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Got The Algorithm, Will Win The Elections! - Google Search
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Got The Algorithm, Will Win The Elections! - Google Search
Got The Algorithm, Will Win The Elections! - Google Search
Got The Algorithm, Will Win The Elections! - Google Search
Expect mischief as algorithms proliferate
Got The Algorithm, Will Win The Elections! - Google Search
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Expect mischief as algorithms proliferate

Michael_Novakhov shared this story .

If you do not like the price you’re being offered when you shop, do not take it personally: many of the prices we see online are being set by algorithms that respond to demand and may also try to guess your personal willingness to pay.
What’s next? A logical next step is that computers will start conspiring against us. That may sound paranoid, but a new study by four economists at the University of Bologna shows how this can happen. The researchers allowed two simple artificial intelligence algorithms to compete against each other in a setting where they simultaneously set prices and reaped profits accordingly. The algorithms taught themselves to collude, raising prices from the cut-throat competitive level towards what a monopolist would choose. Price cuts were met with price wars, after which collusion would return. Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean the computers are not out to get you.
This is not a surprising result for anyone who — like me — squandered their youth studying the theory of industrial competition. Robert Axelrod’s book The Evolution of Cooperation, published in 1984, described a tournament in which computers played a “prisoner’s dilemma”, a scenario analogous to two competing sellers. The best approaches used the threat of punishment to sustain co-operation. They were also simple: not something that a machine-learning system would struggle to discover.
An obvious question is, who — if anyone — should be prosecuted for price fixing when the bots work out how to do it without being told to do so, and without communicating with each other? In the US, where the Federal Trade Commission has been pondering the prospect, the answer seems to be no one, because only explicit collusive agreements are illegal. The bots would only be abetting a crime if they started scheming together. Tacit collusion, apparently, would be fine.
This is a reminder that algorithms can misbehave in all kinds of intriguing ways. None of us can quite shake the image of a Skynet scenario, in which an AI triggers a nuclear war and then uses Arnold Schwarzenegger as the model for a time-travelling robot assassin on a mission to suppress human resistance. At least that strategy is refreshingly direct. The true scope of algorithmic mischief is much subtler and much wider.
We are rightly concerned about algorithms that practice racial or sexual discrimination, by accident or design. I am struck by how quickly tales of racist algorithms have gone from novelty to cliché. The stories may fade but the issue is not going away.
Algorithms that simply magnify human errors now appear almost quaint. In 2012, the Financial Times had a headline, “Knight Capital glitch loss hits $461m”; those were innocent times. Then there were those T-shirts selling on Amazon a few years ago, offering offensive slogans such as “Keep Calm and Hit Her”, and bizarre ones such as “Keep Calm and Skim Me”. Hundreds of thousands of slogans were assembled by an algorithm and, if any appealed, the vendor would print them on demand.
“We didn’t do it, it was the algorithm,” was a weak defence in 2013, but at least it was novel. That is no longer true.
We are also realising that the algorithms can amplify other human weaknesses — witness recommendation engines on YouTube and Facebook that seem to amplify disinformation or lead people down the dark tunnels of conspiracy thinking or self-harm.
By no means are all malevolent programs an accident; some are designed with mischief in mind. Bots can be used to generate or spread misinformation. Jamie Bartlett, author of The Dark Netwarns of a future of ultra-personalised propaganda. It is one thing when your internet-enabled fridge knows you’re hungry and orders yoghurt. It’s another when the fridge starts playing you hard-right adverts because they work best when you’re grumpy and low on blood sugar. And unless we radically improve both our electoral laws and our digital systemsnobody need ever know that a particular message was whispered in your ear as you searched for cookies.
Obviously, both the law and regulators must be nimble. But ponder, too, the challenges for corporate public relations and social responsibility departments. The latter is about being a good corporate citizen; PR is about seeming to be so. But who takes corporate responsibility for a harmful or tasteless decision made by an algorithm?
It is not an entirely new problem. Before there was tacit collusion between algorithms, there was tacit collusion between sales directors. Before companies blamed rogue algorithms for embarrassing episodes, they could blame rogue employees, or their suppliers. Can we really blame the bank whose cleaning subcontractor underpays the cleaning staff? Or the sportswear brand opposed to sweatshop conditions, whose suppliers quietly hire children and pay them pennies?
The natural answer is: we can and we do, but subcontracting is a source of both deniability and complexity. Subcontracting to algorithms complicates matters, too. But we are going to have to figure it out.
tim.harford@ft.com
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Can algorithms steal elections? | ERC: European Research Council

Michael_Novakhov shared this story .

