- In the country that first legalised gay marriage, the Dutch crown princess has the right to marry a person of any gender without giving up her right to the throne, the prime minister said on Tuesday. Crown Princess Catharina-Amalia, 17, has not made any comments on the matter, and little is known of her personal life. “The government believes that the heir can also marry a person of the same sex,” Rutte wrote in a letter to parliament.
- A “blacklist” of over 4,000 people and groups that Facebook’s Dangerous Individuals and Organizations (DIO) policy is built on, leaked by The Intercept, shows how Facebook may be meting out disproportionate censoring to various communities. A reproduction of the DIO list is also accompanied by an associated policy document intended to aid the work of moderators who are tasked with deciding what posts to delete and which users to punish. The “blacklist is divided into the categories Hate, Crime, Terrorism, Militarized Social Movements, and Violent Non-State Actors, all of them accordingly organised into a system of three tiers indicating the type of enforcement the company will take in regard to content”. While no one featured on the DIO list is allowed onto the Facebook platforms, the tiers determine what other users are allowed to say about the banned entities.
- Users have been reporting that YouTube, Facebook and Snapchat are having problems, the online tracker Downdetector said. As far as YouTube is concerned, the most commonly reported problems are related to accessing the website of the video-sharing platform as well as its streaming videos and server connection. As of now, problems with accessing YouTube have been reported in the United States, Mexico, and Taiwan.
- The Polish government has adopted a bill on the construction of a border barrier on the border with Belarus, Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski has announced. In a tweet, Kaminski said that the project, which will now go to the parliament for approval, envisions the creation of a towering physical barrier equipped with monitoring and movement detection systems. The border barrier, which is expected to replace the temporary barbed wire fence that’s been installed along the 418 km Polish-Belarusian frontier, is expected to cost Warsaw some 1.6 billion zlotys (equivalent to about $403 million US), according to media reports.
- There should be a possibility to negotiate a deal stronger than the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), US Special Envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, said on Wednesday. He added that if Iran wants more than the JCPOA then it is needed to have a different deal and bring different issues to the table. Malley also said that the US now has a different Iranian team that is “clearly stating it wants to do things differently.”
- William Shatner, best known for his iconic role as Captain James Kirk in the long-running US television series Star Trek, became the oldest person to reach outer space on Tuesday as a tourist, courtesy of the private space firm Blue Origin. “It was unbelievable,” said the 90-year-old actor following a 10-minute space trip. Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket took off around 14:49 GMT after experiencing two brief delays, with the crew reaching beyond the planet’s atmosphere and returning to the Texas desert.
- Lawyers representing Prince Andrew, the Duke of York are expected to face the legal team of his accuser Victoria Giuffre during a pre-trial hearing at the US District Court for the Southern District Of New York on 13 October. According to the Daily Express, the lawyers will appear before Judge Lewis K. Kaplan to discuss the progress of the civil case filed by Giuffre under New York’s Child Victims Act on 10 August. The hearing is scheduled to start at 10 am Eastern Daylight Time. The previous pre-trial hearing took place on 13 September.
- Judging from the Pandora Papers, American politicians were notably absent from the list. Similarly, America’s wealthiest, like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett do not appear in the Pandora Papers. The Daily Mail suggested that the aforementioned “uber-rich” “have less incentive to use offshore havens due to the low tax rates they pay”. Indeed, in June 2021, ProPublica revealed that American billionaires “pay little in income tax compared to their massive wealth”: the true tax rate of Buffet, Bezos and Musk amounts to 0.10%, 0.98%, and 3.27%, respectively.
- The millions of documents processed and verified by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) showed that at least 200 trusts were created in the US to hold assets for foreign investors without proper background checks on the legality of their income. While such checks are vigorously carried out by banks when foreign investors try to wire the money to them, lawyers, real estate agents, and accounting firms are not obligated to do that – at least in some states.
- Ecuador’s Parliament has voted to investigate the Pandora Papers, which expose the alleged offshore dealings of President Guillermo Lasso. On Thursday, the legislature approved a motion by lawmaker Ronny Aleaga Santos to create a transparency commission to analyse the exposé. In early October, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) unveiled the so-called Pandora Papers, a leak of more than 11.9 million financial documents shedding light on the offshore activities of over 300 prominent global political figures, including Lasso.
- According to the Wall Street Journal, US officials told the outlet that at least two cases of so-called “Havana Syndrome” have been reported at the US embassy in Bogota, Colombia, in recent weeks. One official told the outlet that two American citizens had been affected and that one family was recently flown out of Colombia for treatment.
- Video has emerged of miles of discarded heavy duty steel fencing left to corrode in a field even though the Biden administration is still paying contractors who were brought in under Trump’s presidency to build a border wall. The fencing, thought to be worth more than $100 million in taxpayer dollars, was captured on video by a drone in Pharr, Texas. There are estimated to be 10,000 steel panels just sitting on waste ground, enough for hundreds of miles of wall.
- Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new bill into law on Sunday to ban all off-road gas-powered engines, including lawnmowers and chainsaws. “What we’re doing here in California is unprecedented in both nature and scale. We will come back from this pandemic stronger than ever before,” he added.
- According to ABC Australia, one such 1,000-bed quarantine facility at Wellcamp Airport outside Toowoomba will be fully completed by the end of March 2022. “At this stage, the cabins will be used by domestic travellers returning from COVID hotspots,” states the report. The camps is split into different zones and accommodates singles, doubles, and family rooms while being patrolled by police and security guards 24/7.
News Burst 14 October 2021