The social network, more than any other technology tool, was singled out on Friday by the Justice Department when prosecutors charged 13 Russians and three companies for executing a scheme to subvert the 2016 election and support Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign. In a 37-page indictment, officials detailed how the Russians repeatedly turned to Facebook and Instagram, often using stolen identities to pose as Americans, to sow discord among the electorate by creating Facebook groups, distributing divisive ads and posting inflammatory images.

The special counsel’s indictment detailed how crucial Facebook and Instagram were to the Russian campaign to disrupt the presidential election.
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Reporters and spooks have an unlikely professional kinship. Both spend their days trying to gather information, by talking to the people who have it or getting hold of documents that reveal it. Spies have their agents to safeguard; we have our sources to protect. In recent years even the technology has begun to merge, as reporters shift to encrypted email and secure apps like Signal to leave a less obvious trail for leak investigators.

But the differences between us are far more profound. The spies hoard information for the power it confers. We publish what we find out — and what we find out is often about the spies’ dubious operations, ethical lapses or covered-up failures. That’s the nature of news.

Why do people love spy stories? Scott Shane, our national security reporter, talks tonight with Jennifer Lawrence, star of the new spy thriller “Red Sparrow.”

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 As a consequence of the May 1879 Treaty of Gandamak after the Second Afghan War, Britain had taken control of Afghanistan’s foreign affairs. This treaty also gave Britain control over traditional Pashtun territory west of the Indus including Peshawar and the Khyber Pass.

After the Panjdeh incident a joint Anglo-Russian boundary commission, without any Afghan participation, fixed the Afghan border with Turkestan, which was the whole of Russian Central Asia, now Kirghizstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Thus, as a consequence of the competition between Britain and Russia, a new country, the Afghanistan we know today, was created to serve as the buffer.

Historically Pashtuns/Pakhtuns/Pathans and Afghans refer to the same people. The Pashtuns, who live east of the Durand line live in the mountainous areas and are made up of tribes such as the Afridi, Orakzai, Shinwari, Bangash and Turis. West of the Khyber, in today’s Afghanistan, live the Pashtuns consisting mainly of two great tribes – the Durranis also known as Abdalis and the Ghilzais.

In 1901 the British created the NWFP de-linking Pathan lands from Afghanistan and Punjab. They further divided NWFP into the settled districts that were directly administered by the British and five autonomous Tribal Agency areas ruled by local chieftains but with British Agents keeping an eye on them, as in the Indian princely states.

From the very beginning the Durand Line was not an international border but a line of control. The Simon Commission Report of 1930 stated quite explicitly: “British India stopped at the boundary of the administered area.”

When Pakistan came into being the vast majority of Muslims residing in what is now India stayed back and a Muslim homeland was fashioned out of Punjab, Sind, East Bengal and an unwilling North West Frontier Province (NWFP), which actually voted against the separatist Muslim League in the 1946 elections.

The British administered Tribal Agencies (now FATA) did not vote. Baluchistan at that time consisted of the independent state of Kalat ruled by the Khan, and the Quetta region that was leased by the British in 1876.

Gwadar and most of the Makran district in what is now in the Baluchistan Province of Pakistan, was under the control of the Sultan of Muscat, who relinquished it to Pakistan only in 1958.

The US National Intelligence Council 2008 report on “Global Trends 2025 states: “The future of Pakistan is a wildcard in considering the trajectory of neighboring Afghanistan. Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province and tribal areas probably will continue to be poorly governed and the source or supporter of cross-border instability.

If Pakistan is unable to hold together until 2025, a broader coalescence of Pashtun tribes is likely to emerge and act together to erase the Durand Line, maximizing Pashtun space at the expense of the Punjabis in Pakistan and the Tajiks and others in Afghanistan.”

And this is what Afghanistan’s revered national poet, Khushal Khan Khattak, has to say who the Afghans are:

“Pull out your sword and slay any one,
That says Pashtun and Afghan are not one.
Arabs know this and so do Romans,
Afghans are Pashtuns, Pashtuns are Afghans.”


