Donald Trump

Israeli policemen and soldiers inspect a damaged house that was hit by a rocket north of Tel Aviv Israel
Israeli policemen and soldiers inspect a damaged house that was hit by a rocket north of Tel Aviv Israel March 25, 2019. REUTERS/ Ammar Awad

March 25, 2019

By Tova Cohen

MISHMERET, Israel (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he will cut short his trip to the United States after a rocket attack near Tel Aviv wounded seven people.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said the projectile was fired from Gaza, an enclave controlled by the militant Hamas group, and Netanyahu said Israel would respond forcefully.

Netanyahu, who arrived in Washington on Sunday for a four-day visit ahead of an April 9 Israeli election, said he would fly home immediately after meeting President Donald Trump at the White House, as planned, later on Monday.

The early morning attack on Mishmeret, an agricultural town north of Tel Aviv, came at a time of high tension ahead of the anniversary of Gaza border protests at the weekend, and Trump’s expression of support for Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.

“In light of the security events I decided to cut short my visit to the U.S.,” Netanyahu said, calling the rocket fire a “heinous attack”.

In Mishmeret one house was completely destroyed, and at least one other house and cars were left badly damaged.

Israel’s Magen David Adom ambulance service said it was treating seven people, including an infant, a 3-year-old boy, a 12-year-old girl and a 60-year-old woman who was suffering from blast injuries, burns and shrapnel wounds.

The strike came minutes after the Israeli military activated air raid sirens in the area and said one rocket had been launched out of the Gaza Strip, a coastal territory 50 miles (80 km) away where Hamas and other factions possess such weapons.

Smadar Castelnovo, a Mishmeret resident who lives opposite the destroyed house, said they were woken up shortly after 5 a.m.

“We heard the siren and we didn’t think it was anything, but my daughter made us go into the reinforced room,” said Castelnovo, still in her pajamas.

“My daughter was upset because we had left the dog out. We went out to get the dog and as soon as we went back in there was a very loud boom.”

Police sealed off streets, and emergency services were working at the scene, as Israeli politicians visited to talk to media crews.

GAZA BRACING

There was no immediate claim of responsibility from Gaza, where Palestinians were preparing for Israeli retaliation.

Israel told Palestinian officials it was closing all Gaza crossings as well as access to the sea from the blockaded territory.

Yahya Sinwar, the head of the Islamist militant group Hamas in the coastal enclave, canceled a planned public meeting scheduled for Monday afternoon, with Hamas officials citing “developments.”

Netanyahu said his decision to return to Israel was made after he consulted with Israeli military and intelligence chiefs. He had been due to address AIPAC, the largest U.S. pro-Israel lobby, on Tuesday.

But early on Monday he said: “In a few hours, I will meet President Trump and immediately after that I will return to Israel to direct our actions close-hand.”

His chief rival in next month’s election, centrist ex-general Benny Gantz, issued a statement accusing the rightist premier of having “bankrupted national security” by permitting such attacks. Gantz, who is also in Washington to address AIPAC, had urged Netanyahu to return home.

Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial capital, and outlying communities had last come under a long-range rocket attack that caused casualties during the 2014 war with Hamas.

Two rockets were launched at Tel Aviv on March 14 but caused no injuries or damage. Israel blamed those rocket launches on Hamas, though a security official later said the salvo had been set off by accident.

The latest attack follows disturbances involving Palestinian prisoners in southern Israel. Palestinian officials said 20 prisoners in Israel’s jail in the Negev were injured during violence inside the prison in the wake of “humiliating searches” by prison guards. Israeli officials said two guards were stabbed and wounded.

(This story was refiled to fix typo in headline)

(Additional reporting by Stephen Farrell and Dan Williams in Jerusalem and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Editing by Jeffrey Heller)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump meets with former hostage Danny Burch and his family in the Oval Office at the White House
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question as he meets with former hostage Danny Burch, an oil engineer who was taken hostage in Yemen in September 2017, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

March 25, 2019

By David Lawder, Philip Blenkinsop and Michael Martina

WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS/BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s blunt-force use of tariffs in pursuing his “America First” trade agenda has angered many, from company executives to allied governments and members of both parties of Congress.

But there’s one effort which has drawn broad support from those who oppose him on almost everything else – his push to force Beijing to change what are widely viewed as China’s market-distorting trade and subsidy practices.

