Trump calls for death penalties for drug dealers as focus of opioids plan

Trumps policy rollout focuses on punishment for dealers and traffickers but doesnt propose new legislation to combat the crisis

Donald Trump called on Monday for some drug dealers to receive the death penalty in a new opioids policy rollout in New Hampshire, a state hard hit by the national crisis.

Were wasting our time if we dont get tough with drug dealers, and that toughness includes the death penalty, said Trump in typically combative style.

He later added: The ultimate penalty has to be the death penalty. Maybe our country is not ready for that, its possible, its possible. Trump said personally I cant understand that about those opposed to such drastic measures.

Some states already charge drug dealers with murder if customers overdose. In Florida, people who provide cocaine, heroin or the powerful opioid fentanyl to a person who dies from using the drug in question can be charged with first-degree murder and sentenced to either life in prison or death.

Drug-induced homicide laws, which emerged in the 1980s, are being used more frequently because of the opioids crisis, according to a November 2017 report by the Drug Policy Alliance. However, there is no evidence that such laws reduce drug use.

On Monday Trump was effectively sending a message to prosecutors to be harsher on drug dealers, who traffic in street drugs like heroin as well as black market prescription painkillers, such as OxyContin, and various versions of the potent narcotic fentanyl. But he did not call specifically for legislation to expand use of the death penalty for federal drug crimes.

The justice department said the federal death penalty is already available for limited drug-related offenses, including violations of the drug kingpin provisions of federal law.

The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, attended the event on Monday and sat next to Melania Trump. The DoJ later issued a statement, saying: At the Department of Justice, we have made ending the drug epidemic a priority. We will continue to aggressively prosecute drug traffickers and we will use federal law to seek the death penalty wherever appropriate.

Doug Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University, said it was not clear federal death sentences for drug dealers, even for those whose product causes multiple deaths, would be constitutional. Berman said the issue would be litigated extensively and would have to be definitively decided by the supreme court.

New Hampshire has been hit hard by the opioid crisis, a fact Trump acknowledged last August when he said: We have the drug lords in Mexico that are knocking the hell out of our country. They are sending drugs to Chicago, Los Angeles, and to New York. Up in New Hampshire I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den [it] is coming from the southern border.

The comment caused offence in the state, with the Democratic senator Maggie Hassan responding: Instead of insulting people in the throes of addiction, [Trump] needs to work across party lines to actually stem the tide of this crisis.

Though Trump is visiting to lobby for harsher sentencing for opioid-related crimes, New Hampshire is one of many states now pushing criminal justice reform.

On Monday, the state judiciary announced it would review bail policies, after nationwide criticism of courts that serve as de facto debtors prisons for people too poor to pay bail.

In 2012, substance use disorders such as opioid dependence cost New Hampshire $284m in criminal justice costs. More than half of jail and prison costs in the state are attributed to drug abuse, according to a report by the advocacy group New Futures. Nationally, 76% of inmates are believed to have substance use disorders, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Trump, who aims to be seen as tough on crime, has repeatedly highlighted his preference for the ultimate penalty for drug dealers.

At a Pennsylvania rally this month, Trump told supporters countries like Singapore have fewer issues with drug addiction because they harshly punish dealers. He argued that a person in the US can get the death penalty or life in prison for shooting one person, but a drug dealer who potentially kills thousands can spend little or no time in jail.

The only way to solve the drug problem is through toughness, Trump said in remarks he echoed on Monday.

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‘Solve drug problem through toughness’: Trump advocates death penalty for drug dealers video

Trump also wants Congress to pass legislation reducing the amount of drugs needed to trigger mandatory minimum sentences for traffickers who knowingly distribute certain opioids, said Andrew Bremberg, Trumps domestic policy director, who briefed reporters on the White House plan.

The president was joined in New Hampshire by the first lady, Melania Trump, who has shown an interest in the issue, particularly as it pertains to her focus on child welfare.

Trumps plan concerns law enforcement and interdiction to break the international and domestic flow of drugs into and across the US. It also includes broadening education and awareness, expanding access to treatment and recovery effortsand government funding for efforts to develop non-addictive painkillers. He also said that the Department of Justice was looking very seriously into bringing major litigation against some of these drug companies. Leading opioids makers in the US are already engulfed in a flurry of civil litigation brought by cities, counties and states.

Opioids, including prescription opioids, heroin and synthetic drugs such as fentanyl, killed more than 42,000 people in the US in 2016, more than any year on record, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Q&A

Why is there an opioid crisis in America?

Almost 100 people are dying every day across America from opioid overdoses more than car crashes and shootings combined. The majority of these fatalities reveal widespread addiction to powerful prescription painkillers. The crisis unfolded in the mid-90s when the US pharmaceutical industry began marketing legal narcotics, particularly OxyContin, to treat everyday pain. This slow-release opioid was vigorously promoted to doctors and, amid lax regulation and slick sales tactics, people were assured it was safe. But the drug was akin to luxury morphine, doled out like super aspirin, and highly addictive. What resulted was a commercial triumph and a public health tragedy. Belated efforts to rein in distribution fueled a resurgence of heroin and the emergence of a deadly, black market version of the synthetic opioid fentanyl. The crisis is so deep because it affects all races, regions and incomes

We call it the crisis next door because everyone knows someone, said Kellyanne Conway, a senior Trump adviser. This is no longer somebody elses community, somebody elses kid, somebody elses co-worker.

