At least five migrants have been shot in the French port city of Calais, after a mass brawl between Afghans and Eritreans.
Four Eritrean youths aged 16-18 are in a critical condition and have been rushed to a local hospital for surgery, AFP news agency reports.
A fifth man was taken to nearby Lille due to the severity of his injuries.
At least 13 more people were wounded due to “blows from iron bars”, the local prosecutor’s office said.
What led to the violence?
The cause of the clashes is not yet clear but the initial fight on the city’s southern outskirts broke out in the afternoon, where migrants had been queuing for food handouts.
Around 100 Eritreans and some 30 Afghans were caught up in the violence, which lasted almost two hours and started when an Afghan fired shots, AFP said.
A second melee erupted shortly afterwards at an industrial site around 5km (three miles) away, when between 150 and 200 Eritreans armed with iron rods and sticks clashed with about 20 Afghans, the local prefecture said.
Later on in the afternoon further violence broke out at a food distribution point in an area of Calais not far from the site of the old migrant camp known as the Jungle.
French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb visited Calais overnight and said the clashes had been exceptionally serious. One of the most seriously wounded was said to have been hit by a bullet in the back of the neck.
“There’s been an escalation of violence that has become unbearable for both the people of Calais and the migrants,” the minister said.
L’Austria di Herr Sebastin Kurz sta avviandosi sulla strada di un governo ÖVP ed FPÖ.
Sulla immigrazione illegale sarebbe già stato raggiunto un accordo di massima: tolleranza zero.
«Unlike in Germany, Austrian coalition negotiations have progressed much further. The FPÖ insists on an “equal footing” in the talks, while the ÖVP wants to have everything signed, sealed and delivered before the Christmas break»
«When it comes to the future composition of the Austrian government, there is a clear two-thirds approval for an ÖVP-FPÖ coalition. By contrast, about one-third of the population is against it.»
«Outgoing Chancellor Christian Kern, for whom until recently the FPÖ was an acceptable coalition partner, has now made a U-turn in view of his imminent opposition role»
«In one of the five major negotiating chapters, the one dealing with “security, order and homeland security”, the coalition negotiations have already largely reached a consensus.»
«the framework for a minimum income should be restricted; benefits in kind instead of financial subsidies, recognised refugees should in the future be allowed to apply for citizenship only after ten years, like all other immigrants, and not after six»
«there is a wish to reduce the so-called illegal migration to zero and for legally convicted asylum seekers there should be no residence consolidation»
«For the sensitive foreign office, an interesting candidate has emerged, the Middle East and international law expert Karin Kneissl»
«While the FPÖ is not as keen to hurry with the negotiations, the ÖVP insist on putting an end to the talks before Christmas.»
* * * * * * *
Da quanto sta trapelando, sempre poi che si concretizzi nella formazione di un governo, la posizione di Herr Kurz e, quindi, dell’Austria in seno alla Commissione Europea sarebbe agli antipodi di quanto seguito nella pregressa legislatura. Sembra quindi molto verosimile che l’Austria potrebbe costituire un grande problema per il futuro Governo tedesco. Sempre che la Germania non torni alle urne.
Unlike in Germany, Austrian coalition negotiations have progressed much further. The FPÖ insists on an “equal footing” in the talks, while the ÖVP wants to have everything signed, sealed and delivered before the Christmas break.
One month after the election and in the middle of the coalition negotiations, the Austrians stand by their voting behaviour. Polls published at the weekend see the new People’s Party (ÖVP) stable in its election results and at the top of the party ranking. The SPÖ and the FPÖ are also unchanged in the subsequent places and, depending on the institute, recorded a result of plus/minus one percent compared to the election day.
Only the Pilz List, whose top candidate had to retire due to sexual assault allegations, experienced a big drop in polls. More than half of their voters turned their back on Pilz’s party. The Greens, on the other hand, would be back in parliament with a comfortable six percent.
Left camp will oppose centre-right
When it comes to the future composition of the Austrian government, there is a clear two-thirds approval for an ÖVP-FPÖ coalition. By contrast, about one-third of the population is against it.
And here, as was the case in 2000, resistance is forming on the left wing. Several organisations have already held or announced first protest rallies.
Outgoing Chancellor Christian Kern, for whom until recently the FPÖ was an acceptable coalition partner, has now made a U-turn in view of his imminent opposition role. In interviews, he finds that “now that the [two parties] are coming together, that is a walking invitation to demonstrations”.
This refers to FPÖ deputies who are members of German nationalist fraternities. And Kern already suggests that although he would not go out on the street himself, “in any case, he would pick up his children after the demonstration.”
In one of the five major negotiating chapters, the one dealing with “security, order and homeland security”, the coalition negotiations have already largely reached a consensus.
Among other things, the framework for a minimum income should be restricted; benefits in kind instead of financial subsidies, recognised refugees should in the future be allowed to apply for citizenship only after ten years, like all other immigrants, and not after six. Furthermore, there is a wish to reduce the so-called illegal migration to zero and for legally convicted asylum seekers there should be no residence consolidation.
FPÖ seeks not only the interior ministry but also the ministries of finance, economy and foreign affairs but such claims are considered as exaggerated.
Kneissl instead of Hofer for Foreign Minister
For the sensitive foreign office, an interesting candidate has emerged, the Middle East and international law expert Karin Kneissl. She was put forward by FPÖ chief Heinz-Christian Strache, who can exclude former presidential candidate Norbert Hofer from the race with this move. Kneissl was already active in the foreign ministry in the 1990s.
While the FPÖ is not as keen to hurry with the negotiations, the ÖVP insist on putting an end to the talks before Christmas. This is connected to the next big election round as Lower Austria will go to the polls for its regional parliament.
For the first time, Governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner wants to secure a strong position of the ÖVP. Therefore the aim is to ensure an election campaign (which will officially start in the new calendar year) “without outside interference”.
Wolfgang Schäuble dovrebbe essere nominato Presidente del Bundestag.
Resterà così libera la carica di Ministro delle Finanze in Germania, ed un altro personaggio siederà nei posti che competono a tale carica nelle istituzioni europee.
L’avvicendamento alle cariche pubbliche è caratteristica di ogni sistema realmente democratico: diamo atto da Herr Schäuble di aver rinunciato a legittime ambizioni di carriera politica, così come diamo atto ai suoi colleghi di partito di averlo proposto per una carica altrettanto presigiosa.
«Wolfgang Schäuble (born 18 September 1942) is a German politician of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) who has served as Germany’s Federal Minister of Finance in the second and third Merkel cabinets since 2009.
From 1984 to 1991 he was a member of Helmut Kohl’s cabinet, first as Federal Minister for Special Affairs and Chief of the Chancellery and then as Federal Minister of the Interior. Between 1991 and 2000, he was chairman of the CDU/CSU group in the parliament, and from 1998 to 2000 also CDU party chairman. He served again as Federal Minister of the Interior in the First Merkel cabinet from 2005 to 2009.
On 27 September 2017 the CDU/CSU-group in the Bundestag announced that it would nominate Schäuble as President of the Bundestag.
Schäuble was born in Freiburg im Breisgau, as the son of a tax finance advisor. He is the middle brother of three. After completing his Abitur in 1961, Schäuble studied law and economics at the University of Freiburg and the University of Hamburg, which he completed in 1966 and 1970 by passing the First and Second State Examinations respectively, becoming a fully qualified lawyer.
