All posts by Francisco Marques Pereira

(Economist) The global slump in press freedom

(Economist)

Illiberal regimes are clamping down on independent media across the world

Jul 23rd 2018

ACROSS the world, freedom of the press is atrophying. According to scores compiled by Freedom House, a think-tank, the muzzling of journalists and independent news media is at its worst point in 13 years. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the number of journalists jailed for their work is at the highest level since the 1990s. The deterioration has come from all quarters: Vladimir Putin has so thoroughly throttled the Russian media that Freedom House’s scorers rated Venezuela freer. Newer strongmen, such as Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua’s blood-soaked president, and Viktor Orban, Hungary’s illiberal prime minister, have also flexed censorious muscles. Even though Donald Trump has frequently demonised the news media as the “enemy of the people”, America’s strong First Amendment and independent courts have prevented him from acting on these illiberal outbursts. Nonetheless, his rhetoric has given succour to autocrats in other countries, who have passed laws outlawing “fake news” and quickly set about persecuting political opponents.

The Freedom House figures suggest that a free press is increasingly becoming a luxury limited to the West. Nordic countries continue to lead the world, and western Europe remains quite free despite a few wobbles. There are only a few bright spots to be found elsewhere. Where dictatorial regimes were unwound or forcibly ejected, such as those of Afghanistan and Myanmar, the media have gained independence, though they still fall well short of rich-country standards. Tunisia saw its press-freedom rating improve by 30 points in a 100-point scale after the Arab Spring toppled Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, its former president-for-life. But nearby Egypt has worsened dramatically since the army overthrew a government led by Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2013 and named General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi president after the coup. South America has shown worrying retrenchment as well: Freedom House no longer considers Ecuador and Venezuela to have a free press. Things are worsening in major countries like Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, which find themselves on the cusp of a “not free” rating.Get our daily newsletter

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The case for a free press rests not only on classical liberal principles but also on hard data. Cross-country studies show strong and consistent associations between unfettered media, vibrant democracies and limited corruption. China, which has a tightly controlled media and perhaps the world’s most sophisticated censorship scheme, thinks it has proven that prosperity can be achieved without a free press. In less extreme fashion, Singapore shares similar authoritarian attitudes. Politicians everywhere do not much like to be criticised. To a worrying number of them, this Singapore model—or Beijing model, depending on preference—can prove more attractive than the Western approach of putting up with a pesky press. In normal times, America would denounce the jailing of journalists and muzzling of newspapers. But given Mr Trump’s predilections, the position of global free-press champion is vacant.

“Mr President, welcome to the land of free press.” Billboards welcoming Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to Helsinki earlier in July reminded the two presidents of the kind of country they had landed in. Helsingin Sanomat, a Finnish newspaper, lined the route from the airport with their recent headlines of the two president’s attacks on the press. It was a demonstration of how, in a few rich European countries, journalism is relatively unrestricted.

But it was also a timely reminder of how endangered press freedom is worldwide. According to Freedom House, only 13% of the world’s population enjoys a free press. Even the press-freedom scores of northern European countries like Finland have dropped. Turkey, Russia and parts of Eastern Europe, such as Hungary and Poland, saw the largest declines in press freedom: as politicians exert control over public broadcasters, undermine independent news organisations and fund politically-friendly news outlets.  

In a region with 4.5bn people, only two countries, Taiwan and Japan, are considered to have a free press. Afghanistan, Nigeria and Ukraine all score higher than any South-East Asian country, and journalists face regular beatings, arrests and censorship across the continent. 

Turkmenistan and North Korea are so extreme in their hostility towards journalists that they are black holes for news, with state broadcasters controlling what people see. Some recent developments seem to offer a glimmer of hope that this may change. The North Korean authorities have recently allowed more foreign journalists to cover official events. Meanwhile Turkmenistan has adopted its ever first broadcasting law allowing privately-owned TV channels. But this sense of progress is illusory. North Korea’s government still exercises draconian control over the information flows in and out of the country. Turkmenistan only allows TV stations that promote a positive image of the country.  For such authoritarian governments, a free press is still the public enemy.

There is perhaps no region more hostile to a transparent press than the Middle East. Of the 20 countries tracked by Freedom House in the Middle East and North Africa region, 16 are classified as not free. Only Israel has something close to resembling a free press. Two countries, Iran and Syria, score among the world’s ten most restrictive countries on press freedoms. In monarchical Gulf states, like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar, writers critical of the governments are frequently jailed or barred from writing.

The Arab spring brought political freedom to only a handful of countries. Tunisia is perhaps the only bright spot. After a popular uprising overthrew the long-entrenched president, its press environment has improved considerably, though it is still not at the level of Western countries. Libya and Egypt both enjoyed brief moments of liberalisation after revolutions toppled their dictators, Muammar Qaddafi and Hosni Mubarak. Both have since suffered considerable drops in press freedom. In Egypt this is because of the rapidly-clenching fist of Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the former general turned president; in Libya the fault lies in violence between competing factions. 

Press freedom in Latin America is a tale of two countries. Costa Rica stands out as a bastion of respect for human rights in a region marred by violence and corruption. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Cuba, where the media landscape is dominated by the Castro family. Smear campaigns and imprisonment are common threats to journalists, but better access to the internet has given independent pundits more opportunities to be heard. 

Another outlier is Jamaica, which beats countries such as Germany, Britain and America in terms of press freedom. But Jamaican media organisations fear that media suppression might creep in through a new data protection act. The proposed bill would grant authorities wide powers to protect the private data of citizens, such as seeking information on political, philosophical and religious beliefs. 

(ECO) Conheça o acordo que pôs fim à greve, ponto por ponto

(ECO) São três páginas de protocolo negocial que permitiram pôr fim à greve. Ao longo dos próximos meses, sindicato e associação prometem diálogo para fechar um acordo até ao fim do ano.

O sindicato dos motoristas que transportam matérias perigosas aceitou pôr fim à paralisação e voltar à estrada, depois de ter assinado com a associação setorial um princípio de acordo. Mas o que diz o documento? O ECO analisou o “protocolo negocial” e explica, ponto por ponto, o que vai acontecer daqui para a frente.

  • Este documento não é um acordo fechado. É um protocolo escrito no qual o Sindicato Nacional de Motoristas de Matérias Perigosas (SNMMP) e a Associação Nacional de Transportes Públicos Rodoviários de Mercadorias (ANTRAM) se comprometem a negociar alterações ao acordo coletivo de trabalho em vigor com vista a responder às reivindicações dos trabalhadores.
  • O acordo coletivo em causa data de 15 de setembro de 2018, sendo que as duas partes concordam em iniciar uma negociação coletiva “que promova e dignifique a atividade de motorista de mercadorias perigosas”. Em causa, a “individualização da atividade no âmbito da tabela salarial”, a revisão do “subsídio de risco”, a existência de “formação especial”, a atribuição de “seguros de vida específicos” e, por fim, a promoção de “exames médicos específicos”.
  • As negociações vão ter lugar no Ministério das Infraestruturas e Habitação, sendo que o processo negocial tem de estar fechado antes do fim do ano, sob risco de este princípio de entendimento cair por terra. Está, por isso, estipulado que cabe ao Governo a mediação das negociações e que irá estar mais vigilante face às questões que afetam esta atividade. “O Governo atuará de forma a garantir que os respetivos serviços intensificarão a sua atividade de acompanhamento do setor no âmbito do setor de transporte de mercadorias”.
  • “De forma a garantir o início das negociações, o SNMMP cessa, com efeitos imediatos, a greve geral dos motoristas, atualmente em curso, que teve início no dia 15 de abril de 2019”, lê-se num dos pontos. Foi este ponto que permitiu o fim da greve, uma das exigências da ANTRAM para aceitar iniciar as conversações com o sindicato.

De forma a garantir o início das negociações, o SNMMP cessa, com efeitos imediatos, a greve geral dos motoristas, atualmente em curso, que teve início no dia 15 de abril de 2019.Protocolo negocial entre SNMMP e ANTRAM

  • O cimento que cola este protocolo negocial é a “boa-fé” e as partes prometem “guardar confidencialidade quanto ao teor das negociações”. Ou seja, a intenção é só divulgar à comunicação social o acordo final, guardando reserva em torno dos “acordos de princípio” que forem sendo alcançados e que terão de ser respeitados pelo sindicato e pela associação durante todo o processo negocial.
  • O Governo irá registar todas as reuniões em ata e as partes comprometem-se a garantir a dinâmica das negociações, respondendo e apresentando contrapropostas ao longo do processo. Além disso, no decurso das negociações, “as partes comprometem-se a diligenciar pela criação e manutenção de um clima de diálogo e paz social, mantendo o diálogo como forma de resolução de diferendos ou divergências entre as partes até ao fim das negociações”.
  • Durante o processo, “outras formas de pressão” não serão aceites, nomeadamente “greves”. Ou seja, o sindicato comprometeu-se a não avançar para outra paralisação deste género durante este ano, tendo em conta que o princípio de acordo se mantém em vigor até 31 de dezembro.
  • O protocolo negocial divulgado esta quinta-feira de manhã considera ainda que a greve que esteve em curso causou “prejuízos muito significativos à economia nacional, a todos os agentes do setor e, acima de tudo, à população em geral”.