"The majority of young people these days get their political news over the social media," says Phil Howard, Professor of Internet Studies and ERC grantee at the Oxford Internet Institute. "It's very difficult to grow up without developing so political opinion that has been shaped by the content you see from your friends and family over a social network platform."
Social media offer a medium where everyone can express and distribute their views, changing the way we share and absorb information.
Computational propaganda and fake news from European Research Council on Vimeo.
But for all the benefits these platforms bring, they do have their drawbacks. Professor Howard, who leads an ERC-funded research project on computation propaganda, studies how politicians manipulate people on internet. His team, consisting of IT experts and social scientists, specialises in the processes of using algorithms to deliver messages to large numbers of people over social media.
Algorithms and fake news go hand in hand
Hoaxes and misinformation cause harm because of the automatic distribution by social media bots. Automated political bots, unlike human beings, are able to disseminate information and opinions throughout the day quickly, strategically and without rest. They can influence public opinion and drive political agenda. "Algorithms and fake news go hand in hand," says Prof. Howard.
The team at Oxford Internet Institute has monitored three major votes in the UK, US and France and collected data from the weeks leading up to them. In a recently published paper they showed for example that French voters share less fake news than voters in the US or Germany.
The consequences of online misinformation are serious and spill over also outside politics, according to Professor Howard. For instance, the number of people who think climate change may not be so real is increasing, as the number of people who are not sure that tobacco causes cancer, explains Howard.
"In part this is because of very effective social media campaigns that erode the contributions of science. There are very important public health issues that are being impacted by the combination of fake news and social media."
In April 2017, Professor Howard received a top-up funding from the ERC through a Proof of Concept grant. Using the data his team has collected over the last few years, Howard's next project is to design an online tool that would allow social media users to evaluate the authenticity of suspicious social media accounts.
How Jair Bolsonaro is using WhatsApp to win Brazil's election

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With just two days to go before the run-off vote on Sunday, Jair Bolsonaro is poised to win Brazil’s WhatsApp election. The far-right candidate, who is perceived by many to openly long for the return of military dictatorship, has been leading by double digits in the polls and benefitting from a seemingly spontaneous social media campaign that has overwhelmed the digital operation of his opponent, leftist Fernando Haddad.
Then, on October 18, Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo reported that a campaign to inundate voters with anti-Haddad propaganda, spread via hundreds of millions of automated WhatsApp messages, had been bankrolled by a consortium of businessmen. Undeclared campaign donations are illegal in Brazil, and the federal police are now investigating. WhatsApp has banned thousands of accounts, and although Bolsonaro remains the favorite, Haddad’s accusation that he is running an “industry of lies” has gained traction in recent days.
Brazilians are obsessed with social media. WhatsApp in particular is an indispensable tool—it can be used to schedule a doctor’s appointment, order a pizza, send anonymous tips to the police, and access public services. The app has 120 million users, communicating in groups of up to 256 people. It’s also a peerless platform for spreading misinformation.
“In other social media platforms, there is an algorithm selecting what content goes where. With WhatsApp you usually get content direct from people you know, and therefore you’re going to pay much more attention to the message,” says Mauricio Moura, the founder of market and polling research firm Idea Big Data. He notes the app’s role in the Colombian and Mexican elections—countries where people have similar online habits to Brazilians.
Although Facebook, which is more regulated in Brazil during election campaigns, is also widely used, fake news has flourished primarily on WhatsApp. A Brazilian study selected the 50 most shared political images from 100,000 posts, circulated among 347 public WhatsApp groups. Its stunning conclusion: only 8% of them were fully truthful.
As a result, though Facebook was a dominant source of fake news in the 2016 U.S. election and subsequent elections in Germany and France, WhatsApp (which is owned by Facebook) is the main source of misinformation in Brazil.
“Brazil is the first case of the use of fake news en masse via WhatsApp to influence an election,” says Laura Chincilla, the head of the OAS mission observing Brazil’s elections.
The sheer scale of fake news has been staggering. In one post, Haddad was “revealed” to have written a book defending incest. In another, his running mate, Manuela D’Avila, appeared with photoshopped tattoos of Che Guevara and Lenin. In a bid to dissuade Catholics from voting for Bolsonaro—who counts on an evangelical base of voters—a mocked-up newspaper article claimed that he would change the country’s patron saint.
The study’s authors are pressuring WhatsApp to limit the number of times a message can be forwarded and reduce the size of new chat groups. “These measures should be implemented temporarily during the campaign–it’s like putting a patient in quarantine to control the spread of disease,” says Fabricio Benevenuto, a computer science professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais. The company says this cannot be done in time, although similar steps were taken in India after viral WhatsApp rumors of a child kidnapping prompted mobs to kill dozens of innocent people.
In one online video, Bolsonaro scrolls down a huge list of WhatsApp discussion groups praising his “spontaneous” support. According to Moura, there are 40,000-50,000 groups dedicated to Bolsonaro alone. These are incubators for pro-gun, pro-torture, and anti-abortion memes (and racist, homophobic, and misogynist comments that often originate with the candidate himself).
“Lies are sexy,” says Sergio Ludtke, the executive editor of Comprova, a consortium of 24 Brazilian media outlets created to cross-check information posted on social media, inspired by Harvard University’s First Draft project. The group encourages people to submit tips, via WhatsApp, about false content related to the election. Ludtke acknowledges that it’s hard to fight disinformation, but they are trying to make people doubt what they are receiving online. It’s the responsibility of all of society, he notes.
In one viral video, seen by 2 million people in two days, a statistician “proved” that Bolsonaro could be cheated of outright victory in the first round. The candidate, in a move ripped from Donald Trump’s playbook, has repeatedly warned that the election is rigged.
The Folha article is unlikely to change the eventual outcome, but it did interrupt what had become a virtual procession to the presidency. Several thousand groups have been suspended by WhatsApp (including, temporarily, the candidate’s son, Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro) due to “spam behavior” associated with their profiles.
In August, Eduardo Bolsonaro posed with former Trump aide Steve Bannon and posted the photo on Twitter: “We are certainly in touch to join forces, especially against cultural Marxism.” The candidate himself denies any ties to Trump’s former strategist. “The workers’ party isn’t being harmed by fake news, but by the TRUTH,” he claimed.
Like Trump, Bolsonaro promises to “drain the swamp,” defends family values, and presents himself as the candidate of law and order. And just like the U.S. president, he constantly attacks the press. In a recent Datafolha survey, 61% of his supporters said that they got their information through WhatsApp, whereas only 38% of Haddad’s supporters cited the messaging app as their primary source of news.
The largest backlash, both online and on the streets of Brazil, has come from women organizing around the hashtag #elenao (#nothim). But for much of the electorate, fed up with rising violence, an economy in crisis and decades of endemic corruption, that Bolsonaro represents change is enough. As the candidate of former president Lula da Silva, controversially imprisoned on corruption charges, Haddad is tainted in the eyes of many.
After being stabbed in the stomach at a campaign rally, Bolsonaro could not take part in TV debates in the first round of the election. For a candidate short on concrete legislative proposals, this proved a blessing. “God has just given us another sign that good will triumph over evil,” tweeted his son, after the attack.
Despite being discharged from hospital, Bolsonaro has declined to participate in a debate on TV against Haddad before the vote on Sunday, October 28, confident that he is winning the debate on social media.
Google's Search Algorithm Could Steal the Presidency

