co-operation and strengthen the institutional framework for funding, developing and implementing joint projects, particularly in the areas of infrastructure, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Article 20(1) The two States will deepen the integration of their economies in order to establish a Franco-German economic zone with common rules. The Franco-German Economic and Financial Council will promote the bilateral harmonisation of their legislation, particularly in the field of business law, and will regularly co-ordinate economic policies between the French Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany in order to promote convergence between the two States and improve the competitiveness of their economies.
(2) The two States will set up a Franco-German Economic Expert Council, composed of ten independent experts, to make recommendations to the two governments on their economic activities.
Article 21The two States will intensify their co-operation in the field of research and digital transformation, particularly in the field of artificial intelligence and breakthrough innovations. They will promote international guidelines on the ethics of new technologies. In order to promote innovation, they will set up Franco-German initiatives open to co-operation at European level. The two States will put in place a co-ordination process and joint funding to support joint research and innovation programmes.
Article 22Stakeholders and interested parties from the two States will come together in a Forum for the Franco-German Future to work on the processes of transformation of their societies.
CHAPTER 6. Organisation Article 23Meetings between the governments of the two States will take place at least once a year, alternately in the French Republic and in the Federal Republic of Germany. After the entry into force of this Treaty, the Franco-German Council of Ministers shall adopt a multiannual programme of Franco-German co-operation projects. The [two respective civil service] Secretaries-General for Franco-German co-operation responsible for preparing these meetings shall monitor the implementation of this programme and shall report to the [Franco-German] Council of Ministers.
Article 24A member of the Government of one of the two States alternately shall attend, at least once a quarter, the Cabinet of Ministers of the other State.
Article 25The councils, structures and instruments of Franco-German co-operation shall be subject to periodic review and shall, if necessary, be adapted without delay to the objectives agreed upon. The first of these reviews should take place within six months of the entry into force of this Treaty and should propose the necessary adjustments. The [respective] Secretaries-General for Franco-German co-operation will regularly assess progress. They will inform the parliaments and the Franco-German Council of Ministers of the general state of progress of Franco-German co-operation.
Article 26Representatives of the [French] R(C)gions and the [German] L¤nder, as well as the cross-border co-operation committee, may be invited to participate in the Franco-German Council of Ministers.
CHAPTER 7. Final provisions Article 27This Treaty supplements the Treaty of 22 January 1963 between the French Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany on Franco-German co-operation within the meaning of Paragraph 4 of the Final Provisions of this Treaty.
Article 28The two States shall inform one another, through diplomatic channels, of the completion of the national procedures required for the entry into force of this Treaty. This Treaty shall enter into force on the date of receipt of the last notification.
U.S. and North Korean Spies Have Held Secret Talks for a Decade - WSJ
Tue, 22 Jan 2019 18:04
The secret channel between the Central Intelligence Agency and spies from America's bitter adversary included two missions to Pyongyang in 2012 during the Obama administration by Michael Morell, then deputy CIA director, and at least one by his successor, Avril Haines, say current and former U.S. officials.
The channel appears to have gone dormant late in the Obama administration. Mike Pompeo re-energized it while CIA director, sending an agency officer to meet with North Korean counterparts in Singapore in August 2017.
By early 2018, a whirlwind of secret and public talks were underway, which brought together Messrs. Trump and Kim in a pomp-filled Singapore meeting in June. The intelligence channel played a role. The two sides are preparing for a second summit in late February.
A few details of the contacts have been previously reported. This article represents the most comprehensive description of how it worked.
The channel wasn't the only factor bringing the leaders together. They took risks in pursuing the summit, the first between their countries. North Korea's improving ties with South Korea helped.
But the intelligence channel's existence reveals a new dimension to what was known about U.S.-North Korean ties, adding texture to the public picture of mutual threats, stymied talks, and, more recently, a top-level summit.
Dating to at least 2009, the channel created relationships between the security apparatuses that provided a path to diplomacy. A key interlocutor was Gen. Kim Yong Chol, former head of Pyongyang's Reconnaissance General Bureau spy agency. Now the senior North Korean negotiator, he met Friday with Mr. Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo.
Some of the intelligence meetings have been public. When North Korea in 2014 insisted a senior U.S. official visit Pyongyang to obtain release of two detained U.S. citizens, it was James Clapper, U.S. Director of National Intelligence then, who went. There, he met with Gen. Kim.
Mostly, the contacts have been hidden.
A look inside the secret intelligence channel emerges from current and former Trump and Obama administration officials who describe how the administrations employed it and how the channel helped lead to the historic summit.
The CIA, State Department and White House declined to comment on the secret channel, as did a diplomat at North Korea's U.N. mission in New York. Other officials mentioned in this article or their institutions were given an opportunity to comment.
The U.S. and North Korea have never had diplomatic relations and don't maintain embassies in each other's capitals. They have long exchanged messages through the North Korean U.N. mission in New York. Some U.S. officials have viewed that channel's usefulness as limited, saying its primary purpose has been to pass messages to North Korea's less influential foreign-affairs ministry.
In contrast, before the new era of summits, the intelligence channel was a way to communicate directly with regime hard-liners. U.S. officials sometimes called it the ''goon channel,'' referring to North Korean interlocutors the Americans found distasteful but important in deciding security matters. Some South Korean politicians accuse Gen. Kim of having overseen the 2010 sinking of a South Korean navy ship. The U.S. has accused the spy agency he ran of conducting the 2014 computer hack of Sony Pictures. North Korea has denied responsibility for both.
Washington used the intelligence encounters for multiple purposes. They expanded from a way to discuss detained Americans to a potential tool for crisis management, a means of reaffirming the U.S. was prepared to normalize relations in return for denuclearization, and a mechanism to discuss summit plans, culminating in a visit by Mr. Pompeo last Spring when he was CIA director.
''The rationale for using a channel between intelligence agencies would be that in the event of some sort of crisis it could provide a capability to reach people in their system with authority,'' says Daniel Russel, a senior State Department and National Security Council official on Asia during the Obama administration. ''Generally speaking, in countries like North Korea, the foreign ministry has limited influence, so you need to be able to speak to the guys with the guns.''
There are precedents for using spies for sensitive talks with authoritarian regimes. Officers from Britain's intelligence service and the CIA initiated talks that ended with Libya's abandoning its nuclear and chemical weapons programs in 2003.
Secret talks beginThe secret intelligence talks began by 2009, when relations were frozen. President Obama's White House asked Joseph DeTrani to reach out to the North. Nicknamed ''Broadway Joe,'' with a reputation for a gregarious manner, he was the North Korea ''mission manager'' for the director of national intelligence, coordinating U.S. spy agencies' efforts to decipher the hermetic country.
Mr. DeTrani, who speaks Mandarin and who spent more than two decades at the CIA, was among the few American officials who had extensive interaction with North Korea. He was a negotiator during the ill-fated Six Party Talks, a multicountry effort from 2003 to 2009 to persuade North Korea to abandon nuclear ambitions.
''DeTrani thinks that under all circumstances it is worth talking to North Korea so at least we are in communication, we are not misinterpreting what is happening and there is the possibility to grab small openings,'' says Dennis Blair, a retired admiral and director of national intelligence during the Obama administration's first 16 months.
Mr. DeTrani's mission was narrow. Mr. Obama wanted him to secure release of two U.S. journalists sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. Mr. DeTrani held unpublicized meetings in Singapore under tense circumstances: Pyongyang carried out missile tests that Mr. DeTrani's North Korean counterparts declined to discuss.
The talks helped lead to former President Clinton's 2009 Pyongyang visit, when he brought back the journalists.
After assuming responsibility in 2010 for the U.S. intelligence community's counter-proliferation efforts, Mr. DeTrani made a secret trip to Pyongyang, warning North Korea against proliferating nuclear and missile systems.
He passed the baton for secret meetings to Mr. Morell, the CIA's No. 2. In April 2012, the two officials flew to Pyongyang in a U.S. aircraft from Guam, and Mr. DeTrani introduced the CIA deputy director to the North Koreans.
The moment was critical. The Obama administration had concluded the ''Leap Day agreement'' in February under which the North agreed to a moratorium on long-range missile tests and nuclear tests and to shut down its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, including its uranium-enrichment plant there. The U.S. promised to provide food aid. But Washington said North Korea's plans to launch a satellite would breach the deal.
Kim Jong Il, who ruled North Korea for 17 years, had died the previous December, transferring power to Kim Jong Un'--making it crucial to keep the communication line open.
U.S. efforts to head off that launch failed. Mr. Morell, a career CIA officer with Asia experience, returned to Pyongyang the following August with the message that North Korea faced a choice. It could build its nuclear and missile arsenals and suffer diplomatic and economic isolation'--or choose denuclearization and become part of the international community.
The trip ended in disappointment: He didn't get the hoped-for audience with Kim Jong Un.
Glimpses of the secret channel have occasionally become public. In late 2012, a South Korean newspaper reported mysterious Americans had made two trips to North Korea. The Financial Times reported in January 2018 that Mr. Morell had made a secret trip to North Korea in 2012.
Mr. Morell was succeeded as CIA deputy director by Ms. Haines, whose path to a senior national-security post included a stint as owner of an independent book store. She traveled to Pyongyang during her tenure as the CIA's No. 2 from August 2013 to January 2015.
Despite the paucity of breakthroughs, some former officials say it was useful to have contacts to hard-line elements of the regime, who were deemed to be influential and controlled the security apparatus holding U.S. prisoners. Keeping the channel secret also enabled the Obama administration to encourage international partners to isolate Pyongyang diplomatically and economically as part of a pressure campaign to denuclearize.
''It's been the only reliable channel of communications for the most basic of issues,'' says a senior Trump administration official. ''That is where the North Koreans have been comfortable.''
Back-channel skepticsKey officials at the State Department, which continued on a parallel track to work though North Korean diplomats in New York and sent envoys on rare trips to North Korea, were aware of the back channel. Still, skeptics among some former administration officials have questioned whether the covert channel diminished the State Department's traditional negotiating role.
''Keeping channels of communication open is always important, but the messengers and the messages also matter,'' says Joel Wit, a former State Department official now at the Stimson Center, a nonpartisan Washington think tank. ''Intelligence officers are not trained diplomats, and if they don't convey the right message it can backfire.''
Use of the covert channel appears to have waxed and waned. After 2016 intelligence reports showed North Korea's missile and nuclear programs were making headway, Washington ratcheted up economic sanctions, including on Kim Jong Un. There appeared to be a hiatus in high-level visits, though it isn't clear if the channel went dormant entirely.
As tension rose in August 2017, the channel was re-energized. That month, Mr. Trump threatened North Korea's leaders with ''fire and fury,'' U.S.-South Korean annual war games resumed and Pyongyang responded by testing a ballistic missile over Japan.
Andrew Kim, a veteran CIA officer and head of the agency's new Korea Mission Center, traveled to Singapore to meet North Korean officials. Mr. Kim, former chief of several CIA overseas stations, was born in South Korea and had longstanding ties to its top national-security officials.
Separate efforts, apart from the intelligence channel, also show Mr. Trump's interest in establishing a dialogue. In September 2017, North Korea's foreign minister invited Jeffrey Feltman, a former American diplomat serving as U.N. undersecretary general for political affairs, to Pyongyang for a dialogue.
U.N. Secretary General Ant"nio Guterres told him to first run the idea by other interested countries, Mr. Feltman says, and Trump administration officials advised against the trip. But when Mr. Guterres raised the issue with Mr. Trump during an Oval Office meeting in October, the president said Mr. Feltman should go, Mr. Feltman and a U.N. spokesman say. Mr. Trump's personal role in approving the trip hasn't previously been disclosed.
