As sex accusations flood social media, lawyers gear up for suits

As the torrent of accusations continues, it is unlikely to be the last

Social media has overflowed with sexual misconduct allegations during the last few weeks. The 450-word post that Melanie Kohler put on Facebook probably had the shortest life — a few hours. It may also have been the first to get its author sued.

As the torrent of social media sex accusations continues, it is unlikely to be the last.

“The lid is off,” said Mark G Clark, a Michigan lawyer specialising in online defamation cases. “Power to the people. Anyone can have their grievance heard. But at the same time, anyone can be irresponsible and malicious.”

He noted that Facebook and Twitter see themselves as neutral platforms that cannot take a side in disputes. So the aggrieved call lawyers. “We get inquiries daily: ‘I’ve been defamed online. What can you do to help?’” Clark said.

Kohler, who runs a scuba diving company in Hawaii with her husband, had both narrow and far-reaching goals when she wrote her Facebook post on October 18.

She wanted to unburden herself of something horrible that she said had happened to her, something that she had never told a single soul before that morning. Describing a drunken night about a decade ago, she wrote about Brett Ratner, a Hollywood producer and director.

“Brett Ratner raped me,” Kohler wrote on Facebook. “I’m saying his name, I’m saying it publicly.”

She was inspired by the national uproar over sexual harassment, but did not really think about joining that larger conversation. The post was intended for her family and friends, and they responded immediately. “I was feeling really loved and supported,” Kohler said in an interview. But such is the nature of Facebook that others quickly read it as well, including an associate of Ratner’s. His attorney, Martin Singer, called before lunch. “I was totally caught off guard,” Kohler said. (more)

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Google Pixel 2 launch hit by display, pricing and shipping issues

Such issues prompted the company to open an investigation and issue multiple apologies to customers

 

The launch of Alphabet Inc’s second-generation Google Pixel smartphones has been hampered by display screen problems and pricing and shipping issues, prompting the company to open an investigation and issue multiple apologies to customers.

The Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL, which start at $649 and debuted in stores on Thursday, are the lynchpin of Google’s efforts to take on Apple Inc’s

iPhone directly.

Early Pixel 2 users have voiced frustration with mishaps, including a potentially serious problem with the screen.

Google said on Sunday it is investigating whether graphics are burning into the display of the Google Pixel 2, following a report on the Android Central blog detailing the issue after a week of use. Burn-in, which usually becomes a problem only after several years of activity, can make it difficult to see information on the display.

Google likely would need to halt production if there is a problem, said Ryan Reith, a mobile device analyst at research firm IDC.

“We take all reports of issues very seriously, and our engineers investigate quickly,” Mario Queiroz, Google’s vice president for Pixel product management, said in an emailed statement to Reuters. “We will provide updates as soon as we have conclusive data.”

The investigation follows Google’s acknowledgement that it may introduce new software to respond to users’ concern about a blue tint to the Pixel 2 XL’s 6-inch screen. The device incorporates new OLED display technology, which Google described as offering “a more natural and accurate rendition of colours.”

Reviewers and users in online support forums have also reported a clicking noise during calls and poor Bluetooth connections between the Pixel 2 and other devices. Google did not immediately comment on the issues. (more)

Qatar offers visa-free entry to India, 79 other nations amid Gulf crisis

Energy-rich Qatar’s economy took a hit since Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain moved to isolate it

Qatar announced on Wednesday it was scrapping visa requirements for visitors from 80 countries as it weathers a boycott by four Arab states and gears up to host the World Cup in 2022.

Under the new policy announced by Qatar Airways and authorities, citizens of 33 mostly European countries can enter without a visa for 90 days in single or multiple trips during a 180-day period.

Americans, Britons, Canadians and citizens of 44 other countries can enter visa-free for an initial 30 days on single or multiple trips, and can extend that for a further 30 days.

Energy-rich Qatar’s economy has taken a hit since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain moved to isolate it two months ago over allegations it supports extremists.

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The quartet of Arab nations is particularly irked by Qatar’s ties with Iran and its support of Islamist opposition groups. Qatar denies it backs terror groups and says the allegations against Doha are politically motivated.

The four countries cut diplomatic and transport links with Qatar in June, and barred Qatar from using their airspace and shipping lanes.

In a related development, the UAE and Bahrain today sought to clarify a statement made the day before by the International Civil Aviation Organization, which said both countries had agreed to open up some of their airspace, including new “temporary or contingency” routes, for Qatar Airways.

The two, in statements carried on the UAE’s and Bahrain’s state-run news agencies, said that they had not agreed to open up their airspace in full to Qatari flights but to only allow Qatari aircraft to use their airspace located above international waters.