Michael_Novakhov shared this story .

Imagine an election—a close one. You’re undecided. So you type the name of one of the candidates into your search engine of choice. (Actually, let’s not be coy here. In most of the world, one search engine dominates; in Europe and North America, it’s Google.) And Google coughs up, in fractions of a second, articles and facts about that candidate. Great! Now you are an informed voter, right? But a study published this week says that the order of those results, the ranking of positive or negative stories on the screen, can have an enormous influence on the way you vote. And if the election is close enough, the effect could be profound enough to change the outcome.
In other words: Google’s ranking algorithm for search results could accidentally steal the presidency. "We estimate, based on win margins in national elections around the world," says Robert Epstein, a psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology and one of the study’s authors, "that Google could determine the outcome of upwards of 25 percent of all national elections."
Epstein’s paper combines a few years’ worth of experiments in which Epstein and his colleague Ronald Robertson gave people access to information about the race for prime minister in Australia in 2010, two years prior, and then let the mock-voters learn about the candidates via a simulated search engine that displayed real articles.
One group saw positive articles about one candidate first; the other saw positive articles about the other candidate. (A control group saw a random assortment.) The result: Whichever side people saw the positive results for, they were more likely to vote for—by more than 48 percent. The team calls that number the "vote manipulation power," or VMP. The effect held—strengthened, even—when the researchers swapped in a single negative story into the number-four and number-three spots. Apparently it made the results seem even more neutral and therefore more trustworthy.
But of course that was all artificial—in the lab. So the researchers packed up and went to India in advance of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, a national campaign with 800 million eligible voters. (Eventually 430 million people voted over the weeks of the actual election.) "I thought this time we’d be lucky if we got 2 or 3 percent, and my gut said we’re gonna get nothing," Epstein says, "because this is an intense, intense election environment." Voters get exposed, heavily, to lots of other information besides a mock search engine result.
The team 2,150 found undecided voters and performed a version of the same experiment. And again, VMP was off the charts. Even taking into account some sloppiness in the data-gathering and a tougher time assessing articles for their positive or negative valence, they got an overall VMP of 24 percent. "In some demographic groups in India we had as high as about 72 percent."
The effect doesn’t have to be enormous to have an enormous effect.
The fact that media, including whatever search and social deliver, can affect decision-making isn’t exactly news. The "Fox News Effect" says that towns that got the conservative-leaning cable channel tended to become more conservative in their voting in the 2000 election. A well-known effect called recency means that people make decisions based on the last thing they heard. Placement on a list also has a known effect. And all that stuff might be too transient to make it all the way to a voting booth, or get swamped by exposure to other media. So in real life VMP is probably much less pronounced.
But the effect doesn’t have to be enormous to have an enormous effect. The Australian election that Epstein and Robertson used in their experiments came down to a margin of less than 1 percent. Half the presidential elections in US history came down to a margin of less than 8 percent. And presidential elections are really 50 separate state-by-state knife fights, with the focus of campaigns not on poll-tested winners or losers but purple “swing states” with razor-thin margins.
So even at an order of magnitude smaller than the experimental effect, VMP could have serious consequences. "Four to 8 percent would get any campaign manager excited," says Brian Keegan, a computational social scientist at Harvard Business School. "At the end of the day, the fact is that in a lot of races it only takes a swing of 3 or 4 percent. If the search engine is one or two percent, that’s still really persuasive."