Mr. Feltman made the trip publicly. During four days of meetings in December 2017, he says, he told the North Koreans the U.S. wasn't the only country alarmed at its nuclear and missile tests. He gave North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho a copy of ''The Sleepwalkers,'' a book about how European nations stumbled into World War I.
In a November speech, Kim Jong Un had boasted his country had finished building its nuclear and missile forces. Citing that speech, Mr. Feltman urged the North Koreans to redirect their efforts to the coming Winter Olympics in South Korea to seek an opening with South Korea and the West, an idea that officials in Pyongyang may have already had.
Kim Jong Un's 2018 New Year address hinted at change: While underscoring his nuclear capabilities, he offered to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics.
Adding to the momentum, South Korean officials began encouraging the idea of a top-level meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim, and the idea was explored in the covert channel as well.
In March, South Korean officials visited the White House and relayed the North Korean leader's invitation to meet with Mr. Trump. The plan had been for then-National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and top officials to confer with the South Koreans, discuss the offer and have the South Koreans meet with Mr. Trump the next day.
Instead, Mr. Trump decided to meet the South Koreans then and there, and he immediately agreed to the summit, saying: ''Tell them I'll do it.''
The administration still wanted direct confirmation from North Korean leadership that they wanted a summit. The intelligence channel had been active since the August meeting in Singapore, and the U.S. used it to confirm Pyongyang's summit invitation came from the top and to advance plans for the meeting.
At the end of March, Mr. Pompeo, then CIA director, flew to Pyongyang. Six weeks later, as Secretary of State, he went again, accompanied by Andrew Kim, and returned with three American detainees.
Less than a month later, Messrs. Trump and Kim met in Singapore.
U.S.-North Korean diplomacy is now largely in the open and occurring at the highest levels. Intelligence contacts continue. In Washington on Friday, Gen. Kim met unannounced with the CIA's deputy director, Vaughn Bishop.
Write to Michael R. Gordon at email@example.com and Warren P. Strobel at Warren.Strobel@wsj.com
AOC and TNC (Ta-Nehisi Coates) on MLK Day | ResetEra
Tue, 22 Jan 2019 16:33
Yesterday at 7:07 PMAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ta-Nehisi Coates sat down for a chat today, on MLK Day, specifically because he and the organizers wanted someone who they felt embodied Dr. King's radical vision of the integration of racial and economic justice. It's about 50 minutes long, but please watch it - it's a fantastic talk.
-AOC discusses her upbringing and how she was able to see the economic disparity that occurs simply because of location, plus some elements of liberal racism she had to deal with
-They talk about how the New Deal and redlining contributed to the gap in white and black wealth and how reparations are needed to overcome it
-They discuss resistance to Amazon
-AOC explicitly says that a society is not moral if it allows billionaires, not because of billionaires themselves necessarily being "bad people" but because of what it means for how society allows its wealth to be handled
-AOC goes into her understanding of democratic socialism, how portraying socialism as "big government" is a McCarthyist scare tactic, and how socialism is actually about establishing democracy within the economy such as through worker co-operatives
Remember how pessimistic TNC was when he went on Colbert? None of that here. He's basically fawning the whole time. It's pretty amazing overall.
Yesterday at 7:12 PMAOC is clearly a one of a kind politician. Excited to see her career and the different AOCs that crop up in deep blue districts across America.
I wish TNC had a bigger platform to speak about this stuff over folks like Sharpton.
Note: I'd recommend writing Ta-Nehisi Coates name out in the title, since his acronym isn't as iconic yet.
Yesterday at 7:13 PMNote: I'd recommend writing Ta-Nehisi Coates name out in the title, since his acronym isn't as iconic yet.
It would break the flow!
Yesterday at 7:13 PMNote: I'd recommend writing Ta-Nehisi Coates name out in the title, since his acronym isn't as iconic yet.
I was like "wait AOC is playing Wolfenstein 2 for MLK day? Damn that's bold"
Yesterday at 7:13 PMCoates has sounded pessimistic for some time.
For him not to be...gives me hope.
Yesterday at 7:13 PMAOC was just on a Twitch live stream and now this. I'm just completely blown away by her. She is the future of politicians...except she's our present. We stan a Puerto Rican queen!
Yesterday at 7:15 PMI really hope she has a fruitful career
The system just doesnt seem to allow politicians like this to thrive without watering down but man it would be amazing to see a successful AOC presidential run in a few terms from now
Yesterday at 7:25 PMi'm a fan of TNCs prose, but if anyone can inject some class consciousness into his politics it's madame president ocasio cortez
Yesterday at 7:36 PMAOC was amazing here. Never heard her speak for an extended period of time before and she won me over.
Her discussion about billionaires/distribution of wealth was impressive
Yesterday at 7:41 PMThe Matt Taibbi article about her is good as well. She is so smart and has a really good world view, but also she care about the issues that real people care about and not the donor class or the Washington establishment class.
AOC is what many Trump voters wanted to vote for and thought they were voting for: someone who would fight for the common person and shake things up in DC
Slayven You probably post about me on another board. Yesterday at 7:45 PMcoates not being a cynic is a tad shocking
I think coates is a realist. America is designed to let marginalized people down.
Yesterday at 7:49 PMThe Matt Taibbi article about her is good as well. She is so smart and has a really good world view, but also she care about the issues that real people care about and not the donor class or the Washington establishment class.
AOC is what many Trump voters wanted to vote for and thought they were voting for: someone who would fight for the common person and shake things up in DC
And too dumb to not realize he's the actual opposite
Yesterday at 7:49 PMI think coates is a realist. America is designed to let marginalized people down.
Yeah that's pretty much Coates. He's always liJESUS CHRIST WHAT DID YOU DO TO YOUR AVATAR!?!?!!?
Yesterday at 7:49 PMHaha listen to TNC while AOC is talking about how reparations should not just be for slavery but also for the injustices in the New Deal, red lining, etc. He's moaning along to her talking.
Yesterday at 7:49 PMThe Matt Taibbi article about her is good as well. She is so smart and has a really good world view, but also she care about the issues that real people care about and not the donor class or the Washington establishment class.
AOC is what many Trump voters wanted to vote for and thought they were voting for: someone who would fight for the common person and shake things up in DC
She tells it like it is.
Yesterday at 7:53 PMThe line about socialism is really on point, especially considering how entwined economic and political structures really are.
Yesterday at 7:54 PMI think coates is a realist. America is designed to let marginalized people down.
He's got the spark of hope when he's talking to her.
Slayven You probably post about me on another board. Yesterday at 7:55 PMYeah that's pretty much Coates. He's always liJESUS CHRIST WHAT DID YOU DO TO YOUR AVATAR!?!?!!?
The bell can't be unrung
Yesterday at 7:56 PMI've never seen Coates look so optimistic. It's genuinely weird to see.
Tiny detail that isn't really important, but I love that she still has the price sticker on the bottom of her shoes.
Yesterday at 7:56 PMAOC is what many Trump voters wanted to vote for and thought they were voting for: someone who would fight for the common white person and shake things up in DC(ie. own the libs)
I think she's what people thought Obama would be. Instead he sided with Wall Street and was reaching across the aisle instead of clapbacks against people who have no intention of working with you or even debating you honestly.
Yesterday at 8:03 PMOptimistic TNC and AOC together? Peanut butter and jelly. Can't wait to watch this.
Yesterday at 8:05 PMSounds like a great talk. Hopefully my SO and I can sit down and listen to it together.
Yesterday at 8:09 PMThe part touching on the "need to breathe fire" is fantastic (context starting around 39 minute mark).
Slayven You probably post about me on another board. Yesterday at 8:10 PMI am still shocked people were surprised and even mad at his colbert interview. If you just read a little of his work you would know how he would react to the post 2016. And he isn't wrong.
Yesterday at 8:15 PMI am still shocked people were surprised and even mad at his colbert interview. If you just read a little of his work you would know how he would react to the post 2016. And he isn't wrong.
I remember Colbert being visibly upset by his answer to "What gives you hope?"
Yesterday at 8:18 PMI think coates is a realist. America is designed to let marginalized people down.
Not to mention he doesn't like being put on a pedestal as a person who can magically explain the realities of racism to all white people. Which is sort of what happened on Colbert with him being asked to say something to make the audience hopeful about the future of America.
I loved his response. He isn't a priest.
Also for those interested he did an episode of the Intercepted podcast last year with Jeremy Scahill and he didn't sound dour or lacking in "hope" there either. They cover a variety of topics including his work with Marvel Comics.
Yesterday at 8:19 PMI am still shocked people were surprised and even mad at his colbert interview. If you just read a little of his work you would know how he would react to the post 2016. And he isn't wrong.
LOL. Coates won't sugarcoat things, which goes against endless optimism.
Yesterday at 8:19 PMThe part touching on the "need to breathe fire" is fantastic (context starting around 39 minute mark).
AOC; Mother of Dragons
Slayven You probably post about me on another board. Yesterday at 8:19 PMNot to mention he doesn't like being put on a pedestal as a person who can magically explain the realities of racism to all white people. Which is sort of what happened on Colbert with him being asked to say something to make the audience hopeful about the future of America.
I loved his response. He isn't a priest.
Also for those interested he did an episode of the Intercepted podcast last year with Jeremy Scahill and he didn't sound dour or lacking in "hope" there either. They cover a variety of topics including his work with Marvel Comics.
Yeah there is segmant of allies" that just looks for reassurance
Yesterday at 8:20 PMOcasio-Cortez could have a serious chance of being our first female President.
Just like I said in the other thread about her, she's effectively the leader of the Democratic Party and she is certainly its future. If we are to survive fascism, climate change, and injustice, the party needs to be moving in her direction
Yesterday at 8:21 PMThis was a good interview. Not much new to learn if you've been following her for a while, but still worth the watch. She's grounded and reasonable and honest.
Yesterday at 8:21 PMCoates has sounded pessimistic for some time.
For him not to be...gives me hope.
Seriously, I gotta see this.
Yesterday at 8:25 PMAOC has been listening to Richard Wolff and that's awesome.
Nice! Economic Update is good stuff.
Yesterday at 8:25 PMI think coates is a realist. America is designed to let marginalized people down.
I don't disagree, but it's pleasant to see
Yesterday at 8:29 PMAOC has been listening to Richard Wolff and that's awesome.
Yeah it seems rather obvious. Which is funny because I don't think she knew who he was until someone recommended him to her on Reddit during her campaign.
Yesterday at 8:32 PMYeah it seems rather obvious. Which is funny because I don't think she knew who he was until someone recommended him to her on Reddit during her campaign.
I wonder if workplace democracy is going to be part of the bill she's working on.
And I finished it and that she's talking about the means of production (without actually saying it) is wonderful. The Black Socialists of America were right.
Yesterday at 8:39 PMI am still shocked people were surprised and even mad at his colbert interview. If you just read a little of his work you would know how he would react to the post 2016. And he isn't wrong.
Yeah, considering Colbert's response to him was nothing more than "Aww, c'mon, really?" Yes really, he's not there to make you feel better about this.
FACT CHECK: Did Second Lady Karen Pence Work at a School That Bans LGBT Teachers and Students?
Tue, 22 Jan 2019 15:51
In January 2019, Second Lady Karen Pence faced widespread criticism after the White House announced she had taken a job as a part-time art teacher at a Christian school in Northern Virginia, an institution that, according to some news reports, bars LGBT teachers, staff and students.
