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Conversation 11 April 2018

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Battle over shrine to dead burglar as vigilantes repeatedly tear down tributes while family beg them to ‘have a heart’




A battle between “disgusted” vigilantes and grieving relatives has begun as tributes to an intruder killed in a botched burglary are repeatedly torn down.

Heartbroken friends of Henry Vincent, 37, who was stabbed to death by pensioner Richard Osborn-Brooks after raiding his home believe they have a right to lay flowers 20 yards from the break-in.

But furious supporters of Mr Osborn-Brooks and his disabled wife think a twisted shrine to a man intent on robbing two elderly people is “shameful”.

After flowers have been repeatedly torn down and put back up – family members of Vincent have gone back to the scene to re-assemble the memorial, saying his death deserves to be remembered.

The Met Police said it is aware of the incident and later officers turned up on horses.

Last night, a man using the name ‘Cecil Coley’ on Facebook drove specifically to the site of the memorial in order to destroy it.

Posting on the social media site, he said he was “furious” that flowers, cards and balloons were being tied to a fence outside Mr Osborn-Brooks boarded up home.

And tonight a man arrived at the floral memorial just after 9.30pm to pull down the shrine again.

The hooded man, who refused to be named, removed about half the bouquets as he filmed himself, counting off the bouquets as he hauled them down.

One man said he was ‘taking these s*** flowers down’ (Image: PA)

He said: “I think it’s quite disrespectful actually.”

Asked if he felt bad for the family of the Vincent’s he said: “I do actually. But I feel extra bad for Mr Osborn.

“I am just going to dump the flowers somewhere.”

The man said: “I do feel very strongly about this”.

Around 10.05pm, two women came out and putting all the bouquets upright prior to the vigilante returning.

The women were see cruising the road earlier in a BMW.

How do I find a career mentor?

 

I enjoy sharing my knowledge, but being a leader is about continual learning, and we all need support to thrive. Look for someone in your field who is four to seven years ahead of you: someone you admire, someone who has clearly used a specific strategy to get ahead. It may be a well-known person, or it may be someone at your workplace. Get in touch ask if they have time for coffee and to tell you their story. Prep your meeting by identifying some key areas in your work with which you are struggling, and drop your concerns into the conversation. Do they become animated and excited to help and share, or do they furrow their brow at the pain of having to be of service?

I recently met an incredible ex-newspaper editor and now business adviser, and I wanted to be around her again to learn more. She was forthcoming with her advice, and although she hadn’t built a startup herself, she was passionate about technology. I was sold.

When you find your mentor, let them know clearly what you want, because they are busy. “I’d love you to mentor me, and that means an hour over coffee every other month, so I can share where I am and hear your feedback.” Make it as easy as possible for them. Schedule three meetings in advance, go to wherever they are and turn up prepared. Mentors are usually a progressive bunch and there’s a satisfaction in seeing a younger version of themself in someone and helping to water the seeds of change. Mentees can bring them fresh energy and ideas. My best mentees update me with what they’re up to, and when I give advice, they do the work and come back with progress. Mentoring someone is a joy when you can see them flourish. Be a good mentee, and one day you’ll be a great mentor.

 

Mark Zuckerberg vows to fight election meddling in marathon Senate grilling

Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook chief executive, warned on Tuesday of an online propaganda “arms race” with Russia and vowed that fighting interference in elections around the world is now his top priority.

The 33-year-old billionaire, during testimony that lasted nearly five hours, was speaking to Congress in what was widely seen as a moment of reckoning for America’s tech industry. It came in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which, Facebook has admitted, the personal information of up to 87 million users were harvested without their permission.

Zuckerberg’s comments gave an insight into the unnerving reach and influence of Facebook in numerous democratic societies. “The most important thing I care about right now is making sure no one interferes in the various 2018 elections around the world,” he said under questioning by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico.

The senator made reference to a billboard displayed earlier in the hearing that showed images – including Trump, the Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and the Confederate flag – allegedly spread online by Russian operatives during the 2016 presidential election. He asked if Zuckerberg could guarantee such images would not appear on Facebook again.

“Senator, no, I can’t guarantee that because this is an ongoing arms race,” the CEO said. “As long as there are people sitting in Russia whose job it is to try and interfere with elections around the world, this is going to be an ongoing conflict.”

