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April 2018

Zuckerberg Says He Made ‘Huge Mistake’ Not Focusing on Potential Abuse Facebook chief says he was ‘too flippant’ about the threat of fake news By Georgia Wells

Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said he made a “huge mistake” in not focusing more on potential abuse, as he and the social-media giant he founded continue to battle concerns about privacy and trust.

Mr. Zuckerberg’s most direct mea culpa to date came on the same day Facebook announced that data from as many as 87 million of its users may have been improperly shared with an analytics firm tied to the 2016 campaign of President Donald Trump, a larger number than had been previously reported.

The disclosure comes as the company is stepping up its efforts to repair trust with regulators and the public in the wake of several controversies tied to the election. Mr. Zuckerberg’s remarks, made in a conference call with reporters, served as a trial run of sorts for his testimony on Capitol Hill next Wednesday, where the 33-year-old billionaire is expected to be grilled on how the company handles data related to its 1.4 billion daily users, globally.

On the conference call, Mr. Zuckerberg called Facebook “an idealistic and optimistic company“ that ”didn’t focus enough on preventing abuse.” He also said he made a “mistake” when he dismissed the threat of fake news as “crazy” shortly after the 2016 election.

“What is clear at this point is that it was too flippant,” Mr. Zuckerberg said.

When asked if the board had suggested he step down as chairman of the company, Mr. Zuckerberg replied, “Not that I am aware of.”

Mr. Zuckerberg reiterated previously announced figures that the company now employs more than 15,000 people dedicated to security, a number that will top 20,000 by the end of the year.

Truth and Lies in Britain and Russia Apologists for Putin treat the chemical attack like a ‘CSI’ episode.

More evidence is emerging about last month’s chemical attack in Salisbury, England. A British government lab has determined that only a state actor could have produced the military-grade nerve agent used in the attempted assassination of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

This is a crucial thread tying Russia to the attack, not that you’d know it from the media and political chatter. Russia’s defenders have seized on the statement by Gary Aitkenhead, head of the Porton Down military lab, that “we have not identified the precise source” of the chemical. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn mocked Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for saying last month that the lab had confirmed the chemical was Russian. Diane Abbott, one of Mr. Corbyn’s deputies in Parliament, claimed Labour’s “more thoughtful approach” to Salisbury had been vindicated.

That spin is at best disingenuous. Although the molecules don’t have “Made in Russia” stamps on them, Porton Down has confirmed the chemical is Novichok, which is known to be produced in Russia and nowhere else. The lab says it required “extremely sophisticated methods to create, something only in the capabilities of a state actor,” as Mr. Aitkenhead told Sky News. He was clear that his conclusion is only one piece of evidence to be evaluated.

This finding bolsters Prime Minister Theresa May’s case that Vladimir Putin’s government is responsible for the first use of a chemical weapon on European soil since World War II. Other evidence includes intelligence that Russia has experimented with chemical agents for assassinations and previously targeted former Russian agents—including Alexander Litvinenko, poisoned with radioactive polonium in London in 2006.

Mr. Putin would love nothing better than for Western politicians to fall into the rabbit hole of playing molecular “CSI” while ignoring other evidence of Russian culpability. That’s one reason the Kremlin has staged such histrionics at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the Hague, calling for a special session this week to discuss Salisbury and demanding a joint Russian-British investigation to distract from the group’s work on the case.

Voters should be asking why politicians such as Mr. Corbyn are so eager to apologize for Mr. Putin. The war of words over the Porton Down analysis comes at an especially sensitive time, since Britain is debating additional responses to the attack.

Financial sanctions belong at the top of the list. A parliamentary committee is looking at ways to limit Russian financial activity in Britain, perhaps blocking Russian government bond sales in London. Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said her office may re-evaluate some of the hundreds of visas issued to Russians under a program that allows anyone to move to Britain—with a path to eventual citizenship—in return for a £2 million investment in risk-free U.K. government bonds.

Any financial sanctions will be politically difficult to pass given the profits British banks, law firms, investment advisories and others earn serving wealthy Russians. And to truly bite, sanctions against individuals linked to Mr. Putin’s government would require international coordination. That coordination already is difficult in a European Union where pro-Kremlin states such as Greece and Hungary enjoy vetoes on EU foreign policy. False confusion about facts such as the Porton Down conclusions gives political cover to Mr. Putin’s enablers.

Mrs. May has won important diplomatic victories by patiently presenting evidence to allies and, as far as possible, to the public. One result was a show of solidarity from French, German and U.S. leaders. Another was last month’s mass expulsion of Russian spies from Western countries. The best way to keep up the pressure on Mr. Putin is to continue treating the Salisbury attack as the strategic threat it was, rather than as a plot in a “Law & Order” episode.

