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Mark Zuckerberg says ‘we’re in arms race with Russia’ as he testifies to committee



Facebook is in an arms race with Russia, its CEO told senators as he faced questions about a huge data breach and election meddling.

Mark Zuckerberg appeared before senators in Washington DC after as many as 87m users of the social network had their data used by Cambridge Analytica, a firm working on the Trump 2016 election campaign.

The 33-year-old took the blame for the massive data breach, and said that the company had failed to understand the tools could be used for harm as well as good.

Mark Zuckerberg appears before Congress

In full: Zuckerberg’s opening statement to Congress

Although he faced little direct questioning about the potential role of Russia in the election meddling, he did claim he was in an “arms race” with the nation.

Mr Zuckerberg said that Facebook believes that it is “entirely possible” that the individuals whose data was improperly obtained by Cambridge Analytica could have been used by the Kremlin-linked troll factory, the Internet Research Agency, to attempt to influence the US Presidential election in 2016.

He said: “There are people in Russia whose job it is to try to exploit our systems and other internet systems and other systems as well.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addresses senators on Tuesday
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addresses senators on Tuesday

“So this is an arms race.

“They’re going to keep getting better at this, and we need to invest in making sure we keep getting better at this too.

“Which is why we are going to have more than 20,000 people by the end of this year working on security and content review across the company.”

He later added: “As long as there are people in Russia whose job it is to interfere with elections around the world, this is going to be an on-going conflict.”

:: How to check if your Facebook data was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 09: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (C) leaves the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) after meeting with Feinstein on Capitol Hill on April 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. Zuckerberg is meeting with individual senators in advance of tomorrow's scheduled hearing before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committeees. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Zuckerberg: ‘We made a lot of mistakes’

Facebook deleted tens of thousands of fake accounts and will investigate tens of thousands of apps that use the platform to identify any other potential breaches.

Mr Zuckerberg frequently admitted to making mistakes, including not informing users as soon as they knew about the data breach.

Senators mostly focused their lines of questioning on privacy, and how Facebook uses and looks after the data it takes from its users.

Sen John Kennedy told Mr Zuckerberg “your user agreement sucks” and Sen Dick Durbin asked if the Facebook CEO would share details of the hotel room in he was staying in.

Mr Zuckerberg answered: “Senator, no, I would probably not choose to share that here.”

:: Mark Zuckerberg’s mea culpa and the generation gap

Mark Zuckerberg (L) speaks with Senator John Thune (C), R-SD, and Senator Chuck Grassley (R)
Mark Zuckerberg (L) speaks with Senator John Thune (C), R-SD, and Senator Chuck Grassley (R)

Sen Durbin said: “I think that maybe is what this is about. Your right to privacy, the limits of your right to privacy, and how much you give away in modern America in the name of quote ‘Connecting people around the world’.”

Mr Zuckerberg was also challenged about Facebook’s claim it was deceived by a university researcher when he sold user data to Cambridge Analytica. Aleksandr Kogan’s ability to do so was in fact signed off by Facebook in its contract with him.

Senator Richard Blumenthal showed the terms of service that Mr Kogan provided on a large placard and said “Facebook was on notice that he could sell that information. Have you seen these terms of service before?”

Mr Zuckerberg said he had not seen them, and they were the responsibility of the app review team.

Sen Blumenthal asked: “Has anyone been fired from that app review team?”

Mr Zuckerberg replied that no one had been dismissed.

Facebook’s shares are down 11% since the news of the breach, though wider recovery in the markets helped them bounce back by 4.5% today.

The breach has not severely impacted user figures however, despite a ‘delete Facebook’ movement on other social networks.

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Australia condemns Qatari authorities over ‘grossly disturbing’ strip-searches | World News



Australia has condemned Qatari authorities over “grossly disturbing” reports that women were subjected to invasive strip-searches before a flight from Doha to Sydney.

The women, including 13 Australians, were searched in an ambulance after a newborn baby was found abandoned in a terminal toilet at Hamad International Airport on 2 October.

Australia’s foreign affairs department described the treatment of the group as inappropriate and beyond circumstances in which they could give free and informed consent.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne at the State Department
Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne looks on as she meets with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department in Washington, U.S., July 27, 2020. REUTERS/Al Drago
Australia’s foreign minister Marise Payne said the events were ‘disturbing’

“This is a grossly, grossly disturbing, offensive, concerning set of events,” foreign minister Marise Payne said.

“It’s not something that I’ve ever heard of occurring in my life, in any context.

“We have made our views very clear to the Qatari authorities on this matter.”

Australia will await a report from the Qatari government before they determine the next steps, Ms Payne said.

Hamad international airport management said the baby was safe and being cared for by medical and social workers.

Medical professionals were concerned for the mother’s health after the infant was found and had requested she be located, the airport said in a statement.

“Individuals who had access to a specific area of the airport where the newborn infant was found were asked to assist in the query,” the statement added.

The women were taken off the delayed Qatar Airways flight and examined in an ambulance parked on the tarmac, Australia’s seven network news reported.

Wolfgang Babeck, who was returning home to Australia on the flight, said women were taken from the plane regardless of their age.

