Friday, May 31, 2019

Twitter is working with academic researchers to decide whether it should ban white supremacists from its platform

There seems to be no agreed definition of white supremacy. Does it include immigration critics and patriots?  It seems to on many occasions.  The only definition that fits all the cases seems to be anyone who disagrees with the Left.

But even if a reasonable definition of white supremacism can be devised,  it is supported only by a few isolated individuals.  It has no substantial organization -- unlike Islamic supremacism or Leftist supremacism.  A supremacist wants to rule the world so is in principle obnoxious.  If it is going to ban anything, Twitter should ban Islamic supremacism and Leftist supremacism. White supremacism is the least of the world's supremacism problems

Twitter says it's looking into whether or not white supremacists should be allowed on its platform, amid increasing calls for a crackdown on extremist content.

The social media giant is examining how white nationalists and supremacists use its platform to help it decide whether the groups should be banned, or if they should be allowed to continue to post so that other users can debate them, according to Motherboard. 

It comes as Twitter has faced criticism over the plethora of extremist content shared on its site and the fact that it has taken few measures to curb hateful rhetoric.

Researchers are looking at what roles Twitter plays in making conversations around white nationalism and white supremacy worse or better.  From there, it hopes to have a better idea of whether or not banning these groups would be the right move.

'Is it the right approach to deplatform these individuals? Is the right approach to try and engage with these individuals? How should we be thinking about this? What actually works?' Vijaya Gadde, Twitter's head of trust and safety, told Motherboard.

Last month, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Gadde met with President Donald Trump to discuss the 'health of public conversations on the site.

Twitter has become notorious for its characteristically slow responses to pressing problems on the site, such as abuse, trolls and hateful content.

For that reason, many aren't surprised by the company's decision to look into the issue of white supremacists and white nationalism several years after these kinds of content started to become amplified on Twitter.

'The idea that they are looking at this matter seriously now as opposed to the past indicates the callousness with which they've approached this issue on their platform,' Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, told Motherboard.

Similarly, Heidi Beirich, director of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told Motherboard it has been proven that white supremacists continue to thrive on Twitter.

'Twitter has David Duke on there; Twitter has Richard Spencer,' she told Motherboard. 'They have some of the biggest ideologues of white supremacy and people whose ideas have inspired terrorist attacks on their site, and it's outrageous.'

Twitter has taken some steps to crack down on extremism, joining Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, LinkedIn and others last year in banning right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars show from its platform.

In other ways, Twitter and several social media platforms have yet to fully reckon with the amount of extremist content on their platforms.

YouTube has also become a popular destination for white nationalism and supremacy, but it has so far refused to ban either forms of content from its site.

So far, the only major social media platform to take a stand against white nationalism and white separatism is Facebook, which banned those kinds of posts in March.

Posts that include statements like 'I am a proud white nationalist' and 'Immigration is tearing this country apart' will immediately be banned.

If a user tries to publish a post around these themes, they'll instead be redirected to a nonprofit called Life After Hate, which helps individuals involved in these extremist groups exit them safely.



Leftist political violence in Czechia too

Lubos Motl writes:

Ladislav Jakl, the life-long secretary of ex-president Klaus, was brutally attacked in the Prague subway on Saturday

He was sitting in the subway, approaching Square of the Republic, Yellow Line B, and playing with his phone. Suddenly two attackers came and one screamed: "You are that Jakl, from SPD". SPD is the "nationalist" party - I voted for it on Friday for the first time but it could also be the last time, it's not really my cup of tea in the long run.

Jakl wasn't a leader of SPD, he was just nominated by SPD for Senate (failed) and a Public TV Commission (he's there).

Jakl has had a sleepless night due to pain, a physician ruled out internal injury, so he's just cosmetically impaired on his head and shoulder. He ended on the floor. The attackers left the car on the next stop.

I know Jakl in person. In particular, in late 2014, we shared the slot for a lecture on the climate in Southern Bohemia. I had the more scientific part, he had the more social one. His talk about the climate panic was wise and wonderful.

Just to make you sure that the political violence by the "liberals" doesn't avoid Czechia and climate skeptics are likely to be victims.