Mollie Hemingway:Scott Pruitt Is Trump’s Biggest Asset. That’s Why The Left Wants Him Gone

The media’s biggest target after Trump is Pruitt, the president’s most effective cabinet secretary. Ousting him would be a huge victory for Trump’s opponents.

After Donald Trump, the individual in DC with the biggest target on his back is Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. When he was attorney general of Oklahoma, he sued the EPA more than a dozen times to get the powerful regulatory agency to stay within its legal authority. His nomination was deeply concerning to radical environmentalists inside and outside the media. As a result, he and his team have been under a microscope since even before his confirmation in early 2017.

Well-funded environmental groups, many with former EPA staffers, deluge the agency with FOIA requests to catch someone in a scandal. Unlike how they covered Obama-era EPA administrators, media outlets constantly request information about everything Pruitt does, from his schedule to his travel particulars. Whipped-up partisans have made unprecedented numbers of death threats against him and his family. Powerful liberals opine against him.

Some suggest the death threats are understandable. Liberal Republican governors of New Jersey despise the man. Thomas Kean was calling on him to resign a year ago. Christine Todd Whitman gave inappropriately unserious comments about the death threats. Chris Christie did George Stephanopolous’ bidding by trying to throw Pruitt under the bus this past weekend. Maybe there is something in the water of Jersey.

The Weekly Standard‘s Bill Kristol, who this week tweeted his desire for Michelle Obama to run and defeat Donald Trump, said Pruitt was a parody of sycophancy for supporting a conservative deregulatory agenda. He also thrice tweeted his excitement over the possibility of leftists ousting Pruitt. Fellow NeverTrump enthusiast and Washington Post in-house conservative (really!) Jennifer Rubin also expressed giddiness about him possibly being fired.

Jeremy Corbyn’s Jewish Problem Leftist anti-Semitism is inseparable from leftist economic doctrine. Theodore Dalrymple

Britain’s next prime minister might well be an anti-Semite. No one can say for certain whether Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-Semitism is a sincerely held prejudice or merely a matter of electoral calculation: there are now more than ten times as many Muslims in Britain as Jews, and it therefore makes electoral sense to appeal more to Muslims than to Jews. But either way, his failure to condemn anti-Semitism in his own party, his penchant for consorting in friendly fashion with extremist anti-Zionists of genocidal instincts, and his defense of a mural depicting lupine Jewish bankers playing Monopoly on the backs of naked minorities are cause for anxiety among British Jews unknown since the rise—and thankfully swift fall—of Sir Oswald Mosley, leader of the British fascists in the 1930s.

In all the commentary about Corbyn’s anti-Semitism, real or feigned, no one seems to have noticed that anti-Semitism is perfectly logical for someone of Corbyn’s cast of mind. It has often been said that anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools; it would be more accurate to say that socialism is the anti-Semitism of intellectuals (at least in modern conditions). Anti-Semitism and socialism proceed along the same lines, using the same kind of presuppositions and evidence.

A few years ago, a survey appeared breaking down household wealth in Britain by religious affiliation, and Jews came first. For someone as suspicious of and hostile to wealth and the wealthy as Corbyn, whose fundamental economic idea is that money is the product of exploitation, and that equality of outcome is desirable, attainable, and just, it is only natural to suppose that both wealthy individuals and groups must have been up to no good, grabbing by illicit means a larger slice of the economic cake than is theirs, according to his own conception of justice. It is therefore perfectly reasonable, or at least in keeping, for him to be anti-Semitic: he hates none more than the independently successful.

When will the media accept that Trump is not a criminal target? JonathanTurley

In terminal medical cases, doctors often deal with patients who move through “stages” that begin with denial. These so-called Kübler-Ross stages can be a long road toward acceptance. A weird form of Kübler-Ross seems to have taken hold of the media. Rather than refusing to accept indicators of impending death, many journalists and analysts seem incapable of accepting signs that the Trump presidency could survive.

That painful process was more evident Tuesday night when the Washington Post reported that special counsel Robert Mueller told the White House last month that Trump was not considered a “target” but only a “subject” of the investigation. After a year of being assured that “bombshell” developments and “smoking gun” evidence was sealing the criminal case against Trump, the dissonance was too great for many who refuse to accept the obvious meaning of this disclosure.

