Microsoft’s Bing just called the first four primaries for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton

By MARK HACHMAN

In March, Microsoft said it would use its Bing technology to predict the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. On February 1, Microsoft said that Donald Trump would win the first four primaries by an even wider amount than before.

Microsoft’s Bing predicts that Trump will win the Republican primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada relatively easily, topping Ted Cruz in all four states. Hillary Clinton is expected to win three out of the first four Democratic primaries—Iowa, South Carolina, and Nevada—losing New Hampshire to Bernie Sanders.

Microsoft said it used data from polls, prediction markets, and anonymized and aggregated search-engine queries to predict its results—some of the methods that it’s used to predict the outcomes of everything from “American Idol” to the World Cup. It isn’t always right: Bing never predicted the Denver Broncos to play the New England Patriots in the NFL playoffs, let alone beat the New England Patriots—Bing’s erroneous pick to win the Super Bowl.

Why this matters: Microsoft routinely shows off Bing’s skills by mining Internet data for predictions on sports and entertainment, politics, and more. The Super Bowl, however, is a sporting event, retaining an element of unpredictability. Award shows are where Microsoft can sink its hooks deep into social sentiment and fish out winners: It correctly called the 2015 Academy Awards, for instance. Elections, where poll follows poll follows poll, are another wealth of data that Microsoft can tap. Microsoft correctly called the “No” vote on the referendum for Scotland to secede from Great Britain, and also accurately predicted the outcome of more than 95 percent of the 2014 U.S. midterm elections.

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The Times Endorses Hillary Clinton with a Banner Ad from Citigroup

By PAT MARTENS and RUSS MARTENS

Today’s digital edition of The New York Times captures the essence of the cancer eating away at our democracy: a leading newspaper is endorsing a deeply tarnished candidate for the highest office in America while a major Wall Street bank that has played a key role in her conflicted candidacy runs a banner ad as if to salute the endorsement. The slogan on Citigroup’s ad, “cash back once just isn’t enough,” perfectly epitomizes the frequency with which the Clintons have gone to the Citigroup well.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, among the top five largest lifetime donors to Hillary’s campaigns, Citigroup tops the list, with three other Wall Street banks also making the cut: Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley. (The monies come from employees and/or family members or PACs of the firms, not the corporation itself.)

Hillary Clinton famously told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in 2014 that she and Bill Clinton left the White House after his second term “dead broke.” But apparently, Citigroup felt they were a good investment. According to PolitiFact, Citigroup provided a $1.995 million mortgage to allow the Clintons to buy their Washington, D.C. residence in 2000. That liability does not pop up on the Clinton disclosure documents until 2011, showing a 30-year mortgage at 5.375 percent ranging in face amount from $1 million to $5 million from CitiMortgage. The disclosure says the mortgage was taken out in 2001.

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GMO mosquitoes could be cause of Zika outbreak, critics say

By RT NEWS

The latest contagious virus freaking out the globe, particularly women worried about birth defects, may have been caused by the presence of genetically-modified mosquitoes (GMMs) in Brazil.

With international health experts convening in Geneva to discuss possible cures for the Zika virus, questions are being raised as to whether they are actually to blame.

In mid-2012, British biotech company Oxitec released the super bugs with the aim of reducing the overall mosquito population that spreads dengue fever, the Zika virus, and chikungunya in northeast Brazil.

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Zika Outbreak Epicenter in Same Area Where GM Mosquitoes Were Released in 2015

By CLAIRE BERNISH

United States — The World Health Organization announced it will convene an Emergency Committee under International Health Regulations on Monday, February 1, concerning the Zika virus ‘explosive’ spread throughout the Americas. The virus reportedly has the potential to reach pandemic proportions — possibly around the globe. But understandingwhy this outbreak happened is vital to curbing it. As the WHO statement said:

“A causal relationship between Zika virus infection and birth malformations and neurological syndromes … is strongly suspected. [These links] have rapidly changed the risk profile of Zika, from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions.

“WHO is deeply concerned about this rapidly evolving situation for 4 main reasons: the possible association of infection with birth malformations and neurological syndromes; the potential for further international spread given the wide geographical distribution of the mosquito vector; the lack of population immunity in newly affected areas; and the absence of vaccines, specific treatments, and rapid diagnostic tests […]

“The level of concern is high, as is the level of uncertainty.”