As U.S.-China talks to end a trade war reach their endgame, politicians, executives and foreign diplomats are urging Trump and his team to hold out for meaningful structural reforms in China to address entrenched problems in the relationship that hurt U.S. and other foreign companies and workers.

Trump’s trade war “has let the genie out of the bottle” by lifting expectations that the trade war will force China to reform policies that businesses and foreign governments regard as unfair, said Steven Gardon, vice president of indirect taxes and customs at Lear Corp. Gardon’s firm is an automotive seating and electrical supplier with plants in 39 countries, including the United States and China.

“Now that all these issues have been raised, there’s a lot more domestic political support to address these issues, and I don’t think you can pull back from that,” Gardon said at a Georgetown Law School forum this month. “There’s now pressure politically that they have to be addressed for the long term.”

Gardon’s comments reflect a broad shift in U.S. and international business sentiment towards China’s economic and trade policies, one that is aligned with Trump’s goals, if not his tactics.

Trump’s trade team say they are in the final stages of negotiating what would be the biggest economic policy agreement with China in decades. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin head to Beijing this week to try to accelerate talks with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. Liu is set to travel to Washington for another round of negotiations in early April.

Eight months into the trade war that has disrupted the flow of billions of dollars of goods between the world’s two largest economies, it is unclear if a deal acceptable to both sides can be done.

China’s President Xi Jinping is seen as reluctant to make economic reforms under pressure from the United States, and Trump has said he may keep tariffs on Chinese goods in place for “a substantial period” even if a deal is struck.

Xi may find it easier to live with the tariffs Trump has imposed on trade than to change China’s model for economic development.

As part of a deal, Beijing has offered to make big-ticket purchases from the United States to help reduce a record trade gap. Trump’s team has said those purchases would be worth more than a trillion dollars over about six years.

While big Chinese purchases might be tempting for Trump’s administration, they would do nothing to address what U.S. firms competing in China or against Chinese firms say are structural problems with a system stacked against them.

The United States complains China engages in systematic intellectual property theft, forces foreign firms to give up trade secrets for market access and spends huge sums subsidizing its own industry. Redressing those complaints would require policy reform at the highest level from Xi and China’s ruling Communist Party.

A survey released by the American Chamber of Commerce in China in late February showed that a majority of member U.S. companies supported increasing or maintaining tariffs on Chinese goods, and nearly twice as many as last year want the U.S. government to push Beijing harder to create a level playing field.

The U.S. tariff demands have even encouraged some reform-minded Chinese officials and private-sector business executives to call for a faster pace of reform in China as it celebrates the 40th anniversary of its first steps toward capitalism.

Lighthizer told lawmakers in late February that Chinese-American business people in particular have urged him to “hang tough” in the talks and not to “sell out for soybeans.”

STAY THE COURSE

When Trump delayed a threatened tariff increase well before a March 1 deadline for a deal, he stoked fears that he may be swayed by the big purchase order and leave longstanding structural problems unresolved.

Since then, a steady drumbeat of lobbyists, company executives, foreign diplomats and U.S. lawmakers from both parties have urged Trump to stay the course on his structural demands.

Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, one of the most pro-trade Republicans and a critic of Trump’s tariffs, recently joined that call.

“While we want China to buy more U.S. goods … it’s even more important for us to hold China accountable to meeting high international standards on intellectual property rights, subsidization, overcapacity, and the other structural ways in which China distorts the global economy,” he said at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing just days after the tariff delay was announced.

Last week, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, a longtime China trade hawk, took to the Senate floor to urge Trump not to “back down” and take a deal based largely on Chinese purchases of American soybeans and other goods.

On Thursday, Schumer tweeted: “Now’s not the time to drop $200B in tariffs just because China’s close to a deal, @realDonald Trump.”

QUIETLY ROOTING FOR TRUMP

European Union members, traditional allies of the United States, are still smarting about the steel and aluminum tariffs Trump imposed on imports into the United States last year. The EU is also worried that Trump will impose duties on autos. But the bloc shares many of the same frustrations over China’s technology transfer policies and market access constraints.

“We get complaints every day from our companies,” one European official told Reuters in Beijing, noting that despite repeated pledges from the Chinese government to make life easier for foreign companies, little had changed.

    EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom’s assessment of China’s behavior sounds almost like it was written by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, charging that China has abused global trading rules.

