- While Facebook did not shed much light on the issue, a Reddit user who claimed to work for the company said the configuration change prevented Facebook IT experts – people “with knowledge what to actually do” to remedy the bug – from remotely accessing the tools needed for the fix. Facebook apologized to “all those affected,” promising to find the root cause of the problem and make its infrastructure more error-proof.
- On Sunday, on the news program ‘60 Minutes’, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen publicly explained her decision to speak out about the internal workings of the company, saying she had become alarmed by what she perceived as policies that prioritised profit over public safety. She revealed she was the whistleblower behind the documents that made up The Wall Street Journal’s investigative series ‘The Facebook Files’.
- Whistleblower Frances Haugen is testifying before Congress, a day after Facebook and its family of apps experienced an unprecedented global outage. Documents released by Haugen show that Facebook is aware that the platform has inflicted harm on the mental health of teens. In her opening statement, which was released to the public in advance, Haugen says: “We’re here today because of deliberate choices Facebook has made.” “I know Facebook has infinite resources, which it could use to destroy me,” she says, urging Congress to change the rules that Facebook “plays by and stop the harm it is causing”.
- An Australia-based firm wants the Five Eyes to look into its suspicions that a surge in the procurement of PCR testing equipment in Wuhan, China means the Covid-19 pandemic started earlier than officially reported. The claim was made by an analytics company called Internet 2.0, which counts the Australian government among its clients, based on open-source data detailing Chinese government contracts. In 2019, there was an unusual surge in purchases of lab equipment for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing in the Hubei province, the report said.
- A 2,500-page report conducted by an independent inquiry into allegations of abuse and subsequent cover-ups within France’s Catholic Church has declared that a “veil of silence” allowed clergy to assault victims for decades. Over the past 70 years, the inquiry established roughly 216,000 children were the victims of abuse, with that number potentially growing to 330,000 when including lay members. Out of a total of 115,000 priests and clergy during that time, evidence showed 2,900 to 3,200 were accused of abuse.
- Mark Zuckerberg has lost over $6 billion as a result of the outage, according to Forbes, as well as his No.5-richest man rank as users continue to be shut out of Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. With all four now off-air for several hours, Zuckerberg has faced a pile-on on rival social media platforms, and habitual Facebook users have taken to other apps that aren’t experiencing issues, such as Twitter and Telegram, to express their dissatisfaction. Many have even temporarily celebrated the absence of Facebook.
- The Russian Armed Forces have successfully conducted the first test launch of its state-of-the-art Zircon hypersonic missile from a nuclear-powered submarine, firing it at a target in the Barents Sea, in Russia’s Arctic north. The Zircon, first produced in 2016, is an anti-ship missile capable of accelerating up to Mach 9. It has been designed to hit enemy surface ships, such as frigates and aircraft carriers, as well as ground targets located within the range of the missile. Zircon’s speed (9,800-11,025 km/h) makes it difficult for it to be stopped by any anti-aircraft systems.
- A giant 3D-printed copy of Michelangelo’s famous statue of David displayed at the Expo 2020 in Dubai has been caught up in a censorship controversy, after organizers obscured its genitalia to adhere to strict public nudity laws. However, the organizers of the international trade event – held over from last year due to the pandemic – chose to position the Italian pavilion’s 5.17-metre-tall (17ft) statue in a cylindrical glass and stone chamber ranging over two levels. And to cover its private parts with a large stone slab. But Davide Rampello, the pavilion’s art director, said the decision as to how to proceed had been a “unique approach,” and rejected accusations about government censorship. “It is a different perspective, which is new, introspective, and moving,” said Rampello, noting that visitors to the lower level of the chamber would be able to see the statue in its entirety. The event organizers have reportedly restricted entry to that level to VIPs.
- The National Endowment for the Humanities announced it has distributed $87.8 million to more than 300 organizations, the New York Times reports. Among the recipients is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which got about $469,000 to expand “access to materials by historically underrepresented artists” in its library holdings, and to keep nine jobs. (The NEH website has details on all the projects and grantees, which also include the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio.) Meanwhile, legislation for a $300 million grant program for jobs for arts workers has been introduced in Congress, per Artforum. The Creative Economy Revitalization Act has been informed by the Works Projects Administration of the Great Depression and would fund programs to create art that can be readily viewed by the public.
- The District of Columbia museum, founded in 2010 by Steve Green, the president of the crafting superstore empire Hobby Lobby, is in the news again after September’s handover of the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet to Iraq. This 3,500-year-old cuneiform tablet, inscribed with part of The Epic of Gilgamesh, was one of many similar antiquities smuggled out of Iraq in the chaos of conflicts in the 1990s. The tablet ended up at the auction house Christie’s, complete with a letter that proved it had been out of Iraq by 1981. This letter, of course, was a forgery—a rather bad one, as became obvious once Iraq and the Department of Justice started asking the questions that neither Christie’s nor Hobby Lobby had when the company paid the auction house $1,674,000 for the tablet in 2014.
