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Amazon to suspend Parler after deadly Capitol Hill riot – Al Jazeera English

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Amazon will join Apple and Google in suspending the Parler social media platform for failing to prevent incitement to violence.

Amazon has announced it will suspend Parler, a social media platform popular with right-wing users that has already been banned by Apple and Google for failing to prevent the spread of “threats of violence” after a deadly riot at the United States Capitol.

In an email from Amazon Web Services to Parler, first reported by BuzzFeed News, Amazon said it plans to suspend Parler as of 07:59 GMT on Monday because it poses a “very real risk to public safety”.

“We’ve seen a steady increase in this violent content on your website, all of which violates our terms of service,” reads the email, the contents of which were confirmed by Amazon to Reuters and AFP news agencies.

Amazon also said there was a “serious risk that this type of content will further incite violence”.

The move effectively takes Parler offline unless it can find a new company to host its services.

Right-wing supporters of US President Donald Trump, who was permanently suspended from Twitter on Friday, have flocked to Parler after the deadly violence in Washington, DC on January 6.

The site is also seen as a haven for conservative and right-wing groups who accuse larger social media companies such as Twitter or Facebook of censoring their posts.

Five people, including a local police officer, died in relation to the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol building, which took place as Congress was voting to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.

The deadly violence sent shockwaves across the world and spurred calls for accountability and a thorough investigation into what happened.

Dozens of alleged participants have been arrested and some US lawmakers are also pushing for Trump, who incited his supporters during a rally in Washington, DC before the riot, to be held responsible.

For his part, Trump has slammed his permanent suspension from Twitter and promised to get back online soon.

“We have been negotiating with various other sites, and will have a big announcement soon, while we also look at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the near future. We will not be SILENCED!” he said in a statement on January 8.

Google pulled Parler from its app store on Friday for allowing postings that seek “to incite ongoing violence in the US”.

Apple followed suit, saying on Saturday evening that it had given Parler 24 hours to address complaints it was being used to “plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities”.

Cassie Miller, a senior research analyst with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) who tracks the far right, said white supremacist and far-right groups have been celebrating the riot as the beginning of a “revolution”.

“There is no way to instantly demobilise this movement, and we can therefore likely expect more mass demonstrations and violence,” Miller told Al Jazeera.

Meanwhile, Parler’s founder, John Matze, confirmed on his profile that there was a possibility the network would be unavailable “for up to a week” as it searches for a new host.

Matze also lashed out at Amazon, Google and Apple, saying Parler was being subjected to “a coordinated attack by the tech giants to kill competition in the market place”.

“You can expect the war on competition and free speech to continue, but don’t count us out,” he said.

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What are NFTs? Everything you need to know. – Mashable

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NFTs are the hottest cryptocurrency product right now and everyone wants in on the action.

NFTs are the hottest cryptocurrency product right now and everyone wants in on the action.
Image: Getty Images / iStockphoto

NFTs are the latest cryptocurrency rage these days, with bands like Kings of Leon releasing their next album as limited edition “golden tickets,” and NBA digital collectibles being sold for millions of dollars. 

They’re interesting to collectors and cryptocurrency fans alike, but is there a future there? In other words: Should you spend some actual dollars to invest in a digital trinket?

Kings of Leon have already jumped on the NFT bandwagon.

Kings of Leon have already jumped on the NFT bandwagon.

Image: yellowheart

What Are NFTs?

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are a type of cryptocurrency created on a smart contract platform such as Ethereum. They are unique digital objects that can be cool to own or even profitable to trade. Think of them as digital collectible cards. They typically start out as something only enthusiasts care about, but if you get a rare one, it could be worth a lot one day. 

What is fungible vs. non-fungible? 

Cryptocurrencies can be fungible, meaning all the currency’s units (i.e., tokens) are the same and equal, like grains of rice or dollars. 

Non-fungible tokens are the opposite — every cryptocurrency unit, or token, is unique and cannot be replicated. 

This “non-fungible” property can be used for many things, even certain types of currencies. But the current NFT craze is mostly fueled by digital art and collectibles. People have figured out that a unique, digital object can be interesting, cool, and even have a significant monetary value. It’s why the space has recently blossomed, encompassing thousands of projects involving artworks, gaming, and sports. 


How do NFTs work?

It really depends on the platform. But given the vast majority of NFTs are created and traded on Ethereum, we’ll focus on that. 

NFTs are created on Ethereum’s blockchain, which is immutable, meaning it cannot be altered. No one can undo your ownership of an NFT or re-create that exact same one. They’re also “permissionless,” so anyone can create, buy, or sell an NFT without asking for permission. Finally, every NFT is unique, and can be viewed by anyone. 

So yes — it’s like a unique collectible card in a forever-open store window that anyone can admire, but only one person (or cryptocurrency wallet, to be exact) can own at any given time. 

In a practical sense, an NFT is typically represented by a digital artwork, such as an image. But it’s important to understand that it’s not just that image (which can easily be replicated). Its existence as a digital object on the blockchain is what makes it unique. 

How do I buy or trade NFTs?

NFTs are bought and traded just like any other cryptocurrency based on Ethereum, only instead of buying some amount of tokens, you buy a single token. 

To do that, you should start by installing Metamask, a browser extension that lets you interact with various facets of Ethereum, such as exchanges and dApps (decentralized apps). MetaMask is also a digital wallet for Ethereum and all the tokens created on Ethereum (both fungible and non-fungible). 

