Journalists struggle not to gush as President Trump donates salary to fund STEM camp, succeed wildly

Let’s face it: Rolling Stone said what every American was thinking when it asked on its cover why dreamy Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can’t be our president. He’s no Barack Obama, but it seems Trudeau can almost always be found doing something awesome, like building pillow forts in his office and sporting Ramadan-themed rainbow socks to the Toronto Pride Parade.

Meanwhile, we’re stuck with Donald Trump, who get this thinks he can just donate his salary and be appreciated for it. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Wednesday that the president would be donating his second-quarter salary $100,000 to the Department of Education, where it will pay for a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) camp for kids.

Read more: http://twitchy.com/brettt-3136/2017/07/27/journalists-struggle-not-to-gush-as-president-trump-donates-salary-to-fund-stem-camp-succeed-wildly/

Will Ivanka Trump be a great policy ‘moderator’ or a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Recent TV interview adds to confusion about the first daughter, who has said so little that the influence she plans to exert from her White House role is unclear

Ivanka Trump, who months ago stated her intention to be just a daughter to Donald Trump, has given her first television interview since being appointed to a formal White House position as special assistant to the president.

The first daughter toed a difficult line, seemingly embracing the role of policy moderator to her father, while at the same time telling CBSs Gayle King: Im still my fathers daughter.

Where I disagree with my father, he knows it and I express myself with total candor. Where I agree, I fully lean in and support the agenda, Trump said in the interview which aired on Wednesday.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/05/ivanka-trump-tv-interview-moderator-policy-white-house

Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media

With links to Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Nigel Farage, the rightwing American computer scientist is at the heart of a multimillion-dollar propaganda network

Just over a week ago, Donald Trump gathered members of the worlds press before him and told them they were liars. The press, honestly, is out of control, he said. The public doesnt believe you any more. CNN was described as very fake news story after story is bad. The BBC was another beauty.

That night I did two things. First, I typed Trump in the search box of Twitter. My feed was reporting that he was crazy, a lunatic, a raving madman. But that wasnt how it was playing out elsewhere. The results produced a stream of Go Donald!!!!, and You show em!!! There were star-spangled banner emojis and thumbs-up emojis and clips of Trump laying into the FAKE news MSM liars!

Trump had spoken, and his audience had heard him. Then I did what Ive been doing for two and a half months now. I Googled mainstream media is And there it was. Googles autocomplete suggestions: mainstream media is dead, dying, fake news, fake, finished. Is it dead, I wonder? Has FAKE news won? Are we now the FAKE news? Is the mainstream media we, us, I dying?

I click Googles first suggested link. It leads to a website called CNSnews.com and an article: The Mainstream media are dead. Theyre dead, I learn, because they we, I cannot be trusted. How had it, an obscure site Id never heard of, dominated Googles search algorithm on the topic? In the About us tab, I learn CNSnews is owned by the Media Research Center, which a click later I learn is Americas media watchdog, an organisation that claims an unwavering commitment to neutralising leftwing bias in the news, media and popular culture.

Another couple of clicks and I discover that it receives a large bulk of its funding more than $10m in the past decade from a single source, the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer. If you follow US politics you may recognise the name. Robert Mercer is the money behind Donald Trump. But then, I will come to learn, Robert Mercer is the money behind an awful lot of things. He was Trumps single biggest donor. Mercer started backing Ted Cruz, but when he fell out of the presidential race he threw his money $13.5m of it behind the Trump campaign.

Its money hes made as a result of his career as a brilliant but reclusive computer scientist. He started his career at IBM, where he made what the Association for Computational Linguistics called revolutionary breakthroughs in language processing a science that went on to be key in developing todays AI and later became joint CEO of Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund that makes its money by using algorithms to model and trade on the financial markets.

One of its funds, Medallion, which manages only its employees money, is the most successful in the world generating $55bn so far. And since 2010, Mercer has donated $45m to different political campaigns all Republican and another $50m to non-profits all rightwing, ultra-conservative. This is a billionaire who is, as billionaires are wont, trying to reshape the world according to his personal beliefs.

Donald
Donald Trumps presidential campaigned received $13.5m from Robert Mercer. Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Robert Mercer very rarely speaks in public and never to journalists, so to gauge his beliefs you have to look at where he channels his money: a series of yachts, all called Sea Owl; a $2.9m model train set; climate change denial (he funds a climate change denial thinktank, the Heartland Institute); and what is maybe the ultimate rich mans plaything the disruption of the mainstream media. In this he is helped by his close associate Steve Bannon, Trumps campaign manager and now chief strategist. The money he gives to the Media Research Center, with its mission of correcting liberal bias is just one of his media plays. There are other bigger, and even more deliberate strategies, and shining brightly, the star at the centre of the Mercer media galaxy, is Breitbart.

It was $10m of Mercers money that enabled Bannon to fund Breitbart a rightwing news site, set up with the express intention of being a Huffington Post for the right. It has launched the careers of Milo Yiannopoulos and his like, regularly hosts antisemitic and Islamophobic views, and is currently being boycotted by more than 1,000 brands after an activist campaign. It has been phenomenally successful: the 29th most popular site in America with 2bn page views a year. Its bigger than its inspiration, the Huffington Post, bigger, even, than PornHub. Its the biggest political site on Facebook. The biggest on Twitter.