(JE) Acordo entre sindicato dos motoristas de combustíveis e patrões impede greves durante negociações laborais

O acordo fechado entre os motoristas de combustíveis e os patrões impede a realização de greves durante as negociações laborais, que arrancam a 29 de abril e podem durar até ao final do ano.

No protocolo negocial fechado na madrugada desta quinta-feira, 18 de abril, o Sindicato Nacional de Motoristas de Matérias Perigosos (SNMMP) e a Associação Nacional de Transportadores Rodoviários de Mercadorias (ANTRAM) estabelecem que o diálogo deve ser mantido “até ao fim das negociações”, “abstraindo-se de outras formas de pressão, nomeadamente greves”.

Desta forma, as duas partes “comprometem-se a diligenciar pela criação e manutenção de um clima de diálogo e paz social, mantendo o diálogo como forma de resolução de diferendos ou divergências entre as partes até ao fim das negociações, abstraindo-se de outras formas de pressão, nomeadamente greves ou outras formas que possam pôr em causa a satisfação de necessidades sociais impreteríveis”, segundo o acordo a que o Jornal Económico teve acesso.

O SNMMP e a ANTRAM chegaram a acordo esta quinta-feira, 18 de abril, após mais de 72 horas de conflito laboral que parou totalmente Portugal. O ministro das Infraestruturas e da Habitação Pedro Nuno Santos foi quem mediou as negociações entre patrões e sindicato.

Segundo o protocolo negocial, a greve “tem causado prejuízos muito significativos à economia nacional, a todos os agentes do setor e, acima de tudo, à população em geral, pondo em causa a respetiva mobilidade, razão pela qual o Governo emitiu uma Declaração da Situação de Alerta de Crise Energética”.

Assim, a ANTRAM e o SNMMP “admitem iniciar um procedimento negocial tendo em vista a boa regulação das relações laborais entre os empregadores representados pela ANTRAM e os trabalhadores representados pelo SNMMP”.

Por sua parte, o Governo “admite acompanhar o referido procedimento negocial e criar a condições necessárias para que as partes possam, em paz social, e na sequência do cancelamento da greve em vigor, atingir os resultados pretendidos”.

“As partes outorgantes comprometem-se, com efeitos a partir da presente data e até 31 de dezembro de 2019, a encetar um processo de negociação coletiva, que promova e dignifique a atividade de motorista de mercadorias perigosas”, pode-se ler no documento a que o Jornal Económico teve acesso.

Esta negociação coletiva deverá assentar nos “seguintes princípios de valorização”: “individualidade da atividade no âmbito da tabela salarial; subsídio de risco; formação especial; seguros de vida específicos; exames médicos específicos”.

Para “garantir o início das negociações o SNMMP cessa, com efeitos imediatos, a greve geral dos motoristas, atualmente em curso”.

As negociações serão conduzidas por representantes do SNMMP e pela ANTRAM com a mediação do ministério das Infraestruturas e Habitação.

No ponto 5 do acordo, as partes “comprometem-se a atuar de boa fé durante todo o processo negocial, nomeadamente respondendo com a brevidade possível a propostas e contrapropostas negociais”.

No ponto 7, “as partes comprometem-se a guardar confidencialidade quanto ao teor das negociações, devendo a divulgação pública das mesmas, para além da sua divulgação perante os associados, ocorrer apenas no final do processo negocial”.

(BBC) Facebook copied email contacts of 1.5 million users

(BBC)

Man looking at Facebook

Facebook “unintentionally” uploaded the email contacts of more than 1.5 million users without asking permission to do so, the social network has admitted.

The data harvesting happened via a system used to verify the identity of new members,

Facebook asked new users to supply the password for their email account, and took a copy of their contacts.

Facebook said it had now changed the way it handled new users to stop contacts being uploaded.

Data losses

All those users whose contacts were taken would be notified and all the contacts it had grabbed without consent would be deleted, it said.

The information grabbed is believed to have been used by Facebook to help map social and personal connections between users.

Presentational grey line

Analysis: Rory Cellan-Jones, Technology correspondent

Anyone who, like me, joined Facebook a decade or more ago, probably clicked “yes” when invited to upload all of their contacts.

It seemed a good way of making the network more useful and, after all, what could be the harm? But after the various data scandals shattered trust in Facebook, we’ve become far more cautious.

We’ve woken up to the harms that could come from handing over that precious information about our social connections – for journalists it could mean revealing their contacts, for whistleblowers their dealings with regulators, for just about anyone their contacts with people they might not want their partners to know about.

Now we know that Facebook somehow scraped up the email contacts of 1.5 million people over a three year period without their agreement. Now every time the social network suggests “people you may know”, we will wonder “How do you know that I may know them?”

To many, the idea that they should trust Facebook with their data seems more old-fashioned by the day.

Presentational grey line

Contacts started being taken without consent in May 2016, the company told Business Insider, which broke the story.

Before this date, new users were asked if they wanted to verify their identity via their email account. They were also asked if they wanted to upload their address book voluntarily.

This option and the text specifying that contacts were being grabbed was changed in May 2016 but the underlying code that actually scraped contacts was left intact, said Facebook.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner, which oversees Facebook in Europe, is engaged with the firm to understand what happened and its consequences.

Rep Alexandria Ocasio Cortez
Image captionRep Ocasio Cortez said social media was a ‘health risk’

The email contacts case is the latest in a long series in which Facebook has mishandled the data of some of its billions of users.

In late March, Facebook found that the passwords of about 600 million users were stored internally in plain text for months.

The ongoing breaches and other criticisms of Facebook are also prompting some high-profile users to bow out. The latest is Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who said she had “quit” the social network.

In an interview with a Yahoo News podcast she said: “I personally gave up Facebook, which was kind of a big deal because I started my campaign on Facebook.”

She added that social media posed a “public health risk”.

(GUA) Deutsche Bank faces action over $20bn Russian money-laundering scheme

(GUA)

Exclusive: in confidential internal report seen by the Guardian, bank says scandal has hurt global brand

Water spills out of a small dragon sculpture on a fountain with the headquarters of the Deutsche Bank in background in Frankfurt, Germany.
 Deutsche Bank says it has ‘reduced its footprint’ across the post-Soviet region. Photograph: Michael Probst/AP

Germany’s troubled Deutsche Bank faces fines, legal action and the possible prosecution of “senior management” because of its role in a $20bn Russian money-laundering scheme, a confidential internal report seen by the Guardian says.

The bank admits there is a high risk that regulators in the US and UK will take “significant disciplinary action” against it. Deutsche concedes that the scandal has hurt its “global brand” – and is likely to cause “client attrition”, loss of investor confidence and a decline in its market value.

Deutsche Bank was embroiled in a vast money-laundering operation, dubbed the Global Laundromat. Russian criminals with links to the Kremlin, the old KGB and its main successor, the FSB, used the scheme between 2010 and 2014 to move money into the western financial system. The cash involved could total $80bn, detectives believe.

Shell companies typically based in the UK “loaned” money to each other. Companies then defaulted on this large fictitious debt. Corrupt judges in Moldova authenticated the debt – with billions transferred to Moldova and the Baltics via a bank in Latvia.

Deutsche Bank was used to launder the money via its corresponding banking network – effectively allowing illegal Russian payments to be funnelled to the US, the European Union and Asia.

The bank was entirely unaware of the scam until the Guardian and Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) broke the story in March 2017, the report says. The first it knew was an email from the Guardian and Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaperasking for comment.

“Only with this intelligence received is it now possible for Deutsche Bank to start global investigations,” it notes.

In the embarrassing aftermath, the bank asked two in-house financial crime investigators – Philippe Vollot and Hinrich Völcker – to find out what had gone wrong. Their nine-page presentation was shared last year with the audit committee of the bank’s supervisory board and is marked “strictly confidential”.

The pair identified numerous “high-risk entities”. They included 1,244 in the US, 329 in the UK and 950 in Germany. These entities were responsible for nearly 700,000 transactions, the report says, involving at least £62m in the UK, $47m in the US, and €55m in Germany.

As part of its investigation, Deutsche Bank sent 149 “suspicious activity reports” to the National Crime Agency in London. Similar disclosures of potential money-laundering transactions were made to authorities in the US and elsewhere – with 30 private and corporate Deutsche Bank clients reported. Some may have been “unknowingly used”, the report says.

The affair is a further blow to Deutsche Banks’s ailing reputation. It comes amid police raids on its Frankfurt HQ over the Panama Papers, a plunging share price and talks over a possible merger with Germany’s Commerzbank. The raid last November came after German prosecutors alleged two bank employees helped clients launder money via offshore firms.