The Rise of the Machines

It’d be easy to go all 1970s-political-thriller on this research, to assume that presidential campaigns, with their ever-increasing level of technological sophistication, might be able to search-engine-optimize their way to victory. But that’s probably not true. "It would cost a lot of money," says David Shor, a data scientist at Civis Analytics, a Chicago-based consultancy that grew out of the first Obama campaign’s technology group. "Trying to get the media to present something that is favorable to you is a more favorable strategy."
That’s called, in the parlance of political hackery, "free media," and, yes, voters like it. "I think that generally people don’t trust campaigns because they tend to have a low opinion of politicians," Shor says. "They are more receptive to information from institutions for which they have more respect." Plus, in the presidential campaign high season, whoever the Republican and Democratic nominees are will already have high page ranks because they’ll have a huge number of inbound links, one of Google’s key metrics.
Search and social media companies can certainly have a new kind of influence, though. During the 2010 US congressional elections, researchers at Facebook exposed 61 million users to a message exhorting them to vote—it didn’t matter for whom—and found they were able to generate 340,000 extra votes across the board.
But what if—as Harvard Law professor Jonathan Zittrain has proposed—Facebook didn’t push the “vote” message to a random 61 million users? Instead, using the extensive information the social network maintains on all its subscribers, it could hypothetically push specific messaging to supporters or foes of specific legislation or candidates. Facebook could flip an election; Zittrain calls this "digital gerrymandering." And if you think that companies like the social media giants would never do such a thing, consider the way that Google mobilized its users against the Secure Online Privacy Act and PROTECT IP Act, or "SOPA-PIPA."
In their paper, Epstein and Robertson equate digital gerrymandering to what a political operative might call GOTV—Get Out the Vote, the mobilization of activated supporters. It’s a standard campaign move when your base agrees with your positions but isn’t highly motivated—because they feel disenfranchised, let’s say, or have problems getting to polling places. What they call the "search engine manipulation effect," though, works on undecided voters, swing voters. It’s a method of persuasion.
If executives at Google had decided to study the things we’re studying, they could easily have been flipping elections to their liking with no one having any idea.
Robert Epstein
Again, though, it doesn’t require a conspiracy. It’s possible that, as Epstein says, "if executives at Google had decided to study the things we’re studying, they could easily have been flipping elections to their liking with no one having any idea." But simultaneously more likely and more science-fiction-y is the possibility that this—oh, let’s call it "googlemandering," why don’t we?—is happening without any human intervention at all. "These numbers are so large that Google executives are irrelevant to the issue," Epstein says. "If Google’s search algorithm, just through what they call 'organic processes,' ends up favoring one candidate over another, that’s enough. In a country like India, that could send millions of votes to one candidate."
As you’d expect, Google doesn’t think it’s likely their algorithm is stealing elections. "Providing relevant answers has been the cornerstone of Google’s approach to search from the very beginning. It would undermine people’s trust in our results and company if we were to change course," says a Google spokesperson, who would only comment on condition of anonymity. In short, the algorithms Google uses to rank search results are complicated, ever-changing, and bigger than any one person. A regulatory action that, let’s say, forced Google to change the first search result in a list on a given candidate would break the very thing that makes Google great: giving right answers very quickly all the time. (Plus, it might violate the First Amendment.)
The thing is, though, even though it’s tempting to think of algorithms as the very definition of objective, they’re not. "It’s not really possible to have a completely neutral algorithm," says Jonathan Bright, a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute who studies elections. "I don’t think there’s anyone in Google or Facebook or anywhere else who’s trying to tweak an election. But it’s something these organizations have always struggled with." Algorithms reflect the values and worldview of the programmers. That’s what an algorithm is, fundamentally. "Do they want to make a good effort to make sure they influence evenly across Democrats and Republicans? Or do they just let the algorithm take its course?" Bright asks.
That course might be scary, if Epstein is right. Add the possibility of search rank influence to the individualization Google can already do based on your gmail, google docs, and every other way you’ve let the company hook into you…combine that with the feedback loop of popular things getting more inbound links and so getting higher search ranking…and the impact stretches way beyond politics. “You can push knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and behavior among people who are vulnerable any way you want using search rankings,” Epstein says. “Now that we’ve discovered this big effect, how do you kill it?”
The Jewish Comedian Who Went From Playing the President on Ukrainian TV to Running for President of Ukraine – Tablet Magazine

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from Tablet MagazineTablet Magazine.