China has “blurred the lines between state and private sector. The state has undue influence,” she said in a Washington speech this month. “Intellectual properties of companies are stolen. State subsidies, direct or indirect, are common. And these impacts are felt at home and abroad.”

Malmstrom says that while the U.S. and EU “agree on the diagnosis,” they differ on tactics, and she argues for a more multilateral approach, citing the EU’s work with the United States and Japan to address the issues through reform of World Trade Organization rules.

Some worry that Europe could lose out if Washington and Beijing strike a deal to purchase billions of dollars more in products to try to shrink the U.S. goods trade deficit with China.

“If China is buying more from America then inevitably it will buy less from Europe,” a second European official based in Beijing said, adding that could in particular affect large European multinationals.

But European diplomats and officials acknowledge a begrudging support for Trump’s goals, even if they are repulsed by his blunt tactics. Many are secretly rooting for his success.

“We are against unilateral measures, but nobody is exactly sorry for China. On content we think he does have a point,” said one EU diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity in Brussels. “Beijing has to understand that without reform, the system could just stop working.”

Trump administration officials insist that he has gotten the message and is holding out for “structural changes” to the U.S.-China relationship, along with an enforcement mechanism that holds China to its pledges.

Clete Willems, a White House trade adviser, told the Georgetown Law School forum that Trump is determined to fix problems with China’s trade relationship that he has railed against for years, long before he ever sought office.

“The notion that he’s just going to suddenly accept a bad deal is totally inaccurate. The president is going to walk away from bad deals,” said Willems, who announced on Friday that he is leaving the White House for family reasons.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Simon Webb and James Dalgleish)

Source: OANN

The U.S.-Mexico border fence is seen in El Paso
FILE PHOTO – The U.S.-Mexico border fence is seen in El Paso, Texas, U.S., March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

March 25, 2019

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A caravan of some 1,200 migrants from Central America and Cuba began moving towards the U.S. border from southern Mexico this weekend, migration authorities said on Sunday.

The National Migration Institute said the migrants were already inside Mexico when they opted to form a caravan in the southern city of Tapachula on the border with Guatemala.

Early on Saturday, the large group of people set off towards the town of Huixtla in the southern state of Chiapas, a route followed by previous groups heading north, the institute said.

Caravans of migrants bound for the United States have sparked friction with U.S. President Donald Trump, who has accused Mexico of failing to contain illegal immigration and wants a border wall built to stop people crossing.

The new government of leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has pledged to curb the migrant flows by better regulating the movement of people, and by offering job opportunities and better pay for those willing to stay.

The migration institute said the roughly 1,200 migrants were from Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Cuba.

(Writing by Dave Graham; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO - The inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex which is still shut down, is seen in this picture taken from the Dora observatory near the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju
FILE PHOTO: The inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex which is still shut down, is seen in this picture taken from the Dora observatory near the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

March 25, 2019

By Joyce Lee

SEOUL (Reuters) – A convoy of dozens of South Korean officials left for an inter-Korean liaison office in North Korea on Monday in a bid to maintain fragile gains in relations with Pyongyang, despite North Korea’s decision to pull out of the office last week.

The liaison office in Kaesong, North Korea, was opened in September and had been one of the key developments made in the past year of detente between North Korea and South Korea.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry would not explain exactly what the 64 officials would be doing at the office without their North Korean counterparts, but a spokesman said Seoul is seeking to try to “normalize” operations at the office.

In a major setback for South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s attempts to engage, North Korea announced on Friday it was quitting the office, just hours after the United States imposed the first new sanctions on the North since the second U.S.-North Korea summit broke down last month.

Although South Korea did not directly link the North’s move to the breakdown of the summit, after which U.S. President Donald Trump said he would not be imposing more sanctions, experts said Pyongyang’s move seemed calculated to pressure South Korea into convincing the United States to ease sanctions.

“It appears to be North Korea pressuring South Korea; it could also be signaling how South Korea’s role is not needed or even meaningless, or even that North Korea’s announcement of a ‘new path’ is imminent,” said Kim Dong-yub, a North Korea and military expert at Kyungnam University’s Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Seoul.

Several North Korean state media outlets released statements on Monday criticizing Seoul for not pushing forward with inter-Korean economic projects while sanctions remain in place.

