Mark Zuckerberg Formally Invited To Testify In UK Parliament After Cambridge Analytica Revelations

Dan Bloom
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg         © Associated Press Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

MPs have demanded Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg gives evidence in Parliament following revelations about the voter-targeting firm Cambridge Analytica.

The founder of the global social networking giant is being asked to appear in a session hosted by MPs on fake news.

The Commons Culture, Media and Sports Committee today made the announcement as it accused Facebook of missing a deadline to supply supplementary evidence to its inquiry.

A general view the House of Commons           © Getty A general view the House of Commons

Committee chair Damian Collins wrote: “It is now time to hear from a senior Facebook executive with the sufficient authority to give an accurate account of this catastrophic failure of process.

“There is a strong public interest test regarding user protection.

“Accordingly we are sure you will understand the need for a representative from right at the top of the organisation to address concerns.

“Given your commitment at the start of the New Year to “fixing” Facebook, I hope that this representative will be you.”

Chief Executive of Cambridge Analytica            © Press Association Chief Executive of Cambridge Analytica


The letter comes after claims Cambridge Analytica used data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles ahead of the 2016 US election.

Channel 4 News then aired footage last night which appeared to show Alexander Nix, the British firm’s chief executive, telling an undercover reporter they could dirt could be dug up on political opponents.

He also appeared to suggest he could “send some girls around to the candidate’s house”, adding that Ukrainian girls “are very beautiful, I find that works very well.”

A Cambridge Analytica spokesman told Channel Four News: “We entirely refute any allegation that Cambridge Analytica or any of its affiliates use entrapment, bribes, or so-called “honey-traps” for any purpose whatsoever…”

They added: “Cambridge Analytica does not use the untrue material for any purpose.”

The Information Commissioner watchdog is investigating whether Facebook did enough to protect data over the claims about 50million profiles.
Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said she was seeking a warrant to search the offices of Cambridge Analytica as part of her inquiries.

Cambridge Analytica has denied all the media claims and said it deleted the data after learning the information did not adhere to data protection rules.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

“We are not alone in using data from social media sites to extract user information,” a statement by the firm to Reuters said.

“No Facebook data was used by our data science team in the 2016 presidential campaign.” (Mirror)

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(Video) President Trump Outlines Death Penalty For ‘Big Pushers’ On Fight Against Drugs

Tessa Berenson


(Video Provided by Reuters)

President Donald Trump travelled to New Hampshire Monday to unveil a new plan to combat the opioid crisis in the U.S., including seeking the death penalty for major drug traffickers.

“If you break the law and illegally peddle these deadly poisons, we will find you, we will arrest you and we will hold you accountable,” Trump said in Manchester Monday afternoon.

There are three prongs to Trump’s new plan: reduce demand and over-prescription, cut off the supply of illegal drugs, and support treatment and recovery for those struggling with addiction. The most controversial of his proposals concerns law enforcement— Trump officially announced Monday, after weeks of floating the idea, that he wants the Justice Department to seek the death penalty against drug traffickers.

“If we don’t get tough on the drug dealers, we’re wasting our time,” Trump said onstage in New Hampshire. “That toughness includes the death penalty.”

Donald J. Trump wearing a suit and tie: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to supporters and local politicians at an event at Manchester Community College on March 19, 2018 in Manchester, New Hampshire.© Spencer Platt—Getty Images U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to supporters and local politicians at an event at Manchester Community College on March 19, 2018, in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Trump reasoned that “if you kill one person, you get the death penalty or you go to jail for life,” but drug dealers can kill “thousands” of people through their actions and wouldn’t get the same sentence. He said he wants capital punishment for “the big pushers, the ones that are really killing so many people.”

But some experts in the field are concerned. “We see that policing around drug use is skewed toward black and brown communities,” says Widney Brown of the Drug Policy Alliance, arguing that this policy would be a return to the “War on Drugs” era of the 1970s. “There’s no reason to think that the application of the death penalty would not also be skewed toward targeting people in those communities.”

Trump also walked through the other parts of his plan, including promising increased federal funding for the development of non-addictive painkillers and creating “very, very bad commercials” that show “unsavoury situations” brought on by drugs to scare children off trying them.