In 1971 Schäuble obtained his doctorate in law, with a dissertation called “The public accountant’s professional legal situation within accountancy firms”.
Schäuble entered the tax administration of the state of Baden-Württemberg, eventually becoming a senior administration officer in the Freiburg tax office. Subsequently he became a practising registered lawyer at the district court of Offenburg, from 1978 to 1984.» [Fonte]
Come regolarmente succede a tutti i ministri delle finanze, Herr Wolfgang Schäuble è personalità controversa, sia in patria, sia in Europa.
Per taluni è stato un ministro troppo accomodante, troppo permissivo. Per talaltri invece è stato un ministro troppo rigido, legato a schemi e teorie economiche da loro ritenuti essere superate.
Se tutti sono concordi nel ritenerlo persona abile e preparata, nonché onesta, molti, troppi a nostro sommesso parere, invece lo demonizzano come causa efficiente di tutti i loro guai attuali e di quelli futuri incombenti.
Scambiano la durezza dell’attuale situazione politica ed economica con la figura del Ministro delle Finanze.
Taluni si stanno facendo, e si cullano in illusioni aberranti.
«His successor may not be as ornery, but southern Europeans — and above all Greeks — shouldn’t expect any better treatment»
«Schaeuble’s protestant philosophy of political service is important for the understanding of his tenure as finance minister»
«Of course, it took personal conviction to steer his unwavering course of austerity, balanced budgets and respect for rules»
«This is not the end of the Schaeuble era in politics»
«That Merkel is willing to move Schaeuble out of the finance minister’s job shows the seriousness of her intention to build a stable coalition with the FDP and the Greens»
«Unfortunately for Greece and other southern European nations seeking financial help, the party’s potential candidates are likely to be as tight-fisted as Schaeuble.»
«The FDP is not ordoliberal — it’s unabashedly neoliberal. It is firmly opposed to fiscal stimulus, debt write-offs, transfers of German money to neighboring countries, and budget deficits, and its opposition has less to do with continuity than Schaeuble’s was: It’s a matter of principle.»
* * * * * * * * * * *
Concludendo, se a nostro avviso Herr Schäuble sembrerebbe essere stato fin troppo accomodante, il suo successore potrebbe essere fin troppo rigido. Sempre che, dato ma non concesso, Frau Merkel riesca a formare un governo.
Se Bloomberg vede male la Grecia, sono in molti a vedere ben peggio l’Italia.
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is on the way out. His replacement could prove even tougher.
Those cheering the looming departure of Wolfgang Schaeuble from the German Ministry of Finance should hold the champagne. His successor may not be as ornery, but southern Europeans — and above all Greeks — shouldn’t expect any better treatment.
Schaeuble has held a wide range of positions since he was first elected to the German parliament in 1972; he’s been interior minister, chief of staff to the chancellor and the leader of the Christian Democratic Union, the party now headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel; he nearly became president at one point and chancellor at another. Only one of his post-World War II predecessors at the Ministry of Finance has served longer than his eight years, and not by much. But Schaeuble has always served his party in whatever position it could offer, and he’ll still be a formidable figure as speaker of the parliament, formally the second most senior office-holder in Germany after the president, just ahead of the chancellor.
Schaeuble’s protestant philosophy of political service is important for the understanding of his tenure as finance minister. Of course, it took personal conviction to steer his unwavering course of austerity, balanced budgets and respect for rules. Schaeuble was trained at the University of Freiburg, where ordoliberalism was developed in the 1930s through 1950s. This theory married a liberal, pro-market approach with a strong state, whose role is to maintain a high level of social security. Ordoliberalism has faded somewhat since the 1970s, but it still influences much of German economic thinking, and Schaeuble was close to its origins in his formative years. As finance minister late in his life, he tended to lean toward the “ordo” part. He once confessed to his brother: “The older I get and the more I see as finance minister, the more skeptical I get about capitalism.”
By and large, though, Schaeuble merely upheld his party’s long-standing political line, which was obvious long before he took up the finance minister’s job — as the economic foundations of the European Union and the euro area were being discussed. Markus Brunnermeier, Harold James and Jean-Pierre Landau described the “Rhine divide” between expansionist, pro-stimulus France and rules-loving Germany in their recent book, “The Euro and the Battle of Ideas.” More of a constitutional lawyer than an economist (although trained in economics, too), Schaeuble maintained continuity as best he could. His single-minded discipline has been his biggest asset to Merkel, whom he has served loyally though she had outmaneuvered him politically after Helmut Kohl was forced to give up party leadership in 1998.
This is not the end of the Schaeuble era in politics. This year, the parliament even changed the rules so he could open its first session after the election as the longest-serving member. Before, the oldest legislator got the honor, but in 2017, it would have been an Alternative for Germany (AfD) member — and the German establishment couldn’t allow it. It played the king of clubs: Schaeuble. Now that parliament includes an unruly group of nationalists elected from the AfD party and a Social Democratic faction that is determined to oppose Merkel, Schaeuble is in a better position to help the chancellor and the CDU. Keeping the debate in hand is suddenly important, and Schaeuble is a rock of fortitude, exuding a “natural authority,” as liberal Free Democratic Party leader Christian Lindner noted in a tweet supporting Schaeuble’s move.
That Merkel is willing to move Schaeuble out of the finance minister’s job shows the seriousness of her intention to build a stable coalition with the FDP and the Greens. But the finance ministry will likely go to the FDP, which won more votes in the election than the Greens, and made clear its ambition to secure the finance post even before the election campaign was over. Unfortunately for Greece and other southern European nations seeking financial help, the party’s potential candidates are likely to be as tight-fisted asSchaeuble. The FDP is not ordoliberal — it’s unabashedly neoliberal. It is firmly opposed to fiscal stimulus, debt write-offs, transfers of German money to neighboring countries, and budget deficits, and its opposition has less to do with continuity than Schaeuble’s was: It’s a matter of principle.
Schaeuble could be expected to look for compromise within the established rules. Setting up the European Stability Mechanism, for example, was such a compromise, allowing the transfer of financial reputation to the distressed economies without the straight transfer of taxpayer cash. The FDP dislikes the ESM, mistrusts it as a dishonest trick. Its leaders’ belief in capitalism is stronger than Schaeuble’s; their belief in solidarity is weaker. The FDP wants to go after EU countries that don’t stick to their fiscal commitments; Schaeuble was willing to give them a pass. Eurogroup partners knew Schaeuble was hard to please, but they got used to his acerbic style and figured out how to work with him. That may be more difficult with an FDP minister, who, at least initially, is likely to be more of a zealot than a tradition-keeper in the Schaeuble vein. It’s likely that southern Europeans will be nostalgic for Schaeuble soon enough.
È davvero interessante leggersi le dichiarazioni preliminari rilasciate dai capi di stato prima di raggiungere Xiamen.
Sono tutte rilasciate in linguaggio diplomatico, per cui sarebbe opportuno leggersele tra le righe ed estrapolarle ben oltre la stringata sintesi delle frasi. Questo vale soprattutto per la dichiarazione rilasciata dal Presidente Putin.
