Why Silicon Valley billionaires are prepping for the apocalypse in New ZealandYesterday
The long read: How an extreme libertarian tract predicting the collapse of liberal democracies written by Jacob Rees-Moggs father inspired the likes of Peter Thiel to buy up property across the Pacific
If you’re interested in the end of the world, you’re interested in New Zealand. If you’re interested in how our current cultural anxieties – climate catastrophe, decline of transatlantic political orders, resurgent nuclear terror – manifest themselves in apocalyptic visions, you’re interested in the place occupied by this distant archipelago of apparent peace and stability against the roiling unease of the day.
If you’re interested in the end of the world, you would have been interested, soon after Donald Trump’s election as US president, to read a New York Times headline stating that Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist who co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, considered New Zealand to be “the Future”. Because if you are in any serious way concerned about the future, you’re also concerned about Thiel, a canary in capitalism’s coal mine who also happens to have profited lavishly from his stake in the mining concern itself.
Thiel is in one sense a caricature of outsized villainy: he was the only major Silicon Valley figure to put his weight behind the Trump presidential campaign; he vengefully bankrupted a website because he didn’t like how they wrote about him; he is known for his public musings about the incompatibility of freedom and democracy, and for expressing interest – as though enthusiastically pursuing the clunkiest possible metaphor for capitalism at its most vampiric – in a therapy involving transfusions of blood from young people as a potential means of reversing the ageing process. But in another, deeper sense, he is pure symbol: less a person than a shell company for a diversified portfolio of anxieties about the future, a human emblem of the moral vortex at the centre of the market.
It was in 2011 that Thiel declared he’d found “no other country that aligns more with my view of the future than New Zealand”. The claim was made as part of an application for citizenship; the application was swiftly granted, though it remained a secret for a further six years. In 2016, Sam Altman, one of Silicon Valley’s most influential entrepreneurs, revealed to the New Yorker that he had an arrangement with Thiel whereby in the eventuality of some kind of systemic collapse scenario – synthetic virus breakout, rampaging AI, resource war between nuclear-armed states, so forth – they both get on a private jet and fly to a property Thiel owns in New Zealand. (The plan from this point, you’d have to assume, was to sit out the collapse of civilisation before re-emerging to provide seed-funding for, say, the insect-based protein sludge market.)
In the immediate wake of that Altman revelation, Matt Nippert, a reporter for the New Zealand Herald, began looking into the question of how exactly Thiel had come into possession of this apocalypse retreat, a 477-acre former sheep station in the South Island – the larger, more sparsely populated of the country’s two major landmasses. Foreigners looking to purchase significant amounts of New Zealand land typically have to pass through a stringent government vetting process. In Thiel’s case, Nippert learned, no such process had been necessary, because he was already a citizen of New Zealand, despite having spent no more than 12 days in the country up to that point, and having not been seen in the place since. He didn’t even need to travel to New Zealand to have his citizenship conferred, it turned out: the deal was sealed in a private ceremony at a consulate handily located in Santa Monica.
Man convicted in 1985 Air India bombings released from Canada prison3 days ago
Inderjit Singh Reyat released after serving two-thirds of a nine-year sentence for his involvement in one of the deadliest airline attacks in history
Inderjit Singh Reyat, the only person to be convicted over the 1985 Air India bombings, has been released from a Canadian prison after serving two decades behind bars.
A spokesman for the parole board of Canada confirmed Reyats statutory release after serving two-thirds of a nine-year sentence for his involvement in one of the deadliest airline attacks in history.
Reyat, a Sikh immigrant to Canada, previously served more than 15 years in prison for making the bombs that were stuffed into two suitcases and planted on planes leaving Vancouver.
One bomb tore apart Air India Flight 182 as it neared the coast or Ireland, killing all 329 people aboard. The second exploded at Japans Narita airport, killing two baggage handlers as they transferred cargo.
The attack took place during an Indian crackdown on Sikhs fighting for an independent homeland, and those behind it were allegedly seeking revenge for the storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar by Indian troops.
Reyat has been ordered to live at a halfway house until August 2018, when his perjury sentence would normally expire, and abide by several conditions set by the parole board, including having no contact with victims families or alleged former co-conspirators, and no political activities.
He must also obtain counseling to address violent tendencies, a lack of empathy and cognitive distortions or what one official described as his exaggerated beliefs.