The U.S. Attorney’s manual defines a “subject” as a “person whose conduct is within the scope of the grand jury’s investigation.” It is a designation that can change but it is also a meaningful description of the current status of an individual. Mueller at this time apparently does not believe Trump meets the definition of a target or a “person as to whom the prosecutor or the grand jury has substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime and who, in the judgment of the prosecutor, is a putative defendant.” That would have been less notable when Mueller was appointed in 2017 than it is now, after more than a year, dozens of criminal counts, hundreds of thousands of documents, and a bevy of cooperating witnesses.

That Mueller does not believe there is “substantial evidence linking [Trump] to the commission of a crime” would seem to merit some, albeit grudging, recognition. However, there has been a disturbing lack of objectivity in the coverage of this investigation from the start. Throughout it, some of us have cautioned that the criminal case against Trump was far weaker than media suggested. Fired FBI Director James Comey himself told Congress that Trump was not a target of his investigation. Indeed, Trump was reportedly upset with Comey largely because Comey would not say that publicly.

Facebook Now Says Closer to 87 Million Users Had Data Compromised By Mairead McArdle

Facebook informed the public on Wednesday that the number of people whose data was compromised by the Cambridge Analytica breach is tens of millions larger than the company initially thought.

Hidden at the bottom of a statement on Facebook’s new data-security initiative was an admission that closer to 87 million people had their personal information illicitly shared. The number was first reported to be around 50 million.

A Cambridge University scientist improperly shared user information that he obtained from Facebook with data-analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, which worked with Donald Trump’s campaign to target voters in 2016. When the data misuse reached Facebook’s radar in 2015, the company claims it secured, in a legal document, Cambridge Analytica’s word that it would delete all the data.

Cambridge Analytica has denied that it used the information during the 2016 campaign, and the scientist, Aleksandr Kogan, has said he was unaware he did anything wrong and feels he is being used as a scapegoat.

Facebook’s statement, written by Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer, outlined several changes aimed at tightening the platform’s privacy, and promised that more changes would be unveiled in the future.

One of the reforms is restricting apps’ access to information contained in calendar events and private groups. The company will also no longer let apps ask for access to “personal information such as religious or political views, relationship status and details, custom friends lists, education and work history, fitness activity, book reading activity, music listening activity, news reading, video watch activity, and games activity.”

Chappaquiddick Exposes Ted Kennedy at Last By Kyle Smith

The movie isn’t a hit piece, but the history it tells is infuriating.

Chappaquiddick must be counted one of the great untold stories in American political history: The average citizen may be vaguely aware of what happened but probably has little notion of just how contemptible was the behavior of Senator Ted Kennedy. Mainstream book publishers and Hollywood have mostly steered clear of the subject for 48 years.

If Chappaquiddick had been released in 1970, it would have ended Kennedy’s political career.

Chappaquiddick the movie fills in an important gap, and if it had been released in 1970, it would have ended Kennedy’s political career. (It was only a few weeks ago that a sitting senator resigned over far less disturbing behavior than Kennedy’s.) Yet this potent and penetrating film is not merely an attack piece. It’s more than fair to Kennedy in its hesitance to depict him as drunk on the night in question, and it also pictures him repeatedly diving into the pond on Chappaquiddick Island, trying to rescue his brother Bobby’s former aide Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara). He may or may not have made such rescue attempts. Moreover, as directed by John Curran (The Painted Veil), the film is suffused with lament that a man in Kennedy’s position could have been so much more than he was. Yet Ted, the last and least of four brothers, was shoved into a role for which he simply lacked the character. That the other three were dynamic leaders who died violently while he alone lived on to become the Senate’s Jabba the Hutt is perhaps the most dizzying chapter of the century-long Kennedy epic.

Jason Clarke, an Australian, is superb as Ted, who as of July 18, 1969, is mulling a run for president in 1972. To that end, he gives a solemn TV interview and then, when the cameras are off, turns to his family flunkies and insists that they round up the juicy “boiler-room girls” without whom, he says, there can be no Friday-night party at the beach cottage, on the island at the eastern edge of Martha’s Vineyard. Kennedy’s wife, Joan, being pregnant, is home on bed rest. Meanwhile, the space program that John F. Kennedy championed is two days away from culmination in the moon landing. The contrast between one’s brother’s far-reaching vision and his soft-bellied sibling’s grubby venality is so conspicuous that you could castigate the screenwriters for inventing it; except they didn’t.

Our Fair-Weathered Saudi Friend By Caroline Glick

For now, we have a Saudi ally in the young crown prince. So long as no one in Israel loses his head, and no one in Saudi Arabia exploits the alliance to chop off Muhammad’s head.

Have we entered a new period of sweetness and light with our Arab neighbors? On Monday The Atlantic published an interview the magazine’s editor Jeffrey Goldberg conducted with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.

