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No deal on Greece today. EU schism with France on one side and Germany on the other

Finland’s Finance Minister Stubb said that, “I think we’re very far away from the types of conditionality that we need. If this was a negotiation from one to 10.”

Alex Christoforou

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Will the Greek eurozone crisis ever end…apparently not. Here is the latest run down.

Some highlights of today’s meeting, as reported by Zerohedge…

  • Slovakia FinMin Peter Kazimir said quite simply earlier “it’s not possible to reach deal today.
  • “We continue to work to establish the conditions to start negotiations, which is the real target – it’s not about closing a deal, it’s about starting negotiations,” Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan tells reporters in Brussels.
  • Finland’s FinMin Stubb who said that while he is still hopeful “I think we’re very far away from the types of conditionality that we need. If this was a negotiation from one to 10, I think we’re still standing somewhere between 3 and 4. So making progress but not there yet.  No one is blocking a deal, we’re all constructively trying to find a solution in a very difficult situation.”
  • We don’t consider the Greek proposal at all sufficient for starting negotiations. Much must happen in order to advance. The Finnish government is unanimous on its stance on Greece.

To sum it up…again via Zerohedge…

Basically, all Europe has left now is hope: hope that Germany will change its mind in the last second and will backtrack on its demands. It got so bad that Luxembourg’s foreign minister made a plea for Germany to avoid a Greek exit from the euro, warning Berlin of a catastrophic schism with France if it pushes for Athens to leave the currency union. The comments from Jean Asselborn, released on Sunday, came after Germany argued that Greece could take a five-year “time-out” from the euro zone and have some of its debts written off if Athens fails to improve proposals it has made for a bailout.

“It would be fatal for Germany’s reputation in the EU and the world if Berlin does not now seize the chance that there now is with the Greek reform offers,” Asselborn told Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

“If Germany pushes for a Grexit, it will provoke a profound conflict with France. That would be a catastrophe for Europe,” he added in an advance release of an interview to run in the Sueddeutsche’s Monday edition.

Some thoughts on all the theatre and tragedy from Sky News’ Ed Conway…

Here are a few stream-of-consciousness thoughts about where we are, written at lunchtime on Sunday. They may be out-of-date by the time you read them. Then again, in the euro crisis, nothing ever seems to change all that much.

1. Today’s Absolutely Final deadline is no longer final.

There was lots of talk (from the President of the European Council among others) that Sunday’s leaders’ and EU leaders’ summit was the Very Last Opportunity to seal a deal or to throw Greece out of the euro. That seemed to make some sense — after all, not only are the Greek banks closed, the entire financial system seems to be about to run out of money. There’s only so long you can run an economy without a fully-functioning banking system.

However, at yesterdays’ eurogroup meeting (that’s the euro finance ministers) it emerged that the decision on a deal may be put off for another few days. Sources said that the financial outflows were not so bad last week, and that the Greek banking system could survive for another few days. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen.

2. One big problem is trust

This is both good news and bad. Good because it signifies that in terms of the proposals for a bailout deal, there is no longer much distance between the two sides. Having persuaded his people to vote in last weekend’s referendum against the deal proposed by the creditors, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras has subsequently signed up to the vast majority of its strictures. So the two sides now, finally, largely agree on the kind of austerity that needs to be imposed (cuts to pension bills, liberalising monopolies and nationalised industries, raising VAT and removing exemptions, including on the islands etc). The problem is that no-one believes that Greece will actually go through with the reforms — especially after all the surprises, disappointments and broken promises of the past few weeks and months. That is why there is talk of waiting until the Greek parliament has actually passed some of these measures before giving the final go-ahead to new bailout talks.

3. The other big problem is domestic politics

Midway through yesterday’s finance minister’s meeting, it emerged that Finland’s government was close to collapse, as the second-biggest party, the True Finns, were dead set against handing any extra cash to Greece. There were also extremely hawkish comments coming from the German and Slovakian teams. It’s a reminder that around the Eurozone many countries are simply sick and tired of handing money to Greece. The largely centrist leaders in Spain and Italy, who face upsurgent anti-euro parties back home, are desperate to prove to the electorate that voting in a party like Syriza is the worst thing they could do. The more Greece suffers (preferably with wall-to-wall coverage across the European broadcast media) the more likely their voters are to think twice about voting for Podemos or Beppe Grillo.

