Monthly Archives: May 2017

Europe on the Brink, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its review of  terror and crime in Europe.

While the leadership of European nations, particularly in Germany, seem unconcerned about the detrimental effects of alienated refugees and immigrants, the general population is clearly worried. A Chatham House  survey gave respondents the following statement: ‘All further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped’. They were then asked to what extent did they agree or disagree with this statement. Overall, across all 10 of the European countries an average of 55% agreed that all further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped, 25% neither agreed nor disagreed and 20% disagreed. Majorities in all but two of the ten states agreed, ranging from 71% in Poland, 65% in Austria, 53% in Germany and 51% in Italy to 47% in the United Kingdom and 41% in Spain. In no country did the percentage that disagreed surpass 32%.

The Council on Foreign Relations notes that “Despite signs that Muslims are beginning to succeed in business and academia in countries such as France and Germany, many analysts say most of Western Europe’s Muslims are poorly integrated into society. They cite closed ethnic neighborhoods, high crime rates in Muslim communities, calls for use of sharia law in Europe, the wearing of the veil, and other examples as evidence of a conflict with European values…Oxford University scholar Tariq Ramadan wrote in the Christian Science Monitor: ‘Over the last two decades Islam has become connected to so many controversial debates … it is difficult for ordinary citizens to embrace this new Muslim presence as a positive factor.’ Fears over a possible major demographic shift toward Islam as well as ongoing Muslim assimilation problems highlight the continuing divide between Europe and its Muslim population.”

A Foreign Policy Research Institute review reports that “The alienation of European-residing Muslims is a serious issue. “Officials believe that over 5,000 Western Europeans have made their way to Syria to support ISIS. However, the actual number is considerably higher according to the Soufan Group, with several European countries contributing a disturbing number of fighters to ISIS: France (1700), Russia (2400), UK (760) and Belgium (470). For a country like Belgium with only 11 million citizens, having almost 500 citizens join ISIS is a shockingly high number. Furthermore, large pockets of Muslims are concentrated in cities like Brussels where more than a quarter of Belgium’s Muslim population resides. These heavily concentrated Muslim enclaves, according to a 2007 report from the Centre of European Policy Studies, are more likely, than the EU general population, to be poor, segregated and crime-prone neighborhoods.”

That alienation takes significant form in a variety of ways. The Gatestone Institute disclosed in April that “Swedish ambulance personnel want gas masks and bulletproof vests to protect their staff against the escalating attacks, similar to equipment used by staff working in war zones [when entering Muslim neighborhoods.]” It’s part of a growing pattern of lawlessness, or more accurately, a rejection of European national laws, in some Muslim communities. Gatestone notes that “In an essay published in February 2016, Stockholm police inspector Lars Alvarsjö warned that the Swedish legal system is close to collapse. The influx of asylum seekers and ethnic gangs has overwhelmed the country and its understaffed police force. In many suburbs, criminal gangs have taken control and determine the rules. The police, fire brigades and ambulance personnel in these areas are routinely met with violent attacks.”

The blame for the general failure of Muslims to integrate into European society is not the fault of any inherent bias. Leon de Winter, writing for Politico,  explains: “The notion that Moroccan-Belgians suffer from widespread exclusion, discrimination, and suppression is ridiculous…Life in Belgium is exceptionally good and safe for migrants — if they are willing to integrate into their new cultural environment, if they are willing to act as individuals, study with passion and openness, and accept the secular system of the West…There is no difference at all in socioeconomic status between youngsters from a low-education, blue-collar Belgian background and youngsters from a Muslim migrant background…The other explanation for the high unemployment figures among Muslims in Europe has nothing to do with exclusion and discrimination. A large segment of the migrant population is doing just fine, but a significant number — some say as many as 50 percent — have not rid themselves of the mental and cultural conditions that have kept their home country in its ‘developing country’ status. The denial of equal rights to women, the lack of separation of state and church, bad education, excessive religiosity, patriarchal machismo — these are all on display in areas with a high percentage of migrants… almost 60 percent of Europe’s Muslims reject homosexuals as friends and 45 percent think that Jews cannot be trusted. More than half believe that the West is out to destroy Islam.”

Europe on the Brink

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government reviews terror and crime in Europe in this two-part series. 

The attack in Manchester against the most innocent of targets, a concert attended predominately by teenage girls was perpetrated by a British-born Muslim man.  The vicious act by the son of Libyan immigrants highlights the growing danger to Europe of a Middle Eastern refugee population that has chosen not to assimilate.

There have been 17 significant terrorist attacks in Europe since 2004, but that is just half the problem. The extraordinary increase in crime, sexual assaults in particular, is changing the very character of the continent.