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Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman said the state government in no uncertain terms reject any claim by the Philippines on the state.

“I have made our stand on this matter before. Let me once again clearly state that we do not recognise or acknowledge any claim by the Philippines or any other country on Sabah,” Musa said.

He was responding to remarks made by a member of the Philippines Consultative Committee, Aquilino Pimentel Jr, which was reported in the media recently.

It was reported that Pimentel, who was appointed to review the 1987 Constitution, said he would propose the inclusion of Sabah in the Philippines as part of the country’s shift to a federal system of government.

He said Sabah is part of Malaysia and has chosen to be and would continue to be a part of the sovereign nation since the state became party to its formation.

”The people in Sabah choose to be in the state because it is in Malaysia. We have been enjoying peace, stability and economic prosperity within Malaysia,” Musa said in a statement today.

Earlier, Malaysia rejected the proposal by a member of a Filipino government committee to amend the Philippine Constitution to include Sabah as the “13th federal state” of the Philippines.

“Malaysia is aware of remarks made by Mr Aquilino Pimentel Jr, a member of the Philippines’ Consultative Committee, which appeared in the media on the claim on Sabah recently,” said Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman in a press statement.

“The Government of Malaysia reiterates its position that Malaysia does not recognise and will not entertain any claims by any party on Sabah. Sabah is recognised by the United Nations and the international community as part of Malaysia since the formation of the Federation on 16 September 1963,” said Anifah.

“Therefore, statements such as these will only expose the ignorance of history and international law of those who make them, as well as potentially harming the excellent bilateral relations which Malaysia and the Philippines currently enjoy,” Anifah added.

Aquilino Pimentel Jr is a member of a 25-member government consultative committee tasked with reviewing and proposing amendments to the Philippines 1987 Constitution. A key proposal is switching to a system of federal government from its current model where power is centralised.

“There should be a way that is acceptable under international laws to assert our claim to Sabah,” Pimentel, a former senator, told local ABS-CBN News network in an interview on Tuesday.

Pimentel’s proposal for the new federal government includes 12 federal states – Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, Minparom, Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, Bangsamoro, Metro Manila.

He reportedly said the government can add Sabah as the 13th federal state later on.

In 2013, some 200 men from the southern Philippines landed in Sabah and battled Malaysian security forces for more than a month in a bid to stake an ancient claim of the territory for the Sultanate of Sulu.

Scores died in the fighting. At least two Malaysian police officers were beheaded by the invaders.

Sabah on Borneo island joined Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore to form Malaysia in 1963.

BITCOIN or BITCON?

Posted: January 27, 2018 in Bitcoin, Guardian UK
Tags:

This is an interesting article on BITCOIN.

The Nobel prize-winning economist Robert Shiller has said bitcoin will not be a “permanent feature” of the financial world, as politicians indicated that a clampdown on cryptocurrencies was coming.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday, Shiller hailed bitcoin as a “really clever idea”. But although he was impressed with the technology behind it, he was concerned that it had “gone viral as a currency”.

“I tend to think of bitcoin as an experiment. It is an interesting experiment, but it’s not a permanent feature of our lives,” said Shiller.

Davos speakers round on cryptocurrency as Robert Shiller calls it a clever idea with an impermanent future

THIS IS A MUST READ FOR OUR JOURNALISTS AND THEIR EDITORS. IN THIS AGE OF “ALTERNATE FACTS” AND “FAKE NEWS”, THIS IS HOW FACT CHECKING MUST BE DONE. READ AND PASS IT ON.

WORD BY WORD, LINE BY LINE

By Yvonne Rolzhausen, senior editor at The Atlantic

In a world where “fake news” thrives and basic editorial standards are often jettisoned as unnecessary expenses, fact-checkers can sometimes feel like an endangered species. But The Atlantic is dedicated to accuracy and truth—and therefore to rigorous factchecking. Our pieces seek to be thought-provoking and interesting—but to be truly insightful, they must be right.