- Over 1,500 UK properties worth an estimated £4 bln are secretly owned by a succession of heads of government, foreign politicians, business tycoons and high-profile ruling families via 716 offshore companies, reported The Guardian. Most of the properties are in London, specifically, Westminster and Kensington boroughs. While the owners are said to hail from every continent, representing 78 nationalities, more than a quarter are British. All UK-based property buyers are legally required to reveal their identity via a non-ministerial department, the Land Registry and Companies House. However, those whose wealth enables them to do so hire teams of professionals to create offshore entities that enable them to keep the lid on their ownership.
- What motivated the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to release the so-called Pandora Papers? The ICIJ’s online “Offshore Leaks Database” comes with a disclaimer admitting that keeping money or assets in offshore tax havens is not even a crime. The Pandora series claims to have inside info on 14 companies operating in 38 jurisdictions, whereas the Panama Papers of 2016 were based solely on the records of now-defunct Panamanian legal firm Mossack Fonseca. But, in fact, much information on offshore holdings is in the public domain. The Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal bluntly called the latest ICIJ release a “hack-and-dump” by US intelligence agencies. But who is paying the ICIJ’s team of 240 journalists to pore through records of offshore assets? The body’s financial backers include the Adessium Foundation, Open Society Foundations (OSF), The Sigrid Rausing Trust, The Ford Foundation, Fritt Ord Foundation, and the Pulitzer Centre on Crisis Reporting, along with Australian media mogul Graeme Wood. OSF is the vehicle for Hungarian-born, anti-communist billionaire George Soros to fund NGOs around the world which have been accused of aiding regime change efforts in a number of countries. ~ James Tweedie
- The trade war between Australia – the world’s second biggest coal exporter and largest producer of high-grade coal – and China – the biggest global coal importer – is benefitting India; for the first time in the latter’s history, the country has become a net exporter of metallurgical coking coal, which is used in manufacturing iron and steel.
- Russian film crew arrives at ISS to make first feature movie in space. Due to a failure of the autonomic docking navigation system Kurs, the docking was carried out in manual mode. Russian actress Yulia Peresild, movie director Klim Shipenko and cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov arrived at the International Space Station (ISS), as the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft docked to the Rassvet module. Peresild and Shipenko will spend 12 days at the ISS.
- Last Friday, with only one vote to spare, the plenary assembly of the Synodale Weg gave the go-ahead to a further revision of the basic text of the forum “The Priestly Existence today”, handing over to the working group responsible for the subject the debate on the necessity or otherwise of having priests.
- An indian team of scientists has, for the first time, developed a reactor that produces a substantial amount of hydrogen using sustainable sources like sunlight and water, which is a cost-effective and sustainable process, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) said on Wednesday. Development of large-scale prototype reactors with photocatalysts (suspended powders) and a successful use of those in large-scale hydrogen production is under process, it said in a statement. The process was attempted many times by several researchers using complex metal oxide or nitride or sulphide-based heterogeneous systems, but it was very difficult to reproduce hydrogen in large quantities. The INST team employed the low-cost organic semiconductor in carbon nitrides, which can be prepared using cheaper precursors like urea and melamine at ease in a kilogram scale. The team is in the process of optimising the hydrogen production with effective sunlight hours, in addition to the purity of the hydrogen, moisture traps and gas separation membranes so as to hyphenate with the fuel cells. Hydrogen generated in this manner can be used in many forms like electricity generation through fuel cells in remote tribal areas, hydrogen stoves and powering small gadgets, to mention a few. Eventually, they can power transformers and e-vehicles, which are long-term research goals that are under progress, according to the statement.
- The Open Society funded group the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists just released their “Pandora Papers” documents targeting numerous world leaders—sees Ukrainian politicians dominating the list of elites exposed in the “Pandora Papers”, which makes sense because they have the evidence of the crimes he’s committed in their nation—sees the “Pandora Papers” targeting the Qatar ruling family at the very moment they are meeting with Iranian diplomats—sees the “Pandora Papers” targeting Jordan at the very moment they are holding talks with Syria—sees the “Pandora Papers” targeting Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis at very moment national elections are being held that could pave their nation’s way out of the European Union—and sees the “Pandora Papers” targeting the State of South Dakota, whose Republican Party leader Governor Kristi Noem is feared and reviled by the socialist Biden Regime. (Sorcha Faal)
News Burst 6 October 2021