AFP

Major US pipeline shut by ransomware attack

Washington (AFP) - The largest fuel pipeline system in the United States was forced to shut down its entire network after a ransomware attack, the operating company said in a statement Saturday. The Colonial Pipeline Company ships gasoline and jet fuel from the Gulf Coast of Texas to the populous East Coast through 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) of pipeline, serving 50 million consumers. It said it had been "the victim of a cybersecurity attack" which involved ransomware -- attacks that encrypt computer systems and seek to extract payments from operators. "In response, we proactively took cert...

New documentary paints disturbing picture of Woody Allen

New York (AFP) - A new documentary series premiering Sunday on the HBO network, "Allen v. Farrow," paints a damning picture of Oscar-winning director Woody Allen, particularly regarding his alleged sexual abuse of young adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow. Even if the four-part series contains no major revelations, it seems certain to further sully the already battered reputation of the aging New York filmmaker. Respected documentary directors Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering delve into Allen's past, using testimony and legal documents -- some not previously seen -- to dig deeper than anyone before them....

Harvard astronomer argues that alien vessel paid us a visit

Washington (AFP) - Discovering there's intelligent life beyond our planet could be the most transformative event in human history --  but what if scientists decided to collectively ignore evidence suggesting it already happened? That's the premise of a new book by a top astronomer, who argues that the simplest and best explanation for the highly unusual characteristics of an interstellar object that sped through our solar system in 2017 is that it was alien technology. Sound kooky? Avi Loeb says the evidence holds otherwise, and is convinced his peers in the scientific community are so consume...

Russians see US democracy 'limping' after Capitol stormed

Moscow (AFP) - Russian officials on Thursday pointed to the storming of the US Capitol as evidence of America's decline, with one saying it showed US democracy was "limping on both feet". After the stunning events in Washington, many in Moscow said the United States was no longer in any position to lecture other countries on freedom and democracy. Under banners reading "Storm of the Capitol" and "Chaos in Washington", Russian state television showed rolling images of mobs of Donald Trump supporters breaking down barricades and swarming the building, as security forces fired tear gas and police...

Major blast hits Nashville after chilling bomb warning

Washington (AFP) - A huge explosion tore through a section of downtown Nashville early Friday, after police responding to reports of gunfire discovered a parked motorhome playing a recorded bomb warning.  The blast shattered windows and ripped apart trees but appeared calculated to spare lives, injuring just three people as it detonated at 6:30am (1130 GMT) in a section of the southern US city that was largely deserted due the early hour and the Christmas Day holiday. The blast left as many as 20 buildings including store fronts badly damaged and the road surface charred -- scattering glass, t...

Facebook changing 'race-blind' hate speech policy

San Francisco (AFP) - Facebook on Thursday said it is revising its systems to prioritize blocking slurs against Black people, gays and other groups historically targeted by vitriol, no longer automatically filtering out barbs aimed broadly at whites, men or Americans. The change in Facebook's algorithm is a shift from the social network's ethnicity and gender-neutral system that removed anti-white comments and posts such as "Men are dumb" or "Americans are stupid." "We know that hate speech targeted towards under-represented groups can be the most harmful, which is why we have focused our tech...

#StopTheSteal is Trump supporters' viral offensive to discredit the election

New York (AFP) - All it took was a Facebook page and a hashtag: As election tallies trickled in Donald Trump supporters were busy going viral, accelerating the unsubstantiated claim that Democrats were "stealing" the election under the rallying cry #StopTheSteal.It lived just 48 hours but the page quickly racked up 350,000 members, people subscribing to the conspiracy theory the Republican president too has been touting to his 88 million Twitter followers.Trump's social media "influencers" -- his son Donald Trump Jr, or the spokesperson of the Republican party Elizabeth Harrington -- also play...

Disney adds new racism disclaimers to older streaming titles

Los Angeles (AFP) - Disney has added extended disclaimers to classics including "Peter Pan" and "Aristocats" on its streaming platform to warn viewers that the films contain derogatory stereotypes about minorities.Disney+ subscribers will be shown a text disclaimer before watching Peter Pan don a "redskin" headdress in the 1953 cartoon fantasy, or listening to a slant-eyed and buck-toothed "East Asian" cat singing in the 1970 animated feline movie.While previous disclaimers on the streaming platform already acknowledged "outdated cultural depictions," the new warning says certain Disney film s...

Ethiopia accuses Trump of inciting 'war' over Nile dam

Addis Ababa (AFP) - Ethiopia on Saturday accused Donald Trump of inciting "war" over a massive Nile River mega-dam after the US president spoke out against the project and suggested Egypt might destroy it.Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew summoned US ambassador Michael Raynor to clarify Trump's comments, which mark the US president's latest foray into a delicate, long-running dispute between Ethiopia and downstream neighbours Egypt and Sudan.  Gedu told Raynor that "the incitement of war between Ethiopia and Egypt by a sitting US president neither reflects the long-standing partnership and str...

Mormons fed up with Trump's vulgar rhetoric and behavior are flocking to the Democratic Party

Los Angeles (AFP) - Mormons in the United States have traditionally been reliable Republican voters, but some members of the conservative church put off by President Donald Trump are switching sides and backing veteran Democrat Joe Biden.Support for Trump among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which emphasizes family values and morals, is especially lagging among women.Experts say that could have a significant impact in some key battleground states -- notably Arizona and Nevada, where Mormons represent six percent of the population."There are things about Biden that ...

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