Zika seemingly exploded out of nowhere. Though it was first discovered in 1947, cases only sporadically occurred throughout Africa and southern Asia. In 2007, the first case was reported in the Pacific. In 2013, a smattering of small outbreaks and individual cases were officially documented in Africa and the western Pacific. They also began showing up in the Americas. In May 2015, Brazil reported its first case of Zika virus — and the situation changed dramatically.

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More Than 1 in 20 U.S. Children Have Dizziness and Balance Problems

First large-scale, nationally representative survey finds issues slightly more common in girls, non-Hispanic white children.

By THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH

More than 1 in 20 (nearly 3.3 million) children between the ages of 3 and 17 have a dizziness or balance problem, according to an analysis of the first large-scale, nationally representative survey of these problems in U.S. children. Prevalence increases with age, with 7.5 percent of children ages 15-17 and 6.0 percent of children ages 12-14 having any dizziness or balance problem, compared with 3.6 percent of children ages 6-8 and 4.1 percent of children ages 3-5. The research was led by investigators at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers found that girls have a higher prevalence of dizziness and balance problems compared to boys, 5.7 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively. In addition, non-Hispanic white children have an increased prevalence of dizziness and balance problems (6.1 percent) compared with Hispanic (4.6 percent) and non-Hispanic black (4.3 percent) children. The findings were published online January 27 in The Journal of Pediatrics(link is external).

“These findings suggest that dizziness and balance problems are fairly common among children, and parents and providers should be aware of the impact these problems can have on our children,” said James F. Battey, Jr., M.D., Ph.D, director of the NIDCD and a pediatrician. “Parents who notice dizziness and balance problems in their children should consult a health care provider to rule out a serious underlying condition.”

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Obama’s powerful condemnation of anti-Semitism: ‘We are all Jews’

President Obama speaks at the Righteous Among the Nations award ceremony at the Israeli Embassy in Washington on Jan. 27. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

By COLBERT I. KING

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Now read this:

Ukraine Merges Nazis and Islamists

By Robert Parry (Originally published on July 7, 2015)

From the Archive: Many defenders of Ukraine’s post-coup government dismiss reports about neo-Nazis playing key roles in the U.S.-backed regime, but even the most enthusiastic Western propagandists have occasionally glimpsed that reality – and worse, as Robert Parry reported last July.

Wednesday evening at the Embassy of Israel, I observed two unforgettable firsts.

Until then, no Israeli ceremony honoring non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust had ever been held in the United States. This year, four honorees — two Americans and two Poles — were posthumously inducted into the ranks of some 26,000 Righteous Among the Nations hailed by Israel in gratitude for their courage and compassion.

Colbert I. “Colby” King writes a column — sometimes about D.C., sometimes about politics — on that runs on Saturdays. In 2003, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. King joined the Post’s editorial board in 1990 and served as deputy editorial page editor from 2000 to 2007.

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China’s Capitalist Crisis Threatens World Economy

By JOHN RAINFORD

In 1978, Deng Xiaoping, who Mao Tse Tung called a “capitalist roader”, initiated an economic reform program labelled “market socialism.”

Within two decades, China had managed to transition from a closed communist state to an open centre of dynamic capitalism with the greatest economic growth rates in human history.

After the onset of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008, China immediately injected $US586 billion into its economy in classical Keynesian counter-cyclical stimulus spending. The next year, it began the largest fixed investment stimulus program the world has ever seen.

Globally, fixed investment (physical assets) contributed no more than 25% of GDP growth in the 1990s. By 2009, fixed investment was responsible for 90% of GDP growth.

Over-capacity

If there is a single statistic that conveys the enormity of this infrastructure program, it is cement production. Between 2011 and 2014, China used more cement than the US did in the entire 20th century — 6.6 billion tonnes in four years compared with 4.5 billion tonnes in 100 years.

One result of this huge program of state-sponsored growth has been a property bubble that predictably burst, leaving roads to nowhere and ghost cities in its wake.

