jueves, 29 de marzo de 2018

Why do people belong to a party? Negative views of the opposing party are a major factor

For both Republicans and Democrats, the top reason to belong to a party is a belief that its policies will benefit the country. But sizable majorities in both parties cite the other party’s harmful policies as a major factor, according to a new national survey.

And for independents who lean toward a party, negative motivations are mentioned most often – by far – as a major reason for their partisan leaning.

About three-quarters of Republicans (76%) and 72% of Democrats say a major reason for belonging to their party is that its policies are good for the country, according to the survey of 4,656 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 29-Feb. 13. Republicans (71%) are more likely than Democrats (63%) to cite the harm from the opposing party’s policies as a major reason to affiliate with their party.

Fewer cite other considerations as major reasons why they identify with their party. About half of Democrats (51%) and 45% of Republicans cite having a lot in common with other members of their party as a major reason.

Roughly a third of Democrats (36%) say a major reason for their affiliation is loyalty – that is, they have been a Democrat for as long as they can remember. Just a quarter of Republicans say the same.

And just about four-in-ten Republicans and Democrats alike (37%) say a major reason they identify with their own party is that they have little in common with members of the other party.

The major reasons for identifying or leaning toward the parties have shifted only modestly since May 2016. (See “Partisanship and Political Animosity.”)
Why do people ‘lean’ toward a party?

For independents who lean toward a party, the belief that the other party’s policies are harmful is the most frequently cited reason for their partisan leaning. Nearly six-in-ten Republican-leaning independents (58%) and Democratic leaners (57%) say a major reason for leaning to the Republican and Democratic parties, respectively, is a feeling that the other party’s policies are harmful for the country.

Smaller shares (42% of Republican leaners, 34% of Democratic leaners) cite the positive impact of the policies of the party to which they lean.

Republican and Democratic leaners also were asked to consider the reasons they do not identify with the party they lean toward. Currently, Republican leaners are more likely than Democratic leaners to say they are frustrated with their party’s leadership (44% vs. 38%).

Still, the share of Republican leaners who cite frustration with GOP leaders as a major reason for not identifying as a Republican has ticked down since 2016 (from 52% to 44%). By contrast, more Democratic-leaning independents cite frustrations with Democratic leaders as a major reason they do not identify as Democrats than did so two years ago, when the party held the White House (38% now, 28% then).

Rubén Weinsteiner

miércoles, 28 de marzo de 2018

Americans’ complicated feelings about social media in an era of privacy concerns

By Lee Rainie

Amid public concerns over Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data and a subsequent movement to encourage users to abandon Facebook, there is a renewed focus on how social media companies collect personal information and make it available to marketers.

Pew Research Center has studied the spread and impact of social media since 2005, when just 5% of American adults used the platforms. The trends tracked by our data tell a complex story that is full of conflicting pressures. On one hand, the rapid growth of the platforms is testimony to their appeal to online Americans. On the other, this widespread use has been accompanied by rising user concerns about privacy and social media firms’ capacity to protect their data.

All this adds up to a mixed picture about how Americans feel about social media. Here are some of the dynamics.

People like and use social media for several reasons

About seven-in-ten American adults (69%) now report they use some kind of social media platform (not including YouTube) – a nearly fourteenfold increase since Pew Research Center first started asking about the phenomenon. The growth has come across all demographic groups and includes 37% of those ages 65 and older.

The Center’s polls have found over the years that people use social media for important social interactions like staying in touch with friends and family and reconnecting with old acquaintances. Teenagers are especially likely to report that social media are important to their friendships and, at times, their romantic relationships.

Beyond that, we have documented how social media play a role in the way people participate in civic and political activities, launch and sustain protests, get and share health information, gather scientific information, engage in family matters, perform job-related activities and get news. Indeed, social media is now just as common a pathway to news for people as going directly to a news organization website or app.

Our research has not established a causal relationship between people’s use of social media and their well-being. But in a 2011 report, we noted modest associations between people’s social media use and higher levels of trust, larger numbers of close friends, greater amounts of social support and higher levels of civic participation.

People worry about privacy and the use of their personal information

While there is evidence that social media works in some important ways for people, Pew Research Center studies have shown that people are anxious about all the personal information that is collected and shared and the security of their data.

Overall, a 2014 survey found that 91% of Americans “agree” or “strongly agree” that people have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by all kinds of entities. Some 80% of social media users said they were concerned about advertisers and businesses accessing the data they share on social media platforms, and 64% said the government should do more to regulate advertisers.

Another survey last year found that just 9% of social media users were “very confident” that social media companies would protect their data. About half of users were not at all or not too confident their data were in safe hands.

Moreover, people struggle to understand the nature and scope of the data collected about them. Just 9% believe they have “a lot of control” over the information that is collected about them, even as the vast majority (74%) say it is very important to them to be in control of who can get information about them.

Six-in-ten Americans (61%) have said they would like to do more to protect their privacy. Additionally, two-thirds have said current laws are not good enough in protecting people’s privacy, and 64% support more regulation of advertisers.

Some hope that the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which goes into effect on May 25, will give users – even Americans – greater protections about what data tech firms can collect, how the data can be used, and how consumers can be given more opportunities to see what is happening with their information.

People’s issues with the social media experience go beyond privacy

In addition to the concerns about privacy and social media platforms uncovered in our surveys, related research shows that just 5% of social media users trust the information that comes to them via the platforms “a lot.”

Moreover, social media users can be turned off by what happens on social media. For instance, social media sites are frequently cited as places where people are harassed. Near the end of the 2016 election campaign, 37% of social media users said they were worn out by the political content they encountered, and large shares said social media interactions with those opposed to their views were stressful and frustrating. Large shares also said that social media interactions related to politics were less respectful, less conclusive, less civil and less informative than offline interactions.

A considerable number of social media users said they simply ignored political arguments when they broke out in their feeds. Others went steps further by blocking or unfriending those who offended or bugged them.

Why do people leave or stay on social media platforms?

The paradox is that people use social media platforms even as they express great concern about the privacy implications of doing so – and the social woes they encounter. The Center’s most recent survey about social media found that 59% of users said it would not be difficult to give up these sites, yet the share saying these sites would be hard to give up grew 12 percentage points from early 2014.

Some of the answers about why people stay on social media could tie to our findings about how people adjust their behavior on the sites and online, depending on personal and political circumstances. For instance, in a 2012 report we found that 61% of Facebook users said they had taken a break from using the platform. Among the reasons people cited were that they were too busy to use the platform, they lost interest, they thought it was a waste of time and that it was filled with too much drama, gossip or conflict.

In other words, participation on the sites for many people is not an all-or-nothing proposition.

People pursue strategies to try to avoid problems on social media and the internet overall. Fully 86% of internet users said in 2012 they had taken steps to try to be anonymous online. “Hiding from advertisers” was relatively high on the list of those they wanted to avoid.

Many social media users fine-tune their behavior to try to make things less challenging or unsettling on the sites, including changing their privacy settings and restricting access to their profiles. Still, 48% of social media users reported in a 2012 survey they have difficulty managing their privacy controls.