«Chinese President Xi Jinping said Sunday BRICS countries should uphold global peace and stability, stressing a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security»
«We BRICS countries are committed to upholding global peace and contributing to the international security order»
«We should uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and basic norms governing international relations, firmly support multilateralism, work for greater democracy in international relations, and oppose hegemonism and power politics»
«I am convinced that as long as we take a holistic approach to fighting terrorism in all its forms, and address both its symptoms and root causes, terrorists will have no place to hide»
^ ^ ^
«Egypt’s participation in the BRICS summit will open new horizons for Egypt’s economy as it will boost its economic cooperation with the bloc»
«I hope one day Egypt becomes a BRICS member, not just a guest of honor, because this will open massive horizons for cooperation with the group’s members, which will surely be very beneficial to the Egyptian economy»
«We appreciate China’s support for the Egyptian economy, which was clearly shown when Egypt suffered a shortage of foreign currency and China made a currency swap deal with Egypt to carry out trade exchange in their local currencies»
^ ^ ^
«Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia highly values the multifaceted cooperation with BRICS to create a fair multipolar world and equal development conditions for all»
«Putin said he appreciated China’s significant contribution as this year’s chair of the organization, “which has allowed the BRICS countries as a group to move forward in all key areas of our partnership, including politics, the economy and culture.”»
«It is important that our group’s activities are based on the principles of equality, respect for one another’s opinions and consensus.Within BRICS, nothing is ever forced on anyone»
«This open and trust-based atmosphere is conducive to the successful implementation of our tasks»
«Putin said Russia stands for closer coordination of the BRICS countries’ foreign policies, primarily at the United Nations and Group of 20, as well as other international organizations»
«Only the combined efforts of all countries can help bring about global stability and find solutions to many acute conflicts»
«Putin said the region’s problems should only be settled through a direct dialogue of all the parties concerned without any preconditions. …. Provocations, pressure, and militarist and insulting rhetoric are a dead-end road»
* * * * * * * *
Ricordiamo alcuni elementi utili.
-> Da un punto di vista meramente economico, se si considera il pil per potere di acquisto, il mondo genera 108,036,500 milioni Usd, la Cina 17,617,300 (16.31%) e gli Stati Uniti 17,418,00 (16.12%). L’Eurozona rende conto di 11,249,482 (10.41%) ed il Gruppo dei G7 di 31.825,293 (29.46%). Però i Brics conteggiano un pil ppa di 32,379,625 Usd, ossia il 29.97% del pil ppa mondiale. I Brics valgono come i paesi del G7.
Di conseguenza, la voce dell’Occidente vale nel mondo al massimo per il 29.46%, ma quella degli Stati Uniti vale solo il 16.12% e quella dell’Eurozona uno scarno 10.41%.
-> I Brics allargati hanno la maggioranza in seno all’Assemblea delle Nazioni Unite. Ci si ricordi che:
XIAMEN, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping said Sunday BRICS countries should uphold global peace and stability, stressing a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security.
“We BRICS countries are committed to upholding global peace and contributing to the international security order,” he said while delivering a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the BRICS Business Forum scheduled for Sept. 3-4 in the southeastern coastal city of Xiamen.
This year, the BRICS countries have held the Meeting of High Representatives for Security Issues and the Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Relations. The countries have put in place the regular meeting mechanism for permanent representatives to the multilateral institutions, and convened the Foreign Policy Planning Dialogue, the Meeting of Counter-Terrorism Working Group, the Meeting of Cybersecurity Working Group, and the Consultation on Peacekeeping Operations.
These efforts aim to strengthen consultation and coordination on major international and regional issues and build synergy among BRICS countries, Xi said.
“We should uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and basic norms governing international relations, firmly support multilateralism, work for greater democracy in international relations, and oppose hegemonism and power politics,” he said.
He also called on BRICS countries to take a constructive part in the process of resolving geopolitical hotspot issues and make due contributions.
“I am convinced that as long as we take a holistic approach to fighting terrorism in all its forms, and address both its symptoms and root causes, terrorists will have no place to hide,” he said.
When dialogue, consultation and negotiation are conducted to create conditions for achieving political settlement of issues such as Syria, Libya and the Palestine–Israel conflict, the flame of war can be put out, and displaced refugees will eventually return to their homes, he said.
CAIRO, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) — Egypt’s participation in the BRICS summit will open new horizons for Egypt’s economy as it will boost its economic cooperation with the bloc, the head of Egypt’s largest state-run newspaper Al-Ahram told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
“I hope one day Egypt becomes a BRICS member, not just a guest of honor, because this will open massive horizons for cooperation with the group’s members, which will surely be very beneficial to the Egyptian economy,” said Abdel-Mohsen Salama, chief executive officer of Al-Ahram Foundation and head of Egypt’s Syndicate of Journalists.
At the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi will soon fly to the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen to attend the ninth summit of the large economic bloc scheduled for Sept. 3-5.
The BRICS summit was first launched by Brazil, Russia, India and China in 2006 and expanded to include South Africa in 2010.
“We appreciate China’s support for the Egyptian economy, which was clearly shown when Egypt suffered a shortage of foreign currency and China made a currency swap deal with Egypt to carry out trade exchange in their local currencies,” Salama told Xinhua.
“That move positively affected the Egyptian economic conditions then,” he added.
The economic cooperation between Egypt and China is a “win-win situation” as China could help boost the Egyptian economy while Egypt can be China’s commercial portal in the Arab and African worlds, Salama noted.
Under the leadership of Sisi and Xi, the Sino-Egyptian ties have been elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership, while the bilateral trade volume increased to 11.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2016, making Egypt China’s third largest trade partner in Africa.
Salama, who will be part of the Sisi-led delegation to Xiamen, expects his first visit to China to be a chance for learning more about the Chinese experience which has turned the country into the second largest economy in the world in a few decades.
“The Chinese experience needs to be well examined. I would like to learn more about the details of the Chinese experience as it is important to my personal knowledge and to my career as a chief journalist in Egypt,” the veteran journalist said.
Egypt sees its participation in the BRICS summit as a good opportunity to continue consultation with China on various issues of mutual interest and to follow up on their joint projects in many fields, given that several Chinese companies are promoting infrastructure projects in Egypt.
In a recent interview with Chinese media, Sisi said the BRICS Business Forum, a major side-event of the BRICS summit, is a good opportunity to present the economic reform by the Egyptian government and its measures to attract foreign investment.”Egypt needs technical aid from China to learn how to copy the Chinese industrial experience in Egypt, so that Egypt can change from an interest-based economy to a production-based one,” said Salama.
The Al-Ahram chief expressed the hope that China can help Egypt by exporting its expertise to the Arab country, “especially in the industrial fields where China has achieved a lot of progress.”
Egypt is also a focal point in China’s Belt and Road Initiative launched by Xi four years ago. The initiative comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, designed to revive ancient trade routes to link China with a number of countries in Asia, Africa and Europe through trade and infrastructure networks.
Salama hailed the initiative as a “very important and active springboard” for further economic cooperation through sustainable development projects among the states along the Belt and Road routes.
“Egypt attaches importance to this initiative and takes part in it, as it comes within the framework of fast-growing economic relations between Egypt and China,” Salama said.
UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) — Achim Steiner, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Administrator told Xinhua here Wednesday that the BRICS countries together are sending a promising signal to the world in peace and development.
