The National Labor Relation Board (NLRB) has taken a broad step towards doing away with unions in America that upsets the current collective bargaining and union recognition system. Employers can now announce a pending withdrawal of recognition within 90 days of the contract expiration and withdraw when the collective bargaining agreement ends. The Union then has 45 days to file a petition for a new election. This was a 3-1 decision based on Johnson Control’s Inc. anticipatory withdrawal of recognition to a UAW affiliate that represented 160 of its workers. (NLRB 10-CA-151843 7/3/19) In overturning portions of the 2001 ruling in Levitz Furniture, the NLRB said this ruling protected employee free choice and that it would apply the new framework retroactively. The NLRB is also considering changes to other restrictions on elections to decertify . The new decision allows the employer to cease bargaining with a union and question its majority status 90 days prior to the expiration of a contract and to unilaterally force the union to once again go through an election to prove its majority status in the workplace. This decision completely upends the union representational scheme that has brought labor peace in the workplace.
Many employees will likely loose union representation and power at the bargaining table. On the plus side, the new system will force unions into a more adversary relationship and force those unions who currently do little in the workplace between contracts to become more active in order to actually maintain majority status. But this is clearly an attack on organized labor and reflects the current lack of organization in the workplaces of America. Less than 30 percent of American workers are organized and those that are come largely from the public sector. This lack of organization by labor in the USA is what makes the governmental leaders feel free to take a stab at labor. Our response will determine weather this attack proves fatal.
The Trump administration has turned their
attacks on the Venezuela government into a full fledged embargo. Besides being uncalled for it is going to be no more successful then the embargo on Cuba. What it will do is cause unnecessary death and suffering by the people of Venezuela . The policy is a desperate attempt by the United States to control Venezuelan oil fields in order to ensure a steady supply of oil so that the United States can wage the war against Iraq that is being pushed by the neofascist, John Bolton, who is President Trump’s National Security advisor. Russia’s leader, Putin, famously asked John Bolton if he had removed the olive branches from the American seal. Those who advocate war lingering whether the Bolton’s or Hillary Clinton deserve the dust bins of history.
We must resist the United State’s attempts to dictate to the people of Venezuela . We have appropriated the Venezuela government ownership of Chevron Oil and other assists of their people simply because we desire complete control of their oil and other natural resources and because we refuse to let stand any government that serves its people better than we do. This is an economic and political war by United States corporate interests against the poor who struggle for a better life in their own country. The imperial desires of the United States can not be allowed to stand. Those U.S. corporate interests bring nothing but death and destruction both here and abroad.
How many die in America because we lack national health insurance? People here are dying because insulin that is $30 dollars in Canada is $300 in the United States. An Epipen that costs next ro nothing now sells for hundreds of dollars in America. Corporate interests put profit above human life.
We need to end capitalism with its exploitation at home and its wars for economic hegemony abroad .
Many liberals and even leftists put unwarranted faith in the Mueller investigation which apart from indictments of all the President’s men disappointed on every issue regarding the President and Russian collusion. While I never had faith in Mueller given his history, temperament and and Washington establishment leanings, the reality of hiss whitewash of the President in the face of Trump’s self evident quilt is disturbing.
Apparently see no evil still prevails in Washington despite the fact that the emperor has no clothes. Most of America can see that even if Mueller is blind.
The real reason behind the USA plot to overthrow the Venezuela government is the need for a stable oil supply during the wrong headed Trump administration planned assault on Iran
The long term goal of the Trump administration faction led by John Bolton is Iran but the overriding problem with John Bolton’s plan is the fact that such action would block shipping in the Persian gulf. The straits of Hormous rest on Iranian soil and, if blocked, stop 35 percent of the world’s oil traffic from the gulf including Saudi Arabia and all gulf nations.
The problem facing John Bolton and the Trump administration is in finding a reliable replacement for the loss of Arabian oil during an future war against Iran. The solution would appear to be Venezuela. However, U.S. relations with Venezuela are not amicable. Further, Venezuela just signed long term contracts to supply its oil to China. Hence American need to overthrow the Venezuela government in order to further Bolton’s plan to attack Iran.
And why attack Iran? Israel views Iran as a potential threat despite US intelligence reports that Iran has complied with US requirements to cease manufacturing refined uranium suitable for bombs. But reality has never clouded the Trump administration views.
