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Did Russian Trolls Have Company?: New Evidence on Israel-based PSY-Group’s Possible Social Media Efforts in 2016 US Election | Just Security

Wednesday, October 10 2018

Did Russian Trolls Have Company?: New Evidence on Israel-based PSY-Group’s Possible Social Media Efforts in 2016 US Election | Just Security

by Justin Hendrix May 31, 2018 Much ink has been spilled on the role of the Russia-backed Internet Research Agency’s engaging in disinformation tactics to help the Trump campaign. The intelligence firm and thirteen individuals connected to it are the targets of an indictment brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in February. The indictment finds fault with the IRA for “posing as U.S. persons and creating false U.S. personas, operated social media pages and groups designed to attract U.S. audiences” and then using those assets to spread disinformation designed to interfere in the election. But a little known private Israeli intelligence firm may well have done precisely the same thing, according to new information by an independent organization that tracks such efforts. The New York Times was the first to report on a meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Erik Prince and George Nader in August 2016 that included Joel Zamel, the founder of PSY-Group, an Israel-based private intelligence firm that sold social-media manipulation services. The meeting was in part to pitch PSY-Group’s proposal to use “thousands of fake social media accounts to promote Mr. Trump’s candidacy on platforms like Facebook.” Without much more than raising the question whether the plan pitched to the Trump campaign was ever adopted, the New York Times’ story does hint that PSY-Group may have undertaken these efforts. Don Jr. reportedly “responded approvingly” to the proposal, Nader paid Zamel $2 million after the election, and in Dec. 2016 Nader turned to another Zamel-linked company “to purchase a presentation demonstrating the impact of social media campaigns on Mr. Trump’s electoral victory,” the Times reported. Following the New York Times story, Bloomberg reported that the special counsel is investigating flows of money into PSY-Group’s Cyprus bank account. The Wall Street Journal then reported that PSY-Group “formed a strategic partnership” with the data firm that worked with the Trump campaign”–Cambridge Analytica–“in a joint bid to win business from the U.S. government and other clients after the 2016 election.” The agreement was apparently also inked in Dec. 2016–suggesting the companies may have already established a line of communication before the election. Then, the Wall Street Journal published a nine-slide presentation from PSY-Group outlining how fake accounts helped Donald Trump win the 2016 election. These various news reports lead to bigger questions: what role, if any, did PSY-Group play in the 2016 US election, and what was its relationship if any to other key players and firms participating in misinformation campaigns to elect Donald Trump? A startup in Texas may have unearthed new evidence in the matter. The research comes from New Knowledge AI , an Austin-based company with a team of highly respected technologists that sells products and services to fight disinformation and to identify fake social media accounts and propaganda campaigns. The organization posted a Twitter thread that poses some serious questions about who is behind PSY-Group, and whether the company coordinated an election interference campaign similar to the Russian Internet Research Agency. First, New Knowledge points to job descriptions posted by PSY-Group employees in 2016 seeking to hire American English speakers with political science backgrounds. This suggests “they intended to target Americans for political objectives,” the company asserts. Such job posts continued into 2017, when one PSY-Group employee, Eitan Charnoff, posted an ad similar to those placed in 2016. According to LinkedIn and other sites, Charnoff was previously the IDF Commander of the Social Media Productions Desk, and is also the National Director of iVoteIsrael , a Republican-aligned Israeli-American voter registration group criticized for its “flimsy façade of non-partisanship.” Charnoff represents one link to the Israeli defense and intelligence community. The firm’s possible ties specifically to the Israeli intelligence community are even more compelling. In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware said Zamel is “linked to Israeli intelligence and the Emirati royal court.” Archived versions of the PSY-Group website also vaunt ties to “elite intelligence services,” while Vanity Fair’s Maya Kosoff points to Alexander Nix’s claims in the Channel 4 expose on Cambridge Analytica. “We use some British companies, we use some Israeli companies,” Nix said in the video. “From Israel. Very effective in intelligence gathering.” Then, New Knowledge looked at accounts mentioned in the PSY-Group slide deck published by the Wall Street Journal, focusing in on “Joey Brooklyn,” a bot account mentioned on a slide about using Twitter for “Controlling the Conversation Strategy.” Why did PSY-Group showcase these fake accounts and describe their effectiveness in influencing voters? It was to demonstrate the very services that the firm provides. “The PSY-Group said it had the capability of leveraging fake social-media accounts, which they call avatars, on behalf of political campaigns,” the Wall Street Journal explained. While it’s possible PSY-Group stumbled across these accounts, Jonathon Morgan, Founder and CEO of New Knowledge thinks that is difficult to believe. “Maybe PSY Group was only using these accounts as an example of how social media conversation can be manipulated, but it’s hard to imagine why they would promote someone else’s work in a sales presentation for their company’s services,” he noted in a phone conversation. As New Knowledge points out, “@Joe_America1776 is still active, and has posted over 563,000 times since the account was created in July of 2015. That’s an average of around 514 tweets *per day*, every day, for three years.” New Knowledge then searched for accounts regularly amplifying @Joe_America1776’s posts on other social media platforms, which led to a likely fake Facebook account created by an impostor. “Looks like fake Mari friended the real Mari, stole Mari’s photos, and used those photos to make the fake account seem more legitimate,” New Knowledge concludes. New Knowledge also looks closely at “Kris Crawford,” another Facebook account PSY-Group used in the pitch material obtained by the Wall Street Journal. While he appears to be an American man, Crawford’s URL suggests his Facebook page used to belong to a “Martina Jakimovska.” “Looking through the ‘Kris Crawford’s’ account history it’s still possible to see when Martina updated her profile photo and used Facebook to check in at a location in Macedonia,” New Knowledge notes. It must be noted that the Kris Crawford account was previously identified by BuzzFeed journalists reporting on Macedonian spammers in November 2016. In a tweet , BuzzFeed media editor Craig Silverman points out that some details about the Trump campaign’s social media tactics in the PSY-Group proposal obtained by the Wall Street Journal appear to be lifted from his reporting. It is possible the slides do not reflect work that PSY-Group performed. Ultimately, very little is known about PSY-Group, its relationship to Cambridge Analytica and other figures in the Trump orbit. Evidence such as that presented by New Knowledge is neither proof nor anything close to conclusive, but it raises the question–should there be an investigation into Joel Zamel, PSY-Group and efforts by the company on behalf of Donald Trump, before and after the 2016 election? Mark Zuckerberg and the other technology company chiefs should publicly provide evidence about any use of their platforms by PSY Group to spread disinformation. “All the content promoted by accounts we found related to the PSY Group sales presentation is aggressively pro-Trump. It’s very similar to the content published by accounts that Facebook and Twitter have publicly acknowledged were operated by the Internet Research Agency,” said Morgan. Certainly, more information will come to light as journalists and researchers such as New Knowledge follow the digital paper trail of the company, even though Zamel immediately closed the company down after the initial New York Times report. Only one thing is clear- as another election looms, Americans still don’t even know the real extent of foreign interference in the last one. This article has been updated to include a reference to Craig Silverman’s previous reporting and his comment on the New Knowledge research. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images Sign Up for the Early Edition Get Early Edition Featured Articles

Thursday, October 11 2018

Tamilnadu: ALLOWANCES – Rate of Dearness Allowance applicable with effect from 1-7-2018 in respect of employees continuing to draw their pay in the Pre-2006 pay scales and Pre-2016 pay scale/Grade Pay – Orders – Issued

284% of Pay plus Dearness Pay 1-7-2018 148% of Pay plus Grade Pay 4. The additional installment of Dearness Allowance payable under these orders shall be paid in cash with effect from 1-7-2018. 5. The arrears of Dearness Allowance for the months of July and August, 2018 shall be drawn and disbursed immediately by existing cashless mode of Electronic Clearance System (ECS). While working out the revised Dearness Allowance, fraction of a rupee shall be rounded off to next higher rupee if such fraction is 50 paise and above and shall be ignored if it is less than 50 paise. 6. The Government also direct that the revised Dearness Allowance sanctioned above, shall be admissible to full time employees who are at present getting Dearness Allowance and paid from contingencies at fixed monthly rates. The revised rates of Dearness Allowance sanctioned in this order shall not be admissible to part time employees. 7. The revised Dearness Allowance sanctioned in this order will also apply to the teaching and non-teaching staff working in aided educational institutions, employees under local bodies, employees governed by the University Grants Commission/All India Council for Technical Education scales of pay, the Teachers/Physical Education Directors/Librarians in Government and Aided Polytechnics and Special Diploma Institutions, Village Assistants in Revenue Department, Noon Meal Organisers, Child Welfare Organisers, Anganwadi Workers, Cooks, Helpers, Panchayat Secretaries/Clerks in Village Panchayat under Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department. 8. The revised Dearness Allowance sanctioned in this order shall also be applicable to the Pensioners / Family Pensioners who are drawing pre-revised pension / family pension. 9. The expenditure shall be debited to the detailed head of account ’03 Dearness Allowance’ under the relevant minor, sub-major and major heads of account. 10. The Treasury Officers / Pay and Accounts Officers are requested to make payment of the revised Dearness Allowance when bills are presented without waiting for the authorisation from the Principal Accountant General (A&E) Tamil Nadu, Chennai-18. (BY ORDER OF THE GOVERNOR) K.SHANMUGAM

How Gandhi Became ‘Mahatma’ | Economic and Political Weekly

Thursday, September 27 2018

How Gandhi Became ‘Mahatma’ | Economic and Political Weekly

Book Reviews How Gandhi Became ‘Mahatma’ M K Gandhi’s inspired struggle for Indian independence against British Colonisation turned him into a global icon for peaceful resistance. On his 149th birth anniversary, we attempt to understand the universal reverence for Gandhi. With the help of articles from the EPW archives, we look at the origins of Gandhian ideas, the roots of his philosophy, and his contemporary representation. 1. What is Truly Gandhian, and What Has Been Stolen? Image Courtesy: Flickr /Public domain The title “Mahatma” was often attributed to many benefactors of society. However, it is now exclusively the domain of M K Gandhi. As Sumanyu Satpathy explains in this 2014 article , practices we today associate as “Gandhian” were in fact in existence for years prior to Gandhi’s appearance in the national consciousness. Khadi cloth and the charkha, for example, were advocated by Swadeshi activists long before Gandhi adopted them. While Gandhi turned the charkha into a national symbol, it never returned to being the household staple it was meant to be. Looking at Swadeshi advocates prior to Gandhi, Satpathy presents a contrast between Odia author Fakir Mohan Senapati and Gandhi, stating that Fakir Mohan’s approach to self-sustenance was pragmatic while the latter’s existed only in theory, and came about by his need to re-identify himself as Indian after his return from South Africa. Fakir Mohan goes beyond the swadeshi call for the boycott of British goods, and pleads for the discarding of all foreign clothes. Not until much later, was Gandhi to distinguish between the position of the earlier swadeshi movement and his own… the second point that Fakir Mohan makes in his essay (about “paying the foreign weaver”, etc) anticipates by a year Gandhi’s formulation on the subject in Hind Swaraj: “By using Manchester cloth, we would only waste our money.” [Fakir Mohan’s], rather, is an argument in favour of a need-based economy that would ensure a proper gender-balancing division of labour leading to self-sufficiency. His advocacy of the cotton that men cultivated alongside foodgrains had nothing to do with the modern-day view of growing it as a cash crop; rather, it was meant to sustain a parallel economy, that of clothing, to keep the charkha moving as a self-sustaining economic activity. In his Autobiography Gandhi makes the same point without, of course, dishing out the paraphernalia and minutiae of cost analysis that Fakir Mohan is able to supply from his intimacy with the ground reality. Image Courtesy: (Left) http://utkarshspeak.blogspot.com/2013/01/was-gandhiji-avatar.html; (Right) Saffron Art As Seema Bawa writes , an image of M K Gandhi is often enough to convey his ideological and philosophical pinnings. Indeed, our interpretation of Gandhi and his ideals is often derived from visual representations, rather than from his writings. But why do we always associate Gandhi as bald, bespectacled, and either meditating or with a stick in hand? Bawa guides the reader through various artistic interpretations of Gandhi, and explains that this imagery is used to portray his “power” and “divine status.” She argues that the creation of idols and statues in post-colonial India has proved important in the masses’ worship of Gandhi as a mahatma. When a person is transformed into an icon, he or she has truly arrived. Not only does the icon “in itself” denote the powerful status of the persona involved, important enough to be iconised, but more importantly it implies an inherent transference of power to those who iconise him or her… Like a deity in traditional iconographic prescriptions, Gandhi is also shown in various postures, of which the sthanaka (standing with a staff) is the most popular. In his asana or seated figure, his feet are folded to the left, one hand on the ground, while the other is placed on the lap or in the vitarka gesture of lecturing, the face introspective. Tracing the history of illustrations, Bawa notes that the hagiographic representation of Gandhi began only after his assassination. This deification, she says, has resulted in his image being appropriated for political gains. For Gandhi, the body itself becomes the site of his personal and nationalistic politics, as he sets his political/self disciplining agenda through the cleaning, disciplining and partial disrobing of the body… Pinney says that Gandhi fought his own battle with the body, but it was one that was explicitly articulated within a neo-traditionalist paradigm branded “made in India” (Pinney: 127). Gandhi and Gandhism are variously invoked to set out a nationalist agenda, a constructivist programme, or an idealised state, in contrast to the entropy or degeneration perceived in the contemporary sociopolitical space. 3. The Theory of Ahimsa Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons / Public domain There is no point in learning about Gandhi without understanding why the non-violence movement was a purely anti-colonialist movement, writes Akeel Bilgrami. He explains that since demanding constitutional rights from the British had, so far, proved ineffective, Gandhi saw the need for a form of protest that would be an alternative to violent resistance. Gandhi chose his version of non-violent civil disobedience instead of the constitutional demands of the Congress leadership because he thought that the Indian people should not merely ask the British to leave their soil. It was important that they should do so by means that were not dependent and derivative of ideas and institutions that the British had imposed on them. Otherwise, even if the British left, the Indian populations would remain a subject people. Bilgrami argues against conventional thinking that Gandhi regarded the pursuit of truth as the goal of life. Rather, Gandhi saw a satyagrahi’s ability to disassociate themselves from criticism as paramount. An incorrect view of moral judgement, Gandhi claimed, breeds violence in a society. Thus, there can be no true non-violence until criticism is removed from moral judgement. Criticism reflects an impurity of heart, and is easily corrupted to breed hostility and, eventually, violence. With an impure heart you could still indulge in non-violent political activism, but that activism would be strategic, merely a means to a political end… The right moral sense, the morally pure-hearted satyagrahi, sees no such connection between moral judgment and moral criticism. Of course, we cannot and must not cease to be moral subjects; we cannot stop judging morally about what is and is not worthy, cannot fail to have moral values. But none of that requires us to be critical of others who disagree with our values or who fail to act in accord with them.

