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Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
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Trump and Brexit: why it's again NOT the economy, stupid

For months, commentators have flocked to diagnose the ills that have supposedly propelled Trump’s support, from the Republican primaries until now. As in Britain, many have settled on a ‘left behind’ narrative – that it is the poor white working-class losers from globalization that have put Trump over the top. Only a few clairvoyants – Michael Lind, Jonathan Haidt – have seen through the stereotypes.

But, as in Britain, there’s precious little evidence this vote had much to do with personal economic circumstances. Let’s look at Trump voting among white Americans from a Birkbeck College/Policy Exchange/YouGov survey I commissioned in late August. Look at the horizontal axis running along the bottom of figure 1. In the graph I have controlled for age, education and gender, with errors clustered on states. The average white American support for Trump on a 0-10 scale in the survey is 4.29.

You can see the two Trump support lines are higher among those at the highest end of the income scale (4) than the lowest (1). This is not, however, statistically significant. What is significant is the gap between the red and blue lines. A full two points in Trump support around a mean of 4.29. This huge spread reflects the difference between two groups of people giving different answers to a highly innocuous question: ‘Is it more important for a child to be considerate or well-mannered?’ The answers sound almost identical, but social psychologists know that ‘considerate’ taps other-directed emotions while ‘well-mannered’ is about respect for authority.

People’s answer to this question matters for Trump support because it taps into a cultural worldview sometimes known as Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA). Rather than RWA, which is a loaded term, I would prefer to characterise this as the difference between those who prefer order and those who seek novelty. Social psychologist Karen Stenner presciently wrote that diversity and difference tends to alarm right-wing authoritarians, who seek order and stability. This, and not class, is what cuts the electoral pie in many western countries these days. Income and material circumstances, as a recent review of research on immigration attitudes suggests, is not especially important for understanding right-wing populism.


Russian propaganda effort helped spread 'fake news' during election, experts say

Source: Washington Post

The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.

Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of Web sites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia.

Two teams of independent researchers found that the Russians exploited American-made technology platforms to attack U.S. democracy at a particularly vulnerable moment, as an insurgent candidate harnessed a wide range of grievances to claim the White House. The sophistication of the Russian tactics may complicate efforts by Facebook and Google to crack down on “fake news,” as they have vowed to do after widespread complaints about the problem.

There is no way to know whether the Russian campaign proved decisive in electing Trump, but researchers portray it as part of a broadly effective strategy of sowing distrust in U.S. democracy and its leaders. The tactics included penetrating the computers of election officials in several states and releasing troves of hacked emails that embarrassed Clinton in the final months of her campaign.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/russian-propaganda-effort-helped-spread-fake-news-during-election-experts-say/2016/11/24/793903b6-8a40-4ca9-b712-716af66098fe_story.html

With a Meeting, Trump Renewed a British Wind Farm Fight

Source: New York Times

LONDON When President-elect Donald J. Trump met with the British politician Nigel Farage in recent days, he encouraged Mr. Farage and his entourage to oppose the kind of offshore wind farms that Mr. Trump believes will mar the pristine view from one of his two Scottish golf courses, according to one person present.

The meeting, held shortly after the presidential election, raises new questions about Mr. Trump's willingness to use the power of the presidency to advance his business interests. Mr. Trump has long opposed a wind farm planned near his course in Aberdeenshire, and he previously fought unsuccessfully all the way to Britains highest court to block it.


Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Mr. Trumps transition office, at first disputed that Mr. Trump had raised the subject of wind farms with Mr. Farage, suggesting that participants in the conversation denied this took place. However, when pressed with the fact that one of the meeting's attendees, Mr. Wigmore, had described the conversation in detail, she declined repeated requests to comment.

Amanda Miller, vice president for marketing at the Trump Organization, also declined through a spokeswoman to comment.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/business/with-a-meeting-trump-renewed-a-british-wind-farm-fight.html

Not just another emerging Trump conflict-of-interest story, but also another example of Trump's spindoctors swearing blind something didn't happen when it provably did.

I hesitate to give the Express clicks, but it is UKIP's house newspaper, so here's its version of the story:

Donald Trump's opening shot: The wind farm at his golf course

The US President-elect used his first meeting with a British politician since his shock White House victory to criticise the Scottish government for allowing the country to become over-run with wind farms.

In a meeting with the interim Ukip leader Nigel Farage and his team at Trump Tower in New York last weekend, the business tycoon launched into a tirade against the eyesores, which he has previously branded unattractive, ugly, noisy and dangerous.


"... one thing Mr Trump kept returning to was the issue of wind farms. He is a complete Anglophile and also absolutely adores Scotland which he thinks is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. But he is dismayed that his beloved Scotland has become over-run with ugly wind farms which he believes are a blight on the stunning landscape.