The United States tried to engineer a coup in Venezuela Wed., January 23, 2019. Trump was expecting the Venezuela Army to desert the government and support the opposition leader picked by the USA. The United States signaled its desire by recognizing the opposition minority leader as the legitimate ruler and getting several client states to follow suit. Venezuela responded by breaking diplomatic relations with the United States and ordering its diplomats to leave in 72 hours. The United States refused to withdraw the diplomats by saying it does not recognize the authority of the Venezuela government. Trump, who has a history of advocating military intervention in Venezuela, may now use the claim that the safety of United States diplomats are endangered in Venezuela as an excuse for military intervention to overthrow the government in Venezuela.
Such intervention would surely trigger opposition in the rest of Latin America and the world at large. We are very close to a return to gunboat diplomacy with all the evils that entails to self determination and democracy for the people of Latin America.
The Trump administration has withdrawn recognition of the elected Venezuela government prompting Venezuela to issue an order expelling American diplomats giving 72 hours to leave. Trump refuses to withdraw diplomats thereby setting stage for a military overthrow of the government in Venezuela under the guise of protecting diplomats illegally in Venezuela.
Sabre rattlingly by the USA will inevitably lead to military conflict.
Earlier, the Trump administration said it recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s interim president.
Maduro says U.S. diplomatic personnel have 72 hours to leave the country. The U.S. State Department said it would not comply with that order.
Published 22 January 2019 (20 hours 33 minutes ago)
While the so-called Lima Group and the U.S. refused to recognize Maduro’s new mandate, many progressive governments and international organizations have shown support and solidarity to Maduro.
Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez Tuesday said U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was “openly calling for a coup d’état in Venezuela ” after Pence issued a video message of support to the Venezuelan opposition to encourage those who are protesting against President Nicolas Maduro and underline U.S. backing for opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido, the self-appointed head of the suspended National Assembly.
The Venezuelan VP’s statement followed an earlier message from Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez who said Pence was, “promoting instability and violence in Venezuela.”
“Because Mr. Pence doesn’t have a job, now he wants to come and run Venezuela, handing out instructions on what should happen in Venezuela tomorrow,” Rodriguez said in a press in a short statement following Pence’s interventionist message. “Openly calling for a coup d’état in Venezuela. I will say it like the Venezuelan people would say it to you, ‘Yankee, go home.’ We’re not going to allow you to intrude on issues of the country of Bolivar and the country of Hugo Chavez.”
Venezuela’s opposition on Wednesday plans to hold marches nationwide as part of an annual event that marks the fall of a military government in 1958.
In a taped video message in English with a few Spanish words and phrases mixed in, Pence, who has lashed out at Maduro before, declared him a “dictator” who has no rightful claim to power.
Pence declared U.S. support again for Guaido, with whom he spoke by phone earlier this month, and the suspended National Assembly, which he leads, as the “last vestige of democracy.” Pence said Washington supported Guaido’s decision to assert the body’s powers, declare Maduro a “usurper” and push for a transitional government to be established.
The decision by the suspended National Assembly to appoint Guaido as the head of the body was invalidated by the country’s Supreme Court because the body itself has been in contempt of court since 2016.
On Jan. 11, 2016, the Supreme Court of Justice declared the National Assembly in contempt of court for swearing in three deputies from the self-appointed Unity Roundtable (MUD) elected by the state of Amazonas in December 2015. The three Indigenous legislators should have been temporarily suspended because of voting irregularities in that region, but instead took possession of their seats on July 28.
The contempt of court is maintained to this day because the new board of the assembly refuses to accept the judgments of the top court.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was inaugurated for a second term in office on Jan. 10 and his term would last until 2025. His new term comes amid continuing economic war against the country and its people using harsh economic sanctions led by the United States in an effort to oust Maduro and his progressive government.
While the so-called Lima Group, the United States and other right-wing governments refused to recognize Maduro’s new mandate, many progressive governments and international organizations have shown support and solidarity to Maduro. It is a critical moment for the region and the world amid a rise in right-wing politics and governments such as that of far-right Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil.
LONDON — As the upstart voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica prepared to wade into the 2014 American midterm elections, it had a problem.
The firm had secured a $15 million investment fromRobert Mercer, the wealthy Republican donor, and wooed his political adviser, Stephen K. Bannon, with the promise of tools that could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior. But it did not have the data to make its new products work.
So the firm harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission, according to former Cambridge employees, associates and documents, making it one of the largest data leaks in the social network’s history. The breach allowed the company to exploit the private social media activity of a huge swath of the American electorate, developing techniques that underpinned its work on President Trump’s campaign in 2016.
