• How Income Inequality Reached 50-Year Highs
    In finance news and current events today, economy inequality has reached a 50-year high in the U.S. Money tips alone might not help improve your wages. Here's how we got in this situation.

    In the ‘80s, the government started tracking all of the income being created across the U.S. So it began tracking wages, rents, interest income, and more.

    Fast-forward to 2019, and we’re seeing that the distribution of income across the U.S. is more unequal than it has ever been.

    One contributing factor is demographics.

    Right now baby boomers are nearing retirement. In theory, this group has had their entire lives to build up wealth.

    So they’re retiring, they have a savings, and they have more interest-based income (like investments) than us millennials. Many of them are within their “peak earnings” stage.

    And then we have their children (us) who are still new to the workforce. And many of us have entered with entry-level salaries and outstanding debt like student loans. Housing costs are also higher now than what our parents had at our age. In other words, this group is NOT at their peak earnings level.

    So we have these two cohorts of people at the top of the income distribution and at the bottom of the income distribution which could be driving this income inequality.

    Then there are economic factors that also play a role.

    The federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour isn’t rising fast enough in a fast-growing economy. And while some local and state governments have raised their minimum wages higher than $7.25, the federal government hasn’t raised it since 2009.

    There are still 17 states that are tied to the federal minimum wage. In those cases, a full time worker could still only be paid $15,000 a year.

    Another contributing economic factor is that unions have basically vanished.

    In 2018, only about 10% of U.S. workers belonged to unions. That’s the lowest rate it’s ever been since the bureau began recording statistics in the 1980’s. Unions used to be more common in previous economic eras. They use methods like collective bargaining move more money from companies into their workers’ pockets.
    #IncomeInequality #Inequality #Wages
    https://youtu.be/VKsIU4JVC0E
    Now This News 10/12/19
    How Income Inequality Reached 50-Year Highs In finance news and current events today, economy inequality has reached a 50-year high in the U.S. Money tips alone might not help improve your wages. Here's how we got in this situation. In the ‘80s, the government started tracking all of the income being created across the U.S. So it began tracking wages, rents, interest income, and more. Fast-forward to 2019, and we’re seeing that the distribution of income across the U.S. is more unequal than it has ever been. One contributing factor is demographics. Right now baby boomers are nearing retirement. In theory, this group has had their entire lives to build up wealth. So they’re retiring, they have a savings, and they have more interest-based income (like investments) than us millennials. Many of them are within their “peak earnings” stage. And then we have their children (us) who are still new to the workforce. And many of us have entered with entry-level salaries and outstanding debt like student loans. Housing costs are also higher now than what our parents had at our age. In other words, this group is NOT at their peak earnings level. So we have these two cohorts of people at the top of the income distribution and at the bottom of the income distribution which could be driving this income inequality. Then there are economic factors that also play a role. The federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour isn’t rising fast enough in a fast-growing economy. And while some local and state governments have raised their minimum wages higher than $7.25, the federal government hasn’t raised it since 2009. There are still 17 states that are tied to the federal minimum wage. In those cases, a full time worker could still only be paid $15,000 a year. Another contributing economic factor is that unions have basically vanished. In 2018, only about 10% of U.S. workers belonged to unions. That’s the lowest rate it’s ever been since the bureau began recording statistics in the 1980’s. Unions used to be more common in previous economic eras. They use methods like collective bargaining move more money from companies into their workers’ pockets. #IncomeInequality #Inequality #Wages https://youtu.be/VKsIU4JVC0E Now This News 10/12/19
    How Income Inequality Reached 50-Year Highs | NowThis | NowThis
    Income inequality in the U.S. just hit a 50-year high — here’s how we got here. » Subscribe to NowThis: http://go.nowth.is/News_Subscribe » Sign up for our n...
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  • Republicans Burn AOC’s Picture In Disgusting New Ad
    So the woman speaking in that ad was Elizabeth Hang who, uh, ran for Congress last year and lost, so she is a failed political candidate who now I guess has become a spokesperson for this new faces GOP running this disgusting ad, conflating Democratic Socialism with for a full blown authoritarianism because Republicans can't tell the difference, or at least they don't want the public to know there's a difference.

    You know, when Republicans talk about socialism, they always like to point out, you know, borderline communist countries or most cases full blown communist countries.

    While ignoring the fact that we're actually talking about places like Canada, Norway, Denmark, you know the places that are at peace, the places that don't have tons of mass murder in their history, the places that are not run by Authoritarians, they just happen to offer healthcare to all their citizens. And that's kind of what we're getting at here.

    But Republicans don't want you to know that.

    They want you to think that if you listened to AOC or if you listen to Bernie, we're going to have killing fields. We're going to have mountains of skulls and all kinds of horrible hell happening here on our soil in the United States.

    So I guess the biggest question is who in the hell is new faces GOP?
    Who are these people who funded this group?
    Where did this ad come from?

    And that is where our good friend open secrets come in because I'm about to tell you everybody who's given money to this group.

    So let's start. They did not exist in the 2018 cycle. This is a new group here and there are 2020 pack summary Data says total receipts are $170,000 and they have spent $139,000 so they got a little under $31,000 cash in hand. So here on open secrets.

    Again folks, I'm showing you this right now because this is data everybody can access. Click on donors and let's go through here.

    Um, we have, I'm not gonna name regular people's names, although I should. I'm going to this public record and I'm going to do it.

    Sorry.

    You have James Jamison from del Mar, California who donated 25,000.
    Uh, Paul Martino from bullpen capital who donated 25,000.
    You have TOV Investments LLC who donated 25,000
    EAC bold from Washoe Valley, donated 20,000
    Frank Delina from Delina farms donated 15,000
    Hannah Trust DTD donated 10,000
    Norman Metcalf and investor donated 10,000.
    Andrew Saban from Saban commodities donated 10,000
    a Shirley and enterprises donated 5,000
    T management services incorporated, donated 5,000
    Sanders properties, 5,000
    a fiduciary management Inc 5,000
    Precision Pharmacy LLC, 2,500
    a precision civil engineering 1000

    This is public record.
    It is openly available on open.

    The Sheer Level Of Violence In The Ad Is Reprehensible.

    The Sheer Level Of Misinformation Regarding Socialism [Pol Pot Was A Military Dictator & Mass Murderer-AOC/Bernie/Tulsi/Warren/Etc. Are NOT]

    The Sheer Level Of Unmitigated GALL For ABC To Allow This Violent Garbage Is Reprehensible Enough-RUNNING IT DURING THE DEBATE IS BEYOND ANY ACCEPTABLE REASONING OR EXCUSE!

