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How did a left-wing government end up signing the worst austerity program in history?

It took SYRIZA two months to understand that creditors are not in the mood to listen to economic theories and revolutionary manifestos…they simply want their money back. In the end Greece agreed to give up its entire country to appease the creditors.

Alex Christoforou

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Original post entitled, “My Big Fat Greek Funeral: SYRIZA, 3. bailout and capital controls” appeared on Keep Talking Greece.

I am speechless. Not since yesterday or last week. I have been speechless since July 13th when the Greek left-wing coalition government agreed to burden the country and the people with a new loan, the third bailout for Greece since 2010 together with the strictest austerity program ever. I have been speechless ever since and for  more than a week I thought I cannot blog anymore. I took me time to swallow and absorb the shock. And still. I am unable to deal with it.

I am unable to comprehend how a left-wing government ended up signing the worst austerity program ever. For the simple reason that if a left-wing government signs such an agreement, what should I expect from a right-wing or a neo-liberal government to do? Raid my apartment, steal my kitchen pans, my pottery cats collection and my underwear? When the left-wing government signs such an agreement, we can say that the political system in Greece is over. And there is no alternative.

First, we blamed the creditors for wanting to crack down SYRIZA in order to avoid creating other examples of the same kind within the eurozone. Then we blamed again the creditors and specifically German finance minister Schaeuble and his Grexit plan: 5 years bailouts, 5 years temporary Grexit, before Greece could return to the markets. That was original tone by Schaeuble in 2011. Then we blamed the disagreement between the IMF and Germany in terms of “Greek debt relief”.  And finally we blamed the ‘dilettantism of the Greek government” that sent to Eurogroup its economic team to explain to Greece’s creditors, how the Eurozone should be changed. It took Varoufakis & Co two months to understand that creditors are not in the mood to listen to some economic theories and revolutionary manifestos but that they simply wanted their money back.  All our blames were right and wrong at the same time because the game was f;ixed’ form the very beginning.

When the Greek team started to work on its proposals, it was too late. Schaeuble was determined to kick Greece out of the euro and furthermore to ‘help it’ bridge the Grexit time with a loan of some 50 billion euros. Either way, with or without euro, with or without drachma, with or without Schaeuble or SYRIZA, the result is the same: a third bailout of 50-84 billion euro and another bailout program. There is no hope for this country, for the people – at least, for some of them.

I really don’t care, if Varoufakis wears tasteless shirts and why he wanted to ‘hack’ taxpayers’ numbers while sitting with his team of skilled hackers and childhood friends. Varoufakis is not my cup of tea. He never was. But while our Greek life is falling apart day by day, I have to read Varoufakis’ interview Nr 2034 explaining his game theory and his academic hypothesis, hi smother’s story and his cousins pain. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a dam. Frankly, my dear, I’m fed up.

I am also fed up to listen to opposition lawmakers complaining about the Parliament Speaker and claiming “Zoi Konstantopoulou is torturing MPs with her pedantism.” I honestly don’t give a dam. Frankly, my dear, I’m fed up to see ‘tortured’ MPs earning €5,000+ per month and enjoy tax-free, while the rest of us is literally bleeding: financially, psychologically, physically and morally.

Neither do I care whether SYRIZA is falling apart, whether the Prime Minister wants early elections in September in order to secure a clear majority in Parliament so that he can pass the austerity bills that lead to nowhere.

I am deaf to government ministers and party officials and opposition lawmakers debating on whether Varoufakis should be indict for high or for low treason.

I just don’t care. It doesn’t affect my life, not even a tiny little bit. I give neither a a whole dam nor half of it for this so-called Greek political agenda after July 13th.

What do I care about is to watch my country and the people falling into pieces. I see our Greek lives suffering another ‘internal devaluation’ minute by minute, day by day, week by week. When the 3. bailout deal will be sealed by 15 or 20 August I will be also able to say “I see our Greek lives suffering another ‘internal devaluation’ minute by minute, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year.”

The 40% internal devaluation settled in Greece since 2010, experiences a new peak even though the 3. bailout has not been signed yet. The Capital Controls imposed on June 29th in order to save the banks from draining, have ruined the lives of many Greeks. Friends of mine who have been working for more than two decades in private companies, were “sent to enforced holiday” together with the banks: their full time job turned into 1 or maximum 2 days work per week. That is 4 or 8 work days per month. In relation, their also salary plunged by end of July.  Many employees in the private sector saw their working hours and already low salaries been reduced. How can these people get along without income? Nobody cares and nobody talks about. Neither national nor international media talk about it. We whisper these hazardous circumstances  among ourselves. In quiet. Because we are ashamed. And we wonder endlessly.