An examination by The New York Times and The Observer of London reveals how Cambridge Analytica’s drive to bring to market a potentially powerful new weapon put the firm — and wealthy conservative investors seeking to reshape politics — under scrutiny from investigators and lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Christopher Wylie, who helped found Cambridge and worked there until late 2014, said of its leaders: “Rules don’t matter for them. For them, this is a war, and it’s all fair.”
“They want to fight a culture war in America,” he added. “Cambridge Analytica was supposed to be the arsenal of weapons to fight that culture war.”
Details of Cambridge’sacquisitionand use of Facebookdatahave surfaced in several accounts since the business began working on the 2016 campaign, setting offa furious debateabout the merits of the firm’s so-called psychographic modeling techniques.
But the full scale of the data leak involving Americans has not been previously disclosed — and Facebook, until now, has not acknowledged it. Interviews with a half-dozen former employees and contractors, and a review of the firm’s emails and documents, have revealed that Cambridge not only relied on the private Facebook data but still possesses most or all of the trove.
Cambridge paid to acquire the personal information through an outside researcher who, Facebook says, claimed to be collecting it for academic purposes.
During a week of inquiries from The Times, Facebook downplayed the scope of the leak and questioned whether any of the data still remained out of its control. But on Friday, the companyposted a statementexpressing alarm and promising to take action.
“This was a scam — and a fraud,” Paul Grewal, a vice president and deputy general counsel at the social network, said in a statement to The Times earlier on Friday. He added that the company was suspending Cambridge Analytica, Mr. Wylie and the researcher, Aleksandr Kogan, a Russian-American academic, from Facebook. “We will take whatever steps are required to see that the data in question is deleted once and for all — and take action against all offending parties,” Mr. Grewal said.
Alexander Nix, the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, and other officials had repeatedly denied obtaining or using Facebook data, most recently during a parliamentary hearing last month. But in a statement to The Times, the company acknowledged that it had acquired the data, though it blamed Mr. Kogan for violating Facebook’s rules and said it had deleted the information as soon as it learned of the problem two years ago.
In Britain, Cambridge Analytica is facing intertwined investigations by Parliament and government regulators, who are scrutinizing possible data privacy violations and allegations that it performed illegal work on the “Brexit” campaign. In the United States, Mr. Mercer’s daughter, Rebekah, a board member, Mr. Bannon and Mr. Nix received warnings from their lawyer that it was illegal to employ foreigners in political campaigns, according to company documents and former employees.
Congressional investigators have questioned Mr. Nix about the company’s role in the Trump campaign. And the Justice Department’s special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, hasdemandedthe emails of Cambridge Analytica employees who worked for the Trump team as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the election.
While the substance of Mr. Mueller’s interest is a closely guarded secret, documents viewed by The Times indicate that the firm’s British affiliate claims to have worked in Russia and Ukraine. And the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange,disclosed in Octoberthat Mr. Nix had reached out to him during the campaign in hopes of obtaining private emails belonging to Mr. Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
The documents also raise new questions about Facebook, which is already grappling with intense criticism over the spread of Russian propaganda and fake news. The data Cambridge collected from profiles, a portion of which was viewed by The Times, included details on users’ identities, friend networks and “likes.”
“Protecting people’s information is at the heart of everything we do,” Mr. Grewal said. “No systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked.”
Still, he added, “it’s a serious abuse of our rules.”
Reading Voters’ Minds
The Bordeaux flowed freely as Mr. Nix and several colleagues sat down for dinner at the Palace Hotel in Manhattan in late 2013, Mr. Wylie recalled in an interview. They had much to celebrate.
Mr. Nix, a brash salesman, led the small elections division at SCL Group, a political and defense contractor. He had spent much of the year trying to break into the lucrative new world of political data, recruiting Mr. Wylie, then a 24-year-old political operative with ties to veterans of President Obama’s campaigns. Mr. Wylie was interested in using inherent psychological traits to affect voters’ behavior and had assembled a team of psychologists and data scientists, some of them affiliated with Cambridge University.
The group experimented abroad, including in the Caribbean and Africa, where privacy rules were lax or nonexistent and politicians employing SCL were happy to provide government-held data, former employees said.
Then a chance meeting bought Mr. Nix into contact with Mr. Bannon, the Breitbart News firebrand who would later become a Trump campaign and White House adviser, and with Mr. Mercer,one of the richest men on earth.