Prominent rightwing journalist Andrew Breitbart, who founded the site but died in 2012, told Bannon that they had to take back the culture. And, arguably, they have, though American culture is only the start of it. In 2014, Bannon launched Breitbart London, telling the New York Times it was specifically timed ahead of the UKs forthcoming election. It was, he said, the latest front in our current cultural and political war. France and Germany are next.

But there was another reason why I recognised Robert Mercers name: because of his connection to Cambridge Analytica, a small data analytics company. He is reported to have a $10m stake in the company, which was spun out of a bigger British company called SCL Group. It specialises in election management strategies and messaging and information operations, refined over 25 years in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. In military circles this is known as psyops psychological operations. (Mass propaganda that works by acting on peoples emotions.)

Cambridge Analytica worked for the Trump campaign and, so Id read, the Leave campaign. When Mercer supported Cruz, Cambridge Analytica worked with Cruz. When Robert Mercer started supporting Trump, Cambridge Analytica came too. And where Mercers money is, Steve Bannon is usually close by: it was reported that until recently he had a seat on the board.

Last December, I wrote about Cambridge Analytica in a piece about how Googles search results on certain subjects were being dominated by rightwing and extremist sites. Jonathan Albright, a professor of communications at Elon University, North Carolina, who had mapped the news ecosystem and found millions of links between rightwing sites strangling the mainstream media, told me that trackers from sites like Breitbart could also be used by companies like Cambridge Analytica to follow people around the web and then, via Facebook, target them with ads.

On its website, Cambridge Analytica makes the astonishing boast that it has psychological profiles based on 5,000 separate pieces of data on 220 million American voters its USP is to use this data to understand peoples deepest emotions and then target them accordingly. The system, according to Albright, amounted to a propaganda machine.

A few weeks later, the Observer received a letter. Cambridge Analytica was not employed by the Leave campaign, it said. Cambridge Analytica is a US company based in the US. It hasnt worked in British politics.

Which is how, earlier this week, I ended up in a Pret a Manger near Westminster with Andy Wigmore, Leave.EUs affable communications director, looking at snapshots of Donald Trump on his phone. It was Wigmore who orchestrated Nigel Farages trip to Trump Tower the PR coup that saw him become the first foreign politician to meet the president elect.

Wigmore scrolls through the snaps on his phone. Thats the one I took, he says pointing at the now globally famous photo of Farage and Trump in front of his golden elevator door giving the thumbs-up sign. Wigmore was one of the bad boys of Brexit a term coined by Arron Banks, the Bristol-based businessman who was Leave.EUs co-founder.

Cambridge Analytica had worked for them, he said. It had taught them how to build profiles, how to target people and how to scoop up masses of data from peoples Facebook profiles. A video on YouTube shows one of Cambridge Analyticas and SCLs employees, Brittany Kaiser, sitting on the panel at Leave.EUs launch event.

Facebook was the key to the entire campaign, Wigmore explained. A Facebook like, he said, was their most potent weapon. Because using artificial intelligence, as we did, tells you all sorts of things about that individual and how to convince them with what sort of advert. And you knew there would also be other people in their network who liked what they liked, so you could spread. And then you follow them. The computer never stops learning and it never stops monitoring.

Steve
Steve Bannon, Donald Trumps chief strategist, is an associate of Robert Mercer. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

It sounds creepy, I say.

It is creepy! Its really creepy! Its why Im not on Facebook! I tried it on myself to see what information it had on me and I was like, Oh my God! Whats scary is that my kids had put things on Instagram and it picked that up. It knew where my kids went to school.

They hadnt employed Cambridge Analytica, he said. No money changed hands. They were happy to help.

Why?

Because Nigel is a good friend of the Mercers. And Robert Mercer introduced them to us. He said, Heres this company we think may be useful to you. What they were trying to do in the US and what we were trying to do had massive parallels. We shared a lot of information. Why wouldnt you? Behind Trumps campaign and Cambridge Analytica, he said, were the same people. Its the same family.

There were already a lot of questions swirling around Cambridge Analytica, and Andy Wigmore has opened up a whole lot more. Such as: are you supposed to declare services-in-kind as some sort of donation? The Electoral Commission says yes, if it was more than 7,500. And was it declared? The Electoral Commission says no. Does that mean a foreign billionaire had possibly influenced the referendum without that influence being apparent? Its certainly a question worth asking.

In the last month or so, articles in first the Swiss and the US press have asked exactly what Cambridge Analytica is doing with US voters data. In a statement to the Observer, the Information Commissioners Office said: Any business collecting and using personal data in the UK must do so fairly and lawfully. We will be contacting Cambridge Analytica and asking questions to find out how the company is operating in the UK and whether the law is being followed.