If at any time, his parole officer feels theres a risk to the community he can return Mr Reyat to prison, parole board spokesman Patrick Storey told AFP.
In 2010, Reyat was convicted of lying while testifying in the mass murder trial of alleged co-conspirators Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, who were later acquitted for a lack of evidence.
He had avoided being tried alongside the pair by pleading guilty to a lesser manslaughter charge.
Prosecutors have said the verdict in the trial of Malik and Bagri would have been different if Reyat had told the truth on the stand when called to testify about the plot, while Judge Ian Josephson called him an unmitigated liar.
Reyats nine-year perjury sentence was the longest ever handed down by a Canadian court.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Turkish police caught in middle of war between Erdoğan and former ally Gülen10 days ago
Some officers welcome crackdown on shadowy network around exiled cleric but stress it should not serve to legitimise corruption
Trker Yilmaz* was not long into his police academy training when he realised how the system worked. The good jobs, the better pay, the promotion prospects all depended on your dedication to a shadowy Islamic network with its headquarters based in Pennsylvania.
“They kept tabs on every recruit, had a grading system from zero to five five being the ones who prayed, fasted, never drank alcohol,” the policeman said, referring to the movement founded by the Muslim cleric Fethullah Glen, who lives in exile in the US.
“Everything starts in the police schools,” said Yilmaz. “They came to me once, I said no. But it’s very subtle. One day a friend will ask you to go to breakfast at a certain friend’s house, to read a certain book, go for dinner. These appointments become more and more regular. When you’re in school, you have very little money. They organise a few things to make it easier. Free meals, for example, free accommodation. Once you’re inside, they organise your life; you just get sucked in. And once you graduate, you can start working in whichever unit you like.”
The power and the influence of the elderly cleric is the defining issue of Turkish politics. Recep Tayyp Erdoan, the prime minister, has declared war on Glen previously a key ally of his conservative, Islamic ruling party following the eruption of a corruption scandal in December that implicates the government, the prime minister’s closest associates and his family.
Erdoan responded ferociously, purging the police of thousands of officers, transferring prosecutors linked to the investigation and tightening control over the judiciary. A fortnight ago, according to senior officials in Brussels, he told EU leaders that his fight with Glen was a matter of political survival. “He was gripped with this obsession of killing the parallel state, as he called it,” said a well-placed EU official.
In Turkey it has long been assumed that Glen’s network exercised unaccountable influence inside the judicial and security apparatus. The investigative journalist Ahmet k was jailed for writing a book about it, as was Hanefi Avc, a former police chief. But that was when Erdoan and Glen were allies.
In 2009 the then US ambassador in Ankara, James Jeffrey, wrote in a cable to the state department: “The assertion that the Turkish national police is controlled by Glenists is impossible to confirm but we have found no one who disputes it.”
Yilmaz and other police officers who spoke up confirmed the scale and degree of penetration by adherents of a movement that is religious, cultural and educational as well as political.
Ouz Gn* has been working in the Istanbul police force for more than seven years. “Such opaque groups are very dangerous. And [Glen’s] is a group that discriminates against those who don’t share the same values and the same lifestyle. I have seen how they started to mistake sins for crimes, both inside and outside the force,” he said.
He sought transfers to other units: secret intelligence, anti-terror, organised crime. To no avail. Gn was never affiliated with the Glenist movement. “Sometimes they openly asked for a reference. Without it, I didn’t stand a chance.”
Yilmaz said: “If you asked someone how did you manage to get into the secret intelligence unit, they would answer: I prayed and got in. We had friends who spoke six languages, were top of their class, and were standing guard outside police stations. And others who were a lot less qualified got the top jobs only because they were connected with the Glenists.”
The assumption in Turkey and abroad is that the corruption allegations against the Erdoan administration originate with Glen, and that they are likely to be well-founded because of the quality of the intelligence the movement commands. Erdoan is seen to be trying not only to destroy the cleric but also to bury the corruption allegations.
k, the journalist jailed in 2011 for writing a book on Glen’s penetration of the police, highlighted what many see as the problem. “The attempt to purge Glenists doesn’t mean that [Erdoan] is right. There is also a real witchhunt going on. We have massive corruption on the one hand, but the investigation against it also violates democratic and judicial principles. It’s a choice between a rock and a hard place, pest and cholera. One is not better, or cleaner, than the other.”
