The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked | Technology | The Guardian

A shadowy global operation involving big data, billionaire friends of Trump and the disparate forces of the Leave campaign influenced the result of the EU referendum. As Britain heads to the polls again, is our electoral process still fit for purpose?

by Carole Cadwalladr

Sun 7 May 2017 04.00 EDT Last modified on Wed 21 Mar 2018 19.52 EDT
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This article is the subject of legal complaints on behalf of Cambridge Analytica LLC and SCL Elections Limited.
“The connectivity that is the heart of globalisation can be exploited by states with hostile intent to further their aims.[…] The risks at stake are profound and represent a fundamental threat to our sovereignty.”
Alex Younger, head of MI6, December, 2016

“It’s not MI6’s job to warn of internal threats. It was a very strange speech. Was it one branch of the intelligence services sending a shot across the bows of another? Or was it pointed at Theresa May’s government? Does she know something she’s not telling us?”
Senior intelligence analyst, April 2017

In January 2013, a young American postgraduate was passing through London when she was called up by the boss of a firm where she’d previously interned. The company, SCL Elections, went on to be bought by Robert Mercer, a secretive hedge fund billionaire, renamed Cambridge Analytica, and achieved a certain notoriety as the data analytics firm that played a role in both Trump and Brexit campaigns. But all of this was still to come. London in 2013 was still basking in the afterglow of the Olympics. Britain had not yet Brexited. The world had not yet turned.

Follow the data: does a legal document link Brexit campaigns to US billionaire?
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“That was before we became this dark, dystopian data company that gave the world Trump,” a former Cambridge Analytica employee who I’ll call Paul tells me. “It was back when we were still just a psychological warfare firm.”

Was that really what you called it, I ask him. Psychological warfare? “Totally. That’s what it is. Psyops. Psychological operations – the same methods the military use to effect mass sentiment change. It’s what they mean by winning ‘hearts and minds’. We were just doing it to win elections in the kind of developing countries that don’t have many rules.”

via The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked | Technology | The Guardian

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Brexit: A Disunited Kingdom – NYT

I want to remind folks, that investigators have reported that Russian trolls and bots and Cambridge Analytica, owned by the right wing billionaire Robert Mercer, were both part of the campaign to destablize Britain with Brexit. It has worked brilliantly. I understand why it was in Putin’s interest. It is not clear to me what Robert Mercer wanted and why.

 

NYTIMES.COM
Two and a half years after Britain’s referendum on whether to leave the European Union, the country remains divided. We met with voters on both sides of…
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2018: The Year in Climate Change – The New York Times

David Lindsay

What a lovely compendium. Looking through the list below, I found two important articles I had missed: one on how rising temperatures are extremely dangerous to anyone without airconditioning, and are rising faster at night time than daytime, and another on how the rocks of Oman sequester carbon dioxide naturally, making more carbonate rock. Scientists are excited.

 

About this website

 

NYTIMES.COM
From dire climate reports to ravenous urchins and vanishing heritage sites, here are the climate stories you shouldn’t miss from this year.

 

via 2018: The Year in Climate Change – The New York Times

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Macron- Confronting Yellow Vest Protests in France- Promises Relief – The New York Times

By Alissa J. Rubin
Dec. 10, 2018

313
PARIS — Faced with violent protests and calls for his resignation, President Emmanuel Macron of France said Monday that he had heard the anger of the many whose economic suffering has burst into the open in recent weeks and that he would take immediate steps to relieve their hardship.

Mr. Macron’s mea culpa on national television signaled a remarkable step back from his ambitions to reshape France’s economy and become the European Union’s foremost leader. For now, his chief goal is shoring up his own political support in France.

He announced tax cuts and income increases for the struggling middle class and working poor, vowing to raise the pay of workers earning the minimum wage. He promised to listen to the voices of the country, to its small-town mayors and its working people.

