Facebook data misuse whistleblower speaks; Russia says expect expulsions

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  • Christopher Wylie testifies at Westminster – Whistleblower Christopher Wylie gave evidence to a UK parliamentary committee over data misuse involving his former employer, Cambridge Analytica, and Facebook. Wylie described the practices of Cambridge Analytica in countries around the world as “an example of what modern-day colonialism looks like.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was summoned to appear but declined the committee’s request and will send one of his senior executives next month instead. (WikiTribune is covering the testimony here.)
  • Russia to respond to diplomat expulsions – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told news agency Tass that the Kremlin will not tolerate the “obnoxious” expulsion of over 100 Russian diplomats by Western countries in the international crisis over a nerve agent attack in Britain. A total of 23 countries expelled Russian diplomats suspected of being undeclared intelligence agents on March 26. U.S. President Donald J. Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats, and Lavrov accused Washington of blackmailing other countries into following suit. Russia denies involvement in the attack on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter on March 4, and promised to retaliate against the expulsions. (Read WikiTribune’s report on this developing story.)
  • Protest against Russian officials over Siberian fire – Thousands of people are protesting and demanding the resignation of local officials (Al Jazeera) in the Siberian city of Kemerovo over a mall fire that killed at least 64 people, including 41 children. Protestors rallied outside the government headquarters demanding that officials be sacked for the shortcomings in public safety. Some chanted “Putin resign!” reported the BBC. According to Russia’s independent Interfax news agency, protestors said they did not believe the official version of events and that the death toll must be higher than 64.
  • Kim Jong-un reportedly visited Beijing – There have been widespread reports and speculation that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited Beijing on Monday. Bloomberg cited three anonymous sources saying Kim has taken his first trip abroad since becoming leader in 2011, while footage carried by Japanese broadcaster Nippon showed a train arriving in the Chinese capital that resembled one used by predecessor Kim Jong-il in 2011. Reuters reported the train left Beijing on Tuesday and reported an unnamed source saying that a senior North Korean official had visited Beijing. Kim is expected to meet President Trump some time before May in the first summit between leaders of the two countries.
  • Tesla stock drops after car crash – A Tesla Model X capable of driving autonomously was involved in a three car collision in California today resulting in the death of the driver. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board announced it will investigate the crash, triggering a 8 percent drop in Tesla stock value. It is unknown whether the car was in “Autopilot” during the collision. If it was, it will have been the third roadside fatality while self-driving technology was employed. In May 2016, a Tesla driver was struck and killed by a truck while in autonomous mode


  • Siberian fire due to “criminal negligence” – Russian President Vladimir Putin says the fire which killed 64 people at a mall in Siberia was caused by “criminal negligence.” Putin attended the scene in Kemerovo, Siberia where he lamented the “sloppiness” of how the incident was dealt with. Investigators say the fire alarm was switched off and exits were blocked when the fire started on Sunday. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

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  • Soccer clubs, luxury apartments, and stock exchange investments are among the UK business interests of wealthy Russians that could be targeted if the government wants to add to diplomatic tactics over the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy. Experts told WikiTribune that British regulators could enforce rules already in place without new measures if they wanted to send a message to Putin and his allies.

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  • Thousands of Syrian rebel fighters and civilians are being bussed from Eastern Ghouta after two rebel groups reached a withdrawal deal with the Syrian government. The enclave is close to the capital, Damascus, and residents – who have lived under siege for five years – have suffered intense bombardment by Russian-backed Syrian government forces in recent weeks. Here, the BBC brings viewers images of those civilians evacuating what the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has described as “hell on Earth.”

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