The officers welcomed the backlash against the network inside the police but stressed that it should not serve to legitimise corruption. “Of course I want those who are corrupt to be punished. I am not defending corruption at all. But these purges were long overdue,” said Yilmaz. “The government knew about this. It was the government in the first place who enabled them, who helped them, they came to power together. Helping them was the government’s biggest mistake.”
Gn spoke of a huge sense of relief among his colleagues that the police were being cleared of the network. “It really was an atmosphere of deep paranoia. Even if it seemed technically impossible for every single officer’s phone to be tapped, we were all afraid of being spied on all the time.”
The pressure was subtle, but constant: “Nobody would force you to pray, or fast during Ramadan. But they kept tabs on all of that, on everyone. Nobody talked about it. Everybody knew, but nobody dared to discuss the issue. This has started to change.”
Erdoan’s offensive represents a sea change. The domination of his Justice and Development party (AKP) for more than a decade was aided by his alliance with Glen, the cleric’s formidable organisation, money and influence.
Those who dared to criticise the Glen movement before were swiftly punished. k was accused of being a member of a nationalist network, although he and his colleagues had previously disclosed plans by the same network to stage a military coup against the AKP government. He was released from jail in 2012, but his trial is ongoing.
In 2010 Hanefi Avc, a former police chief and former Glen supporter, was arrested on charges of being a member of a terrorist organisation after publishing a book in which he described the infiltration of the Turkish police force by the Glenists and accused them of illegally tapping phones and falsifying evidence. Last year the self-described rightwing sympathiser was sentenced to more than 15 years in jail for membership of the armed leftwing group Revolutionary Headquarters.
Erdoan’s current purges are dramatic and far-reaching. But the officers say such purges have been taking place more quietly for years. According to both Yilmaz and Gn, internal investigations have been conducted against tens of thousands of police officers over the past four years alone. “If someone was suspected of going against [Glen] they were often hit with made-up disciplinary charges, transferred to bad posts, or even suspended,” Gn said. “The removals we see today are not new. They just hit the other camp.”
Not all police officers, however, are as happy with the current purges. The Police Reform Group, an organisation campaigning for police rights, tweeted: “How do you know that the officers who were transferred are Glenists and members of an organisation? Do you have a detector? Where is justice?”
EU officials monitoring the drama say Erdoan is deploying an indiscriminate dragnet in the belief that it will catch all the Glen appointments. Yilmaz agrees. “I am guessing that not all of these guys were Glenists. And not all sympathisers were bad, either. And no police officer should ever be punished just for doing a good job.”
Faruk Sezer, a founding member of the unofficial police union Emniyet-Sen, argued that a transparent inquiry into the alleged shadow organisation was indispensable. “If an officer committed a crime, it needs to be brought to light and that person needs to be suspended and punished. But those who were transferred without reason and proof should of course be reinstated.”
Last month Istanbul prosecutors started an investigation into officers who took part in anti-corruption raids in December. Do police officers fear doing their job in such a loaded atmosphere? Yilmaz shrugged: “We have started to tell jokes among ourselves like: oh dear, you caught a shoplifter, you’d better start packing your bags, you’ll get transferred for that.”
“The war between Glen and the government will not end any time soon,” said k. “Turkish people caught in the middle will suffer. We already live in a very oppressive period, and I am afraid that this might get much worse.”
* Names have been changed.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
The battle for Mosul stalls: ‘we are fighting the devil himself’14 days ago
After quick early progress, the operation to retake Islamic States last urban stronghold in Iraq is getting more difficult
Heaving on a huge, scorched metal door and covered in engine oil, Sgt Hussein Mahmoud was deep into a mornings work. Twisted hulks of wrecked army vehicles sat incongruously in the coarse dust that was kicked up by still-moving trucks as they crept around Mosuls urban fringe.
Two other soldiers with industrial wrenches joined in, trying in vain to dislodge the door from its hinges. We need it for humvees that still work, said one of them. Were under pressure to provide them with parts.
Impromptu salvage yards have appeared all around the Gogali neighbourhood in Mosuls outer east, the immediate hinterland of the war with Islamic State and the most visible reminder of how destructive, difficult and long this fight is likely to be.
The startling progress of the first few weeks of the campaign to take Iraqs second city, the terror groups last urban stronghold in Iraq, has given way to a numbing reality: Isis will not surrender Mosul, and Iraqs battered military will struggle to take it.