A White House press release announced that Pence '-- wife of Vice President Mike Pence '-- had returned to the K-8 elementary school where she worked from 2001 to 2013 while her husband was a U.S. Representative for the 2nd and 6th Congressional Districts of Indiana:
''Today, Karen Pence is back in the classroom, not as the Second Lady of the United States, but as Mrs. Pence to teach art classes for children at an elementary school in Northern Virginia. Mrs. Pence will teach twice a week at Immanuel Christian School until May. Mrs. Pence accepted this wonderful opportunity to teach art in early December 2018. 'I am excited to be back in the classroom and doing what I love to do, which is to teach art to elementary students,' said Mrs. Pence. 'I have missed teaching art, and it's great to return to the school where I taught art for twelve years.'''
The announcement quickly received negative press due to requirements that Immanuel Christian School places on would-be employees and parents of would-be students. The Huffington Post published an article with the headline ''Karen Pence is Working at a School That Bans LGBTQ Employees and Kids.'' The article read:
''Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, started at a job this week teaching art at Immanuel Christian School in Northern Virginia. It's not a school where everyone is welcome. In a ''parent agreement'' posted online, the school says it will refuse admission to students who participate in or condone homosexual activity, HuffPost learned through an investigation into discriminatory admissions policies. The 2018 employment application also makes candidates sign a pledge not to engage in homosexual activity or violate the 'unique roles of male and female.'''
The New York Times' headline was ''Karen Pence Is Teaching at Christian School That Bars L.G.B.T. Students and Teachers,'' an ABC News report carried the headline ''Second lady Karen Pence to teach at school with ban against LGBT students, parents and teachers,'' Yahoo! News reported ''Karen Pence works at school that bans homosexuality'' and CNN reported that the school ''bans gay students and parents.'' Salon.com and the Daily Beast published similar articles, which also averred that the school barred LGBT employees and students.
At the heart of these claims were two documents posted on the website of the school, which is in Springfield, Virginia, about 12 miles southwest of downtown Washington, D.C. and is closely affiliated with Immanuel Bible Church.
''Articles of Employment''The first document is the employment application required of anyone applying for a job as a teacher, teaching assistant or substitute teacher at the school. As part of that application, would-be staff are required to sign and initial each of 13 ''articles of employment.'' The document prefaces those articles with the following introduction:
''Immanuel Christian School is a non-profit religious educational organization and is supported as a ministry of Immanuel Bible Church. More importantly, our school is a community of believers who have joined together to meet the spiritual and academic needs of our community, representing Jesus Christ. Our school promotes behavior consistent with the Holy Scriptures. Consequently, when joining Immanuel Christian School, you freely and willingly agree to the standards of behavior outlined in this policy. The standards included in the policy are not exhaustive; rather, they provide a guideline of conduct we believe is in accordance with biblical standards. Please read, initial each item, and sign as indicated.''
Would-be teachers are required to affirm that they are born-again Christians, that they are or will become active members of a local ''theologically conservative'' church, that they will avoid ''careless speech and actions'' (for example in social media postings) and that they will in general act in a way that upholds and promotes the conservative, Christian, biblically founded mission and values of the school.
Article 8 goes into specific details about behaviors that are not permitted of would-be employees, and outlines examples of what school authorities regard as prohibited ''moral misconduct.'' This is the section of the employment application that caused widespread controversy in January 2019:
I will strive to live a personal life of moral purity that is separated from the world according to Scriptures, as defined by the Statement of Faith of Immanuel Bible Church and agreed upon by the Elders and Pastors of Immanuel Bible Church. I understand that the term ''marriage'' has only one meaning; the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive covenant union as delineated in Scripture and that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other and that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity is engaged in outside of marriage between a man and a woman.
Further, I will maintain a lifestyle based on biblical standards of moral conduct. Moral misconduct which violates the bona fide occupational qualifications for employees includes, but is not limited to, such behaviors as the following: heterosexual activity outside of marriage (e.g., premarital sex, cohabitation, extramarital sex), homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity, any other violation of the unique roles of male and female, sexual harassment, use or viewing of pornographic material or websites, and sexual abuse or improprieties toward minors as defined by Scripture and federal or state law.
So in order to be considered as a potential employee of Immanuel Christian School, an applicant must sign a personal commitment not to engage in homosexual sexual activity, ''transgender identity'' or ''any other violation of the unique roles of male and female.'' The document does not explicitly prohibit teachers from being gay, lesbian or bisexual (or prohibit individuals who are gay, lesbian or bisexual from teaching at the school) as such, but rather it prohibits them from engaging in homosexual sexual activity.
This appears to be in keeping with a widespread position, common to many Christian denominations, that persons with same-sex sexual preferences ought not to be condemned or excluded on the basis of those preferences alone, but only on the condition that they strictly exercise chastity, and refrain from publicly identifying as gay, lesbian or bisexual or engaging in same-sex and extra-marital relationships or sexual activity.
It is a point of considerable philosophical dispute '-- and beyond the scope of a fact check '-- whether barring gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals from giving full expression to their sexual identities and orientations while being members of a church, for example, or teaching at a school, is itself tantamount to effectively barring gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals from those organizations.
For example, Dignity USA, a group that advocates inclusion and participation for LGBTQI Catholics, defines its viewpoint in the following way:
We believe that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex Catholics in our diversity are members of Christ's mystical body, numbered among the People of God. We have an inherent dignity because God created us, Christ died for us, and the Holy Spirit sanctified us in Baptism, making us temples of the Spirit, and channels through which God's love becomes visible. Because of this, it is our right, our privilege, and our duty to live the sacramental life of the Church, so that we might become more powerful instruments of God's love working among all people.
We believe that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex persons can express their sexuality and gender identities and expressions in a manner that is consonant with Christ's teaching. We believe that we can express our sexuality physically, in a unitive manner that is loving, life-giving, and life-affirming. We believe that all sexuality should be exercised in an ethically responsible and unselfish way. We believe that our transgender and queer communities can express their core identities in a sincere, affirming and authentic manner.
By contrast, the official position of the Catholic church (as articulated in the Catechism) is that homosexual sexual acts are ''intrinsically disordered'' and ''contrary to the natural law'' but that homosexual persons ''must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity'' on the condition that they exercise chastity.
Article 8 in Immanuel Christian School's articles of employment does specifically and explicitly designate ''transgender identity'' as a form of unacceptable moral misconduct. Unlike the ambiguity of the document's position towards homosexual persons (as opposed to homosexual sexual acts), this clearly amounts to a ban on transgender persons from working at the school as teachers, substitute teachers or teaching assistants.
''Parent Agreement''The second document at the heart of the January 2019 controversy over Karen Pence's employment at the school was a ''parent agreement,'' which parents of would-be students are required to ''support'' as part of the application process for being admitted to the school.
It's not clear whether parents are required to sign the agreement before their child can be accepted for enrollment at the school, but the document prefaces the list of 15 commitments with the following statement: ''I agree that Immanuel Christian School should maintain its objective of thoroughly Christian education and should show evidence of that in policies for academic work, student behavior, and all relationships with students, employees, school families, churches, and the community. I will cooperate with Immanuel Christian School (ICS) in the following ways.''
The sixth of these commitments reads as follows:
I understand the biblical role of Immanuel Christian School is to partner with families to encourage students to be imitators of Christ. This necessarily involves the school's understanding and belief regarding biblical morality and standards of conduct. I understand that the school reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission to an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a student if the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home, the activities of a parent or guardian, or the activities of the student are counter to, or are in opposition to, the biblical lifestyle the school teaches. This includes, but is not limited to contumacious behavior, divisive conduct, and participating in, supporting, or condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity, promoting such practices, or being unable to support the moral principles of the school. (Lev. 20:13 and Romans 1:27.) I acknowledge the importance of a family culture based on biblical principles and embrace biblical family values such as a healthy marriage between one man and one woman. My role as spiritual mentor to my children will be taken seriously.
So the school reserves the right to refuse to admit or to expel a student if either that student or their parents or guardians engage in, support, condone or promote homosexual or bisexual activity. Although this does not explicitly bar gay, lesbian or bisexual persons from attending the school or sending their children there, it could reasonably be regarded as an implicit ban on openly gay, lesbian or bisexual persons doing so.
It is extremely difficult to imagine a scenario in which openly gay, lesbian or bisexual parents could, in good faith, present themselves to school authorities as upholding a requirement that they not support, condone, or promote homosexual or bisexual activity, especially if that activity is not regarded as limited to sexual acts, but rather includes same-sex relationships.
Similarly, it is extremely difficult to imagine a scenario in which the parents of children who have openly expressed their own emerging or settled homosexual or bisexual orientation could, in good faith, present their children for attendance at the school while also committing to not support or condone homosexual or bisexual ''activity.''
Significantly, the document cites Chapter 20, Verse 13 of the book of Leviticus as the scriptural basis for its ban on the promotion or support of homosexual acts by parents or students. That verse famously reads: ''If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.''
We asked the White House whether Karen Pence had signed and initialed all 13 of the ''articles of employment'' for Immanuel Christian School, including Article 8, and whether she regarded that document, along with the ''parent agreement,'' as amounting to a formal or de facto ban on LGBT staff, parents and students. We did not receive a response in time for publication.
Similarly, we asked Immanuel Christian School whether the provisions of Article 8 in the articles of employment, taken together with the parent agreement, were intended to be a formal or de facto ban on LGBT staff, parents and students, but we did not receive a response in time for publication.
During World War II, we did have something to hide '' Hans de Zwart '' Medium
Tue, 22 Jan 2019 14:45
The Godwin lecture: Which lessons about privacy can we learn in the present day from the attack on Amsterdam's municipal register in 1943?The devastation after the March 27th 1943 attack on the Muncipal Register in Amsterdam
On 27 March 1943, a cell of the Dutch resistance committed an attack on the municipal register of Amsterdam. The German occupier had found this register to be extremely convenient: it contained the details of 70.000 Jews in Amsterdam. Also, it proved useful as a means of cross-checking information on identity cards.
Gerrit van der Veen, Willem Arond(C)us, Johan Brouwer, Rudi Bloemgarten and a number of others had thoroughly prepared the assault and decided there could be no casualties. They entered the building disguised as policemen. Guards were overpowered, given a sedative and taken out the back to be parked in the Artis zoo for safekeeping. The filing cabinets containing public records were turned upside down. After soaking the files in benzene, the group set the largest possible fire.
That night, the fire department played a crucial part. A few resistance sympathizers among the firefighters had been notified of the attack. When the alarm sounded they intentionally delayed the deployment of trucks in order to give the fire time to do maximum damage. Water was used extra generously during and after the extinguishing, in order to add water damage to the havoc of the flames.
In the end, the attack turned out less successful than planned. Due to the tight stacking of the identity cards, a lot of information was saved. Approximately 15 percent of the documents was destroyed by the fire, a few thousand were rendered illegible by the water and of course the overall disarray was enormous.
The resistance group was betrayed by a member of the NSB (the political party of Dutch nazi sympathizers). In July 1943 the twelve members of the group were executed in the dunes near Overveen.
The retention of our dataThe building which housed the municipal register during World War II survived both the attack and the war. I wanted to give my lecture there, but unfortunately this was not possible. At this moment, the Artis zoo is converting the building into a congress centre. There is no other story than the one of this attack which so clearly shows us the dark side of storing personal data.