On New Year’s Eve, Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy confirmed the rumors and proclaimed his candidacy for the presidency of Ukraine. The 40-year-old actor and comedian is of Jewish descent, slim, youthful and possessed of a fantastically growly voice. His announcement roiled the upcoming Ukrainian presidential race and, capitalizing on his popularity among Ukrainians who are used to watching Zelenskiy play the president on television, immediately catapulted the young actor into the top three contenders for the real office.
Zelenskiy’s political comedy, Servant of the People, is somewhat akin to a Ukrainian version of the West Wing. It is a popular fantasia of a nonprofessional politician with a stout heart who is uncorrupted by the system and upholds the righteous values of the people. On the show, Zelenskiy is the morally pure savior figure who arrives from outside the defiled system of mainstream politics to rescue a benighted country from its worst impulses. Servant of the People is filmed mostly in Russian rather than Ukrainian and centers on the character, Vasily Holoborodko. He is a school teacher who is propelled to fame for his populist tirades and whose political campaign is crowd-sourced into reality, thus bringing to power an improbable figure who lives outside of Kiev and takes mass transportation to work. Holoborodko is raspy voiced, eloquent and perpetually perturbed by the nonsense and corruption taking place around him. His venting is the venting of the Ukrainians watching at home.
The writing veers between the clever and the farcical. The honest and graft-immune everyman president often finds himself in absurd situations, which are all the more hilarious if one actively follows Ukrainian politics. The show is propelled forward by an ever accelerating absurdist plotline based on witty riffs off of actual Ukrainian political scandals and schemes.
Holoborodko is presented as being totally immune to the coercion of the trio of oligarchic puppet masters who control Ukraine (these include Jewish puppet masters such as Menchuk who is patterned after the billionaire Viktor Pinchuk and Royzman, a clever composite of Jewish oligarchs Ihor Kolomoyskyi and Vadim Rabinovich). The main antagonist is Mamatov (a parody of the Donetsk born Tatar industrialist Rinat Akhmetov).
As I have written for Tablet before, the real oligarch Kolomoisky is so wickedly funny that he could have gone into comedy himself.
In true postmodernist fashion, it is often difficult to discern where Kolomoisky’s own louche and irreverent worldview begins and the show’s satire ends. Which may be the point.  Zelenskiy’s announcement of his candidacy over Kolomoisky’s television station (1+1) aired immediately before President Poroshenko’s annual New Year’s address, which is typically considered to be the prerogative of sitting heads of state in the post-Soviet world. Zelenskiy’s television company Kvartal 95 is in fact wholly associated with 1+1 and has been a great hit for Kolomoyski’s television holding company.  (Full disclosure: In 2014-15 I myself was the Paris correspondent, and headed up the French division of the now-defunct English language television network Ukraine Today, whose parent company was the 1+1 Media Group. Kolomoyski lost interest in funding the station after being run out of Ukraine by President Poroshenko in 2015 after his ill-advised gambit of having his armed men occupy government buildings at gunpoint.) Zelenskiy argues that the relationship is purely a business one and that no one owns him.
Kolomoyskyi is himself an ironist of the highest caliber and also a bit of a semiprofessional troll, who is known to distract his opponents in business and politics with ribald streams of hectoring humor. As the British-Polish academic Michał Murawski, of University College London, shrewdly pointed out to me: “The entire political message (and political aesthetic) of the show seems quite remarkably consistent with Kolomoyskyi’s own positions and general vibe. Despite two seasons of “nobody’s person” politics-of-sincerity posturing, Holoborodko (or rather Zelenskiy himself) is, in fact, and quite simply, “Kolomoyskyi’s person.”
Ukrainian elections are famously some of the most expensive in the world, and Kolomoyski, (I have a rock solid principle of mentioning the James Bond style shark tank that he kept in his office in Dnipro every time that I write about him) is widely assumed by political observers to be bankrolling the Zelenskiy campaign. For many cynical (or reality-chastened) observers, Zelenskiy the comedy actor who has crafted a television persona of the totally sincere and honest interloper in politics is being used by one oligarch to settle accounts with others.
The Ukrainian people have been conditioned into political cynicism—or let’s call it sophistication—by a Byzantine political system of ever-shifting alliances ruled by parties led by oligarchs and charismatic characters. Characters who are made for television. They have similarly been trained by the many hours they spend watching oligarch owned television shows to know exactly which politician belongs to which oligarch. Even the most ordinary television viewers seems to intuitively grasp the literary stratagem that the smirking Kolomoyski is exploring with his television show about a show about a political novice entering politics through a television show funded by a caricature of an evil Jewish-Ukrainian oligarch.
The entire phenomenon is like a television show about a television show about a television show which suddenly transforms into freakish reality. Except for the fact that the auto-fictional demarcation line between fact and fiction is glaringly obvious to everyone. The postmodernist veil of the story falls away to reveal the romantic naturalism of a 19th-century English novel. “They are really bargaining on a crazy magical act of disbelief-suspension,” the academic, Murawski remarked with disbelief. “What’s quite extraordinary is the utterly relentless, tireless extent to which they ram home the incorruptible angle–despite it being total and transparently nonsense!”
As President Petro Poroshenko remains deeply unpopular, most polls indicate a majority of Ukrainian desire significant change after five difficult years of war, declining living standards and unconsummated reforms. Former Prime Minister Tymoshenko’s populist message is being well received and she continuously polls first. With the Ukrainian political class being mostly unreconstructed, and with a dearth of new faces in politics, Zelenskiy might outperform polls. Though he may also very well crash and burn like other great hopes have before him. The rockstar and lead singer of the band Okean Elzy Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, who had been mulling a possible presidential bid is widely seen to have feet of clay and looks likely to have missed out on his opportunity by waiting too long to declare his candidacy. If he does not enter the race soon enough, Vakarchuk’s chances seem dashed and Zelenskiy already seems likely to be the standard bearer of the protest vote. The reform camp remains bifurcated into four squabbling factions and lacks unifying leadership.
Even if Zelenskiy does not become the president of Ukraine, he will almost certainly ride his television renown into Autumn’s parliamentary elections and to decently sized parliamentary representation at the head of his own party—and perhaps at the head of a unified reform bloc. Zelenskiy, Tymoshenko, and Poroshenko are the candidates who are most likely to make it into the second round off round of the presidential election according to all polling. Ukrainians have a strong tradition of throwing out incumbents: of the five presidents elected since the country declared independence only one was ever re-elected to a second term. The country also has a strong tradition of embracing non-professional politicians and the Ukrainian actor might very well be propelled into power by a Jewish Ukrainian oligarch in the most Seinfeldian way imaginable. If Zelenskiy makes it to the third spot out of the forty currently declared candidates, he will likely be positioned as the kingmaker who will tip his preferred candidate -or the on who offers him the biggest bribe-  to electoral victory in the second round.
The second season of “Servant of The People” concludes with the most bizarre plot twist of all as the oligarchs Menchuk and Mahmetov hatch a fantastical scheme to demonstrate to the Ukrainian people that president Holoborodko is actually “Menchuk’s man.” The storyline includes a Dostoevskian nod to a body double who pretends to be Menchuk and mistakenly thinks that they have succeeded in executing him. Holoborodko (or is it Zeleyeinski?) wins by his wits at the end of the season finale and thus truly demonstrates that he is not actually owned by anyone. He really is “nobody’s person.” Or at least that is the signal the plot sends out to the viewers watching at home who may have been wondering at the relationship with Kolomoyski. The announcement of the “real” presidential candidacy over New Year’s Eve raised that artful piece of plotting from the Seinfeldian to the Umberto Eco level of meta-theater.
Still, potential alternative plot lines abound. Perhaps the youthful Zelenskiy really is an incorruptible avatar of change and the comedian will get the last laugh by swiftly moving to reform the system after having used Kolomoyski’s money and media assets to take power and after having outwitted the wily oligarch. Or perhaps Kolomoyski is actually himself secretly in cahoots with President Poroshenko, and thus playing the post-Soviet triple game of positioning a mirage “fake” real opposition in order to siphon votes away from the “real” fake populists such as Yulia Tymoshenko? If in fact, Tymoshenko is not actually “Kolomoyski’s person,” perhaps Kolomoyski is really “Poroshenko’s person?” If one also factors in the persistent rumors that Kolomoyski is also secretly funding Tymoshenko’s presidential campaign in order to cover his bets, the game becomes truly devious and begins to mirror the complex political realities that the show mocks, subverts and flirts with.
In a simulacrum of reality show politics that put Donald Trump’s version to shame, the third season of Servant of the People is slated to air in early March, in the weeks leading up to the first round of the presidential campaign which will take place on March 31. We are all awaiting the finale.