Wednesday, September 26 2018

Merkel admits mistakes in case of domestic intelligence chief – POLITICO

9/24/18, 3:50 PM CET German Chancellor Angela Merkel | Michele Tantussi/Getty Images BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday admitted she made mistakes in handling the firing of intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maaßen, saying she regrets the public outcry over what was widely seen as a promotion. “The result of last Tuesday was not convincing,” Merkel said at a press conference. “I thought too much about the functionality and the procedures in the interior ministry, but too little about how it affects people when they hear of a promotion. I very much regret that this could happen.” The government removed Maaßen from his post as head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency after he came under fire for his remarks about a far-right rally in Chemnitz and allegedly providing members of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) with confidential material. The decision to move him to a higher-grade and better-paid job as state secretary in the interior ministry under Horst Seehofer was met with heavy cross-party criticism, prompting the coalition to review the move . On Sunday the coalition decided to make Maaßen a special adviser on European and international affairs — including migration — in the interior ministry instead. Merkel described the new compromise as “appropriate” and “communicable, because it is not a promotion.”

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at Labour Party Conference today - The Labour Party

Friday, September 28 2018

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at Labour Party Conference today - The Labour Party

Wednesday 26 September 2018 / 12:31 PM Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn speaking at Labour Party Conference today ***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY*** Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, speaking at Labour Party Conference today, said: Thank you for that welcome. I want to start by thanking the workers, the fantastic staff at the Conference Centre and hotels, the Labour Party staff who make this possible, and the people of Liverpool who have made us feel so welcome this week. And I want to thank my family, but in particular my wife Laura. Tu eres mi fuerza y mi apoyo. Gracias Laurita. And congratulations conference, to all of you on what’s been a great conference. A conference of a Labour Party that’s ready to take charge and start the work of rebuilding our divided country. This year we mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, which saw eight million women getting the vote for the first time, along with five and a half million working class men. We now have more women members of the Labour Party than the entire membership, male and female, of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties put together. And we mark that centenary with Jennie Formby as our new General Secretary. I have known Jennie for many years. Her integrity and her determination are real assets for our Party. Since Jennie took over, we have registered significant electoral successes. In May, we saw the only bit of blue in Greater Manchester turn red as Labour won back control of Trafford Council. And just for balance – as I know the Liverpool-Manchester rivalry can be a bit of a thing – there is not a single Conservative council on Merseyside either, and not a single Tory councillor in the city of Liverpool. Across the country we built on the gains Labour made in the general election. In the South West we won back Plymouth, in the north, Kirklees, and we had our best council results in London since 1971. In Scotland too, Labour is once again offering a message of hope and real change. The choice is now clear: investment and a fairer society under Labour, or austerity under the Tories, timidly accepted by the SNP. We have also been raising more money for our party. But not a penny of our funds came from a dodgy donor or a shady businessmen’s club. Our money comes from hundreds of thousands of people across our country who believe in what we stand for. So I don’t have to play tennis with an oligarch to keep our party organisation running. Labour trades in hope for the many, not favours for the few. Our mass membership is not just a source of funds of course. That membership and our millions of affiliated trade union members are the voice of their workplaces and communities, and with our new community organisers we will anchor everything we do in people’s day to day experiences. That is our strength. And together, we are going to change Britain. You may have noticed that not everyone is entirely happy about all this. It turns out that the billionaires who own the bulk of the British press don’t like us one little bit. Now it could be because we’re going to clamp down on tax dodging. Or it may be because we don’t fawn over them at white tie dinners and cocktail parties. Or it could even be because Tom Watson has been campaigning for the second part of the Leveson media inquiry to be set up – something the last Prime Minister promised, but failed to deliver. We must, and we will, protect the freedom of the press to challenge unaccountable power. Journalists from Turkey to Myanmar and Colombia are being imprisoned, harassed or sometimes killed by authoritarian governments and powerful corporate interests just for doing their job. But here, a free press has far too often meant the freedom to spread lies and half-truths, and to smear the powerless, not take on the powerful. You challenge their propaganda of privilege by using the mass media of the 21st century: social media. And we’ll do it in traditional ways too. On the doorsteps and in the town centres so that people know there is a Labour Party that will stand up for them and is ready to rebuild and transform Britain. Next year marks the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre when 15 peaceful demonstrators were killed and hundreds injured on the streets of Manchester by troops sent in by the Tories to suppress the struggle for democratic rights. The great English poet Percy Shelley wrote a poem about the massacre. That was the origin of our slogan: “for the many not the few”. Among those killed at Peterloo was a man named John Ashworth and a woman named Sarah Jones. In the next Labour government, our very own Jon Ashworth, as Health Secretary, and Sarah Jones, as Housing Minister, will be carrying forward the struggle to protect and extend democratic rights. Hopefully without becoming martyrs in the process. And we will honour the heroes of Peterloo by being true to their cause, with a Labour Party fighting for democracy and social justice against poverty, inequality and discrimination. If we are to get the chance to put those values into practice in government we are going to need unity to do it. Our movement has achieved nothing when divided. The only winners have been the rich and the party of the rich: the Conservatives. Real unity is based on the freedom to disagree and debate and then come together around democratic decisions, as we have done this week. So we need to foster a much greater culture of tolerance. An end to abuse, online and in person. We must learn to listen a bit more, and shout a lot less. To focus on what unites us. To accept losing a vote, while maintaining the right to pick up the debate again. We are on a journey together and can only complete it together. Our Party must speak for the overwhelming majority in our country. Labour is a broad church and can be broader still. I lead in that spirit. After all, I appointed John McDonnell despite him being Liverpool fan, and even Andrew Gwynne, who supports Man City. Conference, we are winning the public debate. We have defined the new common sense, and that’s where our Party can stand united. Conference, this summer was tough. Ours is the Party of equality for all. The Party that has pioneered every progressive initiative to root out racism from our society. But conference, being anti-racist means we must listen to those communities suffering discrimination and abuse. I believe we are all stronger from listening and learning from each other. The Jewish people have suffered a long and terrible history of persecution and genocide. I was humbled to see a memorial to that suffering two years ago, when I visited the former Nazi concentration camp at Terezin. The row over antisemitism has caused immense hurt and anxiety in the Jewish community and great dismay in the Labour Party. But I hope we can work together to draw a line under it. I say this to all in the Jewish community: This party, this movement, will always be implacable campaigners against antisemitism and racism in all its forms. We are your ally. And the next Labour government will guarantee whatever support necessary to ensure the security of Jewish community centres and places of worship, as we will for any other community experiencing hateful behaviour and physical attacks. We will work with Jewish communities to eradicate antisemitism, both from our party and wider society. And with your help I will fight for that with every breath I possess. Anti-racism is integral to our very being. It’s part of who you all are, and it’s part of who I am. So conference, we won’t accept it when we’re attacked by Tory hypocrites who accuse us of antisemitism one day, then endorse Viktor Orban’s hard right government the next. Or when they say we are racist, while they work to create a hostile environment for all migrant communities. We can never become complacent about the scourge of racism. Race hate is a growing threat that has to be confronted. Not just here in Britain, but across Europe and the United States. The far right is on the rise, blaming minorities, Jews, Muslims and migrants, for the failures of a broken economic system. Its victims include the Windrush generation who helped rebuild Britain after the war and were thrown under the bus by a Government that reckoned there were votes to be had by pandering to prejudice. The ‘hostile environment’ policies – shameful brainchild of the present Prime Minister – led to the scandal of British citizens being deported, detained and left destitute. That is nasty, cynical politics that demeans our country. And the Tories still haven’t learned. This week they received a letter from the antisemitic and Islamophobic Hungarian government, thanking them for their solidarity, just as the rest of Europe united against it. Our Party will never stay silent in the face of growing Islamophobia, whether from the far right on the streets, or the former Foreign Secretary’s disgraceful dog-whistle jibes at Muslim women. Labour will work to bring communities together. It is only through the unity of all our people that we can deliver social justice for anyone. Conference, change in our country is long overdue. Every month this Government remains in power, the worse things get. Evidence of the failure of privatisation and outsourcing is piling up day after day. What has long been a scam is now a crisis. Just look at the last few months: The Birmingham prison run by G4S had to be brought back into public ownership after the Chief Inspector of Prisons described it as the worst he had ever visited. The privatised probation service is on the brink of meltdown. Richard Burgon, the next Secretary of State for Justice, will end this scandal. On the railways, the East Coast franchise has collapsed for the third time in a decade, bailed out by taxpayers yet again. You get on a train at Kings Cross and you never know who will be running it by the time you get to Edinburgh. Andy McDonald, our Transport Secretary, will end this shambles. And the giant privateer Carillion has gone bankrupt, sunk in a sea of reckless greed, leaving hospitals half-built, workers dumped on the dole and pensions in peril, while Carillion directors continued to stuff their pockets with bonuses and dividends, and small businesses in the supply chain took heavy losses or went bust. And speaking of bankruptcy, the Tories are now extending it into their own backyard. A Conservative Government and Conservative local councillors have combined to push Northamptonshire over the edge, putting vital services and those who rely on them at risk. Eight years of destructive austerity and obsessive outsourcing have left other councils teetering on the precipice too, and this Government must be held to account for their social vandalism. It is Labour councils and only Labour councils that are taking every step to protect people and services and we must thank them for it. Privatisation and outsourcing are now a national disaster zone. And Labour is ready to call time on this racket. We will rebuild the public realm and create a genuinely mixed economy for the 21st century. And after a decade of austerity, the next Labour government will confront the challenge of rebuilding our public services. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the NHS Labour’s proudest creation and it stands as a beacon for those still fighting for universal healthcare free at the point of need. Its founder, Nye Bevan, inspired by the collective health provision in his home town of Tredegar, described a free health service as “pure socialism”. And so it is. We all contribute through our taxes so that it’s there for all whenever we need it. But this Conservative Government has pushed our NHS into crisis, with more people waiting longer in A&E and to see a GP and over four million people on hospital waiting lists. And there is a mental health crisis too, causing real pain and anguish. A woman named Angela wrote to me recently, and she said: “My mentally ill daughter was told she would have to wait 12 months to get an appointment with an appropriate therapist. As a mother, I am at my wits end to know how to help her any more. I would hate her to become another suicide statistic.” This has to stop and under Labour it will. We will deliver real parity of esteem for mental health services to protect people like Angela’s daughter. And then there’s the scandal of the Tories’ £6 billion cuts to social care, leaving 400,000 fewer older people receiving care. Too many of our older people condemned to live alone and isolated, often ending up at A&E through neglect, then unable to leave hospital because it’s not safe for them. Austerity is putting other strains on the NHS too, one in five homes in England are now unfit for human habitation and 120,000 children are living in temporary accommodation. So as John Healey has pledged, we will put a levy on those with second homes. Think of it as a solidarity fund for those with two homes to help those without any home at all. And Labour will embark on the biggest home building programme in half a century. Meanwhile, for too many people, social security has become a system of institutionalised bullying and degradation. The Tories have created a ‘hostile environment’ for disabled people. Hundreds of people write to me about it every week, people like Richard who says: “My wife was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis 20 years ago. A few months ago we were told that she needed to reapply for Personal Independence Payments. She had an assessment by someone who wasn’t medically trained, we have now been told that all her benefit will be stopped.” Richard adds: “I have tried to be her rock but the stress and suffering I can see my wife going through is so very cruel and I have had to be put on anti-depressants.” These are the human consequences of a Tory Government that puts tax cuts for the wealthy ahead of care for disabled people. But Labour is ready to put fairness and humanity back at the heart of our public services. And as Diane Abbott told us yesterday, you can’t keep people safe on the cheap. That’s reflected in the fears of people like Ruth, who told me: “We’ve had an increase in our council tax to pay for more police but we have no police station. The only increase we have had is in the crime rate I worry about my elderly parents’ safety in their own home.” Ruth’s fears are not unfounded. Violent crime is rising while police numbers have fallen to their lowest level for 30 years. The Chief Constable of Bedfordshire says: “We do not have the resources to keep residents safe and no-one seems to be listening.” Well Labour is listening. We’ll put another 10,000 police officers back on our streets, playing a vital role in tackling crime and making people safer. But if we want to reduce crime, more police are only part of the solution. Every study tells us that investing in young people and communities is key and crime thrives amid economic failure. So under Labour there will be no more left-behind areas and no more forgotten communities. We know the earliest years are a crucial time to open up children’s life chances. Yesterday I visited the Greenhouse nursery in Liverpool and heard their experiences. But across the country, nurseries can’t make ends meet and youth clubs and nurseries are closing. Decent early years education is now at risk of becoming a privilege. Families most in need are not even entitled to it and many who are struggle to claim it, because the system’s fragmented and underfunded. This Government’s limited childcare pledge has turned out to be free in name only. So today I can announce that Labour will make 30 hours a week of free childcare available to all two, three and four year olds. And we will provide additional subsidised hours of childcare on top of the free 30-hour allowance, free for those on the lowest incomes and capped at £4 an