Mar 17, 2018
New York Times | Asia Pacific: North Korea-Sweden Talks Focus on ‘Peaceful Solution’ to Nuclear Conflict
North Korea-Sweden Talks Focus on ‘Peaceful Solution’ to Nuclear Conflict
The Swedish and North Korean foreign ministers concluded three days of talks in Stockholm on Saturday over the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, discussions that may help facilitate a meeting between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea.
The two sides “discussed opportunities and challenges for continued diplomatic efforts to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict,” according to a statement issued by the Swedish Foreign Ministry at the end of the talks between Ri Yong-ho, the North’s foreign minister, and his Swedish counterpart, Margot Wallstrom.
The statement added: “Sweden underlined the need for North Korea to dismantle its nuclear arms and missiles program in line with several Security Council resolutions.”
Tensions between North Korea and the West, notably the United States, have lowered in recent weeks, but the two sides traded a series of threats and insults late last year, raising the specter of armed conflict.
Still, even as fears of a confrontation have subsided to some degree, the decision by Mr. Trump to accept an invitation from Mr. Kim for a meeting shocked diplomats and experts.
In one sign of easing relations, this year’s joint South Koren-American military exercises are expected to be shorter in duration and deploy fewer military assets. Yonhap, the South Korean news agency, reported Friday that the exercises will last only a month instead of two, and that B1-bombers and aircraft carriers would not take part, as they have in the past.
Pyongyang has long opposed the annual drills, viewing them as preparation for an attack.
The talks in Stockholm also touched on Sweden’s role in North Korea as a diplomatic stand-in for the United States, Canada and Australia, which do not have a presence there. Sweden provides so-called protective consular services for those countries, including meeting with citizens imprisoned there.
Other topics included humanitarian conditions in North Korea, sanctions, regional cooperation and security issues for South Korea, Japan, Russia, China and the United States, according to the Swedish ministry.
In addition to his talks with the foreign minister, Mr. Ri met with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven on Friday morning.
Mr. Ri arrived in Sweden on Thursday for the talks, which had been long planned but gained widespread attention after Mr. Trump accepted Mr. Kim’s invitation.
Mr. Lofven said this month that he was willing to host a meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim. “If we can help in any way, we will do it,” he said at a news conference, noting that Sweden has had an embassy in Pyongyang since the 1970s.
“Their trust in us is longstanding because we were first on the spot. We were the ones to break the ice and open an embassy,” said Erik Cornell, the Swedish ambassador who opened the country’s embassy in Pyongyang in 1975.
Niklas Swanstrom, the director of the Institute for Security and Development Policy, a Swedish research group, said the country has “had some access and influence in North Korea.”
“Comparative to other Western states, we have had a unique relationship with the North Korean government, due to our neutrality, due to our supervisory role and also the protective mission,” said Mr. Swanstrom, referring to Sweden’s supervisory role in monitoring the armistice that ended hostilities in the Korean War.
If the upcoming talks were to be held in a foreign country, then Sweden or Switzerland could be an option, Mr. Swanstrom said, but added that it was more likely they would take place in the Korean Demilitarized Zone. “The DMZ is more likely, as Mr. Kim has not traveled outside the country since he took power,” Mr. Swanstrom said.On Friday, in a short statement to journalists, Ms. Wallstrom said, “We are glad that we can have this meeting.” She added: “But we are not naïve in any way. We do not think that we can solve this issue. It is up to the parties to solve it. If we can use our contacts in the best way, then we will do that
Oil & Energy Investor | Saudi Crown Prince's "Charm" Tour Heads to America for IPO Exchange Shopping on March 17,2018.
March 17, 2018
Dear Oil & Energy Investor,
As I've mentioned in previous editions of Oil & Energy Investor, the Saudi Aramco IPO will sell off 5% of its shares publically, allowing investors access for the first time.
There's just one problem...
They're still shopping around for an exchange to list the IPO.
But there's been plenty of chatter about where Saudi Aramco might go.