The proclivity for violent crime can be partially explained by a vital age and gender demographic.  As a Pew Global  report points out, 42% of all those who have recently sought asylum in Europe are young adult males. 1.3 million Muslims entered Europe in 2015 alone, approximately half from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Pew notes “men made up nearly three-fourths (73%) of Europe’s asylum seekers in 2015. Refugees from leading origin countries such as Syria (71%), Iraq (75%) and Afghanistan (80%) were also predominately male in 2015. By contrast, asylum seekers from other top origin countries, such as Gambia (97% male), Pakistan (95% male) and Bangladesh (95% male), were almost entirely male…This was also true for most leading origin countries: 39% of those from Syria were young men, as were 38% of those from Afghanistan and 47% of those from Iraq. Young adult males made up a larger share of asylum seekers from some origin countries. For example, roughly three-fourths of asylum seekers from Gambia (80%), Pakistan (76%) and Bangladesh (76%) were young adult men in 2015.”

A Federalist  study of crime in Sweden demonstrates the result in that nation:

“Sweden’s official statistics do show increases in “lethal violence” (which includes murder, manslaughter and other deadly assaults) and sexual offenses  over the past ten years. Between 2006 and 2015 the incidence of ‘lethal violence’ does fluctuate, but there is a sharp 65 percent spike from 2012 to 2015. In the same period, there was also an almost 49 percent increase in sexual offenses (a category including, among other offenses, rape). Looking at rape by itself, from 2006-2015 there was a 40 percent increase in the number of reported rapes. It is true that the number of rapes declined from 2014 to 2015, from a high of 6,697 to a still-high 5,918; but, even so, the overall upward trend is clear. Other Swedes… argue these trends are much sharper if one takes a longer view: In 1975, the Swedish parliament unanimously decided to change the former homogeneous Sweden into a multicultural country. Forty years later the dramatic consequences of this experiment emerge: violent crime has increased by 300%. If one looks at the number of rapes, however, the increase is even worse. In 1975, 421 rapes were reported to the police; in 2014, it was 6,620. That is an increase of 1,472%.”

A 2009 study by The Telegraph  noted that “Britain and the rest of the European Union are ignoring a demographic time bomb: a recent rush into the EU by migrants, including millions of Muslims, will change the continent beyond recognition over the next two decades, and almost no policy-makers are talking about it. The numbers are startling. Only 3.2 per cent of Spain’s population was foreign-born in 1998. In 2007 it was 13.4 per cent. Europe’s Muslim population has more than doubled in the past 30 years and will have doubled again by 2015. In Brussels, the top seven baby boys’ names recently were Mohamed, Adam, Rayan, Ayoub, Mehdi, Amine and Hamza. Europe’s low white birth rate, coupled with faster multiplying migrants, will change fundamentally what we take to mean by European culture and society…It could have a critical impact on foreign policy: a study was submitted to the US Air Force on how America’s relationship with Europe might evolve. Yet EU officials admit that these issues are not receiving the attention they deserve.”

The Report concludes tomorrow

U.S. Media Downplays Trump Mideast Success

President Trump has radically changed the paradigm in the Islamic world, gaining extensive cooperation in the fight against terrorism, refocusing Arab hostility away from Israel and towards Iran, uniting regional nations against extremism, reassuring Islamic nations that the pacifism of the Obama Administration has ended, restoring America’s influence, and bringing home about $380 billion in investments as well.

You certainly would not know it from the press accounts of the event. In essence, these extraordinary accomplishments have been ignored as the media essentially complains that Trump has failed to cure cancer, reunite the Beatles, or bring the Dodo back from extinction during his first foreign trip.

Comments made by Saudi King Salman in his introduction of President Trump on Sunday were noteworthy. He called for his fellow Islamic nations to “Refute the frail claims of terrorists,” and join in an effort to block the financing of “this scourge that poses a danger to all of humanity… We say to our Muslim brothers and sisters, sons and daughters everywhere, one of the most important goals of Islamic Sharia is protecting life, and there is no honor in protecting murder. Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance and urges its followers to develop the Earth, and forbids them to corrupt it. It considers killing an innocent soul, tantamount of killing all humanity. These odious acts are attempts to exploit Islam as a cover for political purposes to flame hatred, extremism, hatred, terrorism, and conflicts… such as Hezbollah, the Houthis, Da’esh, al-Qaeda, and many others.” The King said he was committed to eliminating ISIS.

In anticipation of Sunday’s historic event attended by the leaders of 50 Islamic nations, as well as by Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, Saudi Foreign Minister al-Jubeir met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Al-Jubeir stated  thattoday was a truly historic day in the relationship between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States and, we believe, the beginning of a turning point in the relationship between the United States and the Arab and Islamic world…His Majesty…and President Donald Trump signed a Joint Strategic Vision Declaration, which sets the stage for the building of a truly strategic relationship between our two countries…our relationship will evolve into an even more strategic partnership. It will deal with ways to cooperate in terms of violent extremism, financing of terrorism, terrorism, increasing defense capabilities, working on a defense architecture for the region – initially between our two countries and then looking at how other countries can join. The Strategic Vision also includes trade and investment, education, and working in all fields in order to enhance our common interests and deal with the challenges that face both of our countries. This is unprecedented. We have not had an agreement, I believe, signed by a king of Saudi Arabia and a president to codify the strategic relationship and where we want to take it moving forward, so this was a great accomplishment…in addition to the signing of this Strategic Vision Declaration, the two countries signed a series of agreements, both commercial as well as government to government; that involve trade, investment; that involve infrastructure, that involve technology, that involve defense sales; that involve Saudi investments in American infrastructure as well as American investments in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whether in the form of building up our defense manufacturing capability or other areas. The total value of those investments is in excess of $380 billion. I cannot overstate the importance of such a gathering, and I believe after this visit the President will go to Israel and will go the Vatican, where he will essentially address the Jewish world and the Christian world and try to bring together the three major monotheistic religions in the world into a partnership so that we move from any discussion of a conflict of civilizations and move towards a discussion of a partnership of civilizations.”