Others, plagued by long term unemployment and no perspective to get a job or even a pension, felt obliged to sell their home. That’s not possible under capital controls. The selling amount will remain in the bank and it may even fall victim to “deposits haircut” by the end of the year. Another friend who needs to sell her second flat  – an inheritance – so that she has money to live, cannot sell it either. Ten years ago, the flat was worth 130,000 euro. Now, if she finds a buyer she will have to sell it for 45,000-50,000 euro. She is trying to sell it for the last 1.5 year. Not a single buyer came around the corner.

With the new Value Added Tax hikes, the amount we need to spend for our weekly basic groceries now extra 15-20 euro. “Just 15 euro?” one may ask. Yes. That’s a huge amount, if you don’t have it and you have kids to feed and bills to pay. The 50-euro banknote that will go for groceries will be missed at the end of the month. Bills will remain unpaid, the extra for a health emergency, for example, will simply be not there. It’s either eat or die.

In hospitals and public health care the situation is getting from worse to worst. Shortage of doctors, of nurses, of administration personnel, of material. You need a portion of fluid iron? Average waiting time is 3 days. The same for special creams, for this and that. You need some cotton? “Oh, not so much, please, a tiny piece,” the nurse tells you politely. Sometimes, the drugs or creams never come, you get the prescription upon exiting the hospital.

In the night shift a nurse is in charge for 40-50 patients, even in the public hospital they proudly call “the biggest in Greece, in the whole Balkans, indeed.”  Neither this nor the previous governments managed to raise the working hours of civil servants.

Patients that need night care need to hire a private nurse. They charge €8.5        per hour,  €55 for six and a half hours, and one nice green 100-euro banknote on Saturdays. Union rights as before the crisis. Is this the competitiveness the Troika has been talking about? They work at fixed shifts and by the clock: 11:00 pm to 5:40 am, for example. A 24-hours care will cost you more than 200 euro, the overtime they charge is without receipt. One day, the doctor sends you home, half fixed, half broken and totally broke. Then you will need to consult another doctor and get skilled caretakers at home, all paid by your own pocket. Or lay down and die.

A pair of low-pensioners next door with a bed-ridden and dementia-sick wife  have been going in and out the hospitals for the last 5 months. The woman needs 24/7 care but they cannot afford neither a caretaker or even better a care home for the elderly. Their last savings were spent on private nurses when the woman was hospitalized. The man was in shock and awe when he heard that they both will have 20-euro less because of the rises in health care contributions. The man was in such a shock that he forgot to go pick their pensions on Friday. And on Monday.

And then I read about the Financial Crimes Units (SDOE) that have caught in flagranti tourism businesses with fake cash registers in Mykonos and Santorini. Cash registers that have not been registered to the tax office. The customer gets his receipt, but the businessman pockets the money without giving the state the V.A.T. or taxes. The Finance Ministry got alarmed from this new phenomenon of tax evasion by the evergreen smart “Greeks”.  But “personnel shortage” hinders a raid to all fake cash registers… One of the fake cash registers was located in Mykonos, two in Santorini, two of the richest islands of Greece. In fact: in the richest regions of the debt-ridden country with impoverished families and ruined economy.

And then, I get this damned feeling that I live in another planet in a far away universe. And I want to stay there forever. In a bubble. Away from this Greece, where half of its population starves and is in dire need and the other half, the ‘clever Greeks’ keep cheating and evading taxes and enjoy a real life of fake registration and exorbitant per hour charge, away from austerity agreements, Troika’s demands and the hateful “Mnimonia” (memoranda) as they take advantage of the shortages of the public system.

*** The title is a proposal by Thomais Papaioannou, Correspondent of ERT & RIK in Paris. I had run out of ideas when I finished this post…

References:

http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2015/08/03/my-big-fat-greek-funeral-syriza-3-bailout-and-capital-controls/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+KeepTalkingGreece+%28Keep+Talking+Greece%29

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Theresa May survives another week in ongoing Brexit fiasco (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 153.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s Brexit survival, as the UK Prime Ministers appears to be heading to Brussels so she can coordinate with EU technocrats in order to meet a November deadline to move the unpopular agreement through all channels of British government.

