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Burnaby RCMP address fears sparked by social-media posts about abductions – Straight.com

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One month after viral social media posts created alarm in the Fraser Valley, a Metro Vancouver police force is attempting to quell concerns after a similarly unsubstantiated social media post is sparking fears in the Lower Mainland.

In a series of tweets, Burnaby RCMP stated on Twitter today (January 17) that they have become aware of social media posts that claim that alleged criminals are using a variety of means, including dollar bills tainted with drugs, to distract women and then coerce them to get into vehicles in Burnaby.

After reviewing all investigations, Burnaby RCMP stated that they haven’t been able to find any reports supporting these claims.

This information has previously been circulated in the United States and appears to be a hoax.

Anyone who has experienced any incidents like the ones described is asked to contact Burnaby RCMP immediately.

The circulation of these social-media posts coincide with the disappearances of two females in their 20s from Burnaby on January 9 and 10.

Burnaby RCMP had confirmed to the Georgia Straight that their disappearances were not connected. One 25-year-old woman has already been located and is safe, while the other 23-year-old female remains missing.

Last month, the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) stated on Facebook that they became aware of alarming social media posts that had gone viral. The posts from unverified sources made claims about attempted abductions, sex rings, and strangers attempting to enter vehicles.

However, the APD told the Georgia Straight that all of these claims remained unsubstantiated and they had not received any reports about them from citizens. APD spokesperson Sgt. Judy Bird also offered advice on related issues, such as what to do when concerned about social media posts, reporting information to police, and more.

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Ethiopian gov’t forces in control of Chifra: State media – Aljazeera.com

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Dead bodies seen ‘everywhere on the streets’ of town in Afar region as Al Jazeera gains exclusive access to front line of escalating conflict.

Ethiopia’s state-run broadcaster has said government forces were in control of the town of Chifra in Afar region, their first major seizure since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said earlier this week he would head to the front lines to lead federal troops against fighters from the northern Tigray region.

Tens of thousands of people have died and millions displaced since the war between Ethiopian federal and allied troops, and the Tigrayan forces, broke out in November 2020. The conflict has also caused a massive humanitarian crisis, with hundreds of thousands of people facing famine.

The Tigrayan forces captured Chifra, on the border between the northern Afar and Amhara regions, after fighting intensified last month.

“Ethiopian Defense Forces and Afar Special Forces have controlled Chifra,” the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation said on its Twitter account on Sunday, without providing further details.

There was no immediate comment by the Tigrayan forces.

‘Dead bodies everywhere’

Much of northern Ethiopia is under a communications blackout and access for journalists is heavily restricted, making battlefield claims difficult to corroborate. Al Jazeera, however, was able to gain exclusive access to Chifra, the first international news organisation to do so.

Reporting from “the heart” of the town, Al Jazeera Arabic’s correspondent Mohammed Taha Tewekel said the Tigrayan forces “were driven out of this strategic area” by pro-government militia from the Afar region, but also noted “gunfire could be heard from all directions” for hours.

“It [Chifra] has been the epicentre of military operations during the past 40 days,” Tewekel said during a live broadcast, with gunfire ringing in the background.

“The scenes we witnessed are very appalling. Dead bodies everywhere on the streets. It is living proof of the ferociousness of the fighting. There are clear signs of the lack of humanity in this conflict. The town’s commercial shops were totally destroyed, even the mosques were not spared. All the residents have fled for their lives and the town has turned into military barracks for the Afari fighters,” he added.

The Afari fighters “have seized the city” and are now advancing towards the towns of Bati and Kombolcha, the correspondent said.

Chifra is west of the town of Mille, which Tigrayan forces have been trying to capture for weeks, because it lies along the highway linking landlocked Ethiopia to Djibouti, the Horn of Africa’s main port.

State-affiliated Fana Broadcasting reported on Friday that Abiy was on the front line with the army fighting the Tigrayan forces in Afar.

“The morale of the army is very exciting,” he said in the remarks broadcast on Friday, promising to capture Chifra “today”.

After months of tension, Abiy in November 2020 sent troops to Tigray to remove the region’s governing party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in response to what the government said was an attack on federal army camps. The TPLF, which dominated the federal government for nearly three decades until Abiy took office in 2018, said federal forces and its allies launched a “coordinated attack” against it.

The prime minister promised a swift victory and government forces seized Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, in late November. By June, however, the Tigrayan forces had retaken most of the region and pushed into the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions.

The Tigrayan forces recently reported major territorial gains, claiming this week to have seized a town just 220km (135 miles) from the capital, Addis Ababa.

International alarm about the escalating conflict has deepened, with several foreign countries urging their citizens to leave as mediation attempts by the United Nations and the United States have so far failed to yield any results.

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Trump challenges media and Democrats to debate his electoral fraud lie – The Guardian

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Trump challenges media and Democrats to debate his electoral fraud lie  The Guardian



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Social Media Firms 'On the Hook' Under New Aussie Defamation Law – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Social media platforms will be required to reveal the identities of anonymous online trolls or face making defamation payouts under new legislation proposed by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

People who believe they have been defamed online will be able to get court orders directing online giants such as Twitter Inc. and Meta Platforms Inc., the company formerly known as Facebook, to identify the individuals responsible for posts, Morrison said at a press conference Sunday. If the social media platforms fail to do so, they will have to pay defamation costs.

“The online world presents many great opportunities, but it comes with some real risks and we must address these,” he said. The government “is making sure people are responsible for what they say” and ensuring companies “are on the hook” for damaging material posted to their platforms, he added.

Under the current law, social media companies are not considered to be the publishers of material posted to their platforms. If a user makes defamatory comments on a Facebook page, for instance, legal responsibility lies with the owner of the page. The bill is due to be discussed in parliament this week, and comes after the country’s highest court ruled that media companies can be held liable for comments left on their accounts by members of the public.

A spokeswoman for Meta said the company is waiting to see the proposals in more detail before commenting. Twitter didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment made outside of office hours.

Australia’s eSafety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, said previously that such a policy would be difficult to execute. “It would be very challenging, I would think, for Facebook for example to re-identify or identify its 2.7 billion users,” she said last year during a Senate Estimates hearing.

In February, Meta’s Facebook responded to a separate attempt to regulate how it does business in Australia with a show of force. It briefly blocked all news sharing in the country in response to a proposal that it should be required to pay publishers for that content.

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