From the NYSE and NASDAQ in the U.S., to the Korea Exchange and Japan Exchange Group in Asia, to the London Stock Exchange in England, there's no shortage of prominent exchange "suitors" for Aramco to choose from.
Now, Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, is certainly being careful about what he does - and keeping any decisions hush-hush.
Which means the mystery of the IPO location is far from over...
In fact, it may have gotten even more speculative.
See, MbS has just kicked off his first global "charm" tour since coming into power.
So far on this historic trip, The Crown Prince has made some strategic stops in Egypt and London as he "shops" around for an exchange.
And next on his agenda is the United States.
The Crown Prince currently has two U.S. destinations on the books: New York (and likely Wall Street), and Washington, D.C. - he will be landing in the U.S. on Monday.
President Trump has been quite vocal about his interest in the IPO listing in the U.S. He tweeted back in November, "Would very much appreciate Saudi Arabia doing their IPO of Aramco with the New York Stock Exchange. Important to the United States!"
And Tuesday, Mohammad bin Salman will finally be meeting with Trump. I suspect this is when everything will come to a head...
I believe next week's historic event will mark a major milestone in what I believe is the Saudis' ambitious, but strategic, ploy to get oil prices back to at least $100.
All of this, part of an extremely lucrative agenda: paving the way to what they intend to be a wildly successful debut of the biggest IPO the world has ever seen.
My sources are saying that this will be four times bigger than Alibaba - which holds the record as the largest IPO in the U.S. to date.
And although I can't say exactly when this IPO will happen, I've found something you can capitalize on right now... ahead of $100 oil.
In fact, I've found not one, but four back-door profit opportunities that you could take advantage of today.
Anticipating next week's happenings, I've already crunched the numbers for you.
Which is why you ought to take a look at these profit plays that could make you a combined 1,329% profit (even before this IPO is announced).
Make no mistake: this could be the financial event of the century, yielding a $2 trillion windfall.
Which is why you simply can't miss this profit opportunity unfolding right now. Just click here to see my eye-opening interview and how to take advantage of all these urgent profit alerts.
How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions
Matthew Rosenberg, Nicholas Confessore and Carole Cadwalladr
LONDON — As the upstart voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica prepared to wade into the 2014 American midterm elections, it had a problem.
The firm had secured a $15 million investment from Robert Mercer, the wealthy Republican donor, and wooed his political adviser, Stephen K. Bannon, with the promise of tools that could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior. But it did not have the data to make its new products work.
So the firm harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission, according to former Cambridge employees, associates and documents, making it one of the largest data leaks in the social network’s history. The breach allowed the company to exploit the private social media activity of a huge swath of the American electorate, developing techniques that underpinned its work on President Trump’s campaign in 2016.
An examination by The New York Times and The Observer of London reveals how Cambridge Analytica’s drive to bring to market a potentially powerful new weapon put the firm — and wealthy conservative investors seeking to reshape politics — under scrutiny from investigators and lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Christopher Wylie, who helped found Cambridge and worked there until late 2014, said of its leaders: “Rules don’t matter for them. For them, this is a war, and it’s all fair.”
“They want to fight a culture war in America,” he added. “Cambridge Analytica was supposed to be the arsenal of weapons to fight that culture war.”
Details of Cambridge’s acquisition and use of Facebook data have surfaced in several accounts since the business began working on the 2016 campaign, setting off a furious debate about the merits of the firm’s so-called psychographic modeling techniques.
But the full scale of the data leak involving Americans has not been previously disclosed — and Facebook, until now, has not acknowledged it. Interviews with a half-dozen former employees and contractors, and a review of the firm’s emails and documents, have revealed that Cambridge not only relied on the private Facebook data but still possesses most or all of the trove.
Cambridge paid to acquire the personal information through an outside researcher who, Facebook says, claimed to be collecting it for academic purposes.
During a week of inquiries from The Times, Facebook downplayed the scope of the leak and questioned whether any of the data still remained out of its control. But on Friday, the company posted a statement expressing alarm and promising to take action.