Some 39 South Korean officials and support staff with 17 vehicles left South Korea on Monday morning to work at the liaison office in the North, joining 25 South Koreans who had remained at the office over the weekend despite North Korea’s pullout, South’s Unification Ministry said.

“Although the North side has pulled out of the liaison office, the embers remain, and in order to guard the embers we are going to work today as usual,” Kim Chang-su, deputy chief of the liaison office, said on Monday as he left for Kaesong.

When asked what South Korean personnel will do at the office, Unification Ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun said “we are operating the Kaesong office, followed by putting in efforts to normalize the liaison office” without elaborating.

There are some North Korean personnel currently in Kaesong, including from North’s Central Special Zone Development Guidance General Bureau and support staff, Baik said at a press briefing on Monday.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Michael Perry)

Source: OANN

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report sounds like a “law school exam,” where he shirked his job and didn’t have “the guts” to make a decision on whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice, Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz said Sunday during an appearance on Fox News where he also slammed CNN personalities and guests who “misinformed the American public.”

Mueller turned in his final report Friday, and Attorney General William Barr on Sunday in a letter to Congress said the investigation concluded there was no collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

On the topic of potential obstruction of justice on the part of President Donald Trump, the special counsel referred the question of criminality to the attorney general.

“I thought it was a cop out for him to say there was not enough evidence to indict, but it’s not an exoneration, and we’re going to put a report out,” Dershowitz told anchor Shannon Bream “… It sounds like a law school exam. That’s not the job of the prosecutor. The job of the prosecutor is to decide yes or no. Make a decision.”

The TV personalities and guests on CNN who predicted Mueller’s probe would result in indictments for collusion and obstruction “should be hanging their heads in shame,” Dershowitz added.

“I have to tell you, they should be hanging their head in shame when you think about how many people went out on a limb and predicted there would be indictments for obstruction, there would be indictments for collusion, there would be indictments for this and for that,” he.

“They made it seem like it was an open and shut case, and they misinformed the American public, and they have to have some public accountability when you say things that turn out not to be true.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, on Caribbean tour
Britain’s Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, arrive in Havana, Cuba, March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Phil Noble

March 25, 2019

By Sarah Marsh

HAVANA (Reuters) – Prince Charles and his wife Camilla landed in Havana on Sunday for the first official trip by the British royal family to Communist-run Cuba even as Britain’s top ally the United States seeks to isolate the island nation.

Shortly after arriving on a Royal Air Force plane, the heir to the British throne laid a wreath of flowers at the memorial to independence hero Jose Marti on Havana’s Revolution Square dominated by massive portraits of guerrilla fighters including Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

During his three-day historic visit, which is part of a broader Caribbean tour, the 70-year old Prince of Wales is set to dine with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, tour Havana’s restored colonial district, visit community and green energy projects and review a parade of antique British cars.

The royal visit, in line with a broader normalization in relations between the West and Cuba, comes three years after one by former U.S. President Barack Obama then billed as the start of a new chapter for ties between the old Cold War foes

Since Donald Trump became U.S. president, however, the United States has reverted to its decades-old strategy of seeking to pressure Cuba to change, including tightening its crippling trade embargo on the island.

The Trump administration has ramped up that pressure over the crisis in Cuba’s socialist ally Venezuela.

“It’s always good for Cuba to strengthen its relations with important international actors but all the more so when the United States has a president responding to the interests of extreme right-wing people who want to hurt Cuba,” said one Havana resident, Arian Rubio, 26, a historian.

William LeoGrande, a professor of government at American University, said such visits by high level delegations of major powers “lend legitimacy to the Cuban government and represent an implicit warning to the United States that hostile actions against Cuba may incur a diplomatic cost with important allies.”

The UK government had asked the royal couple to add Cuba to their Caribbean tour of former and current British territories in hopes of boosting commercial and cultural ties and political influence.

British trade with Cuba was less than $100 million last year while only a handful of well-known British companies have investments there through subsidiaries, for example Imperial Brands Plc, British-American Tobacco Plc and Unilever.

Opportunities to do business, however, are expected to grow as the Caribbean’s largest island continues opening up its beleaguered, state-dominated economy. Those include opportunities in its expanding tourism sector, that already attracts some 200,000 British tourists annually.

Moreover Britain has sought to drum up more trade with alternative partners since a referendum to exit the European Union three years ago.