After National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden disclosed details about government surveillance programs starting in 2013, 30% of adults said they took steps to hide or shield their information and 22% reported they had changed their online behavior in order to minimize detection. One other argument that some experts make in Pew Research Center canvassings about the future is that people often find it hard to disconnect because so much of modern life takes place on social media. These experts believe that unplugging is hard because social media and other technology affordances make life convenient and because the platforms offer a very efficient, compelling way for users to stay connected to the people and organizations that matter to them.

U.S. tariffs vary a lot, but the highest duties tend to be on imported clothing

By Drew DeSilver

Women work at a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (Mehedi Hasan/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

While U.S. tariffs as a whole continue to be at or near their lowest levels ever, the duties imposed on specific imported goods vary widely depending on what they are and where they’re coming from. In general, the stiffest tariffs are levied on apparel and clothing.

Last year, according to data from the U.S. International Trade Commission, import duties totaled $33.1 billion – equal to 1.4% of the total value of all imported goods, and 4.7% of the value of all imports subject to duty. (Most imported goods carry no duty at all. Only 30.4% of the $2.33 trillion in total imported goods, or about $708.6 billion, were subject to duty; the rest entered the U.S. freely.)

But those overall figures conceal a vast and complex array of individual tariff rates, on thousands of precisely defined import categories. These are spelled out in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, the latest edition of which runs to 3,713 pages – almost as long as the Internal Revenue Code. The HTS, as it’s known, gets very specific: It will tell you, for instance, how the duty on “artificial flowers, foliage and fruit” differs depending on whether the objects in question are made from plastic (8.4%), feathers (4.7%) or man-made fibers (9%).

Broadly speaking, the largest categories of U.S. imports tend to carry relatively low tariff rates, while the highest rates usually are found in relatively small categories. Clothing is the main exception: The two main classifications of “apparel and clothing accessories” together accounted for $80.6 billion in imports last year (3.5% of the total); nearly $64 billion of those imports, or 79%, were “dutiable” – that is, subject to duty. The average tariffs on the dutiable portions were 18.7% for knitted or crocheted clothing, and 15.8% for non-knitted or crocheted items – the two highest average rates out of 98 broad import categories. Footwear was close behind: Nearly all of the $25.5 billion in imported footwear is subject to duty, at an average rate of 11.9%.

By contrast, average duties were far lower on “electrical machinery and equipment,” the single largest category of imported goods. This category includes telecommunications gear, computer chips, TVs and broadcasting equipment, electrical transformers, and related products. The U.S. imported nearly $347 billion worth of such goods last year, but only 21.3% of them carried a duty; the average duty on that portion was just 2.7%.

Computer equipment and industrial machinery is the next-biggest import category ($339.4 billion), but only $57 billion of those imports are taxed, at an average rate of 3%. “Vehicles and parts” accounted for $292.6 billion in imports but generated less than $3.4 billion in tariff revenue (2.7% of the dutiable value).

The imported steel products singled out for 25% tariffs by President Donald Trump’s administration totaled $29.3 billion last year, according to our analysis of ITC data; all of them had been duty-free before. The categories of aluminum imports specified for an additional 10% tariff in Trump’s order amounted to just under $17 billion; about a fifth of those imports already were subject to duties, averaging 3.5% of the assessed value. (Steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico, however, were excluded from the new tariffs, pending the outcome of ongoing talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.)

Minerals and metals, as it happens, are one of the classes of imports on which the U.S. has had particularly low tariffs, according to data from the latest “World Tariff Profiles” report, produced jointly by the World Trade Organization, International Trade Centre and UN Conference on Trade and Development. The “average most-favored-nation applied duty” on minerals and metals was 1.7%, or 125th out of 138 countries and other economic units. (The “most favored nation,” or MFN, part of that metric refers to the tariffs each WTO member country promises to apply to all other WTO members, unless they’re part of a free trade area, customs union or other “preferential trade agreement.” Also, the report treats the 28-member European Union as a single entity, and it covers Hong Kong and Macao separately from the rest of China.)

The highest U.S. import taxes relative to the rest of the world are on petroleum: The average MFN applied rate of 6.5% is tied for 47th place, with Costa Rica. (The Cook Islands, an autonomous part of New Zealand, has the highest average petroleum tariffs: a whopping 168%.) Also relatively high are U.S. tariffs on imported sugars and confectionery: The 16.4% average MFN tariff ranks 50th out of 138, though it’s nowhere near the 93.4% imposed by Turkey.

In general, countries tend to place their highest import duties on beverages (read: alcohol) and tobacco, which helps explain why that’s most of what you’ll find on the shelves at “duty-free shops” at international airports. The average MFN applied tariff on the “beverages and tobacco” category, according to the WTO data, is 35.8%. (The U.S. average rate, by contrast, is 19.1%.) Egypt takes the prize here, with an 803% average applied tariff on beverages and tobacco.

jueves, 22 de marzo de 2018

Positive Views of Economy Surge, Driven by Major Shifts Among Republicans

Few say stock market movements have big impact on finances

Americans’ views of national economic conditions continue to improve, with the share saying the economy is in good or excellent condition now at its highest point in nearly two decades.

The overall rise in positive assessments seen over the last year is driven by the shifting views of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Nearly three-quarters of Republicans (74%) now view the economy in positive terms. That is a marked improvement from last October (57%). In December 2016, shortly after the presidential election, just 14% of Republicans rated the economy as excellent or good.

By contrast, just 37% of Democrats say the economy is in excellent or good shape. This is modestly higher than last fall (when 30% said this), but lower than the 46% who said this in December 2016.

The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted March 7-14 among 1,466 adults, also finds a wider partisan difference in personal economic assessments than in recent years. Today, 62% of Republicans say their personal financial situation is in excellent or good shape, compared with 44% of Democrats who say the same. GOP views have improved substantially since Donald Trump’s election. Democratic views have changed little following the shift in administration.

Democrats are somewhat less positive about their future personal financial situation than they were during Barack Obama’s presidency, while Republicans have become more bullish. Today Republicans are 19 percentage points more likely to say they expect their personal finances to improve over the next year (82% vs. 63%). Throughout much of Obama’s tenure, the expectations gap was the reverse.

The survey finds that Americans’ views of factors affecting their personal financial pressures have changed somewhat in recent years.

In particular, far fewer Americans (37%) say the price of gas affects their personal finances “a lot” than did so in 2013 or 2011, during periods of higher gas prices. In those years, majorities said the price of gas affected their household finances a lot (64% in 2013, 69% in 2011).

About half each say health care costs (53%) and the price of food and consumer goods (48%) have a major impact. By contrast, just 22% say the federal budget deficit affects their finances a lot and 21% say the same about “how the stock market is doing.”

Unlike overall opinions about the economy and personal financial evaluations, views of financial pressures are not all that partisan. However, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say that health care costs and real estate values affect their household finances a lot.