Mr Trump has fought a long-running battle against a wind farm off the coast from his Aberdeenshire course, Trump International Golf Links, which he has previously called an act of public vandalism.


Trump has tried in the past to use the experimental Vattenfall wind farm development, sited a couple of miles off the coast of his golf course at Menie in Aberdeenshire, as an excuse for not fulfilling his original promises of massive investment and job creation in the area. In reality, he didn't have enough money to complete the development, as he announced before the wind farm even became an issue: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/jun/20/donald-trump-golf-resort-scotland .

Trump's also yet again displaying his ignorance of British politics and the fact that his beloved Scotland is a politically distinct country within the UK - the day after the Brexit referendum, he landed at his other Scottish golf course at Turnberry to crow and congratulate the Scottish people for voting Leave; in reality, Scotland voted overwhelmingly for Remain.

UKIP's support in Scotland is extremely thin on the ground, and Nigel Farage can barely set foot in Edinburgh without being cornered in a pub by an excited mob, so his chances of campaigning successfully against offshore investment in wind farms - even if he could be bothered, which I doubt as he prefers his targets human and vulnerable - are, well, slim.

Trump got drubbed in the UK Supreme Court in his last battle on this issue, and it obviously still rankles. Trying to throw his weight around in Scotland again - even as POTUS - is highly likely to backfire. He's not popular here, other than with paid-off lackeys and the usual idiots and arselickers, who mercifully aren't all that numerous, and we desperately need investment in harnessing the vast renewable energy resources that surround us. Much more than we need yet another golf course run by a buffoonish megalomaniac, for sure.

Zuckerberg's Plan To Battle Fake News Sets Off "Widespread Panic" Among Big Conservative Pages

Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to help reduce the spread of misinformation on Facebook has set of a “widespread panic” among some owners of the biggest hyperpartisan conservative pages.

Cyrus Massoumi, the owner of Mr. Conservative, which has 2.2 million fans, told BuzzFeed News he and his fellow publishers find Zuckerberg’s guidelines “terrifying” and “extremely wide open to interpretation.”

“To someone who was reading between the lines to understand what he meant, it didn’t really make any sense to a publisher,” Massoumi said. “It was terrifying to read.”

Massoumi spoke exclusively with BuzzFeed News with the blessing of a group of other major conservative page owners so he could raise their concerns with Zuckerberg’s post, explain why some hyperpartisan pages on the right published false and misleading content, and to share their proposal for solving the problem. Their goal is to land an audience with senior executives at Facebook to talk more.



How The 2016 Election Blew Up In Facebook’s Face

As midnight approached on November 6, 2012, a newly re-elected Barack Obama tweeted a photo of himself embracing the first lady, with the message “four more years.” The president’s election night tweet went unprecedentedly viral, racking up more than 500,000 retweets within a few hours and capping the most active day in Twitter history. Meanwhile, on Facebook, a network four times Twitter’s size, the same photo had fewer than 100,000 shares — evidence the energy around current events was elsewhere. It was a triumph for Twitter, a rare occasion when the little bird out-sang its big blue brother. At Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, it was an alarm bell ringing loudly in the middle of the night, a call to action.

Four years later, Facebook couldn’t be more relevant. The platform played a defining role in the 2016 election — but perhaps not for the reason it hoped. In the days after the vote, it’s come under fire for creating an infrastructure that played to confirmation bias and allowed political-meme-makers, sensationalists, and fake news purveyors to thrive — and perhaps even alter the election’s outcome. The company’s influence was so apparent that when CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied that the fake news coursing through its system influenced the election his own employees disputed him.

And while it was likely never the company’s intent to create a system that encouraged people to hear only what they wanted — whether or not it was true — Facebook didn’t get here by accident. It made a huge push over the last four years to be a destination for news, indeed, to be your “perfect personalized newspaper.” Since that Obama tweet, the company retooled its platform, creating a system designed to make it easier to share and promote timely and trending stories and to help them spread rapidly across its network. In the process, Facebook, with its 1.79 billion monthly active users, grew to more than five times the size of Twitter.

The promise of tapping into this lightning enticed massive news organizations to go all in on Facebook. But those enhanced sharing and interaction mechanisms, coupled with changing platform dynamics, created a system that catered to reinforcing existing world views. Facebook’s News Feed algorithm prioritizes sharing and time spent reading articles, but in a scroll-through world these measurements are prone to reward material that doesn’t challenge you. This in turn enabled a host of loose-with-the-truth upstarts to use it, at times, even more successfully than mainstream news organizations to go mega-viral.


Donald Trump's media summit was a 'f--ing firing squad'

Source: New York Post

President-elect Donald Trump exploded at media bigs in an off-the-record Trump Tower powow on Monday, sources told The Post.

"It was like a f--ing firing squad," said one source.