    #AOCOnFireAd #CensureElizabethHeng #BOYCOTTABCAndItsAffiliates #PutDebatesOnPBSOrCSpan #ABCApologizeToAOC #rof #trofire #theringoffire #progressivenews
    https://youtu.be/UK8KOxUmRrg
    Republicans Burn AOC’s Picture In Disgusting New Ad So the woman speaking in that ad was Elizabeth Hang who, uh, ran for Congress last year and lost, so she is a failed political candidate who now I guess has become a spokesperson for this new faces GOP running this disgusting ad, conflating Democratic Socialism with for a full blown authoritarianism because Republicans can't tell the difference, or at least they don't want the public to know there's a difference. You know, when Republicans talk about socialism, they always like to point out, you know, borderline communist countries or most cases full blown communist countries. While ignoring the fact that we're actually talking about places like Canada, Norway, Denmark, you know the places that are at peace, the places that don't have tons of mass murder in their history, the places that are not run by Authoritarians, they just happen to offer healthcare to all their citizens. And that's kind of what we're getting at here. But Republicans don't want you to know that. They want you to think that if you listened to AOC or if you listen to Bernie, we're going to have killing fields. We're going to have mountains of skulls and all kinds of horrible hell happening here on our soil in the United States. So I guess the biggest question is who in the hell is new faces GOP? Who are these people who funded this group? Where did this ad come from? And that is where our good friend open secrets come in because I'm about to tell you everybody who's given money to this group. So let's start. They did not exist in the 2018 cycle. This is a new group here and there are 2020 pack summary Data says total receipts are $170,000 and they have spent $139,000 so they got a little under $31,000 cash in hand. So here on open secrets. Again folks, I'm showing you this right now because this is data everybody can access. Click on donors and let's go through here. Um, we have, I'm not gonna name regular people's names, although I should. I'm going to this public record and I'm going to do it. Sorry. You have James Jamison from del Mar, California who donated 25,000. Uh, Paul Martino from bullpen capital who donated 25,000. You have TOV Investments LLC who donated 25,000 EAC bold from Washoe Valley, donated 20,000 Frank Delina from Delina farms donated 15,000 Hannah Trust DTD donated 10,000 Norman Metcalf and investor donated 10,000. Andrew Saban from Saban commodities donated 10,000 a Shirley and enterprises donated 5,000 T management services incorporated, donated 5,000 Sanders properties, 5,000 a fiduciary management Inc 5,000 Precision Pharmacy LLC, 2,500 a precision civil engineering 1000 This is public record. It is openly available on open. The Sheer Level Of Violence In The Ad Is Reprehensible. The Sheer Level Of Misinformation Regarding Socialism [Pol Pot Was A Military Dictator & Mass Murderer-AOC/Bernie/Tulsi/Warren/Etc. Are NOT] The Sheer Level Of Unmitigated GALL For ABC To Allow This Violent Garbage Is Reprehensible Enough-RUNNING IT DURING THE DEBATE IS BEYOND ANY ACCEPTABLE REASONING OR EXCUSE! #AOCOnFireAd #CensureElizabethHeng #BOYCOTTABCAndItsAffiliates #PutDebatesOnPBSOrCSpan #ABCApologizeToAOC #rof #trofire #theringoffire #progressivenews https://youtu.be/UK8KOxUmRrg
    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Photo Set on Fire in New Republican PAC Ad | NowThis
    ABC aired an ad of AOC's image being set on fire during the Democratic debate. » Subscribe to NowThis: http://go.nowth.is/News_Subscribe » Sign up for our ne...
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  • Urgently Investing $1.8 Trillion to #AdaptOurWorld and Avert 'Climate Apartheid' Could Yield $7.1 Trillion in Benefits, Analysis Shows
    https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/09/10/urgently-investing-18-trillion-adaptourworld-and-avert-climate-apartheid-could-yield
    Jessica Corbett, staff writer

    Warning that the world is at risk of experiencing a "climate apartheid," a report released Tuesday by the Global Commission on Adaptation found that spending $1.8 trillion globally over a decade on adaptation could yield $7.1 trillion in net benefits.

    The commission's report, Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience (pdf), outlines the human, environmental, and economic imperatives of investing in adaptation to the human-caused climate crisis. The report highlights the "triple dividend" of urgent, coordinated action: it would avoid future losses, generate positive economic gains, and deliver additional social and environmental benefits.

    The proposed $1.7 trillion investment in climate adaptation and resulting $7.1 trillion in benefits are based on significant spending in five key areas—early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, improved dryland agriculture, mangrove protection, and making water resources more resilient—between 2020 and 2030. The systemic transformations called for in the report particularly aim to address global inequalities that are increasingly exacerbated by the climate emergency.

    UN Climate Change ✔ @UNFCCC
    The #AdaptOurWorld report released today shows:
    Investing $1.8 trillion in climate adaptation could generate $7.1 tn in benefits.

    Leaders around the 🌍 are calling on governments & businesses to urgently act on climate adaptation.
    Report 👉🏼 http://bit.ly/2lII1mp
    View image on Twitter
    5:23 AM - Sep 10, 2019

    The commission that produced the new analysis is chaired by former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva. The trio wrote in the report's forward that, in terms of adaptation, "so far the response has been gravely insufficient. Meanwhile, the climate crisis is here, now: wildfires ravage fragile habitats, city taps run dry, droughts scorch the land, and floods destroy people's homes and livelihoods."

    Investing in adaptation "is a moral imperative," Patrick Verkooijen, chief executive of the Global Center on Adaptation, which co-manages the commission with the World Resources Institute, told The Washington Post.

    "Even if we were to live in 1.5 degree world we would need massive adaptation," said Verkooijen, referring to the Paris climate accord goal of limiting average global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. "Investing in adaptation is not a tradeoff with mitigation. We need to do both."

    Absent global adaptation efforts, the report estimates that by 2050, declines in agricultural yields would most seriously impact the world's 500 million small farms, the number of people lacking sufficient water could soar beyond five billion, and rising seas and devastating storms could force hundreds of millions people from their homes—costing coastal urban areas over $1 trillion per year.

    Though the climate crisis is one of the greatest threats humanity faces and it impacts all sectors of society, as the report put it, "people who did the least to cause the problem—especially those living in poverty and fragile areas—are most at risk."

    "We risk a climate apartheid where the wealthy pay to escape, while the rest of the world is left to suffer," Verkooijen warned. "Without bold adaptation action, climate change becomes a life sentence to poverty and suffering for already vulnerable and marginalized people."

    The report comes as the Bahamas is in the beginning stages of what is expected to be a drawn out recovery process after being devastated by Hurricane Dorian, which made landfall on the islands as a Category 5 storm early this month. In what one critic decried as "eco-apartheid," hundreds of Bahamian refugees who lacked a U.S. visa were ordered off a ferry headed for Ft. Lauderdale, Florida this weekend.

    The destruction in the Bahamas spotlighted climate scientists' warnings about the connection between extreme weather—including hurricanes, heatwaves, and fires—and rising temperatures from human activities that produce greenhouse gas emissions. When it comes to hurricanes, for example, experts warn that research suggests the warming world will see an increase in intense storms.

    "We tend not to invest in resilience and climate adaptation efforts until after a disaster has happened, until a lot of the damage has been done," Rob Moore, a policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), told InsideClimate News—which graphed the costs and benefits of the new report's recommendations.

    How adaptation efforts can pay off

    Outlining major barriers to global adaptation efforts, the report says that "in addition to knowledge gaps and short-term biases, fragmented responsibilities, poor institutional cooperation, and lack of resources hinder action. Governments lack incentives and funding for agencies to grapple with knowledge gaps, collaborate across silos, and implement innovative solutions."

    NRDC's Moore noted that "these types of investments are things that pay off over the long term, not over a single election cycle."

    Ban, who served as the U.N. chief from January 2007 to December 2016, emphasized the importance of global collaboration on adaptation efforts in a statement Tuesday.

    "Climate change doesn't respect borders: it's an international problem that can only be solved with co-operation and collaboration, across borders and worldwide," he said. "It is becoming increasingly clear that in many parts of the world, our climate has already changed, and we need to adapt with it."

    "Mitigation and adaptation go hand-in-hand as two equally important building blocks of the Paris Climate Change Agreement," Ban continued. "Adaptation is not only the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do to boost economic growth and create a climate resilient world."

    Along with events across the globe Tuesday to launch the report, contributors and supporters shared its findings and suggestions on social media with the hashtag #AdaptOurWorld.


    World Resources Inst ✔ @WorldResources
    Today, we call on leaders around the globe to #AdaptOurWorld. #Climate impacts are here now, and adaptation is critical to creating stronger, safer, thriving communities. Join us in calling others to act with unprecedented courage, resources & commitment! http://ow.ly/iKDA50w4lJt