Among members of both parties, particularly Republicans, the shares saying the federal budget deficit has a major effect on their finances is much lower today than it was in 2011. The share of Republicans who say the deficit affects their finances a lot has declined by about half since 2011, from 48% to 23%. About one-in-five Democrats (22%) also say the deficit has a big financial impact, down from 38% seven years ago.

This is the latest indication of diminished public concern over the budget deficit. In Pew Research Center’s annual policy priorities survey in January, 48% of Americans said that reducing the budget deficit should be a top priority for the president and Congress, down from 72% in 2013. The decline came among members of both parties, though the shift among Republicans was more pronounced.
Public’s views of the economy 2008-2018

The current survey comes 10 years after the collapse of Bear Stearns, seen by many as the moment the extent of the financial crisis became clear.

In March 2008, just days after the firm’s collapse, only 11% of the public said that national economic conditions were good or excellent, while 32% said they were only fair and 56% said they were poor.

The share viewing the economy in positive terms changed little over the next several years – but the share saying the economy was poor increased as the economic crisis deepened, reaching 71% in February 2009.

The trajectory of these views differed for Republicans and Democrats. In March 2008, though few in either party had positive views of economic conditions, the assessments of Republicans and Republican leaners were somewhat more positive than those of Democrats and Democratic leaners: 23% of Republicans rated national economic conditions as good or excellent, compared with only 4% of Democrats.

After Barack Obama took office, these views reversed, and throughout most of Obama’s presidency Democrats were more likely than Republicans to view economic conditions positively. Since Trump’s election, Republicans have grown substantially more positive about the state of the national economy. Currently Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to say that national economic conditions are excellent or good (74% to 37%).
Within parties, income differences in economic expectations

Looking ahead, the public has mixed views of how they think the national economy will perform over the next year. While slightly more say they expect conditions to be better a year from now (34%) than worse (25%), 40% expect conditions to be about the same.

While opinions about the economy are much better today than they were a decade ago, the public’s economic expectations are similar to views at that time. In March 2008, 33% expected the economy to be better a year from then, 22% worse and 39% about the same. The public became increasingly optimistic about the economy in 2008 and early 2009, as conditions worsened. But economic optimism subsequently declined.

Republicans and Democrats currently have starkly different expectations. While 59% of Republicans say economic conditions will get better in a year, just 10% of Democrats say the same. Four-in-ten Democrats expect economic conditions to get worse over the next year, compared with just 9% of Republicans (31% of Republicans and 48% of Democrats expect conditions to stay about the same).

While economic expectations do not differ by income in the public overall, the picture is very different within each of the two parties. Higher-income Republicans are more likely than those with lower incomes to say that they expect economic conditions to improve in the next year: 68% of those with family incomes of $75,000 or more say this, compared with 50% of those with incomes of less than $30,000.

Among Democrats, the pattern is reversed; lower-income Democrats are modestly more likely to say they expect economic conditions to improve (though this view is not widely held among Democrats at any income level), and while 52% of Democrats with incomes of $75,000 or more expect conditions to worsen, that view is only held by about a third (35%) of those with lower family incomes.

Republicans and Republican leaners have become significantly more optimistic about the future economy since Trump took office. Today, 59% say they expect conditions to be better a year from now. Until Trump’s election, no more than a third of Republicans had expressed this sentiment during Obama’s administration. However, the current share of Republicans expressing this optimistic view is down from the three-quarters (75%) of Republicans and Republican leaners who said this in February 2017, shortly after Trump’s inauguration.

Today, 40% of Democrats and Democratic leaners say they expect conditions to get worse in the coming year, down 9 percentage points since February 2017, but still higher than at any point during Obama’s presidency.
What affects household finances?

Among the factors that affect household finances, the public ranks the cost of health care and the prices of food and consumer goods highest. About half of Americans say the cost of health care affects their household’s financial situation a lot (53%), and nearly as many (48%) say the same about prices of food and consumer goods.

Real estate values (37%), gas prices (37%) and the availability of jobs (34%) are mentioned by about a third of Americans as affecting their household’s finances a lot. Only about two-in-ten say the same of the stock market (21%) or the federal budget deficit (22%).

Today, far fewer consider gas prices as a top pressure than did so seven years ago: In April 2011, when gas prices were far higher than they have been in recent years, fully 69% of Americans said gas prices affected their situation a lot – the highest of the six factors included in the survey. Today, the cost of health care – asked for the first time in this survey – ranks higher than most other pressures.

Fewer today see the federal budget deficit as a chief concern for their household’s financial situation than did so in 2011, and the then 10-percentage-point partisan gap in assessments of its personal impact has dissipated.

And while the prices of food and consumer goods remains a top pressure for household finances, the share reporting it affects them a lot has dipped 10 points since 2011, from 58% to 48%.

Those who say the availability of jobs affects their finances a lot also has declined slightly from 2011, in the midst of the financial recession, when 42% said it impacted their household finances a lot.

The share who say their households are affected a lot by the stock market or real estate values is little different today than it was seven years ago.

There continue to be wide differences across income categories in assessments of the impact of financial pressures, but health care costs is a top household financial pressure across all income levels. About half (53%) of households earning $100,000 or more a year say it affects their financial situations a lot; about as many (52%) of those earning $30,000 a year or less say the same.

On the impact of other pressures, there are some substantial differences across income groups. While about six-in-ten in lower income households say the prices of food and consumer goods impacts their finances a lot (59% of those in households with incomes of less than $30,000 a year), four-in-ten of those in higher income households say the same (40% of households making $75,000 annually or more).

Gas prices are also more likely to be characterized as having a lot of impact among middle- and low-income households than higher-income households: Just 26% of those with family incomes of $100,000 or more say this, compared with about four-in-ten of those with lower family incomes.

By contrast, high-earning households are more likely to see real estate values as affecting them (46% of those with family incomes of $100,000 or more a year, compared with only about a third of those with lower incomes). And while about one-in-three with family incomes of $75,000 or more (32%) say the stock market affects their households’ finances a lot, only 15% of those with lower family incomes say this.

Rubén Weinsteiner

lunes, 19 de marzo de 2018

Democrats fume over Parscale's limited answers on Russian digital meddling

Donald Trump’s digital guru has stonewalled questions about Kremlin election interference, Democrats say, even as he launches Trump’s reelection campaign.

Brad Parscale was a virtual unknown before he joined Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, as digital director.

Even as digital media guru Brad Parscale takes over President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, federal investigators have mounting questions about the high-tech “secret weapon” Parscale says was instrumental to Trump’s 2016 victory — including whether it might have played a role in Russian election meddling.

But Parscale isn’t talking.

That’s despite the fact that Democrats on at least three different congressional committees say they want to hear more from Parscale about potential data sharing between the campaign and Russian entities. Democrats say evidence of such collaboration — or even Russian manipulation of Trump campaign software that may have been unknown to Trump aides — would be highly explosive given its potentially direct impact on the election’s outcome and legitimacy.