The reaction of many press sources and politicians, both Democrat and Republican, indicates that their hostility towards Trump supersedes their moral duty either to be truthful or place the good of the nation over personal animosity.

The Washington Post called Trump’s speech “cringe-worthy” and  “un-American,” claiming “Trump implicitly rejected the aspirational goals and call for democracy and human rights of former president Barack Obama, because the current President, in attempting to bring together the 50 Islamic nations in the fight against terror, said that “We are not here to lecture [or tell others] how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership, based on shared interests and values.”  The Washington Post apparently forgot that under Obama, terror increased, and human rights, especially those of women, reached an historic low point as ISIS grew to an unprecedented size in the Middle East and the Taliban rebounded in Afghanistan. Forgotten, also, was the spread of human rights abuses by Islamic terrorists in Africa.

Buzzfeed  proclaimed “President Donald Trump’s speech on Islam delivered in Saudi Arabia wasn’t as bad as some American Muslims had expected, but it’s not likely to win them over…American Muslims also noted a glaring omission in the half-hour speech: themselves. There was no acknowledgment of the contributions of the athletes, doctors, actors and tech entrepreneurs who are among more than 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States.

Those directly involved in the Middle East, even those not particularly friendly towards the U.S., disagreed. The Associated Press reported that “Jibril Rajoub, a senior Palestinian official close to Abbas, said Trump was a ‘serious president’ who ‘seeks to have a real deal, not just managing the conflict.”

Media, FBI Ignore Clinton relations With Russia, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Governments concludes a two-part investigation into the refusal by the media and the FBI to examine the relationship between Russia and the Democrat Party in general and Hillary Clinton in particular.  

Surprisingly little attention was paid to the matter of the Democrat party’s key figure, Senator Edward Kennedy, who had an extraordinary relationship with Moscow.  As noted by The Spectator:

“Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s self-serving, secret correspondence with Soviet agents during the height of the Cold War included proposals for collaborative efforts designed to undermine official U.S. policy set by Democratic and Republican administrations, KGB documents show… Kennedy’s long history with the KGB is well documented, but underreported… Kennedy’s actions occurred at the expense of presidential authority and in violation of federal law, according to academics and scholars who are familiar with the documents… Kennedy…offered to work in close concert with high level Soviet officials to sabotage President Ronald Reagan’s re-election efforts and to orchestrate favorable American press coverage for Andropov and Soviet military officials, according to the 1983 KGB document

“It is also evident from the letter that Kennedy believed the nuclear freeze movement was gaining momentum in 1983 and could help to short-circuit Reagan’s military buildup. With the economic climate improving in the U.S., Reagan would only be vulnerable politically on matters of foreign policy, Kennedy informed the Soviets. ‘The only real potential threats to Reagan (according to Kennedy) are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,’ [a] KGB official explained to Andropov. ‘These issues will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign. The movement advocating a freeze on nuclear arsenals of both countries continues to gain strength in the United States. The movement is also willing to accept preparations, particularly from Kennedy, for its continued growth. In political and influential circles of the country, including within Congress, the resistance to growing military expenditures is gaining strength.’”

While media and political attention has concentrated on questionable allegations against the Trump campaign, very real and very substantive offences committed by Hillary Clinton, both against primary rival Bernie Sanders and the national security of the United States, remain largely undiscussed.

WikiLeaks provided numerous examples of Clinton campaign misdeeds, including, as outlined by The Gateway Pundit :

No issue stands out more, nor illustrates better, the medias’—and the political establishments’—double standard, and “get out of jail free” attitude towards Hillary Clinton, than the entire matter of the Russian uranium deal, in which the Kremlin’s nuclear energy agency, Rosatom, took control of 20% of U.S. uranium. National Review  described the deal:

“On June 8, 2010, Rosatom, the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation, announced plans to purchase a 51.4 percent stake in [a] …company..whose international assets included some 20 percent of America’s uranium capacity. Because this active ingredient in atomic reactors and nuclear weapons is a strategic commodity, this $1.3 billion deal required the approval of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Secretary of State Clinton was one of nine federal department and agency heads on that secretive panel. On June 29, 2010, three weeks after Rosatom proposed to Uranium One, Bill Clinton keynoted a seminar staged by Renaissance Capital in Moscow, a reputedly Kremlin-controlled investment bank that promoted this transaction. Renaissance Capital paid Clinton $500,000 for his one-hour speech. While CFIUS evaluated Rosatom’s offer, Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer observed, ‘a spontaneous outbreak of philanthropy among eight shareholders in Uranium One’ began. ‘These Canadian mining magnates decide now would be a great time to donate tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation.”