Plans for high-level officials to accompany the Prince of Wales were scuttled by the political drama playing out in London over how best to leave the EU before a March 29 deadline.

Underscoring the thaw in British-Cuban relations, when Diaz-Canel receives Charles at the presidential Palace of the Revolution on Monday evening, it will be their second meeting in a year.

The 58-year old Cuban president paid the prince a visit last November in London on his first tour of several countries since replacing Raul Castro last April.

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Additional reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Source: OANN

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he returns to the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as the president returns from a weekend in Florida at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

March 25, 2019

By Steve Holland, Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusion that Donald Trump did not collude with Russia to win the presidency in 2016 gives the president a powerful weapon to use against his Democratic opponents and a potential boost to what is shaping up to be a tough bid for re-election in 2020.

Mueller’s conclusion that neither Trump nor his aides conspired with Russia in 2016 takes away a central charge that Democrats have flung at Trump for two years – that he did not win the presidency fairly or cleanly. The allegations have played out on an endless loop on cable TV news shows, overshadowing Trump’s presidency from day one.

Democrats have vowed to continue congressional investigations into the 2016 election campaign and Trump’s business practices. But without the solid foundation of a Mueller report that found evidence of any crimes by the president, they now risk seeming to overplay their hand.

“This is a gold star day for Donald Trump,” said presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. “Now the shackles are off. He’s able to demonize the news media and Democrats as perpetuating what he calls a hoax. And he’ll be able to use his innocence as fodder for the campaign trail.”

The question for Trump now is whether he will be able to bring a minimum of discipline to his campaign messaging and to the presidency itself.

History suggests he will have trouble with self-discipline. Just last week, he was immersed in a strange fight with a dead man, sharply criticizing the late Republican Senator John McCain and falsely accusing him of being at the root of some of the collusion allegations against him.

He has also been prone to making baffling abrupt decisions, such as occurred last week when he called off a round of sanctions against North Korea before they had even been imposed.

Despite the Mueller report’s conclusions, Trump remains an intemperate president, eager to lash out at any and all critics and perceived slights.

“This was an illegal takedown that failed,” Trump said on Sunday, even though Mueller left open the question of whether the former real estate magnate had attempted to obstruct the Russia probe, which did find extensive evidence that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

“Now is the time to get back on the offense on the economy and growth,” said Republican strategist Scott Reed. “This is a good time to get back to a real healthy dose of message discipline for the entire administration, department-wide and the White House. That’s what you do when something like this happens.”

Trump, on a golfing weekend in Palm Beach, Florida, got the news in his private quarters at his Mar-a-Lago retreat from White House counsel Emmett Flood, and watched TV coverage of the Mueller report in his cabin on Air Force One.

Trump’s initial comments in reacting to the Mueller conclusion suggests he is not inclined to move past the investigation.

Speaking to reporters before boarding Air Force One for the flight back to Washington, Trump called for Democrats to be investigated, expanding on his often repeated assertion that the Mueller probe was Democrat-inspired. Mueller was appointed by Trump’s Department of Justice in 2017 after he fired FBI director James Comey.

“It’s a shame that our country had to go through this. To be honest it’s a shame that your president has had to go through this,” Trump said. “Before I even got elected it began, and it began illegally.”

Trump’s comments could foreshadow an effort by his supporters to seek payback for the cloud that has hung over his time in the White House.

“I’m interested in moving on and trying to get this behind us, but people have to pay for what they’ve done for the past two years,” said former Trump campaign aide David Bossie. “We must investigate the investigators.”

CHALLENGES FOR DEMOCRATS

Trump’s path to re-election remains a perilous one. Analysts say he will probably need to win the Midwestern states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, just as he did in his improbable 2016 victory, and Democrats are already pouring resources into those states.

Trump will foreshadow his campaign message on Thursday night when he headlines a “Make America Great Again” rally in Michigan.

Trump supporters viewed the Mueller report as a blow to the more than a dozen Democrats who are campaigning for their party’s 2020 presidential nomination.

“This is very problematic for any Democrat who’s running for president in 2020 that was hoping they would face a weakened or beaten-down President Trump,” former Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller said. “In fact, President Trump will likely see a ratings boost coming out of this and a strong tailwind pushing him toward the upcoming election.”