Vladislav Davidzon, the Chief Editor of The Odessa Review, is a Russian-American writer, translator, and critic. He was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and lives in Paris.
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After Slip In Polls, Tymoshenko Goes Low In Ukraine Campaigning

RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty-Feb 7, 2019
KYIV -- As she slipped from the top spot in preelection polls, Ukrainian presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko has offered explosive and ...
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Election Watch: Lutsenko launches investigations against boss's ...

Kyiv Post-15 hours ago
Earlier that day, Tymoshenko campaign representatives in Zaporizhia Oblast said that SBU agents searched the homes of campaign ...
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Police beat and arrest ultra-nationalists at Tymoshenko campaign event

Kyiv Post-Feb 10, 2019
Ukraine's police clashed with ultra-nationalists during a rally at a campaign event of presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko, leader of the ...
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Poroshenko, Tymoshenko campaign most actively in January

Kyiv Post-Jan 31, 2019
Poroshenko and Tymoshenko were the absolute leaders in terms of the scale and intensity of campaign activities during January 2019.
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Russia Accused of Meddling in Ukraine's Elections Using Bribes and ...

Newsweek-Feb 21, 2019
... comfortable working with Tymoshenko because the two had been in ... The accusations of Russian election meddling were made following ...
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Tymoshenko charms fans at Bila Tserkva rally marred by smoke flares ...

Kyiv Post-Feb 18, 2019
BILA TSERKVA, Ukraine – The election campaign has not been going smoothly for three-time presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko.
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Tymoshenko's populist multi-vector programme for the 2019 election

New Eastern Europe-Feb 18, 2019
Yulia Tymoshenko began her election campaign first among candidates and has, according to estimates by different Ukrainian NGO's, spent ...
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Can Ukraine's election fix its broken politics?