This came from the same administration, led by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, which, in the New START treaty, gave Russia, for the first time in history, the lead in strategic nuclear weapons and maintained Moscow’s ten-to-one lead in theater nuclear weapons.

Despite the dangerous threat to U.S. national security and the clear financial profit to the Clintons and the Clinton foundation imposed by the Obama/Clinton actions, no investigation has been formed, and no major media outrage (or even significant interest) has been expressed. The blackout on Moscow’s ties to the Left extends to internet search engines, which bury the details far down in search results.

Media, FBI Ignore Clinton relations With Russia

The New York Analysis of Policy and Governments presents a two-part investigation into the refusal by the media and the FBI to examine the relationship between Russia and the Democrat Party in general and Hillary Clinton in particular.  

The appointment of a special counsel, former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III, to review as of yet unsubstantiated allegations concerning Russian involvement in the 2016 election, highlights an issue utterly unintended by those who called for the move: the extraordinary double standard of reporting and the justice system, and the use of the press and the investigatory process for overtly partisan goals.

The gist of the question Mueller will confront is this: Were there any contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians, and if so, was the nature of those contacts an agreement to influence the campaign?

Interestingly, the only significant information that those questioning the Trump campaign have alleged is that Moscow may have leaked hacked emails to a third party containing embarrassing statements by the Clinton campaign about itself.

Wikileaks, which released emails embarrassing to Clinton during the campaign, has denied a Moscow connection, and states that the information came from a disgruntled DNC staffer.

Questions have been raised about suspicions that the Clinton campaign’s potential involvement to the strange murder of Seth Richards, whom Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, a noted journalist, says his organization was in contact with. That information is fleshed out by a Zero Hedge report which notes that “Many believe Rich was a victim retaliation for being the source who provided Wikileaks with a trove of DNC emails. Rumors were fueled by the odd circumstances surrounding his death, the sudden retirement of D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier five weeks after the murder, and an email John Podesta sent to Hillary’s inner circle about making an example of a suspected leaker.”

Julian Assange had clearly and substantially offended the U.S. government on a number of past occasions, but no actual action against his internet connection was taken until it began exposing Hillary Clinton’s wrongdoings, including providing evidence that Clinton was instrumental in the transfer of uranium (the basic ingredient for nuclear weapons) to the Russians, and providing information about her criminally negligent handling of emails classified as secret.

There is a significant connection between the embarrassment of the Clinton campaign and the Obama Administration from Wikileaks, and the attempt to link the Trump campaign to Russia.

A central question in the entire matter is why The Kremlin would prefer Trump to Clinton, who, as part of the Obama Administration and through her Foundation, greatly benefited the Russian state through an arms pact that favored Russia, by the sale of American uranium (the basic ingredient for nuclear weapons) to the Kremlin, and through various foreign policies that greatly strengthened Moscow’s influence at the expense of the United States.

Wikileaks became a significant issue even in down-ticket races.  In New York, Wendy Long, the Republican candidate who opposed the re-election of incumbent Senator Chuck Schumer (best known for introducing legislation that would weaken the First Amendment) called for a “full, complete, and absolute pardon” to be extended to  Wikileaks  founder Julian  Assange  for any potential violations of U.S. law, “on the ground that he has served a far greater good of truth and transparency.”  Long stated that “Julian Assange has shed the light of truth on matters that the American people need to know to conduct self-government under our Constitution.  Investigative journalism is dead in this country, and citizen journalists are trying to fill the void.”

The Kremlin has sought to influence American elections for decades. Oddly, neither the media nor official Washington has made much of that fact, predominately because it has been the Democrat Party and the Left that has consistently been involved with Moscow. A release from the CIA discussed a House Select Committee on Intelligence report that disclosed evidence linking the USSR with the U.S. nuclear freeze movement. Classified documents noted that Soviet agents were actively involved in the campaign, providing large amounts of time and money on it. Former KGB official Stanislav Levchenko emphasized the extraordinary extent of his former agency’s involvement with the left-wing cause.

The Report concludes Monday.

Internet Bias Distorts News, Part 3

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its examination of political bias on the internet. 

The political bias of the Google search engine, as well as social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, is clearly established. Is there a solution?

Some have suggested that government intervene to establish some standards of fairness. That is a cure worse than the disease. One of the prime goals of an independent media is to act as a check on government. It would not take long for the temptation to warp reporting in favor of incumbents to set in.  Indeed, during the eight years of the Obama Administration, there were numerous attempts to limit the ability of government critics, especially conservatives, to operate independent of federal interference.