“This was a scam — and a fraud,” Paul Grewal, a vice president and deputy general counsel at the social network, said in a statement to The Times earlier on Friday. He added that the company was suspending Cambridge Analytica, Mr. Wylie and the researcher, Aleksandr Kogan, a Russian-American academic, from Facebook. “We will take whatever steps are required to see that the data in question is deleted once and for all — and take action against all offending parties,” Mr. Grewal said.
Alexander Nix, the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, and other officials had repeatedly denied obtaining or using Facebook data, most recently during a parliamentary hearing last month. But in a statement to The Times, the company acknowledged that it had acquired the data, though it blamed Mr. Kogan for violating Facebook’s rules and said it had deleted the information as soon as it learned of the problem two years ago.
In Britain, Cambridge Analytica is facing intertwined investigations by Parliament and government regulators into allegations that it performed illegal work on the “Brexit” campaign. The country has strict privacy laws, and its information commissioner announced on Saturday that she was looking into whether the Facebook data was “illegally acquired and used.”
In the United States, Mr. Mercer’s daughter, Rebekah, a board member, Mr. Bannon and Mr. Nix received warnings from their lawyer that it was illegal to employ foreigners in political campaigns, according to company documents and former employees.
Congressional investigators have questioned Mr. Nix about the company’s role in the Trump campaign. And the Justice Department’s special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has demanded the emails of Cambridge Analytica employees who worked for the Trump team as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the election.
While the substance of Mr. Mueller’s interest is a closely guarded secret, documents viewed by The Times indicate that the firm’s British affiliate claims to have worked in Russia and Ukraine. And the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, disclosed in October that Mr. Nix had reached out to him during the campaign in hopes of obtaining private emails belonging to Mr. Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
The documents also raise new questions about Facebook, which is already grappling with intense criticism over the spread of Russian propaganda and fake news. The data Cambridge collected from profiles, a portion of which was viewed by The Times, included details on users’ identities, friend networks and “likes.” Only a tiny fraction of the users had agreed to release their information to a third party.
“Protecting people’s information is at the heart of everything we do,” Mr. Grewal said. “No systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked.”
Still, he added, “it’s a serious abuse of our rules.”
Reading Voters’ Minds
The Bordeaux flowed freely as Mr. Nix and several colleagues sat down for dinner at the Palace Hotel in Manhattan in late 2013, Mr. Wylie recalled in an interview. They had much to celebrate.
Mr. Nix, a brash salesman, led the small elections division at SCL Group, a political and defense contractor. He had spent much of the year trying to break into the lucrative new world of political data, recruiting Mr. Wylie, then a 24-year-old political operative with ties to veterans of President Obama’s campaigns. Mr. Wylie was interested in using inherent psychological traits to affect voters’ behavior and had assembled a team of psychologists and data scientists, some of them affiliated with Cambridge University.
The group experimented abroad, including in the Caribbean and Africa, where privacy rules were lax or nonexistent and politicians employing SCL were happy to provide government-held data, former employees said.
Then a chance meeting bought Mr. Nix into contact with Mr. Bannon, the Breitbart News firebrand who would later become a Trump campaign and White House adviser, and with Mr. Mercer, one of the richest men on earth.
Mr. Nix and his colleagues courted Mr. Mercer, who believed a sophisticated data company could make him a kingmaker in Republican politics, and his daughter Rebekah, who shared his conservative views. Mr. Bannon was intrigued by the possibility of using personality profiling to shift America’s culture and rewire its politics, recalled Mr. Wylie and other former employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they had signed nondisclosure agreements. Mr. Bannon and the Mercers declined to comment.
Mr. Mercer agreed to help finance a $1.5 million pilot project to poll voters and test psychographic messaging in Virginia’s gubernatorial race in November 2013, where the Republican attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, ran against Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic fund-raiser. Though Mr. Cuccinelli lost, Mr. Mercer committed to moving forward.