While Republicans seem content with Parscale’s insistence he knows nothing about the Russian scheme, more than a dozen Democratic lawmakers and staffers interviewed by POLITICO say that no investigation into Moscow’s election interference can be complete without a full accounting from Trump’s 2016 digital campaign director — especially given that special counsel Robert Mueller has recently focused on Kremlin-linked efforts to manipulate election-related social media.

Over the weekend, several Democrats said they were extremely concerned about recent media reports that Cambridge Analytica, the conservative data analytics firm Parscale hired for the campaign, had improperly collected information on more than 50 million Facebook users and likely used it in the voter-targeting operation. The new reporting, in The New York Times and the Observer of London, also suggested that Cambridge Analytica has previously undisclosed connections to Russia.

A full accounting from Parscale is especially important now, the Democrats say, given his central role in both Trump’s 2020 campaign and, through that organization, in supporting Republican candidates in the 2018 congressional midterm elections.

Yet Parscale stonewalled lawmakers during his July testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic sources familiar with it tell POLITICO, in an account of his appearance that has not been reported before.

During his testimony, Parscale was unresponsive to some questions and referred most others to Alexander Nix, the chief executive officer of Cambridge Analytica, and to campaign senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who hired Parscale and worked closely with him on the targeting operation, according to several officials present.

“We got nothing,” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) recalls. “Tapioca.”

More recently, Parscale has declined to cooperate with a January request for information and documents from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who also asked him to voluntarily testify.

Parscale has denied any wrongdoing and insists that he has been cooperative. Before his House appearance, he tweeted that he was “unaware of any Russian involvement in the digital and data operations” of the campaign, and that he looked forward to “sharing with them everything I know.”

That hasn’t satisfied Democrats who say that, even if Parscale and his colleagues did nothing wrong, it is vital to understand whether and how the Russians might have exploited the Trump campaign’s online political machine — especially given U.S. concerns that Russia is already gearing up to meddle with the midterms.

“They still need to fully answer the question of where they got their information, and what they did with it,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), a House Intelligence Committee member. "There is still a big cloud hanging over the digital operation.”

Added Rep. Adam Schiff, the intelligence committee’s ranking Democrat, “There are still a number of important questions about the Trump campaign’s digital operation that remain under investigation, the most significant of which is whether the Russian covert social-media effort was completely independent.”

Last Monday, Republicans on the intelligence committee announced they were ending their investigation of Russian election interference and declared they had found no evidence that members of Trump’s campaign team cooperated with the Russian scheme.

In response, Schiff released an “investigative status update” from committee Democrats that said the Trump campaign’s digital operation requires further investigation, including witness testimony and documents, “to determine whether the campaign coordinated in any way with Russia in its digital program.”

The document cites Nix and Cambridge Analytica, as well as two of Parscale’s campaign aides. One of them is Avi Berkowitz, a Harvard Law School graduate and Kushner protégé who served as assistant director of data analytics on the 2016 campaign and is now a special assistant to Trump at the White House. The committee Democrats said they had reason to believe Kushner “may have dispatched Mr. Berkowitz to meet with Russian Ambassador [Sergey] Kislyak in December 2016.”

The Democrats did not indicate what the purpose of the meeting might have been. Kushner himself is known to have met with Kislyak in December 2016 and reportedly discussed with the Russian the possibility of opening a secret communications back channel to Moscow.

Trump named Parscale to run his 2020 campaign in late February. "Brad was essential in bringing a disciplined technology and data-driven approach to how the 2016 campaign was run," Kushner said in a statement.

Report: Trump-linked firm exploited data on 50 million Facebook users


Parscale was a virtual unknown before he joined Trump’s 2016 campaign. He had been a struggling digital entrepreneur when he bid on building the Trump Organization’s website in 2010, and did similar work for the family until joining Trump’s 2016 campaign, where Parscale became a digital jack-of-all-trades — overseeing data collection, online advertising and messaging from a San Antonio bunker known as Project Alamo.

His most powerful tool, by far, was the sophisticated data-crunching effort known as microtargeting, which churned out tens of thousands of constantly changing Facebook ads every hour, all of them computerized and individually tailored to distinct demographic clusters of potential Trump voters throughout the country.

“I understood early that Facebook was how Donald Trump was going to win,” Parscale said in a CBS “60 Minutes” profile of him last October. “Facebook was the method — it was the highway in which his car drove on.”

The data operation underpinning Parscale’s targeting effort, he has said, also provided the campaign with the kind of surgically precise, real-time information it needed down the stretch to focus precious resources on swing states like Michigan and Wisconsin, while Hillary Clinton focused elsewhere.

“I took every nickel and dime I could out of anywhere else. And I moved it to Michigan and Wisconsin. And I started buying advertising, digital, TV,” Parscale told “60 Minutes,“ which described him, and his targeting operation, as the campaign's “secret weapon.”

His “secret weapon” wasn’t any proprietary software or algorithm, but the way in which Parscale marshaled various resources, including data provided by Cambridge Analytica and Facebook itself, to determine which versions of ads worked best when microtargeting voters. Parscale told “60 Minutes” he embraced an offer by Facebook — declined by the Clinton campaign — to send ideologically like-minded staffers to work in-house at the Trump campaign and teach him “every, single secret button, click, technology” available for microtargeting.

Some have criticized Parscale for using Cambridge Analytica and its controversial technology known as psychographics, in which huge troves of data are collected to microtarget potential voters based on personality traits, as divined from their social media profiles, rather than typical categories like race or age. Mueller has reportedly been examining Cambridge Analytica’s campaign role.

On Friday night, Facebook announced that it was suspending Cambridge Analytica and parent company Strategic Communication Laboratories Group after learning that Cambridge misled the social media giant and improperly kept user data for years in violation of policy. Hours later, reports in the New York Times and Observer suggested the violations were far more serious than what Facebook announced, and that they were tied directly to Cambridge's work for the Trump campaign and its alleged entanglements with Russia.

The Times said Cambridge Analytica — whose board members included former Trump political strategist Steve Bannon and which was funded by the Trump-friendly GOP megadonor Robert Mercer — used the harvested information to turbocharge its microtargeting operation and sway voters on Facebook and other popular digital platforms.

Another Times report said Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Group, had contact in 2014 and 2015 with executives from Lukoil, the Russian oil giant. Lukoil was interested in how data was used to target American voters, the Times said, adding that SCL and Lukoil denied that the talks were political in nature.

The Times also reported that Cambridge Analytica included extensive questions about Russian President Vladimir Putin in surveys that it was conducting using American focus groups in 2014, though it said it was not clear why, or for which client.

The Trump campaign and Trump himself have denied colluding with the Kremlin, which denies meddling in the election altogether.

But Democratic lawmakers have focused on potential collusion in the microtargeting effort as one of their top priorities since launching their investigations, especially given what several called striking similarities between Trump campaign messaging and that of Russian operatives.

Appearing Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Schiff called for congressional testimony from “numerous Cambridge Analytica personnel who may have knowledge of this and other issues” but who have so far refused to cooperate. Schiff also said that Cambridge Analytica’s ties to Russian entities and to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange need to be investigated, and that committee Republicans who have blocked such efforts, including subpoenas, need to approve them.