Steiner said “I hope that through the BRICS summit, to be held next week in China’s harbor city of Xiamen, these emerging economy countries could play their role in meeting the big challenges humanity is facing.”
He said that the economic transformation in the past decades have elevated these countries not only in economic term, but also provided them a platform to influence the outcomes of global significance.
Steiner said that counties should look after not only their own interests, but also collective interests, which is the core idea of UN system.
The UN official said in 2015, the General Assembly, or the parliament of the world, adopted the agenda for 2030, the 17 goals for sustainable development goals (SDGs) were based on lessons learned through decades of development in the world that climate change, population, poverty, refugees, economic and financial instability, and inequality could become the risks to world economy, peace and stability.
The SDGs are an expression the goals of interdependence. Nations poor or rich, small or large, depend on one another for our future, he said, adding that fast economies will be at risk if they do not dress the problem of inequality.
The future of our future generations will be compromised if pollution and climate changes are not collectively handled. In this perspective, climate change and pollution is a sustainable issue which might otherwise be an inter-generation problem.
Above all, SDGs is a commitment to collaboration, we must act together to face all the challenges which go back to the core idea of UN which is multilateralism, Steiner said.
China, which has helped hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in the past decades and contributed enormously to the world, is trying to address the problem of inequality which are often found in fast economies, Steiner said.
No one should be left behind, either geographically or in terms of their income levels, he said.
In the past few years, China has been taking its economic growth path and lessons learned into a broader international context, as the country depends on the rest of the world for relations, market, resources and partners.
In its Belt and Road Initiative, and China-Africa Summit, we have seen that China embraces the notion of being partners to other countries of the world and addresses sharing its success with other countries, the UN official said.
China, with its economic size and development priories, is leading the world in south-south cooperation, which is very important for UNDP in accomplishing its goals, he said.
Through its ecological civilization policies and policies its government is still mapping out, China’s development is benefiting the world, he said.
China’s renewable energy technology and mass production ability have lowered threshold for many African countries in getting their cleaner energy. This, again is a good example of what China has been doing in south-south cooperation, Steiner said.
The coming BRICS summit is expected to offer another platform for emerging countries to share their lessons in development and bring them closer in facing challenges ahead, he said.
BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is recognized as an important force in global governance. China holds the BRICS presidency this year.
MOSCOW, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia highly values the multifaceted cooperation with BRICS to create a fair multipolar world and equal development conditions for all, in a signed article published on Friday.
In the article for the 9th BRICS Summit to be held in Xiamen, China on Sept. 3-5, Putin said he appreciated China’s significant contribution as this year’s chair of the organization, “which has allowed the BRICS countries as a group to move forward in all key areas of our partnership, including politics, the economy and culture.”
The BRICS is the acronym for a group of five emerging economies — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Originally the first four were grouped as “BRIC” before the inclusion of South Africa in 2010. Since 2009, the BRICS countries have met annually at formal summits.
“It is important that our group’s activities are based on the principles of equality, respect for one another’s opinions and consensus. Within BRICS, nothing is ever forced on anyone,” Putin added, “This open and trust-based atmosphere is conducive to the successful implementation of our tasks”.
Putin said Russia stands for closer coordination of the BRICS countries’ foreign policies, primarily at the United Nations and Group of 20, as well as other international organizations. “Only the combined efforts of all countries can help bring about global stability and find solutions to many acute conflicts,” he wrote in the article.
As for the situation on the Korean Peninsula where tensions have grown recently, Putin said the region’s problems should only be settled through a direct dialogue of all the parties concerned without any preconditions. “Provocations, pressure, and militarist and insulting rhetoric are a dead-end road,” he wrote.
“Russia and China have created a roadmap for a settlement on the Korean Peninsula that is designed to promote the gradual easing of tensions and the creation of a mechanism for lasting peace and security,” Putin said in the article.
Putin also called for promoting the interaction of the BRICS countries in the area of global information security. He proposed that the five countries should come together to draft and adopt universal rules of responsible behavior in this sphere.
In the article, Putin pointed out that though Russia shares the BRICS countries’ concerns over the unfairness of the global financial and economic architecture, he felt confident that “the BRICS countries will continue to act in a consolidated manner against protectionism and new barriers in global trade.”
“We hope to be able to discuss new large-scale cooperation tasks in trade and investment and industrial cooperation at the Xiamen Summit,” Putin said.
“I am convinced that the Xiamen Summit will help invigorate our countries’ efforts towards finding solutions to the challenges of the 21st century and will propel cooperation within BRICS to a higher level,” he said.
«the deep web is 400 to 550 times larger than the surface web».
Il deep web è sostanzialmente formato da tutti i siti che non sono registrati né ritrovabili con i comuni sistemi di ricerca.
Il surface web consiste invece dei siti censiti dai motori di ricerca, Google, per esempio.
I dilettanti usano il surface web, i professionisti quello deep. Nessuno si sognerebbe mai di far passare informazioni non cifrate sul surface web.
Se però il controllo del surface web consente di poter manipolare milioni di voti elettorali e di abitudine di vita e di spesa, è altrettanto vero che un controllo sul deep web sarebbe inopportuno: è di troppa utilità per tutti coloro che sanno e vogliono ascoltare.
«The dark web is the World Wide Web content that exists on darknets, overlay networks which use the public Internet but require specific software, configurations or authorization to access. The dark web forms a small part of the deep web, the part of the Web not indexed by search engines, although sometimes the term “deep web” is mistakenly used to refer specifically to the dark web.
The darknets which constitute the dark web include small, friend-to-friend peer-to-peer networks, as well as large, popular networks like Tor, Freenet, and I2P, operated by public organizations and individuals. Users of the dark web refer to the regular web as Clearnet due to its unencrypted nature. The Tor dark web may be referred to as onionland, a reference to the network’s top level domain suffix .onion and the traffic anonymization technique of onion routing.
The dark web has often been confused with the deep web, which refer to the parts of the web not searched by search engines. This confusion dates back to at least 2009. Since then, especially in reporting on Silk Road, the two terms have often been conflated, despite recommendations that they be distinguished.
Darknet websites are accessible only through networks such as Tor (“The Onion Router”) and I2P (“Invisible Internet Project”). Tor browser and Tor-accessible sites are widely used among the darknet users and can be identified by the domain “.onion”. While Tor focuses on providing anonymous access to the Internet, I2P specializes on allowing anonymous hosting of websites. Identities and locations of darknet users stay anonymous and cannot be tracked due to the layered encryption system. The darknet encryption technology routes users’ data through a large number of intermediate servers, which protects the users’ identity and guarantees anonymity. The transmitted information can be decrypted only by a subsequent node in the scheme, which leads to the exit node. The complicated system makes it almost impossible to reproduce the node path and decrypt the information layer by layer. Due to the high level of encryption, websites are not able to track geolocation and IP of their users as well as the users are not able to get this information about the host.» [Fonte]
«The deep web, invisible web, or hidden web are parts of the World Wide Web whose contents are not indexed by standard search engines for any reason. The content is hidden behind HTML forms. It is estimated that the deep web makes up 96 % of the whole internet. The opposite term to the deep web is the surface web. The deep web includes many very common uses such as web mail and online banking but also paid for services with a paywall such as video on demand, and many more. Computer scientist Michael K. Bergman is credited with coining the term deep web in 2001 as a search indexing term. ….
