While political campaigns ostensibly center on the policy differences between candidates, years of research have shown people are often ultimately swayed by elusive feelings: attraction, anger, fear. 

But as Germany nears its most unpredictable election in years on September 26, millions of Germans are seeking to bypass such sentiments by using a digital survey: the Wahl-O-Mat

The Wahl-O-Mat — or Vote-O-Mat — is designed to strip away abstract emotions and guide voters to their candidates based solely on tangible policy preferences. Using a series of statements, the government-funded website matches voters with ideologically aligned candidates. Essentially, it eschews “Who would you rather have a beer with?” for “There should be a general speed limit on all Autobahnen: agree, neutral, disagree.”

While similar tools exist in other countries, Wahl-O-Mat has become a household name in Germany. Leading up to the country’s last federal election in 2017, the Wahl-O-Mat was used nearly 16 million times — about once for every four eligible voters. At that scale, it’s no exaggeration to say the site could potentially influence the course of an election. 

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President Biden moved to end the war in Afghanistan, but the proceedings against the remaining war-on-terror detainees, including the 911 suspects, drag on.

YOU COULD use a single word as a proxy. “Latinx” is a gender-neutral adjective which only 4% of American Hispanics say they prefer. Yet in 2018 the New York Times launched a column dedicated to “LatinX communities”. It has crept into White House press releases and a presidential speech. Google’s diversity reports use the even more inclusive “LatinX+”. A term once championed by esoteric academics has gone mainstream…

On New Years Eve, just minutes before the dawn of 1992, the Soviet flag was lowered from the Kremlin for the last time.
Arguably the Cold War had been over for a few years already. Glasnost and perestroika had defanged the thorny grip of the KGB and made Soviet citizens less afraid of their own government. Summits - first with Ronald Reagan and later with George HW Bush - started both the Soviet Union and the United States down the path to massive nuclear disarmament. The Soviets started pulling troops out of Central Europe in 1989. In 1990 Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev blessed the American military effort to eject Soviet-backed Iraq from Kuwait. In 1991 constituent members of the USSR seceded - peacefully - from the Union.  
But flags matter. And the real date it was all over - truly over - was December 31, 1991.
In America the Cold War’s end was met with a bit of a jubilant shrug. We went on with our day.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wasn’t allowed to visit the city of Wuhan, China, or the Wuhan Institute of Virology in early 2020. We’ve been trying to find out why ever since. Had we encountered transparency rather than stonewalling, it wouldn’t have been necessary to put together the circumstantial pieces of the puzzle on our own.

Military officers like me thought we were building a capable Afghan security force. What did we get wrong? Plenty.

Myanmar has been under the thumb of army generals since the military coup there in February. But even before the coup, nearly 3 million Burmese were facing hunger.

Now, the United Nations World Food Program estimates that that number could more than double by October. To make matters worse, COVID-19 is spreading alarmingly fast there.

DESPITE THE REDACTIONS, the pseudonyms, and the thousands of unreleased pages, the Senate intelligence committee’s report into post-911 CIA torture – that is, the executive summary available to the public – is the most robust oversight ever conducted of any part of the War on Terror. The committee typically defends the agencies and activities it nominally oversees; remarkably, the torture investigation revealed the gruesome realities inside the CIA’s black sites. It demonstrated, with precision and rigor, how the CIA constructed a Big Lie, called “Enhanced Interrogation,” around its barbarism. 

But the committee’s lead investigator says that he could only investigate two of the three components of the torture program. The third is lost to history. 

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IN LATE MAY a throng of a hundred or so young men, most of them from African or Middle Eastern minorities, started fighting in a square in Hjallbo, a suburb of Gothenburg, Sweden’s second city. Members of rival gangs seem to have started the scrap over the theft of a moped. Two days later a man in a nearby grocery shop was shot in the back of the head, thought to be as an act of revenge for the gangland battle. Then a policeman in Biskopsgarden, another suburb of the city, was shot dead. A few days after that a man was murdered in a barber’s shop in Frolunda, yet another suburb. To add to this litany of recent criminal violence, two young children were lucky to survive last week after being caught in the crossfire of yet another gang shoot-out, this time in Visattra, on the edge of Stockholm, the capital.

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Last month, a key witness against Julian Assange admitted that his testimony was false. It’s further proof that this case has little to do with justice – but is a persecution designed to silence critical journalists.

Revelations about the use of spying tools sold to governments by NSO Group sparked furious political rows across the world on Monday after evidence emerged to suggest the surveillance firm’s clients may have sought to target their political opponents.

Amid growing concern over the apparent abuse of NSO’s powerful phone-hacking spyware, Pegasus, Amazon confirmed it already had cut some of its ties to the Israeli surveillance company. The stock price of Apple dipped amid worries about the privacy and security of its handsets.

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Foreign video bloggers denouncing what they say is negative coverage of China on highly controversial subjects such as Xinjiang are attracting large numbers of subscribers on platforms like YouTube.

In recent years, the “vloggers” have been increasingly presenting themselves as China-lovers, spreading Communist Party disinformation.

YouTube labels Chinese state media like broadcaster CGTN as government-funded. But there is little policing when it comes to individuals promoting similar narratives.

Some vloggers are suspected of co-operating with state-owned outlets to spread China’s rhetoric to the world. But it’s far from clear what really motivates them, or how effective this strategy is.

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The unprecedented global challenges that the United States faces today—climate change, pandemics, nuclear proliferation, massive economic inequality, terrorism, corruption, authoritarianism—are shared global challenges. They cannot be solved by any one country acting alone. They require increased international cooperation—including with China, the most populous country on earth.

It is distressing and dangerous, therefore, that a fast-growing consensus is emerging in Washington that views the U.S.-Chinese relationship as a zero-sum economic and military struggle. The prevalence of this view will create a political environment in which the cooperation that the world desperately needs will be increasingly difficult to achieve.

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From the historic heat wave tearing through the Pacific Northwest to temperatures “too hot for humanity” in Pakistan, the consequences of climate change are no longer a far-off threat — they’re here right now.

Worries are increasing that China may invade Taiwan, amid a combination of Chinese military saber-rattling and US military warnings that the PRC’s timeline for “reunification” has moved up and may happen any time within the next few years.

Most coverage of a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan focuses on the area as a potential flashpoint for a US vs. China war, but I haven’t found any detailed coverage of what such an invasion would mean in practical terms beyond generic talk of nuclear escalation risks and widespread damage to the global economy.

In an effort to think through the impact of such an event on the technology sector, along with potential ripple effects elsewhere in the global supply chain, I talked to David Kanter, Executive Director of ML Commons. David’s an old friend of mine who’s spent many years covering semiconductors as an analyst and journalist, and he helped me update my slightly out-of-date semi knowledge and better understand how the current market is structured.

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The Lebanese want the EU to sanction political leaders they say are responsible for the country’s crisis. Some EU nations are in favor, but experts warn sanctions could be dangerous.


Discuss political theory and history.

Created on Sep 15, 2020
By @gurlic