“There is anger, anger and indignation that many French share,” he said in 13-minute prerecorded speech from the Elysée, the presidential palace.

via Macron, Confronting Yellow Vest Protests in France, Promises Relief – The New York Times

David Lindsay:  Yes, good article. Here is the top commnent I endorse:

HeyNorris
Paris, France
Times Pick

While I thoroughly admire the French passion for protest – as opposed to American lethargy – I have a growing desire to ship the entire lot of the “gilets jaunes” crowd to America so they can experience firsthand what it’s like to live without guaranteed health care, job protection, and to fully enjoy their two-week annual paid vacation, while their tax dollars go to fund a bloated military as they dodge potholes driving over teetering bridges. It’s true that in France we are over-taxed, but there’s a serious lack of appreciation of what those taxes buy: see above. As a 12 year resident of France transplanted from NYC, I’m constantly telling my French friends “you don’t know how good you have it”. Macron made a series of concrete pledges that will give tangible relief to France’s most vulnerable and will strain an already overburdened treasury. Yet the verdict is already in: too little, too late. That’s because what the anger is *really* about is the repeal of the ISF, a truly regressive *annual* tax on net worth (not income!) over €1.3 million which has sent French capital fleeing to Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Monaco. Every wealthy French person I know “lives” in these jurisdictions. Macron’s courageous repeal of this ridiculous tax (Piketty is wrong on this, it will repatriate billions), could be his undoing. If it is, we will know that even a thoughtful, socially conscious nation like France can be infected by the small-mindedness that put Trump in power.

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How to Stop Apps From Tracking Your Location – By Jennifer Valentino-DeVries and Natasha Singer – The New York Times

DL: I just learned that Android is not as good as Apple in this important privacy function. Apple allows you to share location “Only when the app is in use,”  as opposed to all the time! See the difference explained.

Hundreds of apps can follow your movements and share the details with advertisers, retailers and even hedge funds. Here’s how to limit the snooping.

By Jennifer Valentino-DeVries and Natasha Singer
Dec. 10, 2018

At least 75 companies receive people’s precise location data from hundreds of apps whose users enable location services for benefits such as weather alerts, The New York Times found. The companies use, store or sell the information to help advertisers, investment firms and others.

You can head off much of the tracking on your own device by spending a few minutes changing settings. The information below applies primarily to people in the United States.

How can I tell if apps are sharing my location?
It’s difficult to know for sure whether location data companies are tracking your phone. Any app that collects location data may share your information with other companies, as long as it mentions that somewhere in its privacy policy.

But the language in those policies can be dense, confusing or outright misleading. Apps that funnel location details to help hedge funds, for instance, have told users their data would be used for market analysis — or simply for “business purposes.”

via How to Stop Apps From Tracking Your Location – The New York Times

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Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night- and They’re Not Keeping It Secret – The New York Times

By JENNIFER VALENTINO-DeVRIES, NATASHA SINGER, MICHAEL H. KELLER and AARON KROLIK DEC. 10, 2018

The millions of dots on the map trace highways, side streets and bike trails — each one following the path of an anonymous cellphone user.

One path tracks someone from a home outside Newark to a nearby Planned Parenthood, remaining there for more than an hour. Another represents a person who travels with the mayor of New York during the day and returns to Long Island at night.

Yet another leaves a house in upstate New York at 7 a.m. and travels to a middle school 14 miles away, staying until late afternoon each school day. Only one person makes that trip: Lisa Magrin, a 46-year-old math teacher. Her smartphone goes with her.

An app on the device gathered her location information, which was then sold without her knowledge. It recorded her whereabouts as often as every two seconds, according to a database of more than a million phones in the New York area that was reviewed by The New York Times. While Ms. Magrin’s identity was not disclosed in those records, The Times was able to easily connect her to that dot.

The app tracked her as she went to a Weight Watchers meeting and to her dermatologist’s office for a minor procedure. It followed her hiking with her dog and staying at her ex-boyfriend’s home, information she found disturbing.