hour for the rest. Labour will invest in the people who care for and educate our children. We will raise the standards of childcare across the board with a 10-year plan to shift to a graduate-led workforce and improve the pay and skills of childcare staff with a new national pay scale for all early years workers starting at £10 an hour. This is an investment and a pay rise for a workforce, 98% of whom are women and 85% of whom earn around the minimum wage. Patchy support for childcare is holding back too many parents and families. Universal free high quality childcare will benefit parents, families and children across our country. Driving up standards of childcare will make that vital difference for millions of our children. Labour is offering a long overdue change that will transform people’s lives and meet the needs of a 21st century Britain for all. We are talking about rebuilding Britain this week But I also want to make an appeal to the older generation who built modern Britain. It was you who rebuilt our country after the war, kick-started our economy, built our NHS and created our social security system. It was your generation that built the council housing, won our rights at work and made our country a better place for all. It was your work and taxes that paid for a better retirement for those who went before you. So we owe it you, the older generation, to rebuild Britain so you too have peace of mind and dignity. And we will fulfil that obligation with the triple lock on pensions protected along with the winter fuel allowance, a free bus pass and a national health and care service that can look after you and your families with respect. That is solidarity between the generations. Conference, to rebuild our public services and our communities we are going to have to rebuild and transform our economy for the 21st century. We can no longer tolerate a set-up where the real economy, in which millions work, is just a sort of sideshow for the City of London and for banks fixated on piling up profits around the world. The change we need requires new ideas and new thinking, as well as learning from those that have worked in the past and in other countries. We need to explore new forms of ownership and public enterprise, and learn from creative local initiatives such as those taken by Labour councils like Preston. And let’s take up the call from TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady to use new technologies and automation as an opportunity rather than a threat, a chance to raise living standards and give people more control of their own lives. Inequality is not just a matter of incomes. It’s about having a real say too. That’s why we are not only determined to rebuild our economy, communities and public services, but also to democratise them, and change the way our economic system is run in the interests of the majority. John McDonnell’s proposals for Inclusive Ownership Funds will mean workers sharing more fairly in the rewards of successful businesses. And I listened carefully to the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and read the excellent Commission on Economic Justice report he was involved in, which rightly argued: “economic justice needs to be hard-wired into the way the economy works”. The 19th century Chartist leader and poet Ernest Jones wrote: And what we get, and what we give, We know, and we know our share; We’re not too low the cloth to weave, But too low the cloth to wear. He was making the point that workers know the reality and injustice of their position. Labour believes a worker’s position is on the board. That’s why we’re proposing to give the workforce of all large UK businesses the right to elect a third of the seats on the board, giving employees a genuine voice and a stake, shifting the balance at work in favour of the wealth creators, improving both decision-making and productivity in the process. Decisions taken in boardrooms affect people’s pay, their jobs and their pensions. Workers deserve a real say in those decisions. That’s nothing for businesses to be afraid of. They should welcome the expertise and understanding that workers will bring to the company board. We will rebalance power in the workplace, but I say to businesses large and small: Labour will also deliver what you need to succeed and to expand and modernise our economy. More investment in our transport, housing and digital infrastructure. More investment in education and skills, so workers are more productive. Action to save the High Street, as Rebecca Long Bailey set out yesterday. And action to deal with rip-off bills that hit us all. But most of all, commitment to a Brexit that protects job, the economy and trade, and determined opposition to one that does not. Ten years ago this month, the whole edifice of greed-is-good deregulated financial capitalism, lauded for a generation as the only way to run a modern economy, came crashing to earth with devastating consequences. But instead of making essential changes to a broken economic system, the political and corporate establishment strained every sinew to bail out and prop up the system that led to the crash in the first place. The price of that has not just been stagnation, wages falling for the longest period in recorded history, and almost a decade of deeply damaging cuts to public services. It’s also fuelled the growth of racism and xenophobia and has led to a crisis of democracy at home and abroad. People in this country know that the old way of running things isn’t working any more. And unless we offer radical solutions, others will fill the gap with the politics of blame and division. That’s why Labour speaks for the new majority, why last year we won the biggest increase in the Labour vote since 1945, and why Labour’s ideas have caught “the mood of our time”. And conference, it isn’t me saying that – it’s a former Conservative Treasury minister, Lord O’Neill. I’ve never sought to capture the mood of a Tory minister before, but let me say to his Lordship: you’re welcome, come and join us in the new political mainstream. That failed economic free-for-all, which led to the crash of a decade ago, has also fuelled the global environmental crisis and hamstrung international efforts to tackle it. There is no bigger threat facing humanity than climate change, and 21 years ago, Labour’s then Deputy Leader John Prescott played a prominent role in helping to secure the Kyoto Protocol. That united the world’s major economies behind an agreement to cut carbon emissions and obliged them to give poorer countries access to low-carbon technology. It was about solidarity, recognising that the air we breathe does not respect national boundaries and we all have an interest in every nation reducing emissions. The contrast with the America First posturing of Donald Trump and his decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accords could not be sharper. We only have one planet, so we must re-engage with countries seeking to walk away from Paris. But we must also lead by example. Yesterday Rebecca Long Bailey set out our plans for energy, developed with our Environment Secretary Sue Hayman, plans that are ambitious, will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and will make Britain the only developed country outside Scandinavia to be on track to meet our climate change obligations. That will mean working with unions to ensure jobs and skills are protected as we move towards a low-carbon economy. And working with industry to change the way we build to train the workforce that will retrofit homes and work in the new energy industries too. And I can announce today that our programme of investment and transformation to achieve a 60% reduction in emissions by 2030 will create over 400,000 skilled jobs. Good jobs based here and on union rates bringing skills and security to communities held back for too long. And we will go further, with plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by the middle of the century. I know that sounds ambitious. It is ambitious and will be delivered with the most far-reaching programme of investment and transformation in decades. Labour will kick-start a Green Jobs Revolution that will help tackle climate change, provide sustainable energy for the future and create skilled jobs in every nation and region of the UK. But it’s not just the economic system that is unsustainable. Britain’s relationship with the rest of the world, our foreign policy is no longer sustainable either. We are entering a new fast-changing and more dangerous world including the reckless attacks in Salisbury which the evidence painstakingly assembled by the police now points clearly to the Russian state. When President Trump takes the US out of the Paris accords, tries to scrap the Iran nuclear deal, moves the US embassy to Jerusalem and pursues aggressive nationalism and trade wars – he is turning his back on international cooperation and even international law. We need a British government that can not only keep the country safe, but can also speak out for democratic values and human rights. Today’s Conservative government continues to collude with the disastrous Saudi-led war in Yemen, turning a blind eye to evidence of war crimes and the devastating suffering of millions of civilians. That’s why I was honoured to attend the vigil this week held by Liverpool’s Yemeni community, in protest against what is taking place. Labour’s foreign policy will be driven by progressive values and international solidarity, led by Emily Thornberry, Kate Osamor and Nia Griffith. That means no more reckless wars of intervention, like Iraq or Libya. It means putting negotiations before confrontation, diplomacy before tub-thumping threats. It means championing human rights and democracy everywhere and not just where it is commercially convenient. And working to resolve the world’s injustices, not standing idly by, or worse, fuelling them in the first place. Conference, sometimes our hopes can be betrayed. Many of us campaigned for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, imprisoned by the Myanmar military for fighting for democracy. Today, the Myanmar military government which Aung San Suu Kyi nominally leads stands accused of grave atrocities against the Rohingya people. Nearly one million people have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh and women and girls in particular face appalling violence. We demand that the Myanmar government end its horrific ethnic cleansing and allows the Rohingya to rebuild their communities and their lives. And let me next say a few words about the ongoing denial of justice and rights to the Palestinian people. Our Party is united in condemning the shooting of hundreds of unarmed demonstrators in Gaza by Israeli forces and the passing of Israel’s discriminatory Nation-State Law. The continuing occupation, the expansion of illegal settlements and the imprisonment of Palestinian children are an outrage. We support a two-state solution to the conflict with a secure Israel and a viable and secure Palestinian state. But a quarter of a century on from the Oslo Accords we are no closer to justice or peace and the Palestinian tragedy continues, while the outside world stands by. As my great Israeli friend Uri Avnery who died this year put it: “What is the alternative to peace? A catastrophe for both peoples”. And in order to help make that two-state settlement a reality we will recognise a Palestinian state as soon as we take office. We will also make a far more determined effort to help bring the terrible war in Syria to an end, a war that has led to millions of refugees, some of whom I met in Jordan this summer and whose plight Alf Dubs described so powerfully yesterday. The Syrian conflict has been fuelled by the military intervention of multiple powers. And it will need those same powers to deliver a negotiated peace settlement to end the killing and allow the return of the refugees. But Labour’s plans to rebuild and transform our country and its relationship with the rest of the world are having to be made against the backdrop of huge uncertainty about Brexit. Labour respects the decision of the British people in the referendum. But no one can respect the conduct of the government since that vote took place. We all hoped that the people’s decision would be followed by effective and responsible negotiations that would protect living standards and jobs. Instead, the main negotiations have taken place between different factions of the Tory party and the only job this government is fighting for is the Prime Minister’s. Theresa May used to say that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’. Yet now, after two years of botched negotiations she is threatening the country with just that choice: a bad deal or no deal. That is a threat to our whole economy, especially our manufacturing industry and to tens of thousands of skilled jobs here in Britain. Now time is running out. Companies are losing patience. In the absence of any clarity from government they are planning to relocate abroad, taking jobs and investment with them. Some have already started and I fear more will follow. The Tories are well aware of this but some see Brexit as their opportunity to impose a free market shock doctrine in Britain. The Prime Minister is in New York today promising that a post-Brexit Britain will offer the lowest corporation tax of all the G20 nations. Handouts to the few, paid for by the many and an already tried-and-failed strategy for boosting investment. Sajid Javid has set out his plan for more tax giveaways and to rip up people’s pension rights. Liam Fox is itching to scrap workers’ rights and privatise the NHS with a side order of chlorinated chicken. And then there’s Jacob Rees-Mogg who has expressed his personal faith in a Brexit Britain by deciding to base his new investment fund in the Eurozone. The Tory Brexiteers unite the politics of the 1950s with the economics of the 19th century, daydreaming about a Britannia that both rules the waves and waives the rules. Labour’s job is now to win support for a deal that meets the needs of the country, combined with our plan to rebuild and transform Britain with investment in our people and economy. Our priority is clear – we aim to get the best Brexit deal for jobs and living standards to underpin our plans to upgrade the economy and invest in every community and region. That can bring people together and meet the concerns of both those who voted leave and those who voted remain. Conference, the way ahead is clear. We will vote against any reduction in rights, standards or protections and oppose a deregulatory race-to-the-bottom. So let me say to the country. As it stands, Labour will vote against the Chequers plan or whatever is left of it and oppose leaving the EU with no deal. And it is inconceivable that we should crash out of Europe with no deal – that would be a national disaster. That is why if Parliament votes down a Tory deal or the government fails to reach any deal at all we would press for a General Election. Failing that, all options are on the table. So let me thank Keir Starmer, the man who would lead our Brexit negotiations in government. Keir, having got agreement yesterday in this conference hall, getting one in Brussels should be a piece of cake. But let me also reach out to the Prime Minister, who is currently doing the negotiating. Brexit is about the future of our country and our vital interests. It is not about leadership squabbles or parliamentary posturing. If you deliver a deal that includes a customs union and no hard border in Ireland, if you protect jobs, people’s rights at work and environmental and consumer standards – then we will support that sensible deal. A deal that would be backed by most of the business world and trade unions too. But if you can’t negotiate that deal then you need to make way for a party that can. Conference. Labour if offering a real alternative to the people of Britain. A radical plan to rebuild and transform our country. An alternative to the politics of austerity, of social division and of international conflict. Where the Tories have divided and ruled, we will unite and govern. We represent the new common sense of our time. And we are ready to deliver on it. We must speak for the people to whom Theresa May promised so much but has delivered so little. And we must take our message to every town, city and village. United and ready to win, ready to govern as we were in 1945, 1964 and 1997. So that when we meet this time next year let it be as a Labour government. Investing in Britain after years of austerity and neglect and bringing our country together after a decade of division. Conference. Let every constituency, every community know Labour is ready. Confident in our ideas, clear in our plans, committed to rebuild Britain. We don’t want to live in a society where our fellow citizens sleep rough. A strong society is one that gives all our young people the chance to realise their potential and in which all of us know if our parents need care they will get it. Our task is to build that Britain and together we can. Thank you. Tory austerity is holding young people back – Cat Smith September 27, 2018 Dawn Butler speaking at Labour Party Conference today September 26, 2018 For the many, not the few Get the latest from Labour Keep me updated We’ll email you about campaigns, events and opportunities to get involved. Find out more about how we use your information. Are you ready? Thousands of Labour supporters up and down the country took the plunge and campaigned with us for the first time recently—will you join them?