Since Iraqi forces entered Gogali, a light industrial neighbourhood, in mid-November, the advance has slowed. When we started, we were talking weeks, said Hussein. Now, we hope it will be by early in the new year. But these guys are not cowards. They kill as easy as they breathe.
Forces deployed beyond nominal frontlines, marked by heaped piles of dirt, are around five miles from the Nour mosque, where the Isis leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, proclaimed himself the leader of a caliphate nearly 30 months ago. But every street and sector towards the mosque a highly symbolic target of the fight is claiming an increasing toll in blood and treasure.
Car bombs of the type that ravaged the dozens of humvees in the makeshift wrecking yards continue to take a withering toll on the US-supplied vehicles, which form the staple of the Iraqi militarys armour.
The toll they are taking on morale is more difficult to gauge. Iraqi troops stationed in Gogali and the roads leading to it insist they will win the war, no matter how long it takes. Some however concede that they could still be fighting in Mosuls tunnels and alleyways as late as next summer.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Michael Puetts book The Path draws on the 2,500-year-old insights of Chinese philosophers. He explains how straightening your mat can help you break out of the patterns that are holding you back
The School of Lifes Sunday sermons could be described as lectures for people who dont believe in God but still like church. They sing secular songs before and after the sermon (when I arrive, the large congregation at Mary Ward House in London is on the second verse of A Spoonful of Sugar), and everybody seems to share an abiding faith in the power of open-mindedness.
On this particular Sunday, the sermon is to be delivered by Michael Puett, professor of Chinese history at Harvard University, and is based on his book The Path, which applies the lessons of ancient Chinese philosophers to modern life. These philosophers may have done their best work 2,500 years ago, but they were trying to answer the same big questions we still ask. How do I live my life? How do I live my life well?
I forewarn you, Puett tells the congregation: At first its gonna sound really bleak.
The back cover of The Path describes Puett as Harvards most popular professor. It is unclear how this distinction is awarded, but the book grew out of a 2013 magazine article written by his co-author, Christine Gross-Loh, about the undergraduate course Puett teaches classical Chinese ethical and political theory said to be the third most popular class at Harvard.
Thats still the case, Puett says when I meet him. No 1 and No 2 are the introduction to economics class and the introduction to computer science class. Third biggest means his lectures are delivered to around 750 students. Puett exposes them to the writings of Confucius, Mencius, Zhuangzi and Xunzi, among others, but he also promises that the course will do more than just fulfil Harvards required ethical reasoning module.
I do give them a guarantee, he says. The guarantee I make is if they take these ideas seriously, by the end of the course, these ideas will have changed their lives.
When he speaks publicly, Puetts voice ranges between a low rumble and an enthusiastic squeak. At first it sounds almost muppet-like, but after a while it becomes a little incantatory you can see why he is a popular lecturer. He doesnt refer to notes, and he has no visual aids. His sermon, like his course, begins by shattering some commonly held preconceptions about the self: there is no self, he says. The idea that we should look within, discover our true nature and act accordingly is, according to Confucius, nonsense. What we really are, Puett says, is a messy and potentially ugly bunch of stuff, a collection of emotions and conditioned responses, with no guiding inner core. We think we are self-determined, but in reality we are so set in our patterns that Google exploits our predictability to sell us stuff without us noticing.
Puetts School of Life audience is very open to this notion I think most of us already figured as much but apparently when he tells this to his students, it blows their minds. Is this, I wonder, a generational thing?
Yes, I think it is very generational, he says. This is a generation that was raised being told: Your goal is to look within. Find your true self, especially during these four years of college. And furthermore the argument is, once you do find yourself, try and be sincere and authentic to who you really are, and then decide your career according to who you are.
Once they get over the shock, however, his students are immensely receptive to Chinese philosophys counterintuitive model. Because theyve spent 20 years looking for this true self and not finding it.
The Path is in part a pleasing debunking of fashionable self-help disciplines there are no quick fixes; improvement is incremental at best, and a lifetime of work. I think of it as sort of anti-self-help, says Puett. Self-help tends to be about learning to love yourself and embrace yourself for who you are. A lot of these ideas are saying precisely the opposite no, you overcome the self, you break the self. You should not be happy with who you are.