    View image on Twitter
    10:12 AM - Sep 10, 2019

    The commission has produced a series of videos about adaptation efforts around the world—from Costa Rica and India to the Netherlands and New York City—which were shared on social media with the hashtag Tuesday:
    Urgently Investing $1.8 Trillion to #AdaptOurWorld and Avert 'Climate Apartheid' Could Yield $7.1 Trillion in Benefits, Analysis Shows https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/09/10/urgently-investing-18-trillion-adaptourworld-and-avert-climate-apartheid-could-yield Jessica Corbett, staff writer Warning that the world is at risk of experiencing a "climate apartheid," a report released Tuesday by the Global Commission on Adaptation found that spending $1.8 trillion globally over a decade on adaptation could yield $7.1 trillion in net benefits. The commission's report, Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience (pdf), outlines the human, environmental, and economic imperatives of investing in adaptation to the human-caused climate crisis. The report highlights the "triple dividend" of urgent, coordinated action: it would avoid future losses, generate positive economic gains, and deliver additional social and environmental benefits. The proposed $1.7 trillion investment in climate adaptation and resulting $7.1 trillion in benefits are based on significant spending in five key areas—early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, improved dryland agriculture, mangrove protection, and making water resources more resilient—between 2020 and 2030. The systemic transformations called for in the report particularly aim to address global inequalities that are increasingly exacerbated by the climate emergency. UN Climate Change ✔ @UNFCCC The #AdaptOurWorld report released today shows: Investing $1.8 trillion in climate adaptation could generate $7.1 tn in benefits. Leaders around the 🌍 are calling on governments & businesses to urgently act on climate adaptation. Report 👉🏼 http://bit.ly/2lII1mp View image on Twitter 5:23 AM - Sep 10, 2019 The commission that produced the new analysis is chaired by former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva. The trio wrote in the report's forward that, in terms of adaptation, "so far the response has been gravely insufficient. Meanwhile, the climate crisis is here, now: wildfires ravage fragile habitats, city taps run dry, droughts scorch the land, and floods destroy people's homes and livelihoods." Investing in adaptation "is a moral imperative," Patrick Verkooijen, chief executive of the Global Center on Adaptation, which co-manages the commission with the World Resources Institute, told The Washington Post. "Even if we were to live in 1.5 degree world we would need massive adaptation," said Verkooijen, referring to the Paris climate accord goal of limiting average global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. "Investing in adaptation is not a tradeoff with mitigation. We need to do both." Absent global adaptation efforts, the report estimates that by 2050, declines in agricultural yields would most seriously impact the world's 500 million small farms, the number of people lacking sufficient water could soar beyond five billion, and rising seas and devastating storms could force hundreds of millions people from their homes—costing coastal urban areas over $1 trillion per year. Though the climate crisis is one of the greatest threats humanity faces and it impacts all sectors of society, as the report put it, "people who did the least to cause the problem—especially those living in poverty and fragile areas—are most at risk." "We risk a climate apartheid where the wealthy pay to escape, while the rest of the world is left to suffer," Verkooijen warned. "Without bold adaptation action, climate change becomes a life sentence to poverty and suffering for already vulnerable and marginalized people." The report comes as the Bahamas is in the beginning stages of what is expected to be a drawn out recovery process after being devastated by Hurricane Dorian, which made landfall on the islands as a Category 5 storm early this month. In what one critic decried as "eco-apartheid," hundreds of Bahamian refugees who lacked a U.S. visa were ordered off a ferry headed for Ft. Lauderdale, Florida this weekend. The destruction in the Bahamas spotlighted climate scientists' warnings about the connection between extreme weather—including hurricanes, heatwaves, and fires—and rising temperatures from human activities that produce greenhouse gas emissions. When it comes to hurricanes, for example, experts warn that research suggests the warming world will see an increase in intense storms. "We tend not to invest in resilience and climate adaptation efforts until after a disaster has happened, until a lot of the damage has been done," Rob Moore, a policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), told InsideClimate News—which graphed the costs and benefits of the new report's recommendations. How adaptation efforts can pay off Outlining major barriers to global adaptation efforts, the report says that "in addition to knowledge gaps and short-term biases, fragmented responsibilities, poor institutional cooperation, and lack of resources hinder action. Governments lack incentives and funding for agencies to grapple with knowledge gaps, collaborate across silos, and implement innovative solutions." NRDC's Moore noted that "these types of investments are things that pay off over the long term, not over a single election cycle." Ban, who served as the U.N. chief from January 2007 to December 2016, emphasized the importance of global collaboration on adaptation efforts in a statement Tuesday. "Climate change doesn't respect borders: it's an international problem that can only be solved with co-operation and collaboration, across borders and worldwide," he said. "It is becoming increasingly clear that in many parts of the world, our climate has already changed, and we need to adapt with it." "Mitigation and adaptation go hand-in-hand as two equally important building blocks of the Paris Climate Change Agreement," Ban continued. "Adaptation is not only the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do to boost economic growth and create a climate resilient world." Along with events across the globe Tuesday to launch the report, contributors and supporters shared its findings and suggestions on social media with the hashtag #AdaptOurWorld. World Resources Inst ✔ @WorldResources Today, we call on leaders around the globe to #AdaptOurWorld. #Climate impacts are here now, and adaptation is critical to creating stronger, safer, thriving communities. Join us in calling others to act with unprecedented courage, resources & commitment! http://ow.ly/iKDA50w4lJt View image on Twitter 10:12 AM - Sep 10, 2019 The commission has produced a series of videos about adaptation efforts around the world—from Costa Rica and India to the Netherlands and New York City—which were shared on social media with the hashtag Tuesday:
    Urgently Investing $1.8 Trillion to #AdaptOurWorld and Avert 'Climate Apartheid' Could Yield $7.1 Trillion in Benefits, Analysis Shows
    "Without bold adaptation action, climate change becomes a life sentence to poverty and suffering for already vulnerable and marginalized people."
    WWW.COMMONDREAMS.ORG
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  • Sanders Unveils Plan to End Cash Bail, Ban Private Prisons, and 'Fundamentally Transform' US Criminal Justice System
    https://youtu.be/ha9RVJxee28
    Jake Johnson, staff writer

    Decrying America's status as the "world's leading jailer," Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday released a comprehensive plan to confront the crisis of mass incarceration, end the criminalization of poverty, and dramatically overhaul the U.S. criminal justice system.

    "We have a criminal justice system that is racist and broken, and working together we're going to fundamentally transform it," said Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.

    The platform, which Sanders unveiled at an event in Columbia, South Carolina on Sunday, condemns America's "overly-punitive approach to public safety" and urges investments "to rebuild the communities that mass incarceration continues to decimate."

    "We have over two million people in jail and prison, more than any other nation on earth, and they are disproportionately African-American, Latino, and Native American," Sanders wrote in an email to supporters on Sunday. "We spend $80 billion a year keeping people behind bars, money which could be used for education, job creation, and affordable housing."

    People for Bernie ✔ @People4Bernie
    "We spent, and I want everybody to hear this, $80 billion a year in tax dollars at the local, state, and federal level to lock up fellow Americans... It might be a better idea to take some of that $80 billion and start investing in our young people." @BernieSanders
    Embedded video: https://twitter.com/People4Bernie/status/1163164345850720256
    2:02 PM - Aug 18, 2019

    To remedy this dysfunctional and devastating system, Sanders' platform—detailed on his website—calls for:

    A ban on private prisons as part of a broader effort to "end profiteering in our criminal justice system";
    An end to cash bail, which traps poor Americans in a cycle of debt;
    Halting excessive sentencing "with the goal of cutting the incarcerated population in half";
    Transformation of policing by ensuring oversight and accountability for law enforcement, banning use of facial recognition software by law enforcement, and ending "programs that provide military equipment to local police";
    Abolishing the death penalty;
    Legalization of marijuana and erasure of past marijuana convictions; and
    An end to the criminalization of addiction by funding adequate treatment for those addicted to opioids.
    "If we stand together, we can eliminate private prisons and detention centers. No more profiteering from locking people up," Sanders said during his speech in South Carolina.

    "If we stand together we can end the disastrous 'war on drugs,'" the senator added. "If we stand together we can end cash bail. No more keeping people in jail because they're too poor. If we stand together we can enact real police department reform and prosecute police brutality. If we stand together, there is nothing, nothing, nothing that we cannot accomplish."

