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- [Always “rules for thee but not for me”] The American tycoons apparently prepared for the UN Climate Change Conference (which kicked off in Glasgow, Scotland on the weekend) aboard luxurious superyachts in the Aegean Sea. According to the British media, the weekly rental price of Gate’s vessel is $2 million. On Friday, the world’s second richest man, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, was reportedly among the 50 guests at the Microsoft cofounder’s lavish 66th birthday party in the Turkish resort town of Fethiye. Both billionaires got there by helicopter, which – like superyachts – aren’t the cleanest means of transportation in terms of CO2 emissions.
- British social media users could reportedly face a two-year prison term if they send messages or post content deemed to have caused “psychological harm” under the UK government’s draft law to tackle hate speech and abuse online. As part of the review process on the government’s upcoming Online Safety Bill, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has apparently accepted recommendations to shift the law’s focus from the actual content of a message to its potentially “harmful effect”. According to The Times, the plans have been sent to the cabinet for approval and UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries is expected to add them to the bill when it is introduced to Parliament next month.
- 10 Ukrainians in the infamous white-hooded robes of the KKK – Ku Klux Klan – walked around the city and posed for photos with black people. However, in Kiev, the history of the extremist group did not seem to bother this group of Ukrainians who apparently deemed the white costume a suitable Halloween outfit.
- The countries of the world must put themselves “on a war-like footing” to address the looming climate crisis, Prince Charles said in his opening speech to the climate conference in Glasgow on Monday. He warned the assembled heavies that climate change posed “an even greater existential threat” than the Covid-19 pandemic.
- There have been several alleged “jetpack sightings” in Los Angeles recently – in August and in October of 2020, with the latest one occurring on 28 July 2021. “One working theory is that pilots might have seen balloons”, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Federal Aviation Administration said, cited as by NBC. The theory emerged after three cases of commercial airline pilots reporting something they believed could have been jetpacks flying at altitudes of 3,000 feet, 6,000 feet, and 5,000 feet. Two of the cases were registered in 2020, with the most recent one emerging in July 2021. The authorities not having found any witnesses or recordings of the flying objects that the pilots claimed to have seen also appears to corroborate this theory about the alleged jetpacks. “The FAA has worked closely with the FBI to investigate every reported jetpack sighting”, the FAA said. “So far, none of these sightings have been verified”.
- Days ahead of one of India’s biggest celebrations, the Hindu festival of lights – otherwise known as Diwali – forest officials and wildlife activists in many parts of northern India are in a state of high alert and have increased their vigil to combat owl poaching. Every year around Diwali, the nocturnal birds (owls) are trapped and hunted in large numbers as sorcerers, and practitioners of black magic use them during occult sacrifice. According to Hindu belief, the shy bird brings prosperity and good fortune. Wildlife teams have arranged all kinds of preventive measures in such states as Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Uttar Pradesh – especially in the tribal areas.
- Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry has called on all of its citizens to leave Lebanon immediately. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain urges all citizens in the Lebanese Republic to leave immediately, following the tense situation there which calls for extra caution. The ministry reiterates its previous statements, to not travel to the Lebanese Republic definitively”, the Foreign Ministry said. The warning comes soon after Bahrain expelled Lebanese envoy from the country and banned all imports from Lebanon. The Gulf States’ decision follows criticism by Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi, who blasted the coalition’s military campaign in Yemen. Kordahi accused the coalition of bombing “homes, villages, funerals, and weddings” in Yemen, while stressing that the Houthi militants were defending themselves against “external aggression”.
- Tesla has recalled some 11,704 vehicles of the models S, 3, X and Y after a certain version of their firmware was found to contain a glitch that could cause unexpected automatic emergency braking. In the filing for the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the company says that activation of the system during driving creates the risk of rear-end collision. However, Tesla stressed that it is unaware of any such accidents taking place so far. The faulty software was distributed via over-the-air updates and led to a communications disconnect between the two onboard chips, which led to glitches in the video neural networks system that, in turn, resulted in the false activations of the automatic emergency braking.
- Prince Andrew’s attack on his accuser, Virginia Giuffre, may backfire in court, lawyers have said. This comes several days after the royal’s legal team harshly criticised the woman in a court filing in which they asked a US judge to dismiss a civil lawsuit against the Duke of York. Lawyers, who spoke with The Guardian, described criticism of Mrs Giuffre as a highly risky strategy that may further damage Prince Andrew’s reputation. Last week, the royal’s legal team filed a motion, asking the judge to dismiss the case against him. The court documents state that Virginia Giuffre seeks a “payday” at Andrew’s expense. In the motion, Mrs Giuffre is described as a “money-hungry sex kitten”, with the Duke of York’s legal team claiming that she was part of Jeffrey Epstein’s paedophile ring and recruited girls for the financier.
- Italy pushed into new territory for a Western democracy, enforcing a stringent workplace vaccination rule that was dramatically reshaping society. Everywhere from offices to factories, workers faced a new requirement for entering and earning a paycheck: They had to first flash the QR code of a government-issued health pass. “A social experiment,” said Umberto Peron, 59, an unvaccinated road maintenance worker who lacked the pass and was forced to stay home. While Italy’s government drew up the new measures in the name of safety, the mandates are also beginning to separate society into different tiers of freedom — in a way that might have seemed far-fetched a year ago. The new society is one in which the vaccinated reprise their lives and the unvaccinated face a choice: Either they get immunized, or they risk losing their incomes — along with the ability to dine indoors, attend a concert, see a movie or board a high-speed train.
- A regional director who was employed at the research organisation Ventavia Research Group has told The BMJ that the company falsified data, unblinded patients, employed inadequately trained vaccinators, and was slow to follow up on adverse events reported in Pfizer’s pivotal phase III trial. Staff who conducted quality control checks were overwhelmed by the volume of problems they were finding. After repeatedly notifying Ventavia of these problems, the regional director, Brook Jackson, emailed a complaint to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Ventavia fired her later the same day. Jackson has provided The BMJ with dozens of internal company documents, photos, audio recordings, and emails. -The BMJ
- Amazon is reportedly looking at opening a new 400,000 square-foot office on the Jersey City waterfront, right across the river from Manhattan. That square footage would make the NJ office only a fraction of the size of the company’s “HQ2” in Crystal City, Va. (which is a whopping 6MM square feet) and a sliver of Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle (where Amazon has more than 13.5MM square feet of office space).
- Facebook Inc (FB.O) announced on Tuesday it is shutting down its facial recognition system, which automatically identifies users in photos and videos, citing growing societal concerns about the use of such technology. “Regulators are still in the process of providing a clear set of rules governing its use,” Jerome Pesenti, vice president of artificial intelligence at Facebook, wrote in a blog post. “Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate.”
News Burst 3 November 2021