It is impossible to measure, and harsh to put estimates on the size of the deep web because the majority of the information is hidden or locked inside databases. Early estimates suggested that the deep web is 400 to 550 times larger than the surface web. However, since more information and sites are always being added, it can be assumed that the deep web is growing exponentially at a rate that cannot be quantified.» [Fonte]
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Nell’immaginario collettivo il deep web è collegato alla criminalità.
Sicuramente per una testata aumenta il volume di vendite ed accessi un titolo che richiami la vendita illegale di armi o di sostanze stupefacenti che non un anodino accesso a banche date riservate, a conti correnti discreti, a linee di comunicazione meno sorvegliate e sorvegliabili.
Il problema sarebbe però molto più semplice.
Il mondo sta diventando sempre più intollerante a tutti i vincoli con i quali gli stati sovrani cercano di imbrigliarli.
Solo che, mentre in una società contadina lo stato poteva effettivamente controllare tutto, in quella attuale un governo può regolamentare solo la fauna stanziale, ossia la fascia che non può sfuggir loro, vuoi per necessità, vuoi per pigrizia.
In parole poverissime, gli stati nazionali contano ben poco. Hanno un peso reale solo ed esclusivamente se si possano annoverare tra le vere potenze mondiali.
Ma anche queste hanno dei triboli, e triboli severi. Basti solo pensare alla difficoltà di far pagare le tasse ad una società multinazionale, che può spostare i guadagni da un paese all’altro, ottimizzando quindi una oculata gestione, perfettamente legale.
Il cuore della situazione sembrerebbe essere di una banalità sconcertante: quando la pressione fiscale e la burocrazia superano il limite del ragionevole la gente dispiega il proprio intelletto per difendersi.
Il mercato nero, in questo caso il deep web, è la classica risposta, anche essa con tutti i suoi limiti, ma almeno è libera. Talmente libera da essere licenziosa.
Se è vero che il deep web presenta una parte consistente legata alla pedopornografia, quella vera, per intendersi, è altrettanto vero che il 20% rimanente è più che ampio per consentire una vita di interscambio finanziario ed economico decisamente più libero e ‘spigliato’. Una parte non da poco è interscambio politico.
Ovviamente anche esso ha i suoi boss. Non sempre sembrerebbero essere persone con particolari scrupoli religiosi, etici o morali. Ma almeno non sono lo stato.
La grande lezione che impartisce il deep web è che nulla può essere coercito oltre un certo quale limite.
Tutto il resto è pura ipocrisia, ed il tragico è che la massa ci crede come se fosse verità assoluta.
Comprare armi, passaporti falsi o altro sul Dark Web – dove si connettono sempre più italiani – è sempre più facile e in pochi minuti chiunque può farlo. L’Italia è arretrata sulla cybersicurezza ma all’avanguardia sull’illegalità nell’underground di internet.
In principio c’erano gli scantinati dei ricettatori. Adesso il mercatino della criminalità è nel sottoscala della rete, dove acquistare un passaporto e una pistola è facile quanto comprare un libro su Ebay o Amazon. Un luogo ultimamente troppo affollato per essere ignorato, basta riflettere sulle cifre: ogni 5mila persone connesse c’è un utente che naviga sul Dark web. E l’Italia è tra i Paesi dove si rileva la maggiore densità di traffico. Tutto grazie a Tor, Tails – nati in principio per l’anonimato online -, Tails, Whonix, Onion City o Vidalia, sistemi di navigazione scaricabili da chiunque. Dopo aver installato il software si aprono le porte dell’armeria di internet. Meno complicato è rifarsi l’identità con un passaporto o una patente falsa, acquistare droga o scambiare materiale pedopornografico.
La fiera dell’illegalità porta il suffisso del dominio “.onion” (cipolla in inglese), una parola che implicitamente spiega il funzionamento del web oscuro: un sistema in cui le diverse “sfoglie” della cipolla rappresentano i vari server di tutto il mondo su cui si appoggiano per pochi secondi i siti di merce illegale. Praticamente irrintracciabili, anche perché si saltella da un luogo virtuale all’altro all’insaputa degli stessi utenti che ospitano i byte illegali. E così, navigando su Hidden Wiki o Silky Road ci si imbatte su EuroGuns, dove – dopo essersi registrati con un qualsiasi account – è possibile mettere le mani su Glock con matricole abrase, semiautomatiche e mitragliatrici. Oppure fare un giro su Uk Passport, dove fornendo i propri dati e una foto si può comprare un passaporto a mille Pound, ma anche su siti più economici che offrono documenti di falsa cittadinanza per 800 euro, o navigare sui forum hacker o sui siti civetta dei terroristi.
Su EuroGuns la pistola più economica è una calibro 7,65 che costa 600 euro che la maggior parte delle volte è possibile pagare in bitcoin, cambiando i soldi reali in cripto moneta, mentre più raramente con una semplice prepagata. L’arma arriva in pezzi, ognuno spedito con corrieri diversi e ad una catena di persone che conosce solo il mittente precedente, per poi arrivare al compratore finale, a cui tocca solo riassemblarla. Attualmente l’unico modo per essere scoperti è spifferare l’affare sull’onda dell’entusiasmo: è solo così che un giovane romano di 24 anni è stato arrestato dopo essersi vantato dell’impresa su YouTube con tanto di selfie assieme alle sue due nuove pistole e proiettili.
Pochi ma pericolosi. E sempre più attraenti tra i ragazzi. Il Dark Web è ultimamente frequentato in Italia prevalentemente di notte da 3-400mila utenti, soprattutto da giovani tra i 15 e i 24 anni. La Dark Net Italian Community è uno dei forum più attivi e più numerosi a livello mondiale. Il 90% dei domini “.onion” sono illegali ed è stato rilevato che l’80% tratta pornografia, il 20% riguarda tutto il resto. Dati che potrebbero essere falsati perché tengono conto del volume di traffico generato, quindi fanno solo riferimento alla grandezza dei file condivisi in termini di bit. Nonostante tutto, il web non in chiaro è solo una piccola ombra nel mare del Deep Web (che differisce dal Dark web perché è il web in chiaro non indicizzato), visto che – secondo un’analisi – solo lo 0,004% di internet è indicizzato da Google.
L’anima del commercio del Dark Web sono però i forum, tra i più conosciuti ‘4Chan’ o ‘7Chan’, dove il linguaggio utilizzato è quello degli hacker, definito ‘Leet’ (anche ‘L33t’) e caratterizzato dall’uso di molti caratteri non alfabetici e terminologie volgari: un po’ come entrare al ristorante ‘La Parolaccia’ ed essere obbligati a stare al gioco. Dopo qualche settimana di gavetta, utilizzo dei giusti termini e l’acquisizione di una certa reputazione all’interno dei forum – che scongiura la presenza di novellini o infiltrati – gli utenti più accreditati girano su richiesta i link dei siti di prodotti illegali sempre meno conosciuti dal popolo del ‘Dark’. Anche le organizzazioni terroristiche come l’Isis hanno un proprio forum, dove commerciano, scambiano e acquistano soprattutto apparecchiature software e apparecchiature fotografiche.