  • The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/mar/19/donald-trump-death-penalty-drug-dealers-opioids-new-hampshire

I made Steve Bannons psychological warfare tool: meet the data war whistleblower

Christopher Wylie goes on the record to discuss his role in hijacking the profiles of millions of Facebook users in order to target the US electorate

The first time I met Christopher Wylie, he didnt yet have pink hair. That comes later. As does his mission to rewind time. To put the genie back in the bottle.

By the time I met him in person, Id already been talking to him on a daily basis for hours at a time. On the phone, he was clever, funny, bitchy, profound, intellectually ravenous, compelling. A master storyteller. A politicker. A data science nerd.

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Cambridge Analytica whistleblower: ‘We spent $1m harvesting millions of Facebook profiles’ video

Two months later, when he arrived in London from Canada, he was all those things in the flesh. And yet the flesh was impossibly young. He was 27 then (hes 28 now), a fact that has always seemed glaringly at odds with what he has done. He may have played a pivotal role in the momentous political upheavals of 2016. At the very least, he played a consequential role. At 24, he came up with an idea that led to the foundation of a company called Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that went on to claim a major role in the Leave campaign for Britains EU membership referendum, and later became a key figure in digital operations during Donald Trumps election campaign.

Or, as Wylie describes it, he was the gay Canadian vegan who somehow ended up creating Steve Bannons psychological warfare mindfuck tool.

In 2014, Steve Bannon then executive chairman of the alt-right news network Breitbart was Wylies boss. And Robert Mercer, the secretive US hedge-fund billionaire and Republican donor, was Cambridge Analyticas investor. And the idea they bought into was to bring big data and social media to an established military methodology information operations then turn it on the US electorate.

It was Wylie who came up with that idea and oversaw its realisation. And it was Wylie who, last spring, became my source. In May 2017, I wrote an article headlined The great British Brexit robbery, which set out a skein of threads that linked Brexit to Trump to Russia. Wylie was one of a handful of individuals who provided the evidence behind it. I found him, via another Cambridge Analytica ex-employee, lying low in Canada: guilty, brooding, indignant, confused. I havent talked about this to anyone, he said at the time. And then he couldnt stop talking.

Explainer embed

By that time, Steve Bannon had become Trumps chief strategist. Cambridge Analyticas parent company, SCL, had won contracts with the US State Department and was pitching to the Pentagon, and Wylie was genuinely freaked out. Its insane, he told me one night. The company has created psychological profiles of 230 million Americans. And now they want to work with the Pentagon? Its like Nixon on steroids.

He ended up showing me a tranche of documents that laid out the secret workings behind Cambridge Analytica. And in the months following publication of my article in May,it was revealed that the company had reached out to WikiLeaks to help distribute Hillary Clintons stolen emails in 2016. And then we watched as it became a subject of special counsel Robert Muellers investigation into possible Russian collusion in the US election.

The Observer also received the first of three letters from Cambridge Analytica threatening to sue Guardian News and Media for defamation. We are still only just starting to understand the maelstrom of forces that came together to create the conditions for what Mueller confirmed last month was information warfare. But Wylie offers a unique, worms-eye view of the events of 2016. Of how Facebook was hijacked, repurposed to become a theatre of war: how it became a launchpad for what seems to be an extraordinary attack on the USs democratic process.

Wylie oversaw what may have been the first critical breach. Aged 24, while studying for a PhD in fashion trend forecasting, he came up with a plan to harvest the Facebook profiles of millions of people in the US, and to use their private and personal information to create sophisticated psychological and political profiles. And then target them with political ads designed to work on their particular psychological makeup.

We broke Facebook, he says.

And he did it on behalf of his new boss, Steve Bannon.

Is it fair to say you hacked Facebook? I ask him one night.

He hesitates. Ill point out that I assumed it was entirely legal and above board.

Last month, Facebooks UK director of policy, Simon Milner, told British MPs on a select committee inquiry into fake news, chaired by Conservative MP Damian Collins, that Cambridge Analytica did not have Facebook data. The official Hansard extract reads:

Christian Matheson (MP for Chester): Have you ever passed any user information over to Cambridge Analytica or any of its associated companies?

Simon Milner: No.

Matheson: But they do hold a large chunk of Facebooks user data, dont they?

Milner: No. They may have lots of data, but it will not be Facebook user data. It may be data about people who are on Facebook that they have gathered themselves, but it is not data that we have provided.

Alexander
Alexander Nix, Cambridge Analytica CEO. Photograph: The Washington Post/Getty Images

Two weeks later, on 27 February, as part of the same parliamentary inquiry, Rebecca Pow, MP for Taunton Deane, asked Cambridge Analyticas CEO, Alexander Nix: Does any of the data come from Facebook? Nix replied: We do not work with Facebook data and we do not have Facebook data.

And through it all, Wylie and I, plus a handful of editors and a small, international group of academics and researchers, have known that at least in 2014 that certainly wasnt the case, because Wylie has the paper trail. In our first phone call, he told me he had the receipts, invoices, emails, legal letters records that showed how, between June and August 2014, the profiles of more than 50 million Facebook users had been harvested. Most damning of all, he had a letter from Facebooks own lawyers admitting that Cambridge Analytica had acquired the data illegitimately.

Going public involves an enormous amount of risk. Wylie is breaking a non-disclosure agreement and risks being sued. He is breaking the confidence of Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer.

Its taken a rollercoaster of a year to help get Wylie to a place where its possible for him to finally come forward. A year in which Cambridge Analytica has been the subject of investigations on both sides of the Atlantic Robert Muellers in the US, and separate inquiries by the Electoral Commission and the Information Commissioners Office in the UK, both triggered in February 2017, after the Observers first article in this investigation.