Another result is huge overcapacity in industrial production in the aluminium, cement, glass and steel industries. China produces more than 800 million tonnes of

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Nazi Roots of Ukraine’s Conflict

Few Americans understand the ugly history behind the Nazi-affiliated movements that have gained substantial power in today’s U.S.-backed Ukrainian regime. Western propaganda has made these right-wing extremists the “good guys” versus the Russian “bad guys.”

By JONATHAN MARSHALL

The latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine, one of the leading journals in its field, offers a two-page photo essay on “what to see, do, and buy” in Lviv, a picturesque city in the Western Ukraine. “Amid the turmoil that has rocked Ukraine over the past two years,” the article gushes, “Lviv has stood firmly as a stronghold of national culture, language, and identity.”

That’s one way of putting it. Another, less charitable way would be to note that Lviv has for nearly a century been a breeding ground of extreme Ukrainian nationalism, spawning terrorist movements, rabid anti-Semitism, and outright pro-Nazi political organizations that continue to pollute the country’s politics.

On the lovely cobblestone streets admired today by tourists flowed the blood of some 4,000 Jews who were massacred by locals in 1941, during the German occupation. They were egged on by the radical Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), whose founder and wartime leader is today a national hero to many of his countrymen.

On April 28, 2011, the 68th anniversary of the formation of a Ukrainian Waffen-SS division, hundreds of people marched through Lviv, with support from city council members, chanting slogans like “One race, one nation, one Fatherland!”

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Sanders camp suspicious of Microsoft’s influence in Iowa Caucus

By ALEX SEITZ-WALD

DES MOINES, Iowa – The campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is raising questions about the involvement of Microsoft in the Iowa Caucuses, now just days away, and has built an independent system to check the official results.

For the first time this year, Microsoft partnered with the Iowa Democratic and Republican Parties to provide a technology platform with which the parties will run their caucuses. The software giant created separate mobile apps for each party, which officials at hundreds of caucuses across the state will use to report out results from individual precincts to party headquarters for tabulation.

The arrangement has aroused the suspicions of aides to Sanders, who regularly warn that corporate power and the billionaire class are trying to hijack democracy. Pete D’Alessandro, who is running the Iowa portion of Sanders’ campaign, questioned the motives of the major multinational corporation in an interview with MSNBC: “You’d have to ask yourself why they’d want to give something like that away for free.”

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NY Times in-depth article on US heroin epidemic gets the cause and the solution all wrong

by MERYL NASS

On October 30, 2015 the NY Times published an in-depth article on the heroin epidemic, focused on New Hampshire, which saw the greatest increase in deaths from drug overdoses (74%) in the US between 2013 and 2014.  New Hampshire is a bucolic place, where villages of tidy white capes and saltboxes lie sprinkled among the mountains and pine forests. 

Manchester, New Hampshire’s largest city, has a population of 110,000.  In one 6 hour period onSeptember 24, Manchester police responded to 6 separate heroin overdoses. Manchester saw over 500 overdoses and over 60 deaths between January 1 and September 24, 2015.

At presidential campaign stops throughout the state, candidates were forced to respond to the problem when New Hampshire citizens demanded answers.  Hillary has a $10 billion dollar plan for prevention and treatment of abuse.  Chris Christie prefers treatment to jail time for first offenders. Obama announced a $5 million initiative in August to combat heroin addiction and trafficking. NH has designated a drug czarNH Senator Ayotte says “We’ve got to reduce the stigma.”  Narcan, an opiate antidote that has been made widely available, is admittedly a band-aid.  It saves lives from acute overdoses, but does absolutely nothing to stem the tide of abuse. 

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A Crazy Establishment Demands ‘Sanity’

Exclusive: As support grows for anti-Establishment candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, a frantic Establishment is demanding that Americans “stay sane” and vote for one of its approved candidates. But is it sane to follow advice that has led to endless wars and a disappearing middle class, asks Robert Parry.

By ROBERT PARRY

With ever-growing hysteria, the Establishment is begging, cajoling and warning American voters not to elect a rogue President from the Right or the Left, neither Donald Trump nor Bernie Sanders, but to accept instead one of the “sane” mainstream options. Yet, the unspoken truth is that the American Establishment has been off its rocker for decades.