Checkers verify every fact published in our magazine, from specific details and quotes to larger generalities. We think about a piece on a variety of levels: Are the basic facts correct? Are the facts underlying various opinions correct? And, finally, do they all fit together into a comprehensive and solid argument? We go word by word, line by line. For an intensively-reported piece, I might have dozens of sources to contact and hundreds of questions for an author. The process can take anywhere from a few hours (for a very short article) to weeks or even months (for a complex, legally-fraught one).

Let me walk you through my process for checking this short section of “What ISIS Really Wants,” Graeme Wood’s March 2015 feature for The Atlantic, the story with the highest engagement time in the world on the internet that year. In the piece, Graeme explores the ideology of the Islamic State, arguing that the group is rooted in carefully-considered religious beliefs.

How do I go about factchecking a piece like that? Here are the basic steps.

Get familiar with the material. I read the piece a few times and educate myself on the topic. Then the author either annotates the piece with sources in footnotes or simply walks me through it. This gives me a sense of how the piece was put together: What or who are the sources? Who might be difficult or sensitive to deal with? What did the author read? Then I ask the most important question: What is the author most worried about? Often it is the understandable fear that a highly sensitive source might not want to cooperate with the checking process. More on that soon.

Break down the piece with a red pencil. Every checker has a different system but I’m old-fashioned and still work on paper. I format the piece with wide margins so I can clearly keep track of which source is responsible for which fact. Months later, I need to be able to see the backup for everything. I then underline all the facts that have to be checked in red pencil. Proper names are highlighted. Legal sections are noted in red marker with lots of circled stars to indicate a need for triple-checking. Anything that I have confirmed gets a check mark through it—and, oh, the lovely satisfaction of making a check mark! The checked text disappears into the background, allowing me to focus on the lingering unchecked text. If I’m worried about a detail and want to discuss with the author, I’ll highlight it in yellow, and list possible solutions on a sticky note. After Graeme and I agreed on a change, I circled it with a red pen.

Plan interviews with the author’s sources. Next, I figure out who to contact and what to ask them. For a primary source, this could mean hours of conversations or pages of emailed questions. For a difficult or sensitive source, I create a script of what I need to find out and confirm, since these conversations are too important to leave anything to chance. Once a source hears the checking questions, and they realize what the author has or hasn’t chosen to include, they often sense the focus of the piece in a way that wasn’t clear in initial interviews. This is one reason why checking is not a job for the faint of heart. The next-to-last thing that a checker wants is to endanger a piece’s prospects for publication—but the last thing a checker wants is to allow publication of a piece that cannot withstand factual scrutiny. So it is utterly imperative to know about any potential issues prior to publication. It’s a controlled explosion, of sorts, when we still have enough time to sort out problems or at least prepare ourselves for the fall-out.

Start talking. One of Graeme’s main sources for this article was a young Australian named Musa Cerantonio, who, at the time, had been called one of the two most important “new spiritual authorities” guiding foreigners to join the Islamic State. And while Graeme had had hours of interviews during which to build remarkable trust with Cerantonio, I had to do the same in much shorter order. When Graeme and I first spoke about this, our fear was that Cerantonio might be reluctant to speak to a Western woman about anything, never mind spend hours confirming his philosophical beliefs. When we did finally speak, perhaps because of his confidence in Graeme, Cerantonio was surprisingly cordial and quite candid, especially given that he was being closely watched by the Australian government, under suspicion of promoting terrorism.
Review quotes with the author’s sources. Occasionally I will paraphrase quotes for sources, but generally I read the quotes to them. Invariably many explode (and not always in a controlled way). But if someone objects, that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to publish. We just need to make sure that the quote is accurate, that it is attributed to the appropriate source, and that the context is fair. In the second paragraph of his article, Graeme notes that, according to Cerantonio’s friends, ISIS leaders have an obligation to declare the caliphate. When I asked Cerantonio about this, he was coy, clarifying that it wasn’t “a friend” but someone he communicated with in chat rooms. Graeme immediately realized who he meant and we changed the line to say “a Western convert within the group’s ranks who Cerantonio had described as ‘something of a leader.’”