It has been a year, too, in which Wylie has been trying his best to rewind to undo events that he set in motion. Earlier this month, he submitted a dossier of evidence to the Information Commissioners Office and the National Crime Agencys cybercrime unit. He is now in a position to go on the record: the data nerd who came in from the cold.

There are many points where this story could begin. One is in 2012, when Wylie was 21 and working for the Liberal Democrats in the UK, then in government as junior coalition partners. His career trajectory has been, like most aspects of his life so far, extraordinary, preposterous, implausible.

Profile

Cambridge Analytica: the key players

Alexander Nix, CEO

An Old Etonian with a degree from Manchester University, Nix, 42, worked as a financial analyst in Mexico and the UK before joining SCL, a strategic communications firm, in 2003. From 2007 he took over the companys elections division, and claims to have worked on 260 campaigns globally. He set up Cambridge Analytica to work in America, with investment from RobertMercer.

Aleksandr Kogan, data miner

Aleksandr Kogan was born in Moldova and lived in Moscow until the age of seven, then moved with his family to the US, where he became a naturalised citizen. He studied at the University of California, Berkeley, and got his PhD at the University of Hong Kong before joining Cambridge as a lecturer in psychology and expert in social media psychometrics. He set up Global Science Research (GSR) to carry out CAs data research. While at Cambridge he accepted a position at St Petersburg State University, and also took Russian government grants for research. He changed his name to Spectre when he married, but later reverted to Kogan.

Steve Bannon, former board member

A former investment banker turned alt-right media svengali, Steve Bannon was boss at website Breitbart when he met Christopher Wylie and Nix and advised Robert Mercer to invest in political data research by setting up CA. In August 2016 he became Donald Trumps campaign CEO. Bannon encouraged the reality TV star to embrace the populist, economic nationalist agenda that would carry him into the White House. That earned Bannon the post of chief strategist to the president and for a while he was arguably the second most powerful man in America. By August 2017 his relationship with Trump had soured and he was out.

Robert Mercer, investor

Robert Mercer, 71, is a computer scientist and hedge fund billionaire, who used his fortune to become one of the most influential men in US politics as a top Republican donor. An AI expert, he made a fortune with quantitative trading pioneers Renaissance Technologies, then built a $60m war chest to back conservative causes by using an offshore investment vehicle to avoid US tax.

Rebekah Mercer, investor

Rebekah Mercer has a maths degree from Stanford, and worked as a trader, but her influence comes primarily from her fathers billions. The fortysomething, the second of Mercers three daughters, heads up the family foundation which channels money to rightwing groups. The conservative megadonors backed Breitbart, Bannon and, most influentially, poured millions into Trumps presidential campaign.

Wylie grew up in British Columbia and as a teenager he was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. He left school at 16 without a single qualification. Yet at 17, he was working in the office of the leader of the Canadian opposition; at 18, he went to learn all things data from Obamas national director of targeting, which he then introduced to Canada for the Liberal party. At 19, he taught himself to code, and in 2010, age 20, he came to London to study law at the London School of Economics.

Politics is like the mob, though, he says. You never really leave. I got a call from the Lib Dems. They wanted to upgrade their databases and voter targeting. So, I combined working for them with studying for my degree.

Politics is also where he feels most comfortable. He hated school, but as an intern in the Canadian parliament he discovered a world where he could talk to adults and they would listen. He was the kid who did the internet stuff and within a year he was working for the leader of the opposition.

Hes one of the brightest people you will ever meet, a senior politician whos known Wylie since he was 20 told me. Sometimes thats a blessing and sometimes a curse.

Meanwhile, at Cambridge Universitys Psychometrics Centre, two psychologists, Michal Kosinski and David Stillwell, were experimenting with a way of studying personality by quantifying it.

Starting in 2007,Stillwell, while a student, had devised various apps for Facebook, one of which, a personality quiz called myPersonality, had gone viral. Users were scored on big five personality traits Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism and in exchange, 40% of them consented to give him access to their Facebook profiles. Suddenly, there was a way of measuring personality traits across the population and correlating scores against Facebook likes across millions of people.

An
Examples, above and below, of the visual messages trialled by GSRs online profiling test. Respondents were asked: How important should this message be to all Americans?

The research was original, groundbreaking and had obvious possibilities. They had a lot of approaches from the security services, a member of the centre told me. There was one called You Are What You Like and it was demonstrated to the intelligence services. And it showed these odd patterns; that, for example, people who liked I hate Israel on Facebook also tended to like Nike shoes and KitKats.

There are agencies that fund research on behalf of the intelligence services. And they were all over this research. That one was nicknamed Operation KitKat.

The defence and military establishment were the first to see the potential of the research. Boeing, a major US defence contractor, funded Kosinskis PhD and Darpa, the US governments secretive Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is cited in at least two academic papers supporting Kosinskis work.

But when, in 2013, the first major paper was published, others saw this potential too, including Wylie. He had finished his degree and had started his PhD in fashion forecasting, and was thinking about the Lib Dems. It is fair to say that he didnt have a clue what he was walking into.

An

I wanted to know why the Lib Dems sucked at winning elections when they used to run the country up to the end of the 19th century, Wylie explains. And I began looking at consumer and demographic data to see what united Lib Dem voters, because apart from bits of Wales and the Shetlands its weird, disparate regions. And what I found is there were no strong correlations. There was no signal in the data.

And then I came across a paper about how personality traits could be a precursor to political behaviour, and it suddenly made sense. Liberalism is correlated with high openness and low conscientiousness, and when you think of Lib Dems theyre absent-minded professors and hippies. Theyre the early adopters theyre highly open to new ideas. And it just clicked all of a sudden.