While Puetts students are obliged to get to grips with the primary sources, The Path was written for people mostly unfamiliar with the history of eastern thought. It is no simple matter to create a modern-day guide to living boiled down to 200 pages from writings that are often ambiguous, if not downright gnomic. In The Analects, a collection of the teachings and thoughts of Confucius compiled by his followers after his death, one typical passage reads: He would not sit until he had straightened his mat. You could draw a lot of contradictory conclusions from that.
Puett is also aware that there is some risk in extracting an overarching message from a number of different philosophers who often disagreed with one another.
They do share a generally common vision of human psychology, he says. That we have a tendency to fall into patterns and ruts in our existences. The Confucian strategy for disrupting these patterns was the judicious observance of ritual coded behaviours that force people to operate outside their normal roles. This has often been misunderstood as a call for conformity and a slavish adherence to tradition, but, according to Puett, Confucius meant no such thing. For Confucius, he writes, the ritual was essential because of what it did for the people performing it.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Bikers for Trump: ‘He’ll get my election because he’s off his goddamn rocker’15 days ago
Ahead of the New Hampshire primary, Adam Gabbatt went to the Chop Shop Pub in Seabrook and found out that the locals dont mince words when asked why theyre rooting for The Donald
Theres a guy here whos not like us.
It is Super Bowl night at the Chop Shop Pub, a biker bar in Seabrook, New Hampshire. Bill The Boss Niland is addressing the crowd over a microphone. They call him the Boss because he is the boss of the bar.
He talks funny, Bill continues.
The clientele look at each other, wondering who this interloper could be. Im standing near the front. Im curious too. I look over my shoulder.
His names Adam, Bills says. He is talking about me. He calls up here and says: Do we have any bikers here?
This is true, I did.
Well, do we?
There are cheers and calls of: Yes!
The Boss drawn attention to me. Hes with the Guardian, he says. He has a thick New England accent and it definitely sounds like Gahhhhhdian.
I wave. There are a couple of cheers.
Im at the Chop Shop to mingle with some bikers ahead of Tuesdays primary. New Hampshire has the second most motorcycles per capita of all 50 nations, so I would be remiss not to expend some time with the biker demographic. The bar is a one-story house with a small fish pond in the entryway region. There are nine gnomes all over the pond and several goldfish in the pond. There is also a skull in it.
Scientology criminal enterprise lawsuit hurled out by Belgian judge16 days ago
Investigators and prosecutors criticised after trial of 11 members of church and two affiliated bodies that could have led to ban
A court in Brussels has hurled out charges that could have find Church of Scientology banned as a criminal enterprise in Belgium, after a magistrate said the defendants were targeted because of their religion.
Eleven members of the celebrity-backed, US-based church and two affiliated bodies had been charged with fraud, extortion, the illegal practice of medicine, running war criminals enterprise and infringing the right to privacy.
The entire proceedings are declared inadmissible for a serious and irremediable breach of the right to a fair trial, the presiding judge, Yves Regimont, said on Friday.
He criticised the examiners involved in an 18 -year inquiry into Scientology in Belgium for what he said was racism, and prosecutors for being vague in their case against the religion.
The defendants were prosecuted principally because they were Scientologists, Regimont added.
The case was the subject of a seven-week trial that objective last December.
Its a relief, Scientologys spokesman in Belgium, Eric Roux, told reporters outside special courts. When you have had 20 years of your life under a pressure that you know is unfair, where one attacks your notions and not something you have done, the working day when the court says it officially, its a big relief,.
Defence lawyer Pascal Vanderveeren denounced the suit as careless and prejudiced, adding that it was aimed at assaulting Scientology and not those who are part of it.
Marie Abadi, a former Scientology member who has become a strong foe of it, told me that she expected an appeal, adding: We are evidently very disappointed. Either the facts are too old, or not precise enough. We are certain the prosecutor will appeal because things must budge.
Championed by famous members such as Hollywood actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, Scientology stirs up sharp divisions. Critics denounce it as a cult and a swindle, while advocates say it offers much-needed spiritual subsistence in a fast-changing world.
Prosecutors had asked for the court to completely dissolve the Belgian branch of Scientology and the affiliated European Bureau for Human Rights, and for them to face a fine.
The defence team said the charges were nothing more than an attempt to blacken Scientologys reputation.
The Belgian authorities launched a first investigation in 1997 after several former members complained about the churchs practices.
A second investigation followed in 2008 when an employment agency charged that the church had attained bogus job offers so as to draw in and recruit new members.