Call on a few experts. I went through all of the facts in this section with Cerantonio, but it was also crucial to make sure other experts agreed with him. To confirm whether or not ISIS supporters considered it “sinful” for their leaders to delay the establishment of an Islamic caliphate, I spoke to two others quoted elsewhere in the piece: Anjem Choudary, a U.K. preacher and ISIS supporter, and Cole Bunzel, a Princeton scholar of Islamic State ideology. In my notes, you can see where they confirmed various details. In one instance—in the second paragraph, where I circled “they would remove themselves from Islam,” referring to the consequences for ISIS leaders if they did not appoint a caliphate—Choudary and Bunzel felt the wording was too strong. Although Cerantonio had originally said this to Graeme, when asked about these comments directly he moderated his stance.

Talk everything over with the author. People often ask me if the process with the author is confrontational. It shouldn’t be. A checker should never assume to know all without giving an author the benefit of the doubt. I always try to be respectful and kind. The author has been swimming in these waters for a long time before I jump in. We never keep score.

One of the best ways to avoid problems in going over questions with an author: Offer suggestions for alternative language that would solve each checking issue. If I can’t come up with an easy solution, it’s often because I don’t fully understand the problem. I need to keep digging.
Part detective, part therapist, part comrade-in-arms, fact-checkers should, above all, be guardian angels sitting on an author’s shoulder, making sure that their arguments are based in fact, rather than supposition.

Such intensive scrutiny may make it seem like we are trying to tear down an argument—but our intention is opposite. We tease the argument apart only to build it back up with even greater strength. Our work requires diligence, tenacity, diplomacy, patience, and pretty much constant fear. But it is always interesting. And in a too often careless world, it can even feel noble. Check please!

(Courtesy of Yvonne Rolzhausen)

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THE Sabah government wants the state to be on a par with Singapore and Dubai through the implementation of transformation programmes, including the Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED). Chief Minister Musa Aman said TAED would beautify and further transform the image of Kota Kinabalu as the state capital, through the construction of world-class hotels and various facilities.

TAED is a mega-project implemented and supervised by Tanjung Aru Eco Development Sdn Bhd, which is wholly owned by the state government. It is expected to be completed next year.

Musa said the federal government provided support for the project’s development, giving an allocation of RM500 million.

“I have big plans. I want Sabah to be on a par with Singapore and Dubai,” he said at the opening ceremony of SMK Bandau in Kota Marudu today.

The event was officiated by Prime Minister Najib Razak. Present were Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid and state education director Maimunah Suhaibul.

Musa said the Sabah International Convention Centre, expected to be completed by the end of the year, would lead to more tourism activities in the state, and boost development.

On education, he said the state government was focused on ensuring the development of more efficient human capital.

He thanked the federal government, especially Najib, for being concerned about the development of education in Sabah, and providing major allocations towards this end. – Bernama, January 19, 2018.

 


Today is Dr Martin Luther King day in America. Dr King fought and got hit ever so frequently striving for justice and equality for all.

“I still have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in the American dream – one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed, “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream…”

Martin Luther King Jr. (1963, August 28th)

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I have a Dream by Martin Luther King, Jr; August 28, 1963

Delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

……READ THE REST HERE


Dear readers,

I just read about the Malaysiakini appeal to the public.

I have reproduced the article below for all.

Both subscribers to Malaysiakini and also non-subscribers, can also access the Malaysiakini website, via this link.

Malaysiakini is Malaysia’s only self-funding independent website. It is not controlled by the government. Malaysiakini report’s news without fear or favour. It does not produce the censored, doctored rubbish from the mainstream media.

Please read the article below or in the link. Please do what you can, to help.

Thank you.

===============================================================

Malaysiakini seeks public’s help to pay RM350k damages

(Read more here.)

Malaysiakini is reaching out to the public to help it raise RM350,000 after the Court of Appeal reversed a High Court’s decision in a defamation case.

The sum awarded by the appellate court to the Raub Australian Gold Mine (RAGM) company comprises RM200,000 in damages and RM150,000 in costs.

