UK parliaments call for Zuckerberg to testify goes next level

The UK parliament has issued an impressive ultimatum to Facebook in a last-ditch attempt to get Mark Zuckerberg to take its questions: Come and give evidence voluntarily or next time you fly to the UK you’ll get a formal summons to appear.

” Following reports that he will be giving evidence to the European Parliament in May, we would like Mr Zuckerberg to come to London during the course of its European journey. We would like the session here to place by 24 May ,” the committee writes in its latest letter to the company, signed by its chair, Conservative MP Damian Collins.

” It is important to recognize that, while Mr Zuckerberg does not usually go under the jurisdiction of the UK Parliament, he will do so the next time he enters the country ,” he adds.” We hope that he will respond positively to our request, but if not the Committee will resolve to issue a formal summons for him to appear when he is next in the UK .”

Facebook has repeatedly ignored the DCMS committee‘s requests that its CEO and founder appear before it — preferring to send various minions to answer questions related to its enquiry into online disinformation and the role of social media in politics and democracy.

The most recent Zuckerberg alternative to appear before it was also the most senior: Facebook’s CTO, Mike Schroepfer, who claimed he had personally volunteered to make the trip-up to London to give evidence.

However for all Schroepfer’s sweating drudgery to try to stand in for the company’s chief exec, his answers failed to impress UK parliamentarians. And immediately following the hearing the committee issued a press release repeating their call for Zuckerberg to testify , noting that Schroepfer had failed to provide adequate answers to as many of 40 of its questions.

Schroepfer did sit through around five hours of grilling on a wide range of topics with the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal front and center — the tale having morphed into a major global scandal for the company after fresh revelations were published by the Guardian in March( although the newspaper actually published its first tale about Facebook data misuse by the company all the style back in December 2015) — though in last week’s hearing Schroepfer often fell back on claiming he didn’t know the answer and would have to “follow up”.

Yet the committee has been asking Facebook for straight answers for months. So you can see why it’s really mad now.

We reached out to Facebook to ask whether its CEO will now agree to personally testify in front of the committee by May 24, per its request, but the company declined to provide a public statement on the issue.

A company spokesperson did say it would be following up with the committee to answer any outstanding questions it had after Schroepfer’s session.

It’s fair to say Facebook has handled this issue exceptionally badly — leaving Collins to express public frustration about the lack of co-operation when, for example, he had asked it for help and information related to the UK’s Brexit referendum — turning what could have been a somewhat easy to manage process into a major media circus-cum-PR nightmare.

Last week Schroepfer was on the sharp objective of lots of awkward questions from visibly outraged committee members, with Collins pointing to what he dubbed a” pattern of behavior” by Facebook that he told suggested an” unwillingness to engage, and a desire to hold onto information and not disclose it “.

Committee members also interrogated Schroepfer about why another Facebook employee who appeared before it in February had not disclosed an existing agreement between Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

” I remain to be convinced that your company has integrity ,” he was told bluntly at one point during the hearing.

If Zuckerberg does agree to testify he’ll be in for an even bumpier ride. And, well, if he doesn’t it looks pretty clear the Facebook CEO won’t be making any personal journeys to the UK for a while.

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Censored images of 1930s America to go on show in London

Prints made from negatives disclose reality faced by farming communities during Great Depression

Beautiful but mutilated images of rural America by some of the most famous photographers of the 20 th century will shortly go on display for the first time at the Whitechapel gallery in London.

Each of the photographs, published for the first time, including works by Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Russell Lee, bears an eerie black place. The black circles- obliterating the entire face of a farmer in North Dakota, the right eye of a woman in Arkansas, or resembling an eclipsed sunlight hanging in the sky over labourers in Maryland- were created when the negatives were censored in the 1930 s by clipping them with a metal punch.

Many of the 175,000 photographs in the Farm Security Association archive became defining images of the Great Depression, including Evans’s gaunt sharecropper families, Lange’s portraits of farm women with nothing left except willpower, and Arthur Rothstein’s Fleeing a Dust storm, a surreal scene of a family opposing to keep their feet in the wind that has already rent their farm buildings to shreds.

An untitled Arthur Rothstein photograph. Photo: Library of Congress

However, thousands of others images were censored, judged not to satisfy the strict criteria the photographers had been given for the type of images attempted- a tricky brief to reveal the scale of the problem the association was trying to tackle, but without obliterating all hope.

