The Trump-Russia Dossier: What Was BuzzFeed Thinking?
The Trump-Russia dossier reads as though the inside of the Kremlin is a high school cafeteria where you can overhear amazing state secrets all the time, says journalist Matt Taibbi – that's just not the way the Russians operate.\r\n
Matt Taibbi is an American journalist. He reports for Rolling Stone, authoring a "Road Rage" column for the print version, and a weekly online column, "The Low Post." Taibbi is well-known for covering the 2004 US presidential election, and for his earlier editorial contributions to newspapers the eXile, the New York Press, and the Beast. In 2008, Taibbi was a regular contributor to Real Time with Bill Maher. Much of his most recent reporting has covered scandals within the U.S. financial industry.
Matt Taibbi: The golden shower story it's kind of a classic journalistic ethical dilemma. On the one hand what do you do about a news story that everybody is talking about but who's factual basis is suspect? As a news organization you can't really ignore it, but if you cover it at all you're giving it attention without confirming it, which is kind of not what we're supposed to do in this business.
People who go to journalism school or who have been in this business for a long time we're kind of inculcated with this idea of the malice standard. We’re not supposed to put anything out there that we know to be untrue or that we don't feel solid about. If we knowingly put something out there in the news that we are unsure of that's malice, that's the grounds for liable. That's what we're not supposed to do. That's what the law tells us affirmatively that we can't do.
But that's exactly what went on with this BuzzFeed story. They actually openly said in the story: We have doubts about the veracity of this material but we're going to put it out there anyway. So now what does everybody do? You can't put the genie back in the bottle. Now it's a news story. It's a phenomenon that everybody is talking about. But if we can't confirm what's in the actual dossier then how do we talk about it?
And there's an additional problem with the story, which is that the motives of almost everybody involved are suspect. How is this material getting to reporters? Well, we know for sure that it was being shopped around to a number of different journalists in the last five or six months. It started off as opposition research first in the Republican Party and then by the Democrats.
And then there's this other problem where there are these leaks that are emanating from the intelligent services that are trying to foist, I think, on the population this idea that there are links between Russia and Donald Trump. But they're doing it in a way without showing their hand as to what the evidence is for that belief.
As somebody who lived over there for a long time, the dossier reads like the inside of the Kremlin is a high school cafeteria where you can overhear all these amazing state secrets all the time. I mean that's just not the way the Russians operate. They run a much tighter ship than that in my experience. I don't remember ever hearing anybody leaking word of these conversations between Putin and his inner circle back when I was there.
It's just really, really hard for me to imagine that we would get anything out of the Kremlin that they didn't want us to have, which makes it more confusing is this a disinformation campaign that's coming from Russia? Or is it totally fabricated by whoever wrote up that dossier? Or are the intelligence services trying to make us think that it's true? I mean it's a very difficult thing to try to sort out. But that's exactly the kind of thing we shouldn't be doing is engaging in this guessing game. We should really just stick to what we know.
It's like a bad parody of a leCarré novel or something like that.
On January 10, 2017, BuzzFeed published the ‘Trump–Russia Dossier’. The 35-page file of unverified information was collected by a former British intelligence officer and had been circulating behind-the-scenes amongst the media community for several weeks as journalists tried but failed to verify its claims. After CNN reported on the existence of the dossier, BuzzFeed published the document in full, acknowledging that its contents were unconfirmed and some parts outright erroneous, but believing that "Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government." Journalist Matt Taibbi weighs in on this ethical dilemma – should journalists participate in this kind of guessing game? Matt Taibbi's most recent book is Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the American Circus.
Matt Taibbi's most recent book is Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the American Circus.
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While not the first such minister, the loneliness epidemic in Japan will make this one the hardest working.
- The Japanese government has appointed a Minister of Loneliness to implement policies designed to fight isolation and lower suicide rates.
- They are the second country, after the U.K., to dedicate a cabinet member to the task.
- While Japan is famous for how its loneliness epidemic manifests, it isn't alone in having one.