It is still a very fluid situation. May has made it through a tough weekend where support to oust her never materialized, but the week ahead is anything but certain. For now May’s Brexit position looks secure.

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“Brexit. A Deal That Pleases No One,” authored by Daniel Lacalle via dlacalle.com…

The agreement announced between the British government and the European Union has been received in the United Kingdom with criticism from all sides. The defenders of staying in the European Union consider it very negative, of course. However, and this is the most important part, it is unlikely that the conservative party itself will support this agreement in parliament. Jacob Rees-Mogg has called the agreement “a failure of the negotiators and a failure to deliver Brexit.” Boris Johnson has said that it turns the United Kingdom into a “vassal state” and Nigel Farage has described it as “the worst agreement in history”.

Including the entire United Kingdom in the customs union and maintaining the payment of 10 billion pounds a year to give the European Union veto rights to the most important decisions is something that most conservative members of parliament will reject and that does not satisfy the Labor Party – which is also not pro-EU, let’s be clear – nor the liberal-democrats.

That is the great problem facing the government of Theresa May. That not even the government as a whole supports this agreement. The resignations that have been registered prove it. Even if the rest of the government decides to accept this agreement as a lesser evil, it is very difficult for the parliament to approve it.

At the centre of the controversy is a negotiating process that the European Union has left as a United Kingdom issue. But by letting the United Kingdom deal with its own divisions and problems, the EU also lost the perfect opportunity to offer British citizens and the rest of Europe a refreshing, leading and exciting project. And that is the big problem. That Brexit has been seen in many circles in Brussels as an opportunity to advance in the political and interventionist project, instead of moving towards a union in freedom for global, economic and political leadership.

The problem of the UK government is that it is led by a person, Theresa May, who must present a proposal to leave the EU when she has always been an advocate of remaining (Theresa May initially campaigned for the “Remain”). Thus, it is not surprising that the parliament arithmetics in favor of this agreement is not at all clear.

The British Parliament has more members in favor of Brexit than against, but it cannot be THIS Brexit.

Boris Johnson and the pro-Brexit hardliners may see an opportunity to weaken Theresa May and force a change of leadership that will bring a new leader more committed to a better deal.

Moderate Labour, who have been terrified for months with the radical drift of the Corbyn team, may also see an opportunity to weaken the leader who tries to take Labour to the far left.

My perception is that if there were a second referendum the result would probably be the same. In the United Kingdom there are no voices with political weight and real popular support to defend the European Union project. In the United Kingdom, the debate is either seeing the European Union as an annoying partner or as an impossible danger to solve.

Citizens in Europe see Brexit with sadness, logically. In the United Kingdom, news arriving from the European Union do not encourage a remain stance. High unemployment, unresolved immigration problems, lack of global leadership, high taxes, the specter of a new debt crisis in Italy and other risks. Pro-Europe UK leaders offer no other argument to citizens than the so-called Project Fear, a massive economic risk. However, British citizens see UK unemployment at 75-year lows, while in Europe they see the slowdown of the eurozone and the budget crisis of other countries, and do not find an unquestionable reason to stay in the club.

The UK citizen who votes for Brexit does not seem convinced that the only solution is to belong to a union that demands more control but offers less growth and employment.

The reactions to the agreement have not been very euphoric in any case. It seems something that was presented to fail. The pound and stock market did not react as the EU negotiators would think once the deal was seen as unlikely to pass parliament. In the bond market, Gilts strengthened as UK bond spreads fell while eurozone peripheral yields soared. The opposite of what would be seen as an EU victory.

Reaching an agreement that benefits everyone is difficult, but not impossible

The problem in the United Kingdom is that the agreement that would satisfy the pro-Brexit is impossible, and that the agreement that would please the pro-EU is impractical. That the message of economic ruin is not bought by Brexiters and not even the Remainers see the marvels of the EU membership.

Economically, it has been a mistake to present British citizens with the idea of “either the EU or the chaos”, because it does not work when there is not a clear, exciting and global leadership project.

The United Kingdom, one of the voices that defended economic freedom and open markets in an increasingly bureaucratic European Union is an essential partner to advance in Europe. Reaching an agreement that benefits everyone is difficult, but not impossible.

