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In the News 03.23.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 03.23.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@diaryofdays
In the News 03.23.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@diaryofdays
In the News 03.23.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@alinakolot

The School Shooting Generation Has Had Enough

It’s lunchtime on a Tuesday, and the kids are piling into a pizzeria booth in Coral Springs, Fla., to plot a revolution. “The adults know that we’re cleaning up their mess,” says Cameron Kasky, an 11th-grader at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who started the #NeverAgain movement to curb gun violence three weeks earlier in his living room. “It’s like they’re saying, ‘I’m sorry I made this mess,’” adds buzzcut senior Emma González, “while continuing to spill soda on the floor.”

Kasky and González are sitting with two more of the movement’s leaders, Alex Wind and Jaclyn Corin. Except they’re not sitting, exactly. They’re crouching diagonally on the seat and leaning back on one another’s knees in order to devour their calzones while maintaining as much physical contact as possible. Corin throws a crouton into González’s mouth. Kasky uses Corin’s knees as a pillow. The conversation turns from their fellow organizer David Hogg (“So laser-focused,” González says, that “he could make his body get pregnant if he wanted to”) to the conspiracy theory that they’re actors being paid by shadowy donors (prompting Kasky to ask why his credit card was recently declined at McDonald’s) to their prolific trolling of the NRA. They agree that the gun lobby’s spokeswoman, Dana Loesch, is “very hot but kind of scary,” as González puts it.

Read the rest of this article at: Time

When Truth and Reason Are No Longer Enough

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I’m a scientist at UC Berkeley—a card-carrying true believer in liberal Enlightenment values. Imagine that I meet a bright young woman in a small town in Wisconsin or Alabama, and that I want to persuade her to become a scientist like me. “Listen, science is really great!,” I say. “We scientists care about truth and reason and human flourishing. We include people from every country and culture. And our values have transformed the world. For thousands of years before the Enlightenment, the speed limit was the pace of a fast horse, and children died all the time. Now ideas move at the speed of light, and a child’s death is an unthinkable tragedy. Democracy has eclipsed tyranny, prosperity has outpaced poverty, medicine has routed illness, individual liberation has uprooted social convention. Come join us!”

The young woman replies, “That sounds fantastic! But there’s just one thing. I love this town. I have a boyfriend who also wants to be a scientist, and I’d like to get married and have a bunch of kids here soon. My parents are looking forward so much to being grandparents, and my own grandparents need me to look after them. My family and friends are all nearby, and I’d like my kids to live in my community and take part in the same traditions I grew up with. Can I do that and be a scientist too?”

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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EXCLUSIVE: ‘Lone DNC Hacker’ Guccifer 2.0 Slipped Up and Revealed He Was a Russian Intelligence Officer

Guccifer 2.0, the “lone hacker” who took credit for providing WikiLeaks with stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee, was in fact an officer of Russia’s military intelligence directorate (GRU), The Daily Beast has learned. It’s an attribution that resulted from a fleeting but critical slip-up in GRU tradecraft.

That forensic determination has substantial implications for the criminal probe into potential collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia. The Daily Beast has learned that the special counsel in that investigation, Robert Mueller, has taken over the probe into Guccifer and brought the FBI agents who worked to track the persona onto his team.

While it’s unclear what Mueller plans to do with Guccifer, his last round of indictments charged 13 Russians tied to the Internet Research Agency troll farm with a conspiracy “for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.” It was Mueller’s first move establishing Russian interference in the election within a criminal context, but it stopped short of directly implicating the Putin regime.

Mueller’s office declined to comment for this story. But the attribution of Guccifer 2.0 as an officer of Russia’s largest foreign intelligence agency would cross the Kremlin threshold—and move the investigation closer to Trump himself.

Read the rest of this article at: The Daily Beast

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Cost of Simplicity

Where “lifestyle” might once have referred to one’s general mode of living, it now refers to the fact that even the smallest detail of one’s everyday reality is capable of being documented, and thus subject to the same aesthetic and semiotic rigor as one’s style of furnishing or dress. “Influencers” — the marketing term for popular users of Instagram, Snapchat, or YouTube, with the power to guide their followers’ purchases — traffic not only in desirable appearances, or home décor, or even experience, but also in less tangible qualities: The upshot of all that desirable living has to look, to followers, like the good life. In return, content creators can garner thousands of dollars per post by integrating their sponsors’ products into their feeds.

Influencer culture is “spectacular,” as described by Guy Debord: “In all its specific manifestations, news or propaganda, advertising or the actual consumption of entertainment, the spectacle epitomizes the prevailing model of social life … In form as in content the spectacle serves as total justification for the conditions and aims of the existing system. It further ensures the permanent presence of that justification, for it governs almost all time spent outside the production process itself.” Instagram, which has in many ways privatized our self images and our intimacies, is also self-reproducing — it sees us fusing our lives with corporate entities to the depth of our private moments. While billboards and television advertisements present a clear line between advertising and content, sponsored and otherwise monetized content blends in with non-monetized content.

Read the rest of this article at: Real Life

Cloak And Data: The Real Story Behind Cambridge Analytica’s Rise And Fall

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In the late summer of 2015, Chris Wilson, the director of research, analytics, and digital strategy for Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, had a conversation with a contractor that left him furious. A widely respected pollster who had taken leave from his firm to work full time for Cruz, Wilson oversaw a team of more than 40 data scientists, developers, and digital marketers, one of the largest departments inside Cruz’s Houston-based operation. The Iowa caucuses were fast approaching, and the Cruz campaign had poured nearly $13 million into winning the opening contest of the primary season.

As the campaign laid the groundwork for Iowa, a sizable chunk of its spending—$4.4 million and counting—flowed to a secretive company with British roots named Cambridge Analytica. A relative newcomer to American politics, the firm sold itself as the latest, greatest entrant into the burgeoning field of political technology. It claimed to possess detailed profiles on 230 million American voters based on up to 5,000 data points, everything from where you live to whether you own a car, your shopping habits and voting record, the medications you take, your religious affiliation, and the TV shows you watch. This data is available to anyone with deep pockets. But Cambridge professed to bring a unique approach to the microtargeting techniques that have become de rigueur in politics. It promised to couple consumer information with psychological data, harvested from social-media platforms and its own in-house survey research, to group voters by personality type, pegging them as agreeable or neurotic, confrontational or conciliatory, leaders or followers. It would then target these groups with specially tailored images and messages, delivered via Facebook ads, glossy mailers, or in-person interactions. The company’s CEO, a polo-playing Eton graduate named Alexander Nix, called it “our secret sauce.”

As a rule, Nix said his firm generally steered clear of working in British politics to avoid controversy in its own backyard. But it had no qualms applying its mind-bending techniques to a foreign electorate. “It’s someone else’s political system,” explains one former Cambridge employee, a British citizen. “It’s not ours. None of us would ever consider doing what we were doing here.”

Read the rest of this article at: Mother Jones

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.

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