Deutsche is also under scrutiny in Washington over its financial dealings with Donald Trump. On 15 April, Democrats from the House intelligence and financial services committees issued a subpoena, demanding the bank provide documents about its lending to the president.

Over two decades, Trump borrowed more than $2bn from Deutsche. In 2008, he defaulted on a $45m loan repayment and sued the bank. Its private wealth division in New York subsequently loaned Trump a further $300m – a move that bemused insiders and which has yet to be fully explained.

In recent years, the bank has had a series of bruising encounters with international regulators. Between 2011 and 2018, it paid $14.5bn in fines, with exposure to dubious Russian money a regular theme.

In 2017, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority imposed its largest fine – £163m – after Deutsche carried out a $10bn “mirror trade” scheme run out of its branch in Moscow. The New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) fined the bank $425m over the same case, in which roubles were converted into dollars via fake trades on behalf of VIP Russian clients.

Deutsche carried out an internal investigation into the “mirror trades” affair, “Project Square”. The leaked Global Laundromat report says there is “no systematic link” between the two Russian money-laundering schemes. However, it suggests some overlap. Two unnamed entities feature in both and 46 “mirror trade” entities “directly transacted” with 233 laundromat ones.

The leaked report says Deutsche has cleaned up its act. It says it has stopped doing business with the two banks at the centre of the Laundromat scandal – Moldova’s Moldindconbank and Latvia’s Trasta Komercbanka. Regulators in Latvia closed down Trasta in 2016 because of serial money-laundering violations.

Deutsche Bank says it has “reduced its footprint” across the post-Soviet region. It no longer has relationships with any banks in Moldova, Latvia, Estonia and Cyprus, the report says. All are favourite destinations for illicit Moscow money. The bank has scaled down its business activities in Russia and Ukraine, it says.

The bank is under investigation for its role in Europe’s biggest banking scandal, involving Denmark’s Danske Bank. Danske laundered €200bn (£178bn) of Russian money via its branch in Estonia. Deutsche provided correspondent banking services via its US subsidiary.

Deutsche Bank said it could not comment on “potential or ongoing investigations”, or on “any matters regarding our regulators”. It said it was committed to providing “appropriate information to all authorised investigations”.

The bank said: “We have considerably increased staff numbers in anti-financial crime and more than tripled our staff since 2015. Since 2016 we have invested €700m in upgrading our key control functions there.”



(JN) Abastecimento de combustíveis normalizado a nível nacional em 48 horas

(JN) A desconvocação da greve dos motoristas de matérias perigosas, que tinha começado na segunda-feira, foi anunciada hoje de manhã pelo ministro das Infraestruturas e da Habitação, Pedro Nuno Santos.

Abastecimento de combustíveis normalizado a nível nacional em 48 horas

3AO Sindicato dos Motoristas de Matérias Perigosas estima que o abastecimento de combustível a nível nacional fique normalizado dentro de dois dias, depois de desconvocada a greve que durava desde segunda-feira.

Em declarações aos jornalistas após o anúncio do final da greve, no Ministério das Infraestruturas e Habitação, Pedro Henriques, do Sindicato dos Motoristas de Matérias Perigosas (SMMP), congratulou-se com o entendimento conseguido e disse esperar que até ao final do ano se consiga concluir o acordo de negociação coletiva.

“Vamos dar início às negociações com a ANTRAM [Associação Nacional dos Transportadores Rodoviários de Mercadorias], com supervisão do Governo, para negociar as cláusulas da negociação coletiva desta classe profissional. A primeira reunião é dia 29 e tem como objetivo até ao final deste ano estar fechado este acordo coletivo de trabalho até final do ano”, afirmou o responsável.

Pedro Henriques disse ainda que o que fez o sindicato desconvocar a greve foi “a garantia da ANTRAM e do Governo de que se iniciaria esta negociação coletiva de trabalho” e o compromisso do executivo de que este acordo estaria fechado até final do ano e que as negociações decorrerão “com tranquilidade”.

“Não está em causa apenas uma negociação, está em causa o reconhecimento oficial da categoria de motorista de matérias perigosas”, afirmou Pedro Henriques.

O representante sublinhou que o sindicato tinha consciência de que “a manutenção do direito pela greve iria causar ainda mais problemas ao país, que parou em três dias”.

“Não era nossa intenção. Manifestamo-nos sempre de forma pacífica para alertar para a importância que estes homens têm, pois sem eles o país para, mas o país não os conhecia nem os reconhecia”, acrescentou.

No entendimento conseguido hoje, as partes comprometem-se a “diligenciar pela manutenção de um clima de diálogo e paz social, mantendo o diálogo como forma de resolução de diferendos ou divergências até ao fim das negociações”, abstraindo-se de “outras formas de pressão, nomeadamente greves”.

A desconvocação da greve dos motoristas de matérias perigosas, que tinha começado na segunda-feira, foi anunciada hoje de manhã pelo ministro das Infraestruturas e da Habitação, Pedro Nuno Santos.

(ZH) Mapping The Global Migration Of Millionaires

(ZH)

High net worth individuals (HNWIs) – persons with wealth over US$1 million – may decide to pick up and move for a number of reasons. In some cases they are attracted by jurisdictions with more favorable tax laws, or less pollution and crime. Sometimes, they’re simply looking for a change of scenery.

Today’s graphic, using data from the annual Global Wealth Migration Review, maps the migration of the world’s millionaires, and clearly shows which countries are magnets for the world’s rich, and which countries are seeing a wealth exodus.

The Flight of the Millionaires

It’s no secret that China has been a wealth creation machine over the past two decades. Although the country is still making a number of its citizens very wealthy, over 15,000 Chinese HNWIs still chose to migrate to other countries in 2018 – the most significant migration of any country.

Here’s a look at the top countries by HNWI outflows:

Unlike the middle class, wealthy citizens have the means to pick up and leave when things start to sideways in their home country. An uptick in HNWI migration from a country can often be a signal of negative economic or societal factors influencing a country.

This is the case in Turkey, which has been rocked by instability, mass protests, and an inflation rate estimated to be in the triple-digits by some sources.

For the third straight year, Turkey lost more than 4,000 millionaires. An estimated 10% of Turkey’s HNWIs fled in 2018, which is concerning because unlike China and India, the country is not producing new millionaires in any significant number.

Millionaire Magnets

Time-honored locations – such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands – continue to attract the world’s wealthy, but no country is experiencing HNWI inflows quite like Australia.

The Land Down Under has a number of attributes that make it an attractive destination for migrating millionaires. The country has a robust economy, and is perceived as being a safe place to raise a family. Even better, Australia has no inheritance tax and a lower cost of health care, which can make it an attractive alternative to the U.S.

In 2018, Australia jumped ahead of both Canada and France to become the seventh largest wealth market in the world.

Here’s a look at HNWI inflows around the world:


Greece, which was one of the worst performing wealth markets of the last decade, is finally seeing a modest inflow of millionaires again.

(OBS) Investigadores criaram um coração vivo, que contrai, numa impressora 3D

(OBS)

O coração tem apenas três centímetros e ainda não é capaz de bombear sangue, mas os investigadores acreditam que é o primeiro passo para, no futuro, se imprimirem corações humanos funcionais.Partilhe

O pequeno coração nas mãos do investigador responsável pela sua criação, Tal Dvir.

Investigadores da Universidade de Tel Aviv criaram um coração com tecido humano numa impressora 3D. As células do coração são capazes de se contrair, mas até termos uma réplica de um coração humano ainda é preciso ultrapassar algumas etapas. Os resultados foram publicados na revista científica Advanced Science.

A equipa de Tal Dvir retirou células adiposas de uma pessoa, separaram-nas dos restantes materiais existentes no tecido e fizeram com que se transformassem em células estaminais — com capacidade de dar origem a outras células. A partir daí fizeram com que as células se diferenciassem em células do coração e dos vasos sanguíneos. Depois de misturarem as células com hidrogel criaram uma biotinta para usar na impressora 3D.

O coração criado tem apenas três centímetros, como se de um coração de coelho se tratasse, e ainda não é capaz de bombear sangue — embora as células tenham a capacidade de se contrair. O próximo passo será fazer com que as células comuniquem entre si para se contraírem em conjunto, explicou o investigador, citado pelo jornal La Vanguardia.

Só depois os investigadores podem pensar em criar um coração maior. “Temos de descobrir como criar células suficientes para produzir um coração humano”, disse Tal Dvir, coordenador do Laboratório de Engenharia de Tecidos e Medicina Regenerativa.

“Em 10 ou 15 anos [talvez] tenhamos impressoras 3D em hospitais, que forneçam tecidos para os doentes. Quem sabe, corações”, disse o investigador.