    Watch the speech: https://youtu.be/ha9RVJxee28
    Sanders Unveils Plan to End Cash Bail, Ban Private Prisons, and 'Fundamentally Transform' US Criminal Justice System https://youtu.be/ha9RVJxee28 Jake Johnson, staff writer Decrying America's status as the "world's leading jailer," Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday released a comprehensive plan to confront the crisis of mass incarceration, end the criminalization of poverty, and dramatically overhaul the U.S. criminal justice system. "We have a criminal justice system that is racist and broken, and working together we're going to fundamentally transform it," said Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. The platform, which Sanders unveiled at an event in Columbia, South Carolina on Sunday, condemns America's "overly-punitive approach to public safety" and urges investments "to rebuild the communities that mass incarceration continues to decimate." "We have over two million people in jail and prison, more than any other nation on earth, and they are disproportionately African-American, Latino, and Native American," Sanders wrote in an email to supporters on Sunday. "We spend $80 billion a year keeping people behind bars, money which could be used for education, job creation, and affordable housing." People for Bernie ✔ @People4Bernie "We spent, and I want everybody to hear this, $80 billion a year in tax dollars at the local, state, and federal level to lock up fellow Americans... It might be a better idea to take some of that $80 billion and start investing in our young people." @BernieSanders Embedded video: https://twitter.com/People4Bernie/status/1163164345850720256 2:02 PM - Aug 18, 2019 To remedy this dysfunctional and devastating system, Sanders' platform—detailed on his website—calls for: A ban on private prisons as part of a broader effort to "end profiteering in our criminal justice system"; An end to cash bail, which traps poor Americans in a cycle of debt; Halting excessive sentencing "with the goal of cutting the incarcerated population in half"; Transformation of policing by ensuring oversight and accountability for law enforcement, banning use of facial recognition software by law enforcement, and ending "programs that provide military equipment to local police"; Abolishing the death penalty; Legalization of marijuana and erasure of past marijuana convictions; and An end to the criminalization of addiction by funding adequate treatment for those addicted to opioids. "If we stand together, we can eliminate private prisons and detention centers. No more profiteering from locking people up," Sanders said during his speech in South Carolina. "If we stand together we can end the disastrous 'war on drugs,'" the senator added. "If we stand together we can end cash bail. No more keeping people in jail because they're too poor. If we stand together we can enact real police department reform and prosecute police brutality. If we stand together, there is nothing, nothing, nothing that we cannot accomplish." Watch the speech: https://youtu.be/ha9RVJxee28
    Bernie Sanders Unveils Justice and Safety for All Plan
    Donate at: https://live.berniesanders.com/ Bernie Sanders announces a comprehensive plan to reform the entire American criminal justice system in the Greenvi...
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  • The Trust Project: Big Media and Silicon Valley’s Weaponized Algorithms Silence Dissent
    https://desultoryheroics.com/2019/06/18/the-trust-project-big-media-and-silicon-valleys-weaponized-algorithms-silence-dissent/
    Posted By Luther Blissett By Whitney Webb: Mintpress News 6/18/19

    After the failure of Newsguard — the news rating system backed by a cadre of prominent neoconservative personalities — to gain traction among American tech and social media companies, another organization has quietly stepped in to direct the news algorithms of tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.

    Though different from Newsguard, this group, known as “The Trust Project,” has a similar goal of restoring “trust” in corporate, mainstream media outlets, relative to independent alternatives, by applying “trust indicators” to social-media news algorithms in a decidedly nontransparent way.

    The funding of “The Trust Project” — coming largely from big tech companies like Google; government-connected tech oligarchs like Pierre Omidyar; and the Knight Foundation, a key Newsguard investor — suggests that an ulterior motive in its tireless promotion of “traditional” mainstream media outlets is to limit the success of dissenting alternatives.

    Of particular importance is the fact that the Trust Project’s “trust indicators” are already being used to control what news is promoted and suppressed by top search engines like Google and Bing and massive social-media networks like Facebook.

    Though the descriptions of these “trust indicators” — eight of which are currently in use — are publicly available, the way they are being used by major tech and social media companies is not.

    The Trust Project’s goal is to increase public trust in the very same traditional media outlets that Newsguard favored and to use HTML-embedded codes in favored news articles to promote their content at the expense of independent alternatives.

    Even if its effort to promote “trust” in establishment media fail, its embedded-code hidden within participating news sites allow those establishment outlets to skirt the same algorithms currently targeting their independent competition, making such issues of “trust” largely irrelevant as it moves to homogenize the online media landscape in favor of mainstream media.

    The Trust Project’s director, Sally Lehrman, made it clear that, in her view, the lack of public trust in mainstream media and its declining readership is the result of unwanted “competition by principle-free enterprises [that] further undermines its [journalism’s] very role and purpose as an engine for democracy.”

    Getting to know the Trust Project

    The Trust Project describes itself as “a consortium of top news companies” involved in developing “transparency standards that help you easily assess the quality and credibility of journalism.”

    It has done this by creating what it calls “Trust Indicators,” which the project’s website describes as “a digital standard that meets people’s needs.”

    However, far from meeting “people’s needs,” the Trust Indicators seem aimed at manipulating search engine and social-media news algorithms to the benefit of the project’s media partners, rather than to the benefit of the general public.

    The origins of the Trust Project date back to a 2012 “roundtable” hosted by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, a center funded by former Apple CEO Mike Markkula.

    That roundtable became known as the Roundtable on Digital Journalism Ethics and was created by journalist Sally Lehrman, then working at the Markkula Center, in connection with the New Media Executive Roundtable and Online Credibility Watch of the Society of Professional Journalists.

    Lehrman has explicitly stated that the Trust Project is open only to “news organizations that adhere to traditional standards.”

    The specific idea that spurred the creation of the Trust Project itself was born at a 2014 meeting of that roundtable, when Lehrman “asked a specialist in machine learning at Twitter, and Richard Gingras, head of Google News, if algorithms could be used to support ethics instead of hurting them, and they said yes.

    Gingras agreed to collaborate.” In other words, the idea behind the Trust Project, from the start, was aimed at gaming search-engine and social-media algorithms in collusion with major tech companies like Google and Twitter.

    As the Trust Project itself notes, the means of altering algorithms were developed in tandem with tech-giant executives like Gingras and “top editors in the industry from 80 news outlets and institutions,” all of which are corporate, mainstream media outlets.

    Notably, the Trust Project’s media partners, involved in creating these new “standards” for news algorithms, include major publications owned by wealthy oligarchs: the Washington Post, owned by the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos; the Economist, directed by the wealthy Rothschild family; and the Globe and Mail, owned by Canada’s richest family, the Thomsons, who also own Thomson Reuters.

    Other Trust Project partners include The New York Times, Mic, Hearst Television, the BBC and the USA Today network.

    Other major outlets are represented on the News Leadership Council of the Markkula Center, including the Financial Times, Gizmodo Media, and The Wall Street Journal.

    That council — which also includes Gingras and Andrew Anker, Facebook’s Director of Product Management — “guides the Trust Project on our Trust Indicators.”

    These “Trust Indicators” are the core of the Trust Project’s activities and reveal one of the key mechanisms through which Google, Twitter and Facebook have been altering their algorithms to favor outlets with good “Trust Indicator” scores.

    Trust Indicators, on their face, are aimed at making news publications “more transparent” as a means of generating increased trust with the public.

    Though a total of 37 have been developed, it appears only eight of them are currently being used.

    These eight indicators are listed and described by the Trust Project as follows:

    Best Practices: What are the news outlet’s standards? Who funds it? What is the outlet’s mission? Plus commitments to ethics, diverse voices, accuracy, making corrections and other standards.

    Author/Reporter Expertise: Who made this? Details about the journalist, including their expertise and other stories they have worked on.

    Type of Work: What is this? Labels to distinguish opinion, analysis and advertiser (or sponsored) content from news reports.

    Citations and References: What’s the source? For investigative or in-depth stories, access to the sources behind the facts and assertions.

    Methods: How was it built? Also for in-depth stories, information about why reporters chose to pursue a story and how they went about the process.

    Locally Sourced? Was the reporting done on the scene, with deep knowledge about the local situation or community? Lets you know when the story has local origin or expertise.

    Diverse Voices: What are the newsroom’s efforts and commitments to bringing in diverse perspectives? Readers noticed when certain voices, ethnicities, or political persuasions were missing.

    Actionable Feedback: Can we participate? A newsroom’s efforts to engage the public’s help in setting coverage priorities, contributing to the reporting process, ensuring accuracy and other areas. Readers want to participate and provide feedback that might alter or expand a story.

    How the Trust Project makes these indicators available to the public can be seen in its new project, the Newsroom Transparency Tracker, where it provides a table of “transparency” for participating media outlets.

    Notably, that table conflates actual transparency practices with simply providing the Trust Project with outlet policies and guidelines related to the above indicators.

    For example, The Economist gets a perfect transparency “score” for having provided the Trust Project links to its ethics policy, mission statement and other information requested by the project.

    However, the fact that those policies exist and are provided to the Trust Project does not mean that the publication’s policies are, in fact, transparent or ethical in terms of their content or in practice.

    The fact that The Economist provided links to its policies does not make the publication more transparent, but — in the context of the Newsroom Transparency Tracker’s table — it provides the appearance of transparency, though such policy disclosures by The Economist are unlikely to translate into any changes to its well-known biases and slanted reporting towards certain issues.

    Trust Indicators manipulate big tech algorithms

    The true power of the Trust Indicators comes in a form that is not visible to the general public.

    These Trust Indicators, while occasionally displayed on partner websites, are also coupled with “machine-readable signals” embedded in the HTML code of participating websites and articles used by Facebook, Google, Bing and Twitter.