The Ministry of Loneliness<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/I5FIohjZT8o" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p><a href="https://www.jimin.jp/english/profile/members/114749.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Tetsushi Sakamoto</a>, already in the government as the minister in charge of raising Japan's low birthrate and revitalizing regional economies, was appointed this <a href="https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/02/21/national/japan-tackles-loneliness/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">month</a> to the additional role. He has already announced plans for an emergency national forum to discuss the issue and share the testimony of lonely <a href="https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/02/12/national/loneliness-isolation-minister/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">individuals</a>.</p><p>Given the complexity of the problem, the minister will primarily oversee the coordination of efforts between different <a href="https://www.insider.com/japan-minister-of-loneliness-suicides-rise-pandemic-2021-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ministries</a> that hope to address the issue alongside a task <a href="https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/02/21/national/japan-tackles-loneliness/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">force</a>. He steps into his role not a moment too soon. The loneliness epidemic in Japan is uniquely well known around the world.</p><p><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hikikomori" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Hikikomori</em></a><em>,</em> often translated as "acute social withdrawal," is the phenomenon of people completely withdrawing from society for months or years at a time and living as modern-day hermits. While cases exist in many <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00247/full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">countries</a>, the problem is better known and more prevalent in Japan. Estimates vary, but some suggest that one million Japanese live like this and that 1.5 million more are at <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/article/japan-hikikomori-isolation-society" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">risk</a> of developing the condition. Individuals practicing this hermitage often express contentment with their isolation at first before encountering severe symptoms of loneliness and <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200110155241.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">distress</a>.</p><p><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodokushi" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Kodokushi</em></a>, the phenomenon of the elderly dying alone and remaining undiscovered for some time due to their isolation, is also a widespread issue in Japan that has attracted national attention for decades.</p><p>These are just the most shocking elements of the loneliness crisis. As we've discussed before, loneliness can cause health issues akin to <a href="https://www.inc.com/amy-morin/americas-loneliness-epidemic-is-more-lethal-than-smoking-heres-what-you-can-do-to-combat-isolation.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">smoking</a>. A lack of interaction within a community can cause social <a href="https://bigthink.com/in-their-own-words/how-religious-neighbors-are-better-neighbors" target="_self">problems</a>. It is even associated with changes in the <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/loneliness-brain" target="_self">brain</a>. While there is nothing wrong with wanting a little time to yourself, the inability to get the socialization that many people need is a real problem with real <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/brain-loneliness-hunger" target="_self">consequences</a>.</p>
The virus that broke the camel's back<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Hp-L844-5k8" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> A global loneliness pandemic existed before COVID-19, and the two working in tandem has been catastrophic. </p><p>Japanese society has always placed a value on solitude, often associating it with self-reliance, which makes dealing with the problem of excessive solitude more difficult. Before the pandemic, 16.1 percent of Japanese seniors reported having nobody to turn to in a time of need, the highest rate of any nation <a href="https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/02/21/national/japan-tackles-loneliness/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">considered</a>. Seventeen percent of Japanese men surveyed in 2005 said that they "rarely or never spend time with friends, colleagues, or others in social groups." This was three times the average rate of other <a href="http://www.oecd.org/sdd/37964677.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">countries</a>. </p><p>American individualism also creates a fertile environment for isolation to grow. About a month before the pandemic started, nearly<a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/01/23/798676465/most-americans-are-lonely-and-our-workplace-culture-may-not-be-helping" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> 3 in 5</a> Americans reported being lonely in a <a href="https://www.cigna.com/about-us/newsroom/studies-and-reports/combatting-loneliness/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">report</a> issued by Cigna. This is a slight increase over previous studies, which had been pointing in the same direction for years. </p><p>In the United Kingdom, the problem prompted the creation of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness. The commission's <a href="https://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/age-uk/documents/reports-and-publications/reports-and-briefings/active-communities/rb_dec17_jocox_commission_finalreport.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">final report </a>paints a stark picture of the U.K.'s situation in 2017, with millions of people from all parts of British society reporting feeling regular loneliness at a tremendous cost to personal health, society, and the economy.</p><p>The report called for a lead minister to address the problem at the national level, incorporating government action with the insights provided by volunteer organizations, businesses, the NHS, and other organizations on the crisis's front lines. Her Majesty's Government acted on the report and appointed the first Minister for Loneliness in <a href="https://time.com/5248016/tracey-crouch-uk-loneliness-minister/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2018</a>, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracey_Crouch" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Tracey Crouch</a>, and dedicated millions of pounds to battling the problem. </p><p>The distancing procedures necessitated by the COVID-19 epidemic saved many lives but exacerbated an existing problem of loneliness in many parts of the world. While the issue had received attention before, Japan's steps to address the situation suggest that people are now willing to treat it with the seriousness it deserves.</p><p>--</p><p><em>If you or a loved one are having suicidal thoughts, help is available. The suicide prevention hotline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.</em></p>
MIT professor Azra Akšamija creates works of cultural resilience in the face of social conflict.
Scientists use new methods to discover what's inside drug containers used by ancient Mayan people.
- Archaeologists used new methods to identify contents of Mayan drug containers.
- They were able to discover a non-tobacco plant that was mixed in by the smoking Mayans.
- The approach promises to open up new frontiers in the knowledge of substances ancient people consumed.
PARME staff archaeologists excavating a burial site at the Tamanache site, Mérida, Yucatan.
Do they really need the human touch?
- In Pinduoduo's Smart Agriculture Competition, four technology teams competed with traditional farmers over four months to grow strawberries.
- Data analysis, intelligent sensors and greenhouse automation helped the scientists win.
- Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies such as AI are forecast to deliver huge productivity gains – but need the right governance, according to the Global Technology Governance Report 2021.
Pinduoduo<h3>Growing potential</h3><p>Numerous studies show the potential for Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies like AI to boost economic growth and productivity.</p><p>By 2035, labour productivity in developed countries could rise by 40% due to the influence of AI, according to<a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/12/ai-productivity-automation-artificial-intelligence-countries/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> analysis from Accenture and Frontier Economics</a>.</p><p>Sweden, the US and Japan are expected to see the highest productivity increases.</p>