Spectator.co.uk (blog)-9 hours ago
Close second on 18 per cent is Yulia Tymoshenko, a veteran running for president for the third time. Long Ukraine's most compelling political ...
Ukraine at crossroads five years after 'revolution of dignity'
In-Depth-<a href="http://Aljazeera.com" rel="nofollow">Aljazeera.com</a>-7 hours ago
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Yulia Tymoshenko: Ukraine's Candidate of Uncertainty

Foreign Policy Research Institute-Jan 28, 2019
In Ukraine's presidential election, former Prime Minister and current frontrunner Yulia Tymoshenko fits the mold. Campaigning on a “new ...
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Lutsenko orders investigation of candidates Grytsenko, Tymoshenko

Kyiv Post-Feb 21, 2019
He added that Lutsenko’s motion wouldn’t harm Grytsenko or Tymoshenko campaigns but he would still sue Lutsenko for interference ...
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Veteran Israeli campaign manager plays Svengali to Ukraine's Tymoshenko - Haaretz - Israel News

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In the home stretch of her failing campaign for the Ukrainian presidency, the braided-haired Yulia Tymoshenko has suddenly and noticeably softened her tone, a shift being attributed to the advice of her new Israeli adviser, the Israeli website ynet reported.
Tal Silberstein, one of Israel's leading political campaign managers, reportedly aims to guide Tymoshenko not to an election victory on Sunday, which is now seen as an impossibility, but rather to gaining the next president's appointment as prime minister in the new government.
Tymoshenko's change of tack, coming at Silberstein's suggestion, is reportedly not being welcomed by everyone on the candidate's staff.
Silberstein came to prominence for his key role in Ehud Barak's successful 1999 campaign for prime minister, and since then has gone on to work for candidates in Austria, Bolivia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Italy.
Tymoshenko, a natural gas tycoon who reinvented herself as a heroine of the people, was the country's premier in 2005 and 2007-10. After losing the 2010 presidential race to the Russian-backed candidate, she was jailed for embezzlement, then was released by popular demand in the closing days of February's revolution in Kiev.
However, her star has since dimmed, and recent polls give her only 6 percent to 8 percent of the vote, compared to some 33 percent for Petro Poroshenko, a billionaire in his own right.
Bloomberg: Former Trump adviser lobbying for opponent of Manafort client

Michael_Novakhov shared this story from News Agency UNIAN.

Bennett said in an interview that Tymoshenko is a reformer who supports the West.
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Barry Bennett's firm Avenue Strategies Global LLC will provide government relations, public relations and strategic consulting services, including making contacts with members of the Trump administration and Congress, on behalf of Yulia Tymoshenko, who served as prime minister of Ukraine in 2005 and from 2007 through 2010. She was one of the targets of an undisclosed influence campaign led by Manafort, prosecutors allege, Bloomberg wrote.
The contract, filed with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, calls for monthly payments of $65,000.
Bennett said in an interview that Tymoshenko is a reformer who supports the West. "Paul was working for the pro-Russians," he said. "We're working for the pro-American."
He said his firm is "helping her arrange trips in the United States to meet with government leaders and so on."
Read alsoFormer Trump campaign manager Manafort files to dismiss charges – media
Mueller's indictment of Manafort, a former manager of Trump's campaign, said he directed an extensive lobbying campaign on behalf of Viktor Yanukovych, a former president of Ukraine, including hiring two firms to lobby members of Congress. Among the issues they addressed, according to the indictment, was the "propriety of Yanukovych's imprisoning his presidential rival, Yulia Tymoshenko."
Manafort has plead not guilty.
Tymoshenko was Yanukovych's main challenger for the presidency in 2010. In 2011, Tymoshenko, who serves as the leader of the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) Party, was jailed on corruption charges by the government of Yanukovych, whose Party of Regions was represented by Manafort.

Manafort is also alleged in the indictment to have used offshore accounts to secretly pay a U.S. law firm $4 million for a report that justified her trial and imprisonment. Alex van der Zwaan, who worked for London office of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, pleaded guilty in February to making false statements to the special counsel's office on his contacts with Rick Gates, Manafort's partner. Gates plead guilty to his role in the lobbying operation on behalf of the Party of Regions the same month.
In 2015, Tymoshenko sued Yanukovych, Manafort and others in federal court claiming, among other things, that the defendants used laundered money in an effort to discredit her. That case was dismissed on procedural grounds.
Bennett served as a senior adviser for Trump's presidential campaign in 2016 after initially managing Ben Carson's effort. He formed Avenue Strategies with Corey Lewandowski, who managed Trump's campaign through the primaries, in December 2016. Lewandowski left the firm in May over concerns about representing foreign clients.
Bennett said his firm is representing Tymoshenko in her personal capacity. Should she run for office again, the filing says that Avenue Strategies Global would have to disclose her party as a client as well.
7:21 PM 2/22/2019 - Trumpistan Today: President of Ukraine praises way Trump handles Putin – Fox News | Mueller's report will not arrive next week: Official

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Mueller's report will not arrive next week: Official  AOLA U.S. Justice Department official shot down expectations that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office will deliver a highly anticipated report next week.