Headquartered in Los Angeles, the Church of Scientology was founded in 1954 by science fiction novelist L Ron Hubbard. It is recognised as a religion in the US and in other countries such as Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden, and claims a worldwide membership of 12 million.
But it has come under recurred scrutiny by authorities in several European countries, particularly in Germany. Several German regions have considered banning Scientology, while Berlin initially banned the cast of the Cruise Nazi-era movie Valkyrie from filming at historical locations but subsequently relented.
A court in Spain in 2007 annulled a decision by the Spanish justice ministry to sremove it from the countrys register of officially recognised religions.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Rare victory for persecuted journalist highlights Mexico’s press freedom crisis18 days ago
Pedro Canch has finally won an apology for being jailed after he criticized a state governor. But, he asked, what about the 104 journalists killed since 2006?
Pedro Canch, an indigenous journalist and activist in the southern Mexico state of Quintana Roo, had a hunch the local authorities were closing in on him for his coverage of angry protests over rising water rates in local Mayan communities.
So he filmed a video criticizing the intensely image-conscious state governor, Roberto Borge, and uploaded it to YouTube in August 2014. Just a few days later, police pulled Canch from his car and threw him in prison on charges that he had sabotaged a local waterworks.
The charges were eventually thrown out after nine months as a judge ruled no damage had been caused, and Canch had no relationship with the protest ringleaders.
The National Human Rights Commission later ordered the state government to publicly apologize to Canch and pay compensation, but Borge refused.
This week, a new state administration apologized to Canch who took the opportunity to highlight Mexicos ongoing crisis of press freedom, and the unpunished murders of scores of journalists.
Who will ask for public apologies for the 104 journalists killed [since 2006]? Canch asked. The Mexican state owes them and their family an enormous debt.
Canch became a cause clbre in Quintana Roo and across Mexico as yet another symbol of the countrys struggle for a free press.
His is one of the few positive stories: four journalists have been murdered in Mexico in 2017, including Miroslava Breach, who covered organized crime and drug cartels and was shot dead in March as she drove her son to school in the northern city of Chihuahua. Norte, the Ciudad Jurez newspaper she wrote for, decided to close after her murder, citing journalist safety.
Journalists in Quintana Roo a state popular with tourists visiting Cancn and Playa del Carmen complain that the harassment against them came from politicians, who control the press through agreements to provide newspapers with advertising, but allow the government to control their editorial line.
In the case of Quintana Roo, media harassment always came from the government, not organized crime, said Vicente Carrera, founder of Noticaribe, an online news organization in Quintana Roo.
Carrera speaks from experience. Noticaribe caught Borge lying about his whereabouts and not disclosing he travelled to the 2011 Champions League final at Wembley. Noticaribe was hit by denial-of-service attacks for the rest of Borges term in office, which ran from 2010 to 2016.
Luces del Siglo, a muckraking magazine in Cancn, had its covers cloned during Borges administration, with covers featuring negative headlines replaced with covers featuring positive headlines and spread online. Staff say stores selling the magazine had their liquor licenses threatened, leaving them few places to sell copies.
Sergio Caballero, Cancn correspondent with newsweekly Proceso, was hit by accusations of being involved with a drug dealer charges quickly disproven.
They invented crimes rather than killing you, Caballero said of the situation in Quintana Roo, where corruption has grown rife as construction in a tourist mecca mushroomed.
The Quintana Roo coast is a jackpot, he said. They tried to present their government as impeccable. Anyone questioning that was persecuted and attacked.
Canch started a news website after his time in prison and started fighting for compensation; he had a business manufacturing deck beds and outdoor furniture for hotels in the state, which ceased operating while in prison.
His notoriety led to people slipping him information on scandals. He says it also prompted Borges Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) to try striking a deal: the PRIs 2016 gubernatorial candidate would publicly apologise and indemnify him so long as Canch publicly endorsed the PRI.
Its complicated practicing journalism in a corrupt place, he said. They corrupt you and pay you off and eventually you stop pointing out their mistakes This is what has allowed the government to be corrupt as it is.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
What the rest of Europe thinks about Londoners picking a Muslim mayor20 days ago
People living outside the UK give their views on Sadiq Khans win and whether a Muslim would be elected where they live
As Europe grapplings with the rise of anti-immigration parties, Sadiq Khans appointment as the first directly elected Muslim mayor of a western capital city is important. According to those who responded to a Guardian callout, people living in the rest of Europe welcome the choice Londoners have made.