    As Lehrman noted in a 2017 article, the Trust Project was then “already working with these four companies, all of which have said they want to use our indicators to prioritize honest, well-reported news over fakery and falsehood.”

    Gingras of Google News also noted that the Trust Indicators are used by Google as “cues to help search engines better understand and rank results … [and] to help the myriad algorithmic systems that mold our media lives.”

    A press release from the Trust Project last year further underscores the importance of the embedded “indicators” to alter social-media and search-engine algorithms:

    While each Indicator is visible to users on the pages of the Project’s news partners, it is also embedded in the article and site code for machines to read — providing the first, standardized technical language that offers contextual information about news sites’ commitments to transparency.”

    Despite claiming to increase public knowledge of “news sites’ commitments to transparency,” the way that major tech companies like Google and Facebook are using these indicators is anything but transparent.

    Indeed, it is largely unknown how these indicators are used, though there are a few clues.

    For instance, CBS News cited Craig Newmark — the billionaire founder of Craigslist, who provided the Trust Project’s seed funding — as suggesting that “Google’s search algorithm could rank trusted sources above others in search results” by using the project’s Trust Indicators.

    Last year, the Trust Project stated that Bing used “the ‘Type of Work’ Trust Indicator to display whether an article is news, opinion or analysis.”

    It also stated that “when Facebook launched its process to index news Pages, they worked with the Trust Project to make it easy for any publisher to add optional information about their Page.”

    In Google’s case, Gingras was quoted as saying that Google News uses the indicators “to assess the relative authoritativeness of news organizations and authors. We’re looking forward to developing new ways to use the indicators.”

    Notably, the machine-readable version of these Trust Indicators is available only to participating institutions, which are currently corporate, mainstream publications.

    Though WordPress and Drupal plug-ins are being developed to make those embedded signals to search engines and social media available to smaller publishers, it will be made available only to “qualified publishers,” a determination that will presumably be made by the Trust Project and its associates.

    Richard Gingras, in a statement made in 2017, noted that “the indicators can help our algorithms better understand authoritative journalism — and help us to better surface it to consumers.”

    Thus, it is abundantly clear that these indicators, which are embedded only into “qualified” and “authoritative” news websites, will be used to slant search-engine and social-media news algorithms in favor of establishment news websites.

    The bottom line is that these embedded and exclusive indicators allow certain news outlets to avoid the crushing effects of recent algorithm changes that have seen traffic to many news websites, including MintPress, plummet in recent years.

    This is leading towards a homogenization of the online news landscape by starving independent competitors of web traffic while Trust Project-approved outlets are given an escape valve through algorithm manipulation.

    The tech billionaires behind the Trust Project

    Given the Trust Project’s rich-get-richer impact on the online news landscape, it is not surprising to find that it is funded by rich and powerful figures and forces with a clear stake in controlling the flow of news and information online.

    According to its website, the Trust Project currently receives funding from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Google, Facebook, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (often abbreviated as the Knight Foundation), and the Markkula Foundation.

    Its website also states that Google was “an early financial supporter” and that it had originally been funded by Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist.

    As previously mentioned, the Trust Project’s co-founder is Richard Gingras, current Google vice president of News.

    The Trust Project’s website described Gingras’s current role with the organization as “a powerful evangelist” who “can always be counted upon for expert advice and encouragement.”

    Newmark’s current role at the Trust Project is described as that of a “funder and valued connector.”

    Newmark, through Craig Newmark Philanthropies, who provided the initial funding for the Trust Project, and has also funded other related initiatives like the News Integrity Initiative at the City University of New York, which shares many of the same financiers as the Trust Project, including Facebook, Omidyar’s Democracy Fund, and the Knight Foundation.

    The Trust Project is listed as a collaborator of the News Integrity Initiative. Newmark is also very active in several news-related NGOs with similar overlap. For instance, he sits on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a longtime recipient of massive grants from the Omidyar Network, and Politifact[dot]com, which is funded in part by Omidyar’s Democracy Fund.

    Newmark is currently working with Vivian Schiller as his “strategic adviser” in his media investments.

    Schiller is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, former head of news at Twitter, and a veteran of well-known mainstream outlets like NPR, CNN, The New York Times and NBC News. She is also a director of the Scott Trust, which owns The Guardian.

    The Markkula Foundation, one of the key funders of the Trust Project, exercises considerable influence over the organization through the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, which originally incubated the organization and whose News Leadership Council plays an important role at the Trust Project.

    That council’s membership includes representatives of Facebook, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Financial Times and Google, and “guides the Trust Project on our Trust Indicators and advises on core issues related to information literacy and rebuilding trust in journalism within a fractious, so-called post-fact environment.”

    Both the Markkula Foundation and the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics were founded by A. M. “Mike” Markkula, former CEO of Apple.

    The Markkula Center’s Journalism Ethics program is currently headed by Subramaniam Vincent, a former software engineer and consultant for Intel and Cisco Systems who has worked to bring together big data with local journalism and is an advocate for the use of “ethical-AI [artificial intelligence] to ingest, sort, and classify news.”

    The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is another interesting funder of the Trust Project, given that this same foundation is also a key investor in Newsguard, the controversial, biased news rating system with deep connections to government insiders and self-described government propagandists.

    There is considerable overlap between Newsguard and the Trust Project, with the latter citing Newsguard as a partner and also stating that Newsguard’s demonstrably biased ratings use the project’s “trust indicators” in its full-length reviews of news websites, which Newsguard calls “nutrition labels.”

    In addition, becoming a Trust Project participant is a factor that “supports a positive evaluation” from Newsguard, according to a press release from last year.

    Notably, Sally Lehrman, who leads the Trust Project, described the project’s trust indicators for news as ”along the lines of a nutrition label on a package of food” when the Trust Project was created nearly a year before Newsguard launched, suggesting some intellectual overlap.

    A previous MintPress exposé revealed Newsguard’s numerous conflicts of interest and a ratings system strongly biased in favor of well-known, traditional media outlets — even when those outlets have a dubious track record of promoting so-called “fake news.”

    It should come as no surprise that the Trust Project’s goal is to increase public trust in the very same traditional media outlets that Newsguard favored and to use HTML-embedded codes in news articles to promote their content at the expense of independent alternatives.

    A familiar face in the war against independent media

    The Democracy Fund, another top funder of the Trust Project and a bipartisan foundation that was established by eBay founder and PayPal owner Omidyar in 2011 “out of deep respect for the U.S. Constitution and our nation’s core democratic values.”

    It is a spin-off of the Omidyar Network and, after splitting off as an independent company in 2014, became a member of the Omidyar Group.

    The fund’s National Advisory Committee includes former Bush and Obama administration officials and representatives of Facebook, Microsoft, NBC News, ABC News and Gizmodo Media group.

    The Democracy Fund’s involvement in the Trust Project is notable because of the other media projects it funds, such as the new media empire of arch-neoconservative Bill Kristol, who has a long history of creating and disseminating falsehoods that have been used to justify the U.S. war in Iraq and other hawkish foreign policy stances.

    As a recent MintPress series revealed, Omidyar’s Democracy Fund provides financial support to Kristol’s Defending Democracy Together initiative and also supports Kristol’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund think tank that is best known for its cryptic Hamilton68 “Russian bot” dashboard.

    Omidyar’s Democracy Fund has also donated to the German Marshall Fund’s Defending Digital Democracy project and directly to the German Marshall Fund itself. In addition, Charles Sykes, a co-founder and editor-at-large of Kristol’s new publication The Bulwark, is on the Democracy Fund’s National Advisory Committee.

    An acolyte of Kristol’s who works at the German Marshall Fund, Jamie Fly, stated last October that the coordinated social-media purges of independent media pages known for their criticisms of U.S. empire and U.S. police violence was “just the beginning” and hinted that the German Marshall Fund had a hand in past social media purges and, presumably, a role in future purges.

    Thus, the Democracy Fund’s links to neoconservatives who promote the censoring of independent media sites that are critical of militaristic U.S. foreign policy jibe with the fund’s underlying interest in the Trust Project.

    Omidyar’s involvement with the Trust Project is interesting for another reason, namely that Omidyar is the main backer behind the efforts of the controversial Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to become a key driver of which outlets are censored by Silicon Valley tech giants.

    The ADL was initially founded to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all” but critics say that over the years it has begun labeling critics of Israel’s government as “anti-Semites.”