Reuters/Ipsos polling has shown that Americans decided early on in Mueller’s investigation whether they thought Trump was guilty of collusion or not. The polling found few undecided voters.

Brinkley said Democrats will need to adjust their tactics and emphasize their differences with Trump’s record on issues ranging from healthcare and climate change to immigration.

“Some of those charges are going to have to rise to be the main charges against Trump,” he said, noting there was fatigue with the Russia issue.

(Reporting By Steve Holland, Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Ross Colvin and Chris Reese)

Source: OANN

Chris White | Energy Reporter

  • A new report suggesting that Facebook is using a secret code to deboost conservative content is sparse on evidence, according to tech experts.
  • It’s likely that reports showing Facebook suppressing conservative content could be overblown, experts warn. Examples of Facebook deboosting conservative content could be evidence of the company’s inability to moderate its platform.
  • Facebook’s inability to be transparent about the limits of artificial intelligence is creating a lot of problems for the social media giant, one artificial intelligence researcher warns.

Tech experts are criticizing a recent Project Veritas report suggesting Facebook is involved in a secret project designed to suppress conservative content on the platform.

Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe produced a report in February suggesting that Facebook is suppressing the distribution of conservative pages. The report included documents from an insider who claimed the company’s engineers were using a piece of code designed to weed out videos on suicide as a tool to deboost conservative content.

The tool the insider saw during her time at Facebook was labeled Sigma:ActionDeboostLiveDistribution, which is a type of artificial intelligence that does real-time voice-to-text analysis of live stream videos, then records the text, and tries to decipher what the content of the text means.

Content from The Daily Caller, internet pundit Mike Cernovich and others was allegedly targeted using this tool, according to the insider. (RELATED: Daily Caller Editor In Chief Locked Out Of Account For Tweeting ‘Learn To Code”)

Project Veritas’ report also included a memo from Facebook engineer Seiji Yamamoto, who reportedly told a colleague that Facebook should address “… quite a bit of content near the perimeter of hate speech.” Yamamoto, a data science manager, and others discussed in the memos how best to collect information about internet troll behavior for the purpose of shutting down supposedly malicious content.

Screenshot of internal Facebook memo explaining reason for deboosting Mike Cernovich’s page (Screenshot)

The report gained some traction on Twitter after its release, but got elevated to a higher level after Donald Trump Jr. wrote a March 17 editorial on big tech censoring conservatives. He mentioned O’Keefe’s reporting in the piece, writing that “we now know that Mark Zuckerberg’s social media giant developed algorithms to ‘deboost’ certain content, limiting its distribution and appearance in news feeds.”

Software engineers are now poking holes in Project Veritas’ conclusions. Neil Stevens, director of information technology at The Daily Caller, believes there is not much evidence supporting the conclusion O’Keefe’s group is making. Stevens is responsible for building up and maintaining websites for both TheDC and The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Facebook is trying to block suicide content but doing it on the cheap. Instead of using human beings to monitor videos, they’re using artificial intelligence/machine learning systems to scan mass amounts of video without any human intervention,” he told TheDCNF. “And in this case, it failed,” Stevens said, referring to the content O’Keefe provided as evidence that Facebook is deboosting conservatives.

Another likely scenario is that Facebook took note of how internet trolls were jumping into YouTube videos and editing them to include clips of people promoting suicide. Such videos might look normal until a jump-cut halfway through reveals a person demonstrating how to slit a wrist. Facebook tried to use this specific code to flush out such content, but their AI experienced false-positives, Stevens believes.

Screenshot of internal Facebook guide explaining reason for deboosting Mike Cernovich’s video content (screenshot provided by Project Veritas)

Facebook has faced criticisms of censoring individuals, many of whom are conservatives, though some Democrats are also dinging the Silicon Valley giant. Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for instance, has advocated for breaking up what she believes is Facebook and Amazon’s monopoly. Conservatives meanwhile have hammered the company during the past few years over concerns related to censorship.

President Donald Trump’s social media director Dan Scavino Jr. was temporarily blocked on March 18 from making public Facebook comments. The ban claimed that “some of your comments have been reported as spam,” and that “to avoid getting blocked again,” he should “make sure your posts are in line with the Facebook Community Standards.” The president assured his supporters in a March 19 tweet that he “will be looking into this!” His tweet linked to a story about Facebook targeting Scavino.