Cambridge Analytica said last Friday they are in touch with the ICO and are completely compliant with UK and EU data laws. It did not answer other questions the Observer put to it this week about how it built its psychometric model, which owes its origins to original research carried out by scientists at Cambridge Universitys Psychometric Centre, research based on a personality quiz on Facebook that went viral. More than 6 million people ended up doing it, producing an astonishing treasure trove of data.

These Facebook profiles especially peoples likes could be correlated across millions of others to produce uncannily accurate results. Michal Kosinski, the centres lead scientist, found that with knowledge of 150 likes, their model could predict someones personality better than their spouse. With 300, it understood you better than yourself. Computers see us in a more robust way than we see ourselves, says Kosinski.

But there are strict ethical regulations regarding what you can do with this data. Did SCL Group have access to the universitys model or data, I ask Professor Jonathan Rust, the centres director? Certainly not from us, he says. We have very strict rules around this.

A scientist, Aleksandr Kogan, from the centre was contracted to build a model for SCL, and says he collected his own data. Professor Rust says he doesnt know where Kogans data came from. The evidence was contrary. I reported it. An independent adjudicator was appointed by the university. But then Kogan said hed signed a non-disclosure agreement with SCL and he couldnt continue [answering questions].

Kogan disputes this and says SCL satisfied the universitys inquiries. But perhaps more than anyone, Professor Rust understands how the kind of information people freely give up to social media sites could be used.

Nigel
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage is a friend of the Mercers. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

The danger of not having regulation around the sort of data you can get from Facebook and elsewhere is clear. With this, a computer can actually do psychology, it can predict and potentially control human behaviour. Its what the scientologists try to do but much more powerful. Its how you brainwash someone. Its incredibly dangerous.

Its no exaggeration to say that minds can be changed. Behaviour can be predicted and controlled. I find it incredibly scary. I really do. Because nobody has really followed through on the possible consequences of all this. People dont know its happening to them. Their attitudes are being changed behind their backs.

Mercer invested in Cambridge Analytica, the Washington Post reported, driven in part by an assessment that the right was lacking sophisticated technology capabilities. But in many ways, its what Cambridge Analyticas parent company does that raises even more questions.

Emma Briant, a propaganda specialist at the University of Sheffield, wrote about SCL Group in her 2015 book, Propaganda and Counter-Terrorism: Strategies for Global Change. Cambridge Analytica has the technological tools to effect behavioural and psychological change, she said, but its SCL that strategises it. It has specialised, at the highest level for Nato, the MoD, the US state department and others in changing the behaviour of large groups. It models mass populations and then it changes their beliefs.

SCL was founded by someone called Nigel Oakes, who worked for Saatchi & Saatchi on Margaret Thatchers image, says Briant, and the company had been making money out of the propaganda side of the war on terrorism over a long period of time. There are different arms of SCL but its all about reach and the ability to shape the discourse. They are trying to amplify particular political narratives. And they are selective in who they go for: they are not doing this for the left.

In the course of the US election, Cambridge Analytica amassed a database, as it claims on its website, of almost the entire US voting population 220 million people and the Washington Post reported last week that SCL was increasing staffing at its Washington office and competing for lucrative new contracts with Trumps administration. It seems significant that a company involved in engineering a political outcome profits from what follows. Particularly if its the manipulation, and then resolution, of fear, says Briant.

Its the database, and what may happen to it, that particularly exercises Paul-Olivier Dehaye, a Swiss mathematician and data activist who has been investigating Cambridge Analytica and SCL for more than a year. How is it going to be used? he says. Is it going to be used to try and manipulate people around domestic policies? Or to ferment conflict between different communities? It is potentially very scary. People just dont understand the power of this data and how it can be used against them.

There are two things, potentially, going on simultaneously: the manipulation of information on a mass level, and the manipulation of information at a very individual level. Both based on the latest understandings in science about how people work, and enabled by technological platforms built to bring us together.

Are we living in a new era of propaganda, I ask Emma Briant? One we cant see, and that is working on us in ways we cant understand? Where we can only react, emotionally, to its messages? Definitely. The way that surveillance through technology is so pervasive, the collection and use of our data is so much more sophisticated. Its totally covert. And people dont realise what is going on.

Public mood and politics goes through cycles. You dont have to subscribe to any conspiracy theory, Briant says, to see that a mass change in public sentiment is happening. Or that some of the tools in action are straight out of the militarys or SCLs playbook.

But then theres increasing evidence that our public arenas the social media sites where we post our holiday snaps or make comments about the news are a new battlefield where international geopolitics is playing out in real time. Its a new age of propaganda. But whose? This week, Russia announced the formation of a new branch of the military: information warfare troops.

Sam Woolley of the Oxford Internet Institutes computational propaganda institute tells me that one third of all traffic on Twitter before the EU referendum was automated bots accounts that are programmed to look like people, to act like people, and to change the conversation, to make topics trend. And they were all for Leave. Before the US election, they were five-to-one in favour of Trump many of them Russian. Last week they have been in action in the Stoke byelection Russian bots, organised by who? attacking Paul Nuttall.