The negatives were mutilated- occasionally several pits were punched to avoid the image being used even in cropped kind- but not completely destroyed. The censored and approved images all ended up archived in the Library of Congress, where they have recently been digitised.

Nayia Yiakoumaki, the curator of Killed Negatives, spent weeks poring over thumbnail images to prefer the 80 photo in the exhibition.” They were so wonderful ,” she told.” It was an almost impossible task, there were thousands I could have used.

” I was astounded when I learned of the existence of the repudiated negatives. These are photographers and images that I have studied and taught, but I had not realised that the images we know so well were only part of a much larger narrative .”

The images all date from a pioneering project by the FSA, which in the 1930 s sent photographers out into fields, homesteads, the towns and little town across America to record the farming communities being ground down by the Great Depression and the efforts being made by the FSA to help them.

Although the images often appear as spontaneous photojournalism, the photographers were actually working to a very tight brief, and “ve been given” more detail in advance about their topics. The briefing note recorded that Steve Doty, of Tangipahoa Parish, whose mule had died and who received a temporary loan for fertiliser for his strawberry harvest, had” built a one-room log hut for his family to live in. The fissures have been stuffed with newspapers. Two of his children are in school and the two youngest ones are at home .”

Carl Mydans’ photo of children playing. Photo: Library of Congress

A widow and eight infants were left destitute when a human succumbed of cerebral cancer after months get lifts as a charity occurrence for hospital treatment. The youngest infant was under three, and 15 -year-old Angelina had been left totally blind by typhoid. The 17 -year-old daughter, Elizabeth, was the only one able to work,” being able to sew and do canning run very well “.

In many cases the contrast between the immaculately turned out people and the shabby surroundings shows clearly that the photographer’s visit was expected and prepared for, but any images that seemed too staged were rejected, as were those indicating FSA officials.

All the photographers sent back their rolls of cinema to the project director, Roy Stryker, an economist but a photographer himself, who had the approved images printed in his laboratories. Yiakoumaki can see why some images, slightly out of focus, poorly composed or depicting the photographer reflected in a window, were repudiated- but she can only guess at others.

Did the striking black couple photographed by Walker Evans in New York look too smart, confident and urban? Was the group dancing in a circle, described by the photographer Carl Mydans as” healthy children in clean backyard”, just too healthy and too white? And the same photographer’s pair of black infants, sitting in a litter-strewn yard in front of a decay shack,” such is the front yard available to these two youngsters to play in”, too desperate and too black?

” These photographs stand as beautiful images in their own right ,” Yiakoumaki said,” but the intervention, the very act of extermination has built them into something more, objects which can be seen as runs of contemporary art .”

  • Killed Negatives, free, Whitechapel Gallery London, 16 May-2 6 August

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Widespread delays to European flights due to computer glitch

Air traffic control system failure could affect almost half of flights in UK and rest of Europe

A glitch in Europe’s computerised air space and flight management system contribute to widespread flight delays and cancellations across the continent.

Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, said about half of flights travelling across Europe could be subject to delays after a system failure at about midday on Tuesday.

The organisation said that its” improved tactical flowing management system” had failed. The system links to air traffic control centres across Europe to determine when flights can best take off or land, affecting flight planning.

About half of the 29,500 flights expected to operate on Tuesday in the European network could be delayed, it said.

A significant proportion of flights in and out of London City airport were delayed, although Heathrow said it had been largely unaffected.

Work to restore the system was under way after the problem was identified, but it was unlikely to be in operation before the evening.

Air traffic control systems are being increasingly interlinked in the development of the Single European Sky, which the aviation industry hopes will increase the efficiency of flights and make best use of airspace.

More disruption could be in store for air passengers in the UK from Wednesday as the Nats air traffic control centre at Swanwick, which manages the airspace managing most British flights, continues the digitisation of its systems.

Passengers face potential postpones as airspace capability is reduced during the transition period, when the use of paper flight strips to document instructions to pilots from controllers is phased out in favour of an electronic system.

While Nats has started the process, this week will be” undoubtedly the most challenging “, according to Pete Dawson, the general manager of Nats’ London Terminal Control, as it affects airspace encompassing Britain’s biggest airports.