The only safe and viable solution is to insure that competing search engines and social media sites, which should be developed by both responsible journalists as well as those who have been discriminated against by Google, Facebook, or Twitter, have a level playing field in which to operate. Cathy Young, writing for The Hill, notes that “If established social networks are increasingly perceived as inhospitable to conservatives or libertarians, there will inevitably be stepped-up initiatives to create alternative platforms—which would have no shortage of potential Silicon Valley backers…”

The Fee.org website suggests that “If Google is underserving its users, then that underservice is a golden opportunity. Google’s hold on its current users is weak: Entrepreneurs can capitalize on Google’s weakness, creating new search engines that steal away those dissatisfied customers with the promise of better service…”

Despite Google’s current dominance, this is not impossible. As Fee notes,  “In the 1990s, Yahoo! dominated the search engine market. In the early 2000s, MySpace dominated social media. Both benefitted from network effects. Both were taken down, not by rival giants with networks of their own, but by a few college kids creating something more effective and desirable.”

Alternatives also exist to currently dominant social media sites.   Natural News  lists several existing alternatives, and reveals that others are currently being planned for those who “are sick and tired of the…censorship of either your posts or those of real news organizations that Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo and others have arbitrarily deemed ‘fake’…these current and forthcoming sites are true free speech zones where you can say and post what you want, without the fear that it will be censored.”

Among the sites listed: GoodGopher.com, which specializes in science topics; GAB.ai
“Developed by free-speech advocate Andrew Torba, GAB.ai is a Twitter-style network that combats censorship by allowing users to post whatever they want, saying what they want and expressing themselves as they wantand Seen.life, a social media site also dedicated free speech and the promise of enhanced privacy.

There are alternatives to Google, such as Bing. However, they have not attained the general acceptance or widespread contacts that have made Google the powerhouse in its fields.

Until a viable alternative is developed, there are ways to get around Google’s search engine bias while doing research. Education Week found that students were not proficient in discriminating between biased reporting and actual news. They suggested the following strategy, which astute fact-checkers employ:

“Fact-checkers use the vast resources of the Internet to determine where information is coming from before they read it… They don’t evaluate a site based solely on the description it provides about itself… fact-checkers look past the order of search results. Instead of trusting Google to sort pages by reliability (which reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of how Google works), the checkers mined URLs and abstracts for clues. They regularly scrolled down to the bottom of the search results page in their quest to make an informed decision about where to click first.”

Internet Bias Distorts News, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government continues its review of internet bias.

The Journal, “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States of America” (PNAS) warns that “search engine companies… could affect—and perhaps are already affecting—the outcomes of close elections worldwide. Restricting search ranking manipulations to voters who have been identified as undecided while also donating money to favored candidates would be an especially subtle, effective, and efficient way of wielding influence…manipulation of search rankings might exert a disproportionately large influence over voters for four reasons: First…the process by which search rankings affect voter preferences might interact synergistically with the process by which voter preferences affect search rankings, thus creating a sort of digital bandwagon effect that magnifies the potential impact of even minor search ranking manipulations. Second, campaign influence is usually explicit, but search ranking manipulations are not. Such manipulations are difficult to detect, and most people are relatively powerless when trying to resist sources of influence they cannot see … Of greater concern in the present context, when people are unaware they are being manipulated, they tend to believe they have adopted their new thinking voluntarily … Third, candidates normally have equal access to voters, but this need not be the case with search engine manipulations. Because the majority of people in most democracies use a search engine provided by just one company, if that company chose to manipulate rankings to favor particular candidates or parties, opponents would have no way to counteract those manipulations…Finally, with the attention of voters shifting rapidly toward the Internet and away from traditional sources of information…the potential impact of search engine rankings on voter preferences will inevitably grow over time, as will the influence of people who have the power to control such rankings.”

Internet  manipulation of the news has raised concern of both those favoring objective coverage as well as those conservatives who have been victimized by left-leaning search engines and social media sites.  The Washington Times reported how two top websites moved to “suppress information about the Orlando mass shooter’s ties to the Islamic State, just days after Google was accused of burying negative stories about presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Even as companies like Facebook and Google deny any institutional political bias, conservatives like Less Government’s Seton Motley say that Silicon Valley’s liberal titans apparently can’t help themselves.”

A study  by  Ronald E. Robertson of Northeastern University,  Samantha J. Shepherd and Shu Zhang  of the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology found that “between May and November 2016, search results displayed in response to a wide range of election-related search terms were, on average, biased in Mrs. Clinton’s favor in all 10 search-result positions. This bias could not be accounted for by the bias in the search terms themselves. We also found different levels of bias in different search engines, as well as evidence of demographically-targeted bias. We don’t know what caused these patterns of bias, but no matter what the cause or causes, given the power of search rankings to shift votes and opinions without people’s awareness they are a matter for concern.”

Conservatives have justifiably criticized social media cites as well as search engines.