Politics is war, said Steve Bannon last year in the Wall Street Journal. And increasingly this looks to be true.

Theres nothing accidental about Trumps behaviour, Andy Wigmore tells me. That press conference. It was absolutely brilliant. I could see exactly what he was doing. Theres feedback going on constantly. Thats what you can do with artificial intelligence. You can measure ever reaction to every word. He has a word room, where you fix key words. We did it. So with immigration, there are actually key words within that subject matter which people are concerned about. So when you are going to make a speech, its all about how can you use these trending words.

Wigmore met with Trumps team right at the start of the Leave campaign. And they said the holy grail was artificial intelligence.

Who did?

Jared Kushner and Jason Miller.

Later, when Trump picked up Mercer and Cambridge Analytica, the game changed again. Its all about the emotions. This is the big difference with what we did. They call it bio-psycho-social profiling. It takes your physical, mental and lifestyle attributes and works out how people work, how they react emotionally.

Bio-psycho-social profiling, I read later, is one offensive in what is called cognitive warfare. Though there are many others: recoding the mass consciousness to turn patriotism into collaborationism, explains a Nato briefing document on countering Russian disinformation written by an SCL employee. Time-sensitive professional use of media to propagate narratives, says one US state department white paper. Of particular importance to psyop personnel may be publicly and commercially available data from social media platforms.

Yet another details the power of a cognitive casualty a moral shock that has a disabling effect on empathy and higher processes such as moral reasoning and critical thinking. Something like immigration, perhaps. Or fake news. Or as it has now become: FAKE news!!!!

How do you change the way a nation thinks? You could start by creating a mainstream media to replace the existing one with a site such as Breitbart. You could set up other websites that displace mainstream sources of news and information with your own definitions of concepts like liberal media bias, like CNSnews.com. And you could give the rump mainstream media, papers like the failing New York Times! what it wants: stories. Because the third prong of Mercer and Bannons media empire is the Government Accountability Institute.

Bannon co-founded it with $2m of Mercers money. Mercers daughter, Rebekah, was appointed to the board. Then they invested in expensive, long-term investigative journalism. The modern economics of the newsroom dont support big investigative reporting staffs, Bannon told Forbes magazine. You wouldnt get a Watergate, a Pentagon Papers today, because nobody can afford to let a reporter spend seven months on a story. We can. Were working as a support function.

Welcome to the future of journalism in the age of platform capitalism. News organisations have to do a better job of creating new financial models. But in the gaps in between, a determined plutocrat and a brilliant media strategist can, and have, found a way to mould journalism to their own ends.

In 2015, Steve Bannon described to Forbes how the GAI operated, employing a data scientist to trawl the dark web (in the article he boasts of having access to $1.3bn worth of supercomputers) to dig up the kind of source material Google cant find. One result has been a New York Times bestseller, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, written by GAIs president, Peter Schweizer and later turned into a film produced by Rebekah Mercer and Steve Bannon.

This, Bannon explained, is how you weaponise the narrative you want. With hard researched facts. With those, you can launch it straight on to the front page of the New York Times, as the story of Hillary Clintons cash did. Like Hillarys emails it turned the news agenda, and, most crucially, it diverted the attention of the news cycle. Another classic psyops approach. Strategic drowning of other messages.

This is a strategic, long-term and really quite brilliant play. In the 1990s, Bannon explained, conservative media couldnt take Bill Clinton down becausethey wound up talking to themselves in an echo chamber.

As, it turns out, the liberal media is now. We are scattered, separate, squabbling among ourselves and being picked off like targets in a shooting gallery. Increasingly, theres a sense that we are talking to ourselves. And whether its Mercers millions or other factors, Jonathan Albrights map of the news and information ecosystem shows how rightwing sites are dominating sites like YouTube and Google, bound tightly together by millions of links.

Is there a central intelligence to that, I ask Albright? There has to be. There has to be some type of coordination. You can see from looking at the map, from the architecture of the system, that this is not accidental. Its clearly being led by money and politics.

Theres been a lot of talk in the echo chamber about Bannon in the last few months, but its Mercer who provided the money to remake parts of the media landscape. And while Bannon understands the media, Mercer understands big data. He understands the structure of the internet. He knows how algorithms work.

Robert Mercer did not respond to a request for comment for this piece. NickPatterson, a British cryptographer, who worked at Renaissance Technologies in the 80s and is now a computational geneticist at MIT, described to me how he was the one who talent-spotted Mercer. There was an elite group working at IBM in the 1980s doing speech research, speech recognition, and when I joined Renaissance I judged that the mathematics we were trying to apply to financial markets were very similar.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/26/robert-mercer-breitbart-war-on-media-steve-bannon-donald-trump-nigel-farage

Two nights on Milo Yiannopoulos’s campus tour: as offensive as you’d imagine

Abigail Edge followed the notorious online trolls speaking tour to two campuses in Colorado and found plenty of protests, supporters and hateful rhetoric

Around a dozen police in riot gear line the entrance to the mathematics building at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Inside, professional hatemonger Milo Yiannopoulos is addressing an audience of around 400 people, peppered with bright red baseball caps. Outside, a restless crowd of 200 protesters are holding signs and chanting anti-Trump slogans, their breath rising amid freezing temperatures cold enough to make your cellphone cut out. A roar rises up from the crowd, followed by the smell of smoke. The smouldering remains of a red Make America Great Again hat hit the ground.

