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Mr. Zuckerberg goes to Washington

PHOTO BY PAUL K. SCHWARTZI recently had the opportunity to attend the Senate's combined hearing by its Judiciary and Commerce Committees, during which Facebook owner and creator Mark Zuckerberg fielded some five hours of questions.
Clearly the concern of the some 42 senators was user privacy and the protection of personal information in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the personal information of some 87 million Facebook users was improperly taken and used for unauthorized political purposes during the 2016 presidential election.
While a comparison was made by some Republican senators to the voter targeting done during the Obama presidential campaigns, the difference here is the deliberate flood of misinformation done by Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 Trump campaign.
Certainly user privacy and the protection of personal data are a concern of major proportions. Facebook is an enormously large company with over $40 billion in annual income, more than 25,000 employees and more than 2 billion monthly active users.
However, as I listened to the testimony I couldn't help but think that the true overarching issue is more than privacy; it is responsibility. What is the responsibility of platform providers to manage the content of those platforms?

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Hundreds visit the memories of an American Hero

  • Published in Local

Visitors line up early to visit John Glenn’s former home in Bethesda.  PHOTO BY MIKE CLARKVisitors line up early for the estate sale of the late John Glenn at his former home in Bethesda.  PHOTO BY MIKE CLARK  POTOMAC — It was more than an estate sale – for those who visited the late John Glenn’s home last weekend, it was a chance to connect with an American hero and icon and pay their respects.

Several people who attended the estate sale in the home of military pilot-turned-astronaut-turned-U.S.senator John Glenn Friday said the sale was a special way to connect with American history.

A queue of people extended from the front doorstep past the end of the driveway and into the street. Estate sale workers allowed 20 prospective patrons in the house at a time.

Inside, a chandelier hung from the tall foyer ceiling and a staircase with a light-colored, wooden railing leading to the second floor. Natural light from windows on the front of the house and from glass doors between the kitchen and back deck also brightened the foyer. To the left of the foyer was a table and chairs, seeming to signify a dining room. In the kitchen, the counter was covered with a mixture of plates, dishes and bowls for sale.

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Independent Neal Simon to challenge Cardin in U.S. Senate race

  • Published in State

Potomac businessman Neal Simon, an independent, announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate race Tuesday, challenging incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin (D).  PHOTO BY GLYNIS KAZANJIANIndependent candidate Neal Simon announces his bid for the U.S. Senate, challenging incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin (D).          PHOTO BY GLYNIS KAZANJIAN  A Potomac businessman fed up with partisan politics and a divided country entered the U.S. Senate race this week, backed by a national independent grassroots organization determined to break up the gridlock in Washington by robbing both political parties of their majority.

Bronfman Rothschild CEO and Principal Neal Simon announced his candidacy, after a short exploratory period, in a boutique hotel Tuesday in downtown Rockville, surrounded by about 50 of his friends, family and supporters.

“I’m here today because I believe we should have elected officials who put the best interests of their country ahead of the best interests of their political party,” Simon said. “We are forced to watch as our parties selfishly chip away at our sense of community to drag us deeper into debt without addressing our society’s key economic and social problems.

“Our leaders have stopped working together, stopped listening to each other and they’ve stopped listening to the concerns of working people,” Simon said. “We have a country where Congress works on behalf of special interests while failing to invest in the future of our children.

“This has to change, but it won’t change, it will never change, if we keep electing the same people from the same two parties year after year, over and over again,” Simon said to applause.

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Government shutdown ends, but Feb. 8 deadline looms large

  • Published in Local

A 69-hour government shutdown ended Monday after Senate Democrats agreed to vote for a funding bill that will keep the federal government open until Feb. 8.

The shutdown that ended Monday began at midnight Friday when the previous funding bill, passed at the last minute in late December, expired without a replacement. 

While a continuing resolution on Friday to fund the government passed the House, Senate Democrats – who hoped to use the funding deadline to leverage a deal to provide legal status for several million so-called “Dreamers” who were brought to the country illegally as children – voted against the House bill. But Congressional Republicans and the White House refused to negotiate on immigration during a shutdown, having accused Democrats of prioritizing the needs of noncitizens who are living in the U.S. illegally over the needs of American citizens, sick children and the military.

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Democrats and politicians weigh in on Manning run for Senate

  • Published in State

Chelsea ManningChelsea Manning           FILE PHOTO  Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst convicted of leaking a trove of classified information to WikiLeaks in 2010, has filed for candidacy as a Democrat in the U.S. Senate race in Maryland.

Manning filed paperwork on Jan. 11 at 3:02 p.m. under the committee name, “Chelsea Manning for U.S. Senate,” according to the Federal Election Commission. She will face two-term incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin in the June 26 primary election.

A controversial figure who leaked classified information to WikiLeaks, Manning was arrested in 2010 on numerous counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917. She served seven years of a 35-year sentence in a military prison before being granted clemency by then-President Barack Obama as one of the final acts of his presidency before the end of his term in January 2017.

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Chelsea Manning files to run for US Senate Maryland seat

  • Published in Local

Chelsea Manning.  COURTESY PHOTOChelsea Manning. COURTESY PHOTOChelsea Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst convicted of leaking a trove of classified information to WikiLeaks in 2010, has filed for candidacy in the U.S. Senate race in Maryland, according to online Federal Election Commission records.

Manning, a controversial figure who is seen by some as a hero to the U.S. and as an enemy by others, served seven years of a 35-year sentence in a military prison before being granted clemency by then-President Barack Obama as one of his final acts before the end of his term in January 2017.

Conservative blog Red Maryland first reported on the FEC filing.

According to FEC online records, Manning filed candidacy paperwork on Jan. 11 at 3:02 p.m. under the committee name, “Chelsea Manning for U.S. Senate.”

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Senate urges independent Metro inspector

metro logoWASHINGTON — Members of the Senate committee overseeing the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Administration said in a letter sent last week to WMATA CEO Paul Wiedefeld they are concerned the agency’s Office of Inspector General lacks the independence necessary to do its job properly.

“WMATA’s apparent control over the OIG appears to limit the OIG’s ability to act independently and may ultimately hinder effective oversight and transparency of the agency,” wrote Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who serve as the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The senators’ letter came after WMATA Inspector General Geoffrey Cherrington informed them that the transit agency has implemented policies that have hampered his office’s independence.

Of particular concern to Johnson and McCaskill was the revelation that the WMATA OIG lacks its own IT department and its own computer systems. This, Cherrington noted, has allowed WMATA’s IT department to install keystroke logging software on OIG computers in the past, and could still allow WMATA’s IT administrators to keep tabs on current investigations.

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Van Hollen, Raskin Win!

  • Published in Local

John Sarbanes and John Delaney also win as Democrats roll statewide

Election Night 2016-0116 editedJamie Raskin celebrates his win in the race for Congressional District 8. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER 

Montgomery County voters overwhelmingly backed all available Democratic congressional candidates Tuesday, turning out strong for Sen.-elect Chris Van Hollen, Reps. John Sarbanes (D-3) and John Delaney (D-6) and Rep.-elect Jamie Raskin (D-8).

Next door in Prince George’s County, former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) resurrected his political career two years after losing the 2014 gubernatorial race by winning the open fourth congressional district.

Van Hollen won 74.8 percent of the vote with 99 percent of precincts counted, Sarbanes won 72.4 percent of the vote with 92 percent of the precincts counted, Delaney won 68.5 percent of the vote with 97 percent of precincts counted and Raskin won 74 percent of the vote with 98 percent of the precincts counted.

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