    For example, content that characterizes Israeli policies towards Palestinians as “racist” or “apartheid-like” is considered “hate speech” by the ADL, as is accusing Israel of war crimes or attempted ethnic cleansing.

    The ADL has even described explicitly Jewish organizations that are critical of Israel’s government as being “anti-Semitic.”

    In March 2017, the Omidyar Network provided the “critical seed capital” need to launch the ADL’s “new Silicon Valley center aimed at tackling this rising wave of intolerance and to collaborate more closely with technology companies to promote democracy and social justice.”

    That Omidyar-funded ADL center allowed the ADL to team up with Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft — all of whom also collaborate with the Trust Project — to create a Cyberhate Problem-Solving Lab. Since then, these companies and their subsidiaries, including Google’s YouTube, have relied on the ADL to flag “controversial” content.

    Given the fact that the Trust Project shares with the ADL a key funder (Pierre Omidyar) and several external tech partners, it remains to be seen whether there is overlap between how major tech companies like Google and Facebook use the Trust Indicators in its algorithms and the influence of the ADL on those very same algorithms.

    What is clear however is that there exists an undeniable overlap given the fact that Craig Newmark, who provided the seed funding for the Trust Project and continues to fund it, is also a key donor and advisor to the ADL.

    In 2017, Newmark gave $100,000 to the ADL’s Incident Response Center and is a member of the group’s tech advisory board.

    Outsourcing censorship

    Of course, the most interesting and troubling donors of the Trust Project are Google and Facebook, both of which are using the very project they fund as a “third party” to justify their manipulation of newsfeed and search-engine algorithms.

    Google’s intimate involvement from the very inception of the Trust Project tags it as an extension of Google that has since been marketed as an “independent” organization tasked with justifying algorithm changes that favor certain news outlets over others.

    Facebook, similarly, funds the Trust Project and also employs the “trust indicators” it funds to alter its newsfeed algorithm.

    Facebook’s other partners in altering this algorithm include the Atlantic Council — funded by the U.S. government, NATO, and weapons manufacturers, among others — and Facebook has also directly teamed up with foreign governments, such as the government of Israel, to suppress accurate yet dissenting information that the government in question wanted removed from the social-media platform.

    The murkiness between “private” censorship, censorship by tech oligarchs, and censorship by government is particularly marked in the Trust Project.

    The private financiers of the Trust Project that also use its product to promote certain news content over others — namely Google and Facebook — have ties to the U.S. government, with Google being a government contractor and Facebook sporting a growing body of former-government officials in top company positions, including a co-author of the controversial Patriot Act as the company’s general counsel.

    A similar tangle surrounds Pierre Omidyar, funder of the Trust Project through the Democracy Fund, who is extremely well-connected to the U.S. government, especially the military-industrial complex and intelligence communities.

    And partnering with media outlets like the Washington Post, whose owner is Jeff Bezos, spawns more conflicts of interests, given that Bezos’ company, Amazon, is also a major U.S. government contractor.

    This growing nexus binding Silicon Valley companies and oligarchs, mainstream media outlets and the government suggests that these entities have increasingly similar and complementary interests, among which is the censorship of independent watchdog journalists and news outlets that seek to challenge their power and narratives.

    The Trust Project was created as a way of outsourcing censorship of independent news sites while attempting to salvage the tattered reputation of mainstream media outlets and return the U.S. and international media landscape to years past when such outlets were able to dominate the narrative.