What Im scared about is the normalization of fascism, and what Id regard as fascist values like racism and sexism, says Charles Wofford, a 28-year-old graduate student who has come to protest the event.

Wofford started an online petition asking CU Boulder chancellor Philip DiStefano to revoke Yiannopouloss invitation to speak that received more than 1,850 signatures. Although the university never responded to the petition, he hopes to keep the momentum of that action going.

If Milo can come here and be given a platform, then theres no particular reason to think that the American Nazi party or the Ku Klux Klan might not want to come here, says Wofford. So the organization thats come from protesting Milo needs to stay in place.

CUs main campus, in Boulder, is set in one of the most liberal cities in the US. With a population of 103,000 people, the city has been a destination for hippies, rock climbers and radical thinkers since the 1960s. Last year Forbes named Boulder the most educated city in the US, and it has more used bookstores per capita than any other city in the country, according to the local tourist board. With that comes wealth the cost of the average Boulder home surpassed $1m (808,210) in 2016. In Novembers election, more than 70% of Boulders votes were for Clinton and just 22% for Trump.

Yiannopoulos who is gay, an outspoken Trump supporter and a Breitbart editor is visiting CU Boulder on his campus speaking tour, The Dangerous Faggot, the name of which is emblazoned across his tour bus.

He spends the first 20 minutes of his talk rallying against the liberalism of Boulder before launching into a diatribe covering feminism, the media and Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones, on whom Yiannopoulos unleashed an army of racist Twitter trolls, resulting in him being banned from the platform.

Reverend
Reverend Roger Wolsey of the Wesley Fellowship Campus Ministry. Photograph: Abigail Edge

Hosted by the conservative student organizations College Republicans and Turning Point USA, Yiannopouloss speeches have been widely protested in both the UK and the US. Earlier this month, his appearance at the University of California, Davis, was cancelled after protests. And last week, on inauguration day, a protester was shot at the University of Washington where a large demonstration was taking place outside Yiannopouloss event.

Outside the red sandstone mathematics building, Avalon McFarland, a 20-year-old sophomore wearing a grey hat and glittery eye makeup, is part of a smaller counter-protest.

Not so long ago, she was a liberal herself. She caucused for Bernie Sanders but changed her perspective after the WikiLeaks dump of Hillary Clintons emails, which McFarland claims showed Sanders was working for Hillary.

Speaking about the next four years under a Trump presidency, she says: Im really hopeful because I think this ushers in an era of populism.

We took the power back as the people, and the silent majority spoke, she adds notwithstanding the fact that Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes.

The following evening, 81 miles south of Boulder, Yiannopoulos is at CU Colorado Springs to give another talk, though slightly less vitriolic. Likely he has less to rile against: Colorado Springs, population 439,886, is not just conservative its famous for being conservative. It is the home of evangelical organizations such as the New Life Church and Focus on the Family, which promotes creationism and opposes same-sex marriage. It also has an army base, two air force bases and is home to the US Air Force Academy.

In November 2015, a lone gunman entered a Planned Parenthood clinic four miles from the CU campus and shot three people dead. In El Paso County, where Colorado Springs is the county seat, Trump won more than half the votes in Novembers election, compared to a third for Clinton.

A pack of around 100 protesters turn up to demonstrate against the event, despite the fast-falling snow. A 17-year-old member of the group Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists says he believed Trump would bring about a rise in neofascism and racism, inspiring moderate people on the political left to take more radical action.

I guess the silver lining, if you can call it that, would be a larger, more radical group of leftists ready to fight the system, says the man, who asked not to be named for fear of being doxxed by Yiannopouloss supporters.

Police
Police and protesters at CU Boulder. Photograph: Abigail Edge

Yiannopoulos has a habit of singling out students at some of his campus talks. In Wisconsin last month, he showed a photograph of a transgender student and told the audience: The way you know hes failed is I can still bang him, according to the Wisconsin-Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

At UCCS, he shows a Facebook post written by one of the protesters outside, along with a photo, and says he would pop him on Breitbart, see how he likes the attention.

You think I cant ruin his Google results? he asks the audience.

Wearing a sparkly purple jacket, like a game show host, Yiannopoulos played to his crowd with jokes about Democrats, transgender people and the feminist writer Roxane Gay, who this week pulled her forthcoming book from Simon & Schuster after they signed a book deal with Yiannopoulos for a reported $250,000 advance. He also ranted about the lying media and low-testosterone losers like the Guardian and FiveThirtyEight.

Like the Boulder event, the audience is dotted with Make America Great Again caps, plus a red-haired man wearing an imitation Native American headdress.

I am very anti-political correctness culture, explains Michael Schorsch, a senior majoring in computer science. I think anybody should be able to wear whatever they want.