The municipal register today (after its renovation), Picasdre, CC-licensedAs an implementation of a European Directive, the 'Wet bewaarplicht telecommunicatiegegevens' (telecommunication data retention law) came into effect in the Netherlands on 1 September 2009. This law requires internet and telecom providers to store all their customers' traffic and location data for a period of six to twelve months. For example, were I to call you now, Vodafone would have to store the timestamps, telephone numbers, names and addresses of the subscribers involved and the locations of the mobile phones used for six to twelve months.
Though the content of the call itself does not have to be stored, this data is nonetheless very sensitive. To prove the point, my colleague Ton Siedsma noted all his behavioral data for a week and handed it over to editor Dimitri Tokmetzis of De Correspondent. Tokmetzis, aided by a research team from the University of Ghent and a security expert, analyzed these fifteen thousand data points about Siedsma's emails, phone calls and website visits.
One week of data turned out to be more than enough to draw a detailed picture of Siedsma's person. A quote from the article on De Correspondent:
''Ton is in his early twenties and finished his degree recently. He receives e-mails about student housing and side jobs, judging by the subject line and the senders. He works long days, partly due to his daily commute by train. He is commonly not home before eight. Once home, he continues to work into the night. He then continues to call and e-mail his colleagues. ['...] Ton likes reading about sports on nu.nl, nrc.nl and vk.nl. He is specifically interested in cycling and an avid cyclist himself. He also reads Scandinavian thrillers, or at least looks up information about them on Google and Yahoo. In addition, he has an interest in philosophy and religion. We suspect that Ton is a christian.''This data retention law is a disproportionate violation of our privacy. Why should all this information be retained? In Germany, they agreed back in 2009 that the European directive was not consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights. Less than a month ago, the Court of Justice of the European Union declared the directive invalid. The Finnish minister of Education, Science and Communication immediately responded:
''Naturally, we must clean out the paragraphs enacted due to the directive. We will gladly adhere to this decision.''One would expect the Dutch government to be equally pleased with the verdict. That does not seem to be the case. In response to questions in the Dutch parliament on Tuesday, April 8, State Secretary of Justice Fred Teeven (VVD) says:
''It is important that your Internet traffic data and telephone data can be saved for a certain period.''After which he decided to take another eight weeks to think about the Netherlands' response to the verdict of the European court. In a country where less than 75 years ago, we felt it was utterly necessary to commit an attack on a database containing information about our population, I expected something else from the responsible government official.
I have nothing to hideIn the past years I've had numerous discussions about the importance of privacy. As such a discussion goes on, the probability that my discussion partner will use the argument ''But I have nothing to hide!'' approaches 1. I have come to understand that this reaction is reserved for the privileged. The person who replies with ''I have nothing to hide'' is most likely not marginalized in society and has good faith in his or her own government. Activists in Syria and asylum seekers (regardless of their background story), but also people registered with the UWV (Institute for Employee Insurance) are among the people you will never hear using this argument.
My response depends on the situation. Sometimes I'll reply with ''We did have something to hide during World War II.'' That one is rarely appreciated. At this point I become guilty of a 'Godwin,' a comparison with World War II, in order to bolster my argument. And that's poor form.
Wilders isn't HitlerWhere does the term 'Godwin' come from?
The American privacy lawyer Mike Godwin (1958) was, like many others, on the Internet before it was invented. It was the era in which all our communication infrastructure was not yet completely commercialized and run by public institutions. The time in which we designed technology in such a way that it did not require handing off our data to five American tech giants.
As early as 1990 he noted that online discussions increasingly included comparisons to nazis. Political policy was repeatedly compared to Nazism. Making this comparison had become a 'meme,' an idea which spreads like a virus. Personally, Godwin felt this trivialized the Holocaust and therefore decided to, as an experiment, employ a 'counter meme'. He developed what he called 'Godwin's Law' or 'Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies.' It read as follows:
''As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.''In every discussion which by his opinion included an unjustified nazi analogy, he placed his 'law'. In online discussions where his law was mentioned, these comparisons were made less frequently. Ever since, invoking Godwin's Law has become an effective way to reprimand those who make a comparison to World War II, and not just online.
Godwin's Law is also regularly called upon in Dutch debate. In recent years, this particularly occurred in relation to politician Geert Wilders.
Every time Wilders takes the next step in his populist script there is someone who, usually from a profound moral outrage, compares him to Hitler. The events which follow are invariably the same: Wilders claims to be aggrieved, points out that he does not want to destroy anyone and that he in fact feels quite at home in Israel. The person who made the comparison is rebuked and becomes the pariah.
A recent example played out a week before the municipal elections. Wilders was campaigning at a market in The Hague and said his voters are voting for ''a city with less expenses and, if at all possible, a few less Moroccans.'' Fouad Sidali, member of the board of the PvdA (Dutch labor party), responded with a tweet:
''Hitler is among us. In the guise of Geert Wilders. Hitler also held the opinion that there should be less Jews. Lest we ever forget.''One day later Sidali writes:
''The comparison was inappropriate and should not have been made. One must however realize which emotions are evoked by Wilders' statements.''Of course, this was said in another tweet (by the way, I wonder what Joseph Goebbels would have been able to accomplish with a medium like Twitter) and on Twitter, Wilders responds within half an hour:
''Sidali reined in by Spekman, takes back his words. Wise. Departure to Morocco would be even wiser.''Following the commotion about Wilders' statements on the evening of the municipal elections (where he asked his audience whether they wanted 'more or less Moroccans' and the audience scanted 'Less! Less! Less') Ronald S¸rensen, member of the Senate for the PVV (Partij voor de Vrijheid, Geert Wilders' 'Party for Freedom'), placed the comparisons to Nazi Germany in perspective. In Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad he said:
''Yes, we want less Moroccans. But a one-way flight to the Moroccan sun is still kind of different from a one-way trip to Auschwitz.''I guess I'll call this a 'reverse Godwin': using a comparison to the Holocaust to put a positive spin on your own actions.
The significance of remembrance and liberationJust to be clear: it is understandable that the 'Godwin' is a taboo.
It touches upon a paradoxical element within the activities on 4 and 5 May (the Dutch national Remembrance and Liberation days): horrors of World War II which are so hideous that they stand alone, as an absolutization of evil. The Holocaust and Adolf Hitler are to be compared to nothing or no one; they were once but never again. At the same time, the suffering of World War II can only truly have meaning if it can be related to current societal, economical and political discussions.
As the number of people alive who lived through World War II decreases, this will become an increasingly urgent problem for the National Committee 4 and 5 May, founded in 1987. Since 2001, they have been using the annual 'freedom census' about Dutch people's experience regarding 4 and 5 May. The 2014 results just came in. I quote:
''World War II and the attacks on 9/11 are two historical events which have influenced the way more than half of Dutch people think about freedom and unfreedom. To this day, World War II remains a current topic of discussions, eight out of ten Dutchmen still talk about this war.''The researchers also note that 4 and 5 May should remain close to the experience of the citizens, in order to maintain this clear position in society.
The fact that it is inappropriate to compare someone to Hitler, does not mean the many lessons which can be learned from the past must be glossed over. Therefore, I want to use a historical perspective for the remainder of this story to delve a little deeper into freedom, risk and control in our data hungry and swiftly digitalizing information society.
The Bijlmer's failed ideal of malleabilityWe'll start in the Bijlmer (an urban area on the outskirts of Amsterdam). To me, a symbol of belief in society's malleability, which at the time of the Bijlmermeer's construction (late 60s/early 70s) was remarkably strong. The urban design of the Bijlmer was based on the concept of the 'functional city.' The ideal blueprint for an ideal society was a radical division between the functions of living, working and leisure. The high-rise, positioned to ensure optimal sun hours for every home, was to be erected in a green parkland. Traffic was to be on raised roads, separated from cyclists and pedestrians.
Apartment blocks in the Bijlmer, Arden, CC-licensedI feel a strong connection to this neighborhood. Besides being completely fascinated by the failed malleability ideal, I also taught physical education at the Open Schoolgemeenschap (Open School) Bijlmer for seven years. This school was built on typical seventies ideals. They had a novel pedagogic style, but the building itself was also special. The school was 'at the center of the neighborhood' and the separation between inside and outside was to be minimized. Thus, there was a bicycle path which cut straight through the building and there were concrete tiles on the floor. Everything had to be open, the class rooms had no doors and everyone was free to walk in and out. There was a firm belief in the good of mankind and faith in each other's virtue.
When the identification act was introduced in the Netherlands in 2005, I still worked there. It was not long before I noticed: regularly, black kids from the classes were prompted by police on the street to show identification. White kids were never asked for anything.
The identification actIdentification is an instrument of social control, an instrument of surveillance. It is used to let people in or keep them out.
During World War II, we were very much aware of this fact. Gerrit van der Veen was both one of the people who committed the attack on the municipal register and one of the co-founders of the Persoonsbewijzencentrale ('Center for Personal Identification'), also known as the PCB. After many attempts, the PCB succeeded in forging near-perfect copies of identity documents. At its height, more than a hundred people were involved with the organization and they produced more than 65.000 forged identity documents in total. Besides 'arian' documents (without the J for 'Jew'), the PCB also forged official stamps and produced tobacco coupons. As Lou de Jong wrote:
''In the tension of an illegal existence smoking was, for many illegal workers, a life necessity.''Identity documents are still, for various reasons, forged.
Take for example the Lichtbildausweis. A simple card with some personal data. You can purchase one for ten euros from the German civil rights organization Digital Courage. Journalist Brenno de Winter made the news with it in recent years: he used a Lichtbildausweis to identify himself at parliament, the AIVD (the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service), three police departments, the Marechaussee (State Police) during a visit to the Royal Palace, the European Parliament, various ministries, the OPTA (), and at various companies. They all accepted his Ausweis.
A Lichtbildausweis. Order them here.As a small personal rebellion against the identification act, I carried a Lichtbildausweis since last December. It made me aware of how often we are required to show ID. I too used this card to enter everywhere without trouble. This usually went as follows: a counter clerk fails to recognize the card and decides to inquire with a more experienced colleague. That colleague takes a brief look and says: 'Oh, it's German and that's part of the EU, so it's fine.' And then I'm admitted. Contrary to de Winter I was not able to vote using the card. De Winter''--'and take note of the 'Godwin'''--'wrote for Dutch weekly magazine HP/De Tijd:
''It was painful to be able to vote with my Lichtbildausweis, while German hasn't been ruling the Netherlands for a while now.''In April 2014 it went awry. The team of my employer Bits of Freedom was to give members of parliament a workshop about Big Data. At the reception, names were taken in order to check the guest list. The clerk extended his hand and I handed him my Lichtbildausweis. He read my name and his colleague checked my name off the list. The card was returned and I received a visitors' sticker. Then he said: ''Could you please show me that card again?'' When I handed it over once more, he recognized it as a fake. I congratulated him, noting he was only the second person alert enough to notice it, and handed him my real passport. He remained friendly, but nonetheless 'had to report this.'
This was the start of a jovial escalation. Within fifteen minutes of handing over my Lichtbildausweis, I was in the backseat of a police car, my hands on the front seat, on my way downtown. From that moment onwards you find yourself in a procedure with a number of fixed steps. My right to remain silent was read to me, I had a short conversation with an assistant public prosecutor, bickered a little about how complete the list of confiscated possessions should be and had my picture taken and fingers printed. In no time I found myself sitting in a cell in my nice suit, parted from my belt and shoes, waiting for a lawyer on standby service. Luckily I was allowed to bring my book, ironically titled Technologies of Insecurity, into the cell with me.