Sadiqs appointment sends a great message to the world. It reflects Britains state of mind which, as a French person, I think is more open-minded than France, said 18 -year-old Mathilde from the south of France. It tells me that Londoners see above the religion or the race of a person.
Last year, a YouGov poll procured that 31% of those living in the capital would be uncomfortable having a Muslim mayor, and 13% are still not sure. But the 1,310, 143 people who voted for Khan have boosted Londons reputation as a multicultural, multi-faith and liberal city.
Mathilde lives in Alleins, a village not far from Marseille, which is home to 250,000 Muslims, the second largest population in France. In the 2015 regional elections Alleins citizens voted for the rightwing party Les Rpublicains( 52% ), and the far-right Front National( FN)( 48% )~ ATAGEND. In the first round of the local election Front National led, losing out in the second round to Les Rpublicains. I live in an area where, ironically, there are many Muslims but where the FN has the most success. There are definitely discriminations against Muslim people, even though its often in discreet forms.
I tend to be pointed out that Muslims are not really integrated in society but left in a corner. I guess the Paris attacks helped the rightwing parties, especially the far-right party, to become more important. In fact the regional elections happened a little while after the attacks she said.
Louis, 18, who also lives in southern France, feels that Muslim people are more integrated into society than Mathilde describes but doesnt ever expect to see a Muslim political nominee in a similar position to Khan.
For me, it doesnt matter what his religion is or where he comes from as long as hes qualified and skilled. I guess[ Khans win] highlights Londons ethnic diversity and that he won thanks to their vote, he said.
Rafiq, 70, from Switzerland, has positive experiences of Muslim people standing for local government elections and gaining referendums, despite the populist rightwing Swiss Peoples party( SVP) winning the biggest share of the vote in Switzerlands elections last year.
It seems that acts of Islamophobia are not as widespread as are sometimes reported. Like most places Switzerland has all kinds of people, but many are open-minded and friendly with neighbours who are polite and kind to my hijab-wearing wife. Several Muslims are standing during the elections and some of them get a good number of referendums, but not quite enough, he said.
Ursula, 62, from Munich believes that despite some visible rightwing sentiment Germans would vote regardless of religion.
I think that convincing characters would have equal chances , no matter their religious beliefs. I was surprised by Sadiq Khans appointment. I had expected that the non-Muslim majority would not like to be represented by a Muslim major. Maybe such a big city attracts people with an open mind?
The Muslim part of society is not very active politically. I suppose the majority still keep their distance, feeling that they should not get involved, she said.
Wolfram, a 67 -year-old from Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler in the west of Germany, has considered anti-immigration sentiment imbue where he lives and cant insure a Muslim politician being elected any time soon.
It seems that Londoners accept their history and the consequences of the empire, and the outcome dedicates hope that people with different religions can live together peacefully.
Wolfram said he could not imagine a Muslim politician being elected where he lived, certainly not in the near future. Theres a instead deep split between those who are afraid of the rise in the number of Muslim people and the other citizens who are open-minded, even about open borders for refugees.
Hanna, 24, from Helsinki, believes Khans win is important given the loathe speech and discrimination facing Muslims in Europe, the rise of rightwing parties, and what she describes as openly racist legislators in Finland.
The anti-immigration party Perussuomalaiset[ known as Finns party, or PS] got into government and people attitudes have become harder towards refugees, especially to Muslims. The foreign minister, Timo Soini, who is party leader and co-founder of PS and a Catholic, even suggested we should prefer Christian refugees.
As we took more refugees in than ever, the PS are losing advocates. But this entails some people are going for even more rightwing politics like Rajat Kiinni!( Border Shut !). On their Facebook page they openly call all Muslims rapists and terrorists.
For this reason Im happy about Khans appointment, but mostly because of his politics , not just his religion. I dont really like any organised religions, but everyones free to believe what they want. It seems to me that Londoners suppose politics are more important than what religion someone believes in. They are wise, she said.
Many respondents to the callout hope Khans win will raise the status of Muslim people living in their own towns and cities across Europe, and help to involve them more in political life.
Nesi, 44, a secondary school teacher who lives in a small city outside Madrid, hopes Khans win will go some style in contribute to improving Muslim peoples opportunities.