“It’s the thought of people finding out those intimate details that you don’t want people to know,” said Ms. Magrin, who allowed The Times to review her location data.

via Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret – The New York Times

DL: Ouch. I wish that new fangled phones and their widget apps weren’t so complicated. But here above is something to focus on.

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Opinion | Macron’s Moment of Truth – By Sylvie Kauffmann – The New York Times

By Sylvie Kauffmann
Ms. Kauffmann is the editorial director of Le Monde.

Dec. 6, 2018

225

Image
President Emmanuel Macron, center, inspecting the damage from protests over a planned fuel tax increase in Paris this month.CreditCreditEtienne Laurent/EPA, via Shutterstock
“PARIS — He was the savior of Europe. A 39-year-old maverick who rescued France from the populist tide, the newcomer who crushed his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen in a TV debate on the eve of a presidential election. The leader who would make liberal democracy great again. The visionary who had a plan to jump start the European Union. A 21st-century John Kennedy. Some joked that he could walk on water.

That was 2017. Eighteen months into his presidential term, Emmanuel Macron, faced with an uprising by a leaderless army of working poor in yellow vests and by violence unseen since the student riots of May 1968, is struggling to take back control of his country. The charismatic young president was jeered by protesters who tried to chase his car this week when he visited a public building set afire by rioters in Le Puy-en-Velay, in south-central France. “Macron, démission” — “Macron, resign” — has become the rallying cry of these modern-day sans-culottes, whose anger is directed at him, personally.

In a rare show of humility, Mr. Macron admitted a month ago that he had “failed to reconcile the people with its leaders.” Little did he suspect that the anger would turn into hatred, of the kind thrown in the face of dictators by the Arab Spring. As a fourth Saturday of protests looms, in spite of an olive branch offered by the government, nobody can predict whether this revolt will eventually give way to dialogue or degenerate into an even more profound and dangerous crisis.

What went wrong? Two sets of factors have come into play. One is not specific to France: an insurrectional wave that is now a familiar feature of Western democracies shaken by the disruptions of globalization, the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis and the inability of our traditional political parties to adjust to these new challenges. Brexit, Donald Trump’s election, an emergence of the far right in Germany and a victory of anti-system parties in Italy — all, though less violent, are part of the same dynamics. Emmanuel Macron was initially seen as a bulwark against this trend. More determined than his predecessors, he would reform France with a progressive agenda that would do away with the injustices of the old world.”

via Opinion | Macron’s Moment of Truth – The New York Times

I love this piece by Silvie Kauffmann, but I found a comment which has a different view, which I also endorsed. It it difficult, to like two views that seem opposed to each other.

Guillaume
Times Pick

Emmanuel Macron has clearly miscalculated. He’s doing exactly what he said he would during the campaign. The carbon tax was also on most parties’ platform (especially on the left). However that was not enough for France to accept it. He may have thought he should cram as many reforms as he could early in his mandate. But he will have to change his plans.

For the past 20 years, all French governments have tried to reform but had to back down because of protests. The irony is that Ms. Kauffmann and her fellow French journalists bear a lot of responsibility.

Where in Le Monde columns can one read that France has not had a balanced budget since 1974? That government spending in France measured as the percentage of GDP is the highest in the western world? That public social spending is the highest in the OECD? That the income inequality is not that high and has been stable for 20 years? French people don’t understand the need for reforms and how urgent they are. The only things they hear from journalists is that Macron cares only about the rich and there is money in France and you just have to take it.

The truth is that the only way to maintain the generous French welfare state is to balance the budget and broaden the tax base by reducing unemployment and fostering economic growth. Ms. Kauffman should make that case.

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‘Yellow Vest’ Protests Shake France. Here’s the Lesson for Climate Change. – The New York Times

By Alissa J. Rubin and Somini Sengupta
Dec. 6, 2018

301
PARIS — Vincent Picard describes himself as a “militant ecologist.” But when protesters took to the streets to express their rage over a planned increase in France’s fuel tax, Mr. Picard joined their ranks.