In those few hours I learned a lot. Not only that you are fed rather disgusting microwave meals when you're in the cell or that you can ask for chalk if you want to draw on the door. I also learned that when completely dependent on others, you immediately start adjusting your behavior: 'Would they be really annoyed if I ring the bell again to ask if I can use the toilet? I guess I could hold it a little longer.' Because I wanted to be treated properly and go home as soon as possible, I asked permission for everything I did. 'Can I close the door while I urinate?'
After two hours in the holding cell I had a short conversation with a lawyer and was questioned immediately after. After questioning I was put back into that cell for another two hours. In total, I was deprived of my freedom for five and a half hours. At this moment the case is still pending with the public prosecutor. I have no idea what the next step will be.
Now, why am I telling you about my rather goofy private form of civil resistance? Two reasons. Firstly, because I feel the whole episode is somewhat symptomatic for the society in which we are starting to live: a society of control in which we wish to abolish every risk. Secondly, because a lack of freedom provides a clear perspective on what freedom really means.
Societies of risk and controlA much-heard reply to my arrest was the following: 'But Hans, isn't it obvious that you'd be asked for identification at the parliament?' How is that logical? I understand why I have to walk through a gate to check whether I'm carrying any weapons, but why would the people's representatives necessarily have to know who's coming to talk to them? Is parliament not eminently the place where a citizen should be able to lay down grievances in relative anonymity?
What I also found typical is that no one tried to deescalate the situation. The doorman, the head of security, the policewoman on duty, the two officers who came over from the station and the assistant public prosecutor; every one of them could have prevented my evening in jail. 'Ah, you work for a civil rights movement and are opposed to the identity act, how interesting. Well, you're really not supposed to have such a card, of course. Now hand it over, and please refrain from such actions in the future.' That did not happen, because rules are rules and you are to abide by them. We no longer feel free to deviate from those rules. (For those of you to whom Eichmann comes to mind: that comparison seems unsuitable even to me and I'd like to skip it here.)
CCTV Mobile, BanksyOur response to an increasingly complex world, is to manage away all uncertainty. In his recent book Nassim Taleb came up with a great English word for it: touristification. He writes:
''[Touristification] is the systematic removal of uncertainty and randomness from things, trying to make matters highly predictable in their smallest details. All that for the sake of comfort, convenience, and efficiency. What a tourist is in relation to an adventurer ['...] touristification is to life.''Taleb uses the image of the 'soccer mom'. A modern parent tries to control every aspect of its child's experience. No disappointments, no traumas. The world as Disney World. Thus, the kids lack the randomness, chaos and all uncertainty which teaches one how to deal with the world. These are fragile children.
On a macro level the same happens. We want a completely predictable world, but are served the opposite. This is why I was talking about a high school in the Bijlmer. The seventies belief in the virtue of man is no longer. But the belief in society's malleability is back in full force.
And this time we'll succeed. Because we have data.
Smart cities and Big DataTo grasp that, we need one last story about World War II.
In January 1933, Hitler came into power and in April of that year he decided to hold a census. He needed it to more easily identify Jews, gypsies and other ethnic groups. Dehomag, a German subsidiary of the American IBM, supplied the technology to accomplish this. The former CEO of IBM, Thomas Watson, personally traveled to Germany at the end of 1933 to make the arrangements. The investment in the subsidiary was raised from 400.000 to 7 million Reichsmark, with which their first factory in Berlin was built. IBM and Dehomag were all set for a lucrative relationship with Hitler's regime. A few years later, every concentration camp had its own IBM technology with which the administration with camp inmates was kept using punchcards.
Edwin Black, the American investigative journalist who got to the bottom of this story for his book IBM and the Holocaust, writes that the Holocaust would also have happened without IBM's help. Nonetheless, it is his opinion that the camps would never have been able to make that many victims if they had not had these machines and punchcards. IBM was the purveyor of an essential bit of Holocaust machinery. In the introduction to his book Black writes:
''Solipsistic and dazzled by its own swirling universe of technical possibilities, IBM was self-gripped by a special amoral corporate mantra: if it can be done, it should be done. To the blind technocrat, the means were more important than the ends.'''If it can be done, it should be done.' With those words in mind, I'd like to take a look at the language the modern IBM uses to push their corporate agenda concerning 'smart cities'. The other day, I had a look on their website. Under the tab 'Solutions' I found the following:
''The systems which are crucial to modern society''--'transport, water, energy, education, healthcare, government''--'converge in our cities. [..] Many of these systems have been instrumentized and produce data streams''--'but now we also have the option [remember: 'if it can be done, it should be done', but now we also have the option] to interconnect these systems. We have the tools for analysis, the immense computational power and the visualisation capabilities to register and interpret this data. Through this we can make smarter decisions about the way we handle the world in which we live.''Who is really making those so-called 'smarter' decisions? The contours of our future society are starting to show more starkly. This is to be a society with a gigantic gap between the 'data-haves' (governments and large corporations) and the 'data-have nots' (citizens). The 'data-haves,' parties such as Google, Amazon or IBM, capitalize the data streams, which we all can't help but create wherever we go. Based on analyses of that data (to which we as citizens have no access) new policies are made and algorithms are written which are supposed to optimize our world, but which can also drastically restrict it.
'Your subscription will be terminated'Car2Go, Elvert Barnes, CC-licensedBecause I do not own a car, I use a Car2Go every now and then. I can check in and out with a card and pay per minute. During the ride, a green counter decides whether you're driving economically enough. A while ago, a friend of mine was driving along Amsterdam's inner city canals and he was in a bit of a rush. That caused him to pull up quickly and brake often, making the trip rather uneconomical. At a certain point, the counter reached zero and the board computer told him: ''You are driving recklessly, please adjust your driving style or your subscription will be terminated.'' He was not driving recklessly at all, but the computer seemed to disagree.
It's a good example of the contemporary primacy of the algorithm. In the case of a subscription to a car rental service it's all rather innocent, you could just catch a tram. But how about a 'computer says no' when you're trying to get a loan or a mortgage, or when the algorithm decides you cannot get an insurance? Where are our guarantees technology cannot be used for modern form of 'redlining'? 'Oh no, seems like you've been listening to a lot of gangster rap on Spotify, I'm afraid our hotel doesn't have a vacancy after all'...' 'Yes, I understand you want to open an Islamic butcher in this building, but the computer clearly states the Muslim quota in this neighborhood's retail space has already been reached.'
Besides a naive faith in the malleability of society, the whole 'smart city' thinking and most other applications of Big Data ignore another crucial fact: you can't leave it to algorithms to take the right decisions based on the maximum amount of data. The most optimal and efficient solution is not always the right one. 'Good' is in the moral spectrum and should be preceded by transparent political judgments. We cannot assume companies will use their moral compass when making decisions for us.
Does such a future full of algorithmic gatekeepers leave us any freedom at all?
Freedom when we're healthyIn 2012, the National Committee for 4 and 5 May asked the Dutch School of Public Administration to describe the concept of freedom. The authors discuss the dilemma of freedom's naturalness. I quote:
''One who feels unfree knows what freedom is, or is supposed to be. It can be compared to people who are ill and to whom the meaning of being healthy is undisputed. But when we're healthy, we should make sure we remain as such. That goes even more for people who have never really been ill.''I don't think this analogy is completely accurate. Because, just like we're not always able to recognize the fact that we're ill, we're often not at all that good in feeling and recognizing unfreedom. As a teacher, I spent years being led by the school bell. The bell decided when I could get up and when I could go for lunch. In all those years, I was never bothered by it. Not until I found a different job did I notice how large the influence of that bell had been and how much I had sacrificed for it. The human ability to adapt is so great, that we're very much able to feel free in a situation in which we're relatively unfree.
Snowden and resistanceEdward Snowden has shown us we are not free. His courage and personal sacrifice can no doubt be compared to that of Gerrit van der Veen. He is a hero of the resistance in a war we are all waging. Thanks to him, we have a clear picture of the path chosen by our governments: complete control and extreme risk minimization, facilitated by public-private partnerships. Today I have paid little attention to the impact of his revelations, I'll gladly leave that to next year's speaker.
With this first Godwin lecture I have attempted to explain why the freedom we celebrate today is not to be taken for granted. And that the attack on the Amsterdam municipal register is both a powerful historical symbol and a warning for the data hunger of our modern government and corporations. Hopefully my story has made clear that, just like during the attack on the municipal register, we need resistance heroes and firefighters.
If you are unable or unwilling to join the resistance, can we count on you in the role of the firefighter?
This text a slightly abridged version of a Dutch speech delivered as the 'Godwin lecture' on May 5th 2014 (Dutch national liberation day).
On May 5th 2015 Cory Doctorow will give the Godwin lecture with the title 'The NSA are not the Stasi: Godwin for mass surveillance'. A livestream will be provided.
Translated by Benjamin van Gaalen.
How Bing Crosby and the Nazis Helped to Create Silicon Valley | The New Yorker
Tue, 22 Jan 2019 14:37
The nineteen-forties Bing Crosby hit ''White Christmas'' is a key part of the national emotional regression that occurs every Christmas. Between Christmases, Crosby is most often remembered as a sometimes-brutal father, thanks to a memoir by his son Gary. Less remarked upon is Crosby's role as a popularizer of jazz, first with Paul Whiteman's orchestra, and later as a collaborator with, disciple to, and champion of Louis Armstrong. Hardly remarked upon at all is that Crosby, by accident, is a grandfather to the computer hard drive and an angel investor in one of the firms that created Silicon Valley.
If today's youth make up the first digital generation, Crosby's was the first recorded-music generation. Born in 1903, Crosby grew up in Spokane, Washington, where he spent his latter adolescence haunting record stores and learning the drums, and his twenties on the road as a drummer and singer. He landed in Paul Whiteman's legendary dance band, touring the country. Vaudeville was fading, as was the belting projection of singers like Al Jolson; jazz, talkies, and the radio were ascendant, with Crosby in the wave.
As Crosby left Spokane, writes Gary Giddins in ''Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams,'' acoustical reproduction (yelling into a megaphone so that the sound might be recorded directly onto wax) was giving way to electrical reproduction of music. ''That innovation, which dominated the industry for more than two decades (until the introduction of tape), would help bring Bing's strengths into the spotlight, leading directly to the advancement of his true instrument, the microphone.''
Microphones changed everything. Rather than spraying the balcony with emotion (or using a simple megaphone for amplification) the act of performance became more intimate, the singer more vulnerable. In time, the tinnier carbon microphones (as in the telephone) gave way to condenser microphones. Far more vocal subtlety could be transmitted. The dynamics of entertainment allowed for quiet. A different sort of voice found its place on stage and in recordings: the crooner.
From ''The Coming of the Crooners,'' by Ian Whitcomb:
The press had a field day disseminating the attacks on the ''crooning boom'' by moral authorities. In January 1932 they quoted Cardinal O'Connell of Boston: ''Crooning is a degenerate form of singing'.... No true American would practice this base art. I cannot turn the dial without getting these whiners and bleaters defiling the air and crying vapid words to impossible tunes.'' The New York Singing Teachers Association chimed in, ''Crooning corrupts the minds and ideals of the younger generation.'' Lee DeForest, one of radio's inventors, regretted that his hopes for the medium as a dispenser of ''golden argosies of tome'' had become ''a continual drivel of sickening crooning by 'sax' players interlaced with blatant sales talk.''
