The Iraq War started 14 years ago this month, and it is showing no signs of letting up. Since President Trump took office, the U.S. military has expanded its aerial bombing campaign targeting areas held by the Islamic State. The Air Force Times is reporting U.S.-backed military aircraft have dropped over 2,000 bombs on the ISIS-held city of Mosul so far this month. According to Airwars, almost 1,500 civilians have reportedly been killed in U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria this month alone. On March 17, a U.S. airstrike in Mosul reportedly killed up to 200 civilians. Meanwhile, Amnesty International is reporting that hundreds of Iraqi civilians have been killed by U.S.-led airstrikes inside their homes or in places where they sought refuge following Iraqi government advice not to leave during the offensive to recapture the city of Mosul. We speak to Donatella Rovera, senior crisis response adviser at Amnesty International.
Today’s commemoration of Land Day is an emblematic reminder of the countless human rights violations that have characterised half a century of Palestinian land confiscation and dispossession.
During the first Land Day in 1976 Palestinian citizens of Israel protested against the Israeli government’s expropriation of 2,000 hectares of land surrounding Palestinian villages in the Galilee. Six Palestinians were killed and more than 100 were injured when Israeli forces crushed the protests.
Every year since, Palestinian communities in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) have gathered on March 30 to commemorate these events to highlight Israel’s ongoing seizure of Palestinian land, and to reaffirm their connection to the land.
This year’s Land Day will be marked with a march between Deir Hana and Sakhnin in northern Israel, as well as demonstrations and events across central Israel and the Negev/Naqab region, and in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. The protests are often met with brutal and excessive use of force by Israel.
IN 2014, TRACES of an unusual survey, connected to Facebook, began appearing on internet message boards. The boards were frequented by remote freelance workers who bid on “human intelligence tasks” in an online marketplace, called Mechanical Turk, controlled by Amazon. The “turkers,” as they’re known, tend to perform work that is rote and repetitive, like flagging pornographic images or digging through search engine results for email addresses. Most jobs pay between 1 and 15 cents. “Turking makes us our rent money and helps pay off debt,” one turker told The Intercept. Another turker has called the work “voluntarily slave labor.”
The task posted by “Global Science Research” appeared ordinary, at least on the surface. The company offered turkers $1 or $2 to complete an online survey. But there were a couple of additional requirements as well. First, Global Science Research was only interested in American turkers. Second, the turkers had to download a Facebook app before they could collect payment. Global Science Research said the app would “download some information about you and your network … basic demographics and likes of categories, places, famous people, etc. from you and your friends.”
“Our terms of service clearly prohibit misuse,” said a spokesperson for Amazon Web Services, by email. “When we learned of this activity back in 2015, we suspended the requester for violating our terms of service.”
Although Facebook’s early growth was driven by closed, exclusive networks at college and universities, it has gradually herded users to agree to increasingly permissive terms of service. By 2014, anything a user’s friends could see was also potentially visible to the developers of any app that they chose to download. Some of the turkers noticed that the Global Science Research app appeared to be taking advantage of Facebook’s porousness. “Someone can learn everything about you by looking at hundreds of pics, messages, friends, and likes,” warned one, writing on a message board. “More than you realize.” Others were more blasé. “I don’t put any info on FB,” one wrote. “Not even my real name … it’s backwards that people put sooo much info on Facebook, and then complain when their privacy is violated.”
In late 2015, the turkers began reporting that the Global Science Research survey had abruptly shut down. The Guardian had published a report that exposed exactly who the turkers were working for. Their data was being collected by Aleksandr Kogan, a young lecturer at Cambridge University. Kogan founded Global Science Research in 2014, after the university’s psychology department refused to allow him to use its own pool of data for commercial purposes. The data collection that Kogan undertook independent of the university was done on behalf of a military contractor called Strategic Communication Laboratories, or SCL. The company’s election division claims to use “data-driven messaging” as part of “delivering electoral success.”
SCL has a growing U.S. spin-off, called Cambridge Analytica, which was paid millions of dollars by Donald Trump’s campaign. Much of the money came from committees funded by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, who reportedly has a large stake in Cambridge Analytica. For a time, one of Cambridge Analytica’s officers was Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s senior adviser. Months after Bannon claimed to have severed ties with the company, checks from the Trump campaign for Cambridge Analytica’s services continued to show up at one of Bannon’s addresses in Los Angeles.
“You can say Mr. Mercer declined to comment,” said Jonathan Gasthalter, a spokesperson for Robert Mercer, by email.
The White House refused to say on Thursday whether it gave Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House intelligence committee, access to highly classified materials.
But it invited a bipartisan group from the panel to view information it says relates to surveillance of Donald Trump’s associates.
The New York Times reported that two White House officials – including an intelligence aide whose job was recently saved by Trump – helped Nunes view intelligence. Nunes is chair of the House intelligence panel, which is investigating Russian ties to the 2016 election and possible Trump campaign connections to Russia.
The committee’s work has been deeply, and perhaps irreparably, undermined by Nunes’s apparent coordination with the White House. He told reporters last week that he had seen troubling information about the improper distribution of Trump associates’ intercepted communications, and he briefed the president on the material, all before informing his Democratic counterpart on the House committee.
Relationship norms are so pervasive that they’ve led to flawed science.
As someone who identifies as poly, I’ve often experienced negativity from those who don’t think outside of how their relationships function. At times, this judgment has come from those close to me. “You’re just slutty” or “Your man is OK with that, really?” are words I’ve heard over and over, not to mention those who’ve tried to rat me out to my primary partner for what they construe as “cheating.”
Because of these kinds of reactions to who I am, I’ve always kind of known that our society isn’t built for people like me. And, according to newly released research, it turns out that the norm of monogamy is so pervasive it extends past the realm of our social interactions and into to the field of science.