Here was a way for the party to identify potential new voters. The only problem was that the Lib Dems werent interested.

I did this presentation at which I told them they would lose half their 57 seats, and they were like: Why are you so pessimistic? They actually lost all but eight of their seats, FYI.

Another Lib Dem connection introduced Wylie to a company called SCL Group, one of whose subsidiaries, SCL Elections, would go on to create Cambridge Analytica (an incorporated venture between SCL Elections and Robert Mercer, funded by the latter). For all intents and purposes, SCL/Cambridge Analytica are one and the same.

Alexander Nix, then CEO of SCL Elections, made Wylie an offer he couldnt resist. He said: Well give you total freedom. Experiment. Come and test out all your crazy ideas.

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Another example of the visual messages trialled by GSRs online profiling test.

In the history of bad ideas, this turned out to be one of the worst. The job was research director across the SCL group, a private contractor that has both defence and elections operations. Its defence arm was a contractor to the UKs Ministry of Defence and the USs Department of Defense, among others. Its expertise was in psychological operations or psyops changing peoples minds not through persuasion but through informational dominance, a set of techniques that includes rumour, disinformation and fake news.

SCL Elections had used a similar suite of tools in more than 200 elections around the world, mostly in undeveloped democracies that Wylie would come to realise were unequipped to defend themselves.

Wylie holds a British Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa a UK work visa given to just 200 people a year. He was working inside government (with the Lib Dems) as a political strategist with advanced data science skills. But no one, least of all him, could have predicted what came next. When he turned up at SCLs offices in Mayfair, he had no clue that he was walking into the middle of a nexus of defence and intelligence projects, private contractors and cutting-edge cyberweaponry.

The thing I think about all the time is, what if Id taken a job at Deloitte instead? They offered me one. I just think if Id taken literally any other job, Cambridge Analytica wouldnt exist. You have no idea how much I brood on this.

A few months later, in autumn 2013, Wylie met Steve Bannon. At the time, he was editor-in-chief of Breitbart, which he had brought to Britain to support his friend Nigel Farage in his mission to take Britain out of the European Union.

What was he like?

Smart, says Wylie. Interesting. Really interested in ideas. Hes the only straight man Ive ever talked to about intersectional feminist theory. He saw its relevance straightaway to the oppressions that conservative, young white men feel.

Wylie meeting Bannon was the moment petrol was poured on a flickering flame. Wylie lives for ideas. He speaks 19 to the dozen for hours at a time. He had a theory to prove. And at the time, this was a purely intellectual problem. Politics was like fashion, he told Bannon.

[Bannon] got it immediately. He believes in the whole Andrew Breitbart doctrine that politics is downstream from culture, so to change politics you need to change culture. And fashion trends are a useful proxy for that. Trump is like a pair of Uggs, or Crocs, basically. So how do you get from people thinking Ugh. Totally ugly to the moment when everyone is wearing them? That was the inflection point he was looking for.

But Wylie wasnt just talking about fashion. He had recently been exposed to a new discipline: information operations, which ranks alongside land, sea, air and space in the US militarys doctrine of the five-dimensional battle space. His brief ranged across the SCL Group the British government has paid SCL to conduct counter-extremism operations in the Middle East, and the US Department of Defense has contracted it to work in Afghanistan.

I tell him that another former employee described the firm as MI6 for hire, and Id never quite understood it.

Its like dirty MI6 because youre not constrained. Theres no having to go to a judge to apply for permission. Its normal for a market research company to amass data on domestic populations. And if youre working in some country and theres an auxiliary benefit to a current client with aligned interests, well thats just a bonus.

When I ask how Bannon even found SCL, Wylie tells me what sounds like a tall tale, though its one he can back up with an email about how Mark Block, a veteran Republican strategist, happened to sit next to a cyberwarfare expert for the US air force on a plane. And the cyberwarfare guy is like, Oh, you should meet SCL. They do cyberwarfare for elections.

U.S.
Steve Bannon: He loved the gays, says Wylie. He saw us as early adopters. Photograph: Tony Gentile/Reuters

It was Bannon who took this idea to the Mercers: Robert Mercer the co-CEO of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, who used his billions to pursue a rightwing agenda, donating to Republican causes and supporting Republican candidates and his daughter Rebekah.

Nix and Wylie flew to New York to meet the Mercers in Rebekahs Manhattan apartment.

She loved me. She was like, Oh we need more of your type on our side!

Your type?

The gays. She loved the gays. So did Steve [Bannon]. He saw us as early adopters. He figured, if you can get the gays on board, everyone else will follow. Its why he was so into the whole Milo [Yiannopoulos] thing.

Robert Mercer was a pioneer in AI and machine translation. He helped invent algorithmic trading which replaced hedge fund managers with computer programs and he listened to Wylies pitch. It was for a new kind of political message-targeting based on an influential and groundbreaking 2014 paper researched at Cambridges Psychometrics Centre, called: Computer-based personality judgments are more accurate than those made by humans.

In politics, the money man is usually the dumbest person in the room. Whereas its the opposite way around with Mercer, says Wylie. He said very little, but he really listened. He wanted to understand the science. And he wanted proof that it worked.

And to do that, Wylie needed data.

How Cambridge Analytica acquired the data has been the subject of internal reviews at Cambridge University, of many news articles and much speculation and rumour.

When Nix was interviewed by MPs last month, Damian Collins asked him:

Does any of your data come from Global Science Research company?

Nix: GSR?

Collins: Yes.

Nix: We had a relationship with GSR. They did some research for us back in 2014. That research proved to be fruitless and so the answer is no.