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Mueller's report will not arrive next week: Official  AOLA U.S. Justice Department official shot down expectations that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office will deliver a highly anticipated report next week.
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The Diagnostic Triad of the Abwehr and the New Abwehr Operations Worldwide And In "Trump - Russia Affair" | Abwehr Austrophobia

The Diagnostic Triad of the Abwehr and the New Abwehr Operations Worldwide And In "Trump - Russia Affair"

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M.N.: This is a very important story. It confirms my impressions, formed earlier, that the Orthodox Judaism in general, and its various offshoots , such as "Chabad Lubavitch" and other "Hasidic movements", just like the State of Israel itself (God bless it), are nothing less and nothing more than the creations of the Abwehr and the New Abwehr (after WW2), which themselves were and are predominantly half or part Jewish, especially in their "top heavy" leadership circles, including Canaris himself and most of his commanding officers, as exemplified by this particular one described in this article

It was a historically formed and a historically determined circumstance: the ethnically German junkers looked down upon the Intelligence work which, as they felt, was not compatible with their ideal of the "honest military service", and they gladly or by necessity gave this area to the Jews and part Jews to manage. Another half of this formula might have been in the objective military observations that the smart, creative, ambitious, and quite German-wise patriotic Jews were simply much better and more efficient in this area, and they accepted and practiced this observation as the rule of their science and arts of wars and espionage. 


For the half and part Jewish Abwehr officers this "half and half" became their ideal and their elaborate "philosophy": the fusion of the Germanic and the Hebrew Spirits and their best embodiment and representations (in the high Abwehr officers, of course). 


It also included the criteria for the personnel selection; most of the Abwehr high officers do LOOK half or part Jewish


This point is very important for the understanding of the Abwehr's and the New Abwehr's psychology, outlook, and the nature, the character, and the distinguishing, the "diagnostic" features of their operations


The New Abwehr apparently, influences and manipulates the Orthodox Judaic movements, especially their pet project, the "Chabad Lubavitch" and other "Hasidic movements" quite heavily and almost absolutely invisibly, masking and advertising their "Putin connection" as the quite efficient, convenient, and convincing cover. 


These issues need the sophisticated and in-depth research. 


With regard to Trump Investigations, this assumption, or the working hypothesis, as described above, has the direct bearing and is a factor in understanding the Sphinx The Regent Jared Kushner, his family, their origins, and the origins of their wealth


The so called "Bielski Partisans" absolutely could not exist, function, and survive (quite nicely, with the trainloads of the robbed Nazi Gold and jewelry, which they later invested in the US real estate and other successful business ventures-rackets) without the overt or tacit approval and consent from the Abwehr which controlled everything on the occupied territories


The Kushner Crime Family was the tool: kapos and the enforcers for the Abwehr. They became their money launderes and money managers after the WW2, when Abwehr moved them to the US


The Trump Crime Family was the long term Abwehr assets, starting from Frederich Trump, Donald's grandfather, who run the bordellos for them, and including Fred Trump, Donald's father who built the "economy" housing for the newly arrived Abwehr agents, mixed into the mass of the legitimate refugees, and who also became the money launderer and the money manager for the Abwehr and the New Abwehr


Recently they (the New Abwehr planners) decided to merge these two families into a singleTrump-Kushner Crime Family, in what was clearly the arranged marriage between Jared and Ivanka, in preparation and as the first step towards Operation Trump
It was helped, as the apparent second step in this arrangement, by Wendi Deng the "Chinese spy", as alleged and circulated by Rupert Murdoch, her husband at the time. Both of them, just as, hypothetically, the FOX News Corporation were (and are?) heavily influenced by the New Abwehr. For Murdoch this proclivity apparently also runs in a family.  This is the apparent pattern of this prudent way of family recruitment; universally, and for the Abwehr in particular. 

This aspect is also important for the understanding of the role that Felix Sater and his "Chabad" sect played in the "Trump - Russia Affair". 


This thesis about the connection between the Orthodox Judaism and Abwehr is also consistent with the "Abwehr Diagnostic Triad" which was formulated by me earlier, as consisting of: 

  1) Judeophobia (as the psychological product of these described above circumstances: the Abwehr half Jews were the GOOD (half) JEWS, all the rest were "very bad, sick, and contaminating" Jews), 

2) Homophobia (the so called "Internalized Homophobia", stemming from the personal aspects of the Abwehr leadership and reflecting the general, very permissive attitude towards homosexuality among the German military circles before and especially in the aftermath of the WW1), and 


3) the specific Austrophobia or the so called Anti-Austrian sentiment (distrust and hate of all things Austrian), which stems from the Austro - Prussian War of 1866 and from the Austria–Prussia rivalry.


In the "Trump Affair", the Austrophobia aspect is expressed by the New Abwehr planners in the concept of the "decadent and dishonest, not to be trusted", part Jewish, Hapsburg Group, and this circumstance can be viewed as the particularly "telling", or highly suggestive and indicative, "pathognomonic", of the Abwehr operations. 



Michael Novakhov

2.13.19 

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