Other engineers made similar observations. Emily Williams, a data scientist and founder of Whole Systems Enterprises, for one, argued that Facebook’s lack of transparency about the frailties of their AI-deep learning instruments makes it difficult for people to understand why and how content is being throttled. (RELATED: GOP Lawmakers Grill Social Media Giants Over Alleged Censorship Of Conservatives, Again) 

FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed Facebook logo is placed on broken glass above a printed EU flag in this illustration taken January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

“I think that is a very big stretch,” she said, referring to the belief that Facebook is using the code for anything other than flushing out content promoting suicide. “If Facebook came out and was transparent, that would be one thing, but a lot of people are arrogant and don’t want to admit their algorithms are imperfect,” said Williams, whose company provides AI solutions for a variety of industries.

She added: “If I were trying to weed out extremists I would not use this code. These codes are very good at what they are trained for but not very good at anything else.” Facebook is a profit-driven corporation, so if it wanted to target conservatives or liberals, then it would probably not use a code for a purpose other than what it was designed to do, Williams noted.

A more efficient process would be to “write an algorithm that tries to find those people specifically. Write one for the extreme left and extreme right. And a different one for ISIS and neo-Nazis,” she said. Stevens mirrored her comments, telling TheDCNF that using code for reasons other than the stated purpose risks creating a much higher rate of false-positives, all of which could affect content across the platform.

Facebook fired the insider in 2018 for breaking multiple employment policies, a company spokesman told TheDCNF. Project Veritas’ spokesman Marco Bruno told TheDCNF that his group stands behind O’Keefe’s report. “We happen to trust what our insider saw behind closed doors, and the documents she leaked, more than what Facebook will say on a podium,” Bruno said.

A Facebook spokesman directed TheDCNF to a section of the company’s policy page, which explains that deboosting sometimes occurs on the platform when users upload pre-recorded videos on the Facebook Live feature. The company has tools detecting when a person has misused the feature and can then prompt AI to deboost the non-live videos. Live videos are considered more newsworthy and thus take priority.

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Source: The Daily Caller

“The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” — Letter to Congress from Attorney General William Barr

Now that the findings of the Department of Justice have exonerated the president, will Democrats follow their own advice, admit there was no collusion or obstruction and Move On?

The liberal activist organization of that name was founded a generation ago when Congress investigated and tried to impeach President Clinton. Congress didn’t take the advice of legal experts and constitutional scholars then, and unfortunately it looks like Democrats intend to repeat the mistake.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) says regardless of the report’s findings, he will pursue investigations even “broader” than what the special counsel has done with 2,800 subpoenas, 500 witnesses, some 500 search warrants and more than $25 million over the last two years.

Democrats and the media should be trying to heal the nation not divide us. Instead, Democrats intend to spend the next two years subpoenaing and dragging every member of Trump’s administration, his family and business associates to testify before their committees.

Nadler says he’s doing it to protect “the rule of law.”

But will House Democrats really respect the institutions and traditions of American jurisprudence? If the past is prelude, the answer to that questions is, sadly, no.

Democrats did away with the presumption of innocence for Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Justice Kavanaugh, with his family and the American people paying the price Now, Democrats are now ready to abandon other bedrock principles of American justice.

One of the most basic principles is equality before the law!

The Constitution prohibits double jeopardy. It’s a matter of basic fairness — no one should be victimized by vindictive prosecutors armed with the power of government and $25 million in financial backing of the U.S. Treasury.

Congressional Democrats’ endless investigations, leaks and political machinations violate the spirit of that constitutional prohibition. Americans understand that, no matter what the spin or who stands accused. The constitution guarantees fair and equal justice for every American regardless of who they are!

Democrats want to convict President Trump in the court of public opinion to set the stage for impeaching him. That’s what Rep. Nadler told George Stephanopoulos: “Before you impeach somebody, you have to persuade the American public that it ought to happen.” Fortunately Mueller’s exoneration of President Trump will make that extremely difficult to do, despite media persecution and false news stories,

The Democrats are ready to violate another norm of legal precedent by asking Attorney General Barr and the DOJ to release every scrap of paper the special counsel gathered.

Prosecutors normally don’t release confidential material gathered during an investigation out of respect for the privacy of individuals not charged with a crime.

”The normal procedure is that unless there’s a damn good reason, you don’t release grand jury material,” Nadler said a generation ago when he opposed releasing the evidence behind the Ken Starr report.