Collins: They have not supplied you with data or information?

Nix: No.

Collins: Your datasets are not based on information you have received from them?

Nix: No.

Collins: At all?

Nix: At all.

The problem with Nixs response to Collins is that Wylie has a copy of an executed contract, dated 4 June 2014, which confirms that SCL, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, entered into a commercial arrangement with a company called Global Science Research (GSR), owned by Cambridge-based academic Aleksandr Kogan, specifically premised on the harvesting and processing of Facebook data, so that it could be matched to personality traits and voter rolls.

He has receipts showing that Cambridge Analytica spent $7m to amass this data, about $1m of it with GSR. He has the bank records and wire transfers. Emails reveal Wylie first negotiated with Michal Kosinski, one of the co-authors of the original myPersonality research paper, to use the myPersonality database. But when negotiations broke down, another psychologist, Aleksandr Kogan, offered a solution that many of his colleagues considered unethical. He offered to replicate Kosinski and Stilwells research and cut them out of the deal. For Wylie it seemed a perfect solution. Kosinski was asking for $500,000 for the IP but Kogan said he could replicate it and just harvest his own set of data. (Kosinski says the fee was to fund further research.)

Dr
An unethical solution? Dr Aleksandr Kogan Photograph: alex kogan

Kogan then set up GSR to do the work, and proposed to Wylie they use the data to set up an interdisciplinary institute working across the social sciences. What happened to that idea, I ask Wylie. It never happened. I dont know why. Thats one of the things that upsets me the most.

It was Bannons interest in culture as war that ignited Wylies intellectual concept. But it was Robert Mercers millions that created a firestorm. Kogan was able to throw money at the hard problem of acquiring personal data: he advertised for people who were willing to be paid to take a personality quiz on Amazons Mechanical Turk and Qualtrics. At the end of which Kogans app, called thisismydigitallife, gave him permission to access their Facebook profiles. And not just theirs, but their friends too. On average, each seeder the people who had taken the personality test, around 320,000 in total unwittingly gave access to at least 160 other peoples profiles, none of whom would have known or had reason to suspect.

What the email correspondence between Cambridge Analytica employees and Kogan shows is that Kogan had collected millions of profiles in a matter of weeks. But neither Wylie nor anyone else at Cambridge Analytica had checked that it was legal. It certainly wasnt authorised. Kogan did have permission to pull Facebook data, but for academic purposes only. Whats more, under British data protection laws, its illegal for personal data to be sold to a third party without consent.

Facebook could see it was happening, says Wylie. Their security protocols were triggered because Kogans apps were pulling this enormous amount of data, but apparently Kogan told them it was for academic use. So they were like, Fine.

Kogan maintains that everything he did was legal and he had a close working relationship with Facebook, which had granted him permission for his apps.

Cambridge Analytica had its data. This was the foundation of everything it did next how it extracted psychological insights from the seeders and then built an algorithm to profile millions more.

For more than a year, the reporting around what Cambridge Analytica did or didnt do for Trump has revolved around the question of psychographics, but Wylie points out: Everything was built on the back of that data. The models, the algorithm. Everything. Why wouldnt you use it in your biggest campaign ever?

In December 2015, the Guardians Harry Davies published the first report about Cambridge Analytica acquiring Facebook data and using it to support Ted Cruz in his campaign to be the US Republican candidate. But it wasnt until many months later that Facebook took action. And then, all they did was write a letter. In August 2016, shortly before the US election, and two years after the breach took place, Facebooks lawyers wrote to Wylie, who left Cambridge Analytica in 2014, and told him the data had been illicitly obtained and that GSR was not authorised to share or sell it. They said it must be deleted immediately.

Christopher
Christopher Wylie: Its like Nixon on steroids

I already had. But literally all I had to do was tick a box and sign it and send it back, and that was it, says Wylie. Facebook made zero effort to get the data back.

There were multiple copies of it. It had been emailed in unencrypted files.

Cambridge Analytica rejected all allegations the Observer put to them.

Dr Kogan who later changed his name to Dr Spectre, but has subsequently changed it back to Dr Kogan is still a faculty member at Cambridge University, a senior research associate. But what his fellow academics didnt know until Kogan revealed it in emails to the Observer (although Cambridge University says that Kogan told the head of the psychology department), is that he is also an associate professor at St Petersburg University. Further research revealed that hes received grants from the Russian government to research Stress, health and psychological wellbeing in social networks. The opportunity came about on a trip to the city to visit friends and family, he said.

There are other dramatic documents in Wylies stash, including a pitch made by Cambridge Analytica to Lukoil, Russias second biggest oil producer. In an email dated 17 July 2014, about the US presidential primaries, Nix wrote to Wylie: We have been asked to write a memo to Lukoil (the Russian oil and gas company) to explain to them how our services are going to apply to the petroleum business. Nix said that they understand behavioural microtargeting in the context of elections but that they were failing to make the connection between voters and their consumers. The work, he said, would be shared with the CEO of the business, a former Soviet oil minister and associate of Putin, Vagit Alekperov.

It didnt make any sense to me, says Wylie. I didnt understand either the email or the pitch presentation we did. Why would a Russian oil company want to target information on American voters?