After installing the extension, you should buy some Ethereum (you can do it directly in MetaMask with a debit card or Apple Pay by clicking on “Add Funds”). But be very careful with your funds — store your MetaMask password and your wallet’s private key somewhere safe. Then, when you visit a website that sells NFTs (such as NBA Top Shot) or an exchange where you can trade for them (such as Uniswap), connect your MetaMask wallet to the site (only do that on sites you know are safe), and buy your first NFT.  


Why do NFTs have value?

Of course, before you buy anything, you’ll probably want to know why it’s a good purchase. Indeed, why would anyone buy an NFT and why should there ever be a buyer willing to spend even more money down the line?

Ideally, the value of NFTs doesn’t just come from a game of digital hot potato, in which you purchase something hoping you’ll sell it for more later. And so on, until the whole thing crashes. Ideally, the NFT should be valuable to you because… you like it. If you’re an NBA fan, you might want to have an official NFT representing your favorite player. Or, perhaps there’s a digital cat that you really like.

Sure, in some ways, many NFTs are just a digital image that you can easily right-click and save to your computer. But NFTs also reside on the blockchain, which makes it extremely hard to truly copy them in their entirety. The blockchain entry also transparently tells you who created the NFT. If a famous musicians says: “Yes, that’s my Ethereum address that created this digital image of a possum.” Then that can be verified on the blockchain. 

Larva Labs' CryptoPunks are among the most coveted (and pricy) NFTs around.

Larva Labs’ CryptoPunks are among the most coveted (and pricy) NFTs around.
Image: larvalabs

Some NFTs can be valuable in other ways. Say, for example, you buy an NFT related to an online game. Perhaps that NFT will one day give you special prestige in the game, or it could even be the basis for you getting some other, hard-to-get object; something that only you can have because every NFT is unique. If you’ve ever played World of Warcraft or a similar game, you know how valuable a piece of armor or a weapon can be. Now, with NFTs, no one can take it away from you, not even the game’s owners. 

Let’s return for a second to that game of digital hot potato. NFTs are a nascent space, and there’s a lot of hysteria and scamming going on. You might see a certain NFT sold for millions, and think you’ll also be able to buy something for a few dollars and become rich selling it to someone later on. It can happen, but it’s rare. And these things can be manipulated. For example, a cryptocurrency whale (someone that owns vast amounts of crypto money) can buy many NFTs and then “sell” them to himself (his other cryptocurrency address) for millions, artificially inflating the price. So be careful: Just because some NFT was traded for a lot of money, do not think this automatically means all other similar NFTs are valuable as well. 


What are the most expensive NFTs?

In the early days of the space, we saw a blockchain game like CryptoKitties sell virtual cats for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Recently, music producer 3LAU sold a collection of 33 limited edition NFTs for more than 11 million dollars. The musician Grimes (aka the mother of little X Æ A-Xii) even sold her digital art collection for $7,500 apiece, totaling $6 million in sales. Yes, these things can get very pricey. 

Are NFTs a good investment?

Buying an NFT because you like it, or maybe even to earn (or lose) a few quick bucks is one thing. But investing in NFTs is another. Again, it’s a nascent space. Even a Van Gogh painting or a rare Babe Ruth baseball card required some passage of time before becoming very valuable. 

Given the digital nature of NFTs, it’s hard to compare them to prized physical artworks, such as statues and paintings. On the other hand, we live in a world where one Bitcoin is worth more than $50,000, so things from the digital realm can certainly be very valuable and even sustain that value over longer periods of time. 

In any case, if you plan to invest in NFTs, you’ll need to dive deep into this complex world because each NFT market is slightly different. It’s also pricey — trading on Ethereum can be quite costly as the network’s recent congestion is causing fees to rise. Finally, you’ll need to think strategically and follow the often rapidly changing cryptocurrency trends. 

In short, it’s possible to earn money by investing in NFTs, but you’ll have to do your homework. 

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Toronto ready to administer COVID-19 vaccines 24/7 as long as supply allows – Global News

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More than 197000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered in Toronto so far – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Almost 200,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Toronto, and more shots are being injected in the arms of residents in clinics this weekend.

In a news release, the city said a number of hospitals and community healthcare centres are operating 15 clinics on Saturday and Sunday to vaccinate those in Phase 1 priority groups, including residents aged 80 years and older, who have a confirmed appointment.

“The city of Toronto, Toronto Public Health, hospitals and community healthcare centres are all working together to get Torontonians vaccinated as quickly as possible. Getting vaccinated protects individuals, their close contacts and the community,” the release stated.

The city said 197,155 vaccine doses have been administered so far.

Earlier this week, Toronto officials responded to criticism that the city is falling behind other regions in vaccinating people over the age of 80.

The city said it had administered COVID-19 vaccines to seniors in hospitals and congregate settings, but wider availability of vaccines for residents above the age of 80 will only occur when supply improves, and the provincial booking system launches on March 15.

The province released an update on its vaccination plan on Friday, announcing who will be prioritized in the second phase of its rollout set to run from April to July.

On the same day, Health Canada authorized the country’s fourth COVID-19 vaccine, the single-dose Johnson and Johnson shot.

Retired general Rick Hillier, the head of the province’s vaccine task force, said there had been a “seismic shift” in the province’s vaccination rollout following the approval of two more vaccines, supply ramping up, and new guidance on the extension of interval between two doses.

“I want to say by the first day of summer we want to have, vaccine supply dependent, we want to have a first needle in the arms of every person in Ontario who is eligible for the vaccine and wants to get,” he said during a news conference on Friday.

More than 860,000 doses have been administered and over 270,000 people have been fully vaccinated in Ontario so far.

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