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What will Elon Musk do with Twitter? | Economy and Business

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Twitter’s board of directors has finally decided to sell the company to Elon Musk, the world’s richest man and head of electric vehicle maker Tesla as well as aerospace firm SpaceX. On the digital conversation platform itself, the new owner’s personality has triggered a huge debate and started several global trends. There are those who believe that Musk will help the company achieve new goals, and those who feel that the only alternative is to flee Twitter forever; very few seem to have nothing to say about it.

Musk’s own statements about Twitter imply that he is buying it to improve it, not for money or influence. He offered an analysis of his views at a TED talk on April 14, the same day that his offer became public. His theory was that Twitter needs more clarity in its rules, more transparency in its algorithms and more freedom of speech. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans,” he said. Details were, however, scant.

His overarching goal, according to his own words, is to save democracy. At the TED talk he said that Twitter has become a “de facto digital town square” and that “it’s really important that people have both the reality and the perception that they are able to speak freely within the bounds of the law.”

This resource is essential for the functioning of democracy in the US and in many other countries, he added.

Musk also thinks that the Twitter algorithm should be posted on GitHub, the open source platform used by computer programmers, and that it should be open to comments and suggestions, “just like Linux and Signal.” Users must also be perfectly aware of why decisions are made: any action on why a tweet is promoted or not should be evident, so that there is no behind-the-scenes manipulation, whether algorithmically or manually.

On freedom of expression, he admitted to being “a free-speech absolutist” and defined freedom of expression as a situation where someone you don’t like can say something you don’t like. “If that is so, we have freedom of expression,” he said.

After he uttered that statement, journalists were quick to bring up numerous examples of times when Musk tried to silence or limit the speech of someone he does not like, such as when he called a caver who helped rescue children trapped in a Thai cave a “pedo guy,” or when he spied on a former employee for speaking to the press or when he blocked the account of a Florida youth who was posting all of Musk’s flights on Twitter.

This is where the real debate begins about what it means for the richest person in the world to be able to do what he wants with one of the world’s main communication platforms. This purchase is not Jeff Bezos acquiring The Washington Post or Rupert Murdoch acquiring The Wall Street Journal. When asked why he thought the richest person would buy Twitter, his response was to laugh at Mark Zuckerberg, noting that because of Meta’s share ownership structure, “Mark Zuckerberg the 14th will still be controlling these companies.” That won’t happen with Twitter, he said.

Musk also said that he was not buying Twitter for profit. “It’s not a way to make money. My intuitive feeling is that having a platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilization,” he said. But it’s one thing not to care about money and another not to perceive ways to exploit the benefits of Twitter. The tool has already given him a lot: his tweets about Tesla, SpaceX and even the dogecoin cryptocurrency have made him richer.

Permanent access to such a platform, and maintaining influence, are essential, and few people understand the importance of attention today like Musk. Twitter has 10 times fewer users than Facebook, YouTube or Instagram, but its weight is not proportionally lower.

At the TED talk, Musk discussed the concept of permanent bans on Twitter, saying it is better “to be reluctant to remove things and be cautious about permanent bans. I think temporary suspensions are better than permanent bans.” The most famous suspension from Twitter is Donald Trump. A hypothetical return to Twitter in 2022 would help the former president prepare a new run for the White House in 2024. The Republican Party is favorably viewing Musk’s acquisition of Twitter.

Musk may want to return his account to Trump as a sign of freedom of expression, but it would also be clear that he would be doing him a favor that the hypothetical future president of the United States could return once in the White House, either by favoring his companies or helping with Musk’s problems with the the Securities and Exchange Commission, the market watchdog. Other governments could also aspire to use Twitter more freely or without labels such as “state-owned media.” If it’s something that could harm Tesla’s interests, as in China, the conflict of interest would be obvious. Suspicions about Twitter’s decisions will be pinned on Musk, for better and for worse. But he has probably already thought it out.

In his talk, Musk said that he will not edit tweets personally, but it is difficult to believe that the most relevant decisions will not pass through his hands.