Michael Nunez, reporting in Gizmodo writes that “Facebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential ‘trending’ news section, according to a former journalist who worked on the project. This individual says that workers prevented stories about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even though they were organically trending among the site’s users.”  Citing a former Facebook “news curator,” Nunez describes how topics embarrassing to the left were censored out. “Among the deep-sixed or suppressed topics on the list: former IRS official Lois Lerner, who was accused by Republicans of inappropriately scrutinizing conservative groups; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; popular conservative news aggregator the Drudge Report; Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL who was murdered in 2013; and former Fox News contributor Steven Crowder. ‘I believe it had a chilling effect on conservative news,’ the former curator said.”

Twitter has similarly sought to limit conservative use of its site, notes Breitbart. According to the analysis, Twitter maintains a “blacklist” of accounts, consisting of  conservative users who have their posts hidden from both search results and other users’ timelines.

You Tube has also been charged with censorship, but of a less restrictive type. According to the Daily Wire “YouTube, which is owned by…Google, has displayed its nasty bias against conservative thought, banning the influential law website Legal Insurrection from posting on the channel…. YouTube’s bias is becoming clearer and clearer; in October the channel started censoring videos produced by Prager University; 21 Prager University videos were placed by Google under ‘restricted mode,’ which limited access to them for many schools and families.”

The Report concludes tomorrow.

Internet Bias Distorts News

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government presents a three-part examination of the political bias found on search engines and social media sites.

There is little doubt that the internet is a powerful, and perhaps decisive, force in the 21st century American political environment.  According to a study by the Pew Research Center  “A majority of U.S. adults – 62% – get news on social media…”

But as the role of internet as a principal source of information expands, there is justifiable concern about the accuracy and objectivity of the information presented.  Search Engine Watch notes that “Search engines may think of themselves as being objective but like any other media company, editorial judgements are made and are factored into automated operations. Engines trust certain sources more than others”

An NYU research project found that “search engines raise not merely technical issues but also political ones. Our study of search engines suggests that they systematically exclude (in some cases by design and in some, accidentally) certain sites and certain types of sites in favor of others, systematically giving prominence to some at the expense of others.”

The problem of using the internet as a source of news or general information has been noted by those using it for not just general research but for specific professional purposes as well. A Forbes study reports that “Social media like Facebook and Twitter  are far too biased to be used blindly by social science researchers, two computer scientists have warned. Writing in…Science, Carnegie Mellon’s Juergen Pfeffer and McGill’s Derek Ruths have warned that scientists are treating the wealth of data gathered by social networks as a goldmine of what people are thinking – but frequently they aren’t correcting for inherent biases in the dataset.”

The issue is of overwhelming importance. Kalev Leetaru wrote in Forbes that “Far from democratizing how we access the world’s information, the web has in fact narrowed those information sources. Much as large national chains and globalization have replaced the local mom-and-pop shop with the megastore and local craftsmanship with assembly line production, the internet is centralizing information access from a myriad websites and local newspapers and radio/television shows to single behemoth social platforms that wield universal global control over what we consume. Indeed, social media platforms appear to increasingly view themselves no longer as neural publishing platforms but rather as active mediators and curators of what we see. This extends even to new services like messaging. David Marcus, Facebook’s Vice President of Messaging recently told Wired: “Unlike email where there is no one safeguarding the quality and the quantity of the stuff you receive, we’re here in the middle to protect the quality and integrity of your messages and to ensure that you’re not going to get a lot of stuff you don’t want.” In short, Facebook wants to act as an intelligent filter onto what we see of the world. The problem is that any filter by design must emphasize some content and views at the expense of others.”

Robert Schlesinger, writing for U.S. News,  explains that “while big social media – be it Facebook or Google News – has news-purveying components they’re not news organizations as such and don’t have news missions. They’re part of larger companies with agendas that don’t necessarily include fairly informing the citizenry. And they have real power, regardless of whether they’re using it or not.”

The internet research organization Can I Rank found that “Although internet search engines like Google play an increasingly prominent role shaping voter opinions and perception of issues and candidates, their ranking algorithms aren’t designed to provide a fairly balanced or completely honest representation of controversial issues…Among our key findings were that top search results were almost 40% more likely to contain pages with a “Left” or “Far Left” slant than they were pages from the right. Moreover, 16% of political keywords contained no right-leaning pages at all within the first page of results. Our analysis of the algorithmic metrics underpinning those rankings suggests that factors within the Google algorithm itself may make it easier for sites with a left-leaning or centrist viewpoint to rank higher in Google search results compared to sites with a politically conservative viewpoint.” The study found that 16% of political keyword searches yielded no conservative-oriented pages within the initial search results.

The Report continues tomorrow.

What Would Happen if Obamacare is Not repealed, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its two-part review of what would occur if Obamacare is not repealed.

It is, perhaps, a pointless intellectual exercise to speculate on Obamacare’s impact if it’s not repealed, largely because, regardless of what Congress does, it is collapsing on its own.