New Hampshire is an early primary state, but the president’s trip was billed as a non-political, policy-oriented event. “The opioid crisis is viewed by us at the White House as a nonpartisan problem searching for bipartisan solutions,” counsellor to the president Kellyanne Conway said on a call with reporters Sunday evening.

But Trump swerved into politics during the speech, linking his opioid efforts to building a border wall, sanctuary cities and the fight over DACA in Congress. And he made an explicit nod to a reelection campaign when he said, “I want to win this battle. I don’t want to leave at the end of seven years and have this problem.” Amid the ensuing cheers from the assembled crowd, he joked there were “a lot of voters in this room.”

Trump’s message to New Hampshire, one of the states hardest hit by the crisis, was simple: “I see what you’re going through,” he said.

“We’re pouring a lot of money and a lot of talent into this horrible problem,” he promised. “We’ll be spending the most money ever on the opioid crisis.”   (Time)


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Russian Ambassador Fingers British Lab As Probable Source Of Nerve Agent That Poisoned Ex-Spy

Dan Bloom
a man wearing a suit and tie: Credits: X00380            © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: X00380  

A British lab could be the source of the deadly nerve agent that poisoned ex-spy Sergei Skripal, a top Russian diplomat has suggested.

Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s ambassador to the EU, claimed there could be a link between the Novichok and world-class chemical weapons lab Porton Down because it is only eight miles from Salisbury.

Slamming the Tory Defence Secretary he added: “Russia is not going to shut up and will certainly not go away.”

The British government dismissed his claims as “nonsense”, saying they contain “not an ounce of truth”.

It comes as Theresa May considers sweeping new sanctions against Russian oligarchs two weeks after Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia were left in a critical condition in Salisbury.

The Prime Minister said the Russian state was behind the attack – the first use of a chemical weapon in Europe since World War 2.

She accused the regime of Vladimir Putin – who is standing for re-election today – of a “flagrant breach of international law” and said the nerve agent was of a “type developed by Russia”.

a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Credits: AFP             © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: AFP

Yet Mr Chizhov told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show Russia had “nothing to do” with the poisoning.He questioned how Britain worked out Novichok was responsible “so quickly,” claiming “it can only mean they had some standard” to compare against.

Asked how the nerve agent came to be used in Salisbury he told the BBC: “When you have a nerve agent or whatever, you check it against certain samples that you retain in your laboratories.

“And Porton Down, as we now all know, is the largest military facility in the United Kingdom that has been dealing with chemical weapons research.

“And it’s actually only eight miles from Salisbury.”

Pressed on whether he was claiming Porton Down was responsible he shrugged: “I don’t know, I don’t know… I don’t have evidence of anything being used.”

a large machine in a room: Credits: Daily Mirror           © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Daily Mirror

But he added: “There were certain specialists, including some scientists who today claim to be responsible for creating some nerve agents, that have been whisked out of Russia and are currently residing in the United Kingdom.”

The Foreign Office said there was “not an ounce of truth” in his suggestion of a link to Porton Down.

a person standing in a kitchen: Credits: Daily Mirror           © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Daily Mirror

A spokesperson told the BBC: “It’s just another futile attempt from the Russian state to divert the story away from the facts – that Russia has acted in flagrant breach of its international obligations.”Britain triggered a diplomatic stand-off this week by booting 23 Russian diplomats out of London and severing high-level ties.

Moscow hit back yesterday by expelling 23 Brits, no longer allowing the UK to open a consulate in St Petersburg and terminating the British Council’s activities in Russia.

Experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are set to arrive in Britain tomorrow to test samples of the nerve agent, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said.

a man wearing a helmet: Credits: Daily Mirror            © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Daily Mirror

Mr Chizhov claimed Russia has never produced Novichok, saying it had “no stockpiles whatsoever” of any nerve agent and “Russia has stopped production of any chemical agents back in 1992”.

The ambassador said Skripal was a “traitor” but claimed he is now “almost forgotten” and was “officially pardoned by a Presidential decree”.

He condemned Britain for “flatly refusing” Moscow access to the nerve agent, which he said breached international protocol.

Credits: PA           © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: PA

Mrs May, set to chair a National Security Council meeting on Tuesday, told Tory activists on Saturday: “We will consider our next steps in the coming days.”