The Mercers wanted results quickly, and more business beckoned. In early 2014, the investor Toby Neugebauer and other wealthy conservatives were preparing to put tens of millions of dollars behind a presidential campaign for Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, work that Mr. Nix was eager to win.
When Mr. Wylie’s colleagues failed to produce a memo explaining their work to Mr. Neugebauer, Mr. Nix castigated them over email.
“ITS 2 PAGES!! 4 hours work max (or an hour each). What have you all been doing??” he wrote.
Mr. Wylie’s team had a bigger problem. Building psychographic profiles on a national scale required data the company could not gather without huge expense. Traditional analytics firms used voting records and consumer purchase histories to try to predict political beliefs and voting behavior.
But those kinds of records were useless for figuring out whether a particular voter was, say, a neurotic introvert, a religious extrovert, a fair-minded liberal or a fan of the occult. Those were among the psychological traits the firm claimed would provide a uniquely powerful means of designing political messages.
Mr. Wylie found a solution at Cambridge University’s Psychometrics Centre. Researchers there had developed a technique to map personality traits based on what people had liked on Facebook. The researchers paid users small sums to take a personality quiz and download an app, which would scrape some private information from their profiles and those of their friends, activity that Facebook permitted at the time. The approach, the scientists said, could reveal more about a person than their parents or romantic partners knew — a claim that has been disputed.
When the Psychometrics Centre declined to work with the firm, Mr. Wylie found someone who would: Dr. Kogan, who was then a psychology professor at the university and knew of the techniques. Dr. Kogan built his own app and in June 2014 began harvesting data for Cambridge Analytica. The business covered the costs — more than $800,000 — and allowed him to keep a copy for his own research, according to company emails and financial records.
All he divulged to Facebook, and to users in fine print, was that he was collecting information for academic purposes, the social network said. It did not verify his claim. Dr. Kogan declined to provide details of what happened, citing nondisclosure agreements with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, though he maintained that his program was “a very standard vanilla Facebook app.”
He ultimately provided over 50 million raw profiles to the firm, Mr. Wylie said, a number confirmed by a company email and a former colleague. Of those, roughly 30 million — a number previously reported by The Intercept — contained enough information, including places of residence, that the company could match users to other records and build psychographic profiles. Only about 270,000 users — those who participated in the survey — had consented to having their data harvested.
Mr. Wylie said the Facebook data was “the saving grace” that let his team deliver the models it had promised the Mercers.
“We wanted as much as we could get,” he acknowledged. “Where it came from, who said we could have it — we weren’t really asking.”
Mr. Nix tells a different story. Appearing before a parliamentary committee last month, he described Dr. Kogan’s contributions as “fruitless.”
An International Effort
Just as Dr. Kogan’s efforts were getting underway, Mr. Mercer agreed to invest $15 million in a joint venture with SCL’s elections division. The partners devised a convoluted corporate structure, forming a new American company, owned almost entirely by Mr. Mercer, with a license to the psychographics platform developed by Mr. Wylie’s team, according to company documents. Mr. Bannon, who became a board member and investor, chose the name: Cambridge Analytica.
The firm was effectively a shell. According to the documents and former employees, any contracts won by Cambridge, originally incorporated in Delaware, would be serviced by London-based SCL and overseen by Mr. Nix, a British citizen who held dual appointments at Cambridge Analytica and SCL. Most SCL employees and contractors were Canadian, like Mr. Wylie, or European.
But in July 2014, an American election lawyer advising the company, Laurence Levy, warned that the arrangement could violate laws limiting the involvement of foreign nationals in American elections.
In a memo to Mr. Bannon, Ms. Mercer and Mr. Nix, the lawyer, then at the firm Bracewell & Giuliani, warned that Mr. Nix would have to recuse himself “from substantive management” of any clients involved in United States elections. The data firm would also have to find American citizens or green card holders, Mr. Levy wrote, “to manage the work and decision making functions, relative to campaign messaging and expenditures.”