Per le polizie di tutto il mondo, l’unico modo è intervenire con degli infiltrati all’interno del web, cercando di acquisire la fiducia dei criminali per incontrarli fuori dai byte. Un metodo che finora non ha portato risultati significativi. L’unico vero colpo è stata l’individuazione di Ross Ulbricht, creatore del portale di mercato illegale ‘Silky Road’, arrestato nel 2013 dall’Fbi e ufficialmente tradito perché connesso per qualche attimo ad un “server civetta” della polizia. Ma il sito è stato rimesso in piedi poco dopo. Un cancro virtuale che si diffonde senza freni: per un file cancellato, altre migliaia si duplicano e si moltiplicano.
Scoperto nel deep web un “gigantesco archivio di mail e password rubate e riconducibili ad aziende, istituzioni pubbliche, forze armate e di polizia, università e infrastrutture critiche in tutto il mondo”, Italia compresa. Lo comunicano gli dagli esperti di D3Lab e di Yarix, divisione di Var Group, holding italiana specializzata in information and communication technology.
In totale si tratterebbe di 17 gigabyte di dati, anche se per la Polizia postale, che ha avviato un’indagine, da un primo esame sembrerebbe materiale oggetto di vecchi attacchi informatici già noti. L´archivio, chiamato “Anti Public”, fa sapere Var Group, è contenuto in dieci file .txt e coinvolge 13 milioni di domini mail, oltre 450 milioni di email con relative password, centinaia di migliaia di aziende, organizzazioni, istituzioni, infrastrutture critiche e milioni di utenti singoli di tutto il mondo.
Il data leak, secondo Yarix, “è stato probabilmente creato a dicembre 2016” e “a partire da maggio 2017 sta circolando in maniera massiccia nel deep web, tramite una piattaforma cloud russa. La provenienza del data leak è sconosciuta, così come l´origine dei dati”. Gli accertamenti finora svolti hanno evidenziato che in gran parte “le password associate agli account sono reali e per alcuni casi vengono ancora utilizzate”. Fra le vittime in Italia, “Forze dell´Ordine e di Polizia, Forze Armate, ministeri, città metropolitane, ospedali e università”, mentre “a livello globale, Forze armate USA, Europol, Eurojust, Parlamento Europeo, Consiglio Europeo” e perfino “la Casa Bianca”.
“Il copioso materiale informatico è attualmente oggetto di accurata analisi da parte degli operatori del Cnaipic della Polizia postale e delle comunicazioni”, si legge in una nota della stessa Polizia, secondo cui “da una prima verifica si tratterebbe di una raccolta di informazioni datate, frutto di attacchi informatici risalenti, già oggetto in passato di divulgazione”. “Sono presenti all´interno del database pubblicato nel dark web – conferma la Polizia postale – circa 450 milioni di credenziali (userid e password), riferibili a circa 13 milioni di domini di posta elettronica worldwide, probabilmente frutto di una collazione di diversi ´data breach´ alcuni dei quali risulterebbero vecchi di anni”. Gli specialisti informatici della Polizia postale “stanno analizzando i dati acquisiti per le necessarie verifiche e per la puntuale informazione delle strutture di sicurezza cyber del Paese”.
La Polizia postale infine “consiglia” – “nonostante si tratti di dati risalenti e, da una sommaria verifica non privi di errori nella indicazione delle caselle e delle password” – di “effettuare comunque, come da prassi comune, il periodico cambio della password di accesso per escludere eventuali intrusioni, utilizzando una combinazione efficace di numeri, lettere maiuscole e minuscole e caratteri speciali”.
Se si pensasse a quanto si sia rimasti stupiti nel leggere il carteggio intercorso tra il card Cusano e Papa Paolo II, verosimilmente comprenderemmo meglio il prosieguo. Il Cusano aveva fatto venire dalla Germania Conrad Schweynheym e Arnold Pannartz, due collaboratori di Gutenberg che stamparono in tiratura 275 il Donato Minore, il De Oratione, ed il De Civitate Dei: ne rimase entusiata e ne fece ampie relazioni al Santo Padre. Il Papa, uomo santo ma molto pratico, vedeva invece nella stampa tutti i potenziali pericoli, e vide lontano: la riforma di Luther sarebbe stata ben difficile senza l’ausilio di quel nuovo mezzo di comunicazione di massa.
L’esperienza luterana radicò per secoli nella mente che il controllo dei mezzi di stampa equivalesse al controllo dei popoli. Controllo quindi delle tipografie, dei giornalisti e di quanto fosse stato stampato.
Il primo grande scossone a simile credenza avvenne sotto il regime sovietico. Nonostante che tutti i mezzi di comunicazione fossero asserviti al potere egemone, la gente comune non concedeva loro alcun credito.
In poche parole, una propaganda battente e sostanzialmente falsa e contraddittoria aveva esitato in un effetto contrario a quello perseguito. Siamo debitori a Suslov delle prime trattazioni organiche della disinformacija, ma per fortuna dell’umanità i politici non reputarono tempo bene impiegato studiare i suoi trattai sull’argomento.
Negli ultimi anni abbiamo assistito al ripetersi, mutatis mutandis, di quanto accaduto nell’Unione Sovietica.
Le elezioni in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Sachsen-Anhalt, Rheinland-Pfalz, Baden-Württemberg e Berlin lo avevano preannunciato. Il referendum inglese, le elezioni presidenziali in Austria e l’esito del referendum in Italia lo avevano ribadito. Ma le elezioni presidenziali e politiche negli Stati Uniti lo hanno reso evidente ai ciechi.
Anche con il totale controllo liberal dei media, televisioni e giornali, questi non erano riusciti a condizionare le intenzioni di voto degli elettori.
Sicuramente la tediosa ripetitività del pensiero unico espresso per di più nella terminologia del ‘politicamente corretto’ aveva saturato la gente comune, il cumulo di menzogne inverosimili aveva tracimato, ma era anche intervenuto un fatto nuovo, del tutto fuori controllo: internet ed i social-media.
Gestire un giornale è espensivo e la maggior parte delle grandi testate chiude i bilanci in perdita. I giornalisti sono un costo elevato. Le copie non sono vendute a prezzi tali da consentirne una ampia diffusione. Le versioni digitali sono quasi invariabilmente a pagamento.
Non solo. Negli Stati Uniti vi sono circa 324 milioni di persone. Secondo il Poynter, Il Wall Street Journal tira 2.1 copie al giorno, Usa Today 1.8, New York Time 1.2, New York Daily News 600,000, Los Angeles Times 601,000. Il Washington Post non tira più di 500,000 copie.
Grosso modo, un americano su cento legge un quotidiano, e lo legge usualmente solo parzialmente.
Non solo. La lettura di un quotidiano è quasi completamente appannaggio di quanti abbiano un livello di laurea o superiore.
In pochissime parole: la carta stampata è autoreferenziale e l’americano medio non ne può essere influenzato per il semplice motivo che non la legge.
I dati sulla televisione sono ancor più sconfortanti. Se le soap-opera sono molto seguite, già i telegiornali hanno una scarsa audience. I dibattiti televisivi ad argomento sociale o politico sono la causa più frequente di cambio di canale: oltre il 90% degli ascoltatori sono persone che si occupano attivamente di politica. La gente comune li snobba.
Anche in questo caso il mezzo televisivo è autoreferenziale e non raggiunge che in quote minime il così detto Joe l’idraulico.