"Trump started with Jeff Zucker and said I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed."

"The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing down," the source added.

Read more: http://nypost.com/2016/11/21/donald-trumps-media-summit-was-a-f-ing-firing-squad/

Another account, from Politico (so pinches of salt, as ever):

Trump asks for media 'reset,' but lashes out at execs

President-elect Donald Trump on Monday told a group of about 25 television executives and anchors that he wants a “cordial” and “productive” relationship with the media, according to one source in the room, but he still aired some grievances during the off-the-record gathering in Trump Tower.

The source said the meeting started with a typical Trump complaint about the “dishonest media,” and that he specifically singled out CNN and NBC News for example as “the worst.”

He also complained about photos of himself that NBC used that he found unflattering, the source said.

Trump turned to NBC News President Deborah Turness at one point, the source said, and told her the network won’t run a nice picture of him, instead choosing “this picture of me,” as he made a face with a double chin. Turness replied that they had a “very nice” picture of him on their website at the moment.


The shift in media's business model played a critical role in Trump's victory

Like many populist leaders, Donald Trump skillfully exploited the media obsession for immediacy and page views.

In French journalism, especially in radio and TV, we have an expression that says it all: "He (or she) is a bon client". Literally, a good customer, an endless provider of soundbites and juicy quotes that will jump to the top of the news cycle. The most spectacular, the semantically simplest wins the prize. The "good customer" delivers strong, punchy lines. These can be superficial and even untrue, but only the tune matters, not the lyrics. That has been the case for countless populist leaders, from the French alt-right Marine LePen, to Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte and, of course, Donald Trump.

Across the board, the media love such fodder. Including mainstream, legacy news outlets. Years ago, draping themselves in the sanctity of journalism, these news organizations kept deriding the clickbait news machines that arose from the internet. "We are not in the same business, they are craving for clicks, we do serious journalism".

Today, the lines are blurred. Digital native outlets contribute to good journalism — Buzzfeed, to take one example, has landed numerous great pieces over the last months — but legacy media have largely succumbed to the dictatorship of traffic growth, hence the appeal of the "good customer".


Beyond Trump and Putin: The American Alt-Right's Love of the Kremlin's Policies

In late August, in a speech delineating white nationalist support for Donald Trump, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton unveiled a new title for Russian President Vladimir Putin: "The Grand Godfather of Extreme Nationalism. With the sinecure, Clinton sought to directly link the odious policies of her Republican counterpart — namely, mainstreaming a racialized, white supremacist discourse the United States had not seen at such levels in a generation — to those brought to bear under Putin’s third term.

The epithet built upon one of the pillars of Clinton’s campaign which, in turn, built upon the primary campaign of former GOP contender, and current Ohio governor, John Kasich. That is, in addition to Trump’s outright praise for Putin's leadership, as well as his murky, secretive financial ties to those close to the Kremlin, Clinton tied Trump to the Kremlin’s campaign of stoking hyper-nationalistic movements throughout the West.

As a rhetorical device, the title remains a flurry of brilliance. Not only does the terminology help highlight the Kremlin's kleptocratic coterie — with Putin as don, as mafioso — but it also further emphasized Clinton’s grasp of Moscow’s policies, and the motivations therein. As seen with Hungary’s Jobbik, with France’s National Front, with Greece’s Golden Dawn, those far-right movements sprouting throughout Europe have found a counterpart in Trump’s hostile takeover of the Republican Party. And much as Trump has aped the rotted, regressive policies of Putin-friendly leaders throughout Europe — see: Hungary’s Viktor Orban — so, too, has he helped give a national platform to the groups and movements that have not only fueled a resurgence of white nationalism in the United States, but who have gone out of their way to praise, of all international leaders, Putin. These groups, as noted in Clinton’s speech, include the "alt-right," a gathering of fascists and white nationalists who would Balkanize the United States or who would return the country to a bygone era of white supremacy, but also extend to the secessionists and Christian fundamentalists further propping Trump’s campaign.

Of course, certain critics of Clinton, ranging from Trumpian outlets like Breitbart to lefty journalists with little grasp on post-Soviet developments, tabbed her speech as conspiratorial, or as baseless fear-mongering. But those voices overlook the breadth of evidence linking American far-right groups to Kremlin-friendly policies, and in certain cases directly to Kremlin financing. While the phenomena of fascistic, hard-right support for Moscow within Europe has been well-documented elsewhere, most especially by Anton Shekhovtsov and Alina Polyakova, among others, the parallel networks and linkages within the United States have seen depressingly little coverage. Indeed, while "praise of Putin by [Europe’s] far-right leaders" becomes "commonplace," as Polyakova wrote, so, too, has the pro-Kremlin fealty from far-right leaders in America, almost all of whom uniformly back Trump.


Written in October. Even more relevant today.

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