Rudy Vallee was the first famous crooner, and the foremost, but Crosby held his own. In the nineteen-thirties he recorded ''Learn to Croon'':
All hopes for the abolition of crooning were dashed by the rise of radio, a crooner's medium. Crosby became a radio megastar. The other greats'--like Bob Hope, Fred Allen, and Jack Benny'--each came up in vaudeville, and their pacing reveals their early stage training; they project. Crosby did stints in the vaudeville-circuit theatres, too, but the bemused, pipe-smoking, golfing fellow who drifted in and out of song was born of the possibilities of the microphone.
Fast-forward into the mid-nineteen-forties. The Second World War had just ended. Americans were picking over the technological remains of German industry. One of the things they discovered was magnetic tape; the Nazis had been using tape recording to broadcast propaganda across time zones. It was a remarkable invention. Previous sound-recording technologies had used wax cylinders or discs, or delicate wires. But magnetic tape was remarkably fungible: it could be recorded over, cut and spliced together. Plus it sounded better.
Radio shows, however, were supposed to be live. Radio inherited its forms from vaudeville, from variety shows, and it was assumed that the artifice of pre-recording would diminish the audience's connection, at great risk to the sponsors. Crosby'--a master of artifice'--didn't buy that, according to ''Bing Crosby: Crooner of the Century,'' by Richard Grudens. In 1946 he used his industry power'--by then he was on top, one of the world's richest, most famous and intensely beloved celebrities'--to step away from live broadcast by choosing a sponsor and network that would let him use large, wax discs. ''Philco Radio Hour'' d(C)buted in 1946 on ABC, at thirty-thousand dollars a week. Bob Hope was his first guest.
Meanwhile, engineers interested in tape, having learned what they could from what the Nazis left behind, made their way to Crosby and showed him what the new magnetic technology could do. His interest was more than piqued; he handed fifty thousand dollars to the men from the Ampex corporation, which at that time was just a half-dozen people. The machines they delivered went into use in 1947, and a new Crosby show, edited by tape splicing, was broadcast'--the first radio show to use the new technology. Suddenly audio'--recorded media'--was flexible. It could be cut and pasted, rearranged, and edited.
The Ampex sign still stands over Redwood City; it's a Silicon Valley landmark. And Ampex still exists as a smaller company focussed on various kinds of recording. But the company is not what it was; for some time, it was a major manufacturer of equipment in America, a key player in early Valley history: as tape recording caught on, along came computers with stored programs. Magnetic tape was an improvement, in many regards, over punched cards or paper tape; it could more readily store data and programs and play them back. From the roots put down through Ampex came a revolution in data storage.
Tapes were still awkward beasts, however'--a tape is essentially a long piece of string. If a piece of data is at the end of the string, you have to spin the tape until you get to the end. As anyone who grew up on old machines that used cassettes to store programs knows, with tape the basics of computing'--storage, retrieval'--take what, to modern sensitivities, feels like an eternity.
In the nineteen-fifties I.B.M. developed a research project to create the RAMAC, for Random Access Method of Accounting and Control. Roughly the size of a washing machine (and that was just the disk), RAMAC was a set of platters that held about five megabytes of data'--about as much data as is in a single longish MP3 today. Behold the glory of this majestic device:
This was, of course, the first hard drive, and in ''Magnetic Disk Storage: A Personal Memoir,'' a man named Albert S. Hoagland, who worked on the RAMAC, cites the Crosby connection'--how the singer's unusual professional needs led to tape recording. There is a direct link in the Silicon Valley understanding between Bing Crosby's crooning and the rise of the hard drive, which was designed as an improvement over magnetic tape. Or, to put it into an equation: microphones + crooning + Nazis + radio + fifty thousand dollars = Silicon Valley.
RAMAC was victorious, for although you'll still find tape for data storage, the world belongs to the hard drive. But only for now. S.S.D.s'--solid state disks, banks of memory'--are taking over. The link to the Nazis and magnetic tape is slowly breaking apart.
Crosby's career was built on technology, and he used technology to become a master of artifice: to sing as if he were sitting next to you, even if he were in California and you were in New York. He was an investor with a clear motive'--a desire to stop recording live'--but the ancillary benefits of tape, which could be rearranged with a razor blade, were useful to him as well. It was a pattern of his life: he also invested in fast-freezing technology, and hence became chairman of the board and chief promoter of Minute Maid. When the company went public, he rang the bell at the Stock Exchange. ''White Christmas'' and orange juice and bad parenting are the memories he left, along with countless songs.
His artifice was a means to an end. Perhaps this is apocryphal, but once while editing his show on tape he asked for a joke to get a different reaction'--for a past laugh to be spliced in. Thus, in addition to setting in motion the technologies that brought about the information revolution, he also indirectly created the laugh track.
Paul Ford is a writer, editor, and programmer.
A warning from the past: IBM, the Holocaust, ICE and Silicon Valley | Data | Techworld
Tue, 22 Jan 2019 14:19
In this interview with Techworld, journalist and author of 'IBM and the Holocaust', Edwin Black, talks about IBM's collaborationist past, the worrying parallels with Silicon Valley today, and the dangers of the new technological frontiers of artificial intelligence and automation.Share
In the first pages of Edwin Black's book IBM and the Holocaust, he details how IBM's machines were used to count people "as they had never been counted before" - and that, before long, IBM could "compute '... record data, process it, retrieve it, analyse it, and automatically answer pointed questions."
It was the first time machines tabulated information at scale, using punch cards to sort through data, and among IBM subsidiary Dehomag's best customers was the Third Reich.
Image: Flickr Creative Commons/IBM/IBM Research lab in Johannesburg, South Africa"Most aficionados of technology cannot even define what the Information Age is," Black tells Techworld. "I will tell you what the definition of the Information Age is: it's the individualisation of statistics. That means not only can you count the people in the room, they can tell you information about the people in the room.
"And that was begun by IBM largely in response to the requests of the Nazis in 1933."
The IBM-Nazi connection was recently referenced in protest by Amazon workers, who signposted their ethical concerns about their company's collaboration with American law enforcement, including the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency '' ICE '' which has recently come under intense public scrutiny over the separation of children from their parents at the US-Mexico border, and the locking of children in cages in Walmart stores repurposed into detention centres.
The comparisons are apt, and I was curious to hear Edwin Black's perspective, particularly as an author who has put so much work into uncovering the scale of American corporate collaboration with the Nazis before and during the second world war.
If it can be done, should it be done?Commenting on the recent protests, Black tells Techworld: "Right now we see an explosion of Silicon Valley tech employees protesting, so this is most unusual '' and one has to ask whether this is a result of a sudden realisation of conscience, or merely a political protest.
"Where were these objections in 2016? In 2015? In 2014? When all this technology which is now being utilised was coming to the fore. It was nonexistent. These protests are fraught with difficulty. First, the companies have an allegiance to their stockholders, so they must respond to lucrative and legal contracts.
"Second, if they fail to, they can be sued and brought down by their own shareholders, including a man with just a single share '' a minority suit. In addition, the protesters are under constraint. A, they're obligated to give good faith to the company, and therefore they cannot slow or sabotage. They're under NDA, so largely they have to keep quiet about their work.
"The only alternative for those in Silicon Valley is to walk off the job, which means more work for the programmers in Vietnam, China, India, and Thailand. In other words, these companies are now hell-bent on fulfilling the contracts that can be realised.
"When IBM was organising the mass murder of six million Jews and millions of other Europeans the theory was: if it can be done, it should be done.
"We are not quite at the point where people are asking: if it can be done, should it be done?
'+article.headline+'';listEl.prepend('');articleIndex++;}listEl.show();//show unit});});"And that is because there are too many individuals in too many tech positions in too many other parts of the global tech machine that are still soldiering on, compiling their code, and making sure that if it can happen, it shall happen."
Society, it seems, is standing again at a dangerous precipice.
The new explosion in industrial capability, the connecting of everything, artificial intelligence, another turn of the data revolution, and the unprecedented expansion of technologically enabled surveillance worldwide are all now given facts, happening concurrently and without the consent or participation of the global population, except, perhaps, as commodified data subjects.
History is an indispensable North Star, and it would seem that the potential for the horrific utility of these now pervasive tools must not be left to the good will of the agencies that procure them, the corporations that develop them, nor their secretive ethics departments '' whose decisions are as good as guesswork to everyone outside of those walled gardens.
DehomagWhen Thomas J Watson was CEO of IBM, his employees '' dressed in their matching suit-and-jacket uniforms, a policy only relaxed in 1995 '' would sing songs praising his leadership:
"With Mr. Watson leading/ To greater heights we'll rise/ And keep our IBM/ Respected in all eyes."
Or there was 'Hail to the IBM', inspired by a dinner Watson hosted in fascist Austria in 1938.
His business slogan 'THINK' was thoroughly integrated into the day-to-day operations of IBM, and would go on to inspire the company's iconic ThinkPad laptops. Before all that, he was a travelling salesman.
He eventually joined the National Cash Register Company, where he aggressively climbed the ranks and was later found guilty of violating antitrust laws. Watson went on to be appointed general manager of the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, or CTR, an amalgamation of four smaller unrelated companies which would be renamed International Business Machines.
Herman Hollerith was born to German parents and a young immigrant to New York City, and created the first truly successful tabulating counting machines. His enterprise was called Tabulating Machine Company. After a period of success, and then decline, he licensed his payments to a German adding machine salesman called Willy Heidinger, who was to create the Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen Gessellschaft, the German Hollerith Machine Corporation '' Dehomag. In 1911, the American industrialist and pioneer of corporate trusts Charles Flint bought Hollerith's company, the Tabulating Machine Company, the most dominant of the unrelated businesses within CTR, later IBM.
"After the Versailles debt and payment crisis," Black says, "Watson seized Dehomag for unpaid fees, made it a full subsidiary, and left its prior 'manager' with an amorphous 10 percent profit-sharing agreement that never materialized."
IBM's wholly-owned subsidiary in Nazi Germany was Dehomag with salaried and commissioned managers that reported directly to IBM president Thomas J. Watson, who micromanaged its operations. During the Hitler regime, Dehomag aggressively licensed punch-card machines and performed census and statistical services for the Third Reich throughout Europe.
Black's introduction notes: "Make no mistake. The Holocaust would still have occurred without IBM. To think otherwise is more than wrong. The Holocaust would have proceeded'--and often did proceed'--with simple bullets, death marches, and massacres based on pen and paper persecution.
"But there is reason to examine the fantastical numbers Hitler achieved in murdering so many millions so swiftly, and identify the crucial role of automation and technology. Accountability is needed."
And it was these Hollerith machines that were offered by Dehomag, with its majority 90 percent IBM stake, overseen by Watson who travelled to Berlin every year from 1933 to 1939, to Nazi Germany, for the counting and dividing up of the population, ultimately enabling the processing and transport of millions of people into death camps.
Watson was an early admirer of both Mussolini and Hitler.
Although he was not an ideological fascist, he was the distillation of cut-throat capitalism '' who saw the fascist countries as excellent money-makers for IBM, and he was correct in that calculation. Nazi functionaries and politicians were electrified by the potential of these machines. IBM engineers were sent to Germany for guidance.
And statisticians cheered on eugenics and sought to meld their profession with race 'science', coldly comparing what they considered undesirables to biological diseases in the human body.
A similar credoOne rejected proposal to the Interior Ministry's Reich Family Office for race science suggested building a 25-storey circular tower with each of the floors containing 12 rooms, representing one birth year a piece.
Those circular rooms, Black writes, would contain 31 cabinets, for every day of the month, and those cabinets would contain 7,000 names each '' with the purpose of indexing everyone in Germany.