The basic line, repeated by all major newspapers, is that the Saudi crown prince recognized Israel’s right to exist. Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt gushed about it on his Twitter feed.

Referring to the interview as “amazing,” Greenblatt wrote that “all should watch [Muhammad bin Salman].

He is far from perfect [and] there is a long road ahead, but in a region long dominated by hateful despots, [the prince] envisions a very different future for Muslims, Jews, Christians and all in the Middle East.”

Other commentators were even more exhilarated.

Are the prince’s fans correct? Is his ascendance to the Saudi crown the harbinger of a reformation of Islam and the beginning of a new era in Islamic relations with the Jews and the world as a whole? Not really.

Most of the reports on the interview have focused on the prince’s remarks in which he ostensibly recognized Israel’s right to exist. But did he actually recognize Israel’s right to exist? Did he distinguish himself from all the other Arab leaders who to date have recognized that Israel exists but not admitted it has a right to exist? Let’s check the text.

Goldberg asked the prince, “Do you believe the Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in at least part of their ancestral homeland?” Muhammad replied, “I believe that each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation. I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land. But we have to have a peace agreement to assure the stability for everyone and to have normal relations.”

Does this mean that he recognized Israel’s right to exist in the Land of Israel? Maybe. Maybe not.

The Rosenstein Memo By Andrew C. McCarthy

We now have a redacted version of the deputy attorney general’s guidance to the special counsel.

Eight months ago, in August 2017, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein secretly gave Special Counsel Robert Mueller specific guidance as to the crimes Mueller is authorized to investigate. The guidance came about ten weeks after Mueller’s May 17 appointment. This guidance purports to describe the grounds for criminal investigations, marking the limits of the special counsel’s jurisdiction.

As readers may recall, these columns have been critical of the deputy attorney general for failing to provide such guidance. Instead, I’ve contended, Rosenstein assigned Mueller to conduct a counterintelligence investigation, which is not a sound basis for appointing a special counsel; the regulations require grounds for a criminal investigation.

So . . . was I wrong? No, I was right.

We learned Tuesday morning, based on a Monday-night court filing by Mueller, that Rosenstein’s amplification of Mueller’s jurisdiction was set forth in a classified memorandum dated August 2, 2017. That memo was filed just one week after a July 26 column in which I comprehensively laid out the deficiencies in Rosenstein’s appointment order and suggested that he could cure the problem by “specify[ing] exactly what potential crimes the special counsel is authorized to investigate.” To be clear, I do not claim to be the only commentator who has criticized the deficiencies of Rosenstein’s appointment order, though I doubt others have done so as consistently and pointedly, including with proposals for bringing it into compliance. (See, e.g., “Mend, Don’t End, Mueller’s Investigation.”)

The Deficiencies of Rosenstein’s Order Appointing Mueller

To recap, Rosenstein appointed Mueller on May 17, 2017, days after President Trump’s botched firing of FBI director James Comey — a debacle in which the administration’s conflicting explanations for the director’s removal, coupled with the president’s reprehensible comments about Comey for the consumption of Russian diplomats he hosted at the White House, intensified Democratic calls for a special counsel.

UK: Funding Textbooks That Teach Children to Blow Themselves Up by Douglas Murray

Any government genuinely interested in promoting peace would withdraw funding from any entity — wherever in the world it was — which taught violence as such a core part of its curriculum.

Another textbook urges that “Giving one’s life, sacrifice, fight, jihad and struggle are the most important meanings of life.”

This is the true scandal for Britain: that while the UK government fails to pump the resources needed into helping young British children to grow up literate and numerate in Britain, it pumps millions of pounds into the Palestinian Authority to make sure that Palestinian children think that a career of violence is a career worth pursuing.

In 2016, a study carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) found that for literacy in the developed world, England ranks dead last. The same study also stated that for numeracy in the developed world, England ranks second-to-last. Even among graduates from English universities, the OECD study found, one in ten had literacy or numeracy skills that were classified as “low”.

These results are astonishing, not to mention shaming. They reflect decades of misdirection in British education, including the misdirection of resources. Understandably, successive governments complain about a lack of resources. But all of those laments only serve to highlight the strangeness of Britain’s latest priorities in funding education.

This past weekend it emerged that last year the British government funnelled £20 million to Palestinian schools. A review by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) found that these revenues go towards funding a curriculum which omits teaching peace, promotes the use of violence — specifically jihad — and encourages martyrdom. An analysis of the textbooks used in Palestinian schools funded by the UK government — using UK taxpayers’ money — found that these textbooks, which come from the Palestinian Authority (PA), “exerts pressure over young Palestinians to acts of violence.”