Muellers investigation traces the first stages of the Russian operation to disrupt the 2016 US election back to 2014, when the Russian state made what appears to be its first concerted efforts to harness the power of Americas social media platforms, including Facebook. And it was in late summer of the same year that Cambridge Analytica presented the Russian oil company with an outline of its datasets, capabilities and methodology. The presentation had little to do with consumers. Instead, documents show it focused on election disruption techniques. The first slide illustrates how a rumour campaign spread fear in the 2007 Nigerian election in which the company worked by spreading the idea that the election would be rigged. The final slide, branded with Lukoils logo and that of SCL Group and SCL Elections, headlines its deliverables: psychographic messaging.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/17/data-war-whistleblower-christopher-wylie-faceook-nix-bannon-trump

White House indicates it could find funds to train and arm 1 million teachers

President expands on idea to arm some teachers in schools and says gun-adept teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly

The White House indicated on Thursday that the federal government could come up with the money to fund as many as a million teachers being trained and armed with guns across America in a controversial attempt to keep schools safe from more mass shootings.

This followed repeated assertions from Donald Trump during earlier meetings at the White House, as well as in presidential tweets, that his response to the school massacre in Florida last week is to arm teachers and sports coaches.

It would be a great deterrent to killers, he said.

At the White House press briefing on Thursday afternoon, Raj Shah, deputy press secretary, was asked if it was practical to expect teachers to carry concealed handguns to protect their students from shooters.

When you have a horrific situation, what you think and do not think is practical can change, Shah said.

Teachers unions have expressed shock and skepticism that any such plan could be feasible or effective.

But at a meeting at the White House with state and local officials early Thursday afternoon, Trump talked of paying bonuses to some teachers, providing highly adept people, people who understand weaponry, guns … [with] a concealed permit.

He suggested paying bonuses to armed, trained teachers, suggesting that 10, 20, 40% of teachers could be qualified to do so, especially retired military personnel.

I want my schools protected just like I want my banks protected, he said.

The White House was later challenged that 40% of Americas teachers being given a bonus of, for example, $1,000, would mean $1bn being distributed to a million of them.

Do you really think thats too much to pay for school safety? Shah responded. Shah said Trump would soon be talking to members of Congress about legislative and budgetary proposals.

Trump had earlier appeared to speak outagainst the kind of active shooter drills that are becoming the norm in many schools.

Active shooter drills is a very negative thing … Ill be honest with you. If Im a child, Im 10 years old and they say … Were going to have an active shooter drill, I say Whats that? Well, People may come in and shoot you … I think thats a very negative thing to be talking about, to be honest with you. I dont like it. Id much rather have a hardened school,he said.

But Shah explained that it was the frightening name the president disliked, not the drills themselves, and was in favor of calling them a safety drill.

He confirmed that Trump is considering supporting a rise in the age limit for purchasing an assault rifle to 21, but does not support banning assault weapons for US civilians outright. Students who survived the shooting at their high school in Parkland last week quickly began a fierce campaign calling for that measure.

In contrast to the combative tone coming from the administration, the Parkland mayor, Christine Hunschofsky, addressed safety and mental health in her meeting with Trump on Thursday, and then alluded to the assault rifle used by shooter Nikolas Cruz in last Wednesdays massacre, saying: In the end, how did somebody like this person get access to that kind of firearm?

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Angry father of Florida victim asks Trump: ‘How many children have to get shot?’ video

At an emotional session at the White House on Wednesday, the US president held a listening session with survivors of last weeks Florida school shooting and others affected by gun violence, telling them that armed teachers and school coaches could very well end the attack very quickly.

On Thursday, Trump tweeted: 20% of teachers, a lot, would now be able to immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions. Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this.

Trump said having so-called gun-free zones around schools created a situation for school shooters like going in for the ice cream.

At Wednesdays meeting, Nicole Hockley, whose six-year-old son, Dylan, died at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, spoke out against arming teachers. I would rather arm them with the knowledge of how to prevent these acts from happening in the first place,she said.

Randi Weingarten, president of theAmerican Federation of Teachers union said in a statement:Anyone who wants guns in schools has no understanding of what goes on inside them or worse, doesnt care.

Barack Obama weighed in on Thursday, tweeting: Young people have helped lead all our great movements. How inspiring to see it again in so many smart, fearless students standing up for their right to be safe.

interactive

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/22/trump-proposal-teachers-guns-schools

Trump’s solution to school shootings: arm teachers with guns

It is the gun, its the person behind the gun and its about helping people before they ever reach that point, said a mother whose son died at Sandy Hook elementary

Donald Trump has said he will consider a proposal to arm school teachers in an attempt to prevent mass shootings, a move certain to prove fiercely divisive.

The US president, holding a listening session at the White House with survivors of last weeks Florida school shooting and others affected by gun violence, claimed that allowing airline pilots to carry and conceal guns had demonstrated the measure could be a success.

It only works when you have people very adept at using firearms, of which you have many, Trump said during an emotionally searing session on Wednesday that, extraordinarily, was broadcast live on national television. It would be teachers and coaches.

Referring to Aaron Feis, a football coach who used his body as a shield to protect a student during the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, the president continued: If the coach had a firearm in his locker when he ran at this guy that coach was very brave, saved a lot of lives, I suspect.

Julia
Julia Cordover, the student body president at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School wipes away tears during a listening session hosted by Donald Trump at the White House. Photograph: Xinhua / Barcroft Images

But if he had a firearm, he wouldnt have had to run, he would have shot him, and that would have been the end of it. This would only obviously be for people who are very adept at handling a gun. Its called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. Theyd go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone. Gun-free zone to a maniac, because theyre all cowards, a gun-free zone is: Lets go in and lets attack, because bullets arent coming back at us.

Trump added: An attack has lasted, on average, about three minutes. It takes five to eight minutes for responders, for the police to come in, so the attack is over. If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly.