“Our lawyers will be applying for a stay pending appeal. For that to happen, we need to have the money ready,” Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan said today.

“And should the stay be not granted, we will have to pay RM350,000 in the coming weeks. Otherwise, RAGM can take winding-up proceedings against Malaysiakini,” he said.

Gan said that Malaysiakini is appealing the appellate court decision because it will have an adverse impact on journalists in carrying out their tasks.

“If it is left to stand, the court decision will make it very difficult for journalists to cover events, in particular press conferences, in a timely manner,” said Gan.

On May 23, 2016, High Court judge Justice Rosnani Saub dismissed RAGM’s claim against Malaysiakini and three members of its editorial staff.

Villagers at Bukit Koman in Raub, Pahang had alleged that the use of cyanide-related chemicals to extract gold at RAGM’s mine had affected their health.

RAGM sued for defamation after Malaysiakini reported on their complaints, which involved three news reports and two videos.

One of the news reports was on the villagers expressing fears over the mining activity near their village while the other two were press conferences held by the villagers. The videos were clips from the press conferences.

Without fear or favour

The High Court had ruled that the news portal succeeded in their defence of qualified privilege – the Reynolds privilege – which allows for responsible journalism and reportage.

This was reversed by the Court of Appeal yesterday following an appeal from the gold mine. The gold mine has since run into financial trouble and had applied for liquidation.

Gan said since its inception in 1999, Malaysiakini had never shied away from reporting on issues of public interest without fear or favour.

Malaysiakini believes that independent media is critical to a country’s progress. Without a vigilant media, the powerful are tempted to act in the interest of a few.

“Such actions lead to the decay of society. It is our responsibility as journalists to tell truth to power and to hold power to account, be they politicians or business leaders.

“We have managed to fund our operation over the past 18 years without the help of rich or powerful backers. Members of the public have supported us previously and we hope they will once again come to our aid.”

Gan said that if the portal succeeded in its appeal at the Federal Court, the money collected would be kept in a legal defence fund to be used for future court cases involving Malaysiakini.

Those who wish to contribute to the Defend Malaysiakini Fund can bank in their donations to the following account:

Account name: Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd

Account no: 514253516714 (Maybank)

Swift Code: MBBEMYKL

Branch address: Dataran Maybank, Level 1 Tower A, Dataran Maybank, 59000 Kuala Lumpur.

====================================================================

Thank You


Leaders of smaller, poorer countries are much more vulnerable to the ambitions of a country with deep pockets like China. After being thrown out of power, leaders in a number of countries have been investigated for accepting bribes from Chinese companies. The former president of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has been accused of accepting bribes from China Harbour Engineering Company, a subsidiary of state-owned China Communications Construction Company. Rajapaksa’s tenure saw several high-profile Chinese investments in Sri Lanka. Many of those, including an airport and a seaport in Hambantota—the home base of Rajapaksa—have proven to be commercial non-starters. In Nigeria, just three days before exiting office, former president Goodluck Jonathan approved an out-of-court settlement—now being probed by US agencies—between Addax Petroleum (owned by Chinese oil giant Sinopec) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., saving the former millions of dollars.

In 2012, the husband of former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was arrested on charges of accepting bribes to push a deal between the Philippine government and the Chinese telecom company ZTE. Mohammad Nasheed, the leader-in-exile of Maldivian opposition, has accused President Abdulla Yameen of corruption in leasing out islands to foreign countries. India, too, was concerned about the Yameen government leasing out the Feydhoo Finolhu island to a Chinese company at a throwaway price without competitive bidding. Known for his proximity to China, Yameen again surprised New Delhi in November last year by passing a free trade agreement with China through the Maldivian parliament in an emergency session called at short notice with most of the opposition members unavailable to attend.

As China pushes its ambitious trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, such sweetheart deals can be expected in greater numbers. India’s smaller neighbours are especially vulnerable, but New Delhi can do little as it cannot match Beijing’s largesse.

The scale at which China is using its capital for securing political influence is unprecedented