I have never bought the “EU or chaos” argument. I believe that both parts can benefit from a mutually beneficial deal. I am convinced that, even if this agreement is not approved, the British government will reconsider and present a solid plan for its citizens.

 

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Rise of the Western Dissidents

The only reason Assange is being targeted is that he tangled with the highest levels of the western establishment. He is far from alone.

The Duran

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Authored by Allum Bokhari via Breitbart:


We’re used to Russian dissidents, Chinese dissidents, Iranian dissidents, and Saudi Arabian dissidents. But those who rightly believe the west is superior to authoritarian regimes must now contend with a troubling trend — the rise of the western dissident.

Chief among them is Julian Assange, who for a half-decade has been forced to live in the tiny Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has claimed political asylum since 2011. Assange claimed that he would be extradited to the U.S. to face charges over his work at WikiLeaks if he left the embassy, and was routinely mocked as paranoid for doing so.

This week, we learned that Assange was right and his critics were wrong. Thanks to a clerical error by the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria, Virginia, reporters were able to confirm the existence of sealed criminal charges against the WikiLeaks founder.

Because the charges are sealed and the evidence is unknown, it’s impossible to say if the case has merit. But it likely relates to WikiLeaks’ release of unredacted diplomatic cables in 2011, which forced the U.S. to relocate several of its foreign sources.

Some allegations are more serious. While he was alive, neoconservative Senator John McCain maintained that leaks provided to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning, which included the diplomatic cables, caused U.S sources to be murdered.

Those who see Assange as a villain will end the story here. What is typically left out is that WikiLeaks originally released the diplomatic cables in piecemeal form, with names redacted to prevent loss of life and minimize harm.

It was only after a Guardian journalist’s error led to the full unredacted cables leaking to third parties on the web that WikiLeaks published them as well — and not before Assange attempted to warn the office of Hillary Clinton, then U.S. Secretary of State.

In other words, WikiLeaks behaved precisely as any responsible publisher handling sensitive material should, redacting information that could cause harm. The redactions only stopped when they became pointless. Assange is unlikely to have won more than a dozen journalism awards if he were completely reckless in his publications.

The Pentagon later admitted under oath that they could not find any instances of individuals being killed as a result of being named in Manning’s leaks to WikiLeaks, contradicting Sen. McCain’s allegations.

At worst, Assange and WikiLeaks can be accused of negligence, not deliberate recklessness, in the way it handled sensitive material. But as Breitbart Tech reporter Lucas Nolan points out, a far stronger case can be made against Hillary Clinton for the way she handled State Department emails — yet we see no criminal charges against her.

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the only reason Assange is being targeted is that he tangled with the highest levels of the western establishment. In that, he is far from alone.

In the late 2000s to early 2010s, western governments targeted all manner of individuals associated with Assange and the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, including Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda, and The Guardian newspaper.

This was the early growth period of the internet, when the web had become a truly popular medium but had yet to be censored by pliant social media corporations. It was a time of profound unease at the power of the internet to undermine authority, both through the dissemination of information as in the case of WikiLeaks and Snowden, and in the new mobilization of political forces, as in the case of Occupy Wall Street and the SOPA/PIPA protests. Heavy-handed crackdowns against individuals and groups that were seen, rightly or wrongly, as symbols of the web’s early anarchic tendencies, like Kim DotcomAaron SwartzAnonymous, and LulzSec, were not uncommon.

These days, however, a new class of western dissident has emerged — the populist dissident.

Populist Dissidents

Who would have thought that the highest court in Europe, home of the enlightenment, would uphold a case in which a woman was prosecuted for blasphemy against Islam?

Who would have thought that Britain, the birthplace of liberalism and the free press, would ban an independent journalist from its shores for satirizing the same religion?

Who would have thought that Germany, whose living memory of the totalitarian Stasi is just three decades old, would put its largest opposition party under surveillance?

Just a few years ago, all three would sound far-fetched. But cases like these have become common as elites in virtually every western country mount a panicked attempt to contain the rise of populism (the goal, in the words of a Google executive, is to render it a “hiccup”in history’s march towards progress).