For the child of an ethnic minority to go into higher education, take part in politics and become a mayor, a lot of things in Spain have to change and improve. I think there must be some occurrences, but society doesnt provide equal opportunities for all children.
Political posts of any relevance are largely merely for those who go to university or belong to a rich traditional household. And certainly not for a Muslim, I am afraid to say. Spain is too conservative in general to allow a Muslim to take part in politics.
Sadiqs appointment shows that politics and important issues in the world should be about people , not religion. It also shows that a multicultural society living in peace is possible. And of course it shows what a fantastic place to live London can be, sometimes.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
One Facebook ‘like’ is all it takes to target adverts, academics find24 days ago
Online ad campaigns based on smallest expressions of preference reveal effect of mass psychological persuasion
Online ad campaigns created by academics in Britain and the US have targeted millions of people based on psychological traits perceived from a single “like” on Facebook – demonstrating, they say, the effect of “mass psychological persuasion”.
More than 3.5 million people, mostly women in the UK aged 18-40, were shown online adverts tailored to their personality type after researchers found that specific Facebook likes reflected different psychological characteristics.
The bespoke campaigns boosted clicks on ads for beauty products and gaming apps by up to 40% and sales by as much as 50% compared with untargeted adverts, according to the researchers, who did not benefit financially from the campaigns.
The work, carried out for unnamed companies, was designed to reveal how even the smallest expressions of preference online can be used to influence people’s behaviour.
“We wanted to provide some scientific evidence that psychological targeting works, to show policymakers that it works, to show people on the street that it works, and say this is what we can do simply by looking at your Facebook likes. This is the way we can influence behaviour,” said Sandra Matz, a computational social scientist at Columbia Business School in New York City.
“We used one single Facebook like per person to decide whether they were introverted or extroverted, and that was the minimum amount of information we can possibly use to make inferences about people’s personalities. And yet we still see these effects on how often people click on ads and how often people buy something,” she added.
The work has raised concerns among some in academia. Gillian Bolsover, who studies online manipulation of political opinion at the Oxford Internet Institute, said she was concerned about whose hands publicity of the research might play into.
“Does coverage of the work primarily serve as an advert to the companies that might do these things? Or does it serve to inform the public about something going on in our society that we might not be happy with and want do something about?” she said.
“If people are worried about the way technology is going, there are lots of little actions they can take to reduce the amount of data that is collected about them and to avoid supporting the practices and companies that they might feel are detrimental to society.”
Matz teamed up with researchers at the University of Cambridge who had previously created a database of millions of personality profiles of anonymous Facebook users and items they had liked. The data reveals how, on average, specific likes reflect certain personality types. For example, a like on Lady Gaga’s Facebook page is broadly the mark of an extrovert, while a like on Stargate’s page flags users who are more likely to be introverts.
The researchers then used graphics designers to create adverts aimed at either extroverts or introverts. They showed these via Facebook’s advertising platform to people who had liked a single item identifying them as one personality type or the other.
The first field experiment targeted more than 3 million UK women aged 18-40 with adverts for an online beauty retailer. More than 10,000 women clicked on the ads, leading to 390 purchases. Matching the ads to people’s personalities led to 54% more sales than mismatching them. Two further campaigns for a crossword app and a shooting game had similar results, the researchers report in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“I was surprised that we got the effect with so little information,” said Matz. “We don’t know that much about people, and yet it still has a pretty big effect. You can imagine if you were using the full Facebook profile to make individual level predictions about people’s personalities, the effects would be even bigger.”
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.
Matz believes that such mass persuasion could be put to great use – for example, by helping people to save, get a pension, or lead more healthy lives. But it could also be misused, she said. “It has the potential for abuse where you exploit weaknesses in a person’s character to make them do things they don’t want to do. We want policymakers to focus on the positive uses. If you just shut down this technology, you would lose so much potential for helping people.”
But the approach is controversial. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office is investigating whether voters were unfairly influenced online by political campaigners in the run-up to the EU referendum in 2016. The ICO’s report is expected before the end of the year.
“In a sense, it’s a natural extension of capitalism as it moves online. Of course corporations will do this,” said Bolsover. “But the increased use of corporate advertising techniques in the political system is something I think we should be worried about on a broader level.”
“Political campaigns [are] probably somewhere you don’t want it to be used,” said Matz. “We want to open it up for public discussion so people can have an informed discussion about what we want to do with our technology.”
Read more: www.theguardian.com