Those reportedly include emergency laws to make it easier to seize money laundered through Britain by Russian residents; a stronger visa regime to stop Vladimir Putin’s cronies travelling to London, and forcing Russian oligarchs in the UK to account for “unexplained” wealth.

Banks, energy firms and water companies are reportedly on “maximum alert” to the threat of a cyber-attack.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Credits: AFP            © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: AFP

Boris Johnson will seek to rally the support of the other 27 EU foreign ministers at a regular summit tomorrow.

The poisoning is not on the official agenda of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels, but ministers will discuss Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Mr Johnson will have a chance to meet them on the sidelines.

Today Mr Johnson hit back at Russia’s counter-measures as “futile”, saying “resisting a bully is always risky” but it is the right thing to do.

Meanwhile, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said Britain should “pull the plug” on state-funded, UK-based TV channel Russia Today.

She said the channel spouts “absurd conspiracies” and “poisons our public discourse”, adding: “Russia is industrialising false information: less an iron curtain these days than a web of lies”.   (Mirror)

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What Is The S-400? The Russian Anti-Aircraft Weapon Dividing NATO |RN

a group of people standing in front of a building: GettyImages-529560632 S-400 Moscow        © Provided by IBT Media (UK) GettyImages-529560632 S-400 Moscow

Turkey could take delivery of the Russian-made S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile system as early as 2020, in a $2.5 billion deal between the two countries that is creating a rift within NATO.

Vladimir Kozhin, a Russian presidential aide for military cooperation, told the Rossiya 24 TV channel, “I think we will begin to fulfil [the deal with Turkey] sometime in early 2020,” TASS reported.

Kozhin said the weapon—an upgrade to the older S-300 system—would be delivered despite U.S. opposition to the deal. “As far as Turkey is concerned, we value the Turkish authorities’ position, as they have said many times that protecting national interests is their top priority.”

GettyImages-52016719 S-400 testing        © Provided by IBT Media (UK) GettyImages-52016719 S-400 testing  

Turkey would be the second NATO member to field the weapon family, with Greece currently in negotiations to upgrade its existing S-300 system. The U.S. has threatened to impose economic sanctions on Turkey in a bid to dissuade Ankara from going ahead with the purchase.

However, Kozhin has said “the contract has been signed and will be implemented,” with four batteries expected to be delivered.

China has also bought the system and delivery began in January 2018.

a truck driving down a dirt road: GettyImages-501657334 S-400 in Syria       © Provided by IBT Media (UK) GettyImages-501657334 S-400 in Syria  

The S-400 system, with the NATO codename SA-21 Growler, is made up of four different missiles with varying ranges and entered service in 2007. It can destroy aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, and can also be used against ground targets. The longest range missile, which travels at Mach 15 (11,509 miles per hour) can engage targets at around 250 miles and at an altitude of over 98,000 feet.

The S-400 outclasses the U.S.’s primary anti-aircraft missile system: the MIM-104 Patriot. First introduced in 1984, the current iteration has a maximum range of approximately 43 miles, with a ceiling of just over 79,000 feet. The system also only supports one missile, compared to the S-400’s four.

Russia has deployed the S-400 to its Khmeimim air base and Tartus naval base in Syria. Although they are yet to launch any missiles, the deployment of the system was a marker of Russia’s commitment to the ongoing war.

Kozhin said that Russia’s Syrian deployment has allowed its military to test its newest weapons. “If you offer to have a look at models and booklets, it is one thing, but weapons tested during military activities is a totally different matter,” he said.

While U.S. fifth-generation fighter jets, such as the F-35 and its variants, have been designed with the S-400’s capabilities in mind, older U.S. warplanes like the F-16 and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet would struggle to slip through the system’s net.

Russia has already tested the planned upgrade to the system, the S-500. The weapon is expected to increase Russia’s anti-air defence range to around 373 miles and over 656,000 feet—high enough to hit objects in orbit.   (Newsweek)

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Russian Exile Nikolai Glushkov Found Dead At His Home In London |RN

Luke Harding

A Russian exile who was close friends with the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky has been found dead in his London home, according to friends.

Nikolai Glushkov was discovered by his family and friends late on Monday night, aged 68. The cause of death is not yet clear. One of his friends, the newspaper editor Damian Kudryavtsev, posted the news on his Facebook page.