Nats has warned that lags of up to 20 minutes for some flights are possible at peak periods, and that flights may have to operate later at night and earlier in the morning at Heathrow and Gatwick during the transition.

The move comes as part of a broader overhaul of airspace, which controllers and the Department for Transport want to see modernised and reshaped to provide more capability, with the skies increasingly congested in the south-east of England.

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White powder letter sent to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Reports say letter contained a racist note as Met investigates if it is linked to Westminster scare

Scotland Yard is investigating after a letter addressed to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry that contained white powder inspired an anthrax scare.

The letter was received this month at St James’s Palace in central London. The powder inside was be considered to be harmless after being examined by experts.

The package is understood to have contained a note, with one report claiming it was racist in nature. Markle, a successful actor, is from a mixed-race background.

The couple are due to be married in May. The letter was received at the palace shortly before a package containing white powder also prompted a scare at the Palace of Westminster.

The Evening Standard newspaper said the royal couple had been informed of the suspicious package.

The police inquiry is trying to determine if the same person or people were responsible for the sending both letters.

Anthrax can be weaponised in powder sort and is potentially deadly. But there have been a number of scares where harmless white powder has been sent to prominent people.

Scotland Yard said in a statement:” Police are investigating after a package containing a substance was delivered to St James’s Palace on Monday 12 February.

” The substance was tested and corroborated as non-suspicious. Officers are also investigating an accusation of malicious communications which relates to the same package. No apprehends; investigations continue .”

A spokesperson for St James’s Palace said they would not commentary and it was a matter for the police.

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Londons fatberg on show: We thought of pickling it

The Whitechapel Monster, a giant block of grease from the sewers, comes to the Museum of London. Is it a monument to the age of garbage?

Made in North Korea a unique glimpse of life inside a closed society

Everyday objects, such as sweet wrappers and posters, is likely to be exhibited for the first time outside the communist republic at a new London show, writes Vanessa Thorpe

Holocaust memorial service pays tribute to victims of genocides

Survivors and relatives gather in London for service ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day

Sadiq Khan speech disrupted by Brexit and Trump supporters

London mayor brushes off interruption by White Pendragons, describing them as what some would call very stable geniuses

A group of protesters backing Brexit and Donald Trump have disrupted a speech by the London mayor, Sadiq Khan.

Khan’s address on gender equality to the Fabian Society in central London was suspended for several minutes on Saturday morning while a small number of demonstrators from a recently formed far-right group called the White Pendragons built their protest.

Shortly after Khan began speaking at the society’s new year conference, one human told the audience:” Ladies and gentlemen, we’re here today to make a non-violent, peaceful citizen’s arrest .”

One man wailed “No to the EU” and another displayed a US flag.

Audience members began to heckle and slow-clap, but the protesters resisted attempts to remove them, claiming they would sue anyone who touched them for” common assault “.

Several police officers then moved in to escort them from the venue.

The protesters claimed the Fabian Society was ” subverting our English constitution”, with one quoting the Magna Carta.

Outside the vestibule, the ITV News reporter Paul Brand asked them several times in the interests of clarity about their objection to the society, but failed to get a clear response.

He said in a tweet that they claimed to be neither a racist , nor a far-right group.” But they told us Sadiq Khan has no right to be Mayor of London, referencing his religion .”

When Khan, a former chair of the Fabian Society, resumed his speech he quipped:” On the plus side, I wasn’t served with a P45″- a including references to Theresa May’s Tory conference speech that was interrupted by a prankster.

The mayor added:” It is a pleasure to be here even though we were distracted by the actions of what some would call very stable geniuses .”

Mafalda Damaso (@ DrMafaldaDms)

#Fab18 meeting somewhat delayed by Trump supporters who wouldn’t let Sadiq Kahn speak. The police had to intervene and remove the group of- in Kahn’s terms- ‘very stable geniuses’ d7sVx9Dc1j

January 13, 2018

Last Saturday the US president used the same phrase to describe himself in a tweet following questions about his mental health.

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Debunked: Trump reasons for cancelling London visit

The US chairwomen claims that he will not visit UK to open new embassy because of bad Obama deal fail to add up

Donald Trump’s ” reason” for cancelling his trip to London to cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony of the new US embassy has been torn apart.