Sunday, September 30 2018

Memorandum submitted by Co-ordination Committee of Central Government Employee and Workers Assam, Guwahati

The Secretary to Prime Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, South Block. Raisina Hill, New Delhi-110011. Sub: Memorandum submitted by Co-ordination Committee of Central Govt.Employee and Workers Assam, Guwahati- 781001 In inviting a reference to the subject cited above I am directed to forward herewith Memorandum Ref.No.COC/Assam/GUWA/I dated 29.08.2018 in original received from D.K. Debnath, General Secretary, on behalf of Co-ordination Committee of Central Govt. Employees and Workers. Assam, Guwahati-01, addressed to the Hon’ble Governor of Assam, content of which is self explanatory. On the above, I am directed to request you kindly place the matter before the Hon’ble Prime Minister for kind perusal and necessary action as may be deemed appropriate. Yours faithfully,

Sunday, September 30 2018

Dearness Allowance to Haryana Government Employees on revised scales (7th Pay Commission) i.e. 7% to 9% effective from 01.07.2018

Dated, Chandigarh, the 27th September, 2018 1. All the Heads of Department and Commissioners of Divisions. 2. All the Deputy Commissioners and Sub Divisional Officers (Civil) in Haryana. 3. The Registrar, General Punjab & Haryana High Court, Chandigarh. Subject :- Payment of Dearness Allowance to Haryana Government Employees on revised scales (7th Pay Commission) i.e. 7% to 9% effective from 01.07.2018. Sir/Madam, I am directed to invite reference to Finance Department circular letter No. 4/3/2016-5FR/9986 dated 8th June, 2018 on the subject noted above and to say that the Governor of Haryana is pleased to decide that the Dearness Allowance payable to Haryana Government employees on revised scales of pay shall be enhanced from the existing rate of 7% to 9% of the pay w.e.f. 1st July, 2018. 2. The instalment of Dearness Allowance payable under these orders shall be paid in cash to all Haryana Government employees with the salary for the month of September, 2018 to be paid in October, 2018. 3. The payment of arrears of enhanced Dearness Allowance for the month from July, 2018 to August, 2018 shall be made in the month of October, 2018. 4. The provisions contained in Para 3,4,5, & 7 in FD’s instruction No. 4/3/2016-5FR/35222 dated 25th November, 2016 shall continue to be applicable while regulating Dearness Allowance under these instructions. 5. Copy of these orders may also be downloaded from the web site www.finhry.gov.in. Yours faithfully,

Thursday, August 30 2018

Extension of date for filing of Income Tax Returns for taxpayers in Kerala

Home » Kerala » You are reading » Extension of date for filing of Income Tax Returns for taxpayers in Kerala Ministry of Finance Extension of date for filing of Income Tax Returns for taxpayers in Kerala In view of the disruption caused due to severe floods in Kerala, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) hereby further extends the “Due Date” for furnishing Income Tax Returns from 31st August, 2018 to 15th September, 2018 for all Income Tax assessees in the State of Kerala, who were liable to file their Income Tax Returns by 31st August, 2018. CBDT had earlier extended the ‘Due Date’ for filing of Income Tax Returns from 31st July, 2018 to 31st August, 2018 in respect of the categories of taxpayers who were liable to file their Income Tax Returns by 31st July, 2018. Source: PIB http://www.stategovernmentnews.in/extension-of-date-for-filing-of-income-tax-returns-for-taxpayers-in-kerala/ 2018-08-30T05:26:34+00:00 admin Kerala CBDT,Central Board of Direct Taxes,filing of Income Tax Returns,Income tax,Kerala,Kerala State Government,Kerala State Government News,taxpayers Ministry of Finance Extension of date for filing of Income Tax Returns for taxpayers in Kerala In view of the disruption caused due to severe floods in Kerala, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) hereby further extends the “Due Date” for furnishing Income Tax Returns from 31st August, 2018 to... admin [email protected] Administrator State Government Employees News

PM inaugurates Pashupatinath Dharmashala in Kathmandu | Prime Minister of India

Friday, August 31 2018

PM inaugurates Pashupatinath Dharmashala in Kathmandu | Prime Minister of India

PM inaugurates Pashupatinath Dharmashala in Kathmandu 31 Aug, 2018 The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today jointly inaugurated the Pashupatinath Dharmashala in Kathmandu, with the Prime Minister of Nepal, Shri K.P. Oli. Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said that he feels the love and affection of the people of Kathmandu, each time he comes here. He said this sense of belongingness is evident for India, in Nepal. He recalled his earlier visits to Pashupatinath, and other temples in Nepal. He said the spiritual ties between India and Nepal have transcended both time and distance. In that context, he added, he feels delighted to be inaugurating this Dharmashala. The Prime Minister said that the temples of Pashupatinath, Muktinath and Jankidham showcase Nepal’s unity in diversity, besides strengthening its bonds with India. He spoke of the rich traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism, that resonate in the city of Kathmandu. He also mentioned how Buddhism is an important link between India and Nepal. He said both countries are proud of their glorious heritage. The Prime Minister stressed on the need for development, especially the need for progress of the weaker and marginalized sections of society. He said India is scaling new heights in economic development, and added that the vision of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” also includes the people of Nepal. He said India is happy to see political stability in Nepal. He said Nepal can always count on India’s goodwill and cooperation.

What Makes an Urban Naxal? | Economic and Political Weekly

Friday, September 7 2018

What Makes an Urban Naxal? | Economic and Political Weekly

Bernard D’Mello is editorial consultant at EPW , and the author of India after Naxalbari: Unifinished History (2018). Bernard D’Mello writes about his former colleague, “urban Naxal” Gautam Navlakha. The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government and the Hindutvavadi “nationalist” movement’s demonic drive for cultural orthodoxy seems to know no bounds. What is alarming is the former’s support for and complicity in the acts of the latter, as also the Indian state’s control of its “necessary” enemies through the use of state terror, with the category “urban Naxals” singled out in the latest of such drives (in June and August 2018) that otherwise routinely target Muslims, militant oppressed nationalities, and “Maoists.” In the government’s categorisation, the “urban Naxals,” at least so far, are lawyers, rights activists, poets, writers, journalists, and professors, deemed to be “active members” of the Communist Party of India (CPI) (Maoist). The five people arrested in August are charged under, among other criminal laws, sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The residential/office premises of these “urban Naxals” and some others, whom the government also wanted to harass and intimidate, were raided. The intention to malign and discredit was particularly evident when sections of India’s “embedded” media brought the charges against some of them in blatant acts of intimidation on prime-time TV. Some of the “guilty” were publicly castigated as “desh drohis” (betrayers of the nation), “invisible enemies of the nation,” and “serious threats to Indian democracy” for “aiding the CPI (Maoist).” Among the presumed “invisible enemies of the nation” and “serious threats to Indian democracy” is the Economic & Political Weekly’s (EPW) distinguished journalist Gautam Navlakha. Navlakha joined the EPW in the early 1980s, working alongside Rajani Desai, M S Prabhakara, and Krishna Raj, among the best of Indian journalists I have known. Later in the 1980s, when he shifted residence to Delhi, he continued working for the EPW, and was designated as editorial consultant. He continued in that capacity until 2006, when he requested the then editor C Rammanohar Reddy to be relieved of his formal association because he wanted to devote more time as a democratic rights activist with the Peoples Union for Democratic Rights. But, he has continued to write for the EPW. Something quite distinctive began to take shape in Navlakha’s writings from the early 1990s onwards, when he became closely associated with the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, participating in its fact-finding teams, its campaigns, and in the writing of its reports. Deeply committed to the truth, much of it buried in the ground in Kashmir in unmarked graves, Navlakha’s writings in the EPW and other magazines removed the fig leaves that the Indian state had used to cover up its terrible record on the human rights front in Kashmir: the enforced disappearances and subsequent killings in fake encounters, the legal immunity to army, paramilitary, and police officers for their actions, and so on. The lie of Indian democracy, Navlakha has been showing his readers, is evident in Kashmir. You have to be really brave to be a journalist and rights activist like Navlakha, especially when you are aware of the establishment’s art of propaganda, with big “embedded” media on its side. The victims of the violence are constantly being blamed for the violence, and angry readers will not even be willing to listen to you. Even sections of India’s parliamentary left have been dismissive of Navlakha’s writings on Kashmir, calling him “misguided.” But, he has stood his ground with facts and reason, and has continued to indict the Indian state for the hell of internal colonialism in Indian-administered Kashmir. To be a Marxist–socialist, one must protest against all kinds of oppressions, whether ethnic, national, caste, class, racial, or gender. This is at the core of Marxist–socialist ethics. Marxism is a philosophy of the downtrodden, the proletariat, and the semi-proletariat, in the latter, especially the poor peasantry. Marxism is not a philosophy of power; it is a philosophy of equality, which Navlakha has imbibed and practised. His journalistic and rights investigations thus drew him to the heartland of Maoist rebellion in southern Chhattisgarh where the Indian state has unleashed counter-insurgency warfare, called Operation Green Hunt, since September 2009. Here, Navlakha has almost been what the American journalist Edgar Snow was in the 1930s in China (remember his Red Star over China , published in 1938), when he entered the Red territory, reporting the facts as he saw them, about the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the Communist Party of China’s leaders and its programme and policies. Navlakha’s 2012 book, Days and Nights in the Heartland of Rebellion , reports the facts as he saw them at a Maoist guerrilla base in southern Chhattisgarh. Based on his understanding of the civil war, Navlakha has been advocating that both the Indian state and the CPI (Maoist) adopt Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Protocol II of 1977 relating to non-international armed conflict. What then of the “urban Naxal”? Keeping in mind the practice of Navlakha, I would define a “Naxal” as follows. A Naxal is one who cannot remain unmoved upon finding that most of the Indian people are still inadequately fed, miserably clothed, wretchedly housed, poorly educated, and without access to decent medical care, and feels that this state of being stems from India’s deeply oppressive and exploitative social order, crying out for revolutionary change. My perception is that, in this sense of the term, a great many Indians might indeed be Naxals, whether urban or rural, like Navlakha and me, and you do not have to necessarily be a member or a supporter of the CPI (Maoist) to be one.

