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Face Off: Congress v Zuckerberg

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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony revealed much about both the social media industry, and our government’s mentality.

First, Zuckerberg. He seemed “in over his head,” repeatedly inserting “run out the clock” words and phrases into his responses to evidently hide his nervousness (do you blame him?). How many times did he say, “Congressman!” and “that’s a great question”? (Well, of course it was a great question, I waited for someone to say, because if it wasn’t so great, I wouldn’t have asked it!) Zuckerberg time and time again seemed to be buying time, running seconds off each elected representative’s four or five minutes of allotted time.

Zuckerberg got buffeted by representatives on privacy, on European regulations, and most notably by Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Steve Scalise on the subject of political bias.

Yet Zuckerberg disappointed before a worldwide audience. He had a chance to tell the world that:

1. no, a private tech company is not an unpaid deputy of the government, acting with the authority and power of the state;
And

2. A private tech company is not acting
in loco parentis when it obtains user information, and

3. Users across the world are free to use, or leave, Facebook and that these freedoms often exceed the freedoms people enjoy under the laws of most nations in the world today. Facebook, warts and all, is one of the most democratic institutions on the planet!

Instead, Zuckerberg came to Capitol Hill, showing contrition over the involvement of Cambridge Analytica (a third party as to which Facebook’s responsibility is unclear and dubious). What we saw — what the world saw — was the United States Congress bullying a private social media company.

Now, Zuckerberg is hardly a sympathetic figure. Many people envy him for his fantastic wealth and profile, and for his youth. Also, Silicon Valley and indeed much of American big business is quite leftist (Zuckerberg acknowledged this). But his beating — which he handled pretty well, all things considered — was both undeserved and likely to backfire.

Some representatives used the hearings to preen, showboat and showcase their “fighting for the common man” bonafides, and any business leader makes for a great whipping boy these days. But almost everyone grilling Zuckerberg showed a zeal for flexing the awesome powers of government.

There are many problems with the operations of major social media platforms. The growing publicity surrounding these problems is already causing reform, and in some cases, boycotts and departures from the platforms, and innovations by new competitors.

All we got from Washington, DC was a group of elected representatives reminding the tech innovators of America of “who’s the boss.”

I can’t help but think that, across the world, innovators and disruptors are heeding that message. So are, I fear, America’s competitors.

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Democrats

Rep. Seth Moulton enters the Democratic nomination race

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Rep Seth Moulton enters the Democratic nomination race

The clown car continues to fill up as a new Democrat announces their presidential campaign seemingly every week. This time, it’s Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA), marking the third politician from Massachusetts to vie for the top spot. He joined Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and former Republican governor Bill Weld as hopefuls from The Bay State.

An Iraq War veteran from the U.S. Marines, Moulton led efforts to replace Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi once the Democrats won back control of the House last year. His politics are pretty much indistinguishable from other candidates as he favors Medicare-for-All, gun control, and other common leftist notions.

Moulton has a tall mountain to climb on the fundraising side if he hopes to make it to the main debate stage. There’s still time, but he’ll need to get some heavy attention very quickly to be able to make a serious run.

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Culture and Religion

CNN does 67 updates for Sri Lanka story with ZERO mentions blaming Islamic terrorists

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CNN does 67 updates for Sri Lanka story with ZERO mentions blaming Islamic terrorists

The narrative has already been set by American mainstream media on how they’re supposed to handle the Sri Lanka terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday. There are certain things that can be said and others that must be avoided at all costs. With reporting that has spanned nearly 24 hours and included 67 updates to the story, guess how many times CNN blamed Islamic terrorists for the attack.

If you guessed anything higher than zero, you gave CNN way too much credit.

I scanned the entire series of live updates they’ve been doing since the news broke. It’s all within one long story, making it easy to search for individual words, so I did. The results were depressing but expected. Even at this late hour, they still have not acknowledged the possibility that the act was committed by Islamic terrorists.

The closest they came to blaming radical Islamic terrorists in their primary coverage story was a mention in a quote by Diplomatic editor Nic Robertson in which he notes the obvious – that it has the “hallmarks” of Islamic terrorism – but then quickly notes that there are no known radical Islamic terrorist groups in the area.

“It is a very confused picture in terms of who may or may not be responsible. The Sri Lankan civil war ended 10 years ago, a 25 year long civil war, and the Tamil separatists there were a secular group. It would be very, very unlike them and their tactics ever to attack churches and particularly on such a holy day.”

“It has the hallmarks — or is intended to have the hallmarks — of Islamic extremists. But, again, these kinds of groups are unknown in Sri Lanka.”

This last notion is absolutely untrue, of course, as we now know the Chief of Police in Sri Lanka issued a warning about the Nations Thawahid Jaman (NTJ), an Islamist group led by Mohomad Saharan.

The CNN report mentioned the word “Muslim” four times: twice to note the percentage of the population of Sri Lanka that is Muslim, once to warn against reprisals against Muslims, and another to note there have been attacks against Muslims by Buddhist groups. Not once was it even speculated the attacks were carried out by Muslims.

The leftist narrative must be maintained and CNN will not break their allegiances. This was just some people that did something. It may look like an apple, but CNN will scream “banana, banana, banana” for as long as they can.

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We’ve reached ‘Peak Roger Stone’ on the timeline as he prepares to speak at strip club

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Weve reached Peak Roger Stone on the timeline as he prepares to speak at strip club

President Trump’s long-time confidant and rabble-rouser Roger Stone is short on cash and looking for options as mounting legal fees reduce his wealth. In a move that can be categorized as “Peak Roger Stone,” the controversial figure is set to accept a large fee to speak at a strip club.

Stone will appear at the Paper Moon in Richmond, Virginia, along side ‘Manhattan Madam’ Kristin Davis of former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer fame.

Stone faces legal troubles for allegedly working with WikiLeaks to spread the DNC email hacks that helped President Trump win his election in 2016.

He has always been a controversial figure in and out of politics. Known for his willingness to speak his mind regardless of the consequences, Stone has been notably subdued since being shut down by a judge after he shared an Instagram post about her in February.

I’m not sure how having Roger Stone speaking will benefit the strip club’s business. He’s the exact opposite of what I picture most people expect to see when going to a strip club, but to each his own.

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