(DN) Acordo cinematográfico Portugal-Israel entra em vigor amanhã

(DN)

O objetivo principal do acordo é “desenvolver laços culturais e tecnológicas entre Portugal e Israel” bem como “promover as indústrias cinematográficas e o crescimento económico dos setores ligados à atividade”.

O acordo de coprodução cinematográfica entre o governo português e israelita, acordado em 2016 por Augusto Santos Silva, ministro dos Negócios Estrangeiros, e Benjamin Netanyahu, na altura também ministro dos Negócios Estrangeiros de Israel, vai entrar em vigor esta quarta-feira, dia 17 de abril.

O objetivo principal deste acordo, além de desenvolver a pr​​​​​​odução cinematográfica, é criar um “desenvolvimento dos laços culturais e tecnológicos entre Portugal e Israel”, segundo um comunicado da Embaixada de Israel em Portugal. O principal promotor deste acordo foi Raphael Gamzou, atual Embaixador de Israel em Portugal e ex-diretor-geral das Relações Cientificas e Culturais no Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros em Jerusalém. Gamzou defende que a história de ambos os povos tem muito pontos em comum e que este acordo pode fazer com que várias “histórias que ainda estão por contar” ganhem protagonismo no grande ecrã.

Outro dos objetivos da coprodução é promover as indústrias cinematográficas de ambos os países e o crescimento económico dos setores ligados à atividade. Neste momento, já estão a ser feitos alguns contactos entre ambas as indústrias cinematográficas com o propósito de criar e fortalecer futuras coproduções.

O Cinema City, com cerca de 50 salas espalhadas pelo país, é gerido pelo israelita Eyal Edery, com 43 anos, filho de Leon Edery, fundador do Cinema City e da produtora de filmes, a United King Films, que já produziu mais de 300 filmes em Israel. Conhecido por ser a maior operadora de cinema em Israel, exibe vários filmes israelitas nas salas portuguesas e promove, há mais de 11 anos, um festival cinematográfico intitulado os Dias do Cinema Israelita. Com o novo acordo entre Portugal e Israel, não só mais filmes israelitas chegarão a Portugal, como mais filmes portugueses chegarão a Israel.

O acordo permanece em vigor por um período de cinco anos e será automaticamente prorrogado por períodos adicionais de cinco anos.

(HeraldSun) Julian Assange wins EU journalism award

(HeraldSun)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been given an award established in honour of an assassinated journalist.

Assange, jailed last week after being forcibly removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, was awarded the 2019 GUE/NGL Award for Journalists, Whistleblowers & Defenders of the Right to Information.

It is sponsored by European parliamentarians after being established in 2018 in honour of assassinated Maltese journalist Daphne Galizia.

The award is given to individuals “uncovering the truth and exposing it to the public” and to honour “individuals or groups who have been intimidated and/or persecuted for uncovering the truth and exposing it to the public”.

Nobel Peace prize winner Mairead Maguire collected the award on the Australian’s behalf at an event in the European parliament in Strasbourg.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor, said: “Through WikiLeaks Julian Assange’s vision of transparency has revolutionalised journalism.

“His imprisonment and threatened extradition to the United States has drawn a sharp line in the sand. You are either encouraging the crackdown on media freedom or you are standing with Julian Assange.”

Last year the Galizia prize was jointly awarded to murdered Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak and LuxLeaks whistleblower Raphael Halet.

Assange had lived inside the embassy for almost seven years before his diplomatic asylum was revoked.

(AFP) Ecuador Claims It’s Been Hit With 40 Million Cyberattacks Since Giving Up Julian Assange

(AFP)

Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, 2017.
Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, 2017.

Ecuadorian officials claim the country has suffered some 40 million cyber attacks since it allowed UK police to forcibly remove Wikileaks founder Julian Assange from their embassy in London, according to Agence France-Presse.

According to AFP, the 40 million number comes courtesy of Ecuador’s deputy minister for information and communication technologies, Patricio Real, who said the attacks began shortly after the arrest on April 11:

Patricio Real, Ecuador’s deputy minister for information and communication technologies, said the attacks, which began on Thursday, had “principally come from the United States, Brazil, Holland, Germany, Romania, France, Austria and the United Kingdom,” as well as from the South American country itself.

… Javier Jara, undersecretary of the electronic government department of the telecommunications ministry, said the country had suffered “volumetric attacks” that blocked access to the internet following “threats from those groups linked to Julian Assange.”

Volumetric attacks are a type of distributed denial of service attack, in which attackers flood servers with requests in an attempt to overload them and prevent access by legitimate users; the 40 million number should be understood not as the number of independently coordinated attacks, but the cumulative number of automated attempts to disrupt targeted systems. Sites for the foreign ministry, central bank, President Lenin Moreno’s office, tax authorities, and myriad other government websites were targeted, AFP wrote.

No institutions reported successful attempts to steal or destroy data, the news agency added.

Assange, the founder of international non-profit and secrets-leaking organization Wikileaks, had originally sought and received asylum in the embassy in 2012. At the time, UK authorities were seeking to extradite Assange to Sweden, where authorities were investigating two separate accounts he had committed sexual assault and rape; Assange sought to portray the allegations as a pretext to secure his extradition to the U.S., where he would face prosecution for leaking government and military secrets.

Swedish authorities later dropped the investigation, but the UK continued to seek his arrest for skipping bail. Assange remained in the embassy, over time apparently wearing out Ecuador’s patience; while he was there, Wikileaks released caches of hacked emails from Democratic Party email systems, Assange’s Twitter DMs with Donald Trump Jr. (in which he begged for an ambassadorship) leaked, and the official Wikileaks Twitter account began posting far-right diatribes.

The embassy reportedly cut off his internet access in 2018 for alleged political meddling, which the government said followed requests that he stop damaging its relationship with other countries. Moreno has referred to Assange as an “inherited problem” from his predecessor, Rafael Correa, and accused Assange of personally hacking him.

As it turns out, the U.S. did secretly charge Assange with conspiring with Chelsea Manning in an attempt to break into a protected Department of Defense computer network (the Secret Internet Protocol Network, SIPRNet) using another username. That attempt failed, but Manning eventually provided Wikileaks with of hundreds of thousands of government files, which it released in 2010. Those ranged from diplomatic cables to other data implicating U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan in covering up civilian casualties, enabling torture, and perhaps most infamously, opening fire in Baghdad from Apache gunships, killing at least a dozen, including two Reuters journalists.

The leaks humiliated the U.S. government, and there has been considerable discussion over whether Assange really conspired with Manning to break into SIPRNet or the charges are just revenge served cold. If Assange is extradited to the U.S. and convicted, he faces a maximum of five years in prison on those charges. As the Verge noted, the indictment is unusually weak on the evidence (and possibly outside the statute of limitations), though CBS News reportedprosecutors are weighing additional charges.

If extradited on the specific hacking charge alone, however, the Verge reported that legal experts say the U.S. cannot simply slap him with additional charges like espionage—which Assange’s lawyers claim could earn him the death penalty.

(NBC) Mark Zuckerberg leveraged Facebook user data to fight rivals and help friends, leaked documents show

(NBC) Facebook’s leaders seriously discussed selling access to user data — and privacy was an afterthought.

Illustration of Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg peaking out from a key hole.

Leaked internal Facebook documents show that the plans to sell access to user data were discussed for years and received support from Facebook’s most senior executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. Doug Chayka for NBC News / for NBC NewsApril 16, 2019, 9:30 AM GMT+1By Olivia Solon and Cyrus Farivar

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg oversaw plans to consolidate the social network’s power and control competitors by treating its users’ data as a bargaining chip, while publicly proclaiming to be protecting that data, according to about 4,000 pages of leaked company documents largely spanning 2011 to 2015 and obtained by NBC News.

The documents, which include emails, webchats, presentations, spreadsheets and meeting summaries, show how Zuckerberg, along with his board and management team, found ways to tap Facebook’s trove of user data — including information about friends, relationships and photos — as leverage over companies it partnered with.

In some cases, Facebook would reward favored companies by giving them access to the data of its users. In other cases, it would deny user-data access to rival companies or apps.

For example, Facebook gave Amazon extended access to user data because it was spending money on Facebook advertising and partnering with the social network on the launch of its Fire smartphone. In another case, Facebook discussed cutting off access to user data for a messaging app that had grown too popular and was viewed as a competitor, according to the documents.

All the while, Facebook was formulating a strategy to publicly frame these moves as a way of protecting user privacy.

Private communication between users is “increasingly important,” Zuckerberg said in a 2014 New York Times interview. “Anything we can do that makes people feel more comfortable is really good.”

But the documents show that behind the scenes, in contrast with Facebook’s public statements, the company came up with several ways to require third-party applications to compensate Facebook for access to its users’ data, including direct payment, advertising spending and data-sharing arrangements. While it’s not unusual for businesses that are working together to share information about their customers, Facebook has access to sensitive data that many other companies don’t possess.