Without confirming the man’s name, the Metropolitan police said the counter-terrorism command unit was leading the investigation into the death “as a precaution because of associations that the man is believed to have had”.

It said there was no evidence at present to suggest a link to the incident in Salisbury, where Sergei and Yulia Skripal remain in a critical condition.

“An investigation is underway following the death of a man in his 60s in Kingston borough,” they said police, who were called by the London ambulance service at 10.46pm to reports of a man found dead at a residential address in New Malden.

In the 1990s, Glushkov worked for the state airline Aeroflot and Berezovsky’s LogoVAZ car company. In 1999, as Berezovsky fell out with Vladimir Putin and fled to the UK, Glushkov was charged with money-laundering and fraud. He spent five years in jail and was freed in 2004.

Nikolai Glushkov is believed to have been found by his family   © Facebook Nikolai Glushkov is believed to have been found by his family

In recent years, Glushkov had lived in London, where he received political asylum. In 2011, he gave evidence at the court case brought by Berezovsky against fellow oligarch Roman Abramovich, who remained on good terms with the Kremlin.

Glushkov told the court he had effectively been taken “hostage” by Putin’s administration, which wanted to pressure Berezovsky to sell his TV station ORT.

Berezovsky accused Abramovich of cheating him out of $5bn (£3.2bn) and claimed they had been partners in the 1990s in an oil firm, Sibneft. Abramovich denied this. The judge, Mrs Justice Gloster, rejected the claim and described Berezovsky as “deliberately dishonest”.

Glushkov was deeply unhappy with the judgment and launched a formal appeal, citing “bias”. Meanwhile, Berezovsky disappeared from public life. In March 2013, he was found dead at his ex-wife’s home in Berkshire. Police believe he committed suicide. His friends were not so certain, with a coroner recording an open verdict.

Russian exile Nikolai Glushkov found dead at his London home  © Microsoft ICE Russian exile Nikolai Glushkov found dead at his London home

Speaking to the Guardian, Glushkov said he was extremely sceptical that Berezovsky who was found hanged in a bathroom had died of natural causes. “I’m definite Boris was killed. I have quite different information from what is being published in the media,” he said.

He noted that a large number of Russian exiles including Berezovsky, and Berezovsky’s close friend Alexander Litvinenko, had died under mysterious circumstances. “Boris was strangled. Either he did it himself or with the help of someone. [But] I don’t believe it was suicide,” Glushkov said.

He added: “Too many deaths [of Russian emigres] have been happening.”

Glushkov continued to investigate the circumstances surrounding Berezovsky’s death for some months. He conceded that in the period before his death they had quarrelled. In 2013 Glushkov emailed a friend: “I have a lot of new facts that are of great interest.”
Glushkov has two grown-up children, Natasha and Dima, and an ex-wife who lives in Moscow. It is understood that he had split in recent years from a partner. Natasha is believed to live in the UK.

Nikolai Glushkov is believed to have been found by his family

In 2017, during a trial in absentia in Russia, Glushkov was sentenced to eight years in prison for stealing $123m from the company.

The Met police said the man’s next of kin had been informed.

“Whilst we believe we know the identity of the deceased, formal identification is yet to take place. The death is currently being treated as an unexplained.”  (The Guardian)

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Trump, North Korea’s Kim To Hold Historic Meeting |The Republican News

         US President Donald Trump; North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un

President Donald Trump has agreed to a historic first meeting with Kim Jong Un in a stunning development in America’s high-stakes nuclear standoff with North Korea.

Standing in front of the White House, South Korean National Security Advisor Chung Eui-Yong announced the first-ever meeting between a US president and North Korean leader, which he said would take place by the end of May.

Chung had recently returned from Pyongyang, where he met Kim, who, he said: “expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible.”

Trump hailed “great progress” in the push to persuade Pyongyang to end its nuclear weapons program.

“Meeting being planned!” he tweeted. “Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time.”

“Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached.”

News of the summit is the latest step in a quickening diplomatic detente that has seen North and South Korea exchange envoys.

Pyongyang also sent a delegation to the Winter Olympics in the South, which Seoul had dubbed the “Peace Games” and which saw the two countries marching under a unified flag.

The thaw came after a period of extreme tension between Washington and Pyongyang that sounded like the growing drumbeat of war.