Within Twitter, a company accustomed to public disturbances, the atmosphere was even more tense than on other occasions. Aside from all the public debate about Musk, the entrepreneur is famous for pushing his companies toward excellence through an iron-fisted business organization. The story about how he slept at the Tesla plant during the most difficult days of the company is the stuff of legend. At Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, the shock may be especially noticeable.



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Brazilian woman and fake seer con elderly mother out of $142 million | International

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A woman was arrested on August 10 by Rio de Janeiro police who charged her with conning her mother out of millions. In a strange story of greed abetted by fake psychics, Sabine Boghici and her accomplices stole more than $142 million in money, jewelry and artwork from Boghici’s mother over a two-year period.

Geneviève Boghici, the widow of a major art collector and dealer named Jean Boghici, was walking out of a bank in January 2020 near the famous Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) when she was approached by a supposed psychic prophesying her daughter’s imminent death unless she underwent “spiritual therapy.” They walked together to Boghici’s apartment, where the psychic threw some shells in a mystical ritual that confirmed the tragic prophesy. The 82-year-old victim knew that her daughter suffered from psychological problems, and her affinity for the supernatural swayed her to transfer $980,000 to the swindlers.

Soon after the two-year con began, the elderly woman became suspicious and halted the money transfers when her daughter started to isolate her from friends. Sabine would not allow her mother to use the phone and dismissed all the domestic workers, justifying them as Covid-19 precautions. Yet Sabine and her cronies entered freely to loot her mother’s home of its valuables. Several psychics took items from the home, saying they were “cursed” and needed to be “prayed over.” The increasingly suspicious Geneviève tried to resist, but Sabine began threatening her life. According to the police, she wouldn’t allow her mother to eat and put a knife to her throat.

Police recover 'Sol Poente' by Brazilian painter, Tarsila do Amaral.
Police recover ‘Sol Poente’ by Brazilian painter, Tarsila do Amaral.Policia Civil de Rio de Janeiro (EFE)

The victim told the police that her daughter had some sort of relationship with one of the supposed psychics, Rosa Stanesco Nicolau, who practiced her trade in Rio de Janeiro as “Mãe Valéria de Oxossi” (Mother Valeria), and was a known con artist. Starting in September 2020, under constant threat from her daughter and accomplices, the elderly woman made another 38 bank transfers to the thieves.

Sabine and her cohorts stole 16 paintings and sculptures, and sold them all to art galleries or private buyers. Two of these works – Elevador Social (Social Elevator) by Rubens Gerchman, and Maquete para o menú espelho (A model for my mirror) by Antonio Dias – were bought by Eduardo Costantini, owner of the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (Argentina), for his private collection. The São Paulo (Brazil) gallery owner who brokered the deal said he was not suspicious because he had known the family for a long time and the seller was the daughter of the deceased art collector. Constantini released a statement saying that he bought the paintings in good faith and was in direct contact with Genevieve Boghici.

In 2012, a fire in the Boghici’s Copacabana apartment destroyed part of their valuable collection, including Di Cavalcanti’s Samba and Alberto Guignard’s A Floresta (The Forest). Sol Poniente (Setting Sun), painted by Tarsila do Amaral in 1929, is one of the most valuable works in the Boghici collection ($49 million). It survived the 2012 fire but not the rampant greed of their daughter. The stolen painting was found under a bed by police, who arrested Sabine and three other people, including the fake seer. In a final twist to the whole bizarre story, the scamming psychic was apprehended trying to escape through a window.

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India’s HIV patients say shortages leaving hundreds of thousands without drugs | Global development

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Hundreds of thousands of people living with HIV in India are struggling to access treatment because of a shortage of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, according to campaigners.

Up to 500,000 people have not been able to get hold of free ARVs from government health centres and hospitals over the past five months, they say, as the country experiences stock shortages of key drugs.

ARVs that are available in privately run pharmacies and shops can be prohibitively expensive. Some people have been given alternative drugs, but others have stopped taking any medication.