“People have been circling this since the beginning, because it doesn’t pass the smell test. Something is missing,” adds a former U.S. intelligence official who has spoken extensively to congressional investigators.

“How did it all happen? It’s what directly links Kushner to Parscale to Cambridge Analytica — and potentially to the Russians,” the former intelligence official said, adding that Parscale and Kushner brought in Cambridge Analytica over the objections of “everybody else” in the campaign.

Compounding lawmakers’ concerns is the fact that Russian hackers were able to penetrate at least 20 state election systems, perhaps double that amount. Initially, investigators were comforted by the fact that the Russians did not manipulate any voting results. But now they fear the real Russian objective could have been to steal voter information for microtargeting.

Democrats in Congress got nowhere when they tried to get answers about that from Parscale, as well as from Kushner and Nix, when they agreed, reluctantly, to testify before the House intelligence committee, several Democratic congressional officials told POLITICO.

“They were basically playing dumb,” said one congressional official who, like several others, was present but spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified committee matters. That official described the interviews of Parscale, Kushner and Nix as one giant exercise in circular finger pointing, in which they each referred questions to the others. “I can’t say we got details.”

In the past, Parscale has dismissed such accusations of collusion. “I think it's a joke. Like, at least for my part in it,” he told “60 Minutes.“ But he also acknowledged that even his wife jokes that it was as though he “was thrown into the Super Bowl, never played a game — and won.”

That lack of experience has also drawn the attention of some investigators, who say they are also mystified by Parscale’s rapid trajectory from low-profile web developer to leader of a U.S. presidential campaign in just a few short years.

At a March 2017 hearing, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said that in some key precincts in swing states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, “there was so much misinformation coming talking about Hillary Clinton's illnesses or Hillary Clinton stealing money from the State Department or other [that it] completely blanked out any of the back and forth that was actually going on in the campaign.”

“Would the Russians on their own have that level of sophisticated knowledge about the American political system if they didn't at least get some advice from someone in America?" Warner added.

Feinstein’s letter to Parscale suggested a similar interest. The California senator asked Parscale to provide any information involving Russian efforts “to identify voters or potential voters for targeted advertising, marketing or social media contact in support of the Trump campaign or other efforts to elect Donald J. Trump as president of the United States.”

She also asked for any campaign documents and communications concerning Russia, WikiLeaks, various shadowy intermediaries in the meddling effort, and hacked Democratic Party emails and data.

Two months later, however, Feinstein is still waiting for Parscale to appear, a congressional source said, and he has refused to turn over any of the wide array of documents Feinstein requested about the campaign and any connections to Russia, WikiLeaks or other entities suspected of being involved in the interference effort.

domingo, 18 de marzo de 2018

Cambridge Analytica Explained: Big Data and Elections

Frederike Kaltheuner.

Recently, the data mining firm Cambridge Analytica has been the centre of tons of debate around the use of profiling and micro-targeting in political elections. We’ve written this analysis to explain what it all means, and the consequences of becoming predictable to companies and political campaigns.
What does Cambridge Analytica actually do?

Political campaigns rely on data operations for a number of decisions: where to hold rallies, which states to focus on, and how to communicate with supporters, undecided voters and non-supporters. Essentially, companies like Cambridge Analytica do two things: profile individuals, and use these profiles to personalise political messaging.

What some reporting on Cambridge Analytica fails to mention is that profiling itself is a widespread practice. Data brokers and online marketers all collect or obtain data about individuals (your browsing history, your location data, who your friends are, or how frequently you charge your battery etc.), and then use these data to infer additional, unknown information about you (what you’re going to buy next, your likelihood to be female, the chances of you being conservative, your current emotional state, how reliable you are, or whether you are heterosexual etc.).

Cambridge Analytica markets (!) itself as unique and innovative because they don’t simply predict users’ interests or future behaviour, but also psychometric profiles (even though the company later denied having used psychographics in the Trump campaign and people who have requested a copy of their data from the company have not seen psychographic scores.). Psychometrics is a field of psychology that is devoted to measuring personality traits, aptitudes, and abilities. Inferring psychometric profiles means learning information about an individual that previously could only be learned through the results of specifically designed tests and questionnaires: how neurotic you are, how open you are to new experiences or whether you are contentious.

That sounds sinister (and it is), but again, psychometric predictions are a pretty common practice. Researchers have predicted personality from Instagram photos, Twitter profiles and phone-based metrics. IBM offers a tool that infers personality from unstructured text (such as Tweets, emails, your blog). The start-up Crystal Knows gives customers access to personality reports of their contacts from Google or social media and offers real-time suggestions for how to personalise emails or messages.

From a technical perspective, it doesn’t matter whether you predict gender, interests, political opinions or personality, the point is that you are using some data (your keystroke speed, your browsing history, your location) to learn additional, unknown information (your sexual orientation, your interests etc.).
IBM Watson personality prediction
This is terrifying! So everything can be predicted?

Well, yes, but also not quite. Profiling feels creepy (and it is), because it allows anybody with access to enough personal data to learn highly intimate details about you, most of which you never decided to disclose in the first place. This is worth repeating: someone can use your data to find out whether you are gay, even though you’ve never shared this information. Now here’s where it gets tricky: this derived information is often uncannily accurate (which makes profiling a privacy nightmare) but by virtue of being predictive, predictions also sometimes get it wrong. Also, a lot of things are inherently subjective. Who defines what is reliable or suspicious in the first place?

Think about the targeted ads you see online: how often do they misjudge your interests, or even your entire identity? From the perspective of an advertiser this is not a problem, as long as enough people click on ads. For you and me, and every single one of us, systematic misclassifications can have real-life consequences.

Even worse, profiling and similar techniques are increasingly used not just to classify and understand people, but also to make decisions that have far-reaching consequences, from credit to housing, welfare and employment. Intelligent CCTV software automatically flags “suspicious behaviour”, intelligence agencies predict internet users’ citizenship to decide they are foreign (fair game) or domestic (usually not fair game), and the judicial system claims to be able to predicts future criminals.

As someone once said: it’s Orwell when it’s accurate and Kafka when it’s not.
So profiling is widespread. But did Cambridge Analytica influence the Brexit vote and the US election?

This is my favourite question because the answer is so simple: this is very unlikely.

It’s one thing to profile people, and another to say that because of that profiling you are able to effectively change behaviour on a mass scale. Cambridge Analytica clearly does the former, but only claims (!) to succeed in the latter. Even before the company was in the news, their methods raised a lot of eyebrows amongst experts on data-driven campaigning, with one consultant claiming that “everyone universally agrees that their sales operation is better than their fulfilment product”.

The idea that a single company influenced an entire election is also difficult to maintain because every single candidate used some form of profiling and micro-targeting to persuade voters — including Hillary Clinton and Trump’s competitors in the primaries. Not every campaign used personality profiles but that doesn’t make it any less invasive or creepy!

