A Vengeful and Shortsighted Act

It is hard to imagine how this would coax the Palestinians to offer more concessions in a negotiation with Israel. What they see is that the United States under Mr. Trump has embraced the views of Israeli right-wing nationalists and tried to take two of their most important negotiating issues — the status of Jerusalem, which Mr. Trump undermined by announcing late last year that the United States embassy would be moved to Jerusalem, and now the right of return — off the table.

Through all the decades of peace negotiations, the Palestinians had believed that the United States, dedicated to Israel’s security, was the only power that could fairly mediate with Israel on their behalf. Mr. Trump has abdicated this leadership role, risking a humanitarian disaster and renewed violence.

Facebook Only Cares About Facebook

Whatever Mark Zuckerberg says about human community or his legacy, his company is acting in its own interests—and against the public good.

Facebook’s crushing blow to independent media arrived last fall in Slovakia, Cambodia, Guatemala, and three other nations.The social giant removed stories by these publishers from users’ news feeds, hiding them in a new, hard-to-find stream. These independent publishers reported that they lost as much as 80 percent of their audience during this experiment.Facebook doesn’t care. At least, it usually seems that way… the company is now going ahead with similar changes to its news feed globally. These changes will likely de-prioritize stories from professional publishers, and instead favor dispatches published by a user’s friends and family. .. Many American news organizations will see the sharp traffic declines their brethren in other nations experienced last year—unless they pay Facebook to include their stories in readers’ feeds.

.. People say they’re interested in a broad range of news from different political preferences, but Facebook knows they really want angry, outraged articles that confirm political prejudices... Publishers in Slovakia and in the United States may warn of damage to democracy if Facebook readers receive less news, but Facebook knows people will be perfectly happy—perfectly engaged—with more posts from friends and families instead.

.. When people choose to subscribe to reliable news sources, they’re asking to go to the gym. With these newsfeed changes, Facebook threw out your gym shoes and subscribed you to a donut delivery service. Why do 2 billion people put up with a service that patronizingly reminds them that it’s designed for their well being, while it studiously ignores our stated preferences?
.. I think the only way Facebook will listen to people’s expressed preferences is if people start building better alternatives.
.. Right now, Facebook chooses what stories should top your news feed, optimizing for “engagement” and “time well spent.”
..Instead of telling Facebook what it should do, people should build tools that let them view the world the way they choose. If regulators force Facebook and other platforms to police news quality, they’ll give more control to a platform that’s already demonstrated its disinterest editorial judgment. A better path would be to force all platforms to adopt two simple rules:
  1. Users own their own data, including the content they create and the web of relationships they’ve built online. And they can take this data with them from one platform to another, or delete it from an existing platform.
  2. Users can view platforms like Facebook through an aggregator, a tool that lets you read social media through your own filters, like Gobo.
.. it either needs to learn to listen to its users stated desires, or it needs to make room for platforms that do.

Justin Trudeau, Facing Pressure to Oppose Donald Trump, Opts to Get Along

He recruited political opponents with ties to Washington and Mr. Trump, notably Brian Mulroney, the former Progressive Conservative prime minister who has a house near Mr. Trump’s in Palm Beach, Fla., for the cause. Mr. Trudeau promoted Chrystia Freeland, the international trade minister, to minister of foreign affairs and set one priority above all else for her: to “maintain constructive relations with the United States.”

.. Mr. Trudeau has been under pressure at home to be the world’s voice against a president who has already insulted or belittled an array of nations. Those Canadians are likely to be disappointed.

Mr. Trudeau may feel he has little choice. Canada is too closely entwined with its immense neighbor — economically, militarily, diplomatically and in countless other ways — to risk the development of serious friction.

.. he and his cabinet ministers have been careful not to criticize Mr. Trump directly. It is a situation that faces the leaders of other American allies, but none have nearly as much to lose as Canada does — and none may have a leader as completely opposite to Mr. Trump in manner and belief.

.. At news conferences, Mr. Trudeau, who describes himself as a feminist, is often asked if Mr. Trump is a misogynist. His response is always similar. “It is not the job of a Canadian prime minister to opine on the American electoral process,” Mr. Trudeau said last month in Calgary, Alberta. “It is the job of the Canadian prime minister to have a constructive working relationship with the president of the United States.”

.. On Thursday, Ms. Freeland received a call from Rex W. Tillerson during his first day on the job as secretary of state.

.. Last month Mr. Trudeau’s cabinet met with Stephen A. Schwarzman, the co-founder and chief executive of the Blackstone Group

.. After the meeting, Mr. Schwarzman offered soothing words. “Canada is held in very high regard,” he said. “We have balanced trade between the U.S. and Canada, and that’s not the kind of situation where you should be worrying.”

.. Ms. Freeland said that by her count, 11 substantial changes had already been made to Nafta.

.. Mr. Trudeau’s government may have to weigh protecting its trade relationship with the United States against standing up for Mexico’s free-trade status — and implicitly its support of the principle of open commerce.

If it comes down to that, Mr. Higginbotham predicts that Canada will abandon Mexico “in a minute.”

.. They regularly remind governors, mayors and members of Congress that Canada is the largest export market for 38 American states, making free trade in America’s best interest as well.

.. Already it is working to quash proposals to require Canadians to give fingerprints or undergo facial recognition scans every time they enter or leave the United States. With more than 400,000 people crossing that border daily, Canada fears that could cause cross-border travel gridlock and hamper trade.

The Death of ‘He Said, She Said’ Journalism

What made it extraordinary was the way the Times covered it.

.. Traditionally, when a political candidate assembles facts so as to aggrandize himself and belittle his opponent, “objective” journalists like those at the Times respond with a “he said, she said” story.

.. “Bush and Cheney Talk Strongly of Qaeda Links With Hussein,” noted a Timesheadline on June 18, 2004. Why were Bush and Cheney raising the subject? Because the day before, the 9/11 Commission had reported that Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda did not have a “collaborative relationship.” Nonetheless, the Times reported Bush’s claims and Kerry’s response as equally valid. Bush himself had helped create the Commission to provide an authoritative, nonpartisan account of the events leading up to 9/11. Yet the Times refused to grant its view any more weight than Bush’s own. It refused to render any judgment about what was true.

.. But the Times, once a champion practitioner of the “he said, she said” campaign story, discarded it with astonishing bluntness. The Times responded to Trump’s press conference by running a “News Analysis,” a genre that gives reporters more freedom to explain a story’s significance.

.. Its headline read, “Trump Gives Up a Lie But Refuses to Repent.” Not “falsehood,” which leaves open the possibility that Trump was merely mistaken, but “lie,” which suggests, accurately, that Trump had every reason to know that what he was saying about Obama’s citizenship was false.

.. A certain etiquette has long governed the relationship between presidential candidates and the elite media. Candidates stretch the truth, but try not to be too blatant about it. Candidates appeal to bigotry, but subtly. In turn, journalists respond with a delicacy of their own. They quote partisans rather than saying things in their own words. They use euphemisms like “polarizing” and “incendiary,” instead of “racist” and “demagogic.”

.. He has so brazenly lied, so nakedly appealed to bigotry, and so frontally challenged the rule of law that he has made the elite media’s decorum absurd. He’s turned highbrow journalists into referees in a World Wrestling Entertainment match.

.. Since Trump has largely stopped giving interviews to anyone except campaign sycophants and celebrity lightweights, the debates may serve as his last encounter with actual journalists. Those journalists—Lester Holt, Martha Raddatz, Anderson Cooper and Chris Wallace—must be prepared to confront Trump in ways they’ve never confronted a candidate before. The more audaciously he lies, the more audaciously they must tell the truth.