Born on the Air Force Academy, Schorsch, 25, is a self-described flaming conservative who has lived in the city most of his life. He used to drive a big truck and owns more than 20 guns.

He says he is excited Trump is staying with what he campaigned to do so far, but concerned that other branches of American government might manage to intervene.

Schorsch says he doesnt agree with some of Yiannopouloss comments on lesbians or gender, though he adds: I think he has every right to say it and its very funny sometimes.

During the talk, titled Why The Democrats Lost the White Working Class, Yiannopoulos reiterates his theory that lesbians can choose their sexuality and accused them of faking hate crimes. He also pokes fun at gender studies students.

Adrianna Conradson is the founder and president of Turning Point USA at the Colorado Springs campus, which as at UC Boulder hosted Yiannopoulos along with the College Republicans.

Tall with straight dark hair, Conradson, 20, moved to Colorado Springs from Phoenix, Arizona, two years ago with her boyfriend, who goes to the Air Force Academy. She likes the city a lot, especially going hiking with her Siberian husky puppy. After she graduates from CU next year she is planning to go to dental school.

I ask her how she feels about a Breibart article by Yiannopoulos which states women would be happier if society could uninvent the washing machine and the pill.

We all have the freedom to have free speech, he can say whatever he wants, but people shouldnt let it bother them so much, she says. I couldnt care less that he said that.

Asked if there is anything she feels fearful about with Trump as president, Conradson answers that she doesnt think so.

Well be putting America first, she adds, quoting the presidents inaugural speech, and a phrase that originated in the 1940s among Nazi sympathizers and came to be accused of connoting antisemitism. Well be investing in our own country instead of others.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/28/milo-yiannopoulos-campus-speaking-tour-colorado

V for Vendetta, Fahrenheit 451, and five other books that reflect Trump’s America

Is Nineteen Eighty-Four too obvious? Readers suggest books with the rise of a US oligarchy, alternative facts and a president who wont live in the White House

George Orwells Nineteen Eighty-Four has seen a surge in popularity since the election of Donald Trump, but other dystopian works of fiction are available. Following on from Alex Herns suggestions on Thursday, our readers offered the novels they think best capture the spirit of the times.

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore

To be sure, the management is very bad. In fact, let us not mince words the management is terrible! Weve had a string of embezzlers, frauds, liars and lunatics making a string of catastrophic decisions. This is plain fact.

But who elected them? It was you! You who appointed these people! You who gave them the power to make your decisions for you!

Clearly, we have elected the bad management that sits in office today, making catastrophic decisions. V for Vendetta depicts a state run by a dictator who rose to power after starting as an elected official, surrounding himself with people who think like him and are all too willing to carry out his extreme agenda.

Laurel Jones, Portland, Oregon

The Iron Heel by Jack London

The
The Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft factory in Untertuerkheim, near Stuttgart, in 1904. Photograph: AP

.

The novel accurately predicts the rise of the oligarchy in the US and the methods employed to widen the gap between the rich and the poor. From the bankrupting of small business owners and the subsequent wiping out of the middle classes, to favoured unions selling out their peers, Jack London predicted it all. The 1% existed then, and the 1% still exists now.

As a bonus, the novels primary protagonist is an educated woman by the name of Avis Everhard, which in 1908 was a pretty big deal, given that women did not even have the vote.

Suzi Smith, Edinburgh

If This Goes On … by Robert A Heinlein

When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know, the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mighty little force is needed to control a man whose mind has been hoodwinked.

A dystopian future, where psychological techniques are used to evaluate and manipulate the population. A religious dictator controls the US, and is eventually overthrown by the military. But Heinleins psychodynamics manipulating populations by systems of mathematics that make use of semantic indices for words quantification of the emotional impact of one word-choice over another in a given context looks much like the work done by Cambridge Analytica to assist Trump and Farage. The respected Stanford academic Michal Kosinski seems to have made psychodynamics a reality, and now Steve Bannon and Breitbart are using his ideas to rebuild fascism.

David Holmes, Newark

The Limits of the World by Andrew Raymond Drennan

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A template for Trumps America? North Korean soldiers gather at Munsu Hill to lay flowers in front of statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Photograph: Wong Maye-E/AP

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Painting slogans on walls is hard to keep quiet. Too many people see it. They tell their neighbours who tell other people at the market. Rumour becomes fact very quickly.

And what about our facts?

Han tried to smile, but felt it turning into a smirk, the kind he had seen senior officers make over the years. Our facts are better, comrade secretary. He let the smirk drift from his face: he was surprised how easy it was to sound like them.

This is a short conversation about some anti-establishment graffiti that appears in Pyongyang. It entirely resonates with the recent alternative facts debacle. The book, set in Pyongyang, consistently throws up draconian procedures of government and rules that are cropping up in Trumps rhetoric. There are terrifying similarities between the DPRK and what could be in store for the US over the next four years.

Joseph Martin-Kelly, 32, London

The Penultimate Truth by Philip K Dick

Its the third world war and millions live underground, producing robots for the conflict raging on the surface. TV is piped down to them, describing how the war is progressing.

