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If you have seen the latest Netflix documentary “The Great Hack” on Cambridge Analytica (CA), a military contractor and psychological warfare firm involving a complex web of Facebook, Russian intrusion, the Trump campaign and Brexit referendum, it is time to meet Christopher Wylie — one of the two whistleblowers who blew the lid off the dark secrets of the “full service propaganda machine” and complete the dirty picture. Commodity.
The biggest data scandal of the decade that shook the ground beneath Facebook and its senior leadership, “Cambridge Analytica is Steve Bannon’s (former Trump adviser) psychological mindf**k tool,” writes Wylie in his just released book, titled “Mindf**k: Inside Cambridge Analytica’s Plot to Break the World”.
Billed as “a pink-haired, nose-ringed oracle sent from the future,” Wylie first began working for an obscure British military contractor SCL Group.
Conservative strategist Bannon became involved with the SCL Group and brought on board billionaire Robert Mercer, who was on a crusade to start his own far-right insurgency and launch an ideological assault on America with SCL subsidiary Cambridge Analytica.
Wylie, 24, served as research director at Cambridge Analytica for a year and a half and saw closely how the firm combined psychological research with private Facebook data of 87 million users to make an invisible weapon with the power to change what the US voters perceived as real in the 2016 presidential elections with Russian intrusion.
And when Britain shocked the world by voting the leave the European Union (EU), Wylie realised it was time to expose the associates.
“The story of Cambridge Analytica shows how our identities and behaviour have become commodities in the high-stake data trade, the companies that control the flow of information are among the most powerful in the world, the algorithms they have designed in secret are shaping minds in ways previously unimaginable,” says Wylie.
You cannot escape Silicon Valley, the new epicentre of our crisis of perception.
“My work with Cambridge Analytica exposed the dark side of tech innovation. We innovated, Russia innovated and Facebook — the same site where you share your party invites and baby pictures — allowed these innovations to be unleashed,” he writes.
His continuous tirade against data hunters bore fruits when in a historic judgment on July 24 this year, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) slapped a massive $5 billion fine on Facebook over users’ privacy violations in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, along with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) directing the social networking platform to pay $100 million penalty for making misleading disclosures regarding the risk of misuse of user data.
Wylie, who risked his life to share the deep secrets running into thousands of pages with US officials saw greed, power, racism and colonialism up close at Cambridge Analytica.
“I saw how billionaires behave when they want to shape the world in their image. I saw the most bizarre dark niches of our society as a whistleblower what big companies will do to protect their profiles. I saw flag-waving patriots turn a blind eye to the defacement of the rule of law on the most important constitutional question of a generation,” he laments.
Cambridge Analytica had 5,000 data points on every American — invisible information that was not visible to anyone except the data scientists at the firm.
According to Wylie, we have seen the value of personal data create entirely new business models and huge profits for social media platforms such as Facebook who have vigorously argued that they are a “free” service.
Hundreds of millions of Americans entered into Facebook’s invisible architecture, thinking it was an innocuous place to share pictures and follow their favourite celebrities.
They were drawn into the convenience of connecting with friends and the ability to fend off boredom with games and apps. In reality, they were guinea pigs for millions of advertisers.
Wylie argues that if we are to prevent another Cambridge Analytica from attacking our civil institutions, we have to shun the mistaken view “that somehow, the law cannot keep up with technology”.
“The technology sector loves to parrot this idea, as it tends to make legislators feel too stupid or out of touch to challenge their power, but the law can keep up with technology, just as with medicines, civil engineering food standards, energy and countless other highly technical fields.
“We need new rules to help create a healthy friction on the Internet, like speed bumps, to ensure safety new technologies and ecosystems,” he writes. (IANS)
The symbol of Swastika is known to signify peace, prosperity, and good fortune in the religious cultures of Eurasia. In fact, this symbol is considered very significant in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. But, at the same time, it has become one of the most misunderstood religious symbols and has been globally banned in many countries.
The reason why the symbol of Swastika is banned in many countries is because of its association with Adolf Hitler's extreme political ideology, Nazism, as Swastika as its official symbol.
Austria, France, Latvia, Spain, Germany, and Russia are amongst the many countries that have banned the display and use of the Swastika.
Moreover, last week Victoria in Australia is preparing to become the first-ever state to ban the public display of the Swastika. This is a step towards an expansion of anti-vilification laws in the state.
Representation of the Swastika on the flag of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Movement.Photo by Flickr.
Now, we must know and understand what went wrong with this symbol, which is sacred and signifies all-good things.
For a very, very long time, in India, the Swastika is the first emblem that is worshipped or even drawn before any sacred and auspicious ceremonies as this symbol in Sanskrit represents 'well-being'. But, the Swastika lost all its credibility when it was wrongfully used by Adolf Hitler.