He acknowledges that the tax might encourage the conservation considered critical for a healthy planet. But with the nearest train station 35 minutes away, he has to drive to work every day.

“I am conscious that we have reached the end of fossil fuels and that we have to modify our habits,” said Mr. Picard, a 32-year-old pastry maker from northern France. But, he added, “You have to continue to live.”

The gas tax is part of an effort started by France in 2014 to regularly raise the tax on fossil fuels to fight global climate change.

via ‘Yellow Vest’ Protests Shake France. Here’s the Lesson for Climate Change. – The New York Times

Macron has really fucked up, to use an old French expression. I have also posted the hyperlink to the article on the asset tax he reduced on the wealthiest individuals, as one of his first acts as prime minister. He really blew the visuals on that one, and then, apparently, he has never heard of making a gas tax either revenue neutral, or only to raise money for public transportation. If he continues to rule like an emperor, he will fail, which is horrible, since we need his leadership now for fighting climate change, containing Russia, and hearding the cats of the free world.

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Emmanuel Macron’s Unwanted New Title: ‘President of the Rich’ – By Adam Nossiter – NYT

By Adam Nossiter
Nov. 1, 2017

34
“PARIS — From the all-powerful president with the infallible touch, Emmanuel Macron has become the “president of the rich,” an elitist dispensing fiscal goodies to the wealthy. At least that is what parliamentarians, some economists, television interviewers and newspapers have been calling him in recent weeks.

Barely six months into his presidency, Mr. Macron has been brought down from the heights to places many French are deeply suspicious of: the corporate suite and the banker’s office. Over and over that unflattering label — “president of the rich” — has been affixed to the young leader.

“You are committing violence with your policy. It’s you that are going after the poor to give to the rich!” thundered François Ruffin, a firebrand of the leftist France Unbowed party.

Mr. Macron was guilty of a “heavy moral, economic, and historical sin,” the best-selling economist Thomas Piketty wrote in the newspaper Le Monde.”

via Emmanuel Macron’s Unwanted New Title: ‘President of the Rich’ – The New York Times

David Lindsay:

Macron has really fucked up, to use an old French expression. I have also read and posted the hyperlink to the article on the asset tax he reduced on the wealthiest individuals, as one of his first acts as prime minister. He really blew the visuals on that one, and then, apparently, he has never heard of making a gas tax either revenue neutral, or only to raise money for public transportation. If he continues to rule like a deaf emperor, he will fail, which is horrible, since we need his leadership now for fighting climate change, containing Russia, and hearding the cats of the free world during the great vacuum of Trumpism.

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Making President Trump’s Bed: A Housekeeper Without Papers – By Miriam Jordan – The New York Times

“But throughout his campaign and his administration, Ms. Morales, 45, has been reporting for work at Mr. Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, where she is still on the payroll. An employee of the golf course drives her and a group of others to work every day, she says, because it is known that they cannot legally obtain driver’s licenses.

A diminutive woman with only two years of education who came to the United States speaking no English, Ms. Morales has had an unusual window into one of the president’s favorite retreats: She has cleaned the president’s villa while he watched television nearby; she stood on the sidelines when potential cabinet members were brought in for interviews and when the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, arrived to confer with the president.

“I never imagined, as an immigrant from the countryside in Guatemala, that I would see such important people close up,” she said.

But Ms. Morales said she has been hurt by Mr. Trump’s public comments since he became president, including equating Latin American immigrants with violent criminals. It was that, she said, along with abusive comments from a supervisor at work about her intelligence and immigration status, that made her feel that she could no longer keep silent.

“We are tired of the abuse, the insults, the way he talks about us when he knows that we are here helping him make money,” she said. “We sweat it out to attend to his every need and have to put up with his humiliation.””

via Making President Trump’s Bed: A Housekeeper Without Papers – The New York Times

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