Facebook ultimately decided not to sell the data directly but rather to dole it out to app developers who were considered personal “friends” of Zuckerberg or who spent money on Facebook and shared their own valuable data, the documents show.

Facebook denied that it gave preferential treatment to developers or partners because of their ad spending or relationship with executives. The company has not been accused of breaking the law.

A man poses for photos in front of the Facebook sign on the company's campus in Menlo Park, California, in 2014.
A man poses for photos in front of the Facebook sign on the company’s campus in Menlo Park, California, in 2014.Jeff Chiu / AP file

About 400 of the 4,000 pages of documents have previously beenreported by other media outlets, and also by a member of the British Parliament who has been investigating Facebook’s data privacy practices in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. However, this cache represents the clearest and most comprehensive picture of Facebook’s activities during a critical period as the company struggled to adapt to the rise of smartphones following its rocky debut as a public company.

The thousands of newly shared documents were anonymously leaked to the British investigative journalist Duncan Campbell, who shared them with a handful of media organizations: NBC News, Computer Weekly and Süddeutsche Zeitung. Campbell, a founding member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, is a computer forensics expert who has worked on international investigations including on offshore banking and big tobacco. The documents appear to be the same ones obtained by Parliament in late 2018 as part of an investigation into Facebook. Facebook did not question the authenticity of the documents NBC News obtained.

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TECH

U.K. lawmaker Damian Collins releases seized Facebook emails, claims company lacks ‘straight answers’

The documents stem from a California court case between the social network and the little-known startup Six4Three, which sued Facebook in 2015 after the company announced plans to cut off access to some types of user data. Six4Three’s app, Pikinis, which soft-launched in 2013, relied on that data to allow users to easily find photos of their friends in bathing suits.

Facebook has acknowledged that it considered charging for access to user data. But Facebook has challenged the significance of those discussions, telling the Wall Street Journal last year and NBC News this month that the company was merely mulling various business models.

Facebook has also repeatedly said that the documents had been “cherry-picked” and were misleading. Facebook reiterated this stance when NBC News contacted the social media company for comment on the newly leaked documents.

“As we’ve said many times, Six4Three — creators of the Pikinis app — cherry picked these documents from years ago as part of a lawsuit to force Facebook to share information on friends of the app’s users,” Paul Grewal, vice president and deputy general counsel at Facebook, said in a statement released by the company.

“The set of documents, by design, tells only one side of the story and omits important context. We still stand by the platform changes we made in 2014/2015 to prevent people from sharing their friends’ information with developers like the creators of Pikinis. The documents were selectively leaked as part of what the court found was evidence of a crime or fraud to publish some, but not all, of the internal discussions at Facebook at the time of our platform changes. But the facts are clear: we’ve never sold people’s data.”

The finding of “evidence of a crime or fraud” came from a preliminary decision by the judge in the Six4Three case about an earlier round of leaked documents.

NBC News has not been able to determine whether the documents represent a complete picture. Facebook declined to provide additional evidence to support the claim of cherry-picking.

Still, these freshly leaked documents show that the plans to sell access to user data were discussed for years and received support from Facebook’s most senior executives, including Zuckerberg, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, chief product officer Chris Cox and VP of growth Javier Olivan. Facebook declined to make them available for comment.

After NBC News contacted Facebook for comment, Facebook’s lawyers wrote to the judge in the Six4Three case, claiming that Six4Three had leaked the documents to a “national broadcast network” and seeking to depose the company’s founders. NBC News received the documents from Campbell, who received them from an anonymous source. Six4Three denied leaking the documents.

Related

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Facebook’s 2018 timeline: Scandals, hearings and security bugs

When Facebook ultimately cut off broad access to user data in 2015, the move contributed to the decline of thousands of competitors and small businesses that relied on what Facebook had previously described as a “level-playing field” in terms of access to data. In addition to Pikinis, the casualties included Lulu, an app that let women rate the men they dated; an identity fraud-detecting app called Beehive ID; and Swedish breast cancer awareness app Rosa Bandet (Pink Ribbon).

The strategy orchestrated by Zuckerberg had some of his employees comparing the company to villains from Game of Thrones, while David Poll, a senior engineer, called the treatment of outside app developers “sort of unethical,” according to the documents. But Zuckerberg’s approach also earned admiration: Doug Purdy, Facebook’s director of product, described the CEO as a “master of leverage,” according to the documents.

Facebook declined to comment on these employee communications.

A PRIVACY MYTH

One of the most striking threads to emerge from the documents is the way that Facebook user data was horse-traded to squeeze money or shared data from app developers.

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in early 2018 and rising awareness of the Six4Three case, Facebook has attempted to frame changes it made to its platform in 2014 and 2015 as being driven by concerns over user privacy. In statements to media organizations, Facebook has said it locked down its platform to protect users from companies that mishandled user data, such as Cambridge Analytica, as well as apps that spammed users’ news feeds or were creepy, such as Six4Three’s bikini-spotting app Pikinis.

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Mark Zuckerberg to shift Facebook toward a ‘privacy-focused’ platform

However, among the documents leaked, there’s very little evidence that privacy was a major concern of Facebook’s, and the issue was rarely discussed in the thousands of pages of emails and meeting summaries. Where privacy is mentioned, it is often in the context of how Facebook can use it as a public relations strategy to soften the blow of the sweeping changes to developers’ access to user data. The documents include several examples suggesting that these changes were designed to cement Facebook’s power in the marketplace, not to protect users.

In Six4Three’s case, for example, Facebook’s head of policy Allison Hendrix acknowledged in a June 2017 deposition obtained by NBC News that the social network never received any complaints about the Pikinis app, nor did Facebook send Six4Three any policy or privacy violation notices. Six4Three, Hendrix confirmed, was playing within the rules Facebook had set for developers.

Despite this, Six4Three’s access to data, specifically access to a user’s friends’ photos, was cut off in April 2015 as part of sweeping changes to Facebook’s platform announced a year earlier, which affected as many as 40,000 apps. Six4Three shut down the app soon afterward.

Image: Ted Kramer, founder of Six4Three
Ted Kramer, founder of Six4Three.Peter DaSilva / for NBC News

“Our case is about Zuckerberg’s decision to weaponize the reliance of companies on his purportedly neutral platform and to weaponize the private and sensitive data of billions of people,” said Six4Three founder Ted Kramer.

A TURNING POINT FOR FACEBOOK

Facebook recognized early on that working with third-party app developers could help make the social network more interesting and drive the platform’s expansion. Beginning in early 2010, Facebook created tools that allowed the makers of games (remember Farmville?) and other apps to connect with its audience in return for ensuring those users spent more time on Facebook.

Facebook achieved this through its “Graph API” (Application Programming Interface), a common means to allow software programs to interact with each other. In Facebook’s case, this meant that third-party apps such as games could post updates on people’s profiles, which would be seen by players’ friends and potentially encourage them to play, too. Beyond that, it allowed the makers of those games to access a slew of data from Facebook users, including their connections to friends, likes, locations, updates, photos and more.

The Graph API — and particularly the way it let third parties promote their products to and extract data from a user’s social connections — was a key feature of Facebook that Six4Three and thousands of other companies relied upon for viral marketing and user growth.

However, after a few years, Facebook decided the app developers were getting more value from the user data they extracted from Facebook than Facebook was getting out of the app developers, the documents show.

After Facebook went public in May 2012, its stock price plummeted, which Zuckerberg later characterized as “disappointing.” The company was in a desperate position, documents show, with users sharing fewer photos and posts on the platform as they spent more time on their cellphones. An internal Facebook presentation looking back at this period used the phrase “terminal decline” to describe the fall in engagement.

Facebook executives, including Zuckerberg and Sandberg, spent months brainstorming ways to turn the company around. An idea that they kept returning to: make money from the app partners, by charging them for access to Facebook’s users and their data.

‘SELL DATA FOR $”

Several proposals for charging developers for access to Facebook’s platform and data were put forward in a presentation to the company’s board of directors, according to emails and draft slides from late August 2012.

Among the suggestions: a fixed annual fee for developers for reviewing their apps; an access fee for apps that requested user data; and a charge for “premium” access to data, such as a user trust score or a ranking of the strongest relationships between users and their friends.

“Today the fundamental trade is ‘data for distribution’ whereas we want to change it to either ‘data for $’ and/or ‘$ for distribution,’” Chris Daniels, a Facebook business development director, wrote in an August 2012 email to other top leaders in the company discussing the upcoming presentation.

Discussions continued through October, when Zuckerberg explained to close friend Sam Lessin the importance of controlling third-party apps’ ability to access Facebook’s data and reach people’s friends on the platform. Without that leverage, “I don’t think we have any way to get developers to pay us at all,” Zuckerberg wrote in an email to Lessin.