Earlier in the hearing, Zuckerberg acknowledged that “one of my greatest regrets in running the company” was being slow to uncover and act against disinformation campaigns by Russian trolls during the election.

The blockbuster joint hearing of the US Senate’s commerce and judiciary committees on Capitol Hill was a humbling moment for the young entrepreneur. Wearing a suit, white shirt and sky blue tie instead of his customary T-shirt, he sat contrite and silent as senator after senator expressed deep concerns about the company’s gathering of personal information.

Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, told him: “Let me just cut to the chase. If you and other social media companies do not get your act in order, none of us are going to have any privacy any more. If Facebook and other online companies will not or cannot fix the privacy invasions, then we are going to have to. We, the Congress.”

Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the US Senate commerce, science and transportation committee and Senate judiciary committee. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Senator John Thune, a Republican and the chairman of the Senate commerce committee, noted that Facebook’s business model offers a free service in exchange for personal data. “For this model to persist, both sides of the bargain need to know what’s involved,” he said. “I’m not convinced Facebook’s users have the information they need to make decisions.”

Thune added: “Mr Zuckerberg, in many ways you and the company that you’ve created, the story you’ve created, represent the American dream … At the same time, you have an obligation, and it’s up to you, to ensure that dream doesn’t become a privacy nightmare for the scores of people who use Facebook.”

Zuckerberg and Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, have been on a media apology tour since the Cambridge Analytica story broke in the Observer, the Guardian’s sister Sunday newspaper in the UK, and he continued to apologize several times during Tuesday’s hearing.

Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook should not have trusted Cambridge Analytica’s assurance that it would stop using the personal information it harvested. “In retrospect, that was a mistake. We shouldn’t have taken their word for it. We considered that a closed case.” He admitted that Facebook did not alert the Federal Trade Commission about the data collection.

It’s up to you to ensure that dream doesn’t become a privacy nightmare for the scores of people who use Facebook

 

Retaliation in Syria: what are May’s options?

Theresa May does not currently have a parliamentary mandate to participate in a major military response to Saturday’s chemical weapons attack in Syria, though arguably she has a right to lend limited help to a US assault if Donald Trump chooses to go ahead with such a plan.

In December 2015 British MPs voted by 397 to 233 to give David Cameron’s government a mandate to use military force – short of deploying ground troops – to hit Islamic State targets in Syria, though not to punish Assad’s use of chemical weapons.

Jeremy Corbyn, along with most Labour MPs and the majority of the shadow cabinet, opposed military action, but owing to divisions in the Labour ranks Corbyn was forced to give his MPs a free vote and 66 backed the action, including the then shadow foreign secretary, Hilary Benn.

A specific vote to give British forces sanction to punish Syria for the use of chemical weapons in 2013 was lost, to Cameron’s shock, after Ed Miliband, then Labour leader, challenged the long-term strategy and conditions for the proposed attack.

Some Tory MPs, poorly prepared by government whips, sceptical about the credibility of British intelligence in the wake of the Iraq fiasco and doubtful about the long-term strategy, voted against their own government.

In terms of law, May is not required to consult parliament, but Tony Blair’s decision in 2003 to seek MPs’ support for the Iraq war has set a parliamentary precedent that no prime minister can ignore.

However, there is a grey area about the extent to which May needs to consult parliament if UK support for a US-led assault is merely political or limited to the most symbolic practical acts such as air refuelling of US planes. A non-combat role probably does not require the backing of MPs, but the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, has said the issue has to be tested.

Trump is expected to consult May on Tuesday about his military plans and the extent of practical British support he is seeking. The former foreign secretary William Hague, writing in the Daily Telegraph, urged May to back the US on the basis that chemical weapons cannot be tolerated, or else future conflicts in the coming decades could see “an arms race in chemical agents steadily expanded and legitimised”.

Hague wrote: “If Trump launches serious retaliation he will be fully justified, and we should back him any way we can.”

But there are signs of division within Tory ranks. Bob Seeley, a member of the all-party foreign affairs select committee and an advocate of bombing Syria in 2013, thinks the moment has passed.

He wrote: “While the US bombing the regime makes much moral sense, it makes little strategic sense because the war has already been won [by Assad] and previous bombings have not prevented chemical weapons’ use. Bombing may be right, but it is also gesture politics on a grand scale and with significant potential cost.”

The chair of his committee, TomTugendhat, takes a different view, as does Johnson and most of the key senior cabinet figures.