In fact, it is believed that if this symbol is worshipped properly, then it gives positive results. But if it is abused, then it gives negative results. So, when Adolf Hitler rotated the Swastika at 45 degrees, it slowly and steadily brought misery not only to Adolf Hitler and his theory of Nazism but also to all the people who were associated with him.
Therefore, in order to give the kind of respect and credibility which the Swastika deserves, World Interfaith Harmony Week which was held in New York in February this year, interfaith groups appealed to the United Nations to recognize and acknowledge the Swastika as an important and peaceful symbol. In fact, they also differentiated it from the Hakenkreuz or "Hooked Cross" of Adolf Hitler.
India celebrated a historic day on August 7, as 23-year-old Neeraj Chopra became the first Indian to win an Olympic gold medal in athletics. In the men's javelin throw event, he achieved his greatest triumph, throwing the javelin 87.58 meters on his second try.
Neeraj Chopra was born on December 24, 1997, in Khandra village in Haryana's Panipat district. He grew up in a Haryanavi family of farmers. He is the brother of two sisters. He graduated from Dayanand Anglo-Vedic College in Chandigarh and is now enrolled in Lovely Professional University in Jalandhar, Punjab, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree. Chopra was bullied due to his obesity as a kid, which prompted his father to enroll him in a nearby gym. He then joined a gym in Panipat, where Jaiveer Choudhary, a javelin thrower, noticed his potential and coached him. When the 13-year-old Chopra finished training under Jaiveer for a year, he was enrolled at the Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex in Panchkula, where he began training under coach Naseem Ahmed.
In 2018, he broke the world record in the javelin throw and became India's first-ever gold medalist in the javelin throw. He is also a laureate of the Arjuna Award for 2018. | Wikimedia Commons
Chopra's first international medal came in 2014, as he took home a silver medal at the Youth Olympic Qualification Tournament in Bangkok. In 2015, he set a world record in the junior category of 81.04 meters in the 2015 All India Inter-University Athletics Meet.
Since emerging into the public eye with a historic gold medal at the junior world championships in 2016, he has maintained a high level of performance, setting an Under-20 world record of 86.48m, which still stands. Gold medals in both the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the 2018 Asian Games are among his other accomplishments, including a first-place in the 2017 Asian Championships. In 2018, he broke the world record in the javelin throw and became India's first-ever gold medalist in the javelin throw. He is also a laureate of the Arjuna Award for 2018.
Chopra has also had his share of bad events in life. In 2019, he underwent surgery on the elbow of his right throwing arm, which kept him out of the game for almost a year. However, he returned more robust than ever. In November 2019, he went to South Africa to train from Klaus Bartoneitz. He spent the following year in India training at the NIS Patiala because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was allowed to go to France with his coach after weeks of trying to get a travel visa.
Neeraj Chopra made history in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by becoming the first Indian to win a gold medal in athletics. Also, it is worth mentioning that after Abhinav Bindra, Chopra is only the second Indian to win an individual gold medal.
Keywords: Neeraj Chopra, Olympics, Tokyo2020, Gold medal, javelin, India, Haryana
The emergence of the Industrial Revolution in Victorian England brought with it many apprehensions and fears that translated into a new genre in literature: the gothic. Today, the idea of the gothic does not have to much with literature as much as it is associated with fashion.
The Victorians began to wear black more often during the Industrial Revolution to hide the stains of soot on their clothes. Many of the working class were employed in factories. They were newly introduced to technology, the idea of coal as fuel, and the working of machines to serve a certain purpose. This kind of work was hard and messy. Wearing light colours burdened the tired folk when the stubborn stains did not get washed away.
The steam engine was invented to make locomotion easier for the masses, but it brought fear to the people. They had led quiet and simple lives till now, and suddenly their world was infiltrated with loud noises and smoke. Dark places became synonymous with evil deeds and mysteries. It was from this time that horror gained a place in the imaginations of people and artists.
A man sporting gothic clothes and shock coloured hair Image source: wikimedia commons
The gothics of today are those who have held on to these practices. There is no need to fear smoke and noise anymore, but the goths wear black clothes all the time, paint their skin a pale shade, to contrast their clothes, and wear bright shades of red. The traditional gothics decorated themselves with jewellery bearing religious significances, as the belief in Dracula and vampires emerged in the Victorian period. Today, it is a trend to wear studded crosses, or crosses made of black metal either as neck chokers, or earrings.
Modern goths also wear bright monotones to show their patronage of a certain style or order of the goths. They can be seen in neon shades of green, pink, and yellow, often sporting piercings, and matching hair. Their tastes are metallic, and they have an uncanny love for tattoos.
Designers consistently include gothic tastes and styles in their clothing lines to create inclusivity for this subculture. Being gothic, or identifying with them is somewhat a concern even in today's society, and such people are often stigmatised to the extent that it is considered a mental illness associated with the dark arts. The phenomenon is mostly observed in teenagers, and often phases out when they reach adulthood, depending on their sphere of influence.
Keywords: Gothic, Fashion, Victorian, Black, Jewellery