Evangelicals use data mining to identify unregistered Christians and get out the vote through the non-profit United In Purpose. The organisation profiles individuals and then uses a scoring system to measure how serious they take their faith.

As early as 2008, the Obama campaign employed a data operation to assign every voter in the country a pair of scores that predicted how likely they would cast a ballot, and whether they supported him. The campaign was so confident in its predictions that the Obama consultant Ken Strasma has been quoted to boast that: “[w]e knew who … people were going to vote for before they decided.” Before Cambridge Analytica worked for Trump, the company supported Ted Cruz who described his data operation as “very much the Obama model — a data-driven, grassroots-driven campaign”. By the time Trump hired Cambridge Analytica in 2016, Clinton employed more than 60 mathematicians and analysts.

Voter tracking also doesn’t end online. Shortly after the Iowa caucus in early 2016, the CEO of “a big data intelligence company” called Dstillery told public radio program Marketplace that the company had tracked 16,000 caucus-goes via their phones to match them with their online profiles. Dstillery was able to learn curious facts, such as people who loved to grill or work on their lawns overwhelmingly voted for Trump in Iowa.

All of these efforts to use data, profiling, and targeting to change voters’ minds make it incredibly hard for any one of these data companies to singlehandedly manipulate the outcome of an entire election.
So Cambridge Analytica is a snake oil vendor and I shouldn’t be worried?

No, no, you should definitely be worried!

Using profiling to micro-target, manipulate, and persuade individuals is still dangerous and a threat to democracy. The entire point of building intimate profiles of individuals, including their interests, personalities, and emotions, is to change the way that people behave. This is the definition of marketing — political or commercial. When companies know that you are depressed or feeling lonely to sell you products you otherwise wouldn’t want, political campaigns and lobbyists around the world can do the same: target the vulnerable, and manipulate the masses.

We are moving towards a world where your hairbrush has a microphone and your toaster a camera; where the spaces we move in are equipped with sensors and actuators that make decisions about is in real-time. All of these devices collect and share massive amounts of personal data that will be used to make sensitive judgements about who we are and what we are going to do next.
Is this even legal?

Good question that begs a lawyer-answer: it depends. There are vast differences in the way that data is regulated in the US, around the world, and currently even within different countries of the EU.

Nearly every single 2016 US presidential candidate has either sold, rented, or loaned their supporters’ personal information to other candidates, marketing companies, charities, or private firms. Marco Rubio alone made $504,651 by renting out his list of supporters. This sounds surprising but can be legal as long as the fine print below a campaign donation says that the data might be shared.

Under UK and European data protection law, the situation is slightly different. Data protection regulates the way in which organisations can process personal data. You need some legal grounds for obtaining, analysing, selling, or sharing data and even then, the processing needs to be fair and not excessive. This is why the UK Information Commissioner Office is currently investigating whether Cambridge Analytica and others might have violated these rules, and some have argued that there is evidence they did.

What is also important to know: according to the UK Data Protection Act 1998 implementing EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC, any individual whose data is processed in the UK has the right to access it (Article 7), regardless of nationality.

Profiling is specifically addressed by the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which gives citizens more rights to information and objection. It contains more explicit requirements for consent than previous regulations and the penalties for violations of the law can be much higher. The regulation is a good start but won’t solve all problems.
I want to read more about this!

Sure, here are some more resources.

We have an irregular newsletter that informs you about recent news on data exploitation.

If you want to understand the legal basis for profiling in the UK, the Information Commissioners Office has some good resources on their website, including a guide on how to file a data subject access request and raise a concern. We are contributing to ongoing consultations about profiling under GDPR, both in Brussels and with the ICO — check our website for updates.

Here’s an excellent Twitter feed that argues how Cambridge Analytica might have violated the UK Data Protection Act 1998.

David Carroll filed a data subject access request to Cambridge Analytica and shared some of his data on Twitter.

Wolfie Christl and Sarah Spiekermann wrote a superb report on corporate surveillance and digital tracking with lots of timely examples from finance to employment and marketing.

In 2012, ProPublica investigated how political campaigns use data about voters to target them in different ways.

In 2014, the US Federal Trade Commission published a report on data brokers in the US, called “A Call for Transparency and Accountability”. Tighter regulations of data brokers would affect the way that campaigns use data.

Potential democrats candidates for 2020

At least a dozen potential candidates are bolstering their teams by adding aides with campaign experience.

Some aides — including one for former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe — who would likely play large roles in potential 2020 campaigns have moved on to top-tier midterm races for this election cycle.

The hiring stage of the 2020 shadow primary is underway.

At least a dozen possible Democratic presidential candidates have begun bolstering their teams by adding aides with campaign experience to their Senate staffs, personal offices or 2018 reelection payrolls.

The hires are never explicitly advertised or designed to be about 2020. But the behind-the-scenes shuffle is a long-overdue stage in the traditional precampaign scramble. Potential candidates who have run before — like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden — largely have their core teams in place.

Yet in many other cases, chiefs of staff and senior strategists are now actively looking for new talent after receiving clear instructions from their bosses: I don’t know whether I’m going to run for president, but do everything you need to do to get me in position, just in case.

Recent moves have come in a variety of forms. Some consultants are working more than ever with potential candidates who are first up for reelection in 2018. Barack Obama’s former top digital strategist, Joe Rospars, for example, has been helping Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s team.

In other cases, aides who would likely be expected to play large roles in potential 2020 campaigns have moved on to top-tier midterm races for this election cycle, sometimes in a bid to gain even more experience. Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s longtime aide Michael Halle is now running a gubernatorial campaign in Ohio.

And still other potential candidates have brought campaign veterans into their official offices: New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker recently hired Tamia Booker (no relation) — Hillary Clinton’s national African-American outreach director in the 2016 general election and a veteran of the Obama administration and the 2016 Democratic convention — as his deputy chief of staff.

“Given the number of potential candidates running in 2020, it’s even more necessary to start early, because the political consultants tap out: There’s only so many of them. It’s a race to get the quality folks,” said Patti Solis-Doyle, the Democratic strategist who managed Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2008. “It takes time to pull the team together: It takes time to really figure out whether you have the potential resources to run a national campaign, whether that’s national political support or the ability to raise money on a national level.”

By this point in 2016’s election cycle, Clinton’s core team had already been mapping out her political strategy for months, and Sanders’ top advisers were beginning to chart their own course.

“It’s time,” added Erik Smith, a former top aide to Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, “to have a plan in place.”

Though they've mostly occurred behind closed doors, the moves paint a picture of a Democratic Party slowly but surely building up to a raucous primary contest. But desperate to avoid painting a Donald Trump-shaped target on their backs, the potential candidates have largely tried keeping almost all of their political maneuvers quiet — a significant break from the practice of recent election cycles, at least ahead of competitive multi-candidate primaries.

Eager to avoid the spotlight or appear to be looking beyond the midterms so early, few White House aspirants have ventured far into the early-voting state territory of Iowa or New Hampshire politics. Washington-based veterans of other national campaigns say that when the possible candidates call for advice, it’s seldom about primary state strategy, and more about top-line political guidance.