Typically, debate on the left about British involvement in overseas military action has turned on whether the support has the backing of the UN security council – an issue that preoccupied Blair in 2002 – but Russia has used its veto more than 10 times on Syria, so there is no expectation that the UN would ever be allowed to back a military attack on Assad. Russia and the US cannot as yet even agree on what form of inquiry into the alleged chemical attack should be held.

The UK debate is likely to turn on two issues: the degree to which the Assad regime can be shown to have been involved in the use of chemical weapons in Douma, and whether any military action would be a pointless display of moral outrage rather than a practical step that would deter Assad or others from using chemical weapons in the future.

Since you’re here …

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.

I appreciate there not being a paywall: it is more democratic for the media to be available for all and not a commodity to be purchased by a few. I’m happy to make a contribution so others with less means still have access to information. Thomasine, Sweden

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as €1, you can support the Guardian – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

Senator John Thune

Under questioning, he promised that Facebook was conducting a “full investigation” into every app that has access to users’ information, numbering tens of thousands. “If we find they’re doing anything improper, we’ll ban them from Facebook,” he said.

He also initially claimed that Cambridge Analytica had not been an advertiser in 2015 but, after a brief adjournment in which he consulted with staff, he corrected himself: it had indeed been an advertiser later that year and therefore could have been banned.

When Zuckerberg, who was making his first appearance before Congress, first took his seat, surrounded by a thick forest of clicking cameras, he looked somewhat like a prisoner in the dock. But he seemed to grow in confidence as the afternoon wore on and tried to appear open and cooperative. He frequently used the respectful term “Senator” and complimented them for asking “important questions”, some of which he said “his team” would report back on later.

Some senators tried to throw him off balance. John Kennedy of Louisiana said bluntly: “Your user agreement sucks.” Democrat Dick Durbin asked: “Would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?” There was a long pause before Zuckerberg replied: “No.” There was laughter in the room.

But the Facebook co-founder was not eviscerated as some commentators had predicted. The stock market agreed: Facebook’s price, which had fallen badly in recent weeks, ended the day up 4.5%. Zuckerberg evidently felt he was acquitting himself well. When Thune asked if he wanted a break after nearly two hours in the spotlight, the witness said: “We can do a few more.” He turned and smiled at his team and there was laughter in the public gallery.

Zuckerberg: Facebook believed Cambridge Analytica deleted private data – video

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal then almost gave him cause to regret it. He challenged Facebook’s contention that Aleksandr Kogan, a Moldovan-born researcher from Cambridge University, deceived the company when he harvested user data. Blumenthal had what he claimed was a previously undisclosed 2014 terms of service document that explicitly permitted Kogan to “sell, licence (by whatever means and on whatever terms) and archive your contribution and data”.

Blumenthal said: “We’ve seen the apology tours before. You have refused to acknowledge even an ethical violation to report this violation of the FTC consent decree. My reservation about your testimony today is that I don’t see how you can change your business model unless there are specific rules of the road. Your business model is to maximise profit over privacy.”

Several topics dominated the hearing, including the 2016 presidential election. Zuckerberg confirmed that Facebook officials have been interviewed by officials from the special counsel Robert Mueller, who has been investigating Russia’s role in meddling in the 2016 election. “I know we are working with them,” said Zuckerberg, acknowledging that “there may be” a subpoena but he was uncertain.

Regulation was also brought up repeatedly, including by the Republican senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, who asked Zuckerberg whether Facebook was a monopoly. “It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me,” he replied, prompting mirth in the public gallery. Graham pressed him on the issue of regulation. Zuckerberg said: “My position is not that there should be no regulation.”

Asked if Facebook would therefore embrace regulation, the CEO said: “If it’s the right regulation, then yes.” Graham: “Would you work with us?” Zuckerberg: “Absolutely.”

Senator John Cornyn pushed him on whether Facebook is a neutral platform. Zuckerberg replied, “I agree that we are responsible for the content” – a significant concession that could open the way for Facebook to be held to the same legal standards as a traditional media company.

Zuckerberg will face a second grilling on Wednesday from the US House energy and commerce committee.

Since you’re here …

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.

I appreciate there not being a paywall: it is more democratic for the media to be available for all and not a commodity to be purchased by a few. I’m happy to make a contribution so others with less means still have access to information. Thomasine, Sweden

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as €1, you can support the Guardian – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

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