Look at the case of Tommy Robinson, the British critic of Islam who was dragged through Britain’s courts on fuzzy contempt-of-court charges. Sentenced to an astonishing thirteen-month imprisonment, Robinson was eventually freed after a successful appeal and now awaits a final trial before Britain’s Attorney General. Shaky charges that have been successfully appealed were exploited to persecute a British citizen who was inconvenient to the establishment. And there’s still a further trial to come.

Then again, Britain is a country that routinely bans foreign politicians and media figures from the country for being too right-wing. Michael SavageGeert WildersLauren SouthernPamela Geller, and Robert Spencer all enjoy this dubious distinction. Theresa May, who was responsible for internal affairs and immigration when Spencer and Geller were banned, is now the Prime Minister.

But it’s not just Britain. Not only has Trump’s White House, supposedly an ally of populists, failed to publicly intervene on behalf of the American citizens banned from the U.K. for expressing populist viewpoints, but it hasn’t even investigated allegations that far-left Antifa activists were able to stop conservative Rebel Media personality Jack Buckbyfrom entering the country by spreading false criminal allegations.

Julian Assange, a left-libertarian may share little ideological ground with right-wing critics of Islam. But they all share at least one thing: persecution by western states coupled with anti-establishment political speech or activities. They are also targets of the security establishment — Assange because of leaks that have exposed their secrets, and the populists because they refuse to censor themselves to avoid angering Muslims. (The UK justified its attempted ban of Geert Wilders by arguing that his presence in the country could lead to “inter-faith violence.”)

We also see attacks on free speech, with governments and politicians across the west pressuring Silicon Valley to suppress its critics. An unaccountable, unelected elite can sweep away a person’s livelihood in minutes, and cut their political message off from millions of American citizens. As I wrote in my column two weeks ago, the overarching trend is the gradual destruction or delegitimization of every tool, digital or otherwise, that non-elites use to express their preferences. Does that sound like a free society, or a controlled one?

You don’t have to agree with any of the individuals or groups listed above to see that surveilling political parties, blocking journalists from entering countries, jailing critics of religion, upholding blasphemy laws and censoring the net is the behavior of authoritarian nations, not liberal democracies. Yet this is the disturbing pattern we now see in the west.

Worse, foreign authoritarian regimes now provide safe harbor for western dissidents, in the same way that the west does for foreign dissidents. Edward Snowden, accused of violating the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917 for blowing the whistle on the NSA’s mass surveillance of Americans, has for years resided safely in Russia, a country that persecutes and even kills its own journalists. Before that, he sought refuge in Hong Kong, a “Special Administrative Region” of the People’s Republic of China, an even more terrifyingly totalitarian state.

Will there now be a quid pro quo, with Russia and other authoritarian regimes protecting our dissidents while the west protects theirs? Or will western countries remain true to their liberal traditions, and stop its alarming attempts to surveil, suppress, and persecute a growing number of its own citizens? On present trends, a dark and dystopian future seems to loom on the horizon.

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. You can follow him on TwitterGab.ai and add him on Facebook. Email tips and suggestions to [email protected].

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Zuckerberg’s “War Face” Has Driven Key Executives Away, Stoked Tension With Sandberg

About a dozen senior or highly visible executives disclosed their resignations or left Facebook in 2018.

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Via Zerohedge


Earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gathered around 50 of his key executives and told them that the company was at war – more specifically, under siege from lawmakers, investors and angry users over the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal and Russian influence on the platform.

Zuckerberg, according to the Wall Street Journal, told his top lieutenants during that June meeting that while executives can move more slowly and methodically on key decisions during “peacetime,” he would be acting more decisively going forward, said people familiar with the remarks.

The result? Tension which has boiled over to the point where several key executives have left the country – as well as friction between Zuckerberg and longtime COO, Sheryl Sandberg.

The 34-year-old CEO believes Facebook didn’t move quickly enough at key moments this year and increasingly is pressing senior executives to “make progress faster” on resolving problems such as slowing user growth and securing the platform, said people familiar with the matter. Mr. Zuckerberg also at times has expressed frustration at how the company managed the waves of criticism it faced this year.

On Friday, that tension was on display when, during a question-and-answer session with employees at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., he blasted a fresh round of critical news coverage as “bullshit,” according to the people familiar with the remarks. –WSJ

One Facebook employee at the Friday session asked if the company could mitigate leaks by publishing internal reports on how frequently offenders are found and fired. While Zuckerberg said that Facebook does fire leakers, the root cause is “bad morale” thanks to negative press coverage.