    While it seems unlikely that’s its initiatives will succeed in restoring trust to mainstream media given the many recent and continuing examples of those same “traditional” media outlets circulating fake news and failing to cover crucial aspects of events, the Trust Project’s development of hidden algorithm-altering codes in participating websites shows that its real goal is not about improving public trust but about providing a facade of independence to Silicon Valley censorship of independent media outlets that speak truth to power.
    The Trust Project: Big Media and Silicon Valley’s Weaponized Algorithms Silence Dissent https://desultoryheroics.com/2019/06/18/the-trust-project-big-media-and-silicon-valleys-weaponized-algorithms-silence-dissent/ Posted By Luther Blissett By Whitney Webb: Mintpress News 6/18/19 After the failure of Newsguard — the news rating system backed by a cadre of prominent neoconservative personalities — to gain traction among American tech and social media companies, another organization has quietly stepped in to direct the news algorithms of tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. Though different from Newsguard, this group, known as “The Trust Project,” has a similar goal of restoring “trust” in corporate, mainstream media outlets, relative to independent alternatives, by applying “trust indicators” to social-media news algorithms in a decidedly nontransparent way. The funding of “The Trust Project” — coming largely from big tech companies like Google; government-connected tech oligarchs like Pierre Omidyar; and the Knight Foundation, a key Newsguard investor — suggests that an ulterior motive in its tireless promotion of “traditional” mainstream media outlets is to limit the success of dissenting alternatives. Of particular importance is the fact that the Trust Project’s “trust indicators” are already being used to control what news is promoted and suppressed by top search engines like Google and Bing and massive social-media networks like Facebook. Though the descriptions of these “trust indicators” — eight of which are currently in use — are publicly available, the way they are being used by major tech and social media companies is not. The Trust Project’s goal is to increase public trust in the very same traditional media outlets that Newsguard favored and to use HTML-embedded codes in favored news articles to promote their content at the expense of independent alternatives. Even if its effort to promote “trust” in establishment media fail, its embedded-code hidden within participating news sites allow those establishment outlets to skirt the same algorithms currently targeting their independent competition, making such issues of “trust” largely irrelevant as it moves to homogenize the online media landscape in favor of mainstream media. The Trust Project’s director, Sally Lehrman, made it clear that, in her view, the lack of public trust in mainstream media and its declining readership is the result of unwanted “competition by principle-free enterprises [that] further undermines its [journalism’s] very role and purpose as an engine for democracy.” Getting to know the Trust Project The Trust Project describes itself as “a consortium of top news companies” involved in developing “transparency standards that help you easily assess the quality and credibility of journalism.” It has done this by creating what it calls “Trust Indicators,” which the project’s website describes as “a digital standard that meets people’s needs.” However, far from meeting “people’s needs,” the Trust Indicators seem aimed at manipulating search engine and social-media news algorithms to the benefit of the project’s media partners, rather than to the benefit of the general public. The origins of the Trust Project date back to a 2012 “roundtable” hosted by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, a center funded by former Apple CEO Mike Markkula. That roundtable became known as the Roundtable on Digital Journalism Ethics and was created by journalist Sally Lehrman, then working at the Markkula Center, in connection with the New Media Executive Roundtable and Online Credibility Watch of the Society of Professional Journalists. Lehrman has explicitly stated that the Trust Project is open only to “news organizations that adhere to traditional standards.” The specific idea that spurred the creation of the Trust Project itself was born at a 2014 meeting of that roundtable, when Lehrman “asked a specialist in machine learning at Twitter, and Richard Gingras, head of Google News, if algorithms could be used to support ethics instead of hurting them, and they said yes. Gingras agreed to collaborate.” In other words, the idea behind the Trust Project, from the start, was aimed at gaming search-engine and social-media algorithms in collusion with major tech companies like Google and Twitter. As the Trust Project itself notes, the means of altering algorithms were developed in tandem with tech-giant executives like Gingras and “top editors in the industry from 80 news outlets and institutions,” all of which are corporate, mainstream media outlets. Notably, the Trust Project’s media partners, involved in creating these new “standards” for news algorithms, include major publications owned by wealthy oligarchs: the Washington Post, owned by the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos; the Economist, directed by the wealthy Rothschild family; and the Globe and Mail, owned by Canada’s richest family, the Thomsons, who also own Thomson Reuters. Other Trust Project partners include The New York Times, Mic, Hearst Television, the BBC and the USA Today network. Other major outlets are represented on the News Leadership Council of the Markkula Center, including the Financial Times, Gizmodo Media, and The Wall Street Journal. That council — which also includes Gingras and Andrew Anker, Facebook’s Director of Product Management — “guides the Trust Project on our Trust Indicators.” These “Trust Indicators” are the core of the Trust Project’s activities and reveal one of the key mechanisms through which Google, Twitter and Facebook have been altering their algorithms to favor outlets with good “Trust Indicator” scores. Trust Indicators, on their face, are aimed at making news publications “more transparent” as a means of generating increased trust with the public. Though a total of 37 have been developed, it appears only eight of them are currently being used. These eight indicators are listed and described by the Trust Project as follows: Best Practices: What are the news outlet’s standards? Who funds it? What is the outlet’s mission? Plus commitments to ethics, diverse voices, accuracy, making corrections and other standards. Author/Reporter Expertise: Who made this? Details about the journalist, including their expertise and other stories they have worked on. Type of Work: What is this? Labels to distinguish opinion, analysis and advertiser (or sponsored) content from news reports. Citations and References: What’s the source? For investigative or in-depth stories, access to the sources behind the facts and assertions. Methods: How was it built? Also for in-depth stories, information about why reporters chose to pursue a story and how they went about the process. Locally Sourced? Was the reporting done on the scene, with deep knowledge about the local situation or community? Lets you know when the story has local origin or expertise. Diverse Voices: What are the newsroom’s efforts and commitments to bringing in diverse perspectives? Readers noticed when certain voices, ethnicities, or political persuasions were missing. Actionable Feedback: Can we participate? A newsroom’s efforts to engage the public’s help in setting coverage priorities, contributing to the reporting process, ensuring accuracy and other areas. Readers want to participate and provide feedback that might alter or expand a story. How the Trust Project makes these indicators available to the public can be seen in its new project, the Newsroom Transparency Tracker, where it provides a table of “transparency” for participating media outlets. Notably, that table conflates actual transparency practices with simply providing the Trust Project with outlet policies and guidelines related to the above indicators. For example, The Economist gets a perfect transparency “score” for having provided the Trust Project links to its ethics policy, mission statement and other information requested by the project. However, the fact that those policies exist and are provided to the Trust Project does not mean that the publication’s policies are, in fact, transparent or ethical in terms of their content or in practice. The fact that The Economist provided links to its policies does not make the publication more transparent, but — in the context of the Newsroom Transparency Tracker’s table — it provides the appearance of transparency, though such policy disclosures by The Economist are unlikely to translate into any changes to its well-known biases and slanted reporting towards certain issues. Trust Indicators manipulate big tech algorithms The true power of the Trust Indicators comes in a form that is not visible to the general public. These Trust Indicators, while occasionally displayed on partner websites, are also coupled with “machine-readable signals” embedded in the HTML code of participating websites and articles used by Facebook, Google, Bing and Twitter. As Lehrman noted in a 2017 article, the Trust Project was then “already working with these four companies, all of which have said they want to use our indicators to prioritize honest, well-reported news over fakery and falsehood.” Gingras of Google News also noted that the Trust Indicators are used by Google as “cues to help search engines better understand and rank results … [and] to help the myriad algorithmic systems that mold our media lives.” A press release from the Trust Project last year further underscores the importance of the embedded “indicators” to alter social-media and search-engine algorithms: While each Indicator is visible to users on the pages of the Project’s news partners, it is also embedded in the article and site code for machines to read — providing the first, standardized technical language that offers contextual information about news sites’ commitments to transparency.” Despite claiming to increase public knowledge of “news sites’ commitments to transparency,” the way that major tech companies like Google and Facebook are using these indicators is anything but transparent. Indeed, it is largely unknown how these indicators are used, though there are a few clues. For instance, CBS News cited Craig Newmark — the billionaire founder of Craigslist, who provided the Trust Project’s seed funding — as suggesting that “Google’s search algorithm could rank trusted sources above others in search results” by using the project’s Trust Indicators. Last year, the Trust Project stated that Bing used “the ‘Type of Work’ Trust Indicator to display whether an article is news, opinion or analysis.” It also stated that “when Facebook launched its process to index news Pages, they worked with the Trust Project to make it easy for any publisher to add optional information about their Page.” In Google’s case, Gingras was quoted as saying that Google News uses the indicators “to assess the relative authoritativeness of news organizations and authors. We’re looking forward to developing new ways to use the indicators.” Notably, the machine-readable version of these Trust Indicators is available only to participating institutions, which are currently corporate, mainstream publications. Though WordPress and Drupal plug-ins are being developed to make those embedded signals to search engines and social media available to smaller publishers, it will be made available only to “qualified publishers,” a determination that will presumably be made by the Trust Project and its associates. Richard Gingras, in a statement made in 2017, noted that “the indicators can help our algorithms better understand authoritative journalism — and help us to better surface it to consumers.” Thus, it is abundantly clear that these indicators, which are embedded only into “qualified” and “authoritative” news websites, will be used to slant search-engine and social-media news algorithms in favor of establishment news websites. The bottom line is that these embedded and exclusive indicators allow certain news outlets to avoid the crushing effects of recent algorithm changes that have seen traffic to many news websites, including MintPress, plummet in recent years. This is leading towards a homogenization of the online news landscape by starving independent competitors of web traffic while Trust Project-approved outlets are given an escape valve through algorithm manipulation. The tech billionaires behind the Trust Project Given the Trust Project’s rich-get-richer impact on the online news landscape, it is not surprising to find that it is funded by rich and powerful figures and forces with a clear stake in controlling the flow of news and information online. According to its website, the Trust Project currently receives funding from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Google, Facebook, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s Democracy Fund, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (often abbreviated as the Knight Foundation), and the Markkula Foundation. Its website also states that Google was “an early financial supporter” and that it had originally been funded by Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist. As previously mentioned, the Trust Project’s co-founder is Richard Gingras, current Google vice president of News. The Trust Project’s website described Gingras’s current role with the organization as “a powerful evangelist” who “can always be counted upon for expert advice and encouragement.” Newmark’s current role at the Trust Project is described as that of a “funder and valued connector.” Newmark, through Craig Newmark Philanthropies, who provided the initial funding for the Trust Project, and has also funded other related initiatives like the News Integrity Initiative at the City University of New York, which shares many of the same financiers as the Trust Project, including Facebook, Omidyar’s Democracy Fund, and the Knight Foundation. The Trust Project is listed as a collaborator of the News Integrity Initiative. Newmark is also very active in several news-related NGOs with similar overlap. For instance, he sits on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a longtime recipient of massive grants from the Omidyar Network, and Politifact[dot]com, which is funded in part by Omidyar’s Democracy Fund. Newmark is currently working with Vivian Schiller as his “strategic adviser” in his media investments. Schiller is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, former head of news at Twitter, and a veteran of well-known mainstream outlets like NPR, CNN, The New York Times and NBC News. She is also a director of the Scott Trust, which owns The Guardian. The Markkula Foundation, one of the key funders of the Trust Project, exercises considerable influence over the organization through the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, which originally incubated the organization and whose News Leadership Council plays an important role at the Trust Project. That council’s membership includes representatives of Facebook, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Financial Times and Google, and “guides the Trust Project on our Trust Indicators and advises on core issues related to information literacy and rebuilding trust in journalism within a fractious, so-called post-fact environment.” Both the Markkula Foundation and the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics were founded by A. M. “Mike” Markkula, former CEO of Apple. The Markkula Center’s Journalism Ethics program is currently headed by Subramaniam Vincent, a former software engineer and consultant for Intel and Cisco Systems who has worked to bring together big data with local journalism and is an advocate for the use of “ethical-AI [artificial intelligence] to ingest, sort, and classify news.” The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is another interesting funder of the Trust Project, given that this same foundation is also a key investor in Newsguard, the controversial, biased news rating system with deep connections to government insiders and self-described government propagandists. There is considerable overlap between Newsguard and the Trust Project, with the latter citing Newsguard as a partner and also stating that Newsguard’s demonstrably biased ratings use the project’s “trust indicators” in its full-length reviews of news websites, which Newsguard calls “nutrition labels.” In addition, becoming a Trust Project participant is a factor that “supports a positive evaluation” from Newsguard, according to a press release from last year. Notably, Sally Lehrman, who leads the Trust Project, described the project’s trust indicators for news as ”along the lines of a nutrition label on a package of food” when the Trust Project was created nearly a year before Newsguard launched, suggesting some intellectual overlap. A previous MintPress exposé revealed Newsguard’s numerous conflicts of interest and a ratings system strongly biased in favor of well-known, traditional media outlets — even when those outlets have a dubious track record of promoting so-called “fake news.” It should come as no surprise that the Trust Project’s goal is to increase public trust in the very same traditional media outlets that Newsguard favored and to use HTML-embedded codes in news articles to promote their content at the expense of independent alternatives. A familiar face in the war against independent media The Democracy Fund, another top funder of the Trust Project and a bipartisan foundation that was established by eBay founder and PayPal owner Omidyar in 2011 “out of deep respect for the U.S. Constitution and our nation’s core democratic values.” It is a spin-off of the Omidyar Network and, after splitting off as an independent company in 2014, became a member of the Omidyar Group. The fund’s National Advisory Committee includes former Bush and Obama administration officials and representatives of Facebook, Microsoft, NBC News, ABC News and Gizmodo Media group. The Democracy Fund’s involvement in the Trust Project is notable because of the other media projects it funds, such as the new media empire of arch-neoconservative Bill Kristol, who has a long history of creating and disseminating falsehoods that have been used to justify the U.S. war in Iraq and other hawkish foreign policy stances. As a recent MintPress series revealed, Omidyar’s Democracy Fund provides financial support to Kristol’s Defending Democracy Together initiative and also supports Kristol’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund think tank that is best known for its cryptic Hamilton68 “Russian bot” dashboard. Omidyar’s Democracy Fund has also donated to the German Marshall Fund’s Defending Digital Democracy project and directly to the German Marshall Fund itself. In addition, Charles Sykes, a co-founder and editor-at-large of Kristol’s new publication The Bulwark, is on the Democracy Fund’s National Advisory Committee. An acolyte of Kristol’s who works at the German Marshall Fund, Jamie Fly, stated last October that the coordinated social-media purges of independent media pages known for their criticisms of U.S. empire and U.S. police violence was “just the beginning” and hinted that the German Marshall Fund had a hand in past social media purges and, presumably, a role in future purges. Thus, the Democracy Fund’s links to neoconservatives who promote the censoring of independent media sites that are critical of militaristic U.S. foreign policy jibe with the fund’s underlying interest in the Trust Project. Omidyar’s involvement with the Trust Project is interesting for another reason, namely that Omidyar is the main backer behind the efforts of the controversial Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to become a key driver of which outlets are censored by Silicon Valley tech giants. The ADL was initially founded to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all” but critics say that over the years it has begun labeling critics of Israel’s government as “anti-Semites.” For example, content that characterizes Israeli policies towards Palestinians as “racist” or “apartheid-like” is considered “hate speech” by the ADL, as is accusing Israel of war crimes or attempted ethnic cleansing. The ADL has even described explicitly Jewish organizations that are critical of Israel’s government as being “anti-Semitic.” In March 2017, the Omidyar Network provided the “critical seed capital” need to launch the ADL’s “new Silicon Valley center aimed at tackling this rising wave of intolerance and to collaborate more closely with technology companies to promote democracy and social justice.” That Omidyar-funded ADL center allowed the ADL to team up with Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft — all of whom also collaborate with the Trust Project — to create a Cyberhate Problem-Solving Lab. Since then, these companies and their subsidiaries, including Google’s YouTube, have relied on the ADL to flag “controversial” content. Given the fact that the Trust Project shares with the ADL a key funder (Pierre Omidyar) and several external tech partners, it remains to be seen whether there is overlap between how major tech companies like Google and Facebook use the Trust Indicators in its algorithms and the influence of the ADL on those very same algorithms. What is clear however is that there exists an undeniable overlap given the fact that Craig Newmark, who provided the seed funding for the Trust Project and continues to fund it, is also a key donor and advisor to the ADL. In 2017, Newmark gave $100,000 to the ADL’s Incident Response Center and is a member of the group’s tech advisory board. Outsourcing censorship Of course, the most interesting and troubling donors of the Trust Project are Google and Facebook, both of which are using the very project they fund as a “third party” to justify their manipulation of newsfeed and search-engine algorithms. Google’s intimate involvement from the very inception of the Trust Project tags it as an extension of Google that has since been marketed as an “independent” organization tasked with justifying algorithm changes that favor certain news outlets over others. Facebook, similarly, funds the Trust Project and also employs the “trust indicators” it funds to alter its newsfeed algorithm. Facebook’s other partners in altering this algorithm include the Atlantic Council — funded by the U.S. government, NATO, and weapons manufacturers, among others — and Facebook has also directly teamed up with foreign governments, such as the government of Israel, to suppress accurate yet dissenting information that the government in question wanted removed from the social-media platform. The murkiness between “private” censorship, censorship by tech oligarchs, and censorship by government is particularly marked in the Trust Project. The private financiers of the Trust Project that also use its product to promote certain news content over others — namely Google and Facebook — have ties to the U.S. government, with Google being a government contractor and Facebook sporting a growing body of former-government officials in top company positions, including a co-author of the controversial Patriot Act as the company’s general counsel. A similar tangle surrounds Pierre Omidyar, funder of the Trust Project through the Democracy Fund, who is extremely well-connected to the U.S. government, especially the military-industrial complex and intelligence communities. And partnering with media outlets like the Washington Post, whose owner is Jeff Bezos, spawns more conflicts of interests, given that Bezos’ company, Amazon, is also a major U.S. government contractor. This growing nexus binding Silicon Valley companies and oligarchs, mainstream media outlets and the government suggests that these entities have increasingly similar and complementary interests, among which is the censorship of independent watchdog journalists and news outlets that seek to challenge their power and narratives. The Trust Project was created as a way of outsourcing censorship of independent news sites while attempting to salvage the tattered reputation of mainstream media outlets and return the U.S. and international media landscape to years past when such outlets were able to dominate the narrative. While it seems unlikely that’s its initiatives will succeed in restoring trust to mainstream media given the many recent and continuing examples of those same “traditional” media outlets circulating fake news and failing to cover crucial aspects of events, the Trust Project’s development of hidden algorithm-altering codes in participating websites shows that its real goal is not about improving public trust but about providing a facade of independence to Silicon Valley censorship of independent media outlets that speak truth to power.
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  • #WastedResources
    June 12 “As each one has #received a #specialGift, #employIt in #servingOneAnother, as #goodStewards of the manifold #graceOfGod.” #IPeter4:10
    Listen to #todaysDevotional