In summer and fall 2014, Cambridge Analytica dived into the American midterm elections, mobilizing SCL contractors and employees around the country. Few Americans were involved in the work, which included polling, focus groups and message development for the John Bolton Super PAC, conservative groups in Colorado and the campaign of Senator Thom Tillis, the North Carolina Republican.
Cambridge Analytica, in its statement to The Times, said that all “personnel in strategic roles were U.S. nationals or green card holders.” Mr. Nix “never had any strategic or operational role” in an American election campaign, the company said.
Whether the company’s American ventures violated election laws would depend on foreign employees’ roles in each campaign, and on whether their work counted as strategic advice under Federal Election Commission rules.
Cambridge Analytica appears to have exhibited a similar pattern in the 2016 election cycle, when the company worked for the campaigns of Mr. Cruz and then Mr. Trump. While Cambridge hired more Americans to work on the races that year, most of its data scientists were citizens of the United Kingdom or other European countries, according to two former employees.
Under the guidance of Brad Parscale, Mr. Trump’s digital director in 2016 and now the campaign manager for his 2020 re-election effort, Cambridge performed a variety of services, former campaign officials said. That included designing target audiences for digital ads and fund-raising appeals, modeling voter turnout, buying $5 million in television ads and determining where Mr. Trump should travel to best drum up support.
Cambridge executives have offered conflicting accounts about the use of psychographic data on the campaign. Mr. Nix has said that the firm’s profiles helped shape Mr. Trump’s strategy — statements disputed by other campaign officials — but also that Cambridge did not have enough time to comprehensively model Trump voters.
In a BBC interview last December, Mr. Nix said that the Trump efforts drew on “legacy psychographics” built for the Cruz campaign.
After the Leak
By early 2015, Mr. Wylie and more than half his original team of about a dozen people had left the company. Most were liberal-leaning, and had grown disenchanted with working on behalf of the hard-right candidates the Mercer family favored.
Cambridge Analytica, in its statement, said that Mr. Wylie had left to start a rival firm, and that it later took legal action against him to enforce intellectual property claims. It characterized Mr. Wylie and other former “contractors” as engaging in “what is clearly a malicious attempt to hurt the company.”
Near the end of that year, a report in The Guardian revealed that Cambridge Analytica was using private Facebook data on the Cruz campaign, sending Facebook scrambling. In a statement at the time, Facebook promised that it was “carefully investigating this situation” and would require any company misusing its data to destroy it.
Facebook verified the leak and — without publicly acknowledging it — sought to secure the information, efforts that continued as recently as August 2016. That month, lawyers for the social network reached out to Cambridge Analytica contractors. “This data was obtained and used without permission,” said a letter that was obtained by the Times. “It cannot be used legitimately in the future and must be deleted immediately.”
Mr. Grewal, the Facebook deputy general counsel, said in a statement that both Dr. Kogan and “SCL Group and Cambridge Analytica certified to us that they destroyed the data in question.”
But copies of the data still remain beyond Facebook’s control. The Times viewed a set of raw data from the profiles Cambridge Analytica obtained.
While Mr. Nix has told lawmakers that the company does not have Facebook data, a former employee said that he had recently seen hundreds of gigabytes on Cambridge servers, and that the files were not encrypted.
Today, as Cambridge Analytica seeks to expand its business in the United States and overseas, Mr. Nix has mentioned some questionable practices. This January, in undercover footage filmed by Channel 4 News in Britain and viewed by The Times, he boasted of employing front companies and former spies on behalf of political clients around the world, and even suggested ways to entrap politicians in compromising situations.
All the scrutiny appears to have damaged Cambridge Analytica’s political business. No American campaigns or “super PACs” have yet reported paying the company for work in the 2018 midterms, and it is unclear whether Cambridge will be asked to join Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign.
In the meantime, Mr. Nix is seeking to take psychographics to the commercial advertising market. He has repositioned himself as a guru for the digital ad age — a “Math Man,” he puts it. In the United States last year, a former employee said, Cambridge pitched Mercedes-Benz, MetLife and the brewer AB InBev, but has not signed them on.
