International: Cambridge Analytica Suspends Alexander Nix following Election Staging Brags

Data mining company Cambridge Analytica has suspended its chief executive Alexander Nix after he was caught bragging about manipulating elections in a tape.

In a hidden camera footage set by UK’s Channel 4 News, the firm’s executives were seen pitching tactics to entrap political opponents and boasting about running election campaigns across the world, including in Kenya in 2013 and 2017.

To a reporter who posed as a fixer for candidates in Sri Lanka, the executives talked about the way the company operated, including offering bribes, spreading false information about the opponents, and sending “some girls around to the candidate’s house”.

Mark Turnbull, managing director of Cambridge Analytica’s political division, also spoke about the firm’s role in Uhuru Kenyatta’s campaign in the last two of Kenya’s elections, including providing research, rebranding the party and writing manifesto and speeches.

“We’d stage the whole thing,” Turnbull said in the video.

Cambridge Analytica continues to receive heavy scrutiny, following the revelation by whistleblower Chris Wylie this week that the firm tapped personal information from more than 50 million Facebook accounts without permission for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

The firm, which is partly owned by conservative hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, said Channel 4’s report “edited and scripted to grossly misrepresent the nature of those conversations and how the company conducts its business.”

However, the company’s board said Nix will still be suspended effective immediately pending a full independent investigation.

“In the view of the board, Mr Nix’s recent comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 and other allegations do not represent the values or operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation,” the statement read.

“We have asked Julian Malins QC to lead this investigation, the findings of which the Board will share publicly in due course.”

Nix’s suspension came as a British parliamentary summoned Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to testify about how the social media giant allowed the company to access user data. More US politicians also call for Zuckerberg to testify before the congress.

International: 3,500-Year-Old Mummy Found in Luxor, Egypt

Two ancient tombs dating back 3,500 years have been discovered in Luxor, Egypt.

The two tombs – containing linen-wrapped mummy, paintings, masks and figurines among others – were originally discovered in the 1990s by German archaeologist Frederica Kampp, but the Egyptian archaeological mission only began its excavations recently.

The first tomb, designated Kampp 161, was a single-shaft burial containing a mural as well as artefacts honouring the Egyptian god Osiris. It was estimated to date to the era between the reign of King Amenhotep II and the one of King Thutmose IV (1427-1388 BC).

The other tomb, Kampp 150, contained a mummified person with unknown identity which was estimated to date back to the 17th-18th Dynasty (1580-1292 BC).

The discovery of the tombs is hoped to revive the country’s declining tourism industry following the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, according to AP News.

International: Boko Haram Release Video Showing Some Of The Girls Kidnapped 2 Years Ago

Boko Haram has released a video showing fifty of the Chibok schoolgirls who were kidnapped two years ago.

Boko Haram
Source: Reuters

The video shows a man standing in front of the girls wearing a face mask and a turban and armed with a gun, demanding the Nigerian government for the release of Boko Haram fighters in return for the Chibok captives. “They should know that their children are still in our hands,” says the fighter in the video, which was posted on YouTube. “Don’t waste time – release our members in custody and we will release the girls.”

Bring Back Our Girls spokesman Abubakar Abdullahi confirmed that up to 10 girls from the video were indeed from Chibok.

In April 2014, 276 schoolchildren were taken from their dormitories at the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok. 57 of them escaped, while 217 are still missing.

Boko Haram has been active for seven years in north-eastern Nigeria, and the group’s insurgency has led to the deaths of over 20,000 people and displaced over 2.3 million people.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari vowed to take down Boko Haram when he won the elections in 2015. Buhari said in December 2015 that Nigeria has “technically won the war” against Boko Haram after the army took back large amounts of territory from the militant group. However, the government has yet to find the schoolgirls, suggesting the group’s lingering presence in the region.