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Washington Post reporter sues paper for discrimination

Washington Post reporter sues paper for discrimination

Washington Post politics reporter Felicia Sonmez sued the paper and several of its current and former editors for discriminating against her as a victim of sexual assaultBy TALI ARBEL AP Technology WriterJuly 23, 2021, 4:21 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleWashington Post politics reporter Felicia Sonmez sued the paper and several of its current and former editors for discriminating against her as a victim of sexual assault.In a suit filed Wednesday in D.C. Superior Court, Sonmez said she was not allowed to report on sexual misconduct after she issued a statement in September 2018 on the resignation of a Los Angeles Times journalist who she said had assaulted her in China. He has said what happened was consensual.Sonmez said in that statement that she was grateful the Times took her allegations seriously but criticized how it handled the investigation, and said that the response of institutions is essential to combatting sexual misconduct.She said the Post then barred her from writing about Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, now a Supreme Court justice. She said Cameron Barr, the Post’s managing editor, told her she had “taken a side on the issue’” of sexual assault by talking about her own experience publicly, while Steven Ginsburg, the Post’s national editor, told her that “it would present ‘the appearance of a conflict of interest’” for her to report on sexual misconduct.Sonmez said the ban was later extended so that she could not cover sexual misconduct at all, and that she was frequently taken off stories.The paper also put her on leave in January 2020 after she tweeted a link to a story about a 2003 rape allegation against Kobe Bryant hours after he died. She was cleared to return to work after intense criticism of the suspension from Post colleagues.The ban, meanwhile, was lifted in March 2021, the day after a Politico story a bout the Post’s coverage ban and Sonmez’s criticism of how editors had not supported her when she was threatened online.Sonmez’s suit said she suffered humiliation and emotional distress because of the alleged discriminatory conduct, which she said violated the D.C. Human Rights Act, as well as physical pain from grinding her teeth at night that led to two surgeries to relieve her jaw pain.She is asking for damages and to force the paper to take steps to remedy its conduct and prevent similar situations.Sonmez sued Barr, Ginsburg, former Post executive editor Marty Baron, managing editor Tracy Grant, deputy national editor Lori Montgomery, who on Thursday was named the Post’s business editor, and senior politics editor Peter Wallsten. Baron declined to comment in both an email and a LinkedIn message.Washington Post spokesperson Kris Coratti declined to comment on the suit.Former Associated Press executive editor Sally Buzbee was named as Baron’s replacement as the head of the Post’s newsroom in May.

Brief, widespread outage for numerous websites

Brief, widespread outage for numerous websites

Major websites went down Thursday in what appeared to be a brief but widespread outageBy TALI ARBEL AP Technology WriterJuly 22, 2021, 5:25 PM• 1 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW YORK — Major websites went down Thursday in what appeared to be a brief but widespread outage.The websites of Airbnb, AT&T, Costco and Delta showed error messages around midday. They seemed to be operating normally, however, by 12:45 p.m. Eastern time.Akamai, a major behind-the-scenes internet network company, said on Twitter during the outage that it had created a fix for the service disruption and that “based on current observations, the service is resuming normal operations.”

EXPLAINER: Could balloons power uncensored internet in Cuba?

EXPLAINER: Could balloons power uncensored internet in Cuba?

Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, called this week on the administration of President Joe Biden to greenlight a plan to transmit the internet to people in Cuba via high-altitude balloons when their government has blocked access.CAN INTERNET BE DELIVERED BY BALLOON?Yes. For years, Alphabet — the parent company of Google — worked to perfect an internet-balloon division service called Loon. It shut down that project in January, saying it wasn’t commercially viable.Prior to the shutdown, Loon balloons had been providing service in mountainous areas in Kenya through a partnership with a local telecom, Telkom Kenya. The service also helped provide wireless communications in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which destroyed the island’s mobile network. Loon partnered with AT&T to make service available.HOW DOES THAT WORK?The Loon balloons were effectively cell towers the size of a tennis court. They floated 60,000 to 75,000 feet, or 11 to 14 miles (18,000- 23,000 meters, or 18-22 kilometers), above the Earth, well above commercial jetliner routes. Made of the commonplace plastic polyethylene, the balloons used solar panels for electricity and could deliver service to smartphones in partnership with a local telecom.Each balloon could serve thousands of people, the company said. But they had to be replaced every five months or so because of the harsh conditions in the stratosphere. And the balloons could be difficult to control. “Navigating balloons through the stratosphere has always been hard,” wrote Salvatore Candido, who had been chief technology officer for Loon, in a December 2020 blog post. The company created algorithms that tracked wind patterns.WHAT EQUIPMENT WAS REQUIRED?Loon had said that beyond the balloons themselves, it needed network integration with a telecom to provide service and some equipment on the ground in the region. It also needed permission from local regulators — something that the Cuban government isn’t likely to grant.COULD A NETWORK BE SET UP FROM AFAR?Yes. Loon used multiple balloons to extend connections beyond the necessary ground link. In one 2018 test, Loon said the connection jumped 1,000 kilometers, or about 620 miles, over 7 balloons. Another time, it bridged a wireless connection over 600 kilometers, or about 370 miles, between two balloons. Cuba and Florida are only about 100 miles (160 kilometers) apart at their closest.IS THAT FEASIBLE?But experts aren’t sure it would be that easy to set up a guerrilla internet service for Cuba this way. It would need an unused band of spectrum, or radio frequencies, to transmit a connection to Cuba, and spectrum use is typically controlled by national governments. Anyone trying this would have to find a free block of spectrum that wouldn’t be interfered with, said Jacob Sharony, of Mobius Consulting, a mobile and wireless consulting firm.Balloon- or drone-powered networks aren’t likely to be economical over the long term, said Tim Farrar of TMF Associates, a satellite communications consultant. While they’re suitable for bridging communications amid disasters or in war zones, the transmission capabilities of such networks isn’t large — “certainly not enough to serve the entire population of Cuba or anything like that,” Farrar said.Another challenge: The Cuban government could also try to jam the signal.WHO IS INVOLVED IN THE CUBA EFFORT?DeSantis promoted the balloon idea Thursday alongside two Cuban-American members of Congress from the Miami area, Reps. Maria Salazar and Carlos Gimenez, FCC commissioner Brendan Carr and Cuban-American lawyer, businessman and museum director Marcell Felipe.Felipe said he has been talking for about two years with a defense contractor who could deploy such balloons in a cost-effective way in airspace near Cuba, but declined to name the company. Felipe said his idea would involve transmitting internet connectivity directly to mobile phones on the island without the participation of any ground provider. In comments to The Associated Press, Felipe claimed it wouldn’t be feasible for the Cuban government to block these balloon-delivered signals “in any significant manner,” though he didn’t cite any evidence.None of the supporters provided a cost estimate. Salazar said that if the federal government endorsed the plan, she believes it could be funded entirely with contributions from members of the Cuban diaspora if necessary.WHAT IS INTERNET ACCESS LIKE IN CUBA?Internet access in Cuba has been expensive and relatively rare until recently. Starting in December 2018, Cubans could get internet access on their phones through the state telecom monopoly. More than half of Cubans today have internet access.But the Cuban government restricts independent media and censors what’s available to Cubans online, according to Human Rights Watch. It disrupts internet access in an attempt to head off protests.———AP Miami news director Ian Mader contributed to this article.

EXPLAINER: Could balloons power uncensored internet in Cuba?

EXPLAINER: Could balloons power uncensored internet in Cuba?

Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, called this week on the administration of President Joe Biden to greenlight a plan to transmit the internet to people in Cuba via high-altitude balloons when their government has blocked access.CAN INTERNET BE DELIVERED BY BALLOON?Yes. For years, Alphabet — the parent company of Google — worked to perfect an internet-balloon division service called Loon. It shut down that project in January, saying it wasn’t commercially viable.Prior to the shutdown, Loon balloons had been providing service in mountainous areas in Kenya through a partnership with a local telecom, Telkom Kenya. The service also helped provide wireless communications in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which destroyed the island’s mobile network. Loon partnered with AT&T to make service available.HOW DOES THAT WORK?The Loon balloons were effectively cell towers the size of a tennis court. They floated 60,000 to 75,000 feet, or 11 to 14 miles (18,000- 23,000 meters, or 18-22 kilometers), above the Earth, well above commercial jetliner routes. Made of the commonplace plastic polyethylene, the balloons used solar panels for electricity and could deliver service to smartphones in partnership with a local telecom.Each balloon could serve thousands of people, the company said. But they had to be replaced every five months or so because of the harsh conditions in the stratosphere. And the balloons could be difficult to control. “Navigating balloons through the stratosphere has always been hard,” wrote Salvatore Candido, who had been chief technology officer for Loon, in a December 2020 blog post. The company created algorithms that tracked wind patterns.WHAT EQUIPMENT WAS REQUIRED?Loon had said that beyond the balloons themselves, it needed network integration with a telecom to provide service and some equipment on the ground in the region. It also needed permission from local regulators — something that the Cuban government isn’t likely to grant.COULD A NETWORK BE SET UP FROM AFAR?Yes. Loon used multiple balloons to extend connections beyond the necessary ground link. In one 2018 test, Loon said the connection jumped 1,000 kilometers, or about 620 miles, over 7 balloons. Another time, it bridged a wireless connection over 600 kilometers, or about 370 miles, between two balloons. Cuba and Florida are only about 100 miles (160 kilometers) apart at their closest.IS THAT FEASIBLE?But experts aren’t sure it would be that easy to set up a guerrilla internet service for Cuba this way. It would need an unused band of spectrum, or radio frequencies, to transmit a connection to Cuba, and spectrum use is typically controlled by national governments. Anyone trying this would have to find a free block of spectrum that wouldn’t be interfered with, said Jacob Sharony, of Mobius Consulting, a mobile and wireless consulting firm.Balloon- or drone-powered networks aren’t likely to be economical over the long term, said Tim Farrar of TMF Associates, a satellite communications consultant. While they’re suitable for bridging communications amid disasters or in war zones, the transmission capabilities of such networks isn’t large — “certainly not enough to serve the entire population of Cuba or anything like that,” Farrar said.Another challenge: The Cuban government could also try to jam the signal.WHO IS INVOLVED IN THE CUBA EFFORT?DeSantis promoted the balloon idea Thursday alongside two Cuban-American members of Congress from the Miami area, Reps. Maria Salazar and Carlos Gimenez, FCC commissioner Brendan Carr and Cuban-American lawyer, businessman and museum director Marcell Felipe.Felipe said he has been talking for about two years with a defense contractor who could deploy such balloons in a cost-effective way in airspace near Cuba, but declined to name the company. Felipe said his idea would involve transmitting internet connectivity directly to mobile phones on the island without the participation of any ground provider. In comments to The Associated Press, Felipe claimed it wouldn’t be feasible for the Cuban government to block these balloon-delivered signals “in any significant manner,” though he didn’t cite any evidence.None of the supporters provided a cost estimate. Salazar said that if the federal government endorsed the plan, she believes it could be funded entirely with contributions from members of the Cuban diaspora if necessary.WHAT IS INTERNET ACCESS LIKE IN CUBA?Internet access in Cuba has been expensive and relatively rare until recently. Starting in December 2018, Cubans could get internet access on their phones through the state telecom monopoly. More than half of Cubans today have internet access.But the Cuban government restricts independent media and censors what’s available to Cubans online, according to Human Rights Watch. It disrupts internet access in an attempt to head off protests.———AP Miami news director Ian Mader contributed to this article.