In the same week, Zuckerberg floated the idea of pursuing 100 deals with developers “as a path to figuring out the real market value” of Facebook user data and then “setting a public rate” for developers.

“The goal here wouldn’t be the deals themselves, but that through the process of negotiating with them we’d learn what developers would actually pay (which might be different from what they’d say if we just asked them about the value), and then we’d be better informed on our path to set a public rate,” Zuckerberg wrote in a chat.

Facebook told NBC News that it was exploring ways to build a sustainable business, but ultimately decided not to go forward with these plans.

“I just can’t think of any instances where that data has leaked from developer to developer and caused a real issue for us.”

Zuckerberg was unfazed by the potential privacy risks associated with Facebook’s data-sharing arrangements.

“I’m generally skeptical that there is as much data leak strategic risk as you think,” he wrote in the email to Lessin. “I think we leak info to developers but I just can’t think of any instances where that data has leaked from developer to developer and caused a real issue for us.”

Facebook told NBC News that this was an example of a cherry-picked email designed to bolster Six4Three’s case.

Zuckerberg didn’t know it at the time, but a privacy bug affecting an unnamed third-party app would create precisely this kind of strategic risk the following year, according to a panicked chatlog between Michael Vernal, who was director of engineering, and other senior employees.

It’s not clear exactly what happened or which app was involved, but it appears that Zuckerberg’s private communications could have leaked from Facebook to the external app in an unexpected way.

Vernal said that it “could have been near-fatal for Facebook platform” if “Mark had accidentally disclosed earnings ahead of time because a platform app violated his privacy.”

“Holy crap,” replied Avichal Garg, then director of product management.

“DO NOT REPEAT THIS STORY OFF OF THIS THREAD,” added Vernal. “I can’t tell you how terrible this would have been for all of us had this not been caught quickly.”

Vernal and Garg did not respond to requests for comment.

‘GOOD FOR THE WORLD’ BUT NOT ‘GOOD FOR US’

In late November 2012, Zuckerberg sent a long email to Facebook’s senior leadership team saying that Facebook shouldn’t charge developers for access to basic data feeds. However, he said that access to Facebook data should be contingent on the developers sharing all of the “social content” generated by their apps back to Facebook, something Zuckerberg calls “full reciprocity.”

The existing arrangement, where developers weren’t required to share their data back with Facebook, might be “good for the world” but it’s not “good for us,” Zuckerberg wrote in the email.

He noted that though Facebook could charge developers to access user data, the company stood to benefit more from requiring developers to compensate Facebook in kind — with their own data — and by pushing those developers to pay for advertising on Facebook’s platform.

The endgame: to ensure Facebook maintained its dominant position in the market.

“The purpose of the platform is to tie the universe of all the social apps together so we can enable a lot more sharing and still remain the central social hub,” Zuckerberg said in the email.

Facebook told NBC News that the focus of “full reciprocity” was to enable users to share their experiences within external apps with their friends on Facebook, not about providing Facebook with user data.

CUTTING DEALS

With Zuckerberg’s vision for Facebook set, the company began making deals with some of its most valued partners, including dozens of app developer friends of Zuckerberg and Sandberg. Facebook whitelisted their access to feeds of user data while restricting that same access to apps that Facebook viewed as competitors.

These data access deals prepared key partners, including Tinder, Sony and Microsoft, for sweeping changes to the Facebook platform that the company planned to announce at its annual developer conference in April 2014 and enforce within a year.

In one instance, described in June 2013 documents, Amazon received special treatment for the launch of a group gifting product, despite the fact that it competed with one of Facebook’s own products.

“Remind me, why did we allow them to do this? Do we receive any cut of purchases?” Chris Daniels, then Facebook’s director of business development, asked in an email.

“No, but Amazon is an advertiser and supporting this with advertisement … and working with us on deeper integrations for the Fire,” Amazon’s smartphone, replied Jackie Chang, who worked with Facebook’s “strategic partners.”

Amazon released a statement to NBC News: “Amazon uses publicly available APIs provided by Facebook in order to enable Facebook experiences for our products and only uses information in accordance with our privacy policy.”

Apps that were not considered “strategic partners” got different treatment. In a March 2013 discussion, Justin Osofsky, then director of platform partnerships, described restricting the MessageMe app from accessing Facebook data because it had grown too popular and could compete with Facebook messages. He asked colleagues to see if any other messenger apps have “hit the growth team’s radar recently.”

“If so, we’d like to restrict them at the same time to group this into one press cycle,” he wrote in an email.

‘IT’S SORT OF UNETHICAL’

Deal negotiations created confusion among partners who had grown accustomed to unfettered access to Facebook user data.

“We gave a bunch of stuff ‘for free’ historically (data, distribution) and now we’re making you ‘pay’ for it via reciprocal value,” Vernal, director of engineering, wrote in an email in June 2013. He added, “The confusing thing here is that we haven’t really announced these changes publicly/broadly yet.”

Some Facebook employees were unhappy about this direction, particularly the way the company appeared to be blocking competitors from accessing data.

Here’s an extract from a December 2013 chatlog between several senior engineers talking about the changes:

Bryan Klimt: “So we are literally going to group apps into buckets based on how scared we are of them and give them different APIs? … So the message is, ‘if you’re going to compete with us at all, make sure you don’t integrate with us at all’? I’m just dumbfounded.”

Kevin Lacker: “Yeah this is complicated.”

David Poll: “More than complicated, it’s sort of unethical.”

Lacker and Poll declined to comment. Vernal and Klimt did not respond to requests for comment.

Facebook declined to comment on the employee exchanges.

THE PR SPIN

When it came to publicly announcing the sweeping changes at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference in April 2014, members of the communications team worked with Zuckerberg to craft a narrative around user trust, not competition or profitability.

In a March 2014 email discussing Zuckerberg’s keynote speech at the event, where he was due to announce the removal of developers’ access to friends’ data, Jonny Thaw, a director of communications, wrote that it “may be a tough message for some developers as it may inhibit their growth.”

“So one idea that came up today was potentially talking in the keynote about some of the trust changes we’re making on Facebook itself. So the message would be: ‘trust is really important to us — on Facebook, we’re doing A, B and C to help people control and understand what they’re sharing — and with platform apps we’re doing D, E and F.’”

If that doesn’t work, he added, “we could announce some of Facebook’s trust initiatives in the run up to F8” to make the changes for developers “seem more natural.”

Facebook told NBC News that it was “completely reasonable” for someone on the communications team to discuss the best way to get the message out on changes to the platform.

User trust was crucial when Zuckerberg delivered his speech at the event on April 30, 2014.

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at the F8 developer conference in San Francisco in 2014.Ben Margot / AP file

“Over the years, one of the things we’ve heard over and over again is that people want more control over how they share their information, especially with apps, and they want more say and control over how apps use their data,” he told the audience of journalists and developers. “And we take this really seriously because if people don’t have the tools they need to feel comfortable using your apps, that’s bad for them and that’s bad for you.”

But despite Facebook’s public focus on privacy, staff member emails described confusion over the way third-party apps could override users’ privacy settings.

Even if users locked down their account so that their photos and other data were visible to “only me,” those photos could still be transferred to third parties, according to the documents.

In April 2015, Connie Yang, a product designer, told her colleagues that she’d discovered apps collecting profile data she had marked as “only me” and displaying it to “both you and *other people* using that app.”

“While ‘whoa how did you start working at Casterly Rock’ is a fun opener,” she wrote, referring to the ancestral stronghold of the most fearsome family in “Game of Thrones,” “isn’t this directly violating what we tell users is ‘only me’?”

Yang did not respond to requests for comment.

Facebook said this was another example of cherry-picked emails.

THE DOCUMENTS’ LEGACY

Even though Facebook eventually decided not to charge developers directly for access to user data, the extensive discussions around its monetary value, shown in the leaked documents, could create lasting problems for the company, privacy and policy experts say.

The biggest threat Facebook faces now is not competition but antitrust regulation, which is designed to promote fair competition among companies for the benefit of consumers, using fines or restrictions on mergers and acquisitions.

Regulators have typically struggled to build robust antitrust cases against technology companies that offer services to users for free. If the product is free, then it’s harder to argue that the consumer is being harmed by a monopoly.

But if regulators can show that users were paying for access to Facebook with their personal data, and that Facebook valued that data as leverage against competitors, that could expose Facebook to an antitrust complaint, said Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next, a trade association representing digital publishers.

“These emails clearly establish the value of consumer data to Facebook,” Kint said. “It shows that it is not free.”

Facebook said that the service has always been free for users and developers.

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Cambridge Analytica harvested data from millions of unsuspecting Facebook users

In February, the Federal Trade Commission announced a task force to monitor anti-competitive behavior in the tech industry to, in the words of FTC chair Joseph Simons, “ensure consumers benefit from free and fair competition.”

Policymakers have called for the FTC to investigate Facebook specifically for violating antitrust laws.