“When the women came back, many of them or probably all of them were upset. One of them was in tears, a younger woman, and people couldn’t believe what had happened,” Mr Babeck told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“They told me they had to take their underwear off or their clothes from the bottom and then it was inspected whether they had given birth.”

State-owned Qatar Airways told Guardian Australia it had not been contacted by any of the passengers on the flight and said it could not comment.

“We appreciate the concerns and distress expressed to you by the Australian passengers who you have spoken to and will be investigating these matters with relevant authorities and officials,” a spokeswoman said.

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Belarus: Nationwide strike looms after stun grenades used against protesters | World News



Police in Belarus have fired stun grenades to disperse protesters ahead of a nationwide strike called by opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.

Ms Tikhanovskaya, who is in exile in neighbouring Lithuania, had previously set out a “people’s ultimatum” for President Alexander Lukashenko to step down by Sunday night, pledging industrial action if that did not happen.

“The regime once again showed Belarusians that force is the only thing it is capable of,” she said.

Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya participates in a demonstration organized by Friends of Belarus in Copenhagen, Denmark October 23, 2020. Emil Helms/ Ritzau Scanpix/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. DENMARK OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN DENMARK.
Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has called for a general strike

“That’s why tomorrow, 26 October, a national strike will begin.”

Belarusians have been protesting each weekend since Mr Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, won a presidential election on 9 August.

Opposition politicians claim the ballot was rigged, and the president’s main opponents have either joined Ms Tikhanovskaya in exile or been jailed.

Tens of thousands again took to the streets of the capital Minsk on Sunday.

Explosions and white smoke were seen amid the white and red flags of the opposition movement.

Protesters have been on the streets since the disputed election in August
Protesters have been on the streets since the disputed election in August
People attend an opposition rally to reject the Belarusian presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus October 25, 2020. BelaPAN via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT.
It was the 11th straight weekend of protests in Belarus following the election. Pic: BelAPN

A dozen metro stations were closed, and there were reports of mobile phone internet connections not working.

According to human rights group Vesna-96, at least 216 people were detained on Sunday.

A government spokesperson said an official figure would not be available until the morning.

The US, EU, UK and Canada have all imposed sanctions on the Lukashenko regime.

FILE PHOTO: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko speaks at the forum of Union of Women in Minsk, Belarus September 17, 2020. Tut.By via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT/File Photo
Alexander Lukashenko has ruled Belarus for more than 25 years. Pic: Tut.By

In return, he has accused western countries of interfering in the internal affairs of Belarus.

In a telephone call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday, Mr Lukashenko said Belarus and Russia were ready to respond to external threats.

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New invention will help astronauts jump in zero gravity to maintain bone density in space | UK News



Astronauts can lose as much as 10% of bone density during six months in space, according to NASA, because there’s no gravity for their body to push against.

To offset the effect, they exercise for two hours a day, at least six days a week. But a London engineer says a machine he invented could reduce those gruelling workouts to just six minutes a day, by enabling astronauts to jump in zero gravity.

“It allows a person, when they’re repeatedly jumping, to load their skeletal system, their bones then start to lay down more bone density and more to the point prevent astronauts losing their bone density and muscle mass,” inventor John Kennett, who used to work on the Concorde aircraft programme, says.

New equipment could cut time needed for astronauts to exercise by 95%
The new equipment could cut the time needed for astronauts to spend exercising by 95%. Pic: Leo Wilkinson Photography

“Nothing exists like this at the moment. Jumping is really important for helping to build bone density and muscle mass, but jumping in zero gravity is very difficult,” he adds.

His High Frequency Impulse for Microgravity machine has won grants from the UK and European Space Agencies.

New equipment could cut time needed for astronauts to exercise by 95% with inventor John Kennett
John Kennett hopes to see the device taken aboard a mission by 2024. Pic: Leo Wilkinson Photography

Experts say the key advantage is that it is a single device that could replace several which astronauts currently use, which could be crucial in long, deep space missions where every inch of the craft will be packed with supplies and equipment.

“We’re not going to have the room or the mass or the ability to bring different exercise devices there,” says Libby Jackson, human exploration programme manager at the UK Space Agency.

New equipment could cut time needed for astronauts to exercise by 95% with inventor John Kennett
Mr Kennett using his new invention. Pic: Leo Wilkinson Photography

“The machine that John has designed excited me because when I looked at it I could see that it had the potential to combine the cardio and the muscle conditioning that’s needed for astronauts to stay fit and healthy in a small footprint,” she adds.

Former NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao says that keeping fit in space is central to ensuring a successful recovery back on Earth, but he would welcome shorter workouts which could free up those on board to have more time for their core duties.

“We’d like to use as much of the time as possible for research work and of course there are maintenance repairs logistics work that has to be done as well, so two hours a day for exercise is a pretty big overhead,” he adds.

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Mr Kennett says his machine has different settings so that it works equally well for both men and women.

King’s College London aerospace physiology PHD student Tess Morris-Paterson, who is one of those testing the device, says the short, intense workout gives her a full body benefit.

“When you’re jumping on this you can really feel it from your toes right through your shoulders, your bone mineral density right through your ankle, your knees, your hips, right through your spine as well, and from a muscular perspective you can really feel it working almost everything really,” she says.

Next year, Mr Kennett’s team will test the machine on board a zero-gravity flight.

He hopes to see it in use on a space mission in 2024.

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