The relative circumspection is due largely to the massive list of Democrats considering a run: Dozens of pols have asked aides to look into what it would take to mount a real campaign, potentially stretching thin the staffing pool and leading political professionals to be extra-careful about signing on with any one possible candidate.
Rubén Weinsteiner

jueves, 15 de marzo de 2018

Disagreements about Trump widely seen as reflecting divides over ‘other values and goals’


(Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

Sizable shares of Americans say that those with views different from their own about how Donald Trump is handling his job as president also probably don’t share many of their other values and goals.

Just over half (54%) of the public disapproves of the job Trump is doing, while fewer (39%) say they approve of his job performance, according to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted March 7-14. Trump’s job ratings have changed little since the start of the year.

Among those who approve of the job Trump is doing as president, 51% say that those who feel differently about him probably do not share many of their other values and goals, while 44% say they probably do share their other values and goals.

Among those who disapprove of Trump – the larger share of the overall public – 56% say that those who approve of him probably do not share their other values and goals; fewer (39%) say that they probably do.

There are partisan and demographic differences in views on this question among both Trump approvers and disapprovers.

Among those who disapprove of Trump, 65% of self-identified Democrats say they don’t think those with a different view of Trump share their other values and goals. Among those who disapprove of Trump and lean toward the Democratic Party (but don’t identify with it), views are more mixed: 47% think those with a different view of Trump probably share many of their other values and goals, while 52% think they probably do not.

Similarly, among those who disapprove of Trump, liberals (62%) are more likely than conservatives and moderates (52%) to say those who take a different view of Trump probably also do not share many of their other values and goals.

Opinion patterns among those who approve of Trump largely mirror those seen among disapprovers.

By 60%-34%, self-identified Republicans who approve of Trump say those with a different view of him probably do not share their other values and goals. Among those who lean toward the Republican Party and approve of Trump, 53% think those with a different view of him probably share many of their other values and goals, compared with 44% who say they probably don’t.

The current question, which focuses on views of Trump, elicits a somewhat different pattern of response than a related question, asked in 2017, which focused on political affiliation. Last July, most Democrats (59%) and Republicans (56%) said they felt that even though members of the other party felt differently about politics, they probably shared many of their other values and goals. The current question, which asks about differences outside of views of Trump – not politics more broadly – finds less widespread perceptions of common ground.

There continue to be demographic differences by gender, race, education and religious affiliation in Trump’s overall approval ratings.

Currently, whites remain divided in their views of Trump: Half (50%) approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 45% disapprove. Blacks (85%) and Hispanics (74%) overwhelmingly disapprove of Trump’s job performance.

Wide differences in views of Trump by educational attainment also persist. By 71% to 26%, those with a postgraduate degree disapprove more than approve of Trump’s performance. Similarly, nearly two-thirds of those with a bachelor’s degree (64%) disapprove.

By contrast, adults with a high school degree or less education are divided in their views: While 49% approve, about as many (46%) disapprove of Trump.

Among religious groups, white evangelical Protestants continue to be solidly supportive of the president’s job performance: 78% approve today, while just 18% disapprove. By comparison, white mainline Protestants are divided in their views on Trump, while black Protestants express overwhelming disapproval. A majority of Catholics disapprove of Trump’s job as president (57%), as do 68% of those who are religiously unaffiliated.

About a quarter of U.S. adults say they are ‘almost constantly’ online

As smartphones and other mobile devices have become more widespread, 26% of American adults now report that they go online “almost constantly,” up from 21% in 2015, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in January 2018.

Overall, 77% of Americans go online on a daily basis. That figure includes the 26% who go online almost constantly, as well as 43% who say they go online several times a day and 8% who go online about once a day. Some 11% go online several times a week or less often, while 11% of adults say they do not use the internet at all.

Adults with mobile connectivity are especially likely to be online a lot. Among mobile internet users – the 83% of Americans who use the internet at least occasionally using a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device – 89% go online daily and 31% go online almost constantly. Among Americans who go online but not via a mobile device, by comparison, 54% go online daily and just 5% say they go online almost constantly.

Younger adults are at the vanguard of the constantly connected: Roughly four-in-ten 18- to 29-year-olds (39%) now go online almost constantly and 49% go online multiple times per day. By comparison, just 8% of those 65 and older go online almost constantly and just 30% go online multiple times per day.

Americans ages 30 to 49 are now about as likely as younger adults to use the internet almost constantly (36% versus 39%). The share of 30- to 49-year olds who say this has risen 12 percentage points since 2015. Meanwhile, the share of constantly online Americans ages 50 to 64 has risen from 12% to 17%.

Other demographic groups that report going online frequently include college-educated adults, black adults, adults who live in higher-income households and non-rural residents.

Some 34% of adults with a college education or more go online almost constantly (and 92% go online daily), compared with 20% of adults with a high school education or less. At the same time, roughly four-in-ten blacks (37%) report using the internet almost constantly, compared with 30% of Hispanics and 23% of whites. The share of blacks who are almost constantly online has risen 14 points since 2015, while the share of Hispanics who say this has gone up by 11 points. Among whites, there has been little change.

While 35% of adults with an annual household income of $75,000 or more use the internet almost constantly (and 91% use it daily), this is true for just 24% of those making less than $30,000. Adults who live in urban and suburban areas are more likely to go online almost constantly than those who live in rural areas: 32% of adults living in urban areas and 27% living in suburban areas say this, compared with 15% of rural residents.

sábado, 10 de marzo de 2018

Negative views of democracy more widespread in countries with low political affiliation

A system of competing political parties that gives citizens a voice is widely considered one of the core principles of liberal democracy, and this feature is common to a wide range of countries around the globe – even ones where the quality of choice at the ballot box is questionable. Parties appear to matter in practice, not just theory: In countries where more people are unaffiliated with any political party, popular support for representative democracy is also lower, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of public opinion in 35 countries.

Across the nations surveyed, a median of 26% do not identify with any political party in their country, though that percentage ranges from as low as 2% in India to as high as 78% in Chile.

And Chile is illustrative of the apparent link between skepticism of democracy and party unaffiliation. Although a global median of only 17% oppose representative democracy as a form of government, roughly a third (35%) of Chileans hold this view. Disenchantment with established democracy may help explain why less than half of registered voters turned out for Chile’s recent presidential election.

Similar shares in Brazil (33%) and Peru (32%), two nations with compulsory voting laws, exhibit skepticism about representative democracy. In both countries, six-in-ten people do not support any political party.

In fact, many of the nations with both poor views of democratic representation and large numbers of politically unaffiliated citizens are in Latin America. Overall, a median of 33% in the Latin American nations surveyed say a representative democracy is a bad way to govern their country, and a median of 51% do not support any political party. Data from the AmericasBarometer shed some light on these findings. Its recent survey found that across 17 Latin American nations, a median of only 41% trust elections in their country, and a majority (67%) believes that more than half or all politicians are corrupt.