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Trump says arming teachers with concealed weapons could prevent school massacres video

Knowledge of this would act as a deterrent to a would-be attacker, Trump claimed. You know, a lot of people dont understand that airline pilots now, a lot of them carry guns, and I have to say that things have changed a lot. People arent attacking the way they would routinely attack and maybe you would have the same situation in schools.

The president asked for a show of hands in the room over the proposal: some were in favour, others were against. We can understand both sides and certainly its controversial, he acknowledged, promising to discuss it seriously.

It emerged after the shooting at Parkland that there was an armed security guard on site but he did not get the chance to engage the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, on the sprawling campus. In May 2016, during the presidential election, Trump tweeted: Crooked Hillary [Clinton] said that I want guns brought into the school classroom. Wrong!

Donald
Donald Trump with notes during a listening session with high school students and teachers at the White House on Wednesday. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP

Nicole Hockley, whose six-year-old son Dylan died at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, spoke out against the idea of arming teachers. Its not personally something that I support. Rather than arming them with a firearm, I would rather arm them with the knowledge of how to prevent these acts from happening in the first place, she told Trump.

Safety assessments programmes and interventions for troubled children are vital, she added. Lets talk about prevention. There is so much that we can do to help people before it reaches that point, and I urge you please stay focused on that as well. It is the gun, its the person behind the gun and its about helping people before they ever reach that point.

Earlier during the session in the state dining room, where some speakers were tearful but composed as they recalled their experiences, Hockley also issued a challenge to the president. This is not difficult, she told him. These deaths are preventable. And I implore you: consider your own children. You dont want to be me. No parent does.

During the meeting Trump also asserted that he would be very strong on background checks for gun buyers as well as mental health issues. He sat in the middle of a semi-circle listening intently as six survivors of last weeks shooting and bereaved parents from Parkland, Columbine, and Sandy Hook took turns to address him.

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

Crooked Hillary said that I want guns brought into the school classroom. Wrong!

May 22, 2016

Sam Zeif, 18, a Parkland student whose text messages with his brother during last weeks shooting went viral, fought back tears as he told Trump: I turned 18 the day after. Woke up to the news that my best friend was gone. I dont understand why I can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war, an AR. I was reading today that a person 20 years old walked into a store and bought an AR-15 in five minutes with an expired ID. How is it that easy to buy this type of weapon? How are we not stopping this after Columbine, after Sandy Hook, sitting with a mother that lost her son? Its still happening.

Andrew Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter Meadow was killed at Stoneman Douglas, reflected the candid anger of many when he took the microphone. Were here because my daughter has no voice she was murdered last week, shot nine times, he said. How many schools, how many children have to get shot? It stops here, with this administration and me.

Pollack, his voice rising with raw emotion, added: It should have been one school shooting, and we should have fixed it, and Im pissed because my daughter, Im not going to see again.

Interactive

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/21/donald-trump-solution-to-school-shootings-arm-teachers-with-guns

Stephen King can’t understand why people from Norway would move to the U.S.

President Trump’s reported comments about preferring immigration from countries such as Norway over certain “s**thole countries” sure made a lot of waves on Thursday. As for people moving from Norway to the United States, author Stephen King just doesn’t understand it:

Read more: https://twitchy.com/dougp-3137/2018/01/11/stephen-king-cant-understand-why-people-from-norway-would-move-to-the-u-s/

James Gunn says he’ll donate $100k to get Trump’s actual weight

White House’s physician Dr. Ronny Jackson announced on Tuesday that President Donald Trump weighed 239 pounds during his physical last week—but the internet wasn’t buying it. Now, skeptics have coalesced around a “#girther” hashtag to make their disbelief known.

The main criticism, it seems, is that Jackson announced Trump was 6’3″ and weighed 239 pounds, just one pound shy of the level that would be considered obese.

Using a hashtag that plays off Trump’s infamous “birther” movement—where he falsely claimed that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States—the internet let their theories fly.

One of the biggest voices so far of the #girther movement is James Gunn, the director of both Guardians of the Galaxy films.

On Tuesday night, Gunn offered $100,000 to Trump’s favorite charity if he would “step on an accurate scale with an impartial medical professional” agreed upon by both Gunn and Trump.

Gunn said he did not intend for his offer to be fat shaming, but rather making a push back against “a continuous pattern of fabricating facts by both Trump and his administration.”

Gunn wasn’t alone in questioning the authenticity of Trump’s purported 239-pound weight and 6’3″ height, which is different from what his driver’s license said.

Jackson, the White House physician, said he recommended Trump lose 10 to 15 pounds.

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/trump-gunn-girther-movement/

Trump’s cognitive test required him to point to a camel and say ‘camel’

As part of the physical President Donald Trump recently took, his physician gave him a mental cognition test, which the president aced.

The only problem? Anyone over the age of 6 could perform it admirably. The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) was administered by physician Dr. Ronnie Jackson at the president’s behest. It’s not a measure of intelligence but rather tests cognitive decline, looking for signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Here, however, is a sample from the test.

Montreal Cognitive Assesment

From the section’s instructions.

4. Naming:

Administration: Beginning on the left, the examiner points to each figure and says: “Tell me the name of this animal.”

Scoring: One point is given for each of the following responses: (1) lion (2) rhinoceros or rhino (3) camel or dromedary.

So it appears the test we are now using as a barometer for if the president has the mental acuity to authorize nuclear strikes is whether he can successfully comprehend the plot of Goodnight Gorilla without being hopelessly befuddled.

I, for one, feel comforted.

Easy as that question is, it’s the clock one that has the internet demanding proof.

Montreal Cognitive Assesment

The president was graded on the shape of his clock, as well as the accuracy of its hands. And people want to see it.