Saturday, September 8 2018

Disinformation and ‘fake news’: Interim Report - Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee - House of Commons

Disinformation and ‘fake news’: Interim Report Contents 2 The definition, role and legal responsibilities of tech companies 21. At the centre of the argument about misinformation and disinformation is the role of tech companies, on whose platforms content is disseminated. 26 Throughout the chapter, we shall use the term ‘tech companies’ to indicate the different types of social media and internet service providers, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google. It is important to note that a series of mergers and acquisitions mean that a handful of tech companies own the major platforms. For example, Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp; Alphabet owns both Google and YouTube. 22. The word ‘platform’ suggests that these companies act in a passive way, posting information they receive, and not themselves influencing what we see, or what we do not see. However, this is a misleading term; tech companies do control what we see, by their very business model. They want to engage us from the moment we log onto their sites and into their apps, in order to generate revenue from the adverts that we see. In this chapter, we will explore: the definitions surrounding tech companies; the companies’ power in choosing and disseminating content to users; and the role of the Government and the tech companies themselves in ensuring that those companies carry out their business in a transparent, accountable way. An unregulated sphere 23. Tristan Harris of the Center for Humane Technology 27 provided a persuasive narrative of the development and role of social media platforms, telling us that engagement of the user is an integral part both of tech companies’ business model and of their growth strategy: They set the dial; they don’t want to admit that they set the dial, and instead they keep claiming, “We’re a neutral platform,” or, “We’re a neutral tool,” but in fact every choice they make is a choice architecture. They are designing how compelling the thing that shows up next on the news feed is, and their admission that they can already change the news feeds so that people spend less time [on it] shows that they do have control of that. 28 24. Mr Harris told us that, while we think that we are in control of what we look at when we check our phones (on average, around 150 times a day), our mind is being hijacked, as if we were playing a slot machine: Every time you scroll, you might as well be playing a slot machine, because you are not sure what is going to come up next on the page. A slot machine is a very simple, powerful technique that causes people to want to check in all the time. Facebook and Twitter, by being social products—by using your social network—have an infinite supply of new information that they could show you. There are literally thousands of things that they could populate that news feed with, which turns it into that random-reward slot machine. 29 25. Coupled with this is the relentless feed of information that we receive on our phones, which is driven by tech engineers “who know a lot more about how your mind works than you do. They play all these different tricks every single day and update those tricks to keep people hooked”. 30 Regulatory architecture The Information Commissioner’s Office 26. The Information Commissioner is a non-departmental public body, with statutory responsibility “for regulating the processing of personal data” in the United Kingdom, 31 including the enforcement of the new Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 32 The ICO’s written evidence describes the Commission’s role as “one of the sheriffs of the internet”. 33 27. The Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, highlighted the “behind the scenes algorithms, analysis, data matching and profiling” which mean that people’s data is being used in new ways to target them with information. 34 She sees her role as showing the public how personal data is collected, used and shared through advertising and through the micro-targeting of messages delivered through social media.” 35 She has a range of powers to ensure that personal data is processed within the legislative framework, including the serving of an information notice, requiring specified information to be provided within a defined timeframe. 28. The 2018 Act extends the Commissioner’s powers to conduct a full audit where she suspects that data protection legislation has, or is being, contravened and to order a company to stop processing data. Elizabeth Denham told us that these would be “powerful” measures. 36 The recent legislative changes also increased the maximum fine that the Commissioner can levy, from £500,000 to £17 million or 4% of global turnover, whichever is greater, and set out her responsibilities for international co-operation on the enforcement of data protection legislation. 37 29. The Data Protection Act 2018 created a new definition, called “Applied GDPR”, to describe an amended version of the GDPR, when European Union law does not apply (when the UK leaves the EU). Data controllers would still need to assess whether they are subject to EU law, in order to decide whether to follow the GDPR or the Applied GDPR. Apart from the exceptions laid down in the GDPR, all personal data processed in the United Kingdom comes within the scope of European Union law, until EU law no longer applies to the United Kingdom. However, when the United Kingdom leaves the EU, social media companies could “process personal data of people in the UK from bases in the US without any coverage of data protection law. Organisations that emulate Cambridge Analytica could set up in offshore locations and profile individuals in the UK without being subject to any rules on processing personal data”, according to Robert Madge, CEO of the Swiss data management company Xifrat Daten. 38 30. The Data Protection Act 2018 gives greater protection to people’s data than did its predecessor , the 1998 Data Protection Act, and follows the law set out in the GDPR. However, when the UK leaves the EU, social media companies will be able to process personal data of people in the UK from bases in the US, without any coverage of data protection law. We urge the Government to clarify this loophole in a White Paper this autumn. Investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes 31. In May 2017, the ICO announced a formal investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes. The investigation has two strands: explaining how personal data is used in the context of political messaging; and taking enforcement action against any found breaches of data protection legislation. 39 The investigation has involved 30 organisations, including Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Elizabeth Denham said of the investigation: For the public, we need to be able to understand why an individual sees a certain ad. Why does an individual see a message in their newsfeed that somebody else does not see? We are really the data cops here. We are doing a data audit to be able to understand and to pull back the curtain on the advertising model around political campaigning and elections. 40 32. In response to our request for the ICO to provide an update on the investigation into data analytics in political campaigning, the Commissioner duly published this update on 11 July 2018. 41 We are grateful to the Commissioner for providing such a useful, detailed update on her investigations, and we look forward to receiving her final report in due course. 33. The ICO has been given extra responsibilities, but with those responsibilities should come extra resources. Christopher Wylie, a whistle-blower and ex-SCL employee, has had regular contact with the ICO, and he explained that the organisation has limited resources to deal with its responsibilities: “A lot of the investigators do not have a robust technical background. […] They are in charge of regulating data, which means that they should have a lot of people who understand how databases work”. 42 34. Paul-Olivier Dehaye, founder of PersonalDataIO, told us that he had sent a letter to the ICO in August 2016, asking them if they were investigating Cambridge Analytica, because of the information about the company that was publicly available at that time. He told us that “if the right of access was made much more efficient, because of increased staffing at the ICO, this right would be adopted by [...] educators, journalists, activists, academics, as a tool to connect civil society with the commercial world and to help document what is happening”. 43 Data scientists at the ICO need to be able to cope with new technologies that are not even in existence at the moment and, therefore, the ICO needs to be as technically expert, if not more so, than the experts in private tech companies. 35. The Commissioner told us that the Government had given the ICO pay flexibility to retain and recruit more expert staff: “We need forensic investigators, we need senior counsel and lawyers, we need access to the best, and maybe outside counsel, to be able to help us with some of these really big files”. 44 We are unconvinced that pay flexibility will be enough to retain and recruit technical experts. 36. We welcome the increased powers that the Information Commissioner has been given as a result of the Data Protection Act 2018 , and the ability to be able to look behind the curtain of tech companies, and to examine the data for themselves. However, to be a sheriff in the wild west of the internet, which is how the Information Commissioner has described her office, the ICO needs to have the same if not more technical expert knowledge as those organisations under scrutiny. The ICO needs to attract and employ more technically -skilled engineers who not only can analyse current technologies, but have the capacity to predict future technologies. We acknowledge the fact that the Government has given the ICO pay flexibility to retain and recruit more expert staff, but it is uncertain whether pay flexibility will be enough to retain and attract the expertise that the ICO needs. We recommend that the White Paper explores the possibility of major investment in the ICO and the way in which that money should be raised. One possible route could be a levy on tech companies operating in the UK, to help pay for the expanded work of the ICO, in a similar vein to the way in which the banking sector pays for the upkeep of the Financial Conduct Authority. The Electoral Commission 37. The Electoral Commission is responsible for regulating and enforcing the rules that govern political campaign finance in the UK. Their priority is to ensure appropriate transparency and voter confidence in the system. 45 However, concerns have been expressed about the relevance of that legislation in an age of social media and online campaigning. Claire Bassett, the Electoral Commission’s Chief Executive, told us that, “It is no great secret that our electoral law is old and fragmented. It has developed over the years, and we struggle with the complexity created by that, right across the work that we do.” 46 38. The use of social media in political campaigning has had major consequences for the Electoral Commission’s work. 47 As a financial regulator, the Electoral Commission regulates “by looking at how campaigners and parties receive income, and how they spend that.” 48 While that is primarily achieved through the spending returns submitted by registered campaigners, the Commission also conducts real-time monitoring of campaign activities, including on social media, that it can then compare the facts with what it is being told. 49 Where the Electoral Commission suspects or identifies that rules have been breached it has the power to conduct investigations, refer matters to the police, and issue sanctions, including fines. 39. At present, campaign spending is declared under broad categories such as ‘advertising’ and ‘unsolicited material to electors’, with no specific category for digital campaigning, not to mention the many subcategories covered by paid and organic campaigning, and combinations thereof. Bob Posner, the Electoral Commission’s Director of Political Finance and Regulation and Legal Counsel, told us that “A more detailed category of spending would be helpful to understand what is spent on services, advertising, leaflets, posters or whatever it might be, so anyone can interrogate and question it.” 50 The Electoral Commission has since recommended that legislation be amended so that spending returns clearly detail digital campaigning. 51 40. Spending on election or referendum campaigns by foreign organisations or individuals is not allowed. We shall be exploring issues surrounding the donation to Leave.EU by Arron Banks in Chapter 4, but another example involving Cambridge Analytica was brought to our attention by Arron Banks himself. A document from Cambridge Analytica’s presentation pitch to Leave.EU stated that “We will co-ordinate a programme of targeted solicitation, using digital advertising and other media as appropriate to raise funds for Leave.EU in the UK, the USA, and in other countries.” 52 In response to a question asking whether he had taken legal advice on this proposal, Alexander Nix, the then CEO of Cambridge Analytica, replied, “We took a considerable amount of legal advice and, at the time, it was suggested by our counsel that we could target British nationals living abroad for donations. I believe […] that there is still some lack of clarity about whether this is true or not. 53 41. When giving evidence, the Electoral Commission repeated a recommendation first made in 2003 that online campaign material should legally be required to carry a digital imprint, identifying the source. While the Electoral Commission’s remit does not cover the content of campaign material, and it is “not in a position to monitor the truthfulness of campaign claims, online or otherwise”, it holds that digital imprints “will help voters to assess the credibility of campaign messages.” 54 A recent paper from Upturn, Leveling the platform: real transparency for paid messages on Facebook , highlighted the fact that “ads can be shared widely, and live beyond indication that their distribution was once subsidized. And they can be targeted with remarkable precision”. 55 For this reason, we believe digital imprints should be clear and make it easy for users to identify what is in adverts and who the advertiser is. 42. The Electoral Commission published a report on 26 June 2018, calling for the law to be strengthened around digital advertising and campaigning, including: A change in the law to require all digital political campaign material to state who paid for it, bringing online adverts in line with physical leaflets and adverts; New legislation to make it clear that spending in UK elections and referenda by foreign organisations and individuals is not allowed; An increase in the maximum fine, currently £20,000 per offence, that the Electoral Commission can impose on organisations and individuals who break the rules; Tougher requirements for political campaigns to declare their spending soon after or during a campaign, rather than months later; A requirement for all campaigners to provide more detailed paperwork on how they spent money online. 56 43. Claire Bassett told us that the current maximum fine that the Electoral Commission can impose on wrongdoings in political campaigning is £20,000, which she said is described as “the cost of doing business”for some individuals and organisations. Ms Bassett said that this amount was too low and should be increased, in line with other regulators that can impose more significant fines. 