It was, after all, Official Washington’s Establishment – led by the neoconservatives and their sidekicks, the liberal interventionists – that embraced President George W. Bush’s catastrophic invasion of Iraq in 2003. However, as costly as that decision was in terms of blood and money and cascading chaos – now destabilizing Europe – the Wise Men and Women imposed virtually zero accountability on themselves or other chief culprits.

Indeed, many of the same neocons who architected the Iraq disaster are listed as top foreign policy advisers to the “sane” candidates, such as Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. And Hillary Clinton not only voted for the Iraq War but seemed to learn no lessons from what she only grudgingly acknowledged was a “mistake.” As Secretary of State, she sided with Democratic “liberal interventionists” to engineer another “regime change” in Libya that has led to another failed state, further spreading chaos across the region.

A “sane” Establishment, one that truly cared about the interests of the American people, would have undertaken a serious self-examination after the Iraq War. Yet, there was none. Rather than cleaning house and banishing the neocons and liberal interventionists to the farthest reaches of national power, the Establishment rewarded these warmongers, ceding to them near-total control of American foreign policy thinking.

If anything, the neocons and liberal hawks consolidated their power after the Iraq War. By contrast, the foreign policy “realists” and anti-war progressives who warned against the invasion were the ones cast out of any positions of influence. How crazy is that!

It was as if supporting the Iraq War was the new initiation rite to join the Establishment’s elite fraternity of worthies, a kind of upside-down application of rewards and punishments that would only make sense at the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice’s Wonderland.

In a sane world, the publishers of The New York Times and The Washington Post would have purged their lead editorial writers who had advocated for the catastrophe. Instead, the Post retained its neocon editorial page editor Fred Hiatt – and nearly all of its pro-war columnists – and the Times even promoted liberal interventionist Bill Keller to the top job of executive editor after it became clear that he had been snookered about Iraq’s WMD.

Similar patterns were followed across the board, from The New Yorker on the Left to The Wall Street Journal on the Right. Pro-Iraq War writers and commentators continued on as if nothing untoward had happened. They remained the media big shots, rewarded with book contracts and TV appearances.

The same held true for the major think tanks. Instead of dumping neocons, the center-left Brookings Institution went off in search of neocon A-listers to sign, like Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century. The ultra-Establishment Council on Foreign Relations recruited its own neocon “stars,” Max Boot and Elliott Abrams.

And what did this year’s “sane” presidential candidates do as the deadly and dangerous consequences of neocon thinking spread from the Middle East into Europe? They pledged fealty to more neocon strategies. For instance, Establishment favorite, Sen. Marco Rubio, is advocating more “regime change” tough talk and more expansion of U.S. military power.

‘Stay Sane’

Nevertheless, when New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks urges Americans to “stay sane,” he is calling on them to support the likes of Rubio and reject the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had the sanity to vote against the Iraq War, and billionaire Donald Trump, who also questioned the wisdom of the war.

Brooks lamented that his favorite Rubio had resorted to some populist rhetoric of his own recently, but added: “Marco Rubio has had a bad month, darkening his tone and trying to sound like a cut-rate version of Trump and [Ted] Cruz. Before too long Rubio will realize his first task is to rally the voters who detest or fear those men. That means running as an optimistic American nationalist with specific proposals to reform Washington and lift the working class.”

Yet Rubio led the parade of dancing candidates who performed at the so-called “Adelson primary,” seeking to win the favors of gambling billionaire Sheldon Adelson by vowing to fully sync U.S. policies in the Middle East with positions favored by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (whereas Trump refused to toe that line). And Rubio’s warmed-over right-wing, trickle-down economic orthodoxy is sure to do little to help working- and middle-class Americans.

Brooks offers some dubious history, too, writing “In every recent presidential election American voters have selected the candidate with the most secure pair of hands. They’ve elected the person who would be a stable presence and companion for the next four years. I believe they’re going to do that again.”

It’s unclear how far back in time Brooks is going. Is he acknowledging that the American voters actually favored Al Gore in Election 2000 although the Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court decided to give the White House to the untested and unreliable George W. Bush? Is Brooks saying that Bill Clinton had more “secure” hands than George H.W. Bush in 1992 and that the radical right-winger Ronald Reagan was more “stable” than Jimmy Carter in 1980?