And while the WSJ notes Zuckerberg has taken on ambitious annual goals, such as learning Mandarin and reading 25 books, this year his biggest challenge is fixing Facebook through his tougher management style, according to a person familiar with his thinking (so says the WSJ). Perhaps the Facebook CEO hired a drill sergeant to coach him on bringing out his inner-Alpha?

According to the Journal, Zuckerberg and Sandberg have had confrontations over his new management style, after she had long been afforded considerable autonomy over the company’s teams which handle communications and policy.

This spring, Mr. Zuckerberg told Ms. Sandberg, 49, that he blamed her and her teams for the public fallout over Cambridge Analytica, the research firm that inappropriately accessed private data on Facebook users and used it for political research, according to people familiar with the exchange.

Ms. Sandberg later confided in friends that the exchange rattled her, and she wondered if she should be worried about her job.

Mr. Zuckerberg also has told Ms. Sandberg she should have been more aggressive in allocating resources to review troublesome content on the site, said one person familiar with the matter, a problem that the company still struggles to fix. –WSJ

Meanwhile, Zuckerberg seems to be pleased of late with internal improvements, telling reporters last week that Sandberg is a “very important partner to me, and continues to be, and will continue to be.”

Privately, Zuckerberg has told executives that some of the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal was just “hysteria,” to which Facebook simply didn’t mount an effective response.

Clash of the tech titans

Zuckerberg famously has butted heads with the co-founders of photo-sharing app Instagram, over his desire to share user location data on the main Facebook platform in order to help better target ads. The now-resigned Instagram founders strongly opposed the idea, and abruptly left the company in September.

The founders of WhatsApp similarly bailed on Facebook after disagreements over how to best extract revenue from the messaging service, according to people familiar with the matter.

And most recently, was the departure of Oculus VR co-founder Brendan Iribe, who was forced out by Zuckerberg in part due to a disagreement over the future of the virtual-reality handset, the people said. The decision to leave was reportedly “mutual.”

All told, about a dozen senior or highly visible executives disclosed their resignations or left Facebook in 2018. In May, Facebook announced a major reshuffling of top product executives in a way that helped free up Mr. Zuckerberg to oversee a broader portfolio within the company.

This turmoil at the top of Facebook has made it difficult for the company to execute on some product decisions and shore up employee morale, which has been sinking over the last year along with the stock price, which has fallen 36% since its peak. Many employees are frustrated by the bad press and constant reorganizations, including of the security team, which can disrupt their work, according to current and former employees. –WSJ

Doing whatever it takes

Facebook has come under fire recently – most notably after a New York Times report that the company used GOP operatives to smear the company’s detractors and promote negative news about competitors Google and Apple.

When the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal broke – the resultant rebukes from Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google executives sent Zuckerberg ballistic. The Facebook CEO “later ordered his management team to use only Android phones —arguing that the operating system had far more users than Apple’s,” according to the Times.

Facebook then went on the offensive against the fellow tech giants.

On the advice of Joel Kaplan – a well-connected Republican friend, Bush administration official, and former Harvard classmate of Sandberg, Facebook began to go after Google and Apple.

Mr. Kaplan prevailed on Ms. Sandberg to promote Kevin Martin, a former Federal Communications Commission chairman and fellow Bush administration veteran, to lead the company’s American lobbying efforts. Facebook also expanded its work with Definers.

On a conservative news site called the NTK Network, dozens of articles blasted Google and Apple for unsavory business practices. One story called Mr. Cook hypocritical for chiding Facebook over privacy, noting that Apple also collects reams of data from users. Another played down the impact of the Russians’ use of Facebook.

The rash of news coverage was no accident: NTK is an affiliate of Definers, sharing offices and staff with the public relations firm in Arlington, Va. Many NTK Network stories are written by staff members at Definers or America Rising, the company’s political opposition-research arm, to attack their clients’ enemies. –NYT

Facebook has responded, initially saying they didn’t put out “fake news” against their competitors, and they had no idea what their marketing department was doing. On Friday, however, Sandberg said she took full responsibility for the actions of the communications team.

Facebook has tried to move forward following its various scandals; spearheading efforts to reign in data harvesting, and looking for someone to oversee its corporate, external and legal affairs.

Hopefully whoever is ultimately in charge of oversight won’t be scared away by Zuckerberg’s war face.

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