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Canadian son of Russian spies to speak to media in Toronto this afternoon – CTV News



The Toronto-born son of Russian spies, whose Canadian citizenship has now been affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada, will speak to media in his hometown this afternoon.

Alexander Vavilov and his brother Timothy were born in the 1990s to parents who were later arrested in the United States for conspiring to act as secret agents on behalf of a Russian intelligence agency.

Alexander Vavilov, 25, is set to address reporters this afternoon.

A registrar concluded in 2014 that his parents were agents of a foreign government, meaning their children could not be Canadian citizens.

That decision touched off the court battle that culminated with Thursday’s decision.

In its judgment, the high court upheld a Federal Court of Appeal decision that effectively affirmed the citizenship of Alexander and his brother Timothy.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 20, 2019.

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Facebook’s Zuckerberg lays out ‘metaverse’ vision at developers event



Facebook Inc CEO Mark Zuckerberg said privacy and safety would need to be built into the metaverse, as he opened the company’s annual conference on virtual and augmented reality on Thursday.

Facebook continues to battle criticism over its market power, its content moderation practices and harms linked to its social media platforms. The tech giant, which reports about 2.9 billion monthly users, has faced increasing scrutiny in recent years from global lawmakers and regulators.

In the latest controversy, whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked documents which she said showed the company chose profit over user safety. Zuckerberg earlier this week said the documents were being used to paint a “false picture.”

The metaverse, a term first coined in a dystopian novel three decades ago and now attracting buzz in Silicon Valley, refers broadly to the idea of a shared virtual environment which can be accessed by people using different devices.

Zuckerberg has increasingly been promoting the idea of Facebook, which has invested heavily in augmented and virtual reality, as a “metaverse” company rather than a social media one.

The CEO, speaking during the live-streamed Facebook Connect event, gave examples of privacy and safety controls that would be needed in the metaverse, such as the ability to block someone from appearing in your space. Zuckerberg is betting that the metaverse will be the next big computing platform, calling it “the successor to the mobile internet.”

The whistleblower documents, which were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, show internal research and employee discussions on Instagram’s effects on the mental health of teens and whether Facebook stokes divisions, as well as its handling of activity around the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and inconsistencies in content moderation for users around the globe.

The company gave a slew of updates for its VR and AR products. It said it would this year launch a way for people using its Oculus VR headset to call friends using Facebook Messenger and for people to invite others to a social version of their home, dubbed “Horizon Home,” to talk and play games as avatars.

Facebook also said it would introduce a way for Oculus Quest users to use different 2D apps like Slack, Dropbox and Facebook while in this “Horizon Home” VR space.

The company, which began a beta test of its virtual meeting spaces “Horizon Workrooms” earlier this year, said it was working on ways of customizing these with company logos and designs and said it would be bringing more work capabilities into consumer Quest devices. It also announced new fitness offerings for Oculus Quest users.

Facebook said this week that its hardware division Facebook Reality Labs, which is responsible for AR and VR efforts, would become a separate reporting unit and that its investment in it would reduce this year’s total operating profit by about $10 billion.

This year, Facebook created a product team focused on the metaverse and it recently announced plans to hire 10,000 employees in Europe over the next five years to work on the effort.

Facebook also said it would run a $150 million education program aimed at helping AR and VR creators and developers.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in New York and Sheila Dang in DallasEditing by Matthew Lewis)

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Wasaga Beach bans commenting on social media due to hate and bullying – blogTO



One Ontario town decided they have had enough of “hate” and “misinformation”and banned commenting on all their social media channels.

Effective on Oct. 26, the Town of Wasaga Beach is no longer allowing commenting on social media platforms.

“We are making this change due to individuals in our community who are using the pages to bully, spread hate, and misinformation,” the town posted.

In a video posted on the Town’s social media, Mayor Nina Bifolchi, explained the town had been experiencing not just contrary opinions but out and out lies.

She says staff members prepare content for the town’s webpage and social media pages and monitor comments to ensure they adhere to the rules for posting.

“Unfortunately, a small handful of people in our community are using the town’s social media platform to spread their hate lies and bullying behavior,” Bifolchi says in the video.

She says the group claims they are being censored.

“Toxic people love playing the victim,” she says. “They’re twisting of the facts to suit their needs and narcissistic ways is keeping staff busy monitoring the town’s social media platform, taking away from other productive activities.”

So they have decided to turn off the commenting ability, for now, on social media posts.

She adds the commenters don’t just have a difference of opinion or opposing view to the towns.

“This is not about the town trying to control the narrative,” she says. “This is about a small handful of people who spread lies, twist facts, harass and play the victim when they are called out for it.”

The public is encouraged to email or phone the town with comments or suggestions for now.

At least one group in town isn’t happy with council. Wasaga Beach Ratepayers Association is planning a protest this Friday.

But the town is not giving in.

“To the small group, you will not be given a town platform to speak your hate and lies to those who have been respectful of the town’s social media rules and shared your views in a respectful manner, even when it was an opposing view,” the mayor says.

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Explainer – Who faces legal liability in ‘Rust’ shooting case?



Lawsuits seeking to assign civil liability in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins would be most likely to name the “Rust” crew member who inspected the gun, the assistant director who handed it to actor Alec Baldwin and possibly others in the production company, experts said on Wednesday.

New Mexico authorities have not ruled out criminal charges in the case. While rehearsing a scene on the movie set, Baldwin accidentally fired a gun that he had been told was safe. The shot killed Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza.


Experts said criminal charges are possible, though likely not against Baldwin.

“For a criminal case, you’re going to need some sort of actual intent, or criminal negligence, gross negligence. That’s … something more than pointing the gun,” said former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani in Los Angeles.

The criminal investigation will likely focus instead on how the gun came to be loaded. “I think having live ballistic rounds on a movie set is inexcusable and rises to the level of gross negligence that you see in a criminal charge,” said lawyer Jeff Harris of Harris Lowry Manton.


Hutchins’ family and Souza could file civil lawsuits for financial damages, legal experts said.

These lawsuits would most likely argue negligence, legally defined as a failure to exercise a reasonable level of care.

Such claims got a boost from the revelation by Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza on Wednesday that the gun handed to Baldwin contained a live round despite having been inspected and declared safe by two people, armorer Hannah Gutierrez and assistant director David Halls, and that other live rounds were found on the set.

“It’s pretty obvious; somebody had to be negligent,” said University of Southern California law professor Gregory Keating.


Harris, who represented the family of a stuntman on AMC’s “The Walking Dead” in a wrongful death case, said both Gutierrez and Halls could be sued. Bryan Sullivan of Early Sullivan, a Los Angeles entertainment attorney, agreed.

Harris said the “Rust” production company, people in supervisory roles and people involved in hiring decisions could also be targeted.

Allocating liability could take years of litigation. The outcome would determine who might have to pay financial damages and how much.

“It’s very common to have multiple defendants whose negligence intermingles with each other,” Harris said.

Baldwin probably will not be held civilly liable for firing the gun after being told it was safe. However, he could face liability as one of the film’s producers, said Sullivan.

A court “would look at who had ultimate authority to ensure the safety of the set,” he said.


Defendants in a civil lawsuit would likely argue the shooting was a workplace accident, meaning that the victims could only seek payment through workers’ compensation insurance.

However, University of New Mexico School of Law professor Sonia Gipson Rankin said the victims could seek to prove that defendants had ignored safety concerns in the past and were knowingly acting in a dangerous way.

If successful, the victims might be able to seek damages in court, rather than through workers’ compensation.


(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Additional reporting by Nate Raymond, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Cynthia Osterman)

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