Now the logistics of organising data look very different to that proposal. Databases hosted in a single server room could fit that information in it. Distant warehouses packed with the humming of the latest servers enable the spinning up of new cloud instances at unprecedented scale. The public's first real taste of what mass surveillance looks like came with the Snowden revelations, when it was revealed that the five-eyes countries were scraping data from every connected individual, in a worldwide surveillance dragnet that would be sure to also excite the statisticians of the Reich. The NSA's data centres are in Bluffdale, Utah.
"In the Third Reich's first years, Germany was completely dependent upon IBM New York for its punch cards," writes Black in the book. "Even after the factory in Lichterfelde opened, German manufactured machines were useless without cards imported from the United States."
Educating Dehomag's customers on the correct and efficient operation of its machines, writes Black, was an everyday occurrence. Questionnaires were "jointly designed by Dehomag engineers and Nazi disability or welfare experts for compatibility, since ultimately all information would be punched into Hollerith cards" '... "If agencies lacked the manpower to undertake their registrations, or the money to buy the equipment, Dehomag would perform the work for them."
"I was asked recently if anyone objected to what IBM did, and the answer is not a one that I found," Black told Techworld. "There were no walk-offs, there were no protests.
"Watson had a cult-like following and that's important to understand because many of these tech companies fall in the footsteps of the cult-like following.
"I'm not going to name any, because I don't want to ascribe those attributes to them. But I found no protests and no objectors on either side of the ocean to help Watson further his conspiracy with the Nazis."
Watson was not a dyed-in-the-wool ideological fascist. He was, Black says, a "sociopath '' a criminal sociopath.
"Remember, he was a convicted extortionist before he ever got the IBM job. If you know the definition of a sociopath you know it's one who can't tell right from wrong '' a colour blind person cannot tell red from green, a tone deaf person cannot tell a high note from a low note '' in the case of Watson, his objective was making money, it was the single most important thing to do.
"So it was never about the Nazism, it was never about the antisemitism, it was always about the money, and business was, of course, IBM's middle name."
This is especially relevant today, says Black, because there is now an "almost identical credo" gripping the technology world.
"They all want to grow, they all want to engulf others, they are all seeking supremacy at almost any cost. When you look at the disruptive fashion in which tech has reshaped our world '' including Uber, which for the longest time functioned as a criminal enterprise, meaning it didn't care what the pre-existing rules and regulations were, it thought it could do anything."Uber were setting technology traps for inspectors and things of that nature. And all of these tech giants have reformed and reshaped their world, regardless of the rules and regulations. Whether it comes to Google digitising millions of books without copyright permission, or whether it is Amazon connecting every book scavenger to compete with Barnes and Noble. Regardless of the impact and the consequences."
EthicsNow that artificial intelligence and automation have firmly broken free from the pages of science fiction utopian and dystopian, the questions of how these might impact all of us are finally gaining traction in mainstream discourse.
Even at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland '' an event generally agreed on to set the business, political, and academic agenda of the one percenters '' the ethics, impact, business risks and rewards that emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and automation could pose are up for discussion.
Naturally, the business executives in charge of the closed-shop companies developing their secretive projects have tried to assuage fears that humanity is, for example, being automated out of meaningful existence '' despite what some of the planet's brightest minds might have to say on the matter.
But the crux of their arguments are: trust us.
Here's IBM CEO Ginni Rometty preaching the three guiding principles for developing ethical AI, at the centre of which are that it should be built, transparently, to aid human intelligence, not work against it.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai just published his company's principles on ethical AI. As the CNBC report states, Google will not use AI to enable weapons or surveillance '' "with some caveats".
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also committed the company to building ethical AI, and indeed dedicated much of his New York Times best-seller Hit Refresh to discussing how there are technocratic solutions to equality problems (in one section he refers to the wonders of mobile connectivity in the same developing nations that are also being plundered for resources).
Google dropped its famous 'don't be evil' ethos from its code of conduct around the same time it had faced significant employee protests about its drone programme with the American Department of Defense. Microsoft has collaborated with America's ICE. Amazon has successfully integrated itself with the CIA in a $600 million cloud deal, while its facial recognition technology, Rekognition, is being provided to American law enforcement.
"The guys who join the ethics panels are usually the worst abusers," says Black. "They just want to make sure they can rule for themselves. That's in the legal profession and many others. Certainly in genomics, genetics, and certainly in technology. It would be completely inappropriate for a corporate ethics panel to claim that a lawful, legal contract with the government should not be pursued. Such a panel would have to be abolished.
"But I'm sure there are plenty of employees who might be dissuaded from protesting on their lunch hour if they thought the ethics department or the ethics panel was taking a look at this. I mean, who are these ethics people?"
IBM soldiersAmerican firms with equipment in Axis countries were awarded damages from the American government for lost equipment during the second world war. IBM ultimately supported the American war effort whole-hog '' Black describes IBM as "more than important to the allies" they were "vital". The US Army sent sergeants to train on IBM machines in California and compute military data on IBM machines in the Philippines. Its engineering laboratories worked on top-secret R&D projects, and IBM were even embedded with the American military.
"The military had IBM units called Machine Record Units, to calculate in the mobile battle theatre for the US Army. In fact, even Patton had an MRU with him." Separately ''IBM Soldiers" says Black, "were the IBM employees whose job it was to go into factories that had not been bombed and recover the machines.
"These were not fighting men, these were IBM soldiers whose main job it was to use the great weapon of information technology."
Socialist academic Michael Parenti notes in his 1997 book Blackshirts and Reds that American corporations like DuPont, Ford, General Motors and ITT owned factories in enemy countries that produced fuel, tanks, and planes that wreaked havoc on Allied forces".
In Superpatriotism, Parenti writes: "After the war, rather than being prosecuted for aiding and abetting the enemy, ITT collected $27 million from the US government for damages inflicted on its German planes by Allied bombings... General Motors received over $33 million for damages. Ford and other companies collected considerable sums. Faced with class-action lawsuits in 1999-2000, growing numbers of corporations admitted having used and profited greatly from unpaid slave labor supplied by Nazi concentration camps.
"But no US corporate manage has ever been prosecuted for complicity in these war crimes."
The flexibility of capital means that through financial and organisational maneuvering, countries that your country is at war with or those under sanctions aren't truly off-limits.
Black points to the way corporations are able to disguise their own operations through the creation of subsidiaries or new companies '' recalling how IBM supplied Apartheid South Africa, transferring companies to managers who "simply ran it and gave it back".
"That's something IBM did throughout the Nazi era," he continued. "It would register companies in the name of the receptionist or the bank accounts in the name of the receptionists as a nominee." He notes General Motors did the same, creating a false front with the 1920s buyout of Opel, which operated and supplied the Nazis throughout the second world war.
"Opel built the tank engines, the bomber engines, the torpedo heads, the Blitz truck for the Blitzkrieg, seemingly under the control of lower, medium and senior management in Nazi Germany, but actually under the control of Alfred Sloane in New York and Detroit," Black says.
"What technology company A, B, C cannot do without stirring up its own masses or looking bad '' it will do through a subsidiary."
Like a many-headed hydra, tackling one symptom does not stop the cause. When I put this to Black, his prognosis for the future is bleak. We are sliding down the mountain, he says, grasping at trees and ledges but sliding down the mountain and at great speed.
"What does this mean for society? We may actually have a colony on the moon or Mars '' what are the rules and regulations for that? We may actually place 30 percent of workers out of business because AI and robotics can take their place. And what will we do about it? What are the limits? Once upon a time there were unions to talk about unfair employment practices '' what do you do when the unfair employment practice is a robot, or an AI?
"It's urgent. A year ago I would not think it's urgent, today I do. It's got nothing to do with simply the policies of the military industrial complex, we are surrounded in technology in so many ways. One day, I asked my father why he didn't have a flat-panel TV. And he said because I don't want the TV set listening to me. I said: Dad, what the hell are you talking about? The TV's not going to listen to you. Now we find out the TV is listening to us."
"Long ago society took control of certain aspects of civilization," Black says. "The Turks introduced weights and measures, Napoleon introduced standardisation '' when the black death destroyed much of Europe in the medieval times, there was a jump from individual health to public health.
"The term quarantine comes from the forty-days quaranta giorni that these vessels in Venice were required to remain in harbour before they could come into the city.
"After the collapse of the stock market, and during the New Deal we took control of investments, banking.
"We have medical review boards, legal review boards, we have grievance committees for judges, we have impeachment proceedings for presidents.
"Where's our check and balance for technology?
"Where is that?"
IBM has never been silent on this issue. As with other foreign owned companies that did business in Germany at that time, IBM's German operations came under the control of Nazi authorities prior to and during World War II. Most documents were destroyed or lost during the war. Whatever archives IBM had from this period were donated to universities in New York and Germany several years ago for scholarly review. IBM and its employees around the world maintain that the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime are abhorrent and condemn any actions which aided their unspeakable acts.
Fund the border wall with porn? Arizona lawmaker says yes
Tue, 22 Jan 2019 14:17
Republic/azcentral.com reporter Rafael Carranza reports from San Luis, Arizona, where the National Guard has arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border. Nick Oza, The Republic | azcentral.com
Opinion: An Arizona legislator proposed taxing pornography to raise money for a border wall. Genius idea, that.
Here's a genius idea from the state of Arizona for how to end our nation's border standoff and free the 800,000 federal hostages who are wondering how to pay next month's rent.
Just tax porn.
Republican state Rep. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, wants to charge you $20 to look at pornography on the internet.
House Bill 2444 would require companies that make or sell electronic devices in Arizona to install software that blocks porn.
To remove the block, all you'd have to do is prove you are 18 and plunk down $20, payable to the Arizona Commerce Authority.
The money would go into a newly created account called the John McCain Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Fund, with the proceeds to be used for one of 10 things.
No. 1 on that list: ''Build a border wall between Mexico and this state or fund border security.''
Man linked to bill tried to marry his laptop According the Arizona Mirror's Jerod MacDonald-Evoy, the bill appears to be linked to Chris Sevier, an anti-gay activist and one-time porn addict who has been behind similar legislation in other states.
Sevier is an interesting sort.
In 2013, he sued Apple, claiming that his MacBook was responsible for his porn addition.
In 2017, he tried to marry his laptop and sued the state of Utah for not recognizing the marriage. But alas, his lawsuit was tossed out last year '' maybe because it demanded that a Colorado baker make his electronic bride a wedding cake?
In 2018, Sevier was ordered to stop using kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart's name on similar legislation in Rhode Island '' much as the Arizona version of the bill is using McCain's name.
Griffin didn't return a call to explain why in the world she has latched on to Sevier's bizarre idea to trample the First Amendment.
Then again, does Donald Trump know about Griffin's proposal?
In a way, it makes sense, here on Day 28 of the partial government shutdown.
After all, $20 here, $20 there and pretty soon you're at $5.7 billion and federal employees can get back to work '-- or for those already working, be paid finally for their indentured servitude.
This we call fighting an obscenity with obscenity.
Reach Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MORE FROM ROBERTS:
Abandoned Amazon baby might've had a chance if mom did this instead Despite all that's happened, lawmakers still want to be immune from arrest Nothing to see in this voucher bill? Here's why I don't believe that Read or Share this story: https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/laurieroberts/2019/01/18/arizona-legislator-offers-genius-plan-fund-border-wall-tax-porn/2619364002/
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SEE IT: Fox News Graphic Announces RBG Is Dead; Fox: 'Big Mistake' | Daily Wire
Tue, 22 Jan 2019 14:16
In a moment that "Fox & Friends" co-host Ainsley Earhardt lamented as a "big mistake" during the show on Monday morning, viewers were presented with a graphic that seemed to announce the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85, who has had to take a few weeks off after having two malignant nodules in her lungs removed.