The New York Times ( nytimes.com) | President of Steven Cohen Investment Firm Quits Amid Gender Bias Lawsuit
President of Steven Cohen’s Investment Firm Quits Amid Gender Bias Lawsuit
Matthew Goldstein and Jessica Silver-Greenberg
A top executive at the investment firm led by the billionaire investor Steven A. Cohen has stepped down a month after a female employee sued the firm over accusations that it underpaid female employees and fostered a hostile work environment.
Douglas D. Haynes resigned as president of the firm, Point72 Asset Management, on Friday, according to five people briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak publicly because the suit is continuing. Mr. Haynes, a former executive at McKinsey & Company who joined Point72 in 2014, is named as a defendant in the suit.
The firm confirmed Mr. Haynes’s departure to employees in a letter on Friday. In the letter, Mr. Cohen thanked Mr. Haynes for his work at Point72.
The letter, a copy of which was seen by two of the people who spoke to The New York Times, did not address the lawsuit or the allegations in it. The two people said that Mr. Haynes’s departure was not related to the litigation.
Mr. Haynes could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday.
In the suit, which was filed last month in Federal District Court in Manhattan, Lauren Bonner, an associate director at the firm, said that Mr. Haynes had belittled women employees — calling one a “dumb blonde” — and had a whiteboard in his office on which the word “pussy” was written in large letters and left there for several weeks last year.
Point72, which is based in Stamford, Conn., said in a statement after the suit was filed that it “emphatically denies these allegations.” In court, lawyers for Mr. Cohen and Point72 have sought to move the matter to arbitration. Early on Saturday, Ellen Davis, a Point72 spokeswoman, said, “The firm’s view remains that the lawsuit is without merit.”
Ms. Davis said in a separate, subsequent statement, “Steve Cohen wants to make sure that his firm is living up to its stated values and fostering a respectful workplace.” As part of that effort, she said, Mr. Cohen had retained the prominent law firm WilmerHale “to conduct an independent assessment and provide legal advice that will help to improve the firm’s policies and procedures, strengthen its culture and foster best practices.”
Leading the review, the people familiar with the matter said, is Jamie Gorelick, a Wilmer partner who is a former deputy United States attorney general. Several women at Point72 had been interviewed by lawyers as part of the review, the people said.
When it was filed, Ms. Bonner’s suit threatened to complicate Mr. Cohen’s efforts to convert his $11 billion firm from an entity that manages only his family’s money into a hedge fund that would also manage $2 billion to $4 billion from outside investors. The suit was also among the most prominent to accuse a major Wall Street firm of workplace misconduct amid a national reckoning on sexual harassment.
Mr. Haynes was one of the first people Mr. Cohen hired after shutting down his former hedge fund, SAC Capital Advisors, after it pleaded guilty to insider trading charges and paid $1.8 billion in fines and penalties in 2014.
Mr. Haynes was brought in to serve as managing director for human capital but soon was named president. He was seen as an important figure in Mr. Cohen’s efforts to prove to federal authorities that Point72 would adhere to high ethical standards. That he was accused of belittling and being dismissive of female employees was significant given that he was brought in to help clean up the firm’s culture.
In his letter to Point72 employees, Mr. Cohen, who is also named as defendant in Ms. Bonner’ suit, said he would serve as the firm’s president while searching for a successor to Mr. Haynes.
Ms. Bonner does not accuse Mr. Cohen of behaving inappropriately toward women. Her suit says that Point72’s female employees were, on average, paid much less than their male counterparts. It also notes that only one of the 125 portfolio managers of the firm’s roughly 1,000 employees was a woman.
Ms. Bonner’s lawyer, Jeanne M. Christensen, suggested in an email on Saturday that Mr. Haynes’s resignation would not have an impact on the litigation.
“We will continue to aggressively pursue her claims alleging systemic unequal pay for female employees at P72 and a work environment that marginalizes and demeans women,” Ms. Christensen said.