Indeed, the rapid divide of the United States into a land of haves and have-nots can be traced back, in large part, to Reagan’s economic policies of massive tax cuts primarily favoring the rich – and thus incentivizing greed – and his disparaging the role of democratic governance, which is the only force that can truly counter the power of the wealthy elites.

Since Reagan’s presidency, Republican orthodoxy has been to enact ever more generous tax cuts for the rich while freeing them from government regulation or “red tape.” Republicans along with Establishment Democrats – most notably President Bill Clinton – also favored “free trade” that led major corporations to shift their industrial jobs to Third World low-wage countries.

This combination of tax cuts for the rich, “free trade” for multinational corporations and disdain for “big government” intervention to protect average citizens – along with technological advances – has savaged the Great American Middle Class, which was largely created by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs and the major infrastructure investments after World War II. Under President Dwight Eisenhower, the top marginal tax rate for the richest Americans was 90 percent, essentially enforcing an American egalitarianism.

The abandonment of those hard-earned lessons from the Great Depression — a reversal accomplished  primarily by Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush — returned U.S. income inequality to levels not seen since the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

The Trump phenomenon can only be understood by factoring in the frustration and fear of the white working class that has shifted Republican since the 1960s because of anger over the Democrats supporting equal rights for blacks and other minorities. But those working-class whites now sense that the GOP leadership is selling them out, too, by favoring the ultra-rich donor class and willing to sacrifice their sons and daughters to implement unrealistic neocon foreign-policy schemes.

So these downwardly mobile white Americans are in rebellion and have embraced billionaire Trump, who rejects politics as usual and understands something of their blue-collar mindset because of his experience on popular reality TV shows.

Democratic Populism

Something similar is happening on the Democratic side through another imperfect vessel, Bernie Sanders. Democratic progressives see the consequences of a steady retreat by mainstream liberals on economic and foreign policy issues since Reagan’s election.

Rather than fight to convince the white working class about the need for democratic governance, Bill Clinton and other neo-liberals fashioned a strategy of catering to Wall Street and other rich donors by offering “free market” financial deregulation and “free trade” deals on manufacturing.

Sanders represents the first candidate for president in recent memory who has offered a full-throated defense of government as a necessary counter-balance to the power of the rich over both the economy and the electoral process (though President Obama has paid some lip service to those principles).

By contrast, Hillary Clinton represents a continuation of the cozy relations between the so-called New Democrats and the wealthy power centers of high finance and big corporations. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Clintons’ Paid-Speech Bonanza.”]

Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a Democratic presidential debate sponsored by CNN.

She also advocates foreign military interventions in line with what the neocons have sought as they demand U.S. fealty to Israeli interests. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Hillary Clinton Seeks Neocon Shelter.”]

As a senator, Clinton voted for the Iraq War – and as Secretary of State, she sided with the neocons and their “liberal interventionist” allies in escalating the war in Afghanistan, in engineering a bloody “regime change” in Libya, and in pushing for a direct U.S. military intervention in the Syrian civil war (via the creation of so-called “safe zones”).

Though Sanders’s foreign policy positions can be something of a muddle, he is generally more skeptical about U.S. military adventures than Clinton.

So, who are the crazy ones here? Does it make more sense to follow Hillary Clinton’s Establishment-friendly positions on issues from Wall Street regulation to Syrian military intervention or to support Bernie Sanders’s more aggressive strategy against income inequality and less aggressive approach toward foreign conflicts?

Similarly, on the Republican side, is it nuttier to back Rubio and other Establishment favorites who would effectively let Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu set U.S. policy in the region, even if that means invading Syria and accepting permanent warfare – or Trump who suggests letting the Russians and Iranians share the burden of battling Islamic extremists?

Clearly, the Establishment would have a stronger case if it hadn’t led the United States into one catastrophe after another, while refusing to hold its own representatives accountable.

There is the old line about insanity being defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. What David Brooks and other Establishment figures are demanding is that the American voters keep electing the same system-approved neocon/neolib presidents again and again and expecting something better for the nation.

Is that “staying sane” or “staying insane”?


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