57 She also commented on how she would like a change to the regulated periods, particularly in reference to referenda: One of the challenges we have as regulator is that we are a financial regulator, and we regulate the parties and campaigners, usually during just that regulated period or the extended period that is set out. That does create challenges in a referendum setting. We think there is value in looking at those campaign regulated periods and thinking about how they work. 58 We are aware that the Report of the Independent Commission on Referendums made similar recommendations in its report of July 2018. 59 44. The globalised nature of social media creates challenges for regulators. In evidence Facebook did not accept their responsibilities to identify or prevent illegal election campaign activity from overseas jurisdictions. In the context of outside interference in elections, this position is unsustainable and Facebook , and other platforms, must begin to take responsibility for the way in which their platforms are used. 45. Electoral law in this country is not fit for purpose for the digital age, and needs to be amended to reflect new technologies. We support the Electoral Commission’s suggestion that all electronic campaigning should have easily accessible digital imprint requirements, including information on the publishing organisation and who is legally responsible for the spending, so that it is obvious at a glance who has sponsored that campaigning material, thereby bringing all online advertisements and messages into line with physically published leaflets, circulars and advertisements. We note that a similar recommendation was made by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, and urge the Government to study the practicalities of giving the Electoral Commission this power in its White Paper. 46. As well as having digital imprints, the Government should consider the feasibility of clear, persistent banners on all paid-for political adverts and videos, indicating the source and making it easy for users to identify what is in the adverts, and who the advertiser is. 47. The Electoral Commission’s current maximum fine limit of £20,000 should be changed to a larger fine based on a fixed percentage of turnover, such as has been granted recently to the Information Commissioner’s Office in the Data Protection Act 2018. Furthermore, the Electoral Commission should have the ability to refer matters to the Crown Prosecution Service, before their investigations have been completed. 48. Electoral law needs to be updated to reflect changes in campaigning techniques, and the move from physical leaflets and billboards to online, micro-targeted political campaigning, as well as the many digital subcategories covered by paid and organic campaigning. The Government must carry out a comprehensive review of the current rules and regulations surrounding political work during elections and referenda, including: increasing the length of the regulated period; definitions of what constitutes political campaigning; absolute transparency of online political campaigning; a category introduced for digital spending on campaigns; reducing the time for spending returns to be sent to the Electoral Commission (the current time for large political organisations is six months); and increasing the fine for not complying with the electoral law. 49. The Government should consider giving the Electoral Commission the power to compel organisations that it does not specifically regulate, including tech companies and individuals, to provide information relevant to their inquiries, subject to due process. 50. The Electoral Commission should also establish a code for advertising through social media during election periods, giving consideration to whether such activity should be restricted during the regulated period, to political organisations or campaigns that have registered with the Commission. Both the Electoral Commission and the ICO should consider the ethics of Facebook or other relevant social media companies selling lookalike political audiences to advertisers during the regulated period, where they are using the data they hold on their customers to guess whether their political interests are similar to those profiles held in target audiences already collected by a political campaign. In particular, we would ask them to consider whether users of Facebook or other relevant social media companies should have the right to opt out from being included in such lookalike audiences. Platform or publisher? 51. How should tech companies be defined—as a platform, a publisher, or something in between? The definition of ‘publisher’ gives the impression that tech companies have the potential to limit freedom of speech, by choosing what to publish and what not to publish. Monika Bickert, Head of Global Policy Management, Facebook, told us that “our community would not want us, a private company, to be the arbiter of truth”. 60 The definition of ‘platform’ gives the impression that these companies do not create or control the content themselves, but are merely the channel through which content is made available. Yet Facebook is continually altering what we see, as is shown by its decision to prioritise content from friends and family, which then feeds into users’ newsfeed algorithm. 61 52. Frank Sesno, Director of the School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University, told us in Washington D.C. that “they have this very strange, powerful, hybrid identity as media companies that do not create any of the content but should and must—to their own inadequate levels—accept some responsibility for promulgating it. What they fear most is regulation—a requirement to turn over their data”. 62 53. At both our evidence session and at a separate speech in March 2018, the then Secretary of State for DCMS, Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, noted the complexity of making any legislative changes to tech companies’ liabilities, putting his weight behind “a new definition” that was “more subtle” than the binary choice between platform and publisher. 63 He told us that the Government has launched the Cairncross Review to look (within the broader context of the future of the press in the UK) at the role of the digital advertising supply chain, at how fair and transparent it is, and whether it “incentivises the proliferation of inaccurate and/or misleading news.” The review is also examining the role and impact of digital search engines and social media companies including an assessment of regulation “or further collaboration between the platforms and publishers.” The consultation closes in September 2018. 64 54. In Germany, tech companies were asked to remove hate speech within 24 hours. This self-regulation did not work, so the German Government passed the Network Enforcement Act, commonly known as NetzDG, which became law in January 2018. This legislation forces tech companies to remove hate speech from their sites within 24 hours, and fines them 20 million Euros if it is not removed. 65 55. Some say that the NetzDG regulation is a blunt instrument, which could be seen to tamper with free speech, and is specific to one country, when the extent of the content spans many countries. Monika Bickert, from Facebook, told us that “sometimes regulations can take us to a place—you have probably seen some of the commentary about the NetzDG law in Germany—where there will be broader societal concerns about content that we are removing and whether that line is in the right place”. 66 The then Secretary of State was also wary of the German legislation because “when a regulator gets to the position where they are policing the publication of politicians then you are into tricky territory”. 67 However, as a result of this law, one in six of Facebook’s moderators now works in Germany, which is practical evidence that legislation can work. 68 56. Within social media, there is little or no regulation. Hugely important and influential subjects that affect us—political opinions, mental health, advertising, data privacy—are being raised, directly or indirectly, in these tech spaces. People’s behaviour is being modified and changed as a result of social media companies. There is currently no sign of this stopping. 57. Social media companies cannot hide behind the claim of being merely a ‘platform’, claiming that they are tech companies and have no role themselves in regulating the content of their sites. That is not the case; they continually change what is and is not seen on their sites, based on algorithms and human intervention. However, they are also significantly different from the traditional model of a ‘publisher’, which commissions , pays for, edits and takes responsibility for the content it disseminates. 58. We recommend that a new category of tech company is formulated, which tightens tech companies’ liabilities, and which is not necessarily either a ‘platform’ or a ‘publisher’. We anticipate that the Government will put forward these proposals in its White Paper later this year and hope that sufficient time will be built in for our Committee to comment on new policies and possible legislation. 59. We support the launch of the Government’s Cairncross Review, which has been charged with studying the role of the digital advertising supply chain, and whether its model incentivises the proliferation of inaccurate or misleading news. We propose that this Report is taken into account as a submission to the Cairncross Review. We recommend that the possibility of the Advertising Standards Agency regulating digital advertising be considered as part of the Review. We ourselves plan to take evidence on this question this autumn, from the ASA themselves, and as part of wider discussions with DCMS and Ofcom. 60. It is our recommendation that this process should establish clear legal liability for the tech companies to act against harmful and illegal content on their platforms. This should include both content that has been referred to them for takedown by their users, and other content that should have been easy for the tech companies to identify for themselves . In these cases, failure to act on behalf of the tech companies could leave them open to legal proceedings launched either by a public regulator, and/or by individuals or organisations who have suffered as a result of this content being freely disseminated on a social media platform. Transparency 61. What we found, time and again, during the course of our inquiry, was the failure on occasions of Facebook and other tech companies, to provide us with the information that we sought. We undertook fifteen exchanges of correspondence with Facebook, and two oral evidence sessions, in an attempt to elicit some of the information that they held, including information regarding users’ data, foreign interference and details of the so-called ‘dark ads’ that had reached Facebook users. 69 Facebook consistently responded to questions by giving the minimal amount of information possible, and routinely failed to offer information relevant to the inquiry, unless it had been expressly asked for. It provided witnesses who have been unwilling or unable to give full answers to the Committee’s questions. This is the reason why the Committee has continued to press for Mark Zuckerberg to appear as a witness as, by his own admission, he is the person who decides what happens at Facebook. 62. We ask, once more, for Mr Zuckerberg to come to the Committee to answer the many outstanding questions to which Facebook has not responded adequately to date. Edward Lucas, a writer and security policy expert, rightly told us that Facebook should not be in a position of marking its own homework: “They have a duty as a platform to have transparent rules that can be discussed with the outside world and we should be able to check stuff. […] We cannot just trust Facebook to go after the event and say, ‘Nothing to see here, move along’. We should be able to see in real time who is advertising”. 70 63. As the then Secretary of State, Rt Hon Matthew Hancock MP, pointed out when he gave evidence to us, the Defamation Act 2013 contains provisions stating that, if a user is defamed on social media, and the offending individual cannot be identified, the liability rests with the platform. 71 64. Tech companies are not passive platforms on which users input content; they reward what is most engaging, because engagement is part of their business model and their growth strategy. They have profited greatly by using this model. This manipulation of the sites by tech companies must be made more transparent. Facebook has all of the information. Those outside of the company have none of it, unless Facebook chooses to release it. Facebook was reluctant to share information with the Committee, which does not bode well for future transparency . We ask, once more, for Mr Zuckerberg to come to the Committee to answer the many outstanding questions to which Facebook has not responded adequately , to date. 65. Facebook and other social media companies should not be in a position of ‘marking their own homework’. As part of its White Paper this Autumn, the Government need to carry out proactive work to find practical solutions to issues surrounding transparency that will work for both users, the Government, and the tech companies. 66. Facebook and other social media companies have a duty to publish and to follow transparent rules. The Defamation Act 2013 contains provisions stating that, if a user is defamed on social media, and the offending individual cannot be identified, the liability rests with the platform . We urge the Government to examine the effectiveness of these provisions, and to monitor tech companies to ensure they are complying with court orders in the UK and to provide details of the source of disputed content—including advertisements—to ensure that they are operating in accordance with the law , or any future industry Codes of Ethics or Conduct. Tech companies also have a responsibility to ensure full disclosure of the source of any political advertising they carry. Bots 67. Bots are algorithmically-driven computer programmes designed to carry out specific tasks online, such as analysing and scraping data. Some are created for political purposes, such as automatically posting content, increasing follower numbers, supporting political campaigns, or for spreading misinformation and disinformation. Samantha Bradshaw, from the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, described the different types of bots, with some being completely automated and some with real people who engage with the automated bots, described as ‘cyborgs’: “Those accounts are a lot harder to detect for researchers, because they feel a lot more genuine. Instead of just automating a bunch of tweets, so that something retweets different accounts 100 times a day, bots might actually post comments and talk with other users—real people—on the accounts”. 72 68. When she gave evidence in February 2018, Monika Bickert, Head of Global Policy Management at Facebook, would not confirm whether there were around 50,000 bot accounts during the US presidential election of 2016. 73 However, when Mike Schroepfer, CTO of Facebook, gave evidence in April 2018, after the Cambridge Analytica events had unfolded, he was more forthcoming about the problem of bots: The key thing here is people trying to create inauthentic identities on Facebook, claiming they are someone other than who they are. To give you a sense of the scale of that problem and the means, while we are in this testimony today it is likely we will be blocking hundreds of thousands of attempts by people around the world to create fake accounts through automated systems. This is literally a day-to-day fight to make sure that people who are trying to abuse the platform are kept off it and to make sure that people use Facebook for what we want it for, which is to share it with our friends. 