The company “appears to have used its dominance to cripple other competitive threats by cutting them off from its massive network,” Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., chairman of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, wrote in a New York Times op-ed last month.

Facebook appears to be preparing for the inevitable, with Zuckerberg writing his own op-ed in The Washington Post in March calling for regulation in areas including harmful content and election integrity, but not antitrust. Facebook watchers saw this show of willingness as an attempt by Zuckerberg to curry favor with policymakers at a time when many are baying for the company’s blood.

Ashkan Soltani, a privacy expert and former FTC chief technologist, said that Zuckerberg is approaching the looming threat of regulation with “bravado” and trying to “leverage things for his benefit.”

Meanwhile, David Carroll, a professor at the New School, who pursued legal claims in the U.K. in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, says Zuckerberg is “bracing for impact.”

“When the penalty hits they can be like, ‘Yeah, we agree, we deserve this fine.’ It positions them to be conciliatory,” Carroll said.

The “master of leverage” strikes again.

(Economist) A new era at Goldman Sachs starts in the shadow of a scandal

(Economist)

Can the bank reinvent itself?

NO ONE IS more aware of the value of a brand than Goldman Sachs. The investment bank, founded in 1869, has advised the biggest and best American companies on the value of theirs for the past 150 years. It helped F.W. Woolworth, a pioneering department store, with its initial public offering in 1912. It took Ford and Disney public in the 1950s, helped Amazon buy Whole Foods in 2017 and will take Uber public later this year. Yet these are troubling times for its own brand, tarnished by association with a fraud-ridden Malaysian state-run fund, 1MDB, and hurt by the bank’s failure to adapt after the global financial crisis.

These issues were echoed in the firm’s first-quarter results, released on April 15th. Revenues came in below expectations—13% lower than for the first quarter of 2018—largely as the result of lower trading revenues. The share price fell more than 3% and the earnings call was peppered with analysts asking questions about 1MDB.Get our daily newsletter

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The first task for David Solomon, who took over as chief executive last October, is to clean up Goldman’s reputation. In 2012 and 2013 it helped 1MDB raise $6.5bn across three bond offerings, earning $600m in fees—way above the norm for such work. American and Malaysian authorities have alleged that much of the money raised was stolen in a scheme masterminded by Jho Low, a Malaysian financier. He has denied wrongdoing (and vanished).

Last November America’s Department of Justice (DoJ) announced that a former senior partner at Goldman, Tim Leissner, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money and to violate foreign bribery laws. And they indicted Mr Low and another former Goldman banker, Roger Ng, who has also denied wrongdoing. Goldman claims that Mr Ng and Mr Leissner, who transferred embezzled funds into his personal bank account, kept the bank in the dark about their actions.

But criminal charges have been filed against the firm in Malaysia. Though Goldman is contesting the case, it is spooking shareholders, who worry about both onerous fines and what it implies about oversight at the bank. Since November its share price has underperformed an index of other bank stocks by 10.3 percentage points, suggesting that the scandal may have wiped as much as $9.1bn off its value.

It is against these headwinds that Mr Solomon must try to convince investors that Goldman can reinvent itself. Its peers have already digested the fact that Wall Street’s traditional model, in which banks advise on huge corporate deals and make bold trades on their own behalf, has become less profitable. According to Michael Spellacy of Accenture, a consultancy, 90% of the economic profit made in the capital-markets industry is now earned on the buy side—that is, by those who manage assets or investments—and just 10% from sell-side investment-banking activities. A decade ago, he says, that split was closer to 50-50.

Goldman’s slowness in reacting to these structural changes has allowed its competitors to catch up. In 2010 its return on equity (ROE) was 11%, easily beating the 8% average for “bulge-bracket” American investment banks, a group including JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley. But last year that group averaged an ROE of 11.2%, placing Goldman, at 12%, near the middle of the pack. And investors are becoming concerned about the way it earns its returns. Volatile profits, like those from trading businesses, mergers and acquisitions, are considered less valuable than steady fee-based income, for example from wealth management.

In 2016 Mr Solomon’s predecessor, Lloyd Blankfein, took the first steps towards a new strategy by launching a consumer bank, Marcus. In 2017 Goldman announced a target of increasing yearly revenues by $5bn by 2020. But the focus on expanding consumer lending, which offers a relatively low return on investment, did not impress shareholders.

They have had a rough ride. Holding shares in the firm since 2010 would have earned just 13% (without adjusting for inflation), compared with an average of 71% for its bulge-bracket peers and 152% for the S&P 500. Goldman continues to trade at just 0.9 times its tangible book value, a measure of the money that might be returned to shareholders if it were liquidated. The average ratio of price to tangible book value for a bulge-bracket bank is 1.15.

As far as 1MDB is concerned, the big worry for shareholders is the size and scope of the penalties. A large fine is all but inevitable. It could be based on the $600m Goldman earned from the bond issuance—or the $2.7bn American authorities say was stolen from the proceeds. That will be multiplied by anything up to four, depending on the degree to which the firm is found culpable. That Goldman is co-operating with the DoJ will bring the multiplier down; if the DoJ decides the firm’s oversight of compliance procedures was inadequate, it will be towards the higher end. Steven Chubak of Wolfe Research, an equity-research firm, thinks the total will be somewhere between $1bn and $4bn.

When it comes to the required shift in strategy, however, Goldman’s efforts may soon start to bear fruit. Its expansion into consumer businesses is continuing apace. In 2018 it acquired Clarity Money, a personal-finance app. Last month Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, announced that it will launch a credit card with Goldman this summer. When Marcus launched it was as a consumer lender; since then it has added deposit-taking. Though it offers market-leading rates, deposits are still a cheap source of funding. In 2012 just 8% of Goldman’s funding came from deposits. Last year that share had risen to 19%. If it can keep replacing wholesale funding with deposits at the pace of the past five years, says Mr Chubak, it will have reduced funding costs by $500m by 2022.

The consumer space is not the only place Goldman is rolling out new technology. More than a quarter of Goldman’s employees are now engineers, says Heather Kennedy Miner, the bank’s head of investor relations. The firm has deployed a new platform, called Marquee, for institutional investors and will expand into corporate cash management in 2020, which will further increase low-cost deposits. 

The firm also seems to be planning an overdue restructuring of its fixed-income, currency and commodities (FICC) business. Revenues earned from FICC have fallen from $13.6bn in 2010, accounting for more than a third of Goldman’s revenues, to $5.9bn now, or just a sixth. Last October Stephen Scherr, Goldman’s newly appointed chief financial officer, announced a review of all its business lines, which will be published early next year. In February the Wall Street Journal reported that the commodities business would be scaled back. (Mr Scherr emphasises that Goldman has no plans to abandon commodities entirely, as some of its competitors, including JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley, have.) In March Mr Solomon announced plans to cut the number of staff in sales and trading by 5% this year.

Its new strategy will mean Goldman is competing on less familiar territory. Consumer deposits and corporate cash management are competitive markets that JP Morgan and Bank of America have dominated for decades. But they are also huge markets. Even a small slice could have a big impact on Goldman’s profits, says Mr Scherr. Compared with established banks, Goldman is able to develop and deploy new technology easily; but unlike startup digital competitors, its innovations are backed by a $925bn balance-sheet. America’s financial-services industry has been slow to adapt to technological change. An old bank with a new direction might be well-placed to disrupt it.

(BBC) Notre-Dame: Massive fire ravages Paris cathedral

(BBC)

A major fire has engulfed the medieval cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, one of France’s most famous landmarks.

The 850-year-old Gothic building’s spire and roof have collapsed but the main structure, including the two bell towers, has been saved, officials say.

Firefighters are still working to contain the blaze as teams try to salvage the artwork stored inside.

President Emmanuel Macron called it a “terrible tragedy”. The cause of the fire is not yet clear.

Officials say it could be linked to the renovation work that began after cracks appeared in the stone, sparking fears the structure could become unstable.

Paris prosecutor’s office said it had opened an inquiry into “accidental destruction by fire”. A firefighter was seriously injured while tackling the blaze.

Visibly emotional, Mr Macron said the “worst had been avoided” and vowed to launch an international fundraising scheme to rebuild the cathedral.

How did the fire spread?

The fire began at around 18:30 (16:30 GMT) and quickly reached the roof of the cathedral, destroying its stained-glass windows and the wooden interior before toppling the spire.

Damaged parts of cathedral
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Some 500 firefighters worked to prevent one of the bell towers from collapsing. More than four hours later, fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet said the main structure had been “saved and preserved” from total destruction.

Sections of the cathedral were under scaffolding as part of the extensive renovations and 16 copper statues had been removed last week.

Deputy Paris Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said the building had suffered “colossal damages”, and teams were working to save the cathedral’s remaining artwork.

Media captionThe fire department said a major operation was under way

Historian Camille Pascal told French broadcaster BFMTV that “invaluable heritage” had been destroyed, adding: “Happy and unfortunate events for centuries have been marked by the bells of Notre-Dame. We can be only horrified by what we see”.