But in reality the war is long over, and the upper society are living comfortable lives in mansions on massive estates maintained by the robots manufactured below the surface. Every now and again, they have robot skirmishes to determine who gets the nicest area to live. To maintain this, they create fake media and lies, even rewriting the history of WWII.

The fake news and lies are reminiscent of the Trumps presidency alternative facts, but the real uncomfortable similarity is that, unlike in Nineteen Eight-Four or Brave New World, the elite arent violent, moralistic or even overtly nasty; they just do all this to maintain the status quo of their nice lifestyles. I dont think Trump has much purpose other than to advance his celebrity status and lifestyle.

Jamie Wilson, 30, Cardiff

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

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Julie Christie in the 1966 film of Fahrenheit 451. Photograph: Everett Collection / Rex Feature

I plunk the children in school nine days out of ten. I put up with them when they come home three days a month; its not bad at all. You heave them into the parlor and turn the switch. Its like washing clothes: stuff laundry in and slam the lid … Theyd just as soon kick as kiss me. Thank God, I can kick back!

I think Ray Bradburys prediction of the modern obsession with TV was spookily accurate. Now we have the internet to allow TV to be watched on so many different platforms, we can watch it pretty much anywhere, and its potential for control of the masses is limitless. Its no surprise a president has been inaugurated who practically boasts that he has never read a book. Lets see if Trump starts suggesting book burnings …

David Murphy, Bath

It Cant Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

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Published in 1935 as a response to those who regarded Nazism as something that could never take place in the Land of the Free, the book describes how a populist politician, Buzz Windrip, becomes president through riding a wave of anti-immigrant, anti-intellectual, traditionalist sentiment.

Comparisons to Trump are obvious, but it is remarkable how prescient the novel is. Windrip promises to empower working-class white voters, and to revitalise the manufacturing industry. His speeches consist of frequently simple statements, often repeated, but lacking in any lasting tangible sentiment. His lackeys deny the official numbers that attend Windrips events, instead providing their own figures.

The new president declines to live in the White House, opting instead for an apartment where he spends his hours in front of the TV.

Barney Caswell, Manchester

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/27/v-for-vendetta-fahrenheit-451-trumps-america

Sanders’ New York buzz may not deliver enough votes as polls still favor Clinton

Despite Bernie Sanders visibly enthusiastic support before the pivotal primary, Clintons campaign seems confident that Tuesday will be a night to celebrate

A New York spring is in the air in the parks and streets of the Big Apple as Bernie Sanders rallies tens of thousands of adoring supporters with a message of political revolution he hopes could still block Hillary Clintons seemingly unstoppable path to the Democratic presidential nomination.

But in the television studios and political salons, the focus is on the harsh reality of polling numbers and electoral mathematics ahead of Tuesdays crucial primary election showdown between the two increasingly bitter rivals.

Although some polls suggest Clintons once commanding lead may have shrunk in recent weeks, she remains an average of 13 points ahead, and few professional observers expect the former secretary state who represented New York for eight years in the US Senate and even beat Barack Obama in the 2008 New York primary will do anything other than win here again.

While Sanders plans to be off in Pennsylvania for more packed rallies before the next series of primaries on 26 April, Clinton is due to return to New York on Tuesday night for what she fully expects will be a victory party at the Sheraton hotel in Times Square.

And with Donald Trump even more comfortably ahead of rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich in polling for New Yorks simultaneous Republican primary, a leading pro-Clinton fundraising committee has even begun reserving airtime for TV commercials ahead of what it considers to be the more important general election contest it sees looming in November.

Clintons increasingly confident aides were in combative mood before what could be the last significant contest of the Democratic primary, describing New York as must-win for Sanders who had a lot on the line.

If Sanders loses NYC to Clinton, will he say it is because it is in the southern part of New York state? taunted her spokesman, Brian Fallon, in response to suggestions that early wins in conservative-leaning states in the deep south had made Clintons national delegate lead look more unassailable than it really was.

The Sanders campaign, in contrast, is dialing back predictions of a win but remains buoyed instead by the undeniable enthusiasm among its supporters in the Empire state.

We dont have to win New York on Tuesday, but we have to pick up a lot of delegates, wrote his campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, in an email on Sunday that flagged an outlier poll suggesting he and Clinton could be within six points of each other. This poll shows that if we keep fighting, we may actually have a chance to do both. Itd be the most shocking upset in modern political history, he added.

But even by the Sanders campaigns own, more optimistic, estimates, it remains 214 pledged delegates behind Clinton in the race to reach the finishing line of 2,383, and further behind still if the calculation includes controversial superdelegates party elites who overwhelming favour Clinton. To overturn this delegate momentum, Sanders needs to win heavily, not just in New York but in most of the remaining contests.

Explaining the disconnect between the Bernie buzz and Clinton confidence has driven some political pundits to distraction. Harry Enten, a columnist with the data-driven website fivethirtyeight.com, once promised to pour a bucket of cold water over his head if Clinton fell behind in national polling, a pledge that could yet prove rash as the two close within a percentage point across the country.