“Does the government even realise that at least 500,000, or one-third of the patients, are affected by this? Some adults are being given 11 doses of paediatric medicine to compensate,” said Loon Gangte, president of the Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+), an NGO that works to improve the treatment and facilities for people living with HIV and Aids. “We only demand an uninterrupted monthly supply. This treatment is our right.”

According to Gangte, who has been protesting with about 30 others outside India’s National Aids Control Organisation (Naco) in Delhi for 22 days, at least 12 other states, including Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab, are facing ARV shortages. He said several state governments have asked patients to change their longstanding drug regimes.

“The [Covid-19] pandemic had already broken our backs. Now this shortage is pushing us further into penury,” Gangte said.

Kedar Nath, a 30-year-old street vendor taking part in the protest, said he has not taken his ARVs on several occasions over the past two months. He cannot afford the £50 a month it would cost to buy the drugs on the open market.

“I have been taking these drugs for the last 13 years. They have helped me continue with my life despite the virus in my body. But the recent shortage has turned my life upside down since I can neither find the strength to work, nor have any savings to live off,” he said.

According to government figures, 2.35 million people in India are HIV-positive. About 1.5 million people are on antiretroviral therapy, far lower than the World Health Organization’s “90-90-90 target” – under which 90% of people with HIV are diagnosed, 90% are on ARV treatment, and 90% are no longer infectious.

India says it aims to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. In 2019, an estimated 58,900 Aids-related deaths were reported in the country.

The government has refuted Gangte’s claims of a shortage. The Indian health ministry said it had “reviewed the entire situation and held a series of meetings with the protesters. ARV drugs are being provided for [a] duration of less than one month, but at no point in time has there been any shortage of drugs for any of the PLHIV [patients living with HIV]. There is adequate stock nationally for 95% PLHIV.”

Naco did not wish to comment. However, in a letter seen by the Guardian that was dated 30 May, Naco asked all state Aids prevention and control societies, which oversee HIV testing and treatment in each state, to switch to other regimes “to tide through the crisis situation as an interim arrangement”.

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J&J Stops Global Sales of Scandalous Talc-Based Powder After 130 Years

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Once one of its top products for families, J&J’s talc-based powder has been haunted by claims of causing cancer in recent years even as the company consistently denied what it has called rumors and “misinformation”.

Johnson & Johnson has announced it will be ceasing the sales of its talc-based powder, two years after stopping them in the US and Canada, after keeping it in its product line for 130 years. The company will be replacing the product with a cornstarch-based powder.

“As part of a worldwide portfolio assessment, we have made the commercial decision to transition to an all cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio,” the company’s statement said.

The J&J talc-based powder has been at the epicenter of several lawsuits claiming it caused ovarian cancer due to the presence of a known cancer-causing material – asbestos. However, the company has repeatedly denied these allegations, despite losing $3.5 billion in these lawsuits.

As the firm announced the retirement of the talc-based powder, it once again repeated its long-held position on the controversial product’s safety.

“Our position on the safety of our cosmetic talc remains unchanged. We stand firmly behind the decades of independent scientific analysis by medical experts around the world that confirms talc-based Johnson’s baby powder is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer,” the statement said.

Apart from losing a number of lawsuits, J&J faced tough questions following a 2018 Reuters investigation, which claimed the company knew about the asbestos contamination since at least 1971 but failed to act on it. As the veins of asbestos are often found in talc deposits, the extracted talc used to make the powder can be contaminated with the cancer-causing mineral.

A view of the Supreme Court in Washington, U.S. January 19, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.06.2021

Pay Up: Supreme Court Rejects J&J’s Request to Appeal $2 Bln Verdict in Talc Cancer Case
Despite continuing to maintain its innocence, J&J stopped selling talc-based powder in the US and Canada in 2020, citing the harm done to the sales by the “misinformation” about its safety. However, the company continued to distribute it around the world alongside the cornstarch-based alternative, which will now completely substitute it.



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