How have people reacted?

Thousands of people gathered in the streets around the cathedral, observing the flames in silence. Some could be seen openly weeping, while others sang hymns or said prayers.

Several churches around Paris rang their bells in response to the blaze, which happened as Catholics celebrate Holy Week.

INTERACTIVENotre-Dame cathedral fire

After

Image of Notre Dame with the tower missing

Before

Image of Notre Dame with the tower on fire

Because of the fire, Mr Macron cancelled a speech on TV in which he was due to address the street protests that have rocked France for months.

Visiting the scene, the president said the cathedral was a building “for all French people”, including those who had never been there.

“We’ll rebuild Notre-Dame together”, he said as he praised the “extreme courage” and “professionalism” of the firefighters.

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A symbol of a country

Analysis by Henri Astier, BBC World Online

No other site represents France quite like Notre-Dame. Its main rival as a national symbol, the Eiffel Tower, is little more than a century old. Notre-Dame has stood tall above Paris since the 1200s.

It has given its name to one of the country’s literary masterpieces. Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is known to the French simply as Notre-Dame de Paris.

The last time the cathedral suffered major damage was during the French Revolution. It survived two world wars largely unscathed.

Watching such an embodiment of the permanence of a nation burn and its spire collapse is profoundly shocking to any French person.

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Facts about Notre-Dame

  • The church receives almost 13 million visitors each year, more than the Eiffel Tower
  • A Unesco World Heritage site, it was built in the 12th and 13th centuries
  • Several statues of the facade of the Catholic cathedral were removed for renovation
  • The roof, which has been destroyed by the blaze, was made mostly of wood
  • Read more about the treasures of the cathedral
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What has been the international reaction?

The Vatican expressed “shock and sadness,” adding that it was praying for the French fire services.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has offered her support to the people of France, calling Notre-Dame a “symbol of French and European culture”.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said in a tweet: “My thoughts are with the people of France tonight and with the emergency services who are fighting the terrible blaze at Notre-Dame cathedral”.

Also on Twitter, US President Donald Trump said it was “horrible to watch” the fire and suggested that “flying water tankers” could be used to extinguish the blaze.

In an apparent response, the French Civil Security service said that was not an option as it might result in the collapse of the entire building.

(JE) Valor de títulos negociados em day-trading na bolsa caiu 48% num ano para 144 milhões

(JE) MO day-trading é uma modalidade de negociação em mercados financeiros, que tem por objetivo a obtenção de lucro com a oscilação de preço, ao longo do dia, dos ativos financeiros.

Os dados são da CMVM. O valor total negociado em day-trading na Euronext Lisbon diminuiu 20,1% no primeiro trimestre de 2019 face aos três meses anteriores tendo-se fixado em 144,5 milhões de euros. Se comparar-mos com o valor de titulos comprados e vendidos no mesmo dia aproveitando a oscilação do preço ao longo da sessão, no prrimeiro trimestre de 2018, verifica-se que caiu 48%, quase metade face aos 277,7 milhões registados no ano passado.

Em média, o valor negociado por intermediário financeiro decresceu 12,9% numa base trimestral, para 7,7 milhões. Mas caiu 45,2% quando comparado com o trimestre homólogo do ano anterior.

As transações em day-trading continuaram a ser efetuadas quase na totalidade para a carteira dos clientes dos intermediários financeiros, representando 99,9% do valor total negociado.

Os três intermediários financeiros com maior quota de mercado foram responsáveis por 62,3% do valor de day-trading entre janeiro e março, percentagem superior à registada no trimestre anterior.

No segmento acionista, estas transações registaram uma descida de 0,8 pontos percentuais (p.p.), representando 2,9% do valor negociado.

No mesmo período, 97,7% do valor da negociação em day-trading foi efetuado por investidores não institucionais e 2,3% por institucionais (excluindo carteira própria dos intermediários financeiros).

Os investidores residentes efetuaram no trimestre 95,6% do valor de day-trading e os não residentes 4,4% (excluindo carteira própria dos intermediários financeiros). Entre os investidores residentes, os principais ordenantes foram os investidores não institucionais (94,4%).

As ordens transmitidas pela internet corresponderam a 88,4% do total, por outros meios eletrónicos a 6,7% e por outros canais a 4,9%.

(BBG) The Unlikely Rise of the Pastel de Nata, and Why It’s Suddenly Everywhere

(BBG) The centuries-old Portuguese treat has become a global brand, and a very modern marketing machine is pushing it.

An unlikely dessert is on its way to becoming as ubiquitous as the croissant.

Not long ago an authentic pastel de nata—the diminutive egg-custard tart with a crispy crust—required a trip to Portugal. But now they’re popping up in supermarkets, coffee shops and bakeries from Manhattan to Singapore. The pastry even earned its own episode on the Great British Bake Off, the global hit that conquered the world with bunting and scones.

The pastel de nata, which just means cream pastry in Portuguese, has similarly become an international hit, centuries after it was said to have been invented in a Belem monastery by monks. In Portugal, the simple treat often costs about a euro ($1.14) at the more famous shops, but they fetch up to 3 pounds ($4) in trendy London cafes. One grocer, Lidl, boasted of selling 2,000 nata an hour in the U.K. in 2018, competing with doughnuts for popularity.

In Manhattan, chef George Mendes introduced the dessert a year and a half ago at his Michelin-starred, Portuguese-inspired Aldea. Not everyone’s familiar with it—yet. For anyone new to the nata: Don’t use a knife and fork. “You’re supposed to eat it with your hands,” Mendes said. “Preferably with a cup of coffee.” Even Mendes says he’s stunned by the dessert’s meteoric rise.

Less than a decade ago, pasteis de nata—the plural—were languishing in obscurity. Sure, they flourished in pockets of the Portuguese diaspora in places like Newark, New Jersey. Mendes discovered them growing up in Danbury, Connecticut, which has a significant Portuguese community. His mom would bring them home after church from a nearby Portuguese bakery. But as recently as 2012, Portugal’s then-economy minister lamented that they weren’t an internationally known export.

It’s unclear what exactly sparked the boom, but the pastry ticks a few boxes. Culturally, Portugal is a must-try on an international travelers’ bucket list, and budget Lisbon rents are creating a tech hub for millennials priced out of London and New York. The famous, blue-and-white-tiled Pasteis de Belem was made for Instagram bragging, despite being founded in 1837.

The treat also fits into a shift toward more-casual, high-quality food—especially items you can grab and go. Add to that the trend for fad desserts. Looking back, glam cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery or pies from Four & Twenty Blackbirds seem so quaint before people started queuing for the cronut and the Freakshake stormed Instagram. (Incidentally, Mendes and cronut father Dominique Ansel promoted a crossover-egg tart during a limited release two summers ago.)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the nata’s rise is fueled in part by promotion from the government, which sponsors events like the 2018 Nata Festival in London and funds local businesses. Exports of Portuguese specialties, meat and livestock to other European countries topped 1 billion euros in 2016, more than doubling in seven years. In the last three years, the Portuguese government has spent €50 million per year overseas promoting the country and its products.

But there’s also a more unlikely source of promotion: a tiny business called Nata Pura that sought to do for natas what Dunkin Donuts did for doughnuts. Started in 2013, the company has rapidly expanded, helped by a six-figure investment from Portugal Ventures, an investment firm backed by government agencies.

Founder Mabilio de Albuquerque took a page from international brands like McDonald’s and adapted the pastries to local tastes: matcha green tea and passion fruit for Japan; Brie, Camembert and blue cheese for Paris. 

He knew his Portuguese friends would be furious. The original nata made with eggs, flour, milk and butter was sold for centuries without an alteration, and its recipe was feverishly guarded. But de Albuquerque wasn’t trying to please a Portuguese audience. He was creating a brand of nata he could export to the world with his startup Nata Pura from Asia to Europe, to Latin America and eventually the U.S.

Nata Pura wasn’t the first to try to export the pastry, but it was the first to do it in such a methodical way, says Susana Costa e Silva, who teaches the company’s strategy as a case study at Portugal’s Catholic University. The small company—it only had five employees in 2017—hired marketing and branding professionals, something others hadn’t done, and found foreign partners to help fuel expansion.

Nata Pura received enthusiastic reactions at a food fair in London, where de Albuquerque sold it as a luxury but affordable product with a special history. It held pastry tastings and sponsored events like the London Coffee Festival and BBC Good Food.

The company now sells about 500,000 natas a month in 5,000 stores around the world. De Albuquerque says sales are between 1.5 million and 2 million euros a year, and he expects that to double this year. More than a third of their business comes from South Korea, where one of their customers, the CVS chain, will offer them in 12,500 stores.

For now, Mendes thinks he’s the only high-end chef offering it in Manhattan. He says he won’t be surprised if it becomes more common.T