Mr. Nix and his colleagues courted Mr. Mercer, who believed a sophisticated data company could make him a kingmaker in Republican politics, and his daughter Rebekah, who shared his conservative views. Mr. Bannon was intrigued by the possibility of using personality profiling to shift America’s culture and rewire its politics, recalled Mr. Wylie and other former employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they had signed nondisclosure agreements. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Bannon declined to comment.
Mr. Mercer agreed to help finance a $1.5 million pilot project to poll voters and test psychographic messaging in Virginia’s gubernatorial race in November 2013, where the Republican attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, ran against Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic fund-raiser. Though Mr. Cuccinelli lost, Mr. Mercer committed to moving forward.
The Mercers wanted results quickly, and more business beckoned. In early 2014, the investor Toby Neugebauer and other wealthy conservatives were preparing to put tens of millions of dollars behind a presidential campaign for Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, work that Mr. Nix was eager to win.
When Mr. Wylie’s colleagues failed to produce a memo explaining their work to Mr. Neugebauer, Mr. Nix castigated them over email.
“ITS 2 PAGES!! 4 hours work max (or an hour each). What have you all been doing??” he wrote.
Mr. Wylie’s team had a bigger problem. Building psychographic profiles on a national scale required data the company could not gather without huge expense. Traditional analytics firms used voting records and consumer purchase histories to try to predict political beliefs and voting behavior.
But those kinds of records were useless for figuring out whether a particular voter was, say, a neurotic introvert, a religious extrovert, a fair-minded liberal or a fan of the occult. Those were among the psychological traits the firm claimed would provide a uniquely powerful means of designing political messages.
Mr. Wylie found a solution at Cambridge University’s Psychometrics Centre. Researchers there had developed a technique to map personality traits based on what people had liked on Facebook. The researchers paid users small sums to take a personality quiz and download an app, which would scrape some private information from the their profiles and those of their friends, activity that Facebook permitted at the time. The approach, the scientists said, could reveal more about a person than their parents or romantic partners knew — a claim that has been disputed.
When the Psychometrics Centre declined to work with the firm, Mr. Wylie found someone who would: Dr. Kogan, who was then a psychology professor at the university and knew of the techniques. Dr. Kogan built his own app and in June 2014 began harvesting data for Cambridge Analytica. The business covered the costs — more than $800,000 — and allowed him to keep a copy for his own research, according to company emails and financial records.
All he divulged to Facebook, and to users in fine print, was that he was collecting information for academic purposes, the social network said. It did not verify his claim. Dr. Kogan declined to provide details of what happened, citing nondisclosure agreements with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, though he maintained that his program was “a very standard vanilla Facebook app.”
He ultimately provided over 50 million raw profiles to the firm, Mr. Wylie said, a number confirmed by a company email and a former colleague. Of those, roughly 30 million contained enough information, including places of residence, that the company could match users to other records and build psychographic profiles. Only about 270,000 users — those who participated in the survey — had consented to having their data harvested.
Mr. Wylie said the Facebook data was “the saving grace” that let his team deliver the models it had promised the Mercers.
“We wanted as much as we could get,” he acknowledged. “Where it came from, who said we could have it — we weren’t really asking.”
Mr. Nix tells a different story. Appearing before a parliamentary committee last month, he described Dr. Kogan’s contributions as “fruitless.”
An International Effort
Just as Dr. Kogan’s efforts were getting underway, Mr. Mercer agreed to invest $15 million in a joint venture with SCL’s elections division. The partners devised a convoluted corporate structure, forming a new American company, owned almost entirely by Mr. Mercer, with a license to the psychographics platform developed by Mr. Wylie’s team, according to company documents. Mr. Bannon, who became a board member and investor, chose the name: Cambridge Analytica.
The firm was effectively a shell. According to the documents and former employees, any contracts won by Cambridge, originally incorporated in Delaware, would be serviced by London-based SCL and overseen by Mr. Nix, a British citizen who held dual appointments at Cambridge Analytica and SCL. Most SCL employees and contractors were Canadian, like Mr. Wylie, or European.
But in July 2014, an American election lawyer advising the company, Laurence Levy, warned that the arrangement could violate laws limiting the involvement of foreign nationals in American elections.
In a memo to Mr. Bannon, Ms. Mercer and Mr. Nix, the lawyer, then at the firm Bracewell & Giuliani, warned that Mr. Nix would have to recuse himself “from substantive management” of any clients involved in United States elections. The data firm would also have to find American citizens or green card holders, Mr. Levy wrote, “to manage the work and decision making functions, relative to campaign messaging and expenditures.”
