Shkreli apologizes for Hillary Clinton post, calling it ‘poor judgment’

Martin Shkreli apologized to a federal judge and asked her not to revoke his bail for offering money to anyone who could grab a lock of Hillary Clinton’s hair.

“I wanted to personally apologize to this court and my lawyers for the aggravation that my recent postings have caused,” Shkreli wrote in a letter to Judge Kiyo Matsumoto.

Shkreli was convicted of fraud last month for misleading investors. He is scheduled to attend a hearing Wednesday afternoon on a request by prosecutors to revoke his bail because of what he said about Clinton.

“I understand now, that some may have read my comments about Mrs. Clinton as threatening, when that was never my intention when making those comments,” Shkreli wrote in the letter, filed Tuesday. “I used poor judgment but never intended to cause alarm or promote any act of violence whatsoever.”

In a Facebook post Sept. 4, Shkreli promoted a conspiracy theory about the Clinton Foundation and offered money for a lock of Clinton’s hair. Prosecutors called the post part of “an escalating pattern of threats and harassment.” They said it triggered an investigation by the Secret Service.

Shkreli later edited the post to say it was “satire” and then removed it altogether. He noted in his letter to the judge that he had followed it up with another post saying that he was not encouraging assault.

“It never occurred to me that my awkward attempt at humor or satire would cause Mrs. Clinton or the Secret Service any distress,” Shkreli wrote in his letter to the judge. “I want to assure Your Honor that I am not a violent person, have never personally engaged in any violent behavior, nor have I ever intentionally encouraged anyone to do so.”

In a separate letter to the judge, Brafman said the posting shouldn’t be considered a threat.

“While Mr. Shkreli’s comments were tasteless to many, they were not made in a threatening manner,” Brafman said.

Shkreli, a former portfolio manager and pharmaceutical executive, was convicted on Aug. 4 of two counts of fraud and one count of conspiracy for misrepresenting the financial state of his hedge funds to investors. The top charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years. A sentencing date has not been set.

Shkreli, 34, is best known for jacking up the price of Daraprim, a drug used by AIDS and transplant patients, to $750 a pill from $13.50 while he was CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals in 2015.

But that had nothing to do with the fraudulent behavior that led to his conviction. His lawyer took great pains to try to insulate the jury from the caustic reputation of Shkreli, who smirked his way through a congressional hearing last year while pleading the Fifth and tweeting that lawmakers were “imbeciles.”

Related: Shkreli convicted of securities fraud, conspiracy

His antics continued in court. The judge chastised him for entering a room reserved for reporters unaccompanied by his lawyer, where he dismissed his prosecutors as “junior varsity.” He also maintained an active presence on social media throughout the trial, where he offered commentary about the proceedings. Prosecutors also mentioned his online harassment of a Teen Vogue editor in January, which got him kicked off Twitter.

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Zuckerberg protests DACA decision on Facebook Live

Mark Zuckerberg is leveraging Facebook to protest President Donald Trump’s repeal of DACA.

The CEO took to Facebook Live for 45 minutes on Wednesday to stream a conversation in his home with three undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.

Zuckerberg repeated his earlier condemnation of Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which allowed recipients known as “Dreamers” to live, work and study in the U.S. without fear of deportation. Congress now has six months to develop a legislative solution.

“To offer the American Dream to people, and then to take it away and punish people for trusting their government and coming out of the shadows … is one of the most troubling things I think I’ve seen a long time in our country,” he said.

In a Facebook post Tuesday, he called the move “particularly cruel.”

Trump’s Justice Department rescinded DACA on Tuesday, saying it amounted to constitutional overreach by the Obama administration, which implemented it.

Zuckerberg acknowledged the complexities of immigration policy, but said he believes DACA is “the most clear cut” of all immigration issues.

He then gave the Dreamers present time to share their individual stories.

Two — Leezia Dhalla and Maria Praeli — work for, an immigration advocacy organization that Zuckerberg founded alongside other tech leaders. The third person featured, Tomas Evangelista, works at the California-based Latino Leadership Council.

Zuckerberg did not talk about any Facebook employees that may be affected or plans to support these individuals.

Facebook declined to comment about any Dreamers it employs.

Zuckerberg encouraged his millions of Facebook followers to have a sense of “urgency” and to petition Congress to take action.

“What I think really needs to happen is the majority of people need to say, ‘Hey, this is not only something that I want to see happen, but is something that needs to happen now,'” he said. “Because if it doesn’t happen, then people’s lives are going to be put at risk.”

He mentioned that Microsoft came out on Tuesday and said Congress should prioritize legislation to preserve DACA over tax reform, an issue around which the business community has been rallying.

Zuckerberg did not say specifically whether Facebook plans to lobby for the same approach, but said he recognized the need to make “trade offs.”

“It would be just a massive setback — both morally, socially and economically — if we fail to deliver on this,” he said.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, showed her support for Zuckerberg and the Dreamers he spoke with in a comment.

“Leezia, Maria, and Tomas — thank you for sharing your stories. Like everyone who’s watching today, I’m so inspired by your courage and resilience. You represent the best of our country,” she said.

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Miami-Dade County judge’s Facebook friendship doesn’t require recusal

A Facebook friendship doesn’t necessarily constitute a real friendship, so says a South Florida appellate court.

Miami-Dade County Judge Beatrice Butchko doesn’t need to recuse herself because an attorney involved in a case in her courtroom is a Facebook friend, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday.

In a 10-page opinion, the court ruled that Facebook data mining and algorithms lead to people accepting friend requests from people whom they hardly know or with whom they are acquainted in professional circles.

“To be sure, some of a member’s Facebook ‘friends’ are undoubtedly friends in the classic sense of a person for whom the member feels particular affection and loyalty,” the judges ruled. “The point is, however, many are not.”

The court cites a 2012 case involving a Temple University student who didn’t know he was a Facebook “friend” with another student he was accused of assaulting because he had more than 1,000 Facebook friends.

A North Miami law firm petitioned the court to have Butchko removed from presiding over a contract dispute against the United Services Automobile Association because her former bench colleague and Facebook friend, Israel Reyes, appeared before her as an attorney.

“Because a ‘friend’ on a social networking website is not necessarily a friend in the traditional sense of the word, we hold that the mere fact that a judge is a Facebook ‘friend’ with a lawyer for a potential party or witness, without more, does not provide a basis for a well-grounded fear that the judge cannot be impartial or that the judge is under the influence of the Facebook ‘friend,'” the judges said.

But the fight over Facebook friendship continues. An appellate court in West Palm Beach has ruled to the contrary. That means the question over the true meaning of social media friendship could eventually be decided by the Florida Supreme Court.

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Trump condemns Charlottesville violence, but faces criticism from both sides

President Donald Trump condemned hate “on many sides” in response to violent white nationalist protests and a terror attack Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” Trump said during a short statement from his private golf club in New Jersey. “It has been going on for a long time in our country — not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.”

The President did not mention white nationalists and the alt-right movement in his remarks, and later called for a “study” of the “situation.”

At least one person was killed and 19 injured when a speeding car slammed into another car that was navigating through a throng of counterprotesters, according to a statement released on the City of Charlottesville’s verified Twitter account.

Trump offered condolences to the family of the woman killed in the crash and those who were injured.

“Condolences to the family of the young woman killed today, and best regards to all of those injured, in Charlottesville, Virginia. So sad!” he tweeted.

Trump billed the event in which he made the remarks on Saturday as a press conference but failed to take any questions. Reporters attempted to ask the President whether he condemns white nationalists or if he considers the car slamming into counterprotesters terrorism. Trump, in the past, has been quick to label foreign events terrorism and has slammed fellow politicians for not quickly labeling attacks as terrorism.

At one point the President also touted economic improvements, saying the nation’s unemployment rate was the lowest in 17 years. Trump said he was dismayed by the violence: “We have so many incredible things happening in our country, so when I watch Charlottesville, to me it is very, very sad.”

Trump closed his remarks on Charlottesville urging people to remember “no matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are all Americans first.”

“We love our country, we love our God, we love our flag, we are proud of our country, we are proud of who we are,” he said. “So, we want to get this situation straightened out in Charlottesville and we want to study it, and we want to see what we are doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen.”

Asked what Trump meant by saying “on many sides,” a White House official also pointed a finger at the counterprotesters.

“The President was condemning hatred, bigotry and violence from all sources and all sides. There was violence between protesters and counterprotesters today,” the official said.

Demonstrators clashed on the streets of Charlottesville on Saturday morning ahead of a white nationalist rally, with counter-protesters and right-wing nationalist groups converging on the college town in the latest chapter in the United States’ debate over race and identity.

The protests were precipitated by the city’s government deciding to remove symbols of its confederate past, including a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Similar protests happened in May when New Orleans officials decided to remove confederate statues.

Response criticized by both sides

Democrats and Republicans alike slammed Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, arguing the President’s statement lacked “the absolute moral clarity that we need from the President of the United states at times like this,” as Scott Jennings, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush, said.

Trump’s fellow Republican politicians also slammed the President.

“Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism,” tweeted Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who ran for president against Trump in 2016, tweeted, “very important for the nation to hear @potus describe events in #Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by #whitesupremacists.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted simply: “There is only one side. #charlottesville.”

The White House said Saturday that it was in touch with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office and that White House homeland security adviser Thomas Bossert’s team has been in touch with local authorities.

Before his on-camera statement, Trump, who is on his 17-day vacation in New Jersey, urged people to “come together as one” in response to the protests but did not explicitly mention the white nationalist origins of the conflict.

“We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for,” he wrote on Twitter. “There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”

Trump, who also signed a Veterans Affairs health care bill Saturday afternoon, later tweeted: “Am in Bedminster for meetings & press conference on V.A. & all that we have done, and are doing, to make it better-but Charlottesville sad!”

Vice President Mike Pence joined Trump in strongly condemning the protests.

“I stand with @POTUS against hate & violence,” he tweeted. “U.S is greatest when we join together & oppose those seeking to divide us. #Charlottesville.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also condemned the violence, saying it “is totally contrary to American values and can never be tolerated.”

Sessions said he had been in contact with Department of Justice agents assisting at the scene and state officials.

“We will continue to support our state and local officers on the ground in any way possible,” he said. “We stand united behind the President in condemning the violence in Charlottesville and any message of hate and intolerance.”

First lady Melania Trump was the first White House occupant to respond to the violence, tweeting 45 minutes before her husband that “our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence.”

Trump’s working vacation at his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey has so far been consumed by roiling tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Trump’s time away from the White House has been anything but calm, with the President consistently responding to threats from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has threatened to launch missiles near the US territory of Guam.

White nationalist groups who have come to be known at the “alt-right” drafted off Trump’s candidacy in 2016 and rose to national prominence by tying themselves to Trump’s message.

On Saturday in Virginia, according to a video posted on Twitter by a photojournalist from The Indianapolis Star, David Duke — a prominent former Ku Klux Klan leader who ran for Senate in Louisiana in 2016 — tied the protests in Virginia to Trump.

“This represents a turning point for the people of this country,” Duke said. “We are determined to take this country back. We’re gonna fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump because he said he’s going to take our country back.”

Duke slammed Trump’s response to the protests on Saturday, tweeting that Trump should “take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”

“So, after decades of White Americans being targeted for discriminated & anti-White hatred, we come together as a people, and you attack us,” Duke wrote.

Trump drew flack from critics and Democrats during the campaign for not fulsomely disavowing the alt-right and white supremacists.

After the election, in a November 2016 interview with The New York Times, Trump disavowed the movement and said he did not intend to energize the group.

“I don’t want to energize the group, and I disavow the group,” Trump told a group of Times reporters and columnists during a meeting at the newspaper’s headquarters in New York.

He added: “It’s not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized, I want to look into it and find out why.”

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Trump condemns ‘hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides’ in Charlottesville

President Donald Trump condemned hate “on many sides” in response to violent white nationalist protests and a terror attack Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.”We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and …

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China targets social media giants over ‘rumors,’ ‘porn’

Some of China’s biggest tech companies are in trouble with the country’s powerful internet regulator over activity on their social media platforms.

The Cyberspace Administration of China said it’s investigating Tencent, the owner of the country’s biggest messaging app; Baidu, the dominant Chinese search engine; and Weibo, the leading Twitter-like microblog service.

Shares of Tencent, a $380 billion company, plunged nearly 5% in Hong Kong after the announcement Friday. Baidu and Weibo are listed in the U.S.

Users of Weibo, Tencent’s WeChat and Baidu’s Tieba are believed to have “spread information of violence and terror, false rumors, pornography and other information that jeopardizes national security, public safety and social order,” the internet regulator said in a statement.

That means the companies are suspected of violating the country’s strict cybersecurity rules. “They did not fulfill duties to manage illegal information uploaded by their users,” the statement said.

Spokespeople for Tencent, Baidu and Weibo didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

While big American social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are shut out of China’s huge market, the investigation shows the challenges domestic firms face in authoritarian China.

The probe is the latest in a series of recent moves by Beijing to tighten its control of online information.

The government runs a huge apparatus of internet filters known as the Great Firewall, which it uses to censor content that it deems harmful. This year, it has cracked down on tools that enable users to skirt the defenses.

Censors also aggressively police what users share on social media, blocking and deleting posts that mention sensitive terms. People who cross the line can face suspension of their accounts or even arrest.

— Serenitie Wang contributed to this report.

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