    One of the #greatestTragedies in life is to #fail to #fully use our #spiritualResources. How #sad it is for a man or woman in #JesusChrist to come to #theEndOfYourLife and know that there is more #music in you that has #neverBeenPlayed, and that there are #songs in you that have #neverBeenSung. #NeverBeforeRecorded #NeverRecordedBefore

    Whatever #talents or #gifts #God has given you, there is #nothingMoreImportant than being in #harmony with #Him.


    #UseEverything God has placed in your #life. And when you #leaveThisWorld, #makeSure that you’ve #sung all the #songs #God has made you #capable of #singing. https://mailchi.mp/0f2d7c84ed72/the-truest-freedom-you-can-ever-experience-452497?e=9cbe669f39 #YHWH #Jehovah #JesusChrist #Jesus #Christ #TheOneTrueGod #LivingGod #TheFirstAndTheLast #Alpha #Omega #TheAlphaAndTheOmega #BibleStudy #Devotion #Devotional #love #listen #mindfulness #lifestyle #investment #Investments #amazing #happiness #motivation #healing #Passion #peace #trust #truth #timemanagement #time
    #WastedResources June 12 “As each one has #received a #specialGift, #employIt in #servingOneAnother, as #goodStewards of the manifold #graceOfGod.” #IPeter4:10 Listen to #todaysDevotional One of the #greatestTragedies in life is to #fail to #fully use our #spiritualResources. How #sad it is for a man or woman in #JesusChrist to come to #theEndOfYourLife and know that there is more #music in you that has #neverBeenPlayed, and that there are #songs in you that have #neverBeenSung. #NeverBeforeRecorded #NeverRecordedBefore Whatever #talents or #gifts #God has given you, there is #nothingMoreImportant than being in #harmony with #Him. #UseEverything God has placed in your #life. And when you #leaveThisWorld, #makeSure that you’ve #sung all the #songs #God has made you #capable of #singing. https://mailchi.mp/0f2d7c84ed72/the-truest-freedom-you-can-ever-experience-452497?e=9cbe669f39 #YHWH #Jehovah #JesusChrist #Jesus #Christ #TheOneTrueGod #LivingGod #TheFirstAndTheLast #Alpha #Omega #TheAlphaAndTheOmega #BibleStudy #Devotion #Devotional #love #listen #mindfulness #lifestyle #investment #Investments #amazing #happiness #motivation #healing #Passion #peace #trust #truth #timemanagement #time
    Wasted Resources
    Use what God has given you to honor Him and bless others.
    MAILCHI.MP
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