The pundits argue instead that the 2016 primary is more than halfway through and the polling that really matters shows Clinton winning in all the states that look most similar to the demographic profile of Democrats nationwide.

But the buzz is infectious too. While Clinton drew a few hundred supporters to her rally in Staten Island on Sunday, Sanders drew a record 28,300 supporters to Prospect Park in Brooklyn on Sunday, where messages such as free college tuition and universal healthcare remain powerful stimulants.

I am literally walking away with goose bumps. I feel like I am going to cry, said 36-year-old Long Island makeup artist Jennifer Wright. I am a single mom. I have worked hard my whole life, I have never been on any kind of welfare, I have worked my ass off my whole life and I want to make sure my son has a fair chance at university. I am here for his generation.

Clinton supporters may be quieter, but have their own hopes and dreams too and are increasingly frustrated that they are being drowned out in the noise of the Sanders revolution.

Maxine Outerbridge, a 28-year-old accountant, took such umbrage with the public narrative that young voters are uninspired by Clinton that she wrote a letter to the campaign detailing why she was a supporter. She soon found herself introducing Clinton at the rally on Staten Island, at the historic Great Hall at Snug Harbor, two days before the New York primary.

Recounting how she became pregnant while still in school, Outerbridge said her daughter would not have access to health insurance had it not been for the State Childrens Health Insurance Program championed by Clinton and signed into law during her husbands administration. She also identified herself as a former victim of domestic violence while praising Clinton as an advocate for women.

She is a fighter, Outerbridge said. And so as a young woman, as a minority, as a domestic violence survivor, and as an aspiring entrepreneur, I support Hillary.

Democrats
Republicans
  • This article was amended on 18 April 2016 to correct the number of years Hillary Clinton served as a US senator. She was in the Senate for eight years, not six.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/apr/18/new-york-primary-poll-bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton

Top 25 hedge fund managers earned $13bn in 2015 more than some nations

Top earners, Kenneth Griffin and James Simons, made $1.7bn each despite hedge fund killing field on Wall Street where many companies lost billions or closed

The worlds top 25 hedge fund managers earned $13bn last year more than the entire economies of Namibia, the Bahamas or Nicaragua.

Kenneth Griffin, founder and chief executive of Citadel, and James Simons, founder and chairman of Renaissance Technologies, shared the top spot, taking home $1.7bn each equivalent to the annual salaries of 112,000 people taking home the US federal minimum wage of $15,080.

The earnings of the best-performing hedge fund managers, published by Institutional Investors Alpha magazine on Tuesday, dwarfs the pay of top Wall Street executives who have been under fire for their multimillion-dollar pay deals. The best paid banker last year was JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who collected $27m.

The huge pay at the top comes despite a tumultuous year on Wall Street that has led many well-known hedge funds to lose billions of dollars and others to close down. Daniel Loeb, CEO of Third Point, a hedge fund that manages $17.5bn, has described market conditions as a hedge fund killing field.

Despite the challenges, Simons and Griffin managed to increase their earnings by $500m and $400m, respectively, compared with last year.

Both men have poured a lot of money into the presidential race, but both backed Republicans who dropped out. Griffin, who is the richest man in Illinois with a $7.5bn fortune according to Forbes, has donated more than $3m into the failed campaigns of Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker.

Griffin, 47, who started from his dorm at Harvard University, was the biggest single donor to Rahm Emanuels successful campaign for a second term as mayor of Chicago.

He has rarely spoken about his political inclinations, but in 2012 he described himself as a Reagan Republican and said he thought the rich had insufficient influence on the political process. When Emanuel announced the closure of 50 schools, Griffin said he should have closed 125.

Griffin recently spent $500m buying Jackson Pollocks Number 17A and Willem de Koonings Interchanged from the entertainment mogul David Geffen. He has loaned the paintings to the Art Institute of Chicago.

Simons, a string theory expert and former cold war codebreaker, has made an estimated $15.5bn from Renaissance Technologies the mathematics-driven quant hedge fund he set up 34 years ago.

The fund, which is run from the tiny Long Island village of Setauket where Simons owns a huge beachfront compound, has donated $13m to Cruzs failed campaign. With Cruz out of the race, Renaissance has switched donations to Hillary Clinton, with more than $2m donated so far. Euclidean Capital, Simons family office, has donated more than $7m to Clinton.

Simons, 78, who retired as CEO of Renaissance in 2009, is the 50th richest person in the world, according to Forbes. His earnings last year were so large that if he were a country it would rate as the worlds 178th most productive nation, according to the World Banks GDP rankings.

He has donated millions of dollars to maths and science education via the Simons Foundation he set up in 1994.

No woman has yet made it into the top 25 of the hedge fund highest-paid list, which has been running for 15 years. Hedge fund managers typically get paid based on a structure known as two and 20, in which they collect a 2% fee on the assets they manage and earn 20% of the profits they make for investors.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/may/10/hedge-fund-managers-salaries-billions-kenneth-griffin-james-simon