74 69. Mike Schroepfer also said that removal of such bots can be difficult, and was evasive about how many fake accounts had been removed, telling us: “We are purging fake accounts all the time and dealing with fraudulent ads and we do not tend to report each specific instance. I know we report aggregate statistics on a regular basis, but it is not something we are reporting here or there, so I don’t know. 75 The problem with removing such bots without a systematic appraisal of their composition means that valuable information is then lost. Such information would prove invaluable to researchers involved in making connections, in order to prevent future attacks by malign players. Algorithms 70. Both social media companies and search engines use algorithms, or sequences of instructions, to personalise news and other content for users. The algorithms select content based on factors such as a user’s past online activity, social connections, and their location. Samantha Bradshaw, from the Oxford Internet Institute, told us about the power of Facebook to manipulate people’s emotions by showing different types of stories to them: “If you showed them more negative stories, they would feel more negatively. If you showed them positive stories, they would feel more positive”. 76 The tech companies’ business models rely on revenue coming from the sale of adverts and, because the bottom line is profit, negative emotions (which appear more quickly than positive emotions) will always be prioritised. This makes it possible for negative stories to spread. 71. Information about algorithms that dictate what users see on their News Feed is not publicly available. But just as information about the tech companies themselves needs to be more transparent, so does information about the algorithms themselves. These can carry inherent biases, such as those involving gender and race, as a result of algorithms development by engineers; these biases are then replicated, spread, and reinforced. Monika Bickert, from Facebook, admitted that Facebook was concerned about “any type of bias, whether gender bias, racial bias or other forms of bias that could affect the way that work is done at our company. That includes working on algorithms”. She went on to describe ways in which they were attempting to address this problem, including “initiatives ongoing, right now, to try to develop talent in under-represented communities”. 77 In our opinion, Facebook should be taking a more active and urgent role in tackling such inherent biases in algorithm development by engineers, to prevent these biases being replicated and reinforced. Claire Wardle, Executive Director of First Draft News, told us of the importance to get behind the ‘black box’ of the working of algorithms, in order to understand the rules and motivations of the tech companies: What are the questions to ask a platform about why it was created? What are the metrics for that particular algorithm? How can we have more insight into that algorithm? How can we think about frameworks of algorithms? Irrespective of the platform, how can we set up that framework so that platforms have to be not just transparent but transparent across particular aspects and elements? 78 72. Just as the finances of companies are audited and scrutinised, the same type of auditing and scrutinising should be carried out on the non-financial aspects of technology companies, including their security mechanisms and algorithms, to ensure they are operating responsibly. The Government should provide the appropriate body with the power to audit these companies, including algorithmic auditing, and we reiterate the point that the ICO’s powers should be substantially strengthened in these respects. 73. If companies like Facebook and Twitter fail to act against fake accounts , and properly account for the estimated total of fake accounts on their sites at any one time, this could not only damage the user experience, but potentially defraud advertisers who could be buying target audiences on the basis that the user profiles are connected to real people. We ask the Competition and Markets Authority to consider conducting an audit of the operation of the advertising market on social media. Privacy settings and ‘terms and conditions’ 74. Facebook and other tech companies make it hard for users to protect their own data. A report by the Norwegian Consumer Council, ‘Deceived by Design’, published in June 2018, highlighted the fact that Facebook, Google and Microsoft direct users away from privacy-friendly options on their services in an “unethical” way, while giving users “an illusion of control”. 79 Users’ privacy rights are usually hidden in tech companies’‘terms and conditions’ policies, which themselves are complicated, and do not follow their own terms of conditions in ensuring that they are age appropriate and that age ratification takes place. 80 75. Social media companies have a legal duty to inform users of their privacy rights. Companies give users the illusion of users having freedom over how they control their data, but they make it extremely difficult, in practice, for users to protect their data. Complicated and lengthy terms and conditions, small buttons to protect our data and large buttons to share our data mean that, although in principle we have the ability to practise our rights over our data—through for example the GDPR and the Data Protection Act—in practice it is made hard for us . 76. The UK Government should consider establishing a digital Atlantic Charter as a new mechanism to reassure users that their digital rights are guaranteed. This innovation would demonstrate the UK’s commitment to protecting and supporting users, and establish a formal basis for collaboration with the US on this issue. The Charter would be voluntary, but would be underpinned by a framework setting out clearly the respective legal obligations in signatory countries. This would help ensure alignment, if not in law , then in what users can expect in terms of liability and protections. ‘Free Basics’ and Burma 77. One of Facebook’s unofficial company mottoes was to “move quickly and break things”; to take risks, to not consider the consequences. Sandy Parakilas, an ex-Facebook employee, told us that most of the goals of the company were centred around growth, in terms of the number of people using the service and the subsequent revenue. 81 But with growth comes unintended consequences, if that growth happens unchecked. This unchecked growth of Facebook is continuing. ‘Free Basics’ is a Facebook service that provides people in developing countries with mobile phone access to various services without data charges. This content includes news, employment, health, information and local information. Free Basics is available in 63 countries around the world. 82 78. Out of a 50 million population in Burma, there are 30 million monthly active users on Facebook. 83 While Free Basics gives internet access for the majority of people in Burma, at the same time it severely limits the information available to users, making Facebook virtually the only source of information online for the majority of people in Burma. 84 The United Nations accused Facebook of playing a determining role in stirring up hatred against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine State. In March 2018, the UN Myanmar investigator Yanghee Lee said that the platform had morphed into a ‘beast’ that helped to spread vitriol against Rohingya Muslins. 85 79. When Mike Schroepfer, the CTO at Facebook, gave evidence in April 2018, he described the situation in Burma as “awful”, and that “we need to and are trying to do a lot more to get hate speech and all this kind of vile content off the platform”, 86 but he could not tell us when Facebook had started work on limiting hate speech, he could not tell us how many fake accounts had been identified and removed from Burma, and he could not tell us how much revenue Facebook was making from Facebook users in Burma. 87 80. Mr. Schroepfer promised to submit supplementary evidence to give us that information. However, Facebook’s supplementary evidence stated: “We do not break down the removal of fake accounts by country. […] Myanmar [Burma] is a small market for Facebook. We do not publish country advertising revenue figures”. 88 We sent yet another letter, asking why Facebook does not break down the removal of fake accounts by country, which seems a serious lapse in demonstrating how it takes responsibility when problems with fake accounts arise. 89 To date, we have not received an answer. 81. UK aid to Burma is planned at £100 million for 2018. 90 The Department for International Development told the International Development Committee that “for our programme to be successful, Burma must work towards the implementation of inclusive peace agreements, a new political settlement; and the military serving, rather than ruling, Burma”. 91 To date, the UK’s total support for the crisis since August 2017 is £129 million. 82. The United Nations has named Facebook as being responsible for inciting hatred against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Burma, through its ‘Free Basics’ service. It provides people free mobile phone access without data charges, but is also responsible for the spread disinformation and propaganda. The CTO of Facebook, Mike Schroepfer described the situation in Burma as “awful”, yet Facebook cannot show us that it has done anything to stop the spread of disinformation against the Rohingya minority. 83. The hate speech against the Rohingya—built up on Facebook, much of which is disseminated through fake accounts—and subsequent ethnic cleansing, has potentially resulted in the success of DFID’s aid programmes being greatly reduced, based on the qualifications they set for success. The activity of Facebook undermines international aid to Burma, including the UK Government’ s work. Facebook is releasing a product that is dangerous to consumers and deeply unethical. We urge the Government to demonstrate how seriously it takes Facebook’s apparent collusion in spreading disinformation in Burma, at the earliest opportunity. This is a further example of Facebook failing to take responsibility for the misuse of its platform. Code of Ethics and developments 84. Facebook has hampered our efforts to get information about their company throughout this inquiry. It is as if it thinks that the problem will go away if it does not share information about the problem, and reacts only when it is pressed. Time and again we heard from Facebook about mistakes being made and then (sometimes) rectified, rather than designing the product ethically from the beginning of the process. Facebook has a ‘Code of Conduct’, which highlights the principles by which Facebook staff carry out their work, and states that employees are expected to “act lawfully, honestly, ethically, and in the best interests of the company while performing duties on behalf of Facebook”. 92 Facebook has fallen well below this standard in Burma. 85. The then Secretary of State, Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, talked about the need for tech companies to move from a libertarian attitude—“the foundation of the internet”—to one of “liberal values on the internet, which is supporting and cherishing the freedom but not the freedom to harm others”. 93 He warned that tech company leaders have a responsibility, otherwise responsibility will be imposed on them: “I do not, for a moment, buy this idea that just because the internet is global therefore nation states do not have a say in it. We are responsible. We collectively, Parliament is responsible, for the statutory rules where our society lives”. 94 Monopolies and the business models of tech companies 86. The dominance of a handful of powerful tech companies, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, has resulted in their behaving as if they were monopolies in their specific area. Traditionally, the basis of competition policy with regard to monopolies has been the issue of consumer detriment, such as the risk of overcharging. However, in the tech world, consumer detriment is harder to quantify. In the digital sphere, many of these services have marginal running costs, are free to the consumer at the point of use, and have the potential of benefiting the consumer from being monopolistic—the sharing of information is the point of these companies and improves the accuracy of services such as Google Maps. As the Secretary of State told us, “The whole question of the concept of how we run competition policy in an era where many goods and many other new innovations have zero marginal costs and are free is intellectually difficult.” 95 87. With the free access of services must come the means of funding the businesses; tech companies’ business models rely on the data of users for advertisers to utilise, in order to maximise their revenue. Facebook and Google have 60% of US digital ad spend and 20% of total global spend, as of February 2018. 96 Therefore, consumer protection in the modern world is not only about goods, it is about the protection of data. Tech companies’ business models have extolled the fact that they are offering innovations that are free to use, but in doing so the users become the product of the companies, and this is where issues of mistrust and misuse arise. The new measures in GDPR allow users to see what data the companies hold about them, and users can request their data to be removed or transferred to other tech companies, but in order for this to be effective, users must have knowledge of and utilise these rights. 97 88. Professor Bakir, from Bangor University, talked of how technology continually changes, with people adapting to that technology in unpredictable ways. 98 She suggested the establishment of a working group, to monitor what is being developed in the area of misinformation and disinformation because “what is around the corner may be much more worrying than what we have experienced to date”. 99 As technology develops so quickly, regulation needs to be based not on specifics, but on principles, and adaptive enough to withstand technological developments. 89. A professional global Code of Ethics should be developed by tech companies, in collaboration with this and other governments, academics, and interested parties, including the World Summit on Information Society, to set down in writing what is and what is not acceptable by users on social media, with possible liabilities for companies and for individuals working for those companies, including those technical engineers involved in creating the software for the companies. New products should be tested to ensure that products are fit-for-purpose and do not constitute dangers to the users, or to society. 90. The Code of Ethics should be the backbone of tech companies’ work, and should be continually referred to when developing new technologies and algorithms. If companies fail to adhere to their own Code of Ethics, the UK Government should introduce regulation to make such ethical rules compulsory. 91. The dominance of a handful of powerful tech companies, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, has resulted in their behaving as if they were monopolies in their specific area. While this portrayal of tech companies does not appreciate the benefits of a shared service, where people can communicate freely, there are considerations around the data on which those services are based, and how these companies are using the vast amount of data they hold on users. In its White Paper, the Government must set out why the issue of monopolies is different in the tech world, and the measures needed to protect users’ data. 26 As of February 2018, 79% of the UK population had Facebook accounts, 79% used YouTube, and 47% used Twitter, https://weareflint.co.uk/press-release -social-media-demographics-2018