In summer and fall 2014, Cambridge Analytica dived into the American midterm elections, mobilizing SCL contractors and employees around the country. Few Americans were involved in the work, which included polling, focus groups and message development for the John Bolton Super PAC, conservative groups in Colorado and the campaign of Senator Thom Tillis, the North Carolina Republican.
Cambridge Analytica, in its statement to The Times, said that all “personnel in strategic roles were U.S. nationals or green card holders.” Mr. Nix “never had any strategic or operational role” in an American election campaign, the company said.
Whether the company’s American ventures violated election laws would depend on foreign employees’ roles in each campaign, and on whether their work counted as strategic advice under Federal Election Commission rules.
Cambridge Analytica appears to have exhibited a similar pattern in the 2016 election cycle, when the company worked for the campaigns of Mr. Cruz and then Mr. Trump. While Cambridge hired more Americans to work on the races that year, most of its data scientists were citizens of the United Kingdom or other European countries, according to two former employees.
Under the guidance of Brad Parscale, Mr. Trump’s digital director in 2016 and now the campaign manager for his 2020 re-election effort, Cambridge performed a variety of services, former campaign officials said. That included designing target audiences for digital ads and fund-raising appeals, modeling voter turnout, buying $5 million in television ads and determining where Mr. Trump should travel to best drum up support.
Cambridge executives have offered conflicting accounts about the use of psychographic data on the campaign. Mr. Nix has said that the firm’s profiles helped shape Mr. Trump’s strategy — statements disputed by other campaign officials — but also that Cambridge did not have enough time to comprehensively model Trump voters.
In a BBC interview last December, Mr. Nix said that the Trump efforts drew on “legacy psychographics” built for the Cruz campaign.
After the Leak
By early 2015, Mr. Wylie and more than half his original team of about a dozen people had left the company. Most were liberal-leaning, and had grown disenchanted with working on behalf of the hard-right candidates the Mercer family favored.
Cambridge Analytica, in its statement, said that Mr. Wylie had left to start a rival firm, and that it later took legal action against him to enforce intellectual property claims. It characterized Mr. Wylie and other former “contractors” as engaging in “what is clearly a malicious attempt to hurt the company.”
Near the end of that year, a report in The Guardianrevealedthat Cambridge Analytica was using private Facebook data on the Cruz campaign, sending Facebook scrambling. In a statement at the time, Facebook promised that it was “carefully investigating this situation” and would require any company misusing its data to destroy it.
Facebook verified the leak and — without publicly acknowledging it — sought to secure the information, efforts that continued as recently as August 2016. That month, lawyers for the social network reached out to Cambridge Analytica contractors. “This data was obtained and used without permission,” said a letter that was obtained by the Times. “It cannot be used legitimately in the future and must be deleted immediately.”
Mr. Grewal, the Facebook deputy general counsel, said in a statement that both Dr. Kogan and “SCL Group and Cambridge Analytica certified to us that they destroyed the data in question.”
But copies of the data still remain beyond Facebook’s control. The Times viewed a set of raw data from the profiles Cambridge Analytica obtained.
While Mr. Nix has told lawmakers that the company does not have Facebook data, a former employee said that he had recently seen hundreds of gigabytes on Cambridge servers, and that the files were not encrypted.
Today, as Cambridge Analytica seeks to expand its business in the United States and overseas, Mr. Nix has mentioned some questionable practices. This January, in undercover footage filmed by Channel 4 News in Britain and viewed by The Times, he boasted of employing front companies and former spies on behalf of political clients around the world, and even suggested ways to entrap politicians in compromising situations.
All the scrutiny appears to have damaged Cambridge Analytica’s political business. No American campaigns or “super PACs” have yet reported paying the company for work in the 2018 midterms, and it is unclear whether Cambridge will be asked to join Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign.
In the meantime, Mr. Nix is seeking to take psychographics to the commercial advertising market. He has repositioned himself as a guru for the digital ad age — a “Math Man,” heputs it. In the United States last year, a former employee said, Cambridge pitched Mercedes-Benz, MetLife and the brewer AB InBev, but has not signed them on.
Matthew Rosenberg, Nicholas Confessore and Carole Cadwalladr reported from London. Gabriel J.X. Dance contributed reporting from London, and Danny Hakim from New York.