The dynamics of political affiliation and views of democracy vary in the Middle East and North Africa. Overall, a median of 16% in the region are politically unaffiliated. But in Jordan, where 60% of people do not identify with any party, more than one-third (36%) say democracy is a bad way to govern their country. And in Tunisia, viewed by many as the democratic triumph of the Arab Spring, roughly half (51%) are politically unaffiliated and nearly four-in-ten (39%) oppose representative democracy. Notably, Tunisia’s emerging democracy continues to face threats, according to a 2018 Freedom House report.

In countries where relatively few people are politically unaffiliated, assessments of representative democracy are less negative. For example, a median of just 15% across the 10 European nations surveyed do not support a political party, while the same modest share sees representative democracy as a bad way to govern.

The survey finds the least skepticism of democracy in Israel and India – two democratic systems founded in the middle of the last century. Only 3% of people in Israel and 2% in India are politically unaffiliated. In both countries, roughly one-in-ten hold negative views of democracy (11% in Israel and 8% in India).

Note: Although the United States, South Korea and Vietnam were surveyed in the Spring 2017 Global Attitudes Survey, data were not included because of differences in question wording on party affiliation.
Rubén Weinsteiner

miércoles, 7 de marzo de 2018

Polish president and PM said unwelcome at White House over Holocaust law

Warsaw's deputy FM dismisses report saying Trump administration boycotting top Polish officials over controversial legislation

US President Donald Trump, and Polish President Andrzej Duda

A leading news site in Poland on Monday said it had obtained documents indicating the country’s highest officials were not welcome at the White House over a law limiting discourse on World War II.

The documents, which the news site Onet did not describe in its March 5 report, show that President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will not be received by US President Donald Trump or any other member of his administration, the report said.

Staff from the US Embassy in Warsaw also threatened to suspend funding for joint military projects between the United States and Poland, according to Onet.

The report was denied on Tuesday by Polish government officials.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Bartosz Cichocki said that Washington was expressing “concerns and questions” about the law but that reports of the measures were untrue.

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki visits the Ulma Family Museum that documents the fate of the Polish Ulma family, killed in March 1944 by Nazi Germans for rescuing Jews during the Holocaust, in the village of Markowa, southeastern Poland

Government spokeswoman Joanna Kopcinska stressed that diplomatic channels remain open, noting that other government officials have visited Washington recently and will do so in the near future.

“Bilateral strategic cooperation with the United States is not threatened, diplomatic contacts remain at the current level,” Kopcinska said.

The reported crisis in US-Polish relations is over the passing last month of a Polish law that criminalizes blaming Poland for Nazi crimes during the Holocaust. Poland was occupied in 1939 by Nazi Germany, which built some of its most notorious death camps, including Auschwitz, on Polish soil.

Critics of the law include Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called it “baseless.” Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, warned it is detrimental to debate and research of the genocide. And Israeli politicians, including the opposition lawmaker Yair Lapid, said it whitewashes what they called Polish complicity in the Holocaust – allegations many Poles find offensive and the Polish government rejects.

“If it’s true that Americans have introduced sanctions against Poland, then the matter is serious. It could hurt Poland’s security,” Stanislaw Tyszka, a deputy speaker of the parliament from a small right-wing party, Kuziz ’15, said Tuesday.

The US Embassy in Poland last month warned that it was “concerned about the repercussions” for bilateral relations after the Polish Senate passed the legislation.

Later that month, Morawiecki during an interview made a remark suggesting there were “Jewish perpetrators” of the Holocaust, along with Polish, Ukrainian and German ones.

Decried as a form of Holocaust denial or revisionism in Poland and abroad, his remark prompted an unusually harsh reaction from Netanyahu, who called Morawiecki’s assertion “outrageous.”

Jonny Daniels, the founder of the From the Depths commemoration group in Poland, called the reported ban by the White House “a very strong response.” He suggested that US-Polish relations would improve following the conclusion of ongoing talks between Israel and Poland on ending the crisis over the law.

“I am sure that with the talks and good will between the Polish and Israeli government to resolve this issue, business will return to normal soon,” he said.

The Holocaust complicity legislation, which is still awaiting judicial review in Poland, went into effect on Thursday.

Led by the Polish deputy foreign minister, a high-level delegation from Warsaw was in Israel last week to discuss possible amendments to the law.

As currently written, the law calls for prison terms of up to three years for attributing the crimes of Nazi Germany to the Polish state or nation. The bill would also set fines or a maximum three-year jail term for anyone who refers to Nazi German death camps as Polish.

One key paragraph of the law states, “Whoever claims, publicly and contrary to the facts, that the Polish Nation or the Republic of Poland is responsible or co-responsible for Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich… or for other felonies that constitute crimes against peace, crimes against humanity or war crimes, or whoever otherwise grossly diminishes the responsibility of the true perpetrators of said crimes – shall be liable to a fine or imprisonment for up to three years.”

martes, 6 de marzo de 2018

11% of Americans don’t use the internet. Who are they?

Rubén Weinsteiner

For many Americans, going online is an important way to connect with friends and family, shop, get news and search for information. Yet today, 11% of U.S. adults do not use the internet, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of survey data.

The size of this group has changed little over the past three years, despite ongoing government and social service programs to encourage internet adoption in underserved areas. But that 11% figure is substantially lower than in 2000, when the Center first began to study the social impact of technology. That year, nearly half (48%) of American adults did not use the internet.

A 2013 Pew Research Center survey found some key reasons that some people do not use the internet. A third of non-internet users (34%) did not go online because they had no interest in doing so or did not think the internet was relevant to their lives. Another 32% of non-users said the internet was too difficult to use, including 8% of this group who said they were “too old to learn.” Cost was also a barrier for some adults who were offline – 19% cited the expense of internet service or owning a computer.

The Center’s latest analysis also shows that internet non-adoption is correlated to a number of demographic variables, including age, educational attainment, household income and community type.

Seniors are the age group most likely to say they never go online. Although the share of non-internet users ages 65 and older decreased by 7 percentage points since 2016, about a third today do not use the internet, compared with only 2% of 18- to 29-year-olds. Household income and education are also indicators of a person’s likelihood to be offline. Roughly one-in-three adults with less than a high school education (35%) do not use the internet, but that share falls as the level of educational attainment increases. Adults from households earning less than $30,000 a year are far more likely than the most affluent adults to not use the internet (19% vs. 2%).

Rural Americans are more than twice as likely as those who live in urban or suburban settings to never use the internet. And while there have been consistent racial and ethnic differences in internet use since the Center first began measuring the activity, today, whites, blacks and Hispanics are all equally likely to be offline. (There were not enough Asian respondents in the sample to be broken out into a separate analysis.)

Despite some groups having persistently lower rates of internet adoption, the vast majority of Americans are online. Over time, the offline population has been shrinking, and for some groups that change has been especially dramatic. For example, 86% of adults ages 65 and older did not go online in 2000; today that figure has been reduced to 34%. Among those without a high school diploma, the share not using the internet dropped from 81% to 35% in the same time period.