Mr Donald Trump ha puntato poco o punto su giornali e televisioni, al contrario Mrs Hillary Clinton ha speso un capitale in interventi su questi mezzi, con i risultati che si sono potuti constatare. I suoi messaggi non raggiungevano il target finale: l’Elettore medio.
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Internet e social media.
Mr Trump ha puntato invece sui social-media, ed ha vinto le elezioni. Ha parlato direttamente alla grande maggioranza degli Elettori.
In primo luogo, i social-media sono inespensivi. Sono ad utilizzo gratuito, sia quando si lascino commenti, sia quando si allestiscano pagine e/o gruppi.
In secondo luogo, i social-media contengono di norma post di poche righe, scritti quasi invariabilmente in linguaggio corrente, senza tante perifrasi: il loro contenuto è accessibile anche a quanti abbiano una cultura elementare. Un concetto per volta.
In terzo luogo, la diffusione.
«Facebook has over 1.5 billion active users worldwide».
Negli Stati Uniti tre persone su quattro seguono i social-media.
I twitter del Presidente Trump hanno in media 40 milioni di lettori, con picchi di 60. Una enormità rispetto ai giornali.
In campagna elettorale i lettori avevano passato i 120 milioni.
«Other opinions and related information get filtered out – a consequence of Facebook’s increasing function as the primary source of information on current events for many of its users. So they have little chance of forming well-rounded opinions»
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Il problema delle élite liberals.
«Fake news, propaganda and “disinformatzya” are changing the media landscape – in the US, Russia and Turkey and across the world. The question is how to combat them»
Chiariamo immediatamente un termine lessicologico.
Per i liberals democratici americani e per i socialisti ideologici europei si ascrivono alla “fake news”, “propaganda” ovvero “disinformatzya” ogni qualsiasi cosa contrasti la loro Weltanschauung.
Hanno quindi elaborato il concetto di “filter bubble”.
Comme d’habitude, porgono il tutto come un enorme favore fatto agli utenti dei social-media, e perché sono davvero buoni e generosi, anche agli utenti di Google.
Un software apposito analizza e memorizza tutte le scelte fatte, ossia siti visitati. Si tiene in altre parole una traccia completa e perpetua di tutto ciò che una persona abbia letto o guardato.
Il software quindi propone all’utente un insieme di scelte calibrate sul pregresso.
Sembrerebbe cosa da Santa Teresa di Calcutta, ma è in effetti una mela duplicemente avvelenata.
– Tutti sono tracciati. Questo non sembrerebbe corrispondere al comune concetto di privacy.
– Gradualmente il lettore resta intrappolato entro il ristretto circuito di siti o di pagine che visita. Gli resta così difficile poter valutare opinioni differenti. Alla fine, la sua mente resta condizionata.
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Sinceramente, sembrerebbe essere lecito il domandarsi se realmente il progresso tecnologico corrisponda anche ad un progresso umano.
Facebook has over 1.5 billion active users worldwide. For many of them, the social network is their primary source of information – which can result in a limited selection that only reinforces pre-existing views.
Most Facebook users tend to network with like-minded people. Now experts are warning this could result in what they call a filter bubble – a limiting of content to only what reinforces the user’s own pre-existing views. Other opinions and related information get filtered out – a consequence of Facebook’s increasing function as the primary source of information on current events for many of its users. So they have little chance of forming well-rounded opinions.
As you likely know, these stories aren’t true, though they did circulate widely on Facebook and other social media sites. “Fake news” and its detrimental effects on democracy has become a major theme in contemporary politics. Faced with questioning from CNN reporter Jim Acosta during his first press conference in six months, President-elect Donald Trump refused to take Acosta’s question, declaring, “You are fake news.”
Trump’s evasion referenced his anger at CNN for reporting on an intelligence dossier that suggests Russian authorities have been compiling compromising information on Trump in the hope of blackmailing him. CNN did not reproduce the dossier (online news outlet Buzzfeed did), but the president-elect was incensed that CNN would call attention to the story based on unverified documents.
Different types of fake news
It’s tempting to say that Trump is using “fake news” to mean “news I don’t like”, but the reality is more complicated. “Fake news,” in this usage, means “real issues that don’t deserve as much attention as they’re receiving.” This form of fake news was likely an important factor in the 2016 campaign. There’s a compelling argument that the release of Clinton and Podesta’s emails by Russian hackers – and the media firestorm that ensued – were key to the outcome of the US election. While media outlets overfocused on the non-scandal of the emails, this wasn’t “fake news” so much as it was “false balance,” with newspapers playing up a Clinton “scandal” to counterbalance an endless sequence of Trump scandals.
There’s another type of “fake news” that surfaces during virtually every political campaign: propaganda. Propaganda is weaponized speech that mixes truthful, deceptive and false speech, and is designed explicitly to strengthen one side and weaken the other. Propaganda has been around for a long time, preceding the era of mass media. (Some scholars argue that the inscriptions on ancient Roman coinage should be understood as propaganda, designed to strengthen an emperor’s rule over a massive territory.) Propaganda may be an inevitable feature of electoral contests, and vicious propaganda campaigns, such as the “swiftboating” of Senator John Kerry, proved effective even before the age of social media. But tools such as Twitter and Facebook may make propaganda harder to detect and debunk. Many citizens are skeptical of claims made by politicians and parties, but are less apt to question news shared by their friends. On a medium like Facebook which gives primacy to information shared by friends, political propaganda spreads rapidly, reaching a reader from all sides, and can be difficult to distinguish from fact-based news.
One of the best known forms of disinformatya is “shitposting,” the technique of flooding online fora with abusive content, not to persuade readers, but to frustrate anyone trying to have a reasonable discussion of politics on the internet. Disinformatzya may also explain some of the strangest phenomena of the election season, including Pizzagate, the bizarre conspiracy that led a man to “investigate” a pizza parlor with an assault rifle out of the belief – expounded and developed in thousands of online posts – that John Podesta and Hillary Clinton were trafficking children out of the basement.
No simple answers
What can we do about news so toxic that it moves people to take up arms to investigate conspiracies? Unfortunately, the simple answers are inadequate, and some are downright counterproductive. Instead, any successful approach to fake news demands that we treat these three different diseases with different techniques.
Unbalanced news is a pre-digital problem that’s become worse in the digital age. News organizations would overfocuse election coverage on the horse race and underfocus on policy issues well before the internet. Add in an explosion of ad-driven news sites and the ability to choose what we pay attention to and you’ve got a recipe for echo chambers. Mix in algorithmic filtering, where social media platforms try to deliver us the information we most want to see, you’ve got filter bubbles. Scholarship on echo chambers and filter bubbles suggests that people who are informationally isolated become more partisan and less able to compromise, suggesting a rough road ahead for deliberative democracy.
Solving the problem of sensationalistic, click-driven journalism likely requires a new business model for news that focuses on its civic importance above profitability. In many European nations, public broadcasters provide at least a partial solution to this problem – in the US, a strong cultural suspicion of government involvement with news complicates this solution. A more promising path may be to address issues of filtering and curation. Getting Facebook to acknowledge that it’s a publisher, not a neutral platform for sharing content, and that its algorithmic decisions have an impact would be a first step towards letting users choose how ideologically isolated or exposed they want to be. Building public interest news aggregators that show us multiple points of view is a promising direction as well. Unbalanced news is a problem that’s always been with us, dealt with historically by shaping and adhering to journalistic standards – it’s now an open question whether social media platforms will take on that responsibility.