Tyler Durden, writing for Zero Hedge, explains that “If Obamacare enrollments continue their current trend and insurers continue to hike premiums at alarming rates then Republicans may not have to worry about ‘repealing and replacing Obamacare’ as it might just work itself out “naturally”.

The House Ways and Means Committee  found that “Since the Obamacare exchanges opened for business on October 1, 2013, they have struggled to deliver quality, affordable health insurance options to Americans… Here’s a closer look at how Obamacare is failing across America:

  • PREMIUM SPIKES: Premium rates for the 2017 individual health insurance market may increase by an average of 24 percent, forcing many Americans to pay hundreds more a month to keep their coverage.

Wall Street Journal“The danger for insurers and supporters of the law now is that high prices and limited choices further deter low-risk people from signing up, and that the increases continue and become irreversible.” — Rate Increases for Health Plans Pose Serious Test for Obama’s Signature Law, October 18, 2016

Philadelphia Inquirer“In a bid to keep at least one insurer on the exchange in every county, ‘the department allowed insurers to adjust their rate filings …’ regulators said in a filing approving an average rate increase of 28.4 percent for individual plans.” — Without Aetna and United Healthcare, Philly Area Faces Hefty Increases for Affordable Care Act Rates, October 17, 2016

Omaha World-Herald“About 82,000 Nebraskans will pay more than expected for individual health insurance next year because Blue Cross won’t offer policies on the Affordable Care Act’s exchange.” — With Blue Cross’ Exit, Nebraskans Can Expect Even Higher Health Premiums through Obamacare, October 14, 2016

Associated Press“Minnesota’s Democratic governor said Wednesday that the Affordable Care Act is ‘no longer affordable’ … while addressing questions about Minnesota’s fragile health insurance market, where individual plans are facing double-digit increases after all insurers threatened to exit the market entirely in 2017.” — Democrat Dayton: Health Law ‘No Longer Affordable’ for Many, October 12, 2016

Bloomberg“Minnesota will let the health insurers in its Obamacare market raise rates by at least 50 percent next year, after the individual market there came to the brink of collapse.” — Near ‘Collapse,’ Minnesota to Raise Obamacare Rates by Half, September 30, 2016  

The Denver Post“Residents who buy their health insurance themselves will pay 20 percent more on average next year … In some parts of rural Colorado, premium increases will top 40 percent.” — Colorado Health-Insurance Rates to Jump 20 Percent on Average for Individual Buyers in 2017, September 20, 2016

The Boston Globe“Thousands of people who buy subsidized health insurance will face substantial premium increases — an average of 21 percent — if they want to keep the only plan that gives them access to certain prestigious Boston hospitals.” — Premiums Soar 21 Percent for Popular Health Plan, September 9, 2016

  • CO-OP CLOSURES: 74 percent (17 out of 23) of Obamacare co-ops have collapsed, wasting billions of taxpayer dollars and kicking hundreds of thousands of Americans off of their insurance.

The Washington Post“17 co-ops have either collapsed or been ordered to close by state regulators because of their financial fragility, leaving hundreds of thousands of people to scramble for new coverage.” — Maryland’s ACA Health Co-Op Will Switch to For-Profit to Save Itself, October 3, 2016

The Record“Health Republic Insurance of New Jersey will shut down for next year, forcing 35,000 people to find new insurance by Jan. 1 … The shutdown leaves just two companies doing business on HealthCare.gov, the Affordable Care Act marketplace for New Jersey.” — Health Republic Insurance of New Jersey’s Demise Exposes Flaws of Obamacare, October 2, 2016

Bloomberg“Most of the original 23 co-ops have failed, dumping more than 800,000 members back onto the ACA markets over the last two years … With more of the nonprofits on the brink of folding, the situation for the remaining providers looks dire.” — Shaky Obamacare Market Adds to ‘Death Spiral’ Fears, September 23, 2016

FoxNews.com“Health Republic Insurance of New Jersey is folding after the state’s insurance commissioner put the Obamacare co-op in ‘rehabilitation’ due to its hazardous financial condition.” — Another ObamaCare Co-Op Folds, Leaving Only 6 Remaining, September 13, 2016

  • FEWER, IF ANY, CHOICES: More Americans are finding themselves with fewer health care options as insurers exit the Obamacare exchanges.