While few people believe that Trump’s decision to stay away has nothing to do with the prospect of having to face some of the UK’s biggest street protests, many have also debunked other asserts in his tweet.

Donald J. Trump (@ realDonaldTrump)

Reason I canceled my journey to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for “peanuts,” only to build a new one in an off locating for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!

January 12, 2018

The Obama administration sold the embassy

Not quite. On the embassy’s UK website, a press release dated October 2008– one month before Barack Obama was elected president and three months before his inauguration- details plans to move the embassy south of the river Thames, from Mayfair to Nine Elms, in Wandsworth. The decision to relocate the building was made by the Bush administration.

However, the final marketing- to the Qatari royal family’s property company- was agreed and signed off by the US state department in 2009 when Obama was president.

The embassy was sold for peanuts

The Chancery building’s sale price was never disclosed, although in July 2000 it was estimated at PS500m.

The new embassy has been built in an’ off location’

While the new place may lack the opulence of Mayfair, Trump might find much to his taste in Nine Elms. The 230 -hectare district has been transformed from a once bleak landscape of depots and sorting offices to house some of London’s most expensive apartments and growths- about 30 of them.

Among the residential developments is neighbouring Embassy gardens, where a three-bedroom flat will set you back PS1. 7m ($ 2.3 m ). Within the regeneration area, designers including Norman Foster, Frank Gehry and Richard Rogers are chipping in to the aesthetic; and the interiors of one block of flats were designed by Donatella Versace.

Perhaps the greatest symbol of extravagance within the district is the ” sky pond “~ ATAGEND, a glass bottom bathing area suspended between two buildings. Hurl in a food market, a new tubing stationand an enviable riverside view, and it could be concluded that the location is quite “on” ~ ATAGEND.

Embassy locations

The new embassy expense $1.2 bn

Not quite. The building was widely reported as costing$ 1bn, which is PS750m.

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Julian Assange is made an Ecuadorian citizen in effort to resolve impasse

Ecuadors foreign minister discloses to reporters in Quito that Wikileaks founder was awarded citizenship a month ago

The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was made an Ecuadorian citizen last month, the nation’s foreign ministry has disclosed, in an attempt to resolve the political impasse over his continued presence in the UK.

The 46 -year-old has been naturalised after living for five and a half years in the cramped, Latin American country’s embassy in Knightsbridge, central London.

Earlier this week the UK’s Foreign Office revealed that Ecuador had asked for Assange, who was born in Australia, to be accredited as foreign diplomats. The petition was dismissed.

The Ecuadorian initiative was intended to confer legal immunity on Assange, letting him to slip out of the embassy and Britain without being arrested for violating his former bail conditions.

Julian Assange posted this picture of himself in an Ecuadorian football shirt on Twitter. Photograph: Twitter

Assange failed to surrender to the UK authorities in 2012 after the supreme court rejected his appeal against extradition to Sweden to face accusations of sexual crimes, including rape. He was granted asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy.

Swedish attorneys last year unexpectedly dropped their investigation into allegations against him, which he denied. WikiLeaks, however, were afraid that the US will seek his extradition if he leaves the embassy, believing there is a sealed US indictment trying his arrest.

At a press conference on Thursday in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito, the foreign minister, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, explained that Assange had sought citizenship and that it had been granted on 12 December last year.

” The Ecuadorian government is empowered to grant nationality to the protected person and thus facilitate … his inclusion in the host country ,” Espinosa told reporters.

Assange’s life could be under threat from other states, she cautioned, adding that she was seeking a” dignified and merely” solution to his situation with Britain.

On Wednesday evening, the UK Foreign Office put out a statement explaining that:” The government of Ecuador recently requested diplomatic status for Mr Assange here in the UK. The UK did not grant that request , nor are we in talks with Ecuador on this matter. Ecuador knows that the way to resolve this issue is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice .”

At the same time Assange appeared on his Twitter account for the first time wearing an Ecuadorian national football shirt.

A statement by Assange’s legal team said:” The UN ruling, issued almost two years ago, is crystal clear in the original language.[ He] is unlawfully and arbitrarily detained by the UK authorities and must be released. The UK should not permit itself to be intimidated by the Trump administration’s public threats to’ take down’ Mr Assange .”

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