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: When things fall apart ⋆ Epeak World News

Monday, September 10 2018

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: When things fall apart ⋆ Epeak World News

“Well sir, the pedophile thing really didn’t help.”“That couldn’t have been it. Democrats musta stole it, right?”“All due respect, sir, I really think it was the pedophile thing.”“Maybe it was the illegals.”“Or the pedophile thing, sir.“I guess we’ll never know.” — Paul Waldman (@paulwaldman1) September 10, 2018 See, the problem for the Republicans is that they absolutely cannot win without that part of their base which is rabidly racist and pedophile tolerant. It’s gotten to the point where that’s who they nominate. Not just Roy Moore. For example, Florida . WaPo: Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), a gubernatorial nominee who recently was accused of using racially tinged language, spoke four times at conferences organized by a conservative activist who has said that African Americans owe their freedom to white people and that the country’s “only serious race war ” is against whites. DeSantis, elected to represent north-central Florida in 2012, appeared at the David Horowitz Freedom Center conferences in Palm Beach, Fla., and Charleston, S.C., in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, said Michael Finch, president of the organization. At the group’s annual Restoration Weekend conferences, hundreds of people gather to hear right-wing provocateurs such as Stephen K. Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos and Sebastian Gorka sound off on multiculturalism, radical Islam, free speech on college campuses and other issues. Nicholas Grossman /arcdigital: Ben Shapiro vs. Imaginary Obama Explains the Republican Party Reviewing the conservative pundit’s critique of Obama’s recent speech, and what it says about conservatism in America Shapiro’s critique of Obama’s speech often resembles a debating technique known as a Gish Gallop, which aims to overwhelm opponents with a rapid barrage of questionable points. When it works, opponents get bogged down disputing every little inaccuracy, losing their main thread… I suspect most of Shapiro’s readers don’t mind he began his critique of Obama’s speech egregiously misrepresenting Obama’s argument. It’s argumentative hyperbole, or aimed at what Obama really meant, or justified because Obama does it, or [insert excuse here]. Some would dispute that Shapiro misrepresented Obama at all, even when presented with contradictory quotes side-by-side. That’s because they seek validation for anti-Obama convictions more than an open-minded exploration of ideas. And that, I propose, helps answer “what happened to the Republican party?” How it went from Reagan’s “party of ideas” to Trump’s party of alternative facts. How it went from, as Max Boot put it , a “conservative party with a white-nationalist fringe” to a “white-nationalist party with a conservative fringe.” Or as I wrote previously, how conservative intellectuals lost control of conservatism. Ruth Marcus /WaPo: Kavanaugh’s refusal to recuse disqualifies him In short, this nominee — with this background, at this moment — should not sit on any cases directly concerning the president’s criminal jeopardy. I don’t necessarily fault Kavanaugh for declining to rule from the witness chair on the complex legal issues raised by the Trump investigation, including whether a president can pardon himself or be compelled to comply with a grand jury subpoena… But my bigger beef is with the refusal to recuse. Being a Supreme Court justice means that no one is the boss of you when it comes to deciding whether a conflict of interest prevents you from hearing a particular case. But justices follow the basic requirement to step aside in any case in which the judge’s “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” x This is an accusation of perjury from a long-serving Senator who does not say such a thing lightly. Shouldn’t there at least be a pause in the reckless rush to confirmation? Or are Republicans determined to turn the Supreme Court into a purely partisan body? https://t.co/Y7p5DtCfZS Bill Nemitz /Portland Press-Herald: Sen. Collins’ legacy faces key test with Kavanaugh But as she now prepares to vote yea or nay on Kavanaugh, Collins would do well to take a long, hard look at the political landscape. More than a dozen cases involving abortion currently are queued up at the Supreme Court’s doorstep – any one of which could spell the beginning of the end for Roe. v. Wade. Kavanaugh, if confirmed, will all but certainly side with the court’s other conservatives in those cases – dealing one or more blows to Roe v. Wade if not dismantling it altogether. And, with all of that playing out under the shadow of the looming 2020 election, Mainers long comfortable with Collins and her pro-choice persona will find themselves in a decidedly different mood when it comes to her political future. The word “hostile” comes to mind. x Update: Moonves will no longer receive any of his exit compensation, pending results of the independent investigation; portion of the amount he would have received will be donated to organizations focussed on sexual harassment and assault. https://t.co/QEIaBZAxlJ Axios: It’s hard to overstate the extremity and variety of pressures bearing down on President Trump and his understaffed White House . The bottom line: Taken together, it’s a jaw-dropping list of problems, and Trump’s “ fine-tuned machine ” is creaking under this stress. We’re at a hinge point in the Trump presidency, and staff sound as unsettled as I’ve heard them in the 19 months since he took office. x The most recent public polls show the following races within 2 points:FL GOV

RBI Submitted A List Of High Profile Fraud Cases To PMO: Raghuram Rajan

Wednesday, September 12 2018

RBI Submitted A List Of High Profile Fraud Cases To PMO: Raghuram Rajan

Ministry of Finance (PTI) A list of high profile cases related to banking frauds was sent to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for a coordinated action, said former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan in a note to Parliamentary panel. In the note to Chairman of Estimates Committee Murli Manohar Joshi, Rajan said that the size of frauds in the public sector banking system has been increasing, though still small relative to the overall volume of NPAs. “The RBI set up a fraud monitoring cell when I was Governor to coordinate the early reporting of fraud cases to the investigative agencies. I also sent a list of high profile cases to the PMO urging that we coordinate action to bring at least one or two to book. I am not aware of progress on this front. This is a matter that should be addressed with urgency,” he said. Rajan, who was RBI governor for three years till September 2016, is currently teaching at the Chicago Booth School of Business. Noting that system has been singularly ineffective in bringing even a single high profile fraudster to book, he said, frauds are different from normal non-performing assets (NPAs).

How Jane Austen's Work Illustrates Why Manners Matter ⋆ Epeak World News

Saturday, September 15 2018

How Jane Austen's Work Illustrates Why Manners Matter ⋆ Epeak World News

By Bre Payton September 15, 2018 In the fourth lecture of Hillsdale College’s free online course on the young Jane Austen (which you can take along with me here ), Lorraine Murphy, an English professor at the college, explains the value the author finds in the social conventions of her day throughout the pages of “Northanger Abbey.” A Strict Social Code Governed Austen’s Day In Austen’s time, English people were expected to participate in an elaborate system of manners that governed social events and interactions. A young person could not simply strike up a friendship with another at will, but needed to be introduced by another. Usually an elder person would make the acquaintance. At that point, the two individuals would engage in a series of outings and social activities to become better acquainted. These complex expectations ruled all social interactions and functions and allowed either participant ample opportunities to politely discontinue the friendship. These manners were a codified form of morals. Although Austen did critique many of the conventions of her day, particularly the conventions that governed social affairs, she did think that it was important to live a moral life. Throughout her novel “Northanger Abbey,” Austen prods at the interactions between her characters to get the reader to question the characters’ motives — are they sincerely engaging with one another or merely being polite? Austen answers this in part by having her characters depart from the typical norms of the day. Characters who were eager to know one another might slightly depart from the established rules. When the protagonist, Catherine, and Isabella befriend one another throughout the pages of the story, they cast aside these conventions and proceed to speak very warmly to one another — to the point where their intimate language becomes a cliche. In this, Austen is telling the reader that conventions can sometimes be useful. Why Social Norms Are More Than Just Rules Austen contrasts Isabella and Catherine’s friendship with the protagonist’s relationship with Eleanor Tilney, a woman who is not as quick to share over-the-top pleasantries like Isabella, a woman who sticks to convention. Eleanor’s formality and adherence to the rules of the day does not make her cold. Rather, she is depicted as more genuine than her counterpart, Isabella. When Isabella and her brother John repeatedly attempt to derail her plans with the Tilneys, Catherine goes out of her way to refuse their schemes and stick with her commitments. Her efforts are rewarded when the Tilneys invite her to visit Northanger Abbey — which delights Catherine, for she loves Gothic architecture and surroundings. This tells the reader that manners and customs go far beyond mere niceties and indicate character traits. Sticking to one’s commitments and not arbitrarily shirking them when something else comes along is a virtue that runs deeper than merely following the social conventions of the day. The Benefits of Reading a Variety Of Works Eleanor and her brother, Henry Tilney, are avid readers of both novels and history. Austen uses their interests to indicate that well-rounded citizens ought to read all types of books. Catherine admits she enjoys reading fiction greatly, but struggles to get through accounts of history, which is depicted as a flaw in her character, as she is sometimes unable to discern when others are acting in a duplicitous manner. In chapter nine, Henry and Catherine meet again at a dance, where Henry likens marriage to a dance because both parties are in a mutual contract to please one another throughout the duration of their time together. Catherine takes a more literal approach to the suggestion, saying that dance partners only spend a few moments together, while married people are coupled for life. Her literal descriptions of marriage and dancing suggest to the reader that she cannot understand Henry’s point — that relationships are built on a compact of mutual care for the needs of the other person. This discrepancy between the way the two view relationships reveals that Henry’s understanding is much more advanced than Catherine’s. Austen is careful not to cast aside the rules that govern social interactions because she understands that there can be some value in them, even if they are frivolous at times. Forgoing convention can sometimes be dangerous, as demonstrated by Isabella’s behavior. Austen also points out that understanding others’ motives is a skill that must be cultivated by deepening ones’ understanding of human nature. Catherine must learn to read between the lines by putting what others say and do in context, and she must develop her knowledge of context by reading and experiencing more. Bre Payton is a staff writer at The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter . Photo screengrab/PBS

‘Dalit’ Cannot be Reduced to ‘Scheduled Caste’ | Economic and Political Weekly

Friday, September 14 2018

‘Dalit’ Cannot be Reduced to ‘Scheduled Caste’ | Economic and Political Weekly

Home » Journal » Vol. 53, Issue No. 37, 15 Sep, 2018 » ‘Dalit’ Cannot be Reduced to ‘Scheduled Caste’ ‘Dalit’ Cannot be Reduced to ‘Scheduled Caste’ RIS The term “Scheduled Caste” is at once protective, and morally coercive and socially corroding. The recent advice by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) to the media to refrain from using the word “Dalit” by implication introduces a moral hierarchy in the use of words. Following the petition submitted by some Buddhists from Nagpur, the government argued that the word Dalit has to be avoided because it is morally offensive and humiliating and the term “Scheduled Caste” is preferable as it has been given constitutionally. However, the Constitution has no control on the use of this term on account of it being misused by those belonging to the upper castes and who feel that they face competition from the Scheduled Castes (SCs). This misuse of the term was evident in caste slurs that were levelled at some SC students in a medical college in Delhi. The upper-caste students who did not like the SCs making it to the college were accused of disfiguring the constitutional term, Scheduled Caste, by fracturing it into a crooked and, hence, derogatory term, “schaddu.” This deformation of the term by the upper castes is deployed as a weapon against the SCs to morally coerce and torment both the actual and potential beneficiaries of the category. Although the term Scheduled Caste is morally coercive, its beneficiaries, in fact, hoarders, take lead to protect it from falling into misuse by upper-caste free-riders by demanding for caste authentication through verification of caste certificates via government mechanisms. The term Scheduled Caste is also morally corroding. Codified into a certificate, the term no doubt works as a gate pass to the opportunity structures, but it also tends to corrode the social solidarity of the oppressed, leading to infighting among the SCs only to prove who among them is an authentic SC. The word Dalit in some sense does spring from among the SCs, but is irreducible to that category. It emerges through the negation of a pacificatory term such as Scheduled Caste. The Dalit Panthers in the early 1970s sprang from the inactivism of many SC politicians who did not take a public stand on the growing atrocities against Dalits. It is in this strong political sense that Dalit is irreducible to Scheduled Caste. It is an oppo­sitional articulation, both against the forces of oppression and those SC politicians who, by and large, felt compelled to remain on the site of the dominant politics of conformity to the governing class and condemnation of SCs. Since the word Dalit expresses the totality of exploitation, discri­mination, and patriarchal domination, it cannot be accused of posing any danger to the solidarity of the oppressed. Dalit is also irreducible to Scheduled Caste in another and perhaps more fundamental moral sense. Unlike Scheduled Caste, it does not carry the burden of having to prove its authenticity. Such a subversive and transformative meaning of Dalit, thus, militates against the much watered-down meaning of the word that suggests that a Dalit is someone who is trampled down, oppressed, and surpassed. However, the word Dalit in its long career has faced many contestations, coming mainly from Buddhist literary writers from Maharashtra, leading musicians from the southern states, and now again from some self-proclaimed Buddhists in Maharashtra. For such people, the word Dalit is an embarrassment as, according to them, it is a morally offensive reminder of a humiliating past. The MIB, through its recent advice, which has been influenced by some Budhhist petitioners, expects the media to inculcate allegiance to the use of the term Scheduled Caste as one single category. One could, however, take subsidised satisfaction and argue that it was necessary for the Constitution to put different untouchable castes into one coherent category of Scheduled Caste. It is through this coherence of the word that the Constitution sought to ensure distribution of benefits accruing from different protective provisions and welfare policies. But, the state’s attempt to impose one single term on the symbolic and cultural universe of Dalits is both unfair and unwarranted. However, for the state, such an insistence on the use of a single term has a different purpose, which, perhaps, goes beyond the enabling dimension of this term as was visualised in the Constitution. In a differentiated society, the state has a design to impose and inculcate the term Scheduled Caste in a universal manner. Its support for the term by implication seeks to stigmatise the word Dalit and through this it intends to separate out from it both SCs and Buddhists. In fact, such legal moves as the present petition against the word ultimately empower the state to establish its monopoly over the symbolic order of the Dalits. This symbolic order of the Dalits includes their ideological and cultural interaction with each other as also their wider mobilisation around transformative symbols. This was evident in 1978 at the Boat Club in Delhi, where several lakhs of Dalit Panthers had gathered around the demand for renaming Marathwada University after B R Ambedkar. In more recent times, one could see the wider social mobilisation of protestors against the systemic humiliation that led to the tragic death of the scholar Rohith Vemula. It is in this expansive sense, therefore, that the word Dalit is irreducible to the term Scheduled Caste. More Social media image credit: Wikimedia Commons Updated On : 15th Sep, 2018