The clock crowd is already the second truther movement started by Trump’s physical.

You can see the full MoCA here.

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/donald-trump-montreal-cognitive-assessment/

Jake Tapper picks the PERFECT screencap for a piece on Trump’s mental fitness

As Twitchy reported earlier, lawmakers concerned about President Trump’s mental health invited a Yale psychiatry professor to brief them in December, although Geraldo Rivera says Trump is “sharp, focused, and exactly as he’s been for the last 40 years.”

Read more: https://twitchy.com/brettt-3136/2018/01/04/jake-tapper-picks-the-perfect-screencap-for-a-piece-on-trumps-mental-fitness/

Yale psychiatry professor who wanted President Trump ‘contained’ vanishes from Twitter

Yale assistant professor of psychiatry Bandy X. Lee made a huge splash in the media last week after meeting with a handful of Democrats in Congress to sound the alarm over the president’s mental fitness to serve. Lee has appeared on MSNBC and SiriusXM, and pieces about her appeared in Vox, Politico, and The Guardian, all of which she retweeted, having just joined Twitter “to inform people where they may have questions.” Lee tweeted over the weekend that she was demanding a correction to a “wildly speculative and inaccurate article” in The Weekly Standard questioning her “meeting” with a Republican senator, but that tweet has disappeared, along with her entire Twitter account. The whole thing’s been shut down.

She writes in her last post:

Dear All, I was told that Twitter would be a good way to respond to mistaken notions, but I have a full-time job (also, “followers” jumping from the 20’s to the 600’s overnight is a lot to manage). So I am abandoning the idea. Please excuse–it has been nice to try this out!

So that’s all she wrote. After all, she does have a day job — not that it kept her from editing “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” or traveling to Washington, D.C. to meet with a handful of representatives about her concerns.

Looks like the Twitter asylum was too much. Oh well … at least people can still tweet about her:

Read more: https://twitchy.com/brettt-3136/2018/01/08/yale-psychiatry-professor-who-wanted-president-trump-contained-vanishes-from-twitter/

Donald Trump Opens His Sh*thole and Again Disgraces America

Come on, America. What more evidence do you need?

Let me be overly generous here. Suppose you agree that Haiti is a shithole. Its not one of your high-functioning nations, that is true. Of course, if you bother even to go to Wikipedia to read up for 10 minutes, youll find that the mess that is Haiti was partly made by these United States of America, with our ironclad support over three decades of the Duvaliers, father and son, brutal dictators and murderers and thieves, to whose crimes our governments turned many blind eyes. If you look around a bit more, youll see that Haitian soldiers fought in our Revolutionary War, in a battle in Savannah, Georgia. And if youre really intellectually adventurous, youll read about how Haiti was a slave colony in the late 1700s, remorselessly brutalized by Napoleon, and how Toussaint LOuverture, the leader of Haitian independence, has inspired artists from William Wordsworth to Jacob Lawrence to Ralph Ellison to Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Jean-Michel, a great American artist of the 1980s, was born to a Haitian father. A powerful artistbut, to the president of the United States, just another shithole kid.

But what Im saying is this: Even if you agree with Donald Trumps assessment of Haiti, I hope you surely agree that a president of the United States should not be talking that way about countries, no matter what the country is. Because in every country, even in Somalia, by every measure the worlds most dysfunctional country, there are innocent, decent people who have none of the dysfunction on their hands; who are indeed historys most unfortunate victims, people who are just trying to work and raise their kids and who happened to draw the short straw in the global lottery and be born in this place, and who want out.

And for many decades, many of the people across the globe who wanted out wanted to come here, to America, to make a better life. Now I ask you: Who wants to come to Donald Trumps America? Who?

Not the good people of Norway, to whom Trump opened the door with his comments Thursday. Why would they? They have health care, they have free college, they have many weeks of family leave and vacation. They want to visit, sure, because who doesnt want to visit? But move here?

We used to think everyone from everywhere wanted to move here. Of course. Were America! Were the beacon. But not anymore. With the President of the United States making racist comments like this and proposing policies to match the only people whod be really excited about moving here are other racists.

America, its time. Its time to start demanding, bluntly and daily and with a dignity that is completely alien to our president, that he should not be the president of the United States. I am in one sense happy to report that Americans dont need to be persuaded of this. As it happens, just Wednesday, Quinnipiac released a poll. In it, 57 percent of respondents said he was not fit to serve as president, to 40 percent who said he was.

This is a moment. Remember it. January 11, 2018. For one thing, its the first time I ever remember mainstream news outlets all saying the word shit. The word shithole actually appeared in a Washington Post headline. The New York Times couldnt quite bring itself to put the word in the headline. Okay. Its the Times. But it did put in the first graf of the story. On CNN, White House correspondent Jim Acosta used the word on air. He was right to do it. And he was right to say that the President seems to harbor racist feelings toward those who are, well, you know, not white. That seems looks soft in print. It wasnt on TV, trust me.

As the Q-poll shows, a majority of Americans agree. In a democracy, Congress would pay attention to public opinionas expressed in that Q-poll but also in many othersand would begin proceedings on whether the president was fit to be president. Believe it or not, thats what the founders wanted to happen. They wanted a Congress that would see a president say something like this, something so aggressively at odds with our national creed, and put party aside and debate the matter on the merits.

Of course, we have no such Congress. And if we have no such Congress, we have no democracy. We have a joke on democracy. And as long as the congressional majority thwarts the will and sense of the American majority, Im afraid the joke is on us. But we have to hope it wont be for much longer.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/donald-trump-opens-his-shthole-and-again-disgraces-america