Via email


Millennial Attitudes Are Out of Sync with Economic Realities

These days, young Americans are a pessimistic bunch. Earlier this month, Deloitte released its 2019 Millennial Survey, taking a snapshot of public opinion among more than 13,000 Millennials and over 3,000 Gen Z respondents in the United States and beyond.

What did Deloitte find? In a word, pessimism. As the company put it, “Optimism, trust reach troubling low levels.” In other words, young America is a “generation disturbed.”

While many factors fuel my generation’s pessimism, economic uncertainty tops the list. Nearly half of all respondents believe that the changing nature of work will make it more difficult to find or change jobs, while another 70 percent believe they may lack the skills required to thrive in the modern workplace. Meanwhile, barely one-quarter of respondents expect economic conditions in their respective countries to improve over the next year—down from 45 percent a year ago.

Given the changing labor market, much of that uncertainty is justifiable. But there’s more: Young Americans are more skeptical of the business community than ever before, with many perceiving corporate America as a problem facing our country and not a potential solution to many of its shortcomings. According to Deloitte’s research, only 55 percent of Millennials see businesses as having a positive impact on society, compared to 61 percent in 2018.

That’s right: Barely half of all Millennials see businesses as “having a positive impact on society.” Think about that for a second.

Laura Banks, a Millennial cited in the Deloitte report, put it this way: “We have less trust in employers because so many of our parents did lose their jobs, and they had been loyal to companies.”

Indeed, globalization is not an entirely positive experience. While yielding many benefits, the outsourcing of American supply chains to continents like Africa and Asia has resulted in disrupted industries, shuttered factories, and countless lost jobs.

But entirely ignoring the merits of globalization and vilifying the business community as a “negative impact” is quite a leap. In fact, to denigrate the private sector is intellectually irresponsible, considering that private enterprise is primarily responsible for the economic prosperity that we see today.

The numbers bear it out. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the totality of U.S. industry—public and private—combines to account for more than $36 trillion in gross economic output. Of those industries, the private sector alone accounts for nearly $33 trillion of that output—over 90 percent of the U.S. economy.

Economic output translates to job creation, and vice versa. As of April 2019, the private sector employed more than 128 million working Americans. The government (federal, state, and local), on the other hand, put fewer than 23 million Americans to work. These are jobs that would be impossible to finance without the productive capacity of private enterprise.

Here’s another way to look at it: In terms of job creation, the private sector is about five times more powerful than its public counterpart, which is financially dependent on the free market.

Without it, the U.S. economy would simply fall apart. Moreover, it would pale in comparison to the global competitors that have sought to replicate America’s success for decades. Despite the never-ending talk of American decline, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) accounts for roughly a quarter of the world’s GDP. In fact, America’s share of global GDP is on par with those of China, Japan, and Germany combined.

Because of its productive and innovative private sector, the U.S. economy is without precedent, and is the most prosperous economy in the history of civilization. And our economy remains the global standard, as it was for much of the 20th century.

Ironically, young Americans have a lot to do with that. After all, Millennials represent the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. By next year, the Millennial generation is projected to make up 50 percent of the workforce, populating all levels of the corporate ladder.

And there are plenty of reasons for Millennials—and all Americans—to be optimistic. Our economy continues to expand, hitting a robust 3.2 percent growth rate in the first quarter of 2019. The U.S. unemployment rate has dropped below four percent, and the unemployment rate for the least-skilled workers is outperforming its average to a greater extent than for higher-skilled employees.

In the last four decades, real GDP per person has increased from about $28,000 to more than $55,000, and 60 percent of today’s 30-year-olds are better off than their parents at the same age (when adjusting for family size). Upward mobility may not be guaranteed, but it is still commonplace.

And yet, young America remains pessimistic. While some of that pessimism can indeed be justified, much is totally unfounded, considering America’s socioeconomic status in the world.

Is there room to criticize the business community? Yes. Is our free-market economic system perfect? Of course not. There is always room for improvement.