Manchester attack: 22 dead; kids missing from concert, here is what we know

The attacker was killed while detonating the device said the Manchester police

A massive attack shook Manchester on today that killed at least 22 people. Reportedly 50 others have been injured. The ‘terrorist attack’ took place at a concert of pop star Ariana Grande in the Manchester city in the UK.

As per AFP, Greater Manchester Police says that 22 people have died because of the attack already. The attacker died detonating the bomb, they said.

“This is currently being treated as a terrorist incident until police know otherwise,” the statement said.

Eyewitnesses reported hearing a loud “bang” from inside the venue. Video footage from the scene showed bloodied victims being helped by emergency services.

Here is what we know so far:

—Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron have also expressed their sympathies for the victims.

—Prime Minister Theresa May said the incident was being treated as a terrorist attack. She is set to chair an emergency Cobra meeting in response to the atrocity, reports Daily Star.

—Police have set up a helpline for people who are worried about loved ones on 0161 856 9400.

—Large areas around the arena have been sealed off and Victoria Station has been closed and is expected to be closed throughout Tuesday.

—UK police responded to reports of an explosion shortly after 10:33 pm (2133 GMT) at the arena, which has the capacity to hold 21,000 people, where the Ariane Grande had been performing to an audience that included many children, according to Reuters. Read more

Hillary Clinton launches new political action group to fight Trump

‘Onward Together’ to encourage people to organise and run for office, writes Hillary

Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has launched a new political action organisation to fight against US President Donald Trump’s agenda and raise funds for five prominent progressive groups.

“I believe more fiercely than ever that citizen engagement at every level is central to a strong and vibrant democracy,” Clinton said announcing the launch of her group ‘Onward Together’.

“More than ever, I believe citizen engagement is vital to our democracy. I’m so inspired by everyone stepping up to organise and lead,” the former Secretary of State, said to her supporters as she urged them to contribute to the “remarkable” spirit of political activism.

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The announcement comes as Clinton, 69, works to find a new role in an evolving political landscape.

The new group’s website said it aimed to advance progressive values and reminded visitors that Clinton had won nearly 66 million votes in November’s showdown with Trump.

“Onward Together will work to build a brighter future for generations to come by supporting groups that encourage people to organise and run for office,” wrote the former Secretary of State.

Clinton becomes the latest high-profile Democrat to launch an independent group. Former President Barack Obama, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and 2004 Democratic nominee Howard Dean all helped create political organisations. Read more

WannaCry ‘ransomware’ virus, a vulnerability stolen from the NSA: Microsoft

WannaCry – “ransomware” has locked up more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries

Officials across the globe scrambled over the weekend to catch the culprits behind a massive ransomware worm that disrupted operations at car factories, hospitals, shops and schools, while Microsoft on Sunday pinned blame on the US government for not disclosing more software vulnerabilities.

Cyber security experts said the spread of the worm dubbed WannaCry – “ransomware” that locked up more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries – had slowed but that the respite might only be brief amid fears new versions of the worm will strike.

In a blog post on Sunday, Microsoft President Brad Smith appeared to tacitly acknowledge what researchers had already widely concluded: The ransomware attack leveraged a hacking tool, built by the US National Security Agency, that leaked online in April.

“This is an emerging pattern in 2017,” Smith wrote. “We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world.”

He also poured fuel on a long-running debate over how government intelligence services should balance their desire to keep software flaws secret – in order to conduct espionage and cyber warfare – against sharing those flaws with technology companies to better secure the internet.

“This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem,” Smith wrote. He added that governments around the world should “treat this attack as a wake-up call” and “consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits.” Read more

Iran warns Pakistan on safeguarding terrorist havens

“If continued, we’ll hit the terrorists’ safe havens anywhere they are,” Iran’s Army chief said

Iran’s Chief of Army Staff Major General Mohammad Baqeri has warned Pakistan that Tehran would not hesitate to strike terrorists’ safe havens if Pakistan fails to control their movement on their border or fails to shut down their bases.

“Unfortunately, Iran’s eastern border regions with Pakistan have become a safe haven for training and equipping terrorists recruited by Saudi Arabia and supported by the United States. We will not tolerate this situation in the joint borders and expect the Pakistani officials to show responsibility, control their borders, arrest terrorists and shut down outlaws’ bases,’ IRNA news agency quoted Major General Baqeri as saying.

“If continued, we will hit the terrorists’ safe havens anywhere they are,” he added.

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Asserting that enemies are trying to damage the country’s security using all available tools, Major General Baqeri urged the Iranian Armed Forces to promote their scientific skills and equip themselves with sophisticated technologies in order to get prepared for countering various types of threats.

He also praised the sacrifices made by the Iranian Armed Forces to preserve the country’s security.

Lashing out at Islamabad for failing to prevent terror attacks against Iran from its soil, Chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi last month had said that the neighbouring country has become a “safe haven” for terrorist cells.Read more