Just months ago, Trump mocked Kim by calling him “little rocket man” and Kim returned the favour by describing Trump as “mentally deranged” and a “dotard.”

The United States and North Korea were foes throughout the Cold War and fought on opposite sides of a bloody war in the 1950s.

In the last two decades, they have been engaged in what is perhaps the world’s most dangerous nuclear standoff, with 30,000 US military personnel stationed just over the border in the South.

– Paradigm shift –

Pyongyang’s decades-long race to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the continental United States has proved a problem for successive administrations.

Trump’s strategy has been to ramp up sanctions, tighten the diplomatic screws and regularly threaten military force.

The White House said in a statement that strategy of “maximum pressure” would stay in place, for now.

“We look forward to the denuclearization of North Korea. In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain.”

But the prospect of a top-level meeting is a paradigm shift.

North Korean leaders have sought face-to-face talks with consecutive US presidents, who have rebuffed the idea as an effort to achieve strategic parity that does not exist.

Pyongyang now seems to have achieved its goal, while only agreeing to a temporary suspension of nuclear tests.

It is a gambit fraught with risk for Trump. On multiple occasions, Kim’s father Kim Jong Il dangled the prospect of talks and denuclearization as a means of buying time, easing sanctions and dividing South Korea from its allies.

However, his decision also carries historic echoes of Richard Nixon’s visit to communist China or Barack Obama’s overture to Cuba, both of which offered the hope of better ties.


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Hunt For ‘Blonde’ Woman Seen On CCTV Minutes Before Russian Spy Was Found Collapsed

Sean Morrison
              © Provided by Independent Print Limited

A hunt is underway for a woman with blonde hair seen on CCTV shortly before former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter was found collapsed after a suspected assassination attempt.

The footage showed the young woman, carrying a red handbag, walking beside an older man not far from the bench where the pair were discovered in Salisbury on Sunday afternoon.

a sign on a pole: spy1a.jpg                    © Provided by Independent Print Limited spy1a.jpg  

It was initially thought the CCTV images were of former double agent Mr Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, shortly before they fell ill after being exposed to an unknown substance.

But a witness who had seen the pair before they collapsed has now reportedly claimed that Yulia is not blonde, but had red hair when she was seen in the city with her father.

a woman posing for a picture: yuliaskripal.jpg               © Provided by Independent Print Limited yuliaskripal.jpg  

According to reports, officials said they fear the ex-spy’s daughter was “collateral damage” as detectives continued to investigate the theory that a Kremlin assassin carried out a hit, possibly by spraying them with a substance as they sat together on a bench.

The pair remained critically ill in hospital on Tuesday night as Scotland Yard counter-terror detectives took over the Wiltshire Police inquiry into the suspected attack.


The deaths of Mr Skripal’s wife Liudmila from cancer in 2012 and his son Alexander, 44, last year in St Petersburg will also be considered as part of the Met Police investigation, the Times reported.

Amber Rudd, the home secretary, is to chair a meeting of the Cobra crisis committee today in connection with the suspected assassination. This comes as Prime Minister Theresa May faced growing pressure to be ready to take on Russian leader Vladimir Putin amid the investigation.

                       © PA   It has not yet been confirmed if Russia is behind the attack.

Mr Skripal, a former colonel in Russian military intelligence to M15, and his daughter were found unconscious in the street in the city’s town centre before being rushed to the hospital.

Police outside the Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury                           © PA Police outside the Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury  

The ex-spy’s relatives had told the BBC Russian Service that he believed the Russia special services would come after him at any time. An anonymous relative was quoted as saying “he knew it would end badly and that he would not be left alone”.

More details began to emerge yesterday about the mysterious collapse of the pair, which has sparked a diplomatic war of words between Britain and Russia.

            © PA    

Relations between the UK and the Kremlin soured after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson went on the offensive in the House of Commons.

One line of inquiry is that Mr Skripal could have inhaled the deadly chemical after being attacked in the street near the Maltings shopping centre, the Daily Mail reported. It is believed his daughter could have come into contact with the substance while trying to help.

Another possibility is that the pair’s drinks were spiked in the nearby Mill pub, where they are believed to have gone following a meal in a Zizzi restaurant. (Evening Standard)

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