In what co-host Steve Doocy described later as a "technical error in the control room," the following graphic of the recovering justice with the dates "1933-2019" flashed on the screen:
"We need to apologize," Doocy said afterward in a moment reported by The Hill and Mediaite, among others. "A technical error in the control room triggered a graphic of RBG with a date on it. We don't want to make it seem anything other than that was a mistake. That was an accident."
"We apologize, big mistake," Earhardt added.
"This was a technical error that emanated from the graphics team," Fox said in a follow-up statement to The Hill.
As The Daily Wire reported last week, doctors have given Ginsburg a clean bill of health, but she's chosen to take some time to recover before returning to the court. While she has remained home during the recovery, the justice is continuing to review cases, reading transcripts of oral arguments and analyzing court documents.
The justice's staff has made a point of assuring the public that she's doing well. "Her recovery from surgery is on track," Ginsburg's spokeswoman told the press last week. "Post-surgery evaluation indicates no evidence of remaining disease, and no further treatment is required."
This is not the first health-related problem the 85-year-old has suffered, as The Daily Wire's Emily Zanotti noted last week. "Ginsburg has also suffered from a series of health problems including a recent fall, where she sustained broken ribs '-- an incident which lead to the discovery of cancerous nodes in her lungs."
According to Politico, the Trump administration is quietly reviewing its short-list of candidates just in case RBG doesn't recover as doctors expect she will:
The White House is reaching out to political allies and conservative activist groups to prepare for an ailing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's possible death or departure from the Supreme Court '-- an event that would trigger the second bitter confirmation battle of President Donald Trump's tenure.
The outreach began after Ginsburg, 85, on Monday missed oral arguments at the court for the first time in her 25 years on the bench. The justice, who was nominated to the court by President Bill Clinton in 1993, announced in late December that she underwent a surgical procedure to remove two cancerous growths from her lungs.
An unnamed source ''familiar'' with the conversations told the outlet that the White House is "is taking the temperature on possible short-list candidates, reaching out to key stakeholders, and just making sure that people are informed on the process." The sources added that they are supposedly ''doing it very quietly, of course, because the idea is not to be opportunistic, but just to be prepared so we aren't caught flat-footed."
The new elite's phoney crusade to save the world '' without changing anything | News | The Guardian
Tue, 22 Jan 2019 14:01
A successful society is a progress machine. It takes in the raw material of innovations and produces broad human advancement. America's machine is broken. The same could be said of others around the world. And now many of the people who broke the progress machine are trying to sell us their services as repairmen.
When the fruits of change have fallen on the US in recent decades, the very fortunate have basketed almost all of them. For instance, the average pretax income of the top 10th of Americans has doubled since 1980, that of the top 1% has more than tripled, and that of the top 0.001% has risen more than sevenfold '' even as the average pretax income of the bottom half of Americans has stayed almost precisely the same. These familiar figures amount to three-and-a-half decades' worth of wondrous, head-spinning change with zero impact on the average pay of 117 million Americans. Globally, over the same period, according to the World Inequality Report, the top 1% captured 27% of new income, while the bottom half of humanity '' presently, more than 3 billion people '' saw 12% of it.
That vast numbers of Americans and others in the west have scarcely benefited from the age is not because of a lack of innovation, but because of social arrangements that fail to turn new stuff into better lives. For example, American scientists make the most important discoveries in medicine and genetics and publish more biomedical research than those of any other country '' but the average American's health remains worse and slower-improving than that of peers in other rich countries, and in some years life expectancy actually declines. American inventors create astonishing new ways to learn thanks to the power of video and the internet, many of them free of charge '' but the average US high-school leaver tests more poorly in reading today than in 1992. The country has had a ''culinary renaissance'', as one publication puts it, one farmers' market and Whole Foods store at a time '' but it has failed to improve the nutrition of most people, with the incidence of obesity and related conditions rising over time.
The tools for becoming an entrepreneur appear to be more accessible than ever, for the student who learns coding online or the Uber driver '' but the share of young people who own a business has fallen by two-thirds since the 1980s. America has birthed both a wildly successful online book superstore, Amazon, and another company, Google, that has scanned more than 25m books for public use '' but illiteracy has remained stubbornly in place, and the fraction of Americans who read at least one work of literature a year has dropped by almost a quarter in recent decades. The government has more data at its disposal and more ways of talking and listening to citizens '' but only a quarter as many people find it trustworthy as did in the tempestuous 1960s.
Meanwhile, the opportunity to get ahead has been transformed from a shared reality to a perquisite of already being ahead. Among Americans born in 1940, those raised at the top of the upper middle class and the bottom of the lower middle class shared a roughly 90% chance of realising the so-called American dream of ending up better off than their parents. Among Americans born in 1984 and maturing into adulthood today, the new reality is split-screen. Those raised near the top of the income ladder now have a 70% chance of realising the dream. Meanwhile, those close to the bottom, more in need of elevation, have a 35% chance of climbing above their parents' station. And it is not only progress and money that the fortunate monopolise: rich American men, who tend to live longer than the average citizens of any other country, now live 15 years longer than poor American men, who endure only as long as men in Sudan and Pakistan.
Thus many millions of Americans, on the left and right, feel one thing in common: that the game is rigged against people like them. Perhaps this is why we hear constant condemnation of ''the system'', for it is the system that people expect to turn fortuitous developments into societal progress. Instead, the system '' in America and across much of the world '' has been organised to siphon the gains from innovation upward, such that the fortunes of the world's billionaires now grow at more than double the pace of everyone else's, and the top 10% of humanity have come to hold 85% of the planet's wealth. New data published this week by Oxfam showed that the world's 2,200 billionaires grew 12% wealthier in 2018, while the bottom half of humanity got 11% poorer. It is no wonder, given these facts, that the voting public in the US (and elsewhere) seems to have turned more resentful and suspicious in recent years, embracing populist movements on the left and right, bringing socialism and nationalism into the centre of political life in a way that once seemed unthinkable, and succumbing to all manner of conspiracy theory and fake news. There is a spreading recognition, on both sides of the ideological divide, that the system is broken, that the system has to change.
S ome elites faced with this kind of gathering anger have hidden behind walls and gates and on landed estates, emerging only to try to seize even greater political power to protect themselves against the mob. (We see you, Koch brothers!) But in recent years a great many fortunate Americans have also tried something else, something both laudable and self-serving: they have tried to help by taking ownership of the problem. All around us, the winners in our highly inequitable status quo declare themselves partisans of change. They know the problem, and they want to be part of the solution. Actually, they want to lead the search for solutions. They believe their solutions deserve to be at the forefront of social change. They may join or support movements initiated by ordinary people looking to fix aspects of their society. More often, though, these elites start initiatives of their own, taking on social change as though it were just another stock in their portfolio or corporation to restructure. Because they are in charge of these attempts at social change, the attempts naturally reflect their biases.
For the most part, these initiatives are not democratic, nor do they reflect collective problem-solving or universal solutions. Rather, they favour the use of the private sector and its charitable spoils, the market way of looking at things, and the bypassing of government. They reflect a highly influential view that the winners of an unjust status quo '' and the tools and mentalities and values that helped them win '' are the secret to redressing the injustices. Those at greatest risk of being resented in an age of inequality are thereby recast as our saviours from an age of inequality. Socially minded financiers at Goldman Sachs seek to change the world through ''win-win'' initiatives such as ''green bonds'' and ''impact investing''. Tech companies such as Uber and Airbnb cast themselves as empowering the poor by allowing them to chauffeur people around or rent out spare rooms. Management consultants and Wall Street brains seek to convince the social sector that they should guide its pursuit of greater equality by assuming board seats and leadership positions.
Conferences and ideas festivals sponsored by plutocrats and big business '' such as the World Economic Forum, which is under way in Davos, Switzerland, this week '' host panels on injustice and promote ''thought leaders'' who are willing to confine their thinking to improving lives within the faulty system rather than tackling the faults. Profitable companies built in questionable ways and employing reckless means engage in corporate social responsibility, and some rich people make a splash by ''giving back'' '' regardless of the fact that they may have caused serious societal problems as they built their fortunes. Elite networking forums such as the Aspen Institute and the Clinton Global Initiative groom the rich to be self-appointed leaders of social change, taking on the problems people like them have been instrumental in creating or sustaining. A new breed of community-minded so-called B Corporations has been born, reflecting a faith that more enlightened corporate self-interest '' rather than, say, public regulation '' is the surest guarantor of the public welfare. A pair of Silicon Valley billionaires fund an initiative to rethink the Democratic party, and one of them can claim, without a hint of irony, that their goals are to amplify the voices of the powerless and reduce the political influence of rich people like them.
This genre of elites believes and promotes the idea that social change should be pursued principally through the free market and voluntary action, not public life and the law and the reform of the systems that people share in common; that it should be supervised by the winners of capitalism and their allies, and not be antagonistic to their needs; and that the biggest beneficiaries of the status quo should play a leading role in the status quo's reform.
This is what I call MarketWorld '' an ascendant power elite defined by the concurrent drives to do well and do good, to change the world while also profiting from the status quo. It consists of enlightened businesspeople and their collaborators in the worlds of charity, academia, media, government and thinktanks. It has its own thinkers, whom it calls ''thought leaders'', its own language, and even its own territory '' including a constantly shifting archipelago of conferences at which its values are reinforced and disseminated and translated into action. MarketWorld is a network and community, but it is also a culture and state of mind.
The elites of MarketWorld often speak in a language of ''changing the world'' and ''making the world a better place'' '' language more typically associated with protest barricades than ski resorts. Yet we are left with the inescapable fact that even as these elites have done much to help, they have continued to hoard the overwhelming share of progress, the average American's life has scarcely improved, and virtually all of the US's institutions, with the exception of the military, have lost the public's trust.
O ne of the towering figures in this new approach to changing the world is the former US president Bill Clinton. After leaving office in 2001, he came to champion, through his foundation and his annual Clinton Global Initiative gatherings in New York, a mode of public-private world improvement that brought together actors like Goldman Sachs, the Rockefeller Foundation and McDonald's, sometimes with a governmental partner, to solve big problems in ways plutocrats could get on board with.
After the populist eruption that resulted in Hillary Clinton's defeat in the 2016 US election, I asked the former president what he thought lay behind the surge of public anger. ''The pain and road rage we see reflected in the election has been building a long time,'' he said. He thought the anger ''is being fed in part by the feeling that the most powerful people in the government, economy and society no longer care about them or look down on them. They want to become part of our progress toward shared opportunities, shared stability and shared prosperity.'' But when it came to his proposed solution, it sounded a lot like the model to which he was already committed: ''The only answer is to build an aggressive, creative partnership involving all levels of government, the private sector and nongovernment organisations to make it better.''
In other words, the only answer is to pursue social change outside of traditional public forums, with the political representatives of mankind as one input among several, and corporations having the big say in whether they would sponsor a given initiative or not. The public's anger, of course, has been directed in part at the very elites he had sought to convene, on whom he had gambled his theory of post-political problem-solving, who had lost the trust of so many millions of people, making them feel betrayed, uncared for and scorned.
What people have been rejecting in the US '' as well as in Britain, Hungary a