Bloomberg“A growing number of people in Obamacare are finding out their health insurance plans will disappear from the program next year, forcing them to find new coverage even as options shrink and prices rise.” — More Than 1 Million to Lose Obamacare Plans as Insurers Quit, October 14, 2016

Washington Post“More than 250,000 people in North Carolina are losing the health plans they bought under the Affordable Care Act because two of the three insurers are dropping out — a stark example of the disruption roiling marketplaces in many parts of the country.” — In North Carolina, ACA Insurer Defections Leave Little Choice for Many Consumers, October 14, 2016

Washington Examiner“Blue Cross’s exit [from Tennessee] is part of a nationwide trend of insurers pulling back from the Affordable Care Act marketplaces after experiencing heavy financial losses. Independent analysts have said one-third of the country may have just one Obamacare insurer next year.” — Obamacare Customers Lose Access to Top Tennessee Hospital, October 13, 2016

Forbes“The exit of other major insurers means that 85% of North Carolinians needing Obamacare coverage will have only 1 insurance company to choose from in 2017.” — Mixed News For Obamacare In North Carolina As Blues Plan Opts To Remain In Obamacare Exchange, September 25, 2016

Alaska Public Media: “Alaskans shopping for individual health insurance on the federal exchange will only be able to choose from one insurer when open enrollment starts on November 1st.” — Alaskans Endure Rising Insurance Costs, September 21, 2016

Star-Telegram“After three years of growth, which culminated in six health insurers offering 63 plans last year, the Affordable Care Act marketplace likely will fall to just one insurer for Tarrant County residents in 2017 … Having just one insurance company to choose on the exchange will limit medical options.” — Local Consumers Left with Few Options on Obamacare Exchange, September 16, 2016”

Allowing Obamacare to die a natural death, without any repealer by Congress, might be a viable political strategy.  But the damages left to the American health care system by this failed concept would leave substantial hardships in its wake.

What Happens if Obamacare Isn’t Replaced

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government presents a two-part examination of what would happen if Obamacare isn’t replaced. 

There has been a great deal of discussion about the impact of replacing Obamacare. Perhaps more attention should be paid to what would happen if Obamacare is NOT replaced.

A Washington Free Beacon report  quotes Aetna CEO Mark Bertoline, noting that “Obamacare Will Continue to Deteriorate If Nothing Happens…” Aetna has announced that it will leave Obamacare exchanges in Iowa and Virgina. Bertoline also stressed thata reinsurance pool would be a better solution for really sick individuals…When you talk to a lot of constituents who have $6,000 deductibles, live in the five eastern counties of Colorado where there isn’t a doctor, a $6,000 deductible is not helpful.”

Writing for the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Lawrence R. Huntoon, M.D.states:

“ObamaCare is designed to cheat both patients and physicians. It destroys patient choice and often disrupts continuing long-term patient-physician relationships. By implementing extremely high deductibles, co-pays, and out-of-pocket maximums, ObamaCare creates the illusion of coverage at the cost of unacceptably high premiums…In order to survive, physicians who depend on third-party payment will need to take appropriate legal measures to limit financial losses caused by ObamaCare. Many will likely reassess their plan participation as financial losses and bureaucratic impediments to care increase. Third-party-free practice models will become more attractive to many physicians. And, unfortunately, physicians who opt for hospital-subsidized employment in an attempt to escape the adversities of ObamaCare will only exacerbate the loss of choice for patients and the rationing of care by the so-called Accountable Care Organizations. Patients will also come to recognize that they are paying a very high price for the illusion of coverage under ObamaCare. As patients increasingly realize that, for the most part, they will be spending their own money for medical care during any given year, they will begin to look for better value in their medical care. Third-party-free physicians, who are able to provide timely access to care, and more face-to-face time with patients at an affordable cost, will become more attractive to many patients. Likewise, as high deductibles, high co-pays, and unlimited out-of-pocket costs are a reality under ObamaCare, health savings accounts will become more attractive to more patients. If one is going to spend one’s own money, one might as well spend tax-free money as opposed to after-tax money. “

A major concern about Obamacare has been its detrimental impact on full-time employment, a problem that would continue if the law remains in effect. Writing for Forbes last September,  Michael C. Cannon noted: “Four percent of large employers are reducing hiring because of the cost of providing health benefits to them… ObamaCare will depress wages for high-skilled workers by 1.3 percent and for low-income workers by 3 percent.”

The harsh economic impact of Obamacare doesn’t receive adequate attention.  Casey B. Mulligan writes in Side Effects and Complications: The Economic Consequences of Health-Care Reform that the economy, and particularly employment, are detrimentally affected.

Edward Morrissey, writing for the Fiscal Times,  concurs. He cites a Goldman Sachs study that demonstrates that employers have reduced full-time positions in favor of part-time ones that don’t require them to provide health insurance. That trend will continue if Obamacare is not repealed.

The continued existence of Obamacare-related taxes also would serve as an ongoing drag on the economy. Americans for Tax Reform’s John Kartch  lists the $1 trillion in taxes that would be repealed if the legislation were overturned:

Obamacare Individual Mandate Tax

Obamacare Employer Mandate Tax

Obamacare’s Medicine Cabinet Tax

Obamacare’s Flexible Spending Account tax

Obamacare’s Chronic Care Tax

Obamacare’s HSA withdrawal tax.

Obamacare’s 10% excise tax on small businesses with indoor tanning services.

Obamacare health insurance tax.

Obamacare 3.8% surtax on investment income.

Obamacare medical device tax.

Obamacare tax on prescription medicine.

Obamacare tax on retiree prescription drug coverage.

The Report concludes tomorrow.