Fighting propaganda and disinformatzya
Fighting propaganda, particularly fact-free propaganda, is a tougher challenge. Many people find it infuriating to see Trump repeatedly claim that he won a landslide victory in the Electoral College when his win was one of the narrowest in history. Unfortunately, conventional fact checking does not counter propaganda very well – counter a claim and people remember the original claim, not the debunking of it. Even with debunking, the original claim remains on the internet, where motivated reasoning helps us select the claims that are consonant with our values, not with truth.
There are two answers most often proposed for this problem and both are bad. While it seems logical to ask platforms such as Facebook to filter out fake news, it’s dangerous to give them the power to decide what speech is and is not acceptable. Furthermore, Facebook is already trying to solve the problem by asking users to flag fake news, a technique unlikely to work well, as researcher Robyn Caplan points out, because users are really bad at determining what news is fake. So perhaps the solution is to teach media literacy, so that readers become savvier about identifying and debunking propaganda. Unless of course, as social media scholar danah boyd suggests, media literacy is part of what’s gotten us into this mess. By teaching students to read news critically and search for stories from multiple sources, we may have turned them away from largely credible resources and towards whatever Google search results best fit their preconceptions of the world.
Surprisingly, our best bets for fighting propaganda may come from a return to the past. Stanford historian Fred Turner wrote a brilliant book, “The Democratic Surround,” on how US intellectuals had tried to fight fascist propaganda in the 1940s through reinforcing democratic and pluralistic values. Rather than emphasizing critical reading or debate, the thinkers Turner documents designed massive museum installations intended to force Americans to wrestle with the plurality and diversity of their nation and the world. While exhibits such as “The Family of Man” might be an impossibly dated way to combat fake news, the idea of forcing people to confront a wider world than the one they’re used to wrestling with goes precisely to the root of the problems that enable fake news.
Even scarier than unbalanced news and propaganda is disinformatzya, for the simple reason that no one is really sure how it works. In an essay called “Hacking the Attention Economy,” Boyd suggests that the masters of disinformatzya are the denizens of online communities like 8chan and reddit, where manufacturing viral content is a form of play that’s been recently harnessed to larger political agendas. Understanding whether a phenomenon like Pizzagate is simply a strange moment in a strange election, or a masterful piece of disinformatzya designed to reduce confidence in media and other institutions, is a topic that demands both aggressive reporting and scholarly study. At this point, the task of understanding this breed of fake news has barely registered on the radar of journalists or scholars.
Fake news is a satisfying bogeyman
Harvard scholar Judith Donath suggests that combating any sort of fake news requires an understanding of why it spreads. She sees these stories as a marker of group identity: “When a story that a community believes is proved fake by outsiders, belief in it becomes an article of faith, a litmus test of one’s adherence to that community’s idiosyncratic worldview.” Once we understand these stories less as claims of truth and more as badges of affiliation, attacking them head on no longer seems as savvy. If these stories are meant less to persuade outsiders, and more to allow insiders to show their allegiance to a point of view, combating their spread as if they were infections no longer seems like a valid strategy.
I suspect that both the left and the right are overfocusing on fake news. Preliminary analysis conducted by the Media Cloud team at MIT and Harvard suggests that while fake news stories spread during the 2016 US election, they were hardly the most influential media in the dialog. In tracking 1.4 million news stories shared on Facebook from over 10,000 news sites, the most influential fake news site we found ranked 163rd in our list of most shared sources. Yes, fake news happens, but its impact and visibility comes mostly from mainstream news reporting about fake news.
Fake news is a satisfying bogeyman for people of all political persuasions, as it suggests that people disagree with us because they’ve been spoon-fed the wrong set of facts. If only we could get people to read the truth and see reality as we see it, we could have consensus and move forward!
The truly disturbing truth is that fake news isn’t the cause of our contemporary political dysfunction. More troublingly, we live in a world where people disagree deeply and fundamentally about how to understand it, even when we share the same set of facts. Solving the problems of fake news make that world slightly easier to navigate, but they don’t scratch the surface of the deeper problems of finding common ground with people with whom we disagree.
People tend to surround themselves with like-minded people – filter bubbles have taken that to a new level. Two German reporters were shocked when they entered the world of the far-right on Facebook via a fake account.
What goes on in far-right filter bubbles on Facebook?
To find out first-hand, two TV reporters for Germany’s ZDF broadcaster created a fake account – 33-year-old “Hans Mayer,” a proud German patriot with a clear penchant for right-wing topics. They encountered a world of closed groups, hatred, lies and agitation.
“Mayer,” the reporters quickly learned, was surrounded by many like-minded men and women in a filter bubble that had little to do with reality and where objections never stood a chance. A filter bubble results from a personalized search and a website’s algorithm selecting information a user might want to see, withholding information that disagrees with his or her viewpoints.
These filter bubbles are a “great threat to democracy,” ZDF reporter Florian Neuhann says. He and his colleague David Gebhard had an idea of what went on in far-right filter bubbles, Neuhann told DW, but were “totally taken aback by the speed at which their fake account accumulated Facebook friends and the utter absurdity of the stories being spread.”
People in filter bubbles focus their hatred on the same person or phenomenon – like Chancellor Angela Merkel or refugees – and they whip each other into a frenzy to outdo one another with abuse, explains Wolfgang Schweiger, a communication scientist at Hohenheim University.
On day three of the experiment, “Hans Mayer’s” timeline brimmed with fake news and lurid headlines: stories about government plans to take away the children of right-wing critics, a report stating that the city of Cologne canceled its carnival celebrations for fear of refugees, fake Merkel quotes – all shared thousands of times. The reports often followed a pattern, with an actual source hidden somewhere in the story that had dealt with the issue on hand, however remotely.
Worldwide, populists benefit from such activities; their supporters rarely challenge the “facts” they are presented.
Humans, Schweiger says, tend to believe information passed on by those who hold the same or similar views they do.
A week into the experiment, “Mayer” had many friends on Facebook and was invited into closed groups where users openly urged resisting the system. Forget inhibitions: Interspersed between cute cat photos and pictures of weddings, posts would read “Shoot the refugees, stand them in front of a wall and take aim,” while others denied the Holocaust. No one objected.
Blind to other people’s views
By day 12, “Mayer” had 250 Facebook friends – real people who never met him in person but felt he shared their beliefs. Neuhann and Gebhard wondered what would happen if “Mayer” were to pipe up and disagree.
So they posted official statistics showing that crime rates have not risen despite the influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees into Germany. To no avail, Neuhann, says: “We were either ignored or insulted.”
It’s a parallel world, Neuhann says. Part of the bubble is so far gone there is no way reasonable arguments can reach them, he adds, arguing that some people are only partially involved. They still have a life and maybe a job, so they might be approachable, though “perhaps not as much online as offline.”
Asked whether the reporters are afraid now that their story is out in the open, Neuhann says no, since “Hans Mayer” wasn’t the fake account’s real name.
It hasn’t been deactivated, but the journalists broke off their experiment after three weeks. The right-wing filter bubble continues to exist.