But to suggest the business community has anything but a “positive impact on society”—in its totality—is to plead ignorance. Quite frankly, our business leaders deserve better.



Why the British loathe The Donald

To our elite, Trump is the wrong kind of rich person.

Now, Trump is an offensive guy, and he has said some truly nasty stuff. But that doesn’t quite explain why he can bring London’s middle classes on to the streets at the drop of a hat. Yes, he has been turned, quite effectively, into a symbol of all that is wrong with the world. But I wonder if there’s something peculiarly British about the fury he elicits here. I reckon it’s got something to do with snobbery. Trump may have been born rich, become a reality-TV star, and is now the most powerful man in the world, but under our class system he is still a person to be looked down upon.

In The Road to Wigan Pier, George Orwell writes about his private-school education and his younger years as ‘an odious little snob’. As a child of the ‘lower-upper-middle class’, he learned to loathe those above him as much as those below him. ‘I despised anyone who was not describable as a “gentleman”, but also I hated the hoggishly rich, especially those who had grown rich too recently.’ That is Trump to a tee. He’s the wrong kind of rich. The new rich. The beauty-pageant rich. The flashy rich. This is why – prior to politics – he was beloved by so many rappers. And this is why he is so loathed by the British bourgeoisie.

The US, of course, has inherited much of that snobbery. Witness the way the death of the supposedly ‘genteel’ New England aristocrat George Bush Sr became another opportunity to knock Trump for being brash and uncouth. Or the constant unflattering comparisons between the professorial, new-class Obamas and the tacky, new-money Trumps. But there is still something distinct about the British revulsion at The Donald. Not least because ‘don’t give him a state visit – he’ll embarrass our queen!’ is an argument now being made by nominal left-liberals.

Regardless, this rage against Trump is also not just about him, on either side of the pond. It’s about the people who voted for him because they were fed up of the people now slating him. It’s about the people ‘stupid’ enough to fall for this orange charlatan. One moment in Fire and Fury – the much-disputed, probably fictionalised account of the Trump White House by Michael Wolff – provides an instructive anecdote. Trump is asked by an Eastern European model what ‘white trash’ is. ‘They’re people just like me, only they’re poor’, was his (alleged) response.

That’s what the anger and the double standards and the blimp are really about. And deep down, the protesters know it.



Federal Agency Blames Diversity, Ignores Cause of Deadly 2017 Amtrak Derailment

Must not blame the driver.  That would upset the union

On December 18, 2017, in Dupont, Washington, if an Amtrak engineer had negotiated a curve at the proper speed of 30 miles per hour instead of 78 mph, the deadly derailment that claimed three lives and injured 57 would not have occurred. Two and a half years later, that wasn’t how the federal National Transportation Safety Board saw it.

As Fox News reports, “instead of blaming the engineer, the NTSB cast a wide net that included the various agencies that constructed and operated the line.” The federal board excoriated the Seattle-area Sound Transit agency for “not sufficiently mitigating the danger of the sharp bend.” Amtrak was to blame for “not better training the engineer.” The NTSB blamed the Washington State Department of Transportation for “not ensuring the route was safe before green-lighting a passenger train.” The NTSB also blamed and the Federal Railroad Administration for “using rail cars beneath regulatory standards.”

Relatives of the victims might wonder how all this was allowed to proceed without supervision from the FTSB and other state, local and federal agencies. None of the alleged lapses cancel the blame of the engineer, who hit the curve at more than twice the speed limit. So when NTSB Robert Sumwalt said the accident could have prevented, he was confirming a stranglehold on the obvious. Trouble is, if this is an “institutional problem,” as some regulators claimed, then no person is to blame. Amtrak employees are members of government employee unions, a highly protected class, so no surprise that the NTSB even fails to name the engineer.

As this case confirms, the NTSB is basically a historian of accidents and contributes little if anything to public safety. The Trump administration should mark the NTSB for deep cuts and take a hard look at Amtrak as well. In typical style, Amtrak failed to name the faulty engineer or indicate whether he had been fired or what he might be doing now. But as Amtrak said in a statement, “We remain deeply saddened by the loss of life and injuries due to this tragic event.”



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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