Nadler and fellow Democrats accused the Judiciary Committee of seeking the background material to build a public case for impeaching President Clinton.

“They don’t think there is enough of a vote for impeachment yet out in the public,” Rep. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts), the second ranking Democrat on the committee, said. “So what you have a very one-sided, partisan effort to release material, before the president gets a chance to review it or respond to it, that makes the president look bad.”

Nadler took a page from that playbook and now demands the raw material Mueller obtained to build his own case for impeaching President Trump. Furthermore, he says the White House “should not get an advance look at the report” or the evidence.

That’s quite an about face from the Jerry Nadler of 1998 who fought for Clinton to have time to look at the Starr report. “The president is asking for two days. The Republicans say no,” he said bitterly.

The DOJ does not release such information to protect the innocent. Furthermore, the Trump administration has a legal right to review the report, prepare a response, rebuke any false accusations and information covered by executive privilege. 

As for an impartial hearing, President Trump can expect no better from House Democrats than Senate Democrats gave Judge Kavanaugh.

Chairman Nadler already convicted the president of obstruction of justice before seeing the attorney general’s letter and the Mueller report.

House Democrats don’t care that the special counsel found the president did not collude with the Russians or obstruct justice. They will continue their investigations, attempts to smear the president. Like Javert obsessed with Jean Valjean, Democrats can’t help themselves.

All Americans, Democrats, Republicans and independents alike, should be celebrating the fact investigators found no evidence of collusion. However, Democrats won’t take the finding of no collusion or obstruction for an answer.

That tells you they were never pursuing the truth, just a political vendetta and a different outcome for the 2016 election. Their obsession with President Trump will only further divide the nation, not help unite us.

Rep. Nadler says he wants to protect the rule of law and “the institutions we depend on for our democratic form of government.”

But Democrats are weakening those institutions by engaging in relentless political warfare. Voters elected Congress to address the very real challenges our country faces — an opioid epidemic, China’s economic aggression, the crisis on our southern border, the difficulty of raising a family, to name, just a few.

Our system is founded on belief in equal justice under the law. All will be held accountable.

We hope the politicians, intelligence officials, journalists and media executives who fed Americans unfounded speculation, conspiracy theories for the last two years that have done incalculable damage to our country and its institutions will be held accountable.

Preserve the principles of justice on which our incredible country was founded.

Kimberly Guilfoyle (@KimGuilfoyle) is vice chairwoman of America First Policies, a nonprofit organization supporting key policy initiatives that will work for all citizens in our country and put America first.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

Scott Morefield | Reporter

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz called Sunday a “good day” for President Donald Trump before ripping CNN and media outlets that “misinformed the American public.”

Attorney General William Barr on Sunday delivered to Congress a four-page letter summarizing special counsel Robert Mueller’s recently-delivered report, which put to rest any accusations of collusion with Russia on the part of the president or anyone in his campaign.

WATCH:

“But it’s important that we did learn there are no sealed indictments,” Dershowitz told Fox News anchor Shannon Bream Sunday. “There’s no recommendation in the report for any further indictments, and so this is not what many people feared, just shifting it over to the southern district and saying we’re not going to indict this guy, but maybe you should. That was done with the attorney general as far as the obstruction of justice, but he didn’t do it with the southern district.”

Dershowitz then launched into the media, calling Sunday “a good day for the president” and a “very, very bad day for CNN.”

I have to tell you, they should be hanging their head in shame when you think about how many people went out on a limb and predicted there would be indictments for obstruction, there would be indictments for collusion, there would be indictments for this and for that. They made it seem like it was an open and shut case, and they misinformed the American public, and they have to have some public accountability when you say things that turn out not to be true.

The liberal attorney, often criticized from the left for publicly defending President Trump in the media against what he considers the criminalization of “political sins,” then took a victory lap. (RELATED: ‘Essentially Jaywalking’ — Alan Dershowitz Goes On CNN And Lays Out Worst Case Scenario For Trump)

“Look, I’ve been vindicated,” he said. “I’ve been saying this from day one and been criticized and condemned for simply doing a legal analysis that I think any reasonable, objective, nonpartisan lawyer would have done, would have come to the same conclusion I came to and, essentially, the conclusion that was come to today by the attorney general.”

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Source: The Daily Caller


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