This is probably the least edifying element of the crisis at present: in a sense, Greece is being ritually economically tortured in order to safeguard the jobs of politicians on the other side of Europe.

Either way, in order to get a deal, politicians will have to risk losing at least some votes (maybe lots of them) back home. And no politicians like that.

4. Crazy ideas are now mainstream

A few years ago it was forbidden to talk about the possibility that a country could leave the euro. That taboo was overcome a few years ago at the Cannes G20. Now some finance ministers are openly discussing how it would be done. The big story out of yesterday’s eurogroup was that Germany has been throwing around an idea of a temporary Grexit — that Greece could leave the single currency for five years, restructure its debt and re-join when it is in better health. The problem with such an idea is that “temporary” changes in currency regimes almost always turn out to be permanent. Take the UK leaving the ERM in 1992, or leaving the gold standard in 1931, or the US closing the gold window in 1971. All were described as temporary. Many might have even believed that at the time. Ultimately, they were nothing of the sort.

Anyway, what seems more likely is that this plan is a mischievous attempt at brinksmanship. And, even if it never comes to pass, it is going down brilliantly back home with the German electorate [see point 3].

5. The cancellation of the full EU leaders’ summit is neither a good nor a bad thing

There was originally supposed to be a euro leaders and then a full EU summit today — the idea presumably being that if Grexit was indeed likely, the whole of the EU might need to sign off both on that and the consequent humanitarian aid that might be needed. Now the EU summit has been cancelled — mainly because after last night’s nine hour marathon of talks it is clear that there will be no straightforward conclusion from the eurogroup, and hence the leaders won’t simply be coming into town to sign a piece of paper and then leave.

6. Best-case scenario: eurofudge

Of course, the pie-in-the-sky best-case scenario involves Greece getting a deal immediately and going home and successfully implementing it. But a more realistic scenario is probably going to involve a characteristic euro fudge.

The euro finance ministers could agree to begin bailout talks on the pre-condition that Greece implements a number of austerity/reform proposals in the next few days. This would be endorsed by the leaders, unanimously. Then, the European Central Bank confirms that because talks are now ongoing (as opposed to frozen) it can loosen conditions on Greece’s banks (though they won’t open for some time either way). The eurogroup confirms the bailout talks are underway in yet another meeting or teleconference later on this week. Note that there is no longer any hope of getting a full bailout signed off — the best that can be done is to begin formal negotiations for another bailout. All because the last deal expired a couple of weeks ago.

7. Worst-case scenario: eurodisaster

The worst-case scenario for both sides involves Greece leaving the euro. Quite how this happens is anyone’s guess, though Germany’s eurosabbatical paper yesterday underlined that despite the fact that the EU Treaties don’t have a clause to allow it, Grexit is absolutely feasible. It would begin with a breakdown of today’s talks, with a complete split in the eurogroup and euro leaders’ meeting between those who believe Greece’s departure is good news for the euro (Germany, Finland etc) and those who think it would be a disaster (France, Italy etc).

Rather than coming out and waving a piece of paper saying Greece is heading back to the drachma, the process might be more subtle and imperceptible: Athens might be allowed to print its own euro-denominated instruments; it might be allowed to print scrip; it might simply not be allowed to get extra liquidity from the ECB and be forced to nationalise its banks.

But though it might not begin with one big moment of fanfare, a departure would be messy, would provoke a further default by Greece on its debts to the IMF, the ECB and other euro nations. They would be pursued in the courts for decades for some sort of payback. Questions would arise over the future of the single currency. If the remaining members do not commit to big-scale further integration (a single Treasury, fiscal union) they will leave the door open for further departures in the coming years. Markets would plunge, not just in the Eurozone but everywhere around the world. Greece would almost certainly be out of the euro forever, however much the move would be branded initially as temporary.

References:

https://medium.com/@edconwaysky/still-talking-a680366af95f

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-07-12/its-not-possible-reach-deal-today-eu-summit-canceled-european-leader-scramble-keep-d

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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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