‘Stanford Analytica’, Russian sanctions and scenic airport landings

Planet Business: A week of more Brexit ‘b******s’ enlivened by Zuck’s trip to Capitol Hill

A tie-wearing Mark Zuckerberg gets the press horde treatment on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday. Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters

A tie-wearing Mark Zuckerberg gets the press horde treatment on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday. Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters

 

In numbers: Russian punishment

7

Number of Russian oligarchs hit by a new wave of US sanctions, with the protectionist White House taking a break from threatening a trade war with China to blacklist two major importers.

25

Percentage plunge on Monday in the share price of London-listed EN+, the Russian energy and aluminium producer controlled by metals tycoon Oleg Deripaska, one of the seven.

50

Percentage drop on Monday in the share price of the Hong Kong-listed Rusal, the aluminium giant co-owned by EN+. Deripaska’s chance of getting a US travel visa don’t look too hot.

Image of the week: Out of the dorm room

Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in a Harvard dorm room as he likes to remind everyone, probably because it makes the eighth largest company in the world seem a little more homespun. Alas, something has gone wrong with his privacy settings, if the presence of at least 29 people wanting to get up close and personal with the chief executive is anything to go by. Some context: Zuckerberg is a man who likes to keep his laptop webcam taped over. One amusing, and also pertinent, question during a frustrating hearing on Capitol Hill came when Dick Durbin, a Democratic senator from Illinois, asked him if he would be comfortable sharing the name of the hotel he had stayed in the night before: “Um… ah… no.”

Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters

The lexicon: Stanford Analytica

The most uncomfortable moment during The Social Network 2 came when Maria Cantwell asked Mark Zuckerberg had he heard the one about Stanford Analytica? This, the Democratic senator from Washington state said, was the name doing the rounds for Palantir. “Senator, I have not heard that,” replied Zuckerberg. He also said he didn’t know if Palantir, a company founded by early Facebook investor Peter Thiel, had “taught Cambridge Analytica” its tactics and he was “not aware” if they had scraped data from Facebook. Behind him, the pained face of Facebook VP of global public policy Joel Kaplan grew momentarily more pained.

Getting to know: Barry Gardiner

Barry Gardiner is not the first person and won’t be the last to head along to a “think tank” session, assuming it might be a mildly diverting few hours out of the office, only to find himself tanking, career-wise, soon after. The British Labour party’s shadow spokesman on trade, speaking at an event in Brussels last month, was recorded saying dismissive things about the Belfast Agreement in a bid to join a lengthening line of Westminster idiots on this subject. However, he does seem more finely attuned to Brexit-related economic nonsense, having rubbished Labour’s pledge to support a parliamentary vote if the agreed Brexit terms have the “exact same benefits” as the single market. This, he said, was “b******s… always has been b******s and it remains it”, as there would be no “exact same benefits” as the single market under Brexit.

The list: Runaway runways

Private jet company Private Fly has done a bit of a public poll on a shortlist drawn up by travel experts and come up with a new rundown of “bucket list” landings. Amazingly, the airport on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, where planes land terrifyingly low over the heads of sunbathers on the beach, was only in ninth place. So which runways were ranked the most scenic?

5. Saba: Special pilot training is required to land on the runway on this Caribbean island as it’s one of the shortest in the world and, oh my god, it’s on a cliff.

4. Queenstown: The New Zealand airport is home to highly YouTube-able landings involving snow-topped mountains, fluffy clouds and serene waters.

3. Nice: The approach to the French city is a frequent award-winner thanks to its Alpine-Mediterranean double-whammy.

2. Barra: The island beach in the Scottish Outer Hebrides was first licensed as an airport in 1936. Don’t pin your hopes on a Burger King.

1. Donegal: “You fly in low,” said one voter, “and sweep out over an emerald sea with